Symphonic Masterpieces in Better-Than-Ever Fidelity, Mixed by a German D.J. | The Slowdown - Culture, Nature, Future
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Courtesy Deutsche Grammophon

Over the past decade, German D.J. and producer Christian Löffler has enjoyed a growing audience for his distinct blend of beats and melancholy. But Löffler’s recent project—interpreting work by legendary classical composers—may bring him a new level of attention.

The Berlin-based music label Deutsche Grammophon, home to one of the world’s oldest sound archives, tapped Löffler to create songs using tracks from its ongoing Shellac Project, in which a selection of the company’s recordings made on shellac discs (commonly known as 78s, the principal format for record-making for the first half of the 20th century) are digitized in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture. The process takes place in two parts: First, a song is played on its “metal master,” a metal disc etched with the original transcriptions of a musical performance from which subsequent shellac discs are pressed, and recorded as an audio file. It’s then reviewed by an engineer, who digitally removes any clicks and extraneous noises, and uses an equalizer to shape and sculpt the sound. The result: Some of the world’s best-known symphonic works get brought to life with better-than-ever fidelity.

After digesting the material, Löffler released an electronica tribute to Beethoven last November, and earlier this year, debuted Parallels, an album featuring tracks drawing from Wagner’s opera Parsifal (1882), Chopin’s nocturnes (1827–1846), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (1808). Because Löffler’s songs were made using the classical works’ primary sources (rather than a “copy” of the audio, as heard on a record), a heightened level of audible richness and intimacy infuses each track. “Christian took the recordings, with all of their original sounds and ambiance, as the starting point [for his interpretations],” says Sanne-Marije Aartsen, a senior production manager at Deutsche Grammophon who worked on the project. “This way of integrating not just Beethoven, Bach, or Bizet, but the full recording tradition [of 78s], transports this music into the twenty-first century. It’s how we came to the title Parallels: three timelines of composing, recording, and reworking the music unfold simultaneously.”

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After nearly 20 years in the fashion business, 15 of those spent running his eponymous label, Phillip Lim is taking an ia statement on why he was pausing from the runway, citing “sustainability in all its forms” as a top concern: “I’d like to take a m

Stefan Sagmeister looking straight into the camera.

Stefan Sagmeister has designed a lot of album covers in his day—among them, David Byrne’s Feelings (1997) and Talking Heads’s 2003 box set Once in a Lifetime. Here, the notoriously cheeky graphic designer (interviewed by Spencer on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast), shares a playlist of some of his favorite Byrne cover songs. Byrne himself wraps his Broadway tour of American Utopia tomorrow, Feb. 16, after a four-month run.

Photay in a black and white photograph taken in the woods, in front of a small lake.

New year, new grooves. Evan Shornstein, the Woodstock, New York, native behind the ambient-electronic outfit Photay, shares with us a playlist of motivational tracks to usher in good vibes for 2020. A particular surprise—for us, anyway—is the second-to-last tracSelf Portrait. Like us, you’ll probably have it on heavy rotation in the months ahead.

A sparkler firecracker.

Andrew Gant, a British composer, singer, Oxford University lecturer, and the author of Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir (Profile Books), shares a sampling of classic Christmas songs and elaborates on their surprising folk origins.