STEVE ALBINI, revered music engineer and noise-rock trailblazer, dead at 61 | Revolver

STEVE ALBINI, revered music engineer and noise-rock trailblazer, dead at 61

Made classic albums with Nirvana, Neurosis and many more
Steve-Albini-promo-photo-Paul Natkin-Getty Images, Paul Natkin / Getty Images
photograph by Paul Natkin / Getty Images

Steve Albini — frontman of Shellac and Big Black, and the iconic studio engineer behind albums from Nirvana, Neurosis, Code Orange and Sunn O))), among countless others — has died after suffering a heart attack. The influential music figure was 61.

News of Albini's passing was confirmed this morning (May 8th) by the staff at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago (via Pitchfork), though its currently unclear when he died.

Albini was a towering figure in the Chicago D.I.Y. music scene. While born in Pasadena, California, and raised in Montana, by 1981 Albini had formed noise-rock innovators Big Black in Illinois. By the late Eighties, he'd moved onto the controversial Rapeman project, and later started Shellac in 1992.

Albini was likewise a venerated audio engineer (having spent his career rejecting the title of "producer"), often working with a raw, in-the-room feel. Some of the iconic albums he tracked over the years include Nirvana's In Utero, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me, the Pixies' Surfer Rosa, the first four Jesus Lizard albums, Neurosis' Times of Grace, and hundreds more. Last year, he engineered Code Orange's The Above.

He was also a staunch supporter of independent music, having written a biting essay in the Nineties titled "The Problem With Music," which poked holes in the big business models and profit margins of the post-Nirvana boom.

In more recent times, he critiqued his own part in helping create "edgelord" culture through the darker aspects of bands like Big Black and Rapeman.

Shellac's sixth album, To All Trains — which is the band's first LP in 10 years — is due to be released next Friday (May 17th) through longtime label Touch and Go Records.