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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ivan's Choice - Nada Surf - If I had a hi-fi

Nada Surf have announced that they will release their forthcoming covers album, If I had a hi-fi.

Track listing:
Electrocution – Bill Fox
Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode
Love Goes On – The Go-Betweens
Janine - Arthur Russell
You Were So Warm – Dwight Twilley
Love and Anger – Kate Bush
The Agony of Laffitte – Spoon
Bye Bye Beaute – Coralie Clement
Question – Moody Blues
Bright Side – Soft Pack
Evolution – Mercromina
I Remembered What I Was Going to Say – The Silly Pillows

NdB - Nice title;-)


The Room

... maybe it's an alien virus debris of some sort in the air as - myself too, like Roman Bessnow (and who knows how many others around...) - felt the need or had to move my audio system to a new location.

The main reason for the change was the need for, aehm, well... more room;-), with - sincerely - my wife everyday increasing pushing me toward the idea of owning and enjoying a normally dressed, with normal, horns-free, furniture... a room for chatting with friends or having a dinner where the first topic be not "audio" and related!

I agreed and... I'm these days hauling stuffs and discs and gears to a dedicated room, call it a studio, my cave, a cocooning place, a very music-oriented space where I can smoke a cigar without annoying or being annoyed, alone or with friends...

In my years of reading about audio and music, I remember a gentleman from somewhere in Japan, Iwata-san, who, from the pages of "Le Cahier de l'Audiophile", was telling about his choice to leave his home and wife, not for a divorce... BUT for music...

... oh, oh?!?!

Something which is happening to myself, too... lucky enough to still love my wife as the first day we met, BUT not standing anymore the limits of a normally-sized apartment-room where also moving a cable proves to be difficult and wife unfriendly.

So, folks... here are the first pixes of "The Room"... as my friend Luigi told me few hours ago, as he knew about my new place, seems strange I didn't talk about it on my diary/Blog... unnatural;-)

Must agree, Luigi... strange this puffing, sweating, tiring so dense moment, allows me to think to the music room, the old, beloved, so well known one I'm slowly but unyelding dismantling, and which is more akin to a tree growing annual rings than a simple box... discs, disks, books, mags, music sheets, instruments, and gears... all these are like the inside of my pipe... the more I smoke it, the best is the tobacco flavour and my pleasure while smoking... the burnishing of a place, living in and with it, in symbiosis for endless hours, the emotions over emotions and room and listener interaction, an invisible "interplay patina" which possibly remains trapped in the walls. This counts...

The new place is larger - about 35 square meters vs. the busy 23 sq.m of the old - with an awesome, wooden 3,6 meters high ceiling and unparallel walls - a cool feature, indeed - and, most important, allowing me to think about previously impossible weights on the floor, being at ground level... thinking about the new huge bass-enclosures I'm in the making, weighting like a couple of grand-pianos for the pair...

The first listening sessions are VERY encouraging... waiting for the right mood which will allow me to properly & safely handle those fucking bulky and weighty drivers and horns and SET amps and open-reel recorder and Slate/Bronze/Shindo 301, etc. - I'm temporarily using my most portable gears, Zeiss-Ikon luggage shaped Klangfilm speakers (ahhh, those leather handles...) and the almost retired Marantz 7C preamp with Hiraga 20W or whatever I'm pleased to listen to, including my wife's Jolida JD-300B integrated, not bad, indeed, swapping everything so easily I'm embarassed; for this easyness and room airyness, I suspect I'd be very satisfied also with an I-Pod, as I'm experiencing truly special, relaxed hours reading or writing and enjoying the breathtaking (new?) freedom, floating in the weirdest music I wish to groove in...

Getting there after work and returning home for dinner or going there after dinner...

Free, as living a parallel life.

Joel Harrison - Free Country

Free Country is a collection of old Country and Appalachian tunes arranged in unusual, even radical, ways. Simply put, this body of work is my sonic view of the experiment known as America — not the billboard, but the underbelly.

I love these songs, their pathos, economy, magisterial beauty, sly wisdom, and deep soul. I have tried to be true to their timeless, primal spirit, while illuminating their essence with my own imprint, using every musical device at my disposal. The stylistically unbound sounds goes from meditative and gorgeous, to humorous and haunting, to reckless and intense.

Joel Harrison: electric, fretless, steel guitar, and cassette machine
Dave Binney: sax, sampler
Rob Thomas: violin
Sean Conly: bass
Alison Miller: drums

Norah Jones: voice
Raz Kennedy: voice
Uri Caine: piano
Tony Cedra: accordion

Free Country is a band that was born 5 years ago in the Stork Club in downtown Oakland amidst perennial Christmas lights, a decrepit posse of toothless regulars, a jukebox full of Patsy Cline, and a handful of brave new music acolytes. There were 2 drummers, two guitarists, a saxophonist, and a fiddle player (I think!), and the band included Adam Levy who now plays with Norah Jones, who is one of the singers on our recording…small world.

The concept has blossomed into a steady group with a large repertoire unlike anything else in the "Jazz" World. The band takes Old country and Appalachian tunes and has its way with them in unusual, sometimes startling, but always interesting ways. George Jones, or, say, Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers never sounded like this. Styles crisscross and become a blur, each piece is its own new world and yet still tied into the primal origins of the traditional music.

Thanks to Luigi for hinting this... nice stuffs!

The site

Friday, April 23, 2010

Record of the Week - Enrico Rava's New York Days on ECM

... I bought this gorgeous double vinyl record-set few months ago, BUT - shame on me - hadn't the chance and time to listen to it...

... too bad, as the last Enrico Rava's effort proved to be a superb, SUPERB disc... an instant classic from the noblest of sounds in jazz, in the Chet's so burned-in sound-patina, footsteps, heritage and memory, with Stefano Bollani, Mark Turner on saxes, Larry Grenadier on double bass and... Paul Motian on drums and good-vibes;-)

Amazing like an Enrico Rava's disc became an Enrico Rava, Paul Motian, Stefano Bollani, Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier's disc... it's ECM's mighty power - through Manfred Eicher's producing - and also this time didn't fail...

The sensation is the usual, old and new: the amazing experience to listen to the infinite variations of an impressive Aesthetic Corpus which began decades ago and which uses as the most perfect of tools - i.e. music and musicians, instruments and flawless studio work...

New York Days is Motian's and Bollani's and Rava's... and Eicher's... it's always new music, classic and improvised, alternating modal and melodic patterns.

I put side three of the superb 180 grams limited-edition on the turntable platter and re-start breathing after I finished side two... I mean I played in a random-mode ALL four sides!

This shrimp-like listening habit gives to me a sense of freedom and the proof a given disc isn't flashy - i.e. only have a couple cool tunes and I put on side one or few specials - so place them one per side... NO!

Mr. Rava is generous, like ALL his partners and the class is simply pouring, natural as it can be... no higher peaks, as the WHOLE four-sides are of stellar quality!

Recorded and produced at NYC Avatar recording studio, it's both musically and sonically a winner... a recording which really sound gorgeously natural, rich of overtones and dinamycs: who said it's impossible to record with same quality RCA, Impulse and Columbia did in the '60s???

A true "Gotorama Experience" (tm;-)))

Highly recommended to every music lover... hurry up, while supply lasts.

Important Records - A tribute to Robbie Basho

From John and his Important Records:
"VA- We Are One, In The Sun: A Tribute To Robbie Basho CD $10
I can take zero credit for this austere, flawless collection of tracks from Steffen Basho-Junghans, Helena Espvall, Meg Baird, Glenn Jones, Arborea, Cian Nugent, Rahim AlHaj & Fern Night. All credit goes to Buck Curran who dropped it in my lap. I feel quite fortunate to have had
the honor of releasing this. Samples from all tracks are available online. Essential."

I ordered it... Important records

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kenneth Wilkinson - Decca, Lyrita and RCA's Music Maker

录音历史上不应忘却的名字:Kenneth Wilkinson
很多人知道所谓的Decca之声, 却不知道启缔造者. Kenneth Wilkinson, 纵横江湖多年, 这位录音泰斗已于2004年仙逝. 观其一生, 名作等身, 可惜为人低调, 外人不得而知, 故摘录2004年英国<独立报>的纪念文章.
Kenneth Wilkinson: Chief engineer for Decca at the height of the LP era
Published: 09 February 2004
Lewis Foreman

(转载自The Independent)

The recording engineer Kenneth Wilkinson was one of the great names of the LP era and had started making recordings in the days of 78s. As chief engineer for Decca he was involved in many of their most prestigious recording sessions, working with the greatest classical musicians of the day.

Kenneth Ernest Wilkinson, sound and acoustic engineer: born London 28 July 1912; married 1938 Miriam Tombs (two sons, two daughters); died Norwich 13 January 2004.

The recording engineer Kenneth Wilkinson was one of the great names of the LP era and had started making recordings in the days of 78s. As chief engineer for Decca he was involved in many of their most prestigious recording sessions, working with the greatest classical musicians of the day.

The son of a furniture-store manager, he won a scholarship to Trinity Grammar School, Wood Green, in north London. Leaving school at the age of 16, in 1928 he went to work for a publisher and when his employer went bankrupt, after a brief time in charge of the public address system at Brighton Ice Rink, he moved on to World Echo Records in Hatton Garden. There he met the bandleader Jay Wilbur who interested him in the technical side of recording.

In 1931 Wilkinson - or "Wilkie", as he came to be known to all in the music business - moved to Crystallate, a record company with studios in Hampstead, initially as a studio junior where his duties included shaving waxes. In those days recordings were made straight on to discs covered with warm wax up to an inch and a half thick, which were then reused by shaving the surface - an unpleasant job. Here he met Arthur Haddy, later to be his boss at Decca, and after a couple of years Wilkinson graduated to making the recordings. When the company was taken over by Decca in 1937, probably to acquire the studio premises, Wilkinson was absorbed, with Haddy, into the Decca team.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 he determined to volunteer for the RAF where he felt his technical expertise could be best used, but Decca would not release him as, unknown to him, they had various government contracts for navigational and acoustic developments. He would never fully talk about his war experience, but he not only worked with Barnes Wallis on the navigational aspects of the "bouncing bomb" raids, but also on submarine navigational equipment.

With Haddy he made a pioneering use of recording to decipher Luftwaffe nightfighter codes, and it is said he may have contributed to the breaking of Enigma, though he would not discuss it. During all this he also commercially recorded Vera Lynn for Decca, and soon after was instrumental in realising Mantovani's "cascading strings" on disc.

During the war, Wilkinson, with Haddy, was involved with the development of Decca's "full frequency range recording" (ffrr) technique. He also worked on disc-cutting equipment in a firm that built all its own disc cutters, and was instrumental in the development of moving-coil cutters. He was thus totally au fait with all the engineering aspects of his craft, with whose development over 50 years he was personally involved. With the move to long-playing (LP) records, Decca, responding to commercial pressure from the United States, were far in advance of their competitors, EMI.

Wilkinson first made his reputation with mono recordings. But during the era of stereo, from the late 1950s onwards, engineers and producers (previously the anonymous back-room boys of the industry) began to be regularly mentioned by reviewers; over thousands of sessions of a working life that would span a further 20 years, Wilkinson achieved a huge reputation for the quality of his recordings.

With Arthur Haddy, as Decca studio manager, Wilkinson was a pioneer of the placing of microphones for stereo recording using a now familiar "tree" configuration, reinforced with a small number of "spot" mikes. In this way they attempted to record the most realistic orchestral sound, together with the characteristic ambience of the hall. Richard Itter, of the Lyrita label, who specialised in recording 20th-century British music and whose recordings were made by Decca under contract, always asked for "Wilkie" if he was available. Itter, an engineer himself, was a true connoisseur of recording and remarked that Wilkinson was a "wizard with mikes - nothing sounded artificial - his subtle technique was fabulous".

One commentator has estimated that Wilkinson worked with over 150 conductors, indeed all the most celebrated conductors of the day from Monteux to Solti and Horenstein to Britten. He had a very special rapport with the soprano Joan Sutherland, especially on her early recordings. Possibly his most prestigious recording was Britten's War Requiem, recorded in January 1963 in one of his Wilkinson's favourite acoustics, Kingsway Hall in London.

Although a practical engineer whose experience spanned most of the post-acoustic recording era, later he was not a great pioneer of cutting-edge technology, remaining very specifically a recording engineer. But, as his colleague Christopher Raeburn remarked, "Give Wilkie a new invention and he could absorb and exploit it, and bring his own ability to bear so that he could obtain a better sound than any of his colleagues."

The Decca producer John Culshaw notes in his autobiography that in July 1951 he and Wilkinson were despatched to Bayreuth to record the conductor Hans Knappertsbusch's stage performances of Parsifal and The Ring and discovered that the performances were also being recorded by Decca's rival, EMI. Wilkinson overcame the problems of recording a stage performance so successfully that the EMI engineers were "openly envious" of the sound he obtained.

When stereo recordings were first made, two recordings were taken in parallel, one in mono, one in stereo. So long as mono was the lead format Wilkinson preferred not to make the change, recording thus Tulio Seraphim's reading of Madame Butterfly. This was a life that involved a lot of travelling to leading European halls. Wilkinson had his preferences: he did not do Geneva and only occasionally Vienna, but he had his pick of anything scheduled in England and France.

He worked a lot with Charles Gerhardt on a long series of recordings for Reader's Digest which at the time were viewed by the cognoscenti as rather down-market, but since have been recognised as some of the best-recorded sound of their time.

With his somewhat gruff manner, Wilkinson could be seen as taciturn on a first meeting, but he was not a man to mince his words or suffer an adverse critic lightly. No wordy diplomat, he was always straight and honest and only interested in doing things properly. Quality was top of his agenda all the time.

He did not embrace the new digital technology when it appeared at the end of his career. But he was still working as he approached 70 and, after a career of 50 years, Decca recognised his lifetime achievement with a specially made golden disc consisting of extracts from his most prestigious recordings. But after the take-over of Decca in 1980 he would not stay - it was not his Decca any more, he said - and he retired. Unlike many of his colleagues elsewhere in the industry he did not develop a freelance career.

His reputation is important not only for the wonderful legacy of thousands of fine recordings he has left, but for what he did for the reputation and standing of his profession: Kenneth Wilkinson made the job of recording engineer respectable, indeed prestigious. He had trained every Decca engineer from 1937 onward. After his retirement, over the succeeding years his achievement was increasingly recognised by the specialist audio press with a variety of features and awards.

Lewis Foreman

Also of greatest interest A Recording history compendium

Thanks to both Lewis Foreman for his essay and to Robert E. Benson for many, many reasons.

Raw materials, ingredients... audio and a soup: same receipt?

Years ago, when still an happy, innocent, virgin Forumer, after reading about people so pompously talking about their impressive lists of gears and speakers and cables, I was in a quite magmatic, fluid audio status - i.e. several coming and going gears, all my own, accumulated thanks my Chip'n'dale syndrome...

So I felt appropriate and (someway) dadaist listing my audio system "destructured", as a list of raw materials... nonetheless, resulting in the Music Making at home, in a sort-of "no-global/no-brand" approach.

The list was something like this:

aluminium, iron, permalloy, glass, thoriated-tungsten, mercury vapors, plywood, wood, stainless steel, nickel, cobalt, copper, slate, graphite, felt, rubber, plastic, plexiglas, paper, titanium, bronze, FRP, brass, permendule, bakelite, silk, cotton, silver...

It sure sounded - at least - impressive in variety;-)

One of the wittiest comments the list received was: "Most important ALL these be in the right order!"

That's it... my grand-ma used to transform an humble ingredients list, mostly vegetables, in an heavenly dish.

The list would have been: beans, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper.

The result was named "pasta e fagioli" - i.e. a vegetables soup... pale brown in colour, pasta, some beans and potatoes still visible and keeping their shapes, the rest mostly a cream of paradisiac good taste.

Humble ingredients in good (proper) order... great objective result.

In the kitchen like in audio... I know people swearing about a superbly well done soldering with 98 % silver alloy, without eating garlic for two years to do not disturb amps assemblying with "garlic vapors"... then they use cheap cassette players and own old bookshelf-speakers and a dozen battered cassettes...

Blame on them!;-)

I'm - more and more as time passes - an holistic man.

I prefere using (or having someone hired and following my instructions) a sensitive balance, the right amount of care, without being obsessed... more "doing" things, than "chatting" about doing things.

I recently had several changes and improvements made in my audio system: new drivers, preamps, horns, arm, tubes and amps... same approach, almost ALL new gears.

The most difficult was keeping the good character, my very own sonic footprint of choice, already well tailored to my tastes and listening habits and musical tastes.

Like my grand-ma was able to manage different potatoes quality to obtain that creamy quality so appreciated by me, my brothers and all family (objectively superb soup), I learned to keep the direction with my very own "musical compass" during those apparently easy "changes" of audio components.

The variables playing their role are so various, almost endless... yet I find MUCH more impressive in overall musical result of my system, one inch in aligning upper horns ways, than using the last, most exotic "novelty" in CES-approved cartridge or turntable!

My friend Thomas Schick was (and still is...) able to infuse in his so simple design a sonic quality which greatly, I mean GREATLY, trascends the cost of raw materials: cheap aluminium and brass, felt and wood... nonetheless his 12 inches arms are among the VERY best, keeping a great respect of music and overtones and dynamics, both micro and macro... and friendly priced, too.

... another Thomas, always from Germany, actually my friend Thomas Mayer, despite using quite normal irons, Tango, Lundhal and some well done, German-made transformers, some N.O.S. paper-in-oil caps and classic tube-rectifiers, in Graetz-bridge shape - through his sensitivity, Meccano-like building technique and good taste, is able to conceive and assemble extremely beautiful and good-sounding amps and pre-amps... also for him, same as above: the cost for these musical machines is nor cheap, neither expensive, but simply correct.

I have other examples, but the above are pretty "right" for the topic: balance, knowldege, skill and istinct, love for music, educated tastes and harmony. All is well represented here.

Sure having "more" is possible: important to understand what's "more" - i.e. weight, cost, status-symbol, exotic, power, waiting-list, elusiveness?!?

... but after my Japanese audio adventures, the boundary between classy, well-crafted, finely tuned, good sounding systems and craziness is quite subtle;-) and should be avoided like a Deadly No-Trespass Area.

Going to concerts, playing an instrument... that helps keeping a relative sanity and balance... like keeping good muscles tone having light jogging regimen and a good, balanced, excesses-free diet.

My lighthouse is my grand-ma's "pasta e fagioli"... no truffles, no ultra-expensive ingredients or esoteric olive oil from Gethsemane's hills trees: only good ingredients and love.

Quality is holistic... it's in results.



Slurp & Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Again about Blogs and Forums

... it's re-fried stuff, folks... yet worth repeating my point of view: I find much, MUCH more rewarding and honest - given everyone uniqueness - to open a Blog if someone wishes to write a diary, a chronicle, a story, a tale, about personal experiences and thoughts, reflections... fearless.

... sure not valid for every Forum on Earth, BUT quite tailored to some I'm aware of... if someone suffers of "penis/tits dimensions syndrome" or the like... i.e. wishing to demonstrate to the World (Wide Web) about his or her power to cancel, ridiculize, offend, ban and rebuke this and that... be sure he or she will open a Forum and create his/her own cohort of ass-lickers and penny-pinchers ghosts, becoming the King or Queen of an Eye of a Needle-sized kingdom...

... and Blogs always getting better and more various in contents and loyal fellowship and Forums sadly going unread, unfollowed, short-of-topics and interest for everyone looking for entertainment and culture, and stimulating, intriguing new, fresh hints...

A (good) Blog - a sax solo vs. a (bad) Forum - onanism (with an hand-clapping audience)...

A (bad) Blog - sand-paper self-sex;-) vs. a (good) Forum - a jazz combo interplaying...

De gustibus...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

WJAAS (related): Departures - the movie

Academy Award® Winner: Best Foreign Language Film

"Director Yojiro Takita and his casting director, Takefumi Yoshikawa, have surpassed themselves. In a film with four principal roles, they've found actors whose faces, so very human, embody what Departures wants to say about them... The music is lush and sentimental in a subdued way, the cinematography is perfectly framed and evocative, and the movie is uncommonly absorbing. There is a scene of discovery toward the end with tremendous emotional impact. You can't say it wasn't prepared for, but it comes as a devastating surprise, a poetic resolution."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"It's a deeply touching movie exploring an incredible range of emotions. Unforgettable."
- Jeffrey Lyons, Reel Talk

"A gorgeous drama...beautiful moments abound."
- Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

"I regard Departures as the most moving film I have ever seen commemorating the bonds between the living and the dead."
- Andrew Sarris, New York Observer

"Enormously affecting, even haunting film with a superb lead performance by Masahiro Motoki."
- Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine

"When you see the poetic, funny and life-affirming film, you'll have to say that this time the Academy got it right."
- Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

"A gentle film...warmhearted...(made with ) beauty and precision."
- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

"An incredibly fulfilling movie experience...In a season devoted to movies that go crash-bang-boom, this film offers quiet joy, beauty -- and an amazing array of feelings."
- Marshall Fine, Hollywood and Fine

"This powerfully moving exploration of love and loss is leavened by humor and the revelatory grace of the ritual itself."
- Karen Durbin, Elle Magazine

"It will resonate with anyone who has ever buried a loved one and struggled to reconcile the myriad emotions—grief, anger, helplessness. Which is to say, everyone."
- David Edelstein, New York Magazine

"A beautiful film."
- Angela Walker, Christian Cinema

"Picturesque and graceful with touches of gentle comedy, awash in lovely images and a gorgeous music score by Joe Hisaishi, with one poetic sequence following another... Filled with expressive, contemplative scenes and performances that are quietly powerful, Departures is a sensitive, bittersweet masterpiece that earns its tears honestly."
- Richard Knight, Jr., Windy City Times

"This is truly masterful and glorious filmmaking that's guaranteed a spot in my Top 10 of the year. "
- Edward Douglas,

"Departures turns out to be a delightful surprise, at once an engaging dramedy and an eloquent social statement. "
- Bob Mondello, NPR

"This film is absolutely well made it transcends the limits and strictures of language and its native culture. This film speaks to its viewers in the gentle and loving respect it shows its characters and through them, its viewers. How long has it been since you had the opportunity to be cherished by a motion picture? "
- Ted Ott, Valley Scene Magazine

"Fantastic performances...a wonderfully humanistic story."
- Luke Crisell, Nylon

"Every so often, a film comes along that is the whole package—that accomplishes everything that transforms a movie into a true work of art. Departures, winner of the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language film, is such a film. It is a beautiful film at each level—visual, aural, emotional, spiritual, plot. As a whole, Departures stands as a sterling example of what film can be."
- Darrell Manson, Hollywood Jesus

"A Japanese work of cinematic art that is as delicate in subject matter as it is majestic through detail.... shines golden with heartwarming scenes and outstanding acting performances.."
- Candice Winters, Campus Circle

"A gentle, transfixing film experience that takes itself on storywise as an elegy for the dead but in some miraculous way, reaching to higher a epiphany, makes you reexamine the spiritual connections in your own life."
- Sean Chavel, Cinecon

"Easily the best movie I've seen thus far this year...beautifully done."
-Rev. Chris Carpenter, Movie Dearest

"An exquisite cinematic masterpiece that is both funny and sad and all the emotions in between; it touches the heart with its treatment of beauty, music, death, and abandonment."
-Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

"The film takes an unusual and unique subject, but it is handled with grace and humor. It is a brilliant piece of art, and I have a great admiration to the director Yojiro Takita, for putting this film together"
- Mark Rydell, President of the Jury / Montreal World Film Festival

Winner 10 Japan Academy Prize Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor
Winner - Grand Prix de Ameriques: 32nd Montreal World Film Festival <>
Winner - Mercedes Benz Audience Award: Best Feature, Palm Springs International FF
Winner - Golden Rooster Award: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki) <>
Winner - Hawaii International Film festival: Audience Award
Winner - Hochi Film Awards: Best Film <>
Winner - Nikkan Sports Film Award: Best Film, Best Director
Winner - Kinema Junpo Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki)

The Movie

... in my opinion: a very beautiful, delicate, moving movie... an insight view of Japan's great culture and feeling and sensitivity without having to fly there!

There are lots of referring to music and vinyl and analog turntables and classic cello discs... and Death is managed as death... a life fact... lots of Compassion and respect for people in Shintoist ceremonies.

A truly simple, deep, easy and difficult movie, which brings you to consider several matters from a different perspective...

Highly recommended to everyone.

I loved it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weather and music - Mazzy Star

Sometimes, I find the matching between music and weather, actually rainy rather sunny, to be very pleasant - i.e. it seems I own and like more, let's say, "rainy" than "sunny" music... strange... and not talking about Impressionistic feelings...

... it's something different...

... after more woodworking this morning 'til noon, I felt pleasantly tired, not that bad mind tiredness, but a good one, like that of a countryman who's after his fields and cows, goats and chicken...

Must say the sensation - after a couple days of hand working, dealing with heavy plywood sheets and the like - it's absolutely and positively mind-boggling... cynically, sort-of: who cares about Goldman-Sachs' sub-prime stuff;-)/;-(((

... and, last night, I slept like a baby...

Rain... spring rain... annoying, light, yet wet;-) rain... and this afternoon, I had a nice, NICE fix of the right music... like when I was a kid, a record was a feast, not vinyl accumulating... not multiple disc-swappings searching for those shitty "audiophile sounds", but seeking emotions... tears, singing-along, copy-catting guitar parts... having good time with music.

While putting on the shelves some records, I handled a not-heard-in-a-long-time disc: Mazzy Star's Among my Swan... with the beautiful, sensual voice of Hope Sandoval... minor keys, slow timing, acoustic guitars, organ and harmonicas, a lazy slow grooving electric bass, a lonely cello... that's it: my afternoon was sumptuosly soundtracked by Hope's voice (...) All Your Sisters, Umbilical and many other tunes... this record is truly magic... it hints hopeful (Hope-ful) sadness, beauty, simplicity and misteriousness... a masterpiece.

The recording in the classic 1996 Capitol's pressing is SUPERB!

The music... well, as I already wrote and it's my very partial opinion... it's an absolute, little, humble, yet proud masterpiece.

My friend Ivan recently told me about a nice vinyl reissue on Plain Recordings from San Francisco... I guess and feel pretty sure nobody will blame on me for my heartfelty hinting to this beauty.

... friends, old and new, will appreciate... foes, if any: no, I wasn't hinted by the umbrella on rear record cover...


Friday, April 16, 2010

A well-spent day: the making of a Karlson bass enclosure pair

Today, after some delays, I finally got a full working day with my friend and hired "good hand" Vale and his wood-working workshop.

It's a BIG emotion and a deep pleasure to see something "coming out" from a drawing on paper...

The Karlson bass enclosures sure are among the very best, most natural, still human-sized bass speaker-box ever conceived for home music-systems: their bass with a good, N.O.S. Altec 416-8B pair, is quick, musical, neutral, unboomy, extremely pleasing and truly magically blending with horns and room... the best quality you can afford, the best results, would say Monsieur de Lapalisse (Jacques II de Chabannes de La Palice;-)))

What can I say? One picture says more than one hundred words... so, I'll leave the chronicle of the day spent cutting plywood, sanding, glueing and the like... to some pixes I took - with great amusement of Vale, who called me "a Chinese with the digital machine";-)

I guess someone will be pleased...


Friday, April 9, 2010

Owl Records... a well-kept (musical) secret

I learned about Owl Records from Paris in early '80s, thanking "The Absolute Sound" magazine and its reviewing of Michael Petrucciani's "Oracle's Destiny" disc... from this very review I discovered a world, one of the several, possible worlds available to the passionate music-lover and records-collector...

Discs by Michael Petrucciani, solo or with Lee Koonitz... and Paul Bley, and Gil Evans and Steve Lacy, and several others, sure well worth a further exploration of the Owl's catalog...

Every piano recording was using a perfectly tuned, gorgeous, huge Bosendorfer Imperial grand-piano and Monsieur Orsini's Translab wonderful mastering and laquers cutting, the very best of the crop!

Not bad for an indie jazz and contemporary record label!

... but I'm not writing to sing the merits of Owl Records...

... not only, at least...

This evening, while giving a sense;-) to the several vinyl-records carton boxes I keep everywhere in my apartment, I handled a carton box bearing a label saying "Jazz"... it was the "E" letter...

Literally dropped in my hands, the superb "Paris Blues" by Gil Evans and Steve Lacy... I only had the fortune to see and listen to Steve Lacy alive twice before his untimely death and I always sincerely appreciated his deepness, his unique sound spanning several octaves on a cool, yet possibly overrated instrument which he choose as his expressive tool of choice: the soprano sax...

Listening to him alive was like admiring one of the Seven World Wonders from few inches, touching the truest mistery of beauty...

... in Steve Lacy's so skilled, loving hands, the instrument sadly so often used to give "colour" to a tune and a "modern" texture to some re-fried, already heard jazz, becomes a brand-new instrument owning its dignity and an almost alien beauty.

Something which - IMO - only (successfully) happened to Coltrane and his "My Favourite Things"... pure zest!... leave alone some Wayne Shorter's "twitting";-) on old Mrs. Joni Mitchell's discs and the like...

... anyway... found "Paris Blues" and put on the turntable... triodes well warmed up and... Holy Triode!

Didn't remember such a beauty and a recording quality and an heavenly music and easy complexity coming from Fender Rhodes played by Maestro Gil Evans, the hero of so many battles... from "Sketches of Spain" to "Out of the Cool" to "GE plays Jimi Hendrix" and "Big Band Lumiere" with Laurent Clugny and others, etc.

A superb variety of tones and overtones... a superb use of silences and pauses... and "THAT" soprano by Steve Lacy... puffing, suffering, BUT so Heavenly hinting to that Supreme, so deeply and sincerely described by Coltrane Himself...

The first take, "Reincarnation of a Lovingbird" by the late Charlie Mingus is, like the last take - a perfect rendition of "Good-bye Pork Pie Hat", always by Charlie Mingus - and with "Afternoon" from "Fusion" by the Jimmy Giuffre Trio and "Die Sterne" by Walter Wegmuller and The Cosmic Couriers from "Tarot" - (one of) the soundtracks I'd wish to be played at my funeral, while in a tiny good-smelling Red Spruce wooden box, in ashes form;-)

It's not Music, anymore... it's Pure Sound!

Really, this stuff is so powerful it trascends Music, reaching an higher level, becoming a totally new entity... something which is appreciated not only by our material body and mind, but by Soul, straight as an arrow... it go so deep, deep and straight to DNA;-)

Death or life, I'm pretty and deadly serious... do you a favour: look for "Paris Blues" by Gil Evans and Steve Lacy on Owl and buy it...

... ok, the disk will be ok, as well... special allowance on special stuff;-)

... but the black mat finish with silver lettering, a work of art and a labour of love as many other Owl's covers, is well worth the search for a minty vinyl copy.

A confession... must admit I love having more and more friends from my (humble) musical hintings...

WJAAS (related) - beautiful Hanami in Castegnero, Italy

... now I'm greatly enjoying colours and good smell of cherry blossoming... in few weeks I'll be also appreciating cherries, loads of cherries, from these very same trees...

A 360° experience!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A well kept secret: Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers from Boston, MA


I love them and appreciate Skinner since a long time... I often browse in their (several) lists... of special interest the Americana and musical instruments - both classical and popular - sections.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

WJAAS (related) - beautiful Hanami in Hosshoji, Tottori-ken

Arigato gozaimasu, Seo-san!

Springtime news from Lindau-am-Bodensee - the new Thomas Mayer's Universal Line Stage

Here is a new toy made by Thomas Mayer.

A linestage (pre-amp) based on the same circuit as the 801A line, but it has some switches and adjustable filament supply so that it can be configured for various tubes.

Besides the 801A and it's relatives, it can operate with 71A, 26, UX112 and UX201A, so depending on the mood and music, different tubes can be used. Especially the ancient, sought-after UX201A, which is very interesting! It has a bit of euphonics, but quite subtle.

Look at some pixes with a small selection of the possible tubes plugged in...

... well done, Thomas!