The Analogue Foundation began as a perfect storm where people found something in common that they wanted to share. We met the record engineer and producer, Russell Elevado and Stephan Crasneanscki and Simone Merli from Soundwalk Collective, which produces concept albums, sound installations and live performances, about three years ago. We were all finding that people – particularly of the younger generation – wanted to understand more about analogue audio and the whole creative process of analogue, from recording, to mastering albums, to listening on vinyl.
My colleague at Audio-Technica, Soichiro Matsumoto, was a catalyst, and really conceived the idea of bringing us all together with the Analogue Foundation. By sharing our experiences, we want to spread the knowledge of analogue to more people so they can enjoy it. We don’t want these analogue talents, messages and experiences to die out. We are not saying that digital is bad, it’s just that it removes parts of a process – the great thing about vinyl coming back is that it’s all about understanding the journey and the story that the artist and the producer have created for you to enjoy. It’s about taking time, and stimulating your senses.
Firstly, quality vinyl is not cheap, so if you buy a record, you’ll take your time in choosing. You start with a visual stimulus, which is the beautiful artwork on the sleeve, then there’s the whole unwrapping process. You take it out and vinyl has a certain smell. You have to handle it delicately and there’s a distinctive feel to the record. Then it goes on the turntable and you sit back, set the needle to track one and start to enjoy that journey. And then there’s another stimulus: the liner notes. It could just be as simple as following along with the lyrics, or sometimes it could be a note from the band or the producer – or it could be a crazy story being told, or a cartoon or something. There’s all this extra content. You’re immersed in the whole experience, and it takes time – you’re there for 30 or 40 minutes. You sit down, you take the time and you clear your head.
The listening station is a unique selection of high-quality Audio-Technica analogue audio equipment encased in a beautiful handcrafted Globe-Trotter trunk, complete with over-ear headphones and a drinks drawer with whisky and glasses. When we were coming up with the concept for the listening station, we wanted to show people a high-quality listening experience, but also something that’s visually appealing. So rather than just having all this amazing audio equipment in a box, why not create something like a steamer trunk? The conversation then led onto craftsmanship and that’s where Globe-Trotter came in. The idea of taking time to create a beautiful product aligns so much with Globe-Trotter’s core values. Again, the senses come into play: you’ve got the sight, feel and sound of the listening station – and with the drinks drawer, taste comes into it too. It also comes back to that concept of time – everything with analogue takes time. When it comes to quality versus convenience, we want to let people know they have a choice, and we want to encourage them to take the time to experience quality.
From 19 February, the listening station will be in the Globe-Trotter flagship store at 35 Albemarle Street in Mayfair. There will be a selection of vinyl there that’s been selected by Russell, but you can also take your own vinyl in and take as long as you want. After that, we’re hoping that the listening station will go to America for a five-city tour of New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As for the Analogue Foundation, we hope to have an exciting new top-secret project coming up. All I can say is that it is in Italy and it is with a new friend of the Foundation who is very Analogue orientated. So keep your ears open.
ROBERT MORGAN-MALES is the European director for Audio-Technica, and is a co-founder of the Analogue Foundation alongside Audio-Technica’s Soichiro Matsumoto, record engineer and producer Russell Elevado and the Soundwalk Collective. The Analogue Foundation leads seminars, productions and collaborations to enable more people to discover, learn and enjoy the qualities of analogue processes in music