Sunday, October 3, 2010

Power Station Lineage

This post is the third in a series of three.

I was once asked by a high profile client to state my engineering/musical pedigree. This got me pondering about the idea of a lineage of audio engineering knowledge and praxis passed on/transmitted from Master to Apprentice through direct contact and experience.

Jason Corsaro "grew up" (as they say about one's apprenticeship) at the famed Power Station recording studio, "a former Consolidated Edison plant located in what was then the deserted stretch of 53rd Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues, squarely in Hell's Kitchen."

quoted from this article

At the time, the Power Station was above and beyond every other studio in terms of setting the standard for audio innovation and excellence. Or as Mix Magazine puts it:

In the 1980s, New York's Power Station Studios (now Avatar Studios) was Mecca for the recording industry.

It's where the famed Bob Clearmountain did much of his early work. In fact he was one of the studio's founders. He was my favorite mix engineer from very early on (in fact he was the only mix engineer whose name I knew) particularly for his work with The Talking Heads, King Crimson and The Rolling Stones.

Jason Corsaro started out assisting for Clearmountain. One of the first clients Clearmountain brought to the Power Station was the R & B band that Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards started called Chic. Jason eventually became Nile Rodger's engineer. The first Nile Rodger's produced album that Jason recorded and mixed was by a new, fairly unknown artist named Madonna. The album was called Like A Virgin.

According to Wikipedia:

Jason Corsaro, the record's audio engineer, persuaded Rodgers to use digital recording, a new technique at the time which Corsaro believed was going to be the future of recording because test pressings always sounded consistent.

The album was extremely successful and basically launched Madonna's career.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it diamond, for shipment of ten million copies across the United States. Worldwide it has sold 21 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time.

According to author J. Randy Taraborrelli, "Every important artist has at least one album in his or her career whose critical and commercial success becomes the artist's magic moment; for Madonna, Like a Virgin was just such a defining moment".

For most of the time that I worked with Jason I had no idea that he engineered Like A Virgin. It was a chance comment by Bill Laswell that clued me in. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to come across an interview with Jason where he candidly discusses some of his techniques, working with Bob Clearmountain and Nile, and working with Madonna. It's very enlightening. I highly recommend it to all audio engineers reading this here in The Mix.

When I picked up and read the very first issue of Spin Magazine back in 1985 I knew rather quickly that Madonna was going to be very successful. It had a photo layout of her in various settings in which she, or the art director, was making a clear and obvious connection to the Jungian archetype called the Great Mother. And, to top it off, a woman with the name Madonna makes an album and a single called Like A Virgin. I don't know how much more aligned to an archetype - a deeply ingrained patterning in the substrata of the collected consciousness - one can get. What a brilliant marketing strategy, I thought.

It's of great interest to my sociological, cosmological, and hermetic researches and applications that it was Jason who engineered the record that made Madonna ( the contemporary singer) a cultural and quasi-religious icon. This doesn't mean I like, endorse, or recommend her music, by the way.

In the same way that Madonna played the role and function of the "Madonna" archetype, all of the forces that put her on top of the pop charts could be said to have fulfilled the function of another earth-moving archetype known as The Chariot in the Tarot.

The Chariot is best studied in Aleister Crowley's Book of Thoth book on Tarot though he briefly says, "The Charioteer is the bearer of the Holy Grail" in the commentary to chapter 8 in the Book of Lies.

According to Aleister Crowley we entered a new Aeon of spiritual and cultural development in the Spring of 1904. He called it the Aeon of Horus after the Egyptian God who was the son of Isis and Osiris. Through his Qabalistic calculations Crowley determined that The Chariot, that particular archetype, is the formula of this new Aeon.

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