Welcome, Intervention Records

There's a new audiophile-quality vinyl reissue endeavor on the scene: Intervention Records (IR). Dedicated to reissuing recordings that are "entirely new to the vinyl reissue market, particularly titles that never saw a vinyl release at all or only saw very limited release," Intervention Records' titles are sourced from the best available sources, primarily analog master tapes, and are mastered in the analog domain by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.

IR's 180-gram pressings are manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA. Original album art is restored by Tom Vadakan, who currently works on the Music Matters Blue Note jazz reissues. Jackets are pledged to be "old-style" deluxe, with film-lamination on heavy stock and printing by Stoughton Printing Co.

Intervention Records currently has seven titles in the making. The four currently available for pre-order, and promised for delivery by the end of 2015, include two titles from Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan's Stealer's Wheel: their calling card introduction, Stealer's Wheel, whose track "Stuck in the Middle (With You)" was immortalized in movie director Quentin Tarantino's debut film, Reservoir Dogs, and their follow-up, Fergusie Park.

From IR's (Lost) '90s Series are due Seattle's Everclear's breakout CD, Sparkle and Fade, and its double-platinum sophomore effort, So Much for the Afterglow. Track titles such as "Heroin Girl," "Heartspark Dollarsign," "Everything to Everyone," and "I Will Buy You a New Life" suggest that this music will not be heard at Presidential Campaign rallies.

Michael Fremer's advance review of Fergusie Park for AnalogPlanet.com, made possible by a test pressing that promises to sound identical to the final issue, can be found here. Mikey notes that while the original issue was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Sterling Sound, the reissue sounds far better, in part because it is not dynamically limited.

Insider Effort
Intervention Records is the brainchild of almost 17-year industry veteran Shane Buettner (above right, with Kevin Gray left), who currently manages Marketing and Business Development for Vandersteen Audio worldwide. Buettner's previous credits include web editor for the Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Editor-In-Chief of Home Theater Magazine, and VP of Communication for AudioQuest. But perhaps more important than all that, the boy loves music.

Buettner expects that IRS will span eras and genres, with rock and pop the main focus. Think especially new wave, alt rock, and music from the 1980s to today. While IR's first titles are from Universal Music Group (UMG), other titles are anticipated from Warner, Sony, and smaller indie labels. So far, classical has not entered the picture, but several jazz titles are currently under consideration.

In a lively phone conversation, Buettner told Stereophile, "I think that the reissue market has been ready for a little bit of disruption. The same titles and artists get reissued over and over again. Jimi Hendrix is such a prolific artist; he's been releasing albums for decades after passing away. Nor has death hurt Johnny Cash's recording career one bit. There's just too much great music out there that should be on premium vinyl."

In other words, if you're longing for yet another reissue of Dark Side of the Moon or Kind of Blue, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for music you just can't find, or unfamiliar music that may in fact bring you unexpected pleasure (and isn't recommended by a soul-less computer program), Intervention may just be your ticket to bliss.

Why the title, Intervention Records? "If you love music and you're not listening to your favorite records from your favorite bands on vinyl, someone needs to subject you to an intervention where you can come to grips with the wonderful truth that vinyl is the best way to experience the emotional drug that is great music!" says Buettner.

"The flip side of this coin," says the man who played the hell out of his beloved Everclear records in the '90s, "is that once listening to vinyl gets a hold of you, someone might have to hold an intervention to get you stop spending your very last dime chasing down records all over the globe, and filling your house with them. That's kind of what I'm working to prevent at my place these days."

Yes, Buettner has very strong feelings about vinyl. So strong that, while he expects that most of his reissues will be of analog recordings, he contends that IR's vinyl reissues of digital recordings will sound better than the original digital issues. Asked to expound on the explanation posted to IR's website, he said,

"I believe that hi-rez digital files always sound better when they're transferred to/cut to LP and played back over LP. Obviously, I'm not an engineer, and I don't even play one on TV. But my speculative answer as to why is that digital playback in real time is highly complicated. There is lots of digital filtering and processing that happens in real time, while you're listening to the music. Your brain has to do a lot of work to turn those discreet digital samples into something that approximates a waveform.

"In a way, it's analogous to the way 24 discrete frames of film, due to persistence of vision, look like a living motion picture to us when we watch a movie. However, converting digitally recorded music to analog, and playing it back in analog in real time is a much simpler and benign process. Because it's free of the high amount of processing required of your brain to listen to digital via a digital-to-analog converter, listening on analog becomes a much more involving experience."

Among the processing efforts that Buettner feels digital playback requires of the brain is dealing with pre-ringing. In pre-ringing, he says, you actually hear an artifact of the transient before you hear the transient itself.

"Think about how unnatural a process that is. In nature and in music, you would never actually hear a distortion of a musical note before the note is played. In digital, it happens all the time. There are only two or three companies that are sophisticated enough to avoid pre-ringing. The ones I'm aware of are Ayre Acoustics and Meridian, but I would not doubt that dCS is one of them as well. If you take those companies out of the equation, every person everywhere who listens to digital audio hears these artifacts. It's perfect sound forever in the sense that those distortions are perfectly preserved and will be heard by everyone all the time."

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! (It's legal in Washington, from which state both Buettner and now Serinus hail.) And, while you do, be sure to check out regular updates on Intervention Records issues at the company's Facebook page. There, you'll also learn more about Buettner's analog sightings and irrepressible musical loves. Fun.

COMMENTS
stodgers's picture

Those two releases from Everclear would be terrific to hear on vinyl. I've always thought Afterglow was a modern day Beach Boys album with the layering and production.

But just an FYI - they're from Portland, not Seattle. ;)

John Atkinson's picture
This album was engineered by Phill Brown, who was responsible for some great-sounding recordings from Stevie Winwood (his first solo album) and Talk Talk.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile