Since my junior year of high school, I have spent an obscene amount of my time holed up alone, bent over my beloved Boss BR-864 digital 8-track recorder. It is hardly the most practical or efficient tool for recording, especially given how widespread and accessible computer recording is; nevertheless, it is the machine I came of age on, and to this day, it is the only recording technology that I am comfortable with. Time and again, I have been told just how “wrong” I am to be using this thing, especially in conjunction with my sole microphones - two “standard” (read: cheap) Sure SM-57s and the only slightly better Behringer B-1 condenser. Friends and colleagues have laughed in my face, and articles in Tape Op (the obscenely nerdy home recording magazine to which I subscribe) have mostly reinforced the idea that, although the outcome may very well sound good, my home recording techniques are quite decidedly “bad.”
So imagine my thrill when the latest issue of Tape Op arrived in my mailbox, containing in its pages an interview with Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan’s production work on Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State was an early and important influence on my own recordings, and GUESS WHAT BITCHES, it just so turns out that he recorded the whole thing on an eight track machine very similar to mine (his beloved Roland VS-880EX), with - get this - two SM-57’s and an only slightly better condenser mic. Not only that, but he admits to recording the piano and guitar tracks to a click track before
laying down the drums - something which most engineers would consider a sin of the worst kind! AND he recorded the whole thing at the absurdly low sampling rate of 32 kHz (as opposed to the standard 44.1)! In layman’s terms: Sufjan had no clue whatsoever what he was doing, and still managed to make one of the best albums of the decade. Take that, Tape Op!
Today I came across an item on The Daily Swarm about Christian Hipsters. According to the article (cribbed from Conversant Life), Christian Hipsters are more sincere than their secular counterparts, but not naive (or uninterested in) the world around them. They are apparently disenchanted with institutionalized norms and bureaucracy within Christian institutions and cheesy outreach attempts by older generations (and their “mainstream” peers) to “engage” them.
I’m not sure Jewish Hipster is a moniker anyone (other than Lisa Alculay Klug) would openly own or identify with, but I think some parallels do stand out. The main difference, as I can discern it, is that Christian hipsters are still fundamentally deeply connected to Christianity as a religion, even as they may engage it as a culture. I’m not sure most young Jews reading Heeb, going on Birthright, watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, or listening to Golem necessarily feel the same way about their Judaism. Sure, we have the religious enthusiasts behind Shemspeed and Jewlicious among us, but, at least by the numbers, they do not seem representative. But maybe I have it wrong? What’s your take?