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Shields says that the effect of the differences is cumulative and best understood over the course of a full listen. Having listened to the CDs on three different pairs of headphones and two different stereo systems of varying quality, I can say that they are slightly different (one is just a hair louder) but the qualitative distinctions are extremely minimal, at best. And there is a digital glitch on “What You Want” on one of the remasters, which seems both comical and tragic considering how long these have been in the works. So I guess I’ll be listening to the one without the mistake, then.

My Bloody Valentine Loveless (Reissue) By Mark Richardson; May 11, 2012

I think this is really the best/last word on the remaster aspect, which is clearly quite important to the release seeing as virtually everyone’s been able to listen to one of the most perfect albums ever made since it was released, yet it’s now time to re-inaugurate it as slightly more perfect.

Reading comments, blog posts, and discussions on the filesharing site have been illuminating, since I’m used to hearing talk of audiophilia in the arena of Bill Evans’s Complete Riverside Recordings or Steely Dan, neither of which I’m particularly interested in listening to. So when some people say things like, “This sucks. Not worth the download.”, I have to question their allegiance to anything at all. [Not worth the free and illegal download?!] And maybe some people just like Bill Evans more than MBV or like [authentic artist] more than [flashy artist] or vice versa — it doesn’t matter. That’s fine! But somehow (other than the rare classical music snob, who’s usually more measured about his [and it’s always a he] posting on internet message boards) the issue of audio quality has always seemed, paradoxically, to be separate from that musical quality. And it’s cool to me to see the question raised and then sort of waved away very elegantly as above.

What I’m saying is “audiophile” is practically an oxymoron if you think about it.

My Bloody Valentine - Sometimes

My Bloody Valentine
"Sometimes" (Re-Mastered DAT 2006 Version)

Damn if this isn’t my favorite My Bloody Valentine song. I have no idea what it’s about, but I have a feeling it’s about finding specific beauty and stunning detail in the overwhelming crush of human experience. Because that’s just what it sounds like.

And now that I look up the lyrics online, I find out something, yes, that agrees with me. It’s probably just confirmation bias. The brain is always on this merry fact finding mission that only ever ends up finding itself.

Turn my head into sound
I don’t know when I lay down on the ground
You will find your hand down hurts to love
Never cared and the world turned hearts to love
We will see, oh now, in a day or two

The verses are composed of clipped declaratives and imperatives like stage directions and window dressing. The requisite Exeunt pursued by feedback joke. What has struck me now about this song that’s caused me to stop dead and start again?

These Loveless re-masters will be an occasion to write and talk about the album, of course. To me and my 29 year old ears, $350 amp/DAC, powered bookshelf speakers, and yes, don’t forget, LAME V0-encoded MP3 [read: not very great kit] the DAT and standard re-masters sound exactly the same. There’s a lot of literature out there to say that audiophiles are a bunch of idiots (sort of, paraphrasing here). I certainly think they are. I mean, we can talk about numbers and psychopathology and emotional listening and sampling rates, fine, but if we still have to sit down and listen to Pink Floyd or Steely Dan at the end of that conversation, then I’d just rather not.

But I have really enjoyed listening to Loveless in an attentive and active way, a way that I really never listen to music. Even if I may have given myself a slight case of tinnitus in the process. Because it really is beautiful music that deserves fresh, close listening to.

110 plays | Download

In America, Warner Bros. licensed Loveless and Isn’t Anything to Plain Records, and they basically just ripped [the audio] off the CD and put it on vinyl [in 2003]. They did an awful, terrible job. It was done without my permission, and the sound quality was 100% wrong. It was a rip off to anyone who bought it. But I didn’t know anything about it until they were in the shops. We actually got an injunction against it being imported into the UK at the time because it was technically a bootleg but, in America, Warners operate under their own law, so it might have been slightly legal in the United States.

Kevin Shields

But dude! It just sounds better on vinyl.