Difference Engine Reboots, Recomputes

Digital distribution and production has created a world where the unheard classics of epochs gone by can not just be beautifully resuscitated, but also inspire a resurgence. This is a wordy way of saying so-called shoegaze, which sadly disappeared during the rise of so-called grunge, is back big.

I’ve been covering this angle for Wired for the last year or two, and will keep it up as long as those unheard classics are unearthed. Speaking of, did you hear that Difference Engine’s debut Breadmaker has been finally reissued. Now you did.

Difference Engine Reissues Breadmaker, Recomputes Shoegaze
Atmospheric rock band Difference Engine released its debut Breadmaker in 1994 to a world being weaned off My Bloody Valentine and so-called shoegaze rock. But now that a remastered version of the record has been reissued, the group’s love of Emax samplers, sci-fi and Charles Babbage’s automatic calculator can be fully appreciated.

“A friend suggested the William Gibson and Bruce Sterling book title for our band name, and we immediately took to it, since it encompassed our sound, which is a blend of human and machine,” Difference Engine vocalist and bassist Margaret Ayre told Wired.com in an e-mail interview, explaining the band’s steampunk roots. “Our old Emax was kind of like Babbage’s device: old and finicky, but it sounded great!”

“Our sampler hacking felt very cyberpunk at the time,” added guitarist and vocalist Michael Corcoran.

It was, given the sonic spectrum of that era, which ranged from the muscular guitar army of Swervedriver to the more ambient gauze of soundscapers like Slowdive. Corcoran placed Difference Engine’s processed pop explorations somewhere between both bands.

To retain Breadmaker’s epochal sound, original Difference Engine member Aubrey Anderson remastered it using an Alan Smart compressor. The technique paid off, according to Corcoran.

“It’s like a meat grinder in reverse: What comes out is awesome,” he enthused. “It seems like the world is finally starting to figure out how to make digital recordings sound good; the new Beatles remasters are a good example. Analog tools that are very friendly to the digital process are helping.” MORE @ WIRED

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