by Joshua Pickard (http://nooga.com):
For Old Time Travelers, Chattanooga’s foremost purveyors of folk and bluegrass antiquity, the chance to bury themselves in the history of the music that has so completely captivated them was an opportunity too good to pass up.
The band (composed of Matt Downer and Clark Williams) is currently working with an engineer in Nashville to record their fourth record onto a handful of wax cylinders, which will then be digitized and pressed to CD—and subsequently released online for download. Each song would be recorded to its own wax cylinder, with the band looking to finish 10 songs in total.
To help fund this project, they’ve taken to Kickstarter and given people the opportunity to share in this unusual recording. They’ve completely funded their campaign, but there is still time to donate. On their Kickstarter page, they say they’ll use the excess funds to make more CD copies of the album.
“I think wax cylinders are just cool,” Williams said. “This was one of the earliest successful recording technologies, and [they] are interesting historically. For instance, they couldn’t be copied, so each cylinder contained a unique performance, kind of like pre-Gutenberg books.”
I’ve always been drawn to old recordings, the older the better. Old-time music to me is live music, a live experience. The modern recording mindset of auto-tune and “we’ll fix it in the mix” doesn’t really make sense to me and many times can make the recording process a cold, clinical experience. I hear plenty of life in the old string band recordings; some are so wild they are almost scary. For musicians and listeners, technology can sometimes kind of suck the life out of the music. When recording to wax cylinders came around, there was a great sense of mystery and wonder about the recording process. Being able to record and play back sound was like magic, and we now take it for granted. We’ve always recorded live to one microphone; it is exciting to take it even further back and record in front of a horn and watch the needle dip into the wax and cut it live as it happens—no mixing, no overdubs, you get what you’ve got.