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Sunday, October 31, 2010

A superb (audio/music) Blog from Germany: Holger Barske

Holger's Blog has always been among the very best of the crop and a great place where to learn about our passion.

I sure did it!

Have a look and... enjoy!

Music and its tools: Ralph Towner's Guild 12 strings guitar(s)

This TRULY changed my life!

Ralph's 12 strings changed me from a guitar player into a twelve strings guitar player;-)))

Beside I now own some nice vintage guitars, the Guild's have and always had a very special space in my heart...

This possibly also was for a younger Ralph, who, after his classical studies in Wien under Karl Scheit's guidance, he returned to NYC where he played for several musicians, singers and groups... maybe it was Tim Hardin's frequentations or the Fred Neil's Bleecker's Street folkie sounds or, who knows, Tim Buckley's... also a fond Guild F-512's user.

Towner had his first F-212, right in time - after Paul Winter Consort - to join Weather Report for "The Moor" on "I sing the Body Electric".

Shortly after followed at least two custom-made at Guild's workshop: a Florentine cutaway F-212 and an abalone-less fretboard F-512: the first mahoganny bodied and the second in Brazilian Rosewood, both with flat, classical-like 52 mm at nut fretboards as per Ralph's wishes, needing the same room he was used to while playing his classical guitar.

When I met mr. Towner first time, I remember I was slightly impressed by his so normal-sized hands, not surprising as he's about 1,75 tall; nonetheless the quite long scale and wide fretboard looked someway excessive for him... BUT, pals, how right he was...

I discovered by myself, after using two recent (for my standards) both from early '80s;-)) Guilds' - i.e. an F-112 and an F-512 with 42 mm wideness at nut.

Not bad guitars, BUT I always had the feeling of being imprecise in picking and fingering with my left hand... then I discovered the F-312 (1965), F-112 (1974) and F-212 (1964), ALL with that so wise 52 mm at nut.

... and my picking on 12 strings improved greatly.

... but back to Ralph's Guilds... the two custom-made guitars, possibly made by luthier Greco himself at Guild's custom workshop, have been with Towner for decades, standing infinite flights abuses and recordings and concerts and, sure, some refrettings and overhaulings.

On back cover of his old Solo Concerts on ECM, the minimalist stage well shows Towner's rig: the two twelve strings guitars, the classic, a Neumann USM-69 and a couple of KM-84... THE perfect recipe for a great, beautiful guitar sound and superb music and recording which I always cherished.

This twelve strings sound, often obtained with weird non-unison octave tunings, is so unique that only one note is enough to recognize it.

Ralph always used silk & steel medium strings to obtain that thick, NOT harpsichord-like sound.

... what can I say: this sound is part of my musical life, as a listener and as a musician, and no other guitar owns that character: unboomy, expressive in all registers and unique, as it is not nasal like Stella's or folkie like Gibson B45-12, but serves also the most adventurous improviser... no, not talking about myself;-))), but Ralph Towner and many, many other, last but not least Michael Gulezian who, also, remained faithfull for decades - he still does - to his F-212XL.

Kang Rimpoche, Don Juan and audio

Say Tibetans: "Gnonmong-Lamkhyer" = transforming hassles in a Path - i.e. using troubles as steps to go high and higher, food for our patience and compassion... to finally find the Buddha's essence within us...

... and Cartlos Castaneda in his "Don Juan's Teachings": a Warrior is the one who walks a Path and the difference between himself and an ordinary man is in dealing with life troubles... the Warrior consider problems and negativities as challenges to his weakness, while the lesser individual adds layer over layer of punishments and fears, never learning from his errors.

A quite prosaic example: years ago, if receiving - say - a flawed Ebay's item, I always fell in a bad mood for days, now I simply fix it, sometimes ameliorating - i.e. I hate different screws in a gear (sometimes it happens on old/DIY stuffs) and my love for quality automatically make me to shop at my esoteric hardware store to solve the "problem" - or better understanding building quality (or poorness).

Also in my just began adventure to further improve and push onward my Gotorama system, I noticed I'm keeping a different approach, more Zen-like, fatalistic, yet with my senses definitely "ON", open to every and any hint, voice, option and opinion.

I'm quite traditionalist and (intermittently) integralist in many aspects of my life: I'm very faithful to my choices and NEVER throwing away something without, at least, trying to understand it and tailoring to my tastes.

Keeping this (good) attitude, without a feeling of over-affection to ownership and a mind openness, that's difficult... I sort-of choose to sweetly bend my mind instead of using an hard hammer on this and the someway new condition gives surprisingly and unexpected good results: things happens!

It seems ALL best life things happen ONLY when they're not pushed hard or avidly searched for...

... ahhhh, the healing power of looking at Kang Rimpoche (Mount Kailas)...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reaching the core (part 2) - Trumpet, violin, woodwinds and audio

The violin owns a very peculiar character and feature - i.e. it and its acoustic creates lower pitched "ghosts note" after the fundamental and its harmonics.

Hear this through your music system and you're at the peak...

I'm primitive, at best, in explaining physics and acoustics, so will link here, a great site full of truth and knowledge.

The reason of writing about this apparently well digested topic?

Easy said: it's paramount for our understanding of audio and its secrets and music, to relate it to the physics of musical instruments.

Jean Hiraga, always deep and supportive in sharing with the world his thoughts, recently - after, and too briefly, hinting this from a chapter in his old, seminal "Les Hautparleurs" book, where he explained that the sound from an horn and a driver is not created nor at the diaphragm, neither at the horn mouth - wrote an illuminating essay concerning horns (pavillons) and physics of woodwinds.

He quotes and remembers the pioneers like Wente and Thuras in the '30s (USA), Shigemi Takajo and Masatoshi Tamaru (Japan) and Webster (USA) in the '60s and, most of all for the implications and better explaining the process of sound creating and spreading in the ambient, the searches and essays by Arthur H. Benade.

Published between 1959/60, "The physics of woodwinds" and 1973, "The physics of brass instruments", Benade's studies brought him to consider the influence of acoustic impedance of reeds (in clarinet, oboe, sax), lips vibrations working as reeds (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone) and - the most important - finding that - i.e. in trumpet - the sound does not "exit" from the instrument mouth (an horn, by chance...), but it's produced by an interaction, a collision between lips/reed-produced sound, standing waves inside the horn and back waves, created at the horn mouth.

Interpherometric laser shows this clearly in acoustics laboratories, like at University of Maine (Le Mans - France) and CNRS, always in France, where scientists like Jean Kergomard and Joel Gilbert found that in horns speakers, like in above mentioned instruments (brass instruments) the vibrating walls of horn (or trumpet) itself, also measurably 40 db below acoustic level, the vibrating character proper of materials used for horn (or trumpet) gives a clearly audible character and a sonic footprint, with awesome effects to air columns and... yes, sound.

The above, applied to "our" area of interests - audio and horns - explains "why" horns, drivers and phase plugs materials - massive and made of self-taming (or owning a music-friendly resonance frequency) - like bronze and brass, give better results, audibly better, I mean, over cheap, lesser plastic or aluminium parts.

Thus the use of vibes taming compounds on aluminium horns (Altec. JBL, Vitavox, Goto, ALE) and the use of concrete horns as used by die-hard music lovers.

A lesson: physics is physics, acoustics is acoustics, reality is reality... magazines reviews and hypes (i.e. - 20hz flat from a shoes-box sized speaker) are...

... as usual, you got it, folks;-)

... and you cannot be wrong at listening to an acoustic instrument played live, in front of you: like one hour spent with a Master teaches more than dozens books.

Deepest thanks goes to Jean Hiraga, to R. and K. and to Luca Chiomenti and Loris Crivellaro.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reaching the core (part 1): Sprungantwort

"Sprungantwort" is a special term in german physics. At the moment I cannot find the corresponding english expression... (the translation word for word would be "jump answer") perhaps you get an idea, it means - as in life - the reproduced sound out of one and only source [(not that easy (NoB - with Gotorama or larger systems) because of the size of the different drivers and horns)]..."

The above extract from a longer text I recently received from a friend, bring me to (one of) the core(s) in music reproduction at home... it's a major truth, I'd define it: listening to a planar electrostatic, a single, wideband speaker or a small or larger horns system, what truly makes "the" difference, a world of difference, is "Sprungantwort" or "snap", "whoomp", immediacy, naturalness, trueness or whatever defines easyness and "that" sense of unbiased, self-standing sense of something happening, hic et nunc, unfiltered and beautiful.

At the concert, when any given instrument plays also the humblest, honest, yet someway ugly tuning notes, the listener mind simply remains still - imagine a mountain lake in summer - like the ear alone be the sole responsible for the musical enjoyment and understanding...

This no-brainer, apparently "light" approach, nearer to "senses" realm than to elucubrations and speculating-related rarefact world, gives to Music its universal so high digeribility and assimilability, as unchained and free as a child smile.

... so, "Sprungantwort": no woofing or twitting or... at a concert: a guitar is a guitar, a clarinet a clarinet, a tuba is a... OK, you got it;-)!

... and at home, when "we" begin to reach that so elusive "MUSIC" truest core, its truest meaning, the one which makes us sing-along, giving tears or making us handclapping, alone or with (close) friends... well, that's the very moment we reach, at least, that fabled "M-U-S...", maybe highest goal we can reach in our home music-rooms!

Our systems are nor a status symbol, neither a bunch of gears, BUT a "caller", our shuttle to an higher, better and easiest world and we do not differentiate among "ways" or frequencies, BUT, suddently, we re-appropriate of emotions, giving a meaning also to silence and pauses.

We hear and know we're listening to, (almost) attending to an event and it's like an awakening: a church organ has same dignity than a triangle and we hear them in their truest essence, NOT like a dissected (in the studio mixing) and a Frankenstein-like "thing" re-assembled in our rooms.

Completely indifferent to size of speakers and music played/listened to, the (carefully assembled) music/audio system sounds like a whole, period.

That's music reproduction in my room, pals... cannot find a better way to say "Thanks!" to Seiya Goto-san and Goto-Unit, making 45 years on the market this year, 2010, and never loosing attention to "music" and care for it in their workshop.

Arigato gozaimashita, Goto-san.

Bob Dylan's facts - His Bobness' Mono Remasters on "Music on Vinyl"

Bob Dylan – The 2010 Mono Recordings are coming!

Music On Vinyl is proud to announce the 2010 Mono Remasters of Bob Dylan’s first eight long-playing albums. Painstakingly reproduced from their first generation monaural mixes, they represent the albums as the artist intended them to be heard: One channel of powerful sound, both direct and immediate. While stereo recordings had been available as early as the mid-1950s, mono was still the predominant – and often preferred – mode of recording and mixing by the top artists of the 1960s. As a result, artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan devoted their attention to the mono mixes, leaving the stereo mixing process to studio engineers.

Each LP of these 2010 releases comes in a replicates sleeve, faithfully replicating the original album artwork, complete with labels that were used on the original 1960s releases.

These eight albums – spanning the artist’s self-titled debut in March 1962, through John Wesley Harding released on December 27, 1967 – are universally regarded as some of the most important works in the history of recorded music.

This series of 8 audiophile vinyl LP´s will see the light on December 7th, 2010.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Seasons they change" - available on November 1st, 2010

In the late 60s and early 70s the inherent weirdness of folk met switched-on psychedelic rock and gave birth to new, strange forms of acoustic-based avant garde music. Artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan, Pearls Before Swine and Comus, combined sweet melancholy and modal melody with shape-shifting experimentation to create sounds of unsettling oddness that sometimes go under the name acid or psych folk. A few of these artists - notably the String Band, who actually made it to Woodstock - achieved mainstream success, while others remained resolutely entrenched underground. But by the mid-70s even the bigger artists found sales dwindling, and this peculiar hybrid musical genre fell profoundly out of favour. For 30 years it languished in obscurity, apparently beyond the reaches of cultural reassessment, until, in the mid-2000s a new generation of artists collectively tagged 'New Weird America' and spearheaded by Devendra Banhart, Espers and Joanna Newsom rediscovered acid and psych folk, revered it and from it, created something new. Thanks partly to this new movement, many original acid and psych folk artists have re-emerged, and original copies of rare albums command high prices. Meanwhile, both Britain and America are home to intensely innovative artists continuing the tradition of delving simultaneously into contemporary and traditional styles to create something unique. "Seasons They Change" tells the story of the birth, death and resurrection of acid and psych folk. It explores the careers of the original wave of artists and their contemporary equivalents, finding connections between both periods, and uncovering a previously hidden narrative of musical adventure

Sunday, October 24, 2010

iVictrola: an old timey weirdo or...?

Designed by Matt Richmond, the iVictrola’s design and functionality harkens back to the olden days. Way way back to the olden days, when there were no electronics. It acoustically amplifies the sound coming from an iPhone or iPod Touch – no need for a plug or batteries.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

What a Wonderful World - Robert Wyatt's "For the Ghosts Within"

Like movie-directors & writers, with their open-mode Chakras to underline, comment and write History and its greater and lesser facts, musicians [should/have to and actually (some) does] describe Life and its flowing.

Seldomly, very selected spirits goes beyond: Robert Wyatt - sure one of them - always present to himself and his times and lively "there", be it Timor, Cuba, miners' U.K. or hot mid-70s Italy, is now hinting to Palestine, with Gilad Atzmon & Ros Stephen.

He's not straight, politically rallying behind, pro or con, this or that party... no!

He's much more in Ghandi noble tradition, a cane in the wind of changes, only apparently fragile in his (relative) flaws, BUT Robert, always very politely, yet fiercely "hints" - "Hey dude, there is a world out there!"

His last six-hands-effort "For the Ghosts Within" is, like "Comicopera", less flashy than, say, "Rock Bottom": yet it enters slowly to remain in listener DNA.

His voice shows some previously unheard signs of the years passing by, and this makes it still more "human"... the strings, with beautiful Middle Eastern melismas add a new soundscape and a new quality of RW's music... a classic, BUT revolutionary, strongly unframed.

Songs, standards like statements, anthems.. a thin line to bond to each other... so, a question: do we really need a new "What a Wonderful World" rendition? Maybe... RW's version is so full of "compassion", something which we sure need in this soooo flawed World... and we sure, yes, sure need more and more Robert Wyatt.

I know I'm quite partial, BUT find no shadows on this 3 sides 180 gr. vinyl (with complimentary download card): Atzmon's duduk-like clarinet and alto sax are pretty right and intriguing and the re-reading of some great Robert's tunes sounds both new and fondly old.

A true gem, indeed... and thanking Jamie Johnson's recording at Gallery Studios, a superb recording, as well.

... (have I to say?!?) - Buy it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

... if in Berlin on next November...

20 Years of City Slang Festival at Admiralspalast (Berlin)Memorabilia Tickets now available exclusively in our online store.

We can finally offer hard tickets (not those ugly computerized things) in our online store.

Here's the offer:

Friday, November 19th

Get Well Soon
The Notwist (performing Neon Golden)
Calexico (performing Feast Of Wire)

BUY TICKET* (€ 37, plus registered Mail Postage)

Saturday , November 20th

Tortoise (performing songs from their first 3 albums)
Broken Social Scene

BUY TICKET* (€ 37, plus registered Mail Postage)

Sunday, November 21st

Alexi Murdoch
Yo La Tengo (performing a City Slang-centric set)
Lambchop (performing Is A Woman)

BUY TICKET* (€ 37, plus registered Mail Postage)


BUY TICKET** (€ 90, plus registered Mail Postage)



* Also includes half price admission (€ 6) to the massive Saturday night aftershow party feat. Erol Alkan, Trevor Jackson and Ewan Pearson at Cookies, two blocks down the road from Admiralspalast.
** Also includes free admission to the massive Saturday night aftershow party feat. Erol Alkan, Trevor Jackson and Ewan Pearson at Cookies, two blocks down the road from Admiralspalast.


- If you already purchased a Saturday ticket elsewhere the above half price rate for the aftershow party also applies.
- If you already purchased a Weekend ticket elsewhere the above free admission to the aftershow party also applies.

Mudras and music... why not?

Hints from Yoga to be used by music-lovers and musicians:

Among other things, the planets are also associated with the days of the week.
Monday: Moon: The quality is emotional
Tuesday: Mars: The quality is energetic, combative
Wednesday: Mercury: The quality is business, communication
Thursday: Jupiter: The quality is expansion and deep thought
Friday: Venus: The quality is love, sensuality
Saturday: Saturn: The quality is Karma, constriction, discipline
Sunday: Sun :The quality is purity, energy of the self.
... and about "mudras":

Mudras are described as hand positions. Each area of the hand has a reflex reaction in a specific part of the brain. A Mudra locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain.

Together with the Bhandas, Mudras redirect the energy flow, linking the individual pranic energy with universal force.

Each finger represents the energy of a planet, a determinate quality, and emotions. The thumbs represents the ego

Have a look here for better understanding: hands and fingers positions are a powerful, yet easy way to manage energies and mind attention and attitude.

Try it when having (or wishing to have) a deep, attentive listening to your favourite music... at first you'll feel yourself VERY silly, then... oh, ohh?!?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Heirloom - hardware or...

Audio gears are - usually - highly inflated goodies... and talking about classics and/or vintage the elusive quality, the rareness or being sought-after gives market prices which would be better managed by N.Y.S.E. than Orion Blue books!

Nonetheless, every audiophile has his personal classics, the gears which you will never part from...

I read in the Forums (someway) silly lists - i.e. "I'll never part from..." and follows the actual system gears list, like what you own "now" be "the" ultimate.

This is a much deeper matter, in my opinion... some gears appears to truly "click" with their owners, as per their shape, building quality, elusiveness, and, last but not least, sonic merits, sort-of giving a voice to our musical soul.

Joe Roberts was right: we can talk about a "clear" or "dark" sounding piece of gear like an individual can be described as "sunny" or "dull" and "boring".

Without talking about this or that brand or maker and manufacturer, the big (aesthetic) choice is done when someone likes LEDs and black faced gears, or silver, or wooden, round edged, smooth, retro looking or space age, BIG or minimalist.

Some systems showed on the WEB or elsewhere are so badly mixed and assembled, like a Versailles-like room with Ikea's furnitures, and sonically, sometimes the average audio system is so far from any live event as possible.

Edgy, sterile, innatural, no harmonics...

Thanking Reinhard and his square wave seeking and hinting to yours truly, I took my time and strength to build a fully Class A solid state amps rig to multiamp my four ways speakers system.

So... what happened to the hard-core triode-lover and scholar, the technically ignorant;-), yet passionate vintage lunatic?

Dead, gone, blown away, by reality, logic and - most of all - ears!

While my Hiraga 20W used in single ended mode to feed the Gotorama's sounded to my ears nice but someway boring on lengthy listenings, someway "compressing" soundstage and dynamics, when I shopped for more Hiraga's amps in possessed-mode;-.) - call me nut, but now I own 6 - i.e. 3 x 20W, 1 x 30W Le Classe A (see a previous, recent post) - ALL original "La Maison de l'Audiophile"/Lectron's, made in France - plus 1 x Le Monstre 8W and 2 x M1 25W monos, both based on original schematics using original transistors, homebrewed by skilled hands using premium parts - and wired and fed Goto Unit CF-1 18 db/octave electronic x-over... well, something happened: the system, previously running on 8W triode EMS Labs 300B with a pleasant sound, simply disappeared, the sensation of music breathing freely, deeply, like when waking up early in the morning in the mountains fresh air.

... ahhhhhhhhhh...

I'm still dealing with my VERY own surprise and awe, as - something which seldomly happens - I didn't recognize my music system! Every combination is superb: 30W on low, and the others, by trial and error... will I end using a full solid state combo?

The result is sooo vastly superior to the passive x-over/300B sound in several parameters - i.e. dynamic, sense-of-surprise, overal beauty and naturalness, harmonic complexity and variety... musicality with a natural "temporal suspension" and eveness among notes, like at the concert, seated at first row.

So, if pushed to a shove, heirloom and audio: makes any sense?

Almost everything could be replaced and definitely "Yes!", Le Classè A 30W it's - sure it is - a Desert Island piece of gear, and simply cannot understand who sold it (?!?!?) as it's an absolute sonic masterpiece, but I'd better copyright and protect my overall "sound" as an (humble) human (personal) peak;-))): if passing away today, the heritage for my beloved nephews would be my system (sound) and my love for music and related records and guitars collection.

Trascending the mess of wires and metal and glass and wood and rubber countless parts composing the behemoth, my legacy is and would be more a vision, an aesthetic, sonic self-portrait and a musical aura of my very own, most sincere inner, VERY me.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Yesterday, while clearing some inches thick papers which accumulated behind the sofa;-) came in my hands some old pixes, between 20 and 15 years old, of my audio system.

Tears suddenly appeared in my eyes as, sooo cute I was, I used my old trusty "Chiocciola" (bass enclosure) with green Altec 416A and Altec 288C in smaller Iwata's wooden horn with classic Altec 2 ways x-over, (green) 301 Shindo with SME 3012R and SPU-GM, Be Yamamura's # 6 MC-transformer, Revox A-700 and Revox G-36, EMT 930st, Marantz 7C and 10B, homebrewed WE 421A (5998) stereo little amp.

Also, Naim SNAPS and WMD6-C portable cassette... and yes, in first pixes I had NO CD-player at all: I bought my first disk player, my trusty Studer A-730 - still in my satisfied hands - back in the 1996...

All considered, it was an elegant, no-frills rig, pretty right for my needs and tastes.

... a third pix shows me going 3 ways and multiamping, using Partridge WE 300B, Hiraga 20W and WE 421A, with the (crappy) Pioneer D-23, having added as third, upper way a JBL 2420 and its horn.

Also visible, under the green 301's Shindo, a Yuasa battery-fed Phono preamp à la Audiophile (Hiraga).

... and (one of) my alto sax(es) on a chair... I was badly puffing on it, trying to learn it and became a sax player.

Let's talk about WAF: when I showed the two ways system pixes with the kilim, now in my studio;-), she also moaned about... "we were happier" or "I was able to keep plants in music room"... and, sadly, she was right!

The tears, sincere, came as I well remembered that years... yes, I already was VERY fond of music and audio, ONLY younger, having regular sex and sport - Crosscountry skying, Rollerblades, bike three-four times a week and offroad motorbiking, every weekend, doesn't matter winter or summer, after job... also playing a lot with friends, at least one time a week.

Now, twenty or so years after, ALL is reduced: the above and my savings which shortened due to heavily investing in audio, more and more, as a never ending story.

Only dimensions of my audio system increased...

Why? I have several friends who had completely similar experiences than mine... WHY do we ALL get nuts?

Feeling fine with a 50hz-15Khz system - more or less the ears average hearing capabilities - or trying to copycat bats and their hearing;-)?

Going (someway) further and further, needing to go "beyond": is it in DNA or is it (a sort of) illness?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WJAAS - WEC5's shopping heaven

This place is - plainly said - among the very best audio goldmines ever: an extremely broad choice, superb taste and "right" price-tags.

... and Chiro's home, as well;-)

Surf among the several pages offering at yr. convenience and... enjoy!

WJAAS - G.I.P. Laboratory

G.I.P. represents among the most lovingly, respectful to old Western Electric's stuffs little artisanal workshop of whole Japan.

Their replicas are - simply - the best, and for the vintage adept with deep pockets but wishing to avoid the '30s drivers and relative hassles they represent THE choice.

A friend told me about Kanno's 597 replicas... I had the opportunity to listen to systems using these and they - also superb piece of gears - like the Eltus' Honda-san's replicas - aren't on the same par than G.I.P.'s, which I also appreciated, in a Japanese system.

The difference is in easyness, sounding so natural to awe at every note, while Eltus' - I remember - sounded almost fragile and "honking"... possibly the lesser system I listened to played a role...

Kanno's were quite thin sounding, modern and "hi-fish" in character, while Eltus were almost telephonic... G.I.P.'s sounded simply "right", romantic and quick, beefy and true to life.

Nonetheless, same easyness of G.I.P. 597 Type 3 I find in Goto's SG-160BL... it's not a matter of G.I.P.'s field-coils vs. BL/FRP permanent magnet... it's a matter of - I guess - tolerances, diaphragm centering and tuning and feather-like weights and thickness.

I'm not a technic, BUT my ears sure appreciated the level - very high - of workmanship of G.I.P.'s and a sound to par.

Have a look at their super site and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WJAAS - Italian Kichigai: Gab

My dear friend Gab, a passionate music and audio lover and a skilled sax player, recently took his chance in that weird, yet intriguing semi-static display of an audio system on YouTube1 and 2 - i.e. playing a disc and trying to share with the immense Web audience a given vision, which is both musical AND audio-related.

His freshly home-brewed, large PHY-styled mono baffle with a 20 cm Telefunken's ELA-L8, plus his TRULY gorgeous Garrard 401 using those SUPERB, seldom seen broadcasting Lafayette and Velvet Touch's arms with General Electric and DL-102 mono cartridges... WOW!!!

This is only one of Gab's systems... a larger, classy four ways horns (RCA/Yoshimura Labs/Altec) and 211 triodes is his Nirvana system, BUT I know his heart beats faster for his vintage stuff, like the (now gone) Cinemeccanica classic cinema speakers (see above link) and his TD-124 and McIntosh C8/MC-30 pre/amp combo and his lovely kept and maintained Philips CD-100 soooo politically correct disk-player... "vintage" as a True Religion;-)... down to the "orange label" sought-after "Impulse" Pee Wee Russell's disc spinning on the 401.

Good stroke, Gab and... welcome in "kichigai wonderland"...

A very classy outfit, indeed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

WJAAS - Japanese Soundscapes

Japanese Soundscapes

Yesterday afternoon, a lazy flu tinted musical afternoon, I had a listen to a strange disk, Nature's sounds from Japan, and pushed me to approach an usually (or potentially) boring playlist as it was a more conventional disk...

I simply listened to it, laying on the sofa in a VERY relaxed mode... eyes closed, dimmed lights... maybe I also slept...

Maybe not the best way to listen to music, BUT sure the VERY best to flow in a swan fight on mountain lake or a pebble beach and furious waves.

On some tracks the "sound" was nearer to "music" as it can be... track # 5 reminded me of a John Zorn's awesome sax solo concert, a couple of years ago... birds, men... who's teaching who?

This VERY disk is truly a gem... when it finished I felt bluesy.

Sound and music, music or sound? Who cares... it's food for the mind, fueling fantasy and imagination, a movie for the ears, aural National Geographic's stuff;-)

Imagine listening to (volcanic) hot mud bubbles and a gyser exploding in your room or thunders and rain...

Cannot imagine a better Gotorama experience, folks;-)

MANY thanks to Roberto for hinting this.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hiraga frenzy!

Have a look at those red cans: 330.000 mF x 4 = 1.320.000 mF + 68.000 mF x 2 = 136.000 mF

Grand-total is a staggering 1.456.000 mF...

Almost 1,5 Farad filtering!!!

Impressive... like the sound.

Happy Birthday, John!

... John would have been 70, today...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Water music

...not talking about Haendel's masterpiece... I mean: liquid music or the super-digital (for me) brand-new (downloading/streaming) "format" which will free us from ANY and ALL formats... pure music coming from the binary 0/1 Wonderworld... more than radiowaves... the Perfect Sound Forever (oh, oh...)

... but that, right "that" hyped commercial dream... where I already heard it?!?

... now I remember: it was Philips B/V from Eindhoven, The Netherlands..., it was 1983, I guess...

So what?!?

192khz/24Bit, upsampling, super-duper AD/DA converters, and the mirage of an infinite playlist always available, a discotheque as large as The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and the dream of a RIAA and jitter-free listening.

The tuner and radio at a larger extent, represented something similar in the near past, BUT the garbage coming from the radiowaves is an ever increasing reality, at least in my country... some live events are seldom broadcasted, BUT only represent a small digit percentage of the whole radio offer.

Abroad, thanking streaming Web feature, is slightly better, but we enter in the digital realm, (someway) loosing that "liquidness" - i.e. the myth of pureness of a live event broadcasted live: only musicians and microphones picking up the event = Music... yes, jitter and RIAA-free.

In any case, I was speculating in my absolutely unpretentious and down-to-earth way of thinking: after receiving more and more wise, well-informed and intriguing links on the matter of "liquid music" from Reinhard - leave alone the great, knowledged and (to me) unknown link bringing to a no-compromise new diigital approach of sci-fi conceived and built converters and the like - I tried to "defend" my "merry ignorance" on the matter, as my musical and aesthetic tastes do not mate too well with the almost infinite offer of Web.

My own having musical heros such as Hans Reichel and Fred Frith with extremely broad, yet small scale production or long time gone greats like Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Robbie Basho and all the too numerous to be quoted groups and artists who recorded and no longer exists, whose discs I already own and purchased in their hey days.

While browsing at several Reinhard's hinted sites, I noticed that people, the users of these digital playgrounds, almost exclusively listen to classics - i.e. Jimi, Doors, Beatles... me and many, many others around already own ALL (or so) the above recordings... so, it's money involved - i.e. discs and disks cost is higher than downloading - and I love, simply, keeping music AND money unrelated... if I want and can afford and purchase a record I do, period.

Also downloading single tracks from a full record is unrespectful to the musician, the recording engineer, etc. etc. - but I'm an integralist;-)

How in the world could you only download "So What" from Miles' "Kind of Blue": it would be - it's my strong opinion - like asking to your girlfriend to... marry her own single tit or bottom, alone!?!

A politically uncorrect practice, indeed...

More than a "format" problem, is a problem of dealing and managing "wishes", as I absolutely know how my mind and my music hungriness works - i.e. it's like i "see" a cover or hear some "musical trailer" in my mind, through my inner ear or whatever.

This brings me to search on the shelves for "that" record, which I finally find, handle, smell, appreciate at several levels, also mnemonic, linking me to the past, when I purchased the disc, thinking to which girlfriend I had or where I purchased it, whatever, randomly.

I already told you about "Siesta" by Miles/Miller and "For the Roses" by Joni Mitchell discs which, both, smelled of a patchouli scent... olfattive music.

When I purchased "Harvest" by Neil Young, I remember kissing a girlfriend at the park, while the brand new disc was in my school bag, just purchased and still in plastic wrapping.

When I listened for the first time to, again, Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush", I had teethache (sic)...

... and so on and on...

It's truly a very personal relationship with (virtually) all and every disc and disk I own and my ideal listening session is always, say ALWAYS, a mind-game, a fond memory exercise and the pleasure from listening is GREATLY enhanced by the tactile and mnemonic experience.

As for books, for the dinosaur who's in me, i-Pad won't work, also if they tried to duplicate pages turning whoosh;-) - on a book I can write a note, squeeze it, read at rest-room or at seaside, I can throw as a weapon (happened several times;-)) - let it fly from hands to the floor, after reading same pages before sleeping, and you can double buy it to give as a gift with a dedication...

Like vinyl and its ceremonial, the books are in my DNA...

So what?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Le Betoneghe (The Magpies)

Made in 1974 by an obscure italian artist, who - like others did - paid for his meals with his brush and canvas handicrafts...

This remained for almost forty years on a Milan's "Brera" district restaurant wall.

Now it's in my studio.

I like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

News from ECM - Stephan Micus' last effort

“The idea of sitting down at a table and making a composition on paper is totally foreign to me. To come up with a piece of music, I have to make the sound myself, have the instruments in my hands.”

Stephan Micus (b. 1953) has a special and intense relationship with the countless instruments he plays. Many of the instruments, a number of which come from Asia or Africa, represent age-old musical traditions, some of them dying out while others have congealed into the stuff of museum exhibits. But in Micus’ hands they come alive again.

He experiments with new sound possibilities and often plays the instruments in ways other than those he was taught by local masters during his distant travels. Improvising, he comes up with the most surprising combinations of instruments, whose melodic lines he plays separately into a multi-track recorder. The resulting polyphonic structures are staggeringly and mysteriously beautiful.

Micus’ three main sound protagonists in Bold As Light are the raj nplaim (a free-reed pipe made of bamboo) from Laos, the nohkan (a bamboo flute) from Japan, and the many male voices, which, of course, are all sung by Micus himself.

With this CD - the nineteenth for ECM - the impressive discography Stephan Micus has built up continues unabated, each time with new and unique music.