Daptone Records: MTV visits Brooklyn's analog oasis

If you think all new records sound sterile and cold, check out this amazing MTV video tour of Brooklyn's Daptone Records.

If you think all new records sound sterile and cold, check out this amazing MTV video tour of Brooklyn's Daptone Records. Hunkered down in a funky townhouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Daptone's revivalist sound is rough, raw and supremely soulful. It doesn't hurt that the records are cut direct-to-analog tape with real, hard working musicians. Unlike poser labels that record analog as an effect and immediately transfer to digital to edit, mix and master their music, Daptone's LPs and singles are 100% analog (only converting to zeros and ones to make CDs). The MTV video takes you inside the studio, designed and built by Daptone founders Bosco Mann and Neal Sugarman. Looking around the place you can see where the organic sound comes from, no wonder Daptone's music sounds so much like classic '60s soul labels Stax and King Records you halfway expect to hear James Brown pop up on a Daptone disc.

Mann records on a late 1960s Ampex 2-inch eight-track reel-to-reel machine, and edits the old fashioned way--with a razor blade--slicing and dicing the analog tapes to perfect the label's music. Daptone's "crunchy," in-your-face sound also comes from Mann's prized Radio Shack microphones. It's minimalist to the max, but its got the magic.

He must be doing something right, Amy Winehouse cut her smash "Back to Black" CD at Daptone. In the midst of the MTV tour Sugermann points to the studio couch and proudly announces, "Amy Winehouse farted in that cushion after eating a burrito." Well, alright!

Daptone's analog allegiance isn't merely aesthetic--the label has sold more than 30,000 7-inch singles to date--that's more than most of their better selling CDs. In a world where almost all music is synthetic and colorless, I'm glad Daptone is here, keeping it real.

My favorite Daptone band, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, sound like a great soul outfit from the bygone era, but they're here now. They're set to release "100 Days, 100 nights" on September 25.

Sharon Jones' new release Daptone Records
About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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