Six-time GRAMMY-winning producer Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, headed home with another golden gramophone after the the 59th GRAMMY Awards. This year he earned Album Of The Year honors as a producer on Adele’s multi-GRAMMY-winning 25. His previous wins include a 2010 nod for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical and a slew of multigenre best performance, album and song wins reaching back to 2007.
In her tweet announcing the then-forthcoming album, Adele referenced her approach to the writing of 25 with a nod to the bittersweet nostalgia and subtle self-loss often felt amidst the struggle to navigate the transparent border crossing between the early and the late 20’s: "I'm making up with myself. Making up for lost time. ... I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back."
Applied nostalgia is an increasingly common theme in contemporary projects and releases, perhaps speaking to a shared sense of navigating a similarly transitional time and space.
Alongside his work on 25, Burton has been busy with projects of his own — most recently a forthcoming series of covers and reimagined arrangements of notable tracks from the early 1960s titled Resistance Radio. It is a conceptual project both inspired by, and tangentially in collaboration with, the Amazon Studios original series "The Man In The High Castle," which is based on the 1962 dystopian novella of the same name by Philip K. Dick. Artists signed on for Burton’s project include GRAMMY winners Beck and Norah Jones, and GRAMMY-nominated indie-rock band the Shins, among others.
In a recent sit-down with NPR for a +1 edition of "All Things Considered," Burton discussed his approach to re-interpreting these '60s songs, framing the album conceptually as a fictional "pirate" radio station. "Based on the subject matter of the show, it worked. You could do a dark record, because it was a dark time. It's resistance radio ... so that's what helped us pick the songs."
Burton will co-produce the album with Sam Cohen, the former Yellowbirds and Apollo Sunshine member behind some notable early releases on Burton's Columbia imprint label 30th Century. The production and arrangements on Resistance Radio perfectly match the bleak, dystopian vibe of "The Man In The High Castle," creating a complete musical period piece.
While analysis of the album's dual service as a legitimate creative work and a practical piece of conceptual marketing for a TV show could fill an article of it's own, the album's place among the ongoing resurgence of the 1960s sound and increasing preference for the aesthetic warmth and feel of vinyl recordings within the music industry merits equal interest.
GRAMMY winner Jack White's own Third Man Records opened its doors in February on a brand-new 10,000-square-foot vinyl pressing plant capable of churning out 5,000 records per hour and operating continuously 24/7 if demand requires. Reportedly, production pressing requests are already streaming in from artists and labels worldwide.
In his recent speech at the 2017 Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week celebration, White expressed sentiments that mirrored Burton’s approach to Resistance Radio, saying simply "You let the music tell you what to do. You don’t tell the music what to do."
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