In this wonderful and inspiring Tested video, our favorite Virgil of science and technology, Adam Savage, takes us on a journey into the world of Jack White’s Third Man Records in Detroit, Michigan. In the almost 30-minute episode, Adam records a song, talks with Jack White (former White Stripe’s frontman, now record company frontman) about the existential pleasures of analog recording, and then gets a thorough tour of the Third Man Records pressing plant. How thorough? So much so that Adam even nerds out over the boiler room!
For anyone interested in analog recording and record pressing technology, this video is a treasure trove. Jack and Adam have a fascinating discussion about the strengths and limitations of the analog recording process and how all of the format’s eccentricities add to the charm (and “soul”) of the resulting sound. They also talk about urgency in art and whether a lot of that is missing in today’s digital media where everything can be easily copied and corrected. Back when studio time was expensive, equipment was fickle, and albums were recorded in a matter of days and weeks, instead of months and years, that urgency resulted in a kind of artistic product we rarely experience nowadays.
While at Third Man, Adam records a song, the Milk Carton Kids’ Brain Candy, and then watches the engineering of the track and the cutting of the stamper (the master from which the vinyl will be molded). From there, Adam gets a full tour of the pressing plant as they walk through every step of the vinyl record manufacturing process. One of the many impressive things about the plant is that they recycle everything; nothing goes to waste. Even the center of rejected records, with their paper labels, are punched out and sold as coasters in the Third Man Records store while the rest of the vinyl is chopped up and reused.
One of the most impressive things in this video is the Third Man facility itself. It’s one of the most beautiful record stores and manufacturing plants I have ever seen. Everything drips with high-design and wow-factor, similar to the Mondrian-inspired impeccable design aesthetic of the White Stripes. I have no idea what it would be like to work in a bright yellow and blue factory all day, but I would assume it’s an upgrade from the norm.
For more background on Third Man, here’s a CBS This Morning segment about the label:
[H/t Boing Boing]