/ Vinicio Adames

Vinicio Adames - El Proceso del Deseo (S.O.L.O., 1990)

Esta entrada también está disponible en español. Haga click aquí para ver la versión en español.

Vinicio Adames is one of the pioneers of electronic music in Venezuela. Together with Ángel Rada and Miguel Noya, he has been a leader of the avant garde of the country for a long time. Just as happened with them, however, it was very difficult for him to find an audience due to the rather low enthusiasm for electronic music in the country compared to North America or Europe at every level: from the DJs on the radio, to the labels that refused to explore beyond the safe, popular genres of merengue and rock. As such, despite being the son of one of the greatest chorus directors in the country (source in Spanish), (Vinicio Adames Sr.), Adames' discorgraphy and his electronic experiements wer eprimarily self-released on private labels. His album Al Comienzo del Camino released in 1985 is an interesting interpretation of new wave, which were it not for its lyrics in Spanish and its philosophical and occultist themes (in contrast with the heavy sci-fi and often punk-derived themes in new wave would fit right in among the British scene - a quite remarkable feat, considering how difficult it was to even purchase all the necessary equipment for that sound from an ocean away, much less perform it as well as he does, all by himself. And even with these challenges, he still had space for beautiful and strange experiments like the poem Efecto, Difusor Estelar, which takes the listener on a journey to space, both internal and external. This album is quite well known on the internet as-is, with quite a bit of recognition thanks to the Archaic Inventions blog, so much so that there's even a reissue on Trueclass Records. But today, I want to bring you another work by Adames that is much lesser known, with barely any evidence of existence apart from the Discogs page and the CD I have in my hands today.

Vinicio Adames in 1990
Vinicio Adames in 1990

The album El Proceso del Deseo was released in 1990, five years after his previous work - an eternity in terms of technological advancement. Adames nevertheless remains at the vanguard of technology here, with accordingly advanced instrumentation compared to his previous record, a sound completely different that goes beyond the new wave to something close to being a movie soundtrack of the era - something which, by the way, he did end up doing in the years to come, becoming a prolific composer for Venezuelan cinema. We will talk about his work on film soundtracks another time; for now, here we have this huge, atmospheric, even "epic" sound compared to the much more restrained El Comienzo de Camino. Not only is this one of the first records in the country to have this kind of sound, once again showing that he was on par with other artists in the West, it also has one of the first experiments combining electronic music with tango, on the track Metropolis, preceding the Metrotango project by over 15 years. This theme was also used as part of the soundtrack during a showing of Firtz Lang's masterpiece with the same title. All in all, it's a unique record with many interesting moments, and I hope you all like it as much as I do, though I have few details about its production apart from what we know about its composer in general, details you can find at, surprisingly enough, his website.

The mysterious image "The Bride", included inside the CD booklet. A confusing image that may show a family crest, but is very difficult to discern
The mysterious "The Bride" included inside the CD booklet

Even though I can say a lot of good about the record, there's a huge problem that cannot be ignored. No, it's not about the music - all tracks are pretty great! - but the disc itself. Mr. Adames, always at the vanguard, decided to press his compositions onto a CD, a format that was still relatively new in 1990 and whose players were still very expensive for the average consumer. In those times there was not a single company pressing discs within Venezuela, given that the record labels and vinyl pressing plants considered that the CD was only a fad, and vinyl would take it over at the end of the day. As much as that assessment was right on the money, in any case, for Mr. Adames the only option for pressing a CD in 1990 was to send it out to another country, and for some unknown reason he chose Discovery Systems, a US company primarily known for pressing small runs for Warner Bros. and radio stations. In those days, the manufacture of CDs was still not that well understood and, unfortunately, Discovery Systems apparently didn't have any idea how to press good discs - it's so common, in fact, to get discs from them in an unplayable state, even sealed copies, that their Discogs page specifically calls them out on it. If you get a CD from them, you're gambling with very high odds that it's going to be bitrotten, if not outright unplayable.

Being able to play this album in the first place, therefore, was quite an adventure. First I did what I do with all my CDs, I plug in a reader to my laptop and have iTunes extract all the tracks in ALAC. 40 minutes have passed, and the first track is nowhere near done. iTunes isn't even able to play it, either. I thought that I would need to try Exact Audio Copy (EAC) to try and get some data off the disc, so I plugged in the reader to my Windows laptop to try. I've never seen EAC reject a disc outright before! In desperation, I tried to play the tracks in foobar2000, and sure enough I got a couple seconds worth of sound from track 1, which gave me huge relief - there was still readable data on the disc! - but it still was very little, and what's more, it sounded awful. I tried reading the raw bits with dd, and this just confused me more as I could only get a few KB off the entire disc. After asking many CD experts and sort-of experts, I got an idea. This disc was pressed in 1990, maybe given how new the technology was, the disc may be out of spec per the Red Book in a way that a modern USB CD drive will reject, but an old player will ignore the issues and play whatever it can. The only CD player old enough in my apartment for this to maybe work was a PS2, so I connected the console's RCA output to the only computer I have in the house that still has Line In (Apple...why'd you take it out...? The socket's still the same, let us choose...!), I put the disc in, and crossed my fingers because the laser in my PS2 is not exactly in the best state...and it worked. It sounded like garbage, with lots of error correction noise, but it worked.

An image of the setup used to extract data from the CD, including a CRT, a PS2, a DAC that is acting as auxiliary passthrough to convert RCA to line in, and an old Dell Optiplex in the background actually recording
The terrible things I do to bring music to my readers

The recording I am bringing to you today might be the last that this disc will ever give, given the poor state it's in. Normally, when I put up music for this blog, I leave it exactly as-is, with no noise reduction or correction, so I can guarantee to you that what you hear is exactly what's on the source, with nothing removed. Reducing noise in a recording is always a tradeoff, however harmless it may seem when you do it. However, this time I cannot in good conscience give you something this noisy, so I used iZotope RX with a lot of care and Austrian Audio Hi-X65 monitors so I could bring you the best quality. Given the reputation that Discovery Systems has gained over the years, I don't think there's going to be another copy in a better state. I know that even with the cleanup, it still doesn't sound too great, but I promise it's the best I can do to clean the audio. If you think you can do a better job, I've included the "dirty" version for download. One tip for those who try - for some reason, CRT horizontal scanning noise leaked in to the recording. I don't know how that made it through the cables, but the first step in the cleanup was a notch filter at 15753 Hz, which helped a lot.


Liner Notes

El Proceso del Deseo
Music composed and executed by Vinicio Adames
DBX 166 & P.330 by Exodus
Voices in Variaciones de Otoño by Tita Beaufrand

Produced by M.G.C. and S.O.L.O.
Sound engineer: Alejo Portal
Grabado digitalmente en los estudios S.O.L.O.
Octubre 1989
S.O.L.O. : Vinicio Adames y Enrique Delfino
Diseño Gráfico: Silvia Milliani

Caracas: Apartado 50903 -Caracas 1050 Venezuela, Fax: 742851
New York: Malvern Group, Inc., 200E, 42ns St, 15th Floor, New York, New York 10017

Track List & Rip

  1. Atracción por Video
  2. El Proceso del Deseo
  3. Galería de Abstracción
  4. Maitines - Aquelarre
  5. Crickets
  6. Gero Era
  7. Variaciones en Otoño
  8. A La Caza del Susurro
  9. Metropolis
  10. The Bride

Download the album here!
Dirty version here