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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ivan's Choice - Fab Guiro!



Lol!

"All the records of the world"


I still remember it... it possibly happened on Christmas' time, I was a boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old and music and vinyl records were a family treasure: both mom and dad had their tastes, mom classical music and italian pop songs (Adamo, Sergio Endrigo, Luigi Tenco, Gino Paoli) and daddy choral pop music and Caruso and Mario Lanza vocal music (romanze)... myself, italian pop music (Camaleonti, Dik Dik, Pooh) and U.K. rock (Renegades, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Kinks and... Rolling Stones... I remember I preferred them to Beatles;-))...

One day, after receiving as a gift a Rolling Stones' 45 r.p.m. I still own ("Have you seen your mother, baby, standing in the shadow") and which I was playing aaaall the daaaaay long, risking to consume it, I told to mom one day: "When I'll get older ((i.e. adult), I'd want to own ALL the records of the World!"

... yes, "of" the world, not "in" the... sort-of underlining every disc ever pressed, issued, conceived, produced everywhere, anytime...

Sounds a nightmare-like affaire, BUT a younger me sure was thinking about the pleasure involved in owning, collecting and listening to every music ever played.

I remembered and shared this episode with mom, later, several years later, before she passed away, and - yes - she also was aware of this strange - in a young boy - statement... she smiled when I told her, as she was amused by the Scrooge-like image of myself blissfully swimming in a vinyl depot-like warehouse... an huge vinyl pool... meters deep 45 and 33 and 78 r.p.m. discs which only my love for music was able to preserve from scratching;-)

Amusing, BUT those were the days, folks...

More seriously... how many records have been pressed on the Planet, both as a grand total vinyl slabs and as different titles?

... a question to make everyone eyes swirling... BUT Scrooge McDuck's;-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Michel Petrucciani "Body and Soul" - a movie by Michael Radford


From last Cannes' Film Festival, a movie dedicated to the genius of Michel... his art, his love for life and women... between Paris and California (Big Sur) and NYC... always travelling with his heart musically abridged between Europe and USA.

The director, Oscar Award winner (The Postman, The Merchant of Venice) Michael Radford filmed "Body and Soul" documentary as a jazz improvisation, cool, spirited, kaleidoscopic... have a look to above linked trailer.

I cannot stand in my shoes in waiting to see the movie, out in Italian cinemas from today, June 22.

Yesterday evening, at Rome's Casa del Jazz, a Tribute concert with several great musicians, happened... also hosting, blessing and applauding, Michel's son, Alexandre.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mono-Traffic!



Traffic
Heaven Is In Your Mind/Mr. Fantasy Mono Edition LP
LP-5316


Traffic was one of the most original and influential British groups of the 1960s, gathering a diverse set of individual talents in vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood, singer/guitarist Dave Mason, drummer Jim Capaldi and reeds player Chris Wood. The foursome’s expansive talents and formidable creative chemistry allowed the musicians to integrate an array of folk, jazz, pop and R&B elements, infusing their eclectic stylistic mix with a playfully psychedelic spirit that perfectly captured the experimental sensibility of the times.

Traffic’s historic 1967 debut LP (produced by noted studio vet Jimmy Miller) was released in the U.K. as Mr. Fantasy, but initially reached U.S. shores in altered form as Heaven Is in Your Mind/Mr. Fantasy. The American edition featured an altered track listing and new cover art with Winwood, Capaldi and Wood but not Mason, who had quit the band prior to the album’s release.

The U.S. LP added the British singles “Paper Sun,” “Hole in My Shoe” and “Smiling Phases” to the album’s running order, along with a short snippet of the U.K. single “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” as a recurring motif between tracks. The American edition also tacked on the short closing track “We’re a Fade, You Missed This,” which is actually the fadeout of an alternate version of “Paper Sun.” The American LP’s title was quickly amended to Mr. Fantasy, and it was under that name that most stateside fans came to know the album, with the original U.S. edition becoming something of a rarity.

In any form, and under any title, Heaven Is in Your Mind/Mr. Fantasy ranks as one of the most audacious and inventive rock albums of its time. Such catchy tunes as “Paper Sun,” “Hole in My Shoe” and “Heaven Is in Your Mind” combine stylistic adventurousness with effortless melodic appeal, while more introspective numbers like “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Coloured Rain” capture early stirrings of prog-rock and jazz-fusion.

Sundazed’s new vinyl edition of this seminal vintage disc completely restores the album’s rare original U.S. cover art. The LP also features the album’s incredibly rare mono mix, which differs substantially from the album’s more familiar stereo mix. Pressed on pristine high-definition vinyl, Heaven Is in Your Mind/Mr. Fantasy now looks and sounds better than ever.

TRACK LISTING AND AUDIO SAMPLES:
1. Paper Sun
2. Dealer
3. Coloured Rain
4. Hole in My Shoe
5. No Face, No Name and No Number
6. Heaven Is in Your Mind
7. House for Everyone
8. Berkshire Poppies
9. Giving to You
10. Smiling Phases
11. Dear Mr. Fantasy
12. We’re a Fade, You Missed This

I ordered my personal copy at Ivan's;-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Science and audio - the listening enigma...


A mathematician is an happy individual: his early morning ideas are - usually - successfully showed on a blackboard, later and self-standing, one-way only, no shades or greys scale: black or white, right or wrong, period.

Music and audio, like medicine, are tentative, trial & error sciences, I'd dare saying "arts"... body complexity and fractal nature is, like, music (and related audio), an highly variable, elusive, extremely broad and magmatic matter and, no regrets, like a new medicine has pros & cons which have to be - mandatorily - tried on guinea-pigs-like men and women for results... well, we all WELL know about our audio habits;-)

Audio... incredibly "light", unimportant matter, for someone, IS - also incredibly - the very same as above... as unscientific and subjective as so technically and scientific in approach and design and building...

... so, enter the "Listening Enigma": these days, I'm experiencing - one more time or "repetita juvant" - that a famous or, expensive and/or superbly (bench) measuring piece of gear is able, subjectively, at listening, to be vastly outperformed by a lesser, cheaper, worst measuring, clanky gear.

I recently stopped using my trusty old Studer A-730 disk-player with its old, built-in Philips TDA-1541 "Double Crown" DAC and I'm using some loaned coaxial/digital outputs-fitted machines with Actinote MN-83 75 ohm cable linked to TacT 2.2 XP-AAA's DAC...

I didn't tried a C.E.C. TL0X, yet... or a 47Lab "Pi-tracer"... BUT, I tried for an afternoon a (quite) expensive Lyngdorf's, then swapped to an Arcam CD-73 "Diva" (Wolfson 9740 24 bit DAC bypassed, of course...) and a (Chinese) "Just Quality", a rubbish looking, mechanically noisy little, unassuming multi-standard - DVD/CD-R/CD-RW reading - machine.

Sure Lyngdorf's (now discontinued) disk-player is the best CD-spinning machine, silent, almost alien... (too much?) perfect!

Its sound is superbly detailed, BUT also uninvolving - i.e. in my case I wished to skip track after track after track, unrelaxed, sort-of "annoyed" by the full-length piece.... strange but true.

The CD-73 is an apparently cheap machine, but it's extremely transparent and less "mechanic-sounding" than Lyngdorf.

I kept it sounding for about one week, then, lacking the A-730 a digital output, as I wished for more "new" emotions... oh, oh... had handy a dusty, unused in months little gizmo, the a.m. "Just Quality" 20 euros (yes, unshamedly...) worth machine.

... and gave it a try...

With its digital-out, all nickel (no bad sounding gold plating...;-)) RCAs, the noisy disk-drawer and disk spinning... I don't know the exact reason, if any... the humble, embarassingly cheap "Just Quality" has the most beautiful, musically satisfying overall sound... low end, mids, highs, ambient and air among instruments, imaging and instruments location in soundstage, both depth and wide.

Maybe the highest torque DVD-compliant motor could explain this performance... I REALLY don't know... yet it's unbelievable, almost ill-fated, considering the price-tag!

... so, I'm asking myself... like in medicine, sometimes an humble, unassuming plant from Amazonia or Tibet (i.e. - the Rauwolfia used to tame blood-pressure disease) has more "healing power" than Glaxo/Smith-Kline's full R & D laboratories, I'm not as embarassed and unconfortable in sharing with you my above mentioned findings...

Ears and listening rule, folks... and how I like it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well Kept Secrets Dept. - Actinote MN-83 coaxial/digital cable


I'm not a cable freak... I used to love cable swapping when - years ago - I was using Futterman's H3AAA and Stax F-81, Basis Debut turntable and Syrinx PU-3 arm with Koetsu Rosewood Signature and Audio Research SP-10 pre-amp... I well remember those days... high wages x buying ratio, avidly reading The Absolute Sound and L'Audiophile magazines and... always looking for more and more "cable emotions" after the last rave review: Van den Hul, Yamamura, Tara Labs., XLO, Cardas, Kimber, Isoda and other exotic brands I was purchasing through Walt Bender's Audiomart ads magazine.

After slowly, BUT straight as a (slow) arrow going for horns and triodes, I began quitting the above mentioned expensive strings and ropes and... it was like I had to re-learn from scratch, BUT using my own ears and NOT reviewer's taste, how to connect my system gears... old Siemens' German-made and Western Electric's cotton speakers cable, silver Mundorf's and Eichmann's silver bullets RCAs, Supra Lo-Rad and Actinote's mains cables... that's it... an apparently complex system linked together with simple, cheap almost banal cables.

In the last couple of years I swapped to an ALL silver signal cables combo - i.e. the a.m. solid-core Mundorf's in cotton sleeve and Eichmann's Silver Bullets and I reached a very nice musicality: balanced, unfatiguing, smooth... exactly the contrary of commonly read in magazines and among audiophiles which & who describes silver wire as icy, cold and dry sounding!

Few days ago, I swapped the Franz Hinterlehner loaned (expensive) Nordost's 75 ohm/digital cable I was using between disk-player and the TacT RCS XP 2.2-AAA pre-amp/room-corrector/DAC with an old, better, a new old stock, Actinote MN-83 digital cable, always generously loaned by a friend.

It seems my enamourement for hi-end, salon cables will be revamped, folks... 83 cm of cable with WBT male RCAs are able to GREATLY improve overall digital playback, period.

Yes, I know... I'm discovering hot water... BUT, as always, adding an ingredient to a recipe can be awfully bad or heavenly good... and this last was the case.

I've been VERY impressed by improved resolution, broader and far, FAR better focused soundstage... furthermore, all the halos and codas after instruments stand still, at the end of a piece, is MUCH more "here"... new layers of ambient informations are, easily, "here", also on better knew recordings.

The Nordost - worth several hundreds euros - simply disappears vs. Actinote MN-83... bleached vs. beefy, cold vs. lively, slightly unnatural vs. natural and surprising at every phrase.

Apparently still available - and extremely honestly priced - on the market, also if with a very shy distribution, worldwide, Actinote proved to be a true winner... sure it's a new benchmark in my system, between disk player and DAC... and something I'll do not leave to go so easily;-)

My friend is well advised... and Gotorama's overall sonic beauty further improved... for cheap!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wooden Weirdos



... found this wood knots, embedded Chicco's portrait at Stefan's place... it's clouds-looking stuffs, but... eyes are Chicco's, my beloved puppy:-)

Oxigene


The Croda Rossa in Southern Tyrol, early in the morning, from our garni (pension) balcony...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Calouste Gulbenkian and the art of collecting or "Tell me what you own and I'll tell you who you are"



I have a quite long liason with (Esq.) Calouste Gulbenkian and his Foundation... music-wise, I avidly collected ALL the Argo issued discs funded and fed by the Trustee of Calouste Gulbenkian's Foundation and their impressive collection of music manuscripts, music-scores and never-published compositions then the property of the Foundation itself.

I began, MANY years ago, after reading a review on The Absolute Sound magazine about "The Bandar Log" by Koechlin and its sonic merits... back in early '80s it was quite easy to find also such an obscure item, and, by chance, "that" was my VERY first Argo's "Calouste Gulbenkian" disc... the first of many to come.

Messiaen, Wolpe, Tippet, Birtwistle, Dalla Piccola, Musgrave, Busoni, Gerrard, the a.m. Koechlin and many, many other (apparently) unknown composers were - sort-of - supported, funded and cocooned by the Foundation's Trustee... virtually ALL the Argos' contain unpublished, manuscript music scores and, very often, they are awesome, soooo seldom heard, played and known compositions which give to these discs my VERY highest ranking in my whole record collection.

The "Berceuse Elegiaque" by Ferruccio Busoni in among my most beloved, BUT virtually ALL the Argo's "Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation" Series are, TRULY are, (semi-unknown) masterpieces.

As also when still alive, Calouste Gulbenkian himself was a "quality champion" and the Foundation's Musuem and art(s) collections in Lisbon and Foundation's London Branch and their grants and ongoing projects, ALL speak about his superb tastes and wise, multi-cultural heritage...

All said, these Argo's ZRG-7xx are INCREDIBLE recordings, as well, in the same vein and with same vision as everything he made in his lifetime: the very best!

They are genuine gems and a veritable treasure on vinyl and, with their extensive liner notes, an enriching, extremely informative one-of-a-kind Series, as a whole ... I'd wish everyone to experience and enjoy such a beauty and a sought-after publication.




A quick note to the collector: the covers are quite a nightmare, as several discs have the VERY same front cover, a coloured ring on a black background (see pix), while only the rear cover shows the content... just be careful to do not purchase multiple copies of the same title, as it happened to yours truly, years ago;-)...

P.S. - my sincere thanking to Philippe Daverio who, by VERY, embarassing chance, showed Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation's Museum in Lisbon, during his yesterday "Passepartout" (TV program).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hipgnosis and Pink Floyd-related (visual) art in Sestri Levante




Closing today, BUT maybe more people will be able to join the interesting, tasty and juicy exhibition in Sestri Levante in the remaining, few hours left... too bad I'm not so near to Liguria to enjoy it, myself... but hope - at least - my friend Ric (who hinted to me this... thanks, pal) saw it.

Sure these people changed cover-art, with unleashed creativity.

Zen and the art of bench making























An humble, naive hommage to the ongoing Venice's 54th "Biennale" art-exhibition... they're shots taken this morning at (my) beloved Querini Park... young artists and artisans revisited the "bench" as a seat, an outdoor, park furniture and a gathering "tool"... this is the result, declined in several tones of poetry and craziness... ALL quite tasty to my (lovingly biased) eyes.

It's pop-art.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The thickest disc ever?






I found an incredible disc box, about 16 cm thick... it's Marie Claire Alain's COMPLETE Organ Works by J.S. Bach on Erato (French) label... it's a 25 discs box issued in 1968 which won several Prizes and, WOW, it was recorded during a couple of years in churches in Sweden, Denmark and Germany... the ancient organs are flawlessly recorded with a very detailed and lively sound, very "churchie":-)))

Only caveat... the sound engineer sort-of "truncated" the sound halo at the end of every piece... a quite opinable, unwise choice, better, an annoying defect to me.

Anyway, a nice, NICE found and... sure THE thickest disc in my whole collection:-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TVC/AVC - from Luxman AT-3000, to Serge Schmidlin's Silver Rock/Audio Consulting, to Dave Slagle's Intact... and Dick Olsher's review









I'm the proud, satisfied user of Dave Slagle's superb sounding TVCs since October 2009, as used in Thomas Mayer's VT25A Line stage and - soon - in the one-of-a-kind passive 4 ways crossover Thomas will brew for yours truly...

It seems the actual TVC's frenzy was originated by the nicely sounding Luxman's AT-3000 passive preamp which used - back in 1993 - their proprietary, in-house built TVCs... this piece of gear was quite expensive, a 4 digits (USD) affaire, BUT extremely shocking for the still multi-LEDs gears market and - most of all - reported as extremely well sounding.

Everyone was forced to "steal" and copy-cat the tycoon Lux' AT-3000 no-compromise approach... and a small-scale production blossomed: Audio Consultant's Serge Schmidlin (to become list-prices king) after Lux, Dave Slagle after Serge's, Thomas Mayer, after using Serge's, now a Dave's addict... it's a noble lineage, indeed.

Dick Olsher's review is - sort-of - THE mainstream audio community exposure for a typically small-scale, quasi whispered name and well-kept secret among DIYer and "goodears" around... while industry and paper mags are still shouting at this or that mega-bucks cables, the knowledged music lovers go to the core of nicely sounding parts in a circuit...

No hypes, no trivia... Dave's parts, with his dedication, care for details and after-sale GREAT support, both personal and public - via his superb technical Blog - truly are as rare as a four-leaf clover, in whole audio world.




An AVC/TVC's renaissance is going on, folks...