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Sixteen Songs

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Album Review

Don Zientara's name is not unknown to anyone even vaguely interested in D.C. punk or its leading voices, Fugazi. For years he has been associated with Dischord Records, producing and engineering many of its greatest releases from his basement studio known as Inner Ear. Now, we finally get to hear what the man himself can do. And what he can do, apparently, is the lowest of the lo-fi. Whereas most would argue that the whole lo-fi movement died the day Lou Barlow went major, Zientara's work makes it seem more immediate and relevant than ever. His songs are straightforward and recorded simply, allowing for each song and its substance to take precedence over any sort of production gloss. (Granted, that is what the label — Northern Liberties, run by Ian MacKaye — is all about.) It's not easy listening, given this lack of production, but that is, in fact, a good thing. Sometimes good songs are ruined by too much tinkering, and this is an example of good songs made better by being left alone.


Born: Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Best known as the producer for most of the bands on Washington D.C.'s legendary Dischord Records, Don Zientara was also a musician -- once a member of Under Heaven, in the early eighties -- who released his first solo album, Sixteen Ssongs, on long time collaborator and friend Ian MacKaye's Northern Liberties label in 2003. Originally an studio artist and sound engineer at the National Gallery of Art, Zientara began his foray into documenting the music of late seventies/early eighties Washington,...
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Sixteen Songs, Don Zientara
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