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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Sound of Silence

"Hello darkness my old friend..."

Thanking Simon and Garfunkel's masterpiece, that's it, folks... it's all in these words.

Yesterday evening I realized what audio is, really... the glowing of the tubes in the dark in my music room, and the mistery of music flowing... a direct link between the artist and me, the listener... as George Clooney would say: "What else?"

The listening session of few hours ago was strangely one of the most involving, deep, moving I'm able to remember...

It's like I understood, appreciated what I listened to at an higher level of consciousness, yet easy.

I began listening to Nigel Kennedy's on EMI, recorded in two days at Abbey Road Studio One, the Bartok Violin Sonata and was followed by Ellington's "Mainly Black" for Violin and Double-bass: a disc whose clarity and beauty left me breathtaking... don't ask me why, but the next disc was Muddy Waters' "Folk Singer" on Chess 1964 classic pressing... always a great, superb recording!

Most natural choice was continuing with "Country Blues Guitar" by Stefan Grossman and Jo-Ann Kelly powerful, bluesy, amazing voice...

The Kicking Mule Records' UK pressing on the classy red coloured vinyl from early '70s was nothing short of unique and awesome: the guitar was so different sounding, tune after tune... different technique: metal fingerpicks or bare fingers on right hand, different guitars and tunings, as well...

... but, still hungry of more and more music, I finished my musical evening with "How to Play Blues Guitar - Vol. 2", always on classic '70s KM's... on this very disc with Stefan Grossman's guitar(s) always the shivering voice of Jo-Ann Kelly and Sam Mitchell's slide guitar and weird voice... and I was in heaven!

During "Motherless Children" and "Nobody's Fault but Mine", the late Sam Mitchell is playing the old Stella twelve strings guitar lent by Stefan Grossman and it's an antique sound, burnished, seldom heard... it's airy, yet powerful... nasal, stringy, woody, bluesy... the sound of Delta!

Recordist Nic Kinsey's great technical support - whose ambience capturing is less flashy than on other records I'm aware of - is quite dry, almost violent, BUT with Lumiere DST and Thomas Mayer's electronics it reaches a clarity, a smoothnees, a naturalness I wasn't aware of also when I was listening "con gusto" only few weeks ago.

It's such an experience, mind-boggling and still more amazing as it happens, easily, in my very music room... it's music and the silence among notes is so rich, full of life and of artistic tension.

These slide pieces on the twelve strings are of great difficulty, as the player must tame the tremendous resonances of the instrument and you can "feel" the controlled stress before the hard-driven playing, the fingerbusting technique, the breathing, everything... like the musician would be in the room, giving a voice to the dark room, in the tubes-glowing silence of the cocooning evening.

It's something strange... maybe it's the sound of silence.

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