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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Harry Partch's Petaluma Tapes

Harry Partch

On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma (LP)
*Limited Edition LP release (180g vinyl) with previously unpublished bonus tracks + free download card*

stock is due soon, will begin shipping this Friday

** A towering monument in sound by a seminal composer** The history of American avant-garde music is a snarled knot, twisting through the decades, spanning genre, practice, and approach. Most narratives plant its origins within the post-war period, orbiting around John Cage, Morton Feldman, and those artists springing from the movements of Fluxus and free-jazz. American creative innovation issued unquestionable influence over the later half of 20th century, but the root of its radicalism was earlier, with its origins often misplaced. Rather growing from Europe, it begins as a distinctly indigenous form, the seeds planted by a handful of visionary and singular minds working in the shadows, laying the groundwork for what was to come. Of these, the composer Harry Partch is arguably the most notable. One of the most important and singular voices of his century, he the focus of New World Recording latest LP, a lavishly expanded reissue of his seminal 1966 release And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma.

 Harry Partch was a near perfect archetype of a now faded vision of American creative life. Cranky, single-minded, unflinchingly principled. A man whose artistic ideals led him to poverty and obscurity. A sometimes hobo drifter, who heard music where no else did. A composer, music theorist, and inventor / builder of instruments, Partch was born at the dawn of the 20th century, raised in the American West when it still held traces of being wild. Musically talented from a young age, his ear drew him toward the sounds of Asia, and the musics of the Native American communities with whom he interacted and met. By the time Partch enrolled in music school, his rigorous independence and nonconformity, with the seeds planted by these remarkable structures and sounds, had taken him too far. It wasn’t long before he struck out toward sonic locations unknown.
Harry Partch
Despite his natural talent as a musician, Partch was destined to be a composer. He couldn’t play by society’s rules, let alone those imposed by the constraints of Western Classical music, no mater how wild and avant-garde. In his early 20’s, looking outward and beyond, he began experimenting with Just-Intonation - after the Mexican composer Julián Carrillo, the first to do so in the West, slowly expanding his tonal range and adapting instruments to meet his requirements as the years wore on. At the outset of 1930’s, he abandoned nearly all connection to Western music, setting out to liberate the listener form the constraints of the 12 tone system, increasingly building wild, unique instruments from scratch. Partch’s narrative is complex. He was widely respected by many of his peers, particularly Henry Cowell, Otto Luening, and Aaron Copland, among many others. During the Post-War period, he increasingly found moderate fame, enabling more security within his wandering, drifter’s life - offered more opportunities to perform his works and teach, while issuing self-released recordings via mail order. The later places him as an early precursor of the DIY movement, which would come to prominence decades later. Despite all of this, Partch often proved too ahead of his time, and placed extreme demands on his contemporary listeners. There was only so far they were willing to go. Because of this, despite his incredible importance within the history of American music, not to mention the avant-garde at large, he wasn’t offered the opportunity to record a wide commercial release until 1966, the seminal And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma, the first of only four albums to emerge during the last decade of his life. Harry Partch
And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma, reissued now by New World Recordings - the second in their series dedicated to offering the composer the attention and justice he rightfully deserves, following their brilliant 2015 release, A Portrait, is as important as Partch works get. Incredibly beautiful, it is also a perfect entry point for uninitiated listeners, featuring more constrained and focused works, from a composer know for his adoration of the dramatic and grand scale. Comprised of 34 duets - played on the composers unique instruments, which demarcate the verses of the complete work, the album is a rippling cascade of complex rhythms (thanks to the contribution of the legendary Michael Ranta) and tonal relationships - strange and incredible dialogs in sound, which open the window onto how ahead of his time and important Partch was. A true gem in his catalog, and unquestionably one of the most important artifacts within the canon of 20th century composition, New World’s edition is as necessary and as timely as records reissues come. Guided by Partch’s full original statement for the first commercial release of the piece, previously only excerpted, it is an illumination of the composer’s broad purpose - his mission in sound. In addition to the late  Bob  Gilmore’s fantastic liner notes, this edition is expanded to include the original recording of Verse 17, never before released and featuring Partch playing and recording his legendary Adapted Viola. As essential as them come. Grab this one fast, it's a towering monument in sound by a seminal composer - one far too few have recognized and heard.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Otto, the G-Wagen

A lifetime-long adventure... or adventure as life-style... anyway, such a worth-life for Christine and Gunther...


"In 1988, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gunther Holtorf and his wife Christine set off on a monumental road trip that would span 26 years, 177 countries, and nearly 550,000 miles (885,139 km). The couple originally planned to spend just 18 months touring the African countryside in their Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen named “Otto,” but a year and a half eventually turned into a continuous voyage interrupted by only a few periods of rest. Without sponsorship, publicity, or the online fanfare that such a journey would have today, the couple traveled purely for the sake of traveling, determined to see as much of the world as they could."

Read more clicking here... cannot say only the mighty G-Wagen, aka Otto, could stand such an heavy life-long journey.

In my humble opinion: simply The Best vehicle in the world, period.

John Carpenter's Anthology

John Carpenter is a legend. As the director and music composer behind dozens of classic movies, Carpenter has established a reputation as one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of modern cinema, as well as one of its most influential musicians.

The minimal, synthesizer-driven themes to films like Halloween, Escape From New York, and Assault on Precinct 13 are as indelible as their images, and their timelessness was evident as Carpenter performed them live in a string of internationally sold-out concert dates in 2016.

Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 collects 13 classic themes from Carpenter’s illustrious career together on one volume for the first time. Each theme has been newly recorded with the same collaborators that Carpenter worked with on his hit Lost Themes studio albums: his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davies.

1. In the Mouth of Madness
2. Assault on Precinct 13
3. The Fog
4. Prince of Darkness
5. Santiago (Vampires)
6. Escape from New York
7. Halloween
8. Porkchop Express (Big Trouble in Little China)
9. They Live
10. The Thing
11. Starman
12. Dark Star
13. Christine

John Carpenter's loved subbass, so be sure: low-end to-die-for on these discs!


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000!

Something wrong going on? 

Deadly wrong, indeed!

 Please read The Guardian's article... and let's think about it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Zippers and Rolling Stones!

Thanking YKK...


... call me crazy;-), but... Andy Wharol or not... my choice goes to the color one;-)))

FZ's Legacy

This is just an amazing and useful tool to (better) understand Frank Zappa's musical heirloom.

... for posterity.

Piero Umiliani's Italian "poliziotteschi" movies and OSTs

Piero Umiliani Studio Umiliani: Rare and Unreleased Tracks From Sound Work Shop Archives '67-'83

  • 2×LP + Bonus CD 
  • 1. Avventura
  • 2. Missione Speciale
  • 3. Petra – Tema Jazz
  • 4. Petra – Sottofondo Generico In Re Minore
  • 5. L’Invasione Dei Folletti
  • 6. Non Mollare
  • 7. Commandos
  • 8. Il Burattinaio M8+M9
  • 9. Vita Cittadina
  • 10. C’è Un Fantasma Nel Mio Letto M47
  • 11. Pane Burro E Marmellata M52+M47
  • 12. Preistoria
  • 13. Ratko E L’orso – Tema Moog
  • 14. Grand Canyon
  • 15. C’è Un Fantasma Nel Mio Letto M68
  • 16. Le Cascate di Iguaçù
  • 17. Musica Nell’aria
  • 18. Risaie
  • 19. Millenni
  • 20. Ritrovarsi
Piero Umiliani’s Sound Work Shop archives to select rare and unreleased tracks • First archive compilation of Piero Umiliani’s work for the Rome-based record label and the first one focussing on Piero Umiliani in recent years. Exotica, psychedelic jazz-funk, proto-trip hop: this selection is a cross-cutting portrait of Umiliani's activity during the golden years of his Sound Work Shop, the studio-laboratory where he has been playing, creating and experimenting with total freedom from 1969 to 1983. This exhaustive compilation comes as a deluxe, 2xLP gatefold issue and is accompanied with liner notes and archive images.

Italian Prog '70s - Battiato at his best!

Franco Battiato, 1971-73

There is no figure in Italian music, nor within the country’s shimmering, expansive avant-garde, who demands the respect and awe offered to Franco Battiato. He is the beginning and the end. An artist whose output, stretching across six decades, is so diverse and singular, that it defies any concrete definition. We are thrilled to announce their long awaited reissue on vinyl by Superior Viaduct. This is nothing short of a momentous event, placing three of the most remarkable albums of the 1970’s into a new generation’s hands, offering them the attention and appraisal they have always deserved.

In celebration of the long awaited reissue of three records so close to our heart, we're offering a special 10% discount on all Superior Viaduct releases (15% off for the members!). Only valid until Sunday!
Franco Battiato

** 3 LP in bundle** There is no figure in Italian music, nor within the country’s shimmering, expansive avant-garde, who demands the respect and awe offered to Franco Battiato. He is the beginning and the end. An artist whose output, stretching across six decades, is so diverse and singular, that it defies any concrete definition - darting from psychedelic Prog, definitive gestures in the history of Minimalism, to the heights of explicit Pop. Fans of avant-garde and experimental music have long coveted Battiato’s five seminal Minimalist marvels issued between 1974 and 1978 - Clic, M.elle Le "Gladiator", Franco Battiato, Juke Box, and L'Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie, but far fewer are aware of their predecessors, three brilliant albums issued by Bla Bla during the early 1970’s. Fetus, Pollution, and Sulle Corde Di Aries - a stunning trio branching into the outer reaches of Rock and Roll, are among the great gestures in sonic radicalism of the era. We are thrilled to announce their long awaited reissue on vinyl by Superior Viaduct. This is nothing short of a momentous event, placing three of the most remarkable albums of the 1970’s into a new generation’s hands, offering them the attention and appraisal they have always deserved.
Franco Battiato
Battiato’s career as a singer began during the mid-1960’s, but his attempts within the Pop realms failed to chart success. By the end of the decade his attentions increasingly turned toward radical gestures in experimental electronic music and synthesis. Beginning in 1971 he began working with the fledgling independent label Bla Bla, which would subsequently rise as one of most renowned imprints in Italian music, releasing, in addition to Battito’s music, groundbreaking albums by Juri Camisasca, Aktuala, and a number of others. Issued later that year, his full length debut Fetus shattered nearly every category of music during its day. With foundations formed by the VCS3 synthesizer, it is credited among the first electronic albums created in Italy, though, even to that end, this creation is unwilling to rest so easily within genre or categorisation.

Battiato is often referred to as Italy's answer to Brian Eno, an allusion to his melding of synthesis, avant-garde sensibilities with Pop, and later sculpting of minimalist ambience. Rightfully, that distinction should be reversed. At almost every turn, Battiato was ahead of his more famous peer. Fetus released a full year before Roxy Music’s first album, and two before Eno’s solo debut, Here Come The Warm Jets. Equally, Battaito’s subsequent shift toward radical instrumental music, proceeded Eno’s by leaps and bounds. While heard by few at the time, when framed in its own multilayered context, Battiato’s debut outstrips almost every effort of the early 70’s in ambition and accomplishment.

Fetus is impossible to nail down. Constructed as a thematic whole, enigmatically sub-titled "Ritorno al Mondo Nuovo" (Return to the New World) and dedicated to Aldous Huxley, it skirts effortlessly into the territories of Pop ballad, synthesis, Musique concrète, folk, and psychedelic Prog. Stunning and brilliant on every count, it employs a distinctly detached lyricism, an approach which would spark a new breed of songwriting in Italy. A writhing, gauzily punctuated pool of sound, Fetus is arguably  greatest album of 1971, and unquestionably one of the most important albums of decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come. Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco BattiatoPollution, Franco Battiato’s second LP, issued in 1972, catapulted itself into the world on the creative momentum encountered within Fetus. A rich tapestry of diverse sonic organisation, touching the territories of Pop ballad, synthesis, Musique concrète, folk, and psychedelic Prog. Featuring Baroque textures, motorik rhythms, and oblique vocals, it encounters its creator more at ease within these radical realms. This is a world all his own - the ambitious, never before seen heights of Rock and Roll.

Constructed by the same band of collaborators which helped him create its predecessor, augmented by an eighteen-year-old Roberto Cacciapaglia on keys, within Pollution these remarkable voices are pushed into the foreground. Filled with Kraut / Psyche riffs, hypnotic grooves and cinematic flourishes, the album is a topical marvel, a product of the era, built on themes of environmental catastrophe. Futurist allusions seep in through eccentric lyrics, all joined within a stunning, shimmering landscape of sound. This is the album which solidified Battiato’s status as one of the foremost cult figure in music. Like Fetus, Pollution is one of the most important albums of its decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come. Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco Battiato
Sulle Corde Di Aries, issued in 1973, is Battiato's last effort of wild eccentric Pop music before venturing toward more explicitly avant-garde realms. It is arguably the most ambitious and remarkable of the cycle of albums which began with Fetus, pushed further by Pollution. Filled with remarkable energy and creative brilliance, the album is a hint at what was to come, the laboratory in which Battiato's wild mutant seeds were planted. It is a true masterpiece on every count, yet, for those aware of his early work, the most inexplicably overlooked and neglected of the three.

Sulle Corde Di Aries, far more cohesive than its predecessors, is an evolving cycle of four electroacoustic suites - each drenched in structural challenge and shimmering tone, flirting with the minimalism of Terry Riley and the rhythmic brilliance of Can, while managing to sound like nothing else of its day. Though the album features similar vocal treatments to those on Fetus and Pollution, binding them together as a conceptual body, Sulle Corde Di Aries is marked by long extended instrumental passages, as abstract and challenging as anything in the experimental music world, pregnant with allusions folk traditions, while still penetrating and pushing the potential of Pop. The result is overwhelming. Even four and a half decades after its initial release, the album feels revolutionary and stunningly fresh. A tangent in sound, which few others have ever reached. Overwhelmingly beautiful and creatively brilliant, Sulle Corde Di Aries is the final chapter in Battiato's intervention in the realm of Pop music, before his return at the end of the decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come.

Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco Battiato

Monday, October 9, 2017

Одна из многих записей, найденных вчера на рынке: шедевр!


Yesterday I visited my trusty vinyl-disc pusher... he cherry-picked among his thousands discs some unseen nuggets which I greatly appreciated: a lot of Japanese pressings (more to come), Telefunken Royal Sounds', Deutsche Gramophones', Eratos', Harmonia Mundis'...

I bought 37 (thirty-seven) discs for an amount quite often the average audiophiles buy a so-called super disc digitally remastered re-re-repressing - i.e. half the cost of David Gilmour's Live at Pompei 4-discs box-set, if you prefer!



Objective sounds more appropriate to me, as far too many artists sold their shiny past to cover huge mortgages and jet-set lifestyle hideously high costs.

How many "new" Roger Waters' The Wall iterations or David Gilmour's or Rolling (rolling? maybe sinking...) Stones' is an audiophile able to buy before realising it's muzak in luxury packages?

Among the awesome discs I brought home, let me highlight this one as an example: a Melodya disc from 1983, Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinski music for clarinet, violin, piano, harp and strings.

The cover is the ugliest of ugly, so ugly to be elegant... low quality paper and printing to par.

This disc almost looks like a classical music bootleg.

... but Music content is of highest quality and the recording quality... just of awesome beauty.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Harmony Sovereign H-1260 - Das Volksgitarren

My '69 Harmony Sovereign H-1260 ladder-braced isn't my most expensive or sought-after guitar, yet it represents something for yours truly: not only a guitar, but something which in pre-WEB era, I fell in love with!

Its sound was first heard on Tir Na Nog's first disc: I loved it at first notes, so unique and different from Martins and Gibsons'... the inner sleeve pix showed the duo both playing Harmony guitars...

No one saw a Sovereign in Italy, back then...

When I took interest in John Fahey and Robbie Basho and Takoma label... again an Harmony Sovereign on a sampler cover...

... and when - finally and at last - some years ago I got my Harmony from a gentleman in New Mexico, when I began exploring its character and qualities, well... I felt I got the Humblest of Holy Grails!

The Sovereign

Its sound was EXACTLY the one I so much liked on Tir Na Nog's disc: sweet, round, the right mix of wood and steel strings, extremely lightly built, yet strong and so responsive.

It's maybe the ideal everyday guitar, the one I play around and bring to parties, the one I play most.

My Volksgitarren!

A true life companion.

M15 is back home...

... after a minor surgery at GF's workshop... a silly single transistor failure only about one year after the full re-capping...

Shit happens...

... but, WOW... the pleasure of playing some nice master-dubs on Gotorama is greatly appreciated after a couple of month of unwanted separation...

Furthermore - in the meantime, while the Telefunken's was at the workshop - I had a large, thick plexiglas dust-cover bespoke made to order: this fancy thing -  as I learned today - is also even more useful than its name suggests!

It greatly tame reels and motors spinning noises while playing and the listening experience is - you'd bet it? - more satisfying.

Great listen, this afternoon.

Tandberg 10 XD reel-to-reel

Three motors, three speeds, four tracks, four heads, including Crossfield-technology head, sort of pre-magnetising record-tape-head.

This enhancing quality method only works on transparent Mylar tape formulation, not thick, not-mat back pro-tapes in recording-mode... no problem using other tapes in Playback.

This recorder was a teenager dream for yours truly, back in the '70s... it costed an arm and a leg.

I feel some embarassment in saying how much I paid for it, thanking a friend's kindness.

Consider that this superb tape-machine remained in Tandberg's catalog in-parallel with TD-20A (which I also have in my collection, a sought-after two tracks-19/38 cm/s version), and it costed exactly half the mighty 10 XD's price tag!

... not surprisingly, Tandberg 10 XD represents the peak of reel-to-reel technology of the Norwegian brand... even more than the fabled, rare TD-20A-SE, soundwise.

A true Studer-killer, at least sonically...

So, here is a cool add for the smaller system, parallel to Gotorama - i.e. Fidelity Research AS-1, my all copper Partridges's 300B mono blocks, Tandberg 9220 XD 4 tracks-3,75/9,5/19 cm/s reel-to-reel and Tandberg 10 XD 2 tracks-9,4/19/38 cm/s, reel-to-reel, Merdidian CD 500 transports Mk1 and Mk2 and 564 DAC and Tandberg Typ !1 speakers on Foundation Designer speaker-stands.

A small, humbly great, no-frills audio system.

Love it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday's Disc - Rod Stewart - Every pictures tell a story (Mercury 1971)

I love finding and sharing superior quality - both musical and sonically - discs...

Brand-new or decades old, I don't care, as best music is timeless as it can be...

Today I gave a spin to a disc I didn't listened in eons: Rod Stewart's iconic 3rd album from the '70s on Mercury.

... and it is a truly great disc!

It's full of life and great musicianship... the musicians are top and Rod's young gravel voice is far from the later stardom-tinted over-productions and lesser waxes.

A lot of nice acoustic guitars, six and twelve strings, and slide guitars... bluesy, some songs, a Bob Dylan's cover... Danny Thompson on double bass as guest-artist in one track!

A nice °Amazing Grace" version for slide twelve strings guitar and... one of the MOST CONVINCING drums kit I ever listened to, period!

The '70s recording skills, ahem... art was truly remarkable and this old disc is a truly well kept secret and a demo quality disc with music to par!

Enjoy as I enjoyed, folks.

P.S. - it was also issued on Mobile Fidelity Super-discs... even better, if possible!


If I wish peace of mind for my discs, I listen to my Puritas in Archè headshell, if I want to go for smoothness, use my Decca SC4E in Bosoeoum headshell or my Signet MM;  for everyday listening my cherry-picked Lumiere DST will superbly do... but if I wish to taste the ineffable - i.e. something more, a one-of-a-kind musical experience I go with Neumann DST.

The above to explain that - you'd bet it? - you cannot always sip for dinner a Romanèe-Conti, a Sassicaia or a Petrus... 

You have to also enjoy lesser, yet pleasantly fresh and scented Cabernet or Sauvignon.

The cuvee are for anniversaries or special events... 

I keep my feet on the ground, humbly, you know... without forgetting the pleasures of life.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Swan

She's about 55 years old and 100% N.O.S.... I got her a few years ago and only listened sparingly, almost fearful about her weight and vertical tracking force.

She didn't played a groove in years 'til the recent cleaning and check up... papers say it's "only" good up to 15khz, but you'd say the same about a Neumann U47, blaming about its frequency curve, dips and peaks? 

The Swan simply "is" the Holy Grail! 

She sounds so zest, shiny, so rich in texture and music nuances portrayal and soooo quick and authoritative... 

Who cares about using 6,5 grams VTF? 

As Jonathan Halpern - also a passionate and avid DST-design scholar and collector (both Neumann and Lumiere's) - wisely commented on FB after someone guessed about excessive VTF: 

"Remember that its a 15u tip and conical so the pressure is spread. If Neumann thought it was correct, I feel pretty good about it. Neumann was the master of LP cutting and playback with the DST and WV2a, not to mention the lathes and GV2a reverse RIAA preamps. The only experiments I'm aware of were done by RCA with 6g of tracking on a mono LP. They found no appreciable wear after 2000 plays, I believe."

Furthermore, I feel confortable to add the high quality diamond tip was extremely expensive at the time - i.e. USD 9 each (1958 US Dollars...) vs. average USD 1 each of best contenders.


I could listen to a record played with The Peak and the DST and then sell my system, as I - simply, plainly said - got The Ultimate Knowledge, found The Source of Sparkling Musical Bliss. 

I'll be able to recall this intense pleasure for a long time simply thinking to the shivers of joy I today experienced with the Swan! 

I got Satori... and shamelessly howled like a lone, old wolf to the Moon.

Listened to William Welch, Piers Faccini, Ravi Shankar, Skip James and Bill Frisell in a row... every disc was playing like brand new, lots of hidden sounds blossoming here and there, percussions decay, acoustic guitars resonances and harmonics, room and studio noises, female and male vocals a specialty... a palette of new vivid colors.

I had to regretfully stop listening to music - a sort-of coitus interruptus - to go home from my studio... not before having (you'd bet it?) my longest eargasm, ever... 

... and tears (I swear...) poured, as well.

I'm just an old, romantic fart, pals... yet, let me say: too much joy for only one person.

HUGE thanks to Leonid Sinitsin who freed She from the debrises of a decades long storage. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

The secret history of messages etched into records runout groove

Practically since day one, the inside track or runout groove of a vinyl record or 78rpm disc has been the domain of the matrix number, an alphanumerical code either stamped or handwritten into the wax to help pressing plants assign the correct stamper and label to each side of the record.

Extra digits often refer to the cut or take of a particular record, while some plants or cutting engineers will assign their own signatures to the space.

Far from an exact science, matrix numbers will often be taken into consideration by collectors, either as proof of first pressings or sought-after alternate takes and re-cuts.

All this code though is rather formal in contrast to the hidden messages which have since jostled for space alongside their more conventional brethren in the runout groove.

Sometimes other messages are etched... or hidden as Jack White's or other artists/discs...