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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Berlin's SCHOOL of SOUND - Part 1




Entered quite late in the evening in an audio converted emptied classroom, like transported by a very nice sound... a man in his sixties, elegant in a linen butter-white dressing, was in a corner, white hairs and bold eyes.

I waited for the solo sax piece finished and then asked: "Nice recording... who's the musician? ... and the sound engineer?"

With a smile he only took a disk cover, showing it to me... then smiled again...

That was my first meeting with Knut Becker and his HEAR recording label!

He - not alone, nor the first... BUT cleverly - approaches the noble art of recording "holistically" - i.e. the "H" in the logo - asking to musicians for single takes, no editing, no digital reverb... only uninterrupted, flowing music.

The HEAR catalog is quite impressive: viola da gamba duo (Annette Oderstedt & Hans Reiners - The Passionate Leeras), solo baritone sax (Gert Anklam - Konzert fur B.) were the two titles which captured my attention and which herr Becker gave to me.

The recordings, extremely well made, used digital, large reverberant halls and Schoeps' KFM-6 spherical microphones (SCHOEPS KFM 6 -— The spherical design and matte-gray surface finish of Schoeps' KFM 6 ($6,699) resembles a binaural dummy head and follows similar principles. The KFM 6 records at a fixed angle of 90 degrees and is designed to yield a natural impression of space, depth and image. Two pressure transducers are mounted flush on the surface of the 20cm diameter sphere, acting as an acoustic baffle. The KFM 6's directionality is essentially constant throughout the audio frequency range, which is 18 to 16k Hz. The KFM 6's sensitivity is rated at 100 mV/Pa, its signal-to-noise ratio is 77 dBA and it handles 123dB SPL. It accepts 12- or 48V phantom power, ships with a suspension mount, a KG ball-and-socket joint for stand-mounting, a “Y” adapter cable, 5-pin XLR stereo cables and a wooden case.... the result are very impressive.

The Gert Anklam's live recording is, most of all, very, VERY seldom heard music... a 270 invited audience were there during the concert/recording and they're clearly audible, breathing, snorting, living during the (rehearsed) improvisation.

The baritone sax in Gert Anklam's skilled hands reminds me of Ludwig Streicher's singing double-bass I adore... incidentally, two large instruments capable of unheard finesses and nuances spreading on more octaves, while mostly used as humble colours in orchestra.

The music is LaMonte Young, Jon Hassel, Terry Riley-esque... the musician is walking on the stage and the soundstage is HUGE.

... but most important, it is great music, masterfully played and recorded, sure worth further investigations.

... and herr Becker only smiled when I asked "who recorded this"...

Gert Anklam's site

4 comments:

R_Carter said...

BTDT. You remind me of the original feelings I had listening to Keith Jarret's Koln Concert which *not* coincidentally was an ECM release. Gee, just thinking about it I recall also Manuel Barrueco transcript for guitar of the vary same concert, as well as a scent of patchouli....
And, unfortunately, I've not all you audiophile gear to render it. Just memories.

twogoodears said...

... mmmmh, Manuel Barrueco's Koln Concert, for guitar... sounds cool... I'll sure investigate on the matter... yes, Music, like smelling, is powerful in time and memory travelling...
Do you know I bought, with a ten years hiatus between the two purchases, two records which scented of patchouli inside the cover: For the Roses by Joni and Siesta OST by Miles and Marcus Miller...
Holy vinyl? Like tears from an old Madonna's statue, Southern Italy or Perù?;-)))

R_Carter said...

Siesta? That's something I'd thought reading your remarks on music and images. Siesta is definitely a multi level sensorial experience, and probably the scent was just the missing sense add-on...

twogoodears said...

I missed this, BUT you didn't;-)
Bravo!
You're right, Ellen Barkin's dark character in the movie is something, most of all... as Gabriel Byrne, Grace Jones, Isabella Rossellini and Jodie Foster's...
The added patchouli scent was possibly a clue... to a Siesta's sequel or...
Intriguing.