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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Musings... dadaist news from ETF 2011

A tank-shaped... better a true 5 litres tank with a built-in tube amp using a mighty 45 balloon triode...

No comment... kudos for the dadaist soul who built it and thanks to Thomas Schick and to Holger Barske for the pixes;-)

BTW - The handle sure helps in portability and the sound... well, cannot be anything else than liquid;-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

R.I.P. Dept. - Ken Russell passed away

The great visionary director whose connection with music was so strong, from David Munrow to The Who, to Rick Wakeman to Delius and Fenby, to Tchaikovski to Thomas Dolby, sadly passed away on last Nov. 27th, aged 84.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


After the giant spindle for our beloved 301s - see a previous, recent post - I'm finishing another "hommage" to Garrard 301 and its GREATNESS... only (a little) better:-)

An extremely limited batch, an handful, plainly said, of replicas of 301's strobo-less platters, super accurately lathed from a single B14 bell-bronze "slice" bullion, maniacally balanced to stand still on a zero degrees flat seismic platform - same happens to your car tyres and wheels, when balanced at the tyre workshop, only MUCH more carefully and precisely - my friend Mario copiously ejaculated:-) when the first samplers, finished in mirror-like appearance, brought to the balancing workshop, a NASA-like white coats (lunatics) place simply didn't need ANY balancing at all!

People there hand-clapped:-)... a machinist's machinist dream.

This one-of-a-kind replica platter is weighting about 14 kilos and to be safely used with standard 301 chassis needs a sort-of stainless-steel ring underside the chassis, to be sandwiched with my own spindle, sturdier and more apt to accept such a weight... while it's SIMPLY an heavenly mechanical matching with Ray's solid, thicker bespoke chassis.

Like a friend from NYC (she knows who's...) told me, I'm bringing 301 to its higher limits, like a mix between a Micro old, superb turntable and... something new, a super-breed which only a bunch of us tempted to reach, out there.

So, here is the "Garrardzilla" a totally new breed of Garrard 301, using the best available replicas parts around, ALL made as a labour-of-love, first, by people who loved 301 for decades... Ray, myself and a bunch of lunatics... stainless steel brand new springs, my own spindle, platter, slate plinth and arm-bases, Ray's solid chassis... sure a further step to improve vinyl playing and music retrival.

I'll finish platters in chassis matching colour, butter white, grey hammertone... or any colour of choice, also craziest:-)

Price? I apologize, quite steeply priced, folks... the lathing begins from a 50 kilos bronze bullion of best extruded quality, quite expensive also as a raw material, so the most of material goes in debrises... and also careful, lengthy, ultra-precise manual machining had its costs, of course.

I made it for my very own super-duper 301, and painted it grey to match Ray's grey hammertone "solid"... I'll soon eBay my full Shindo's combo: spindle, platter and blue 800 grams leaded-cloth mat, with no regrets at all.

A dear friend of mine, with VERY same 301's combo, already did it:-)

Anyway, only a couple left, still raw bronze... anyone interested?

Detailed pictures will follow...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Raymond Clark's "Hi-Fi Classics" freshly brewed bespoke Garrard 301s

... sure Ray has his VERY strong vision on the matter!

I love his solid-aluminium "thick" Garrard 301's chassis... cannot stay in my shoes waiting for my own... just ordered one for my 301 in silver slate plinth!

Bravo to Ray and to Shaun, as well for the beautiful, elegant and cool double-decker plinths.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mario or the art of lathing

My friend Mario is the man behind my "una-tantum" outsourcing... we've been friends for the last 22 years, now and he never end surprising me, teaching to me very esoteric knowledge in materials and machining them and more.

... no pixes of Mario... he's too shy and cool kind of guy for this and if I try to take a shot of him at the lathe, he damn me heavily;-) telling I'm a signorina and his workshop isn't a place for female gender:-)))

... anyway, not a serious issue... he's genuine Tom Waits' twin... he's tall like him, he speaks and moans and groans and MOST OF ALL, he looks like Tom Waits...

When I showed him a TW's picture, years ago, Mario yelled loudly and told me to stop taking pictures at the workshop without his permission:-))))

More than twenty years ago I was a full ignorant and asked about screws and things talking "in cm"... after he almost killed me with an huge screwdriver:-), years ago, after I asked for a bespoke alu part 8 centimeters long... he deadly seriously told me with - yessss.... - a low growling TW-like voice - "Hey you, HERE in my workshop talking or quoting centimeters isn't allowed, period!"

I could write a short story about the several, numberless events I witnessed or the tales made of arms cut straight by a metal lathe debris or when he began working as a kid for 15 hours a-day or the rifle champion who brings his premium bullets to be balanced at "ZERO" center flat to obtain a trajectory the most straight and winning to the target... talking about 200+ meters shots, pals...

Everything new intrigues Mario and his knowledge is on same par as his skills...

It seems from my above words I fell in love with Mario... yes, that's true, as friendship is sex-less love, don't you:-)))

Seriously speaking, Tom... aehm... Mario surprised one more time only few hours ago... imagine... better, what the hell, I took some (bad) pixes with iPhone:-) - it's a sort-of projector with lights and lenses and a BIIIG scope, something looking like a Jules Verne's Nautilus cockpit:-), all metal pale-blue hammertone, made in UK by Walton Engineering Mfg. Ltd, a magnifying-lens machine for quality control... he saved it from being dumped in the garbage, when a workshop was closing... the crisis, you know...

This cool piece of gears sure costed "something"... and it's something which talks about quality and care for workmanship and final product.

He passionately taught to me about how it works and the mods he made to further improve it and the merits, before and after his modding...

In half an hour I knew about this... thing a lot.

Thanks to Mario for being, as his always being hungry and thirsty of novelties and caring about virtually everything he does makes him a rare breed... an humble genius and lucky enough he have a good time working and he's able to infuse in his daily job same love and care a composer does to his music... with smoothness and easyness.

A poet with noble, big, strong, greasy hands... and one of them is showed, with his permission:-) on one pix, pals.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sergio Altamura or the most beautiful 12 strings acoustic tune I heard in eons

Impressive, haunting, poetic, evocative, beautiful...

Sergio's playing is plainly superb.

Thanks to my friend Daniele for hinting:-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

U.S. Green Hill and the beagles puppies killing-factory... a shame!

Few days ago, the italian ex-minister Brambilla, notoriously a pet and nature lover, almost an activist, visited a lager-like death-factory in Montichiari, near Brescia, Northern Italy... american Green Hill, breeds here thousands beadles dogs used for experiments and extremely paunful surgeries for medical purpouses.

They "produce" these guinea-pigs for laboratories of whole Europe... THE problem is no animal is a stone, and when people at the channell/lager compared dogs to chickens, they were double-folds wrong, as also chickens are worth attention and consideration... and, most important, cancer and other diseases won't be over with those poor pups sacrifices.

Let's blame Green Hill's death and vivisectioning ugliness... it's against our beloved pups and against Life... Brambilla's showed new born pups and ther mums... they only share few days together... it's a truly barbaric practice!

I STRONGLY blame this and the awful conditions those people leave dogs... a jail with shit-mixed to bad food on the bare floors, neon lights tweleve hours a-day and crying and lamenting all the day long... employees wear ears-protections... and dogs?

Who are THE animals?!?!


Sunday disc - Steve Wilson's Grace for Drowning on K-Scope

Wilsons rules, these days:-)))

Steve's last double vinyl is something to be listened to and experienced... extremely various atmospheres and sounds, where a lazy, reverbered nylon strings guitar and a screaming, cool electric guitar define an icy, pure world...

This second solo album of the man behind Opeth, Porcupine Tree and several other projects - have a look at his works and site, on TGE's Picks Blog bar - is even better than his first "Insurgentes", always on a gorgeous double vinyl pressing.

It's '70s Brit psych, smooth electro-acoustic rock hinting to some Syd Barret, some early Pink Floyd, BUT still brand new music... fresh, pleasant, gothic and light as the same time... and, folks... a recording to par!

I truly enjoyed this very disc... and hearfeltly suggest it to everyone:-)

Zen & Audio - How "wrong" can become "right"

Yesterday I had a pleasant afternoon at my friend Toni's place, after he invited me to taste and enjoy his system, after some mods, in placement and gears, he recently made.

Well, I was already aware of "what" he did as he previously told me over the phone... BUT when I was in his music room... well, I smiled... how, when did you EVER saw an Onken W standing on shorter side?!?!?

All looks soooo wrong, don't you?

Is this guy crazy?

Did he get crack or something:-)))?!?!

No... not the case, folks... my friend simply mixed ingredients in his recipe to obtain a different dish.

The vertical-standing Onken W was far more natural and unbooming and nicely modulating... the Altec 1806 superb horn, also standing on shorter side, was even more weird looking and unseen around...

... but...

... but...

Music rules, pals... didn't mention the new, China-made "Doge" tube preamp which superseded the Audio Research preamp Toni was previously using... cool, inexpensive piece of gear, coming with a cool amulimium-made remote-control reminding my wife's Jolida's 300B amp superb building quality... and a transparency and improved detailing I didn't experience so often, at Toni's (and he knew that...).

... what I heard was a very introspective and involving, natural sound, with MUCH better sizing and soundstaging, both horizontal and vertical... he completely quitted using Goto's SG/370 and 16TT and now enjoy TAD 2002 in Sound Lab mid/high horn and Altec 290 in 1806 mid-low horn... Onken W always with Altec 416s...

What can I say? Falla/Ansermet/Suisse Romande's Three Cornered Hat on Decca Blue-Back, Peter Gabriel's UP, Ludwig Streicher's singing double bass and Bottesini on Telefunken... all flowed sooooo beautifully and as brand new.

A very nice result, Toni... also if using pawn-shop cabling and crossover:-))), my friend's musical ear and sensitivity were able to give such a result... a case where the grand-total is more than the sum of single parts.


Thanking Toni for his hosting, kindness and dedication... and my apologies for ugly iPhone's in-low-lights pixes... lo-fi at best:-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Introducing (John Holmes-sized) "Universal Spindle" for Garrard 301 and 401

I'd wish to introduce my own "Universal Spindle" good... would say SPECIAL, for both stock 301 and 401, any vintage... it's an humble - sort-of - "back-engineering homage", with some improvements, most of all in materials quality and tight, ultra-precise to .000 mm machining, suggested by among the very best of ALL classic idler-wheel turntables spindles of the last decades.

I carefully dismantled and studied in details - pros & cons - my own, old original Shindo's, Commonwealth/Westrex 12D's, Garrard 301's and EMT 930st's spindles and every design had its caveats and merits... me and my machinist painstackingly made some prototypes and reached a stethoscope-friendly, extremely quiet rotating behaviour REALLY seldom heard and experienced... the rotation, after 78 rpm sudden stopping, is of about four minutes+ to complete stop... and most important, every original Garrard's platter can be used without any problem, plug'n'play:-)... it's a stainless-steel spindle with double luxury-quality bearings and super-flat/mirror-polished Delrin bottom, oil-feeding "chimney" and light molybdenum grease at bearings... a masterpiece... I'm herewith posting the very first (iPhone) pixes taken near the lathe which produced it.. and some more, shot shortly after, and showing a direct comparison vs. original 301's spindle and mounted on White Whale 301's platter... spindle measures 130 mm vs. 90 mm Garrard's original, as measured from underside of spindle pillar: macho and the boy:-)... aehm, meant "toy":-)))

Last but not least, I also made the disc spindle slightly longer/higher than original, for a more friendly use of clamps and additional and/or heavier mats; will ship with an oil-bottle and syringe to avoid troubles in transit and time-wasting when receiving it, while (light) molybdenum-grease will already be in place.

Best of both worlds - i.e. grease AND (compatible) oil.

As I made an extremely limited batch of these lathing and mechanic beauties, I guess this part should be of interest to (some) Garrard-lovers around, at VERY friendly price-tags and superb craftmanship and materials... the spindle has a stainless-steel mirrored-surface and guarantees a smoothness to be "felt" to be believed... a rare find, anywhere at any price!

I'll be selling my (original) Shindo's spindle, soon... it's THAT good, folks.

John Fahey's Fonotone (pre-Takoma) sought-after recordings... finally re-issued

The liner notes for Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You-- the complete recordings guitarist John Fahey made for the tiny but crucial Fonotone label between 1958 and 1965-- comprise an 88-page book, bound in beautifully toned, dense cardboard. These 88 pages brim with an obsessive sort of information about Fahey: his slapdash drawings of important people and places in his life, the first known photograph of him with a Gibson F-hole guitar, the receipt for his Holzapfel 12-string, his Boy Scouts photo, and even a personal letter to Fonotone owner Joe Bussard where he begs for recordings of a few old blues heroes. There's a revealing and hitherto unpublished interview, remembrances from past collaborators, and Italian researcher Claudio Guerrieri's guide to the various hand-written labels Bussard affixed to the center of each record he hand-cut on order.

The centerpiece of the book is Malcolm Kirton's exhaustive 40-page examination of every track on the 115-piece, 5xCD, six-hour set, including Fahey's thoughts on the tunes, his tunings, his techniques, and how a scrawny, awkward white kid from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. came to learn obscure songs from even more obscure black bluesmen long before CD reissues and online archives were even an idea. It should be noted that Kirton also helped produce The Roots of John Fahey, a free online archive of many of the songs in question. Like this set, it is also essential. As the guitarist, enthusiast, and project co-producer Glenn Jones quips in his own introduction, "Let's face it, who is this set for if not Fahey's most hardcore fans?"

Joe Bussard of Frederick, MD - aka Mr. Fonotone

Actually, Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You is not just for Fahey zealots. It's for anyone interested in the story of American music, from its Appalachian string bands and mean-moaning Delta blues singers to the hymns sung from its church pews and the country-rock anthems soon enough crafted by its hippies. But Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You is not only the story of the musician John Fahey, it's also the story of the songs that have become crucial to his country, a place that Fahey explored from one end (he was raised in Maryland) to the other (he lived in Hawaii at one point and died in Oregon). Somewhat comparable to the sprawling ethnomusicological work of Alan Lomax, Harry Smith, Art Rosenbaum, Nick Perls, and others like them, Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You is a rich overview of America's musical bedrock-- only here, it's told through the hard-won, fast-paced development of a guitarist who, in turn, changed the way future players could consider their instrument. A must-have collection of lore, music, and history, it's a unified, brilliant, and often very challenging archive.

During four decades between the time this set was recorded and Fahey's death in 2001, the guitarist would cover expansive musical ground, from transfixing, blues-based tone poems that stretched the boundaries of his instrument to, years later, luminous drones that synced with the interests of a new generation of his advocates. As Robbie Basho said in an oft-repeated explanation, "Fahey and myself are playing frustrated little symphonies on guitar." Over time, he was a philosophy major, an author, a record label owner, a curator, and a strange storyteller. However, here on these either unreleased or very hard-to-find tracks, he's a young American adult rifling through his friends' record collections and taking road trips to rural lands to find the music and musicians that he really loves-- raging country blues and blissful acoustic hymns, written and recorded by the likes of Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, Bukka White, Will Moore, Mississippi John Hurt, and a canon of others, all while building his own style.

Emotionally, technically, and stylistically, Fahey makes for a suitably uneven tour guide through these dusty back pages, like a metabolic personification of Greil Marcus' old, weird America. On one version of "Poor Boy Blues", recorded in 1959, he plays with a great, repetitive sadness, the 20-year-old doing his best to sing like a Mississippi septuagenarian, as if inborn with an inescapable melancholy. About a year earlier, he'd folded the same tune into "Libba's Rag", an apparent homage to mentor Elizabeth Cotten. It sounds young and vaguely hopeful, always on the verge of lifting off. Nearly two years later, he wove a glimpse of another version of the tune-- learned from his master of sorts, Charley Patton-- into "Dasein River Blues", the kind of slow, wobbly, serpentine country-blues stagger that would eventually give some of Fahey's best-known music its trademark, trance-like essence. Fahey sometimes navigates these tunes with crystalline clarity, as with his stately reverence for the fifth-century "St. Patrick's Hymn" or his haunted slide guitar dirge behind "In the Pines", a duet with mountain singer Fran Vandiver. Elsewhere, he pugnaciously repurposes the material, as when he snaps the strings hard against the slide of a 1960 take on "John Henry" or slurs the words of "Green Blues". He hammers out the chords with a great aggression, as though they'd said something about his mother.

Admittedly, some of the material here stands as a curiosity at best. Fahey's six collaborations with flautist Nancy McLean function more as a testament to his inquisitiveness as a player and listener than something you'll want to hear repeatedly; the same goes for his raucous, wasted take on "I Shall Not Be Moved". Similarly, some of the short guitar solos included here-- two versions of the gorgeous cowboy song "Goodbye Old Paint" or his slide through "House Carpenter"-- aren't testaments to his otherwise-apparent abilities as an arranger. They simply shape our understanding of his lexicon. By set's end, though, Fahey's working through knotty versions of the romantic "How Long" and "You Take the E Train" (better known as "The Last Steam Engine Train"). These songs and several of their contemporaries illustrate Fahey's very original synthesis of folk, blues, classical, and even old American standards. He was a zealous collector and an ingenious interpreter, two qualities that Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You takes great care to link.

Fahey's legacy and reputation among modern guitarists is overwhelming and inescapable. Just as pop-rock bands with stacked harmonies and two guitars can't escape Beatles comparisons, an upstart learning to flatpick must initially step up to or around Fahey's prominence. Though Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You lives up to its name by finally presenting a lot of material Fahey admitted he would rather forget, it ultimately confirms his stature as one of music's pioneering polymaths. The tunes here are, at turns, funny or solemn, sober or delirious, studied or shambolic, but, with it all, Fahey was able to ingest and utilize a broad range of feelings and ideas into takes that remain totally singular and identifiable.

During a session at home with Bussard in the spring of 1960, Fahey cut seven songs, including a particularly charged version of "Sitting on Top of the World" and a delicate, subtle ragtime mutation he called "Hill High Blues". The last song Fahey ostensibly cut that day was "Paint Brush Blues", improvised on a lark after he picked up a paintbrush Bussard used to keep his record lathe clean. He beats the strings, the chords radiating through the speakers. It's a tossed-off moment, certainly, but the anything-goes spirit validates what Kirton calls a sign of "Fahey's experimental propensities." Fahey was a restless listener, tinkerer, thinker, and player-- a combination that makes this set fascinating both as a history book and a lifetime listening indulgence.

The lute: a dinosaur-like instrument or...



The lute is a chordophone, a wooden instrument that produces sound through the vibration of stretched strings. It is in the same family as the harp, guitar, lyre, and zither. We tend to think of the lute as a medieval European instrument, from the Rennaissance and Baroque era. But it derives from the Arabian oud and its evolution really dates back to at least Egyptian times, in the 14th century BC.

Much of the music that was played on the lute during the Renaissance period was improvised and so it was largely not recorded in written form. The music was similar to what was being played on keyboard at the time and was usually accompanied by voice. You probably associate the lute with the complex fantasias and fugues of the Romantic period.

But forget the complicated medieval music that you associate with the lute. Jozef van Wissem brings his own modern minimalist compositions to the instrument, incorporating hypnotic musical palindromes. This is Van Wissem's 14th release to date, some of which came out on his own Incunabulum imprint.

Uncredited sales notes:
"It Is All That Is Made consists of six trance-inducing circular pieces composed for 10 course renaissance -- and 13 course baroque lute. The titles of the pieces and the storyline critically juxtapose the first chapter of Genesis with more contemporary narratives. This evokes a parallel to the mixing of idiomatic classical lute material of the 17th century with modern folk and avantgarde music. The pieces are played forward, then backward, creating music that is potentially without beginning or end. It Is All That Is Made consists of recurring minimal themes emphasizing the listening experience. Composer-lute player Jozef Van Wissem is renowned for his unusual approach to the Renaissance and Baroque lute, probably the most unlikely instruments in the world of contemporary music. He cuts and pastes classical pieces, reverses melodies, adds electronics and processed field recordings made in airport lounges and train stations. The unusual wedlock of composition and improvisation creates an unheard amalgam of contemporary folk and early music. Van Wissem has accomplished the strange feat of bridging the idiom of seventeenth century lute literature and twenty-first century contemporary music. Although he uses subtle electronic sound manipulation, he has largely stayed faithful to the particular timbre, resonance and playing technique of the lute. Van Wissem first came to be noticed a few years ago because of his radical conceptual approach to Renaissance lute music: He deconstructed existing compositions, for instance, by playing them backwards. He also composed his own pieces for lute, using palindromes and mirrored structures. His music therefore does not have a traditional linear progression, nor leads to a climax, it rather stays on the same level of intensity. His music not so much demands concentrated listening, as it brings the listener in a state of concentrated listening. He performs extensively around the world."

Monday, November 14, 2011


Just try it...

Cool... aehm... On the Rocks:-)))

Thanks to Massimo for hinting... and kampai!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ryuichi Sakamoto live in Padua or the (bitter) frustration

Just back home from Sakamoto's live concert in Padua... this concert has hit my lowest instincts... yes, Morelenbaum and his cello, Sakamoto's grand piano, the violin and viola player... BUT, also if I spent an amount of money worth 3 or 4 vinyl-discs;-)... I was seated tenth or eleventh row in an over-heated theatre, the prey of audience noises and musical idiosyncrasies.

This sure brought me to a strangely bad, negative mood: for me "live concert" means breathing same air artist breathes, also feeling but also looking at his gestures, tics, expressions, whatever makes me nearer to the artist himself... also, from the first rows were I usually (try to) sit, I'm able to enjoy both amplified (if any) and - to some extant - acoustic, natural instrument/voice...

Otherwise... well, it sounds maybe excessive, too, TOO much... but... I dare, yesss, I dare saying it: otherwise, I far, far, I mean faaaar more prefere listening to, Sakamoto, for example, in Gotorama shiny - my very own - realism!

... aaaaahhhhhhhhh... feel much better, now!

I mean, people coughin', one hundred kilometers highway, the fog, the hard chairs and... yes, also, must sincerely say, the far away stage almost dark and the not so "right" (let's say "opinable") choice of his (superb) music for such a large venue... well, I was thinking to beloved "Casa" or "Chasm" or "BTTB" or any other Sakamoto's disc issued in the last decade... no, not on the stage, one hour or so ago, BUT in my studio... ah!

Instead of those pro BIG concert speakers, nice as monitors but absolutely flawed in returning (all) the subtleties of the trio, I didn't realize 'til now I prefere listening at home... believe me, it's almost a defeat for yours truly... also if I attend to several, say about 30+ classical concerts per year and, say, 10 or so jazz/folk/rock concerts per year, I never had such a negative reaction to a great musician live concert! NEVER, ever!

... hey, Sakamoto-san... why are you laughing to my frustration?:-)))

Must say that, some months ago, I noticed the seed of the above mentioned craziness, while "enjoying" Van der Graaf Generator (sans David Jackson's saxes) I left theatre wildly blaming over Peter Hammill's choice to play without the saxes... beloved "Man-Erg" from Pawn Hearts seminal album was so disappointing I screamed after the piece, while my friends and whole theatre were handclapping, "Shaaaaame... where is Jacksooooon?!?! Shaaame":-)))

I risked to be picked up by the whitecoats guys and their straightcoats:-)))

... so, seriously: is it possible that listening to my stereo gives me (sometimes) more, MUCH more than a live event?

Will I attend again to a (non classical, jazz or acoustic) concert?

I'm both sad and happy... going schizophrenic?

... yes, maybe and... yes:-)!

... forgettin' to say: I quitted the venue and a concert flawed by a someway unhappy playlist, an extremely noisy air conditioning and highway traffic noises in the background... one hour or so was more than enough... I extremely enjoyed some opera at the radio, on my way back home.

Sunday's disc - Jonathan Wilson's Gentle Spirit on Bellaunion

A great, great disc, pals... it's a double vinyl recorded in (ex) LaurelCanyon's glorious analog sound - i.e. the full analog studio relocated always in LA suburbs as Five Star Sudios, previously in LA's hills and now in Echo Park, BUT always loaded of Neumann's Pultech's Neve's and other goodies... and the sound will let you hear the difference between Pro-Tool and the above!

Jonathan Wilson is a (someway) romantic guy born in 1974 but whose tits-milk was CSN&Y, Jackson Browne and all "our" heroes hinted.

I love, TRULY love when a youngster follow (and often improves) THE fathers' path:-)

It's sort-of a smoth revolution... evolution?!?! "Natural Rhapsody" on side two will give shivers and shivers and shivers...

Stop kiddin'.... go and buy it... vinyl is SPECIAL and will make your ears, heart and audio system HAPPY!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11... a new palindrome...

A lesser, slightly interpretative kind-of palindrome, less beautiful than this previous one, BUT still something which intrigues people worldwide... best day-date for virtually everything, from marrying to arm VTA fine-tuning;-), 11/11/11 is, nonetheless, "something";-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WJAAS - Hair-styling and (Vintage) Audio in Osaka, Japan

A new frontier, folks... here is a cool place where - with clever scissors sounds - you can also enjoy, in glorious Western Electric sound, your fave lounge music... a plus included in the hair-cutting service!

Thanking my friend Kazumasa-san for hinting;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

The milkshake

Yesterday and on last Saturday I had two very satisfying listenings at my studio... nor strange, neither a rare event, must say;-)

... what I noticed was, instead, a sense of cohesiveness, like a creamy, extremely tasty, so full of multi-coloured nuances... a luscious, smooth (musical) milkshake, where, say, banana, peach, strawberry, milk and ice were all so nicely blended... where the colour wasn't yellow or pink, anymore, but a new colour and no chops and debris of a.m. fruits... only the grand-total - i.e. the milkshake itself - was "there", as a new essence... the dynamics, detailing and that always surprising sense of "brand-new" which hits me - the listener - at every note or so... well, Holger Czukay's "On the way to the peak of normal" on EMI was a never-ending source of enjoyment, as the analog tape multi-editing, loops and reversed-tape created a studio-made soundstage, BUT, nonetheless tremolo electric guitar sounds were so lively and owning an extremely various nature... and each note was shiny and surprising in its VERY own, as I told you.

Also Kate Bush's "Aerial" on EMI double vinyl proved to be - unsurprisingly - a magical aural and musical experience... nice, while waiting for her new "50 Words for Snow", out these days.

Like when I was a teenager and found that old milk-bar, Bar Esperia in Padua... I used to drink one or two milkshakes in a row, as one only woke up my taste and pleasure, so a second one was mandatory... same happens with my Gotorama: one disc, followed by a second one... then I sort of reach an acme, a pleasure overload, and I turn off the system and have the short walk back home.

I - sort-of - fill up the tank with emotions and musical satisfaction and I do not REALLY need those loooong listenings as I used to, years ago... I'm not greedy, anymore; like a superb food doesn't need a pig-manger, a trough-sized dish, BUT form and classy presentation and look and good smell... I'm content, fully satisfied, so I simply go back home to my wife and dog... strangely (or not), I also play my instruments - acoustic guitars, both 6 and 12 strings, and oud - much more than some months ago, when the fine-tuning of my system was still an issue which, sort-of, left me "musically tired".

Music, as life, needs balance and a quiet serenity to be fully appreciated, as appreciation isn't - for yours truly - only at ears level, but at a much, MUCH deeper, spiritually and physically, level... a very intensity-variable, ever-changing form, something which moves like a Vu-meter needle depending on mood, weather, etc.

... but, still, a necessity like air and water.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No comment!

From a recent Venice's Biennale Arte trip... "Shooting at Earth" by (Taiwanese artist) Chen Shin-Hung... sooooooooooo true!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Liquid Sky

Must see it, as per my friend Massimo suggestion...

A low budget, acid tinted and hinted sci-fi movie from a Russian/Israelian/American director...

Lenco Variations

A renaissance or a Lenco for every season.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Music and its tools - Mimmo Peruffo's Aquila Corde Armoniche

Mimmo's workshop is almost empty, naked... as he only needs large space for drying strings... a Zen kind-of "factory"... BUT almost every lutanist (Hopkinson Smith in primis...), oud players and classical guitarists and ukelele players... ALL swears "Aquila Corde Armoniche", nylon and gut strings painstackingly hand-made one-by-one in Vicenza, Italy, represents the very Zenith for them and their instruments...

A well kept secret...

Stay hungry, stay foolish!

Steve Jobs' speech and "letio magistralis" at Stanford University...

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Steve Jobs"

A common man visionary wisdom... the best one!