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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tyran Grillo's Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer available soon!

"I'm humbled and pleased to announce that my book on ECM is finally coming out this week. "Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer" is to be published by Rey+Naranjo in a first edition available only to the South American market, then as a global edition early next year (preorders will be available soon). 

I have been graciously invited to present two talks at the Bogotá International Book Fair. My first talk will be "ECM Records: Listen, Watch and Remain Silent," to be given this Sunday, April 28. The second will be "The Collector as Historian," to be given on April 30th. Please attend and introduce yourself if you're in the Bogotá area! More to follow."

The above are the words of author himself: Tyran Grillo, an accomplished music writer and photographer deserves a Guinness Book mention for his incredible, complete, huge oeuvre on ECM Records essays and reviews... witty, deep, communicative and extremely entertaining and well-informed, I consider - with cohorts of musics lovers worldwide - a goldmine.

I'll enjoy my copy when available in the very next weeks as I enjoyed over the years Tyran's superb site.

Cheers, Tyran... a good stroke indeed!


Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Wall

... you'll never be alone...

... better: maybe you'll be alone, but never lonely.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Thorofon, Pasquini, Swanton or digital, analog and music

Strange post title, isn't it?

Getting older my arguments get older, too... admit you didn't read about (sort-of) analog vs. digital... BUT, NO!

I won't annoy you with bitter/dry analog nostalgia.

I recently found during my usual vinyl chasing a disc made in Germany by a quite obscure label, Thorofon: a recording of an historic organ in an ancient church in Treviso, Northern Italy, barely 50 km from my hometown.

An organ built in early 1700 of music composed by Bernardo Pasquini (who?), a contemporary and loyal follower and scholar of Palestrina, also from 1700... the organist was Philip Swanton (who?)... born in 1952 in Sydney.

Jokes apart, Mr. Swanton was and is a superb musician, a son of Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel and his choice of digging Pasquini's seldom heard and played compositions is nothing short of pure genius!

I'm pretty sure most of my readers will be still guessing - after above foreword - "where I'm trying to bring you?"...

Easy done, folks.

I'll quickly add that the above shown disc entered my personal Valhalla at first listen...

I'm very, very fond of organ music, it's an obsession: organs are complex man-made machines which sound heavenly and own their own soul, made of the interaction with churches where they live in, materials, their imperfect (unique) intonation, size and materials.

Now let's talk about ignorance, my very own ignorance: I never heard of both composer and musician, wasn't aware of such a majestic organ in the area I live and... HA!

I listened in awe to both sides in a row greatly appreciating the music, recording, musicianship, also pressing clarity and vinyl silence... but, distracted by large DNM sticker on front cover and distracted, better absorbed by the load of informations contained in liner notes, I noticed a small print saying "Digital - First Edition".

So, here is the cul de sac: may an early digital recording, possibly a DAT, sure not reaching, for example, the highlights of a Nagra Digital recorder or my beloved and trusty Sound Devices 722 24bit/192 Khz, be so satisfying?

Full bodied sound, premium dynamics, lively ambience, all was greatly presented in this recording.

... yet, not for a moment during listening, I felt the need for "more" or "something technically updated"... because I wasn't aware of any technical detail about recording rig!

Was my ignorance masking and biasing the musical/audio experience?

... or viceversa?

When I noticed the a.m. "Digital - First Edition" I wasn't re-considering my first-hand impressions... I simply took note of this detail... a detail, indeed.

Music was so well captured and preserved for posterity that analog vs. digital was pointless, almost amusing.

I swear I'm not loosing my discriminating ears;-)

I'm just intrigued by the fact I knew about the disc digital nature only after listening to it... something which doesn't happen this often... but most important, the recording was - IS - just perfect and nicely serving music as it is.

Maybe a fortunate evenience... so, please forgive me for a lengthy dissertation if it sounds re-fried to you and... well, just take a glance of beauty chasing for the very disc I'm talking about.

... just have no fear of digital;-)

Music first, always.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Disc of the Month - Jean-Claude Malgoire's Dance Music (CBS Masterworks 76183 -1976)

Found this gem which completes my (quite) impressive Malgoire's collection...

It's as usually a marvelous recording, produced by Georges Kadar and masterfully recorded at Notre Dame du Liban in Paris, in Pantheon area by Georges Kisselhof.

This very combination was used in dozens of Malgoire's discs... my love for this precise, detailed and gorgeous sound brought me to this very church, hidden in a modern building in one of my most beloved areas of Ville Lumiere... just to hear with my own ears "why" these recordings sound so special.

No surprise, I found two recordings chains in situ, ready to capture more music.

Mr. Kisselhof reportedly used back in early '70s an old trusty Telefunken M10 or a Studer B62, but it was the symbiotic knowledge of the church resonance modes which paid most.

Everyone not aware of these humble nuggets cannot avoid jaw-dropping when listening to these recordings and this very one isn't exception... recorders, small and larger percussions, pousannes, and the most raucous crumhorns you can imagine. A beauty.

Cannot aid to strongly and heartfeltly suggest to browse the common sources and find and enjoy this dic and music.

You won't regret.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Studio Alchemist's premium NAB reel-to-reel adapter

My friend River Yu and his Studio Alchemist from Taiwan strikes again... these NAB adapters are of seldom seen quality and beauty and goes beyond the ubiquitous aluminum/plastic adapters broadly available on the market.

I must add that I prefer the plain version with no brand name... my opinion, yet... BRAVO!

Proud gorgeousness or a racing Garrard 301 plinth

... yes, my best pal Lo masterfully completed the plinth with several layers of Ferrari Rosso Monza automotive lacquer and finished with protective shining transparent paint... then further and final mirror polishing with thin paste and wool...

... without and...

... with transparent lacquer.

Already shiny, yet it will be even more... even;-)

Northern Electric R-14849A SUT

A seldom seen beauty from a long gone era...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Disc of the month - Oswald von Wolkenstein - Lieder (Telefunken 1974)

Look at the 14th Century portrait of this gentleman...

Herr von Wolkenstein was a member of South Tyrol rural aristocracy... a bard and a traveller, his broad journeys led him from Syria to Turkey to Burgundy and beyond...

Look at his eyes, so well captured on the painting... these eyes saw the world and learned a lot!

His Lieder (songs) talk about these travels, and about love as most of songs of any vintage do...

... I already had a disc on EMI Reflexe series and appreciated the melodies and instruments blend: lute, hand drums, bells, recorder and voices...

The EMI's was a great disc of great music... BUT this very disc is of another league: Othmar Costa's ensemble is masterfully recorded with a sense of playful joyousness.

The tenor and baritone voices are amazing, carved in space, surrounded and embroidered by historic instruments well serving music.

Superb, seldom heard music, sounding both ancient and brand-new.

This AW-Telefunken sound is recorded with one of a kind skill, as well... it's one of the humble super-discs you dream to find on any second-hand record-bin.

If you find in brand-new conditions for a coffee-tip at a flea-market, well... it's an epiphany!

As usual, I invite every serious music lover to search and find this very wax...

OK, ok... you're welcome.

The Birth of the Cool (Plinth)

A plinth for any turntable is more than an holder for turntable, itself... idler-wheel, belt-driven or direct-drive, a plinth add and enhance the character of the turntable.

I spent many years with beech plywood plinths for my Garrard 301s and 401... then discovered for my personal use, the awesome merits of slate plinth: same sonic footprint than beech, only more.

Recently wished to explore again beech plinth for a superb 301 Schedule 1 I acquired... new project, Gray (with Denon DL102 mono) and Karmadon (with Lumiere DST) broadcast arms.

Here is a quick report of the finishing and preparing for paint work to-come.

The primer...

The oldie but goldie... 

Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Joni Mitchell & David Hockney

Love this very picture... it makes me happy seeing Ms. Mitchell standing after her health troubles and makes me feel getting older less troublesome... the two artists are so elegant and full of life.

A truly heart-warming image. 

Joni Mitchell and David Hockney at L.A. Louver gallery in Los Angeles on Feb. 28th, 2019, where Mr. Hockney’s solo exhibition is on view.

Thanking The New York Times.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Philip Glass' Music in Twelve Parts

Philip Glass’ previously unreleased, 1975 performance of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’ is the latest archival excavation on Paris-based Transversales Disques, the label run by the GRM’s Jonathan Fitoussi. Remastered from the original tapes, limited edition 2LP bound with obi strip. 

Performed by Philip Glass with Jon Gibson, Dickie Landry, Michael Riesman, Joan La Barbera and Richard Peck, it's one of the earliest iterations of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, which would be fully issued the following year, 1976, to become one of Glass’ best known and loved works. Placing the previously issued Parts 1 & 2 on side A, the never-before released parts 11, 3, and 12 are cut to sides B & C, finding the piece reeling off into breathtaking chromatic dervishes and ecstatic minimalism with a truly head-spinning lushness, especially in the stunning murmurations of Part 12.

Side D is effectively a piece in its own right. Recorded for french radio by Daniel Caux - musicologist and co-founder of Shandar Records - Glass speaks in french over recordings of the rehearsals for ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, held in his NYC loft. Together with the scream of sirens, it gives some fascinating context for the piece (even if you don’t parlez francais) as it inherently highlights link between the colours of the sirens and the music which we may not have gauged otherwise.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Such a shame - R.I.P. Mark Hollis

I sincerely loved Talk Talk and Mark Hollis' music... own and cherish all their discs, bought new as UK pressings when nobody was after vinyl, anymore, back then... 

Maybe the most beloved of all is Hollis' solo album, now worth around € 500 for the die-hard collector... much more for the soul-seeker. 

A note from DiscoGs about the pricing the late Mark Hollis' solo disc reached:

About the hideous price - Take note that a large part of this pressing (which came out five years after the album was released), has manufacturing defects. There was paper (or something else, it was white) pressed in the beginning of side A; the amount and how much it extended into the record differed from copy to copy. Back then, I haven't seen a copy without these problems. I know for sure that a large part of the pressing was destroyed at a garbage dump near where I live on which a lot of defective pressings from Universal were buried under the supervision of guys from the label to avoid theft (a large part of the original pressing of the Cardigans 'Long Gone Before Daylight' was dumped there also around the same time). I saw copies on a fleamarket shortly after which escaped this transaction somehow (I bought three of them) and they all had the pressing defects.I also found two copies in a shop years later, when it was already rare and expensive, which had lots of rare 90s records as shop stock, and both also had these defects. Obviously, this guy had not returned them whereas most other shops gave them back when they discovered the flaws. That's why it is so rare and pricey.

The quality of recording - Two Neumann M50 omni pattern microphones were placed at the front of the studio, about ten feet apart. There they remained for the duration of the recording session, one panned hard left, the other hard right. To control balance and level, musicians positioned their instruments around the room, drums in back, vocals up front. With the noise reduction disengaged, each performer records their part. About as minimal as a record gets.

The above hard, cold facts to someway avoid deep sadness about sudden passing away of Mark Hollis which hit the world yesterday... 

... as a musician never dies as his music lives forever.

Yet... such a shame!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Gold to the masses!

People need gold, folks!

After experiencing Leif solid gold in cotton and Eichmann RCAs, I feel that such a joy isn't for a few...

Every serious, passionate and dedicated music and audio lover should have a glimpse of heaven in his life, period.

So, someone will say, here is a new load of hyped BS about a shitty piece of wire, while all the rest of public electric line and buildings layout is messed by RFIs and poor materials...

A dear friend of mine - an architect and an audiophile - always well knowledged and informed, promptly tried to tame my enthusiasm argumenting gold is lesser than copper and silver, even worst than aluminum when tension transfer is concerned... all his fiery confutations without even listening to my system... but what really happens to tiny signals?

My illuministic approach is about ineffable: I try and get my conclusions, period.

I'm about love and related... explanations are unneeded and harmful, yet it is.

Everything else is shyte

False or true... nonetheless, yesterday I got this hand-made 1m long cable and almost laughed at its unblinking, monastic appearance: I strongly remembered the ugly Be Yamamura's I have somewhere... ridiculous looking since when you plug in... jaw-dropping cables, indeed.

I immediately decided the right position was between Misho Myronov Phono stage and Thomas Mayer CX-310s Line stage.

Turned on and put on Garrardzilla's platter a disc I recently enjoyed - i.e. Bill Frisell - Music IS...


... then...

... so...

... while...


The first impression I had was reminding an humble me playing my Telecaster through my '73 Fender Pro Reverb in my Studietto... not by chance this very rig looking at me from my seat, a few meters afar.

Such a sentence would sound offensive to any audiophile... what the heck! Someone spends serious money on blah-blah gears and then a stage/studio guitar amp is compared and suggested as a benchmark!?!

An explanation is due, I admit: I'm talking about authority, trueness, the real thing... not a bleached copy of the original...

Listening to Bill Frisell 's inventiveness and so hugely various sounds coming from his immaculate good taste and technique, his guitar pickups choices through his cherry-pcked vintage tube amps and effect-boxes captured in the studio, including assorted buzzes and noises from guitar amps...

Everything very unperfect and flawed, BUT so rich and alive... full of life, beefy.

For same reason when I play electric guitar alone, looping and soloing wildly, I scream and ohhoohoooo joyfully.

Yesterday, when I first listened to the Gotorama with Leif's gold cable in-place, well... I immediately heard that twang!... that uncanny no frills sense of truth, a no-brainer listening experience.

I was soooooooooo impressed, pals!

The sound of a full chord on a Fender tube amp can be... better: IS, loud, wow! 

When you listen to such a thing, you don't ask yourself about bandwidth, SPL, slew rate or the like... you rock!

My speculating about the two side of the above disc I shot yesterday were nothing short of an epiphany: my Eames chair was shaking under the music, my soul was shaking unison and the infinite subtleties and macro-load of dynamics, harmonics, studio noises, amp noises, full-bodied sound and overall sense of Beauty simply reached the VERY ME as a single shot of Pure Joy.

Awesome and easy at same time, as it can be.

That's why I began my enthusiastic report with such an optimistic wish: Gold to the Masses. 

This kind of joy should and must be shared with people around... it's really tooooo much for a single person.

My sincere wish is everyone goes and find some 99,9% pure gold wire, find some bleached white cotton and two pairs of Eichmann's RCAs and enjoy as I did... and as I do today, tomorrow and after-tomorrow.

Silence is gold... gold IS for music, not for rings and earrings.

World needs more of these joys.

Thanks from the deep of my heart to my pal, Leif.