Pennyblackmusic Presents: Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) - With Hector Gannet and Andy Thompson @The Water Rats, London, Saturday 25, May, 2024

Headlining are Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) With support from Hector Gannet And Andy Thompson
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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Chris Hludzik - Vinyl Stories

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Chris Hludzik - Vinyl Stories


In 'Vinyl Stories' Northeastern Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter Chris Hludzik talks to Dave Goodwin about his work in a recording studio led to his obsession with vinyl.

Chris Hludzik is an original musician from Northeastern Pennsylvania. Chris has been writing songs for many years, and has been involved with many bands and projects (performing, writing, engineering, mixing, and producing), covering many styles and genres of music. His original music represents this diversity. Chris currently performs throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania (solo acoustic and, on occasion, electric with a backing band), His releases include his debut album “Yours In Rock', 'Dissonance Meets Harmony', the 'Nervous No More' EP., the single 'Like Ian Hunter', a live album 'Live At Duffy’s', and a demos and outtakes collection 'Rarities And Casualties'. The EP 'Another Last Stand' was released in December 2018, followed by the August 2019 single 'The Nicholson Bridge (Bigger Than Us All)'. A series of singles released throughout 2020 ('Hear Me Out', 'An Open Letter' and 'Just As Well') are, along with recent EP @The Sky's Limit', Chris’ latest releases. Some of Chris’ accolades include his song 'Insomnia' (from 'Yours In Rock,') being featured extensively throughout 2008 on the internet radio program 'NEPA Rebellion', where it peaked at number on the 'NEPA 9' chart and was number 14 on their 'Top 20 Songs of 2008' year end chart,. Another song, 'Bleeding Ears' (from 'Dissonance Meets Harmony') was featured on music journalist Alan Stout’s weekly radio program 'Music On The Menu', where it was selected by listeners as one of their favourite songs of 2013 in a year end poll. I bumped into Chris via a Facebook vinyl nutcases page I frequent and we got talking. Eventually he succumbed to my advances and we came up with this wonderful insight into the world of yet another vinyl fanatic... "My name is Chris Hludzik. I'm a musician, recording engineer, and above all, a music lover. You could say that music was my first love, and part of that love was discovering vinyl records, which became my obsession. But my path to vinyl was perhaps a bit different than others. It took many twists and turns, and sometimes I even strayed from the path. Here's my story. I was born in 1984, and grew up in the late 80's and 90's. Vinyl wasn't exactly in vogue during much of that time period – cassettes were outselling records, and eventually compact discs outsold them both, and vinyl became an afterthought. I grew up on cassettes at first (much cheaper to buy at that time, and I could make my own tapes of music from the radio, etc.), and then later transitioned to CDs. I first came into contact with vinyl records as a young boy, through my late father's collection. He still had a turntable, but like most in the CD era he had all but abandoned his records, barely mentioning them. But I was fascinated by them: the large format lent itself much better to albums than cassettes or CD's – the artwork was more detailed, and you didn't need a magnifying glass to read the lyrics and liner notes. As for the vinyl itself, what a marvel were these shiny 12 inch discs. And the labels were just as much a part of the presentation, the iconic record company logos like a stamp of approval of the music contained within. I was already into music by this point, but discovering vinyl was where I fell madly in love with it. In the late 90's, my father decided to get his turntable up and running again and dust off the old records – whether it was due to him wanting to rekindle the joy of listening to vinyl, to try and hold on to a piece of his youth, or due to my incessant inquisitions about vinyl records, I never knew. But I knew one thing: it was exciting. Seeing the needle drop on a record, hearing the snap crackle and pop associated with it, watching the tonearm travel across the record as it played and experiencing the ritual of flipping the record over after a side had concluded (which I wasn't entirely unfamiliar with due to having cassettes, but this was a totally different vibe) was just so cool. Back then, I didn't obsess over who mastered a record, what pressing it was, where it was pressed, how much it weighed or deadwax information. It was all about the music – and the accessibility (vinyl was practically being given away around this time, and I could get more music for less money – how I miss those days). Within a few years of scouring flea markets, record shows and record stores, I had amassed quite a collection. I didn't exclusively listen to vinyl however, and I still continued to consume music in the digital domain as well. You have to remember that around this time (the early-mid 2000's), there weren't as many vinyl reissues as their are now, and as far as new releases, not everything got a vinyl version. By the mid 2000's, I wasn't playing records nearly as much. I'd still spin the occasional disc here and there, but nowhere near what I had when I first got into it. It was also around this time that 2 significant things happened. One, I joined my first band – and subsequently damaged my hearing more in that short time blasting out alternative rock songs in our practice space and playing gigs with bad sound equipment in venues not acoustically suited for music than I ever did cranking up the music in my bedroom at home. Two, I started working as an intern, then later assistant engineer at a recording studio. This totally changed the way I perceived audio – and ultimately, how I listened to it. I learned the reasons why some things were recorded, mixed and mastered the way they were, and why sometimes that "Super Bass" button and other tone controls on your receiver don't necessarily make music sound better, though they could – it was just that most people misused them. My experiences at the studio (plus the irreparable hearing damage from bands I was in and shows I attended) led me to take a deep look at my listening habits. For once, it wasn't just about the music, it was about how it sounded. As stated before, I learned a lot about audio in my time at the studio, and I started realising how badly some music was reproduced, and why it would make me want to turn it off after a while. It was then I realised that I didn't have this problem with most vinyl records. Where I could maybe listen to a CD or two before I had to take a break, I could listen to several records. I always had a suspicion that vinyl sounded more pleasing than most CDs or digital files, but couldn't put my finger on it. I started doing research on vinyl, and learned that the physical limitations of the disc meant vinyl couldn't be as loud as CDs or have frequencies boosted past a certain point, yet despite that (or perhaps in spite of it), those limitations could make for a much more natural (and less fatiguing) listening experience. So, I began to listen to vinyl again. And now the difference was very noticeable. I used to think, "Surely this remastered version of The Who's 'Live At Leeds' HAS to sound better than my 1970 original U.S. Decca vinyl pressing, that record tells you right on the label that it has audio defects!" But the original vinyl wins hands down, and is still my go to version of the album, even though the remaster has the entire show and "fixed" the audio problems. The original sounds natural, and it has depth and character (in another word, DYNAMICS) that the remaster lacks. I also realized around this time that this didn't just apply to original version of records compared to the CD reissues/remasters. Sometimes an original pressing of a CD can sound more natural than a remastered version, due to the fact that in the early days of CD the original vinyl master was used to make the CD most of the time, and as such, they didn't suffer from the over EQ'ing, compression and limiting that the remasters did. So where does all that leave me, in my on again/off again love affair with vinyl? Well, it's not so "off again" anymore. I still listen to vinyl (not every single day, but frequently enough). I occasionally buy the odd new release that catches my eye if it has a vinyl pressing, and still hunt the occasional "grail" records from time to time, although as time goes on, there are less and less grails to be had - either because I've obtained most of them or have given up on ever having them due to high prices. Still, there's always something interesting going on in the world of vinyl to pique the interest of myself and many others. From the quality of the sound, the larger and more detailed artwork and the history - records themselves are something to be experienced just as much as the music contained within that spiral groove."

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