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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When an image says more than one thousand words...

So true, don't you?

R.I.P. Dept. - Davy Jones passed away...

Fondly remembering The Monkees and those funny, silly deeply carved youth memories of late afternoon screenplay series... Davy was in the quartet... it's like summer is over... when a TV hero we imagined as immortal dies it's like the last swim before leaving seaside on the way back home, end of vacation!

Fondly, sincerely missing him, with condolences to his family and friends.

Thanks... you made me and millions other happy... when world (maybe) was a better place to live.


Bartholomäus Traubeck's visual/musical/poetic creation...


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Frank Zappa

In loving memory... as ink rivers were used for him and his music... an hint: how can I imagine something better than Peter Occhiogrosso's FZ bio... a truly must have book!

Here is the deeply missed, late FZ in Giovanni Canitano's vision.

... and, last but not least, a prescription: every month or so give a listen to Chunga's Revenge, The Grand Wazoo, Waka/Jawaka and Hot Rats after dinner.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diane Arbus, Henry Cartier Bresson plus Bob Dylan and Cynthia Gooding's "Folksinger's Choice", in 1962...

This evening I had the same urge to play a newly purchased disc as I had in 1970, when I bought my very first album... it was February, as well, by chance... forty-two years ago.

I was proud like the French kid with the bottles in that famous H.C. Bresson's picture... humbly, simply proud.

Once it was English prog... now, Bob Dylan's recently reissued radio broadcasting recorded in NYC in 1962... this makes fifty years ago, sharp.

The young, BUT incredibly mature, witty and raw when singin' the Blues and sometimes playing (lovingly said, of course...) a little bozo when chatting with his interviewer, the cool, well informed and witty, as well, Ms. Gooding (here in a famous Diane Arbus' picture).

It's amazingly groovy and impressive hearing Bob quite often thumping here & there the "el cheapo" acoustic guitar here, yet very apt to his musical vision, his mouth harp, his foot stomping on wooden floor, the clunky, noisy, cheap tuning machines squeaking during Bob's tuning and detuning from standard to E open tuning (again, a cool find...) for a couple of blues songs.

The recording is raw but very, VERY communicative... I cannot resist to shot the four sides of the vinyl I almost caressed on my studio way, this evening... enjoying Bob's voice, a palpable presence in my music room, his laughing, his true voice.

The urge, I told you... what can do the love for - and the power of - music is simply swiping away 42 or 50 years!

I own thousands records... and every sought after one is... like the first one.

A miracle.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Zen and the art of pre-stressing Garrard 301's chassis

... I was considering during last successful listenings in my studio: the heavy weight of the bronze Garrardzilla's platter is giving "something" more to the so cleverly conceived stock 301's.

I shared this, both aurally - i.e. sharing the above mentioned feeling with an architect/music lover/audio nut friend - and technically...

Pre-stressed structures are - in architecture - a quite broadly used building technique: bridges, buildings, stadiums... or, another popular application is the bicycle wheel with its spokes... a filmsy, apparently delicate and light structure is able to stand 100+ kilos driver and road abuses... again a pre-stressed, tensioned structure.

How does the above apply to "our" humble Garrard 301?

The 12 kilos bronze platter used in the heavy duty, super-smooth giant spindle/bearing both inserted in stock 301's turntable add a brand-new feature to the whole: the added mass gives a "seen" at chassis level "virtual mass" where the filmsy thickness of original Garrard's alu alloy chassis get a stress due to weight.

At molecular level, the centered almost five-times multiplied mass of new spindle and platter give about same results than a turntable whose chassis weights 10/12 kilos with - maybe - a better vibes taming character!

Having access to a laboratory quality gears using, say, photoelastic stress analysis techniques, all the above should be VERY visible and apparent and clear.

The sound, are you asking?!?... don't know, folks... the stressed structure of Garrardzilla sure gives "more" to music... it's clearer, truer, it's... "is".

... and this counts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A lute tale

"... playing or listening to the lute brings me an unsurpassed satisfaction. First I did not realize it but now I understand what many people of the young generation are looking for: the same longing for subtlety, purity, simplicity and an enormous rhythmic vitality. I felt so happy having played a simple piece error-free!
It is a sheer joy making lute music sound the way it should.
Much later, when I toured the United States with Carl Dolmetsch, I also played recorder and virginal, but the difference with the lute was immense.
As a lute soloist I discovered the magic that is created when a piece - however simple - is performed well.
The audience was enchanted!
It was as if all the stress and noise of our present time were swiped away..."

The above extract was taken by a longer article written in 1969 by Suzanne Bloch (the daughter of the composer Ernest Bloch)... and... well, it sounds sooooo true and actual and well written.... and right.

The characters: Arnold Dolmetsch, Walter Gerwig, Eugen Muller-Dombois, Hopkinson Smith, Michael Schaffer,
Toyohiko Satoh, Anthony Bailes, Paul O'dette... almost mythical musicians and truly mythical instruments by Matheus Pochl, Wendelin Tieffenbrucker and other museum quality instruments built between 200 and 400 years ago... and still alive and kickin'... they played a role in the tale.

Read... ooooh, PLEASE read this truly illuminating essay by Jo Van Herck...

Consider that Julian Bream, positively guilty of some broadening and renaissance of interest around the lute, back in early fifties, was playing a sort-of "non-existing" instrument, whose single strings tension was several kilos more than the whole strings-set in historic-compliant, now broadly accepted and used, baroque or renaissance lutes around...

In fact, Bream's "lute" was quite guitar-like sounding... all the awesome nuances lute is able got lost... anyway he woke up interest... priceless!

Same - someway - "wrongness" can be found in Konrad Ragossnig and Walter Gerwig's playing, better, sound... too loud, too guitar-like, again... same Bream's approach: their playing is now - respectfully said - almost completely unlistenable, to me!

Then came Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland: it maybe was the true goldmine of this "Lutes and Lutenists' New Deal", the "Subtleties Hochschule":-): under Eugen Muller Dombois' wing grew up the new breed of best lutanists masters: Smith, Satoh, Bailes, Stone and a bunch of other stellar names you'll find in a.m. essay.

BTW, it's very, VERY sad such an absolute master like Eugen M. Dombois has less Web coverage than a soccer player or a baby rocker from some obscure TV reality-show... or - humbly said - myself;-)))!

No life- or even Wiki-facts... no pixes but an old one on a Seon's disc cover... nothing more.

Privacy excess or... plainly said, a shame?!?!

It's an amazingly intriguing topic... I feel so fascinated, same as when I spent two solid days handling "blue-prints" 1:1 size of classic ancient lutes and theorbos at Royal College of Music in London, back in early '90s... looking at the inner secrets of those wooden, light as feathers, incredibly beautiful and rare masterpieces which stood wars, riots, plagues, travels, complicate as ancient Egyptians' royal wooden boats was one of my life highlights, ever.

Or when I stood in awe for hours in early '00s at The Kunsthistorisches Museum on Ringstrasse in Wien, in front of centuries old lutes in glass cages, under controlled humidity conditions... looking at the details, like someone else would have done in front of a Picasso's painting... WOW!

... or, finally (?) when I spent two days at a masterclass, invited - yes, invited - by maestro Hopkinson Smith... I'm a guitar and oud player, yet maestro Smith, after some chatting in Venice and in my hometown, possibly "saw" the light of truest interest in my feverish eyes and... voilà... he changed my musical life!

The care, the love for details, the way he both listens and plays...

Am I a lunatic? Maybe, yet everyone has his obsessions... a man is his obsessions!:-)))

... and I love it ALL... deeply!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

God is in details...

... I'm so proud I ordered this to Ray;-)))

I'll hopefully get it soon and will report accordingly.

Eugen Muller-Dombois - I got it, at last!

This is one of the very, VERY much sought-after discs of mine, ever!

I owned the Volume 1 for decades and looked for this second disc since now… consider I postponed this very post AFTER completing the bidding on Ebay’s auction to avoid any and all interferences, creating some interest or curiosity around Dombois’ name or the like…

Lunatic I am…

… but I got it, finally I got it…

Super-disc, audiophile, great sounding… bull-shit!

This is one of those sooooo rare discs which goes straight to the soul…

Furthermore, Eugen Muller-Dombois was the teacher of (beloved) Hopkinson Smith, Toyohiko Satoh and Terrell Stone, and this alone makes me happy'n'proud!

I’m in tears, folks;-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TGE's choice - Alog - Unemployed

"Norwegian duo Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan - aka Alog - sail further on album five, using harmonium, Fender Rhodes and ukelele alongside short wave and field recordings, to fashion a 21st century chamber minimalism, jazz, folk, and electronica textures cut adrift in the vast eerie doldrums of musical compositions.

"Alog - Unemployed" was recorded in a wide range of spaces and places. From recordings of Haugan and Eide as street musicians in San Francisco while touring, to scavenging old collections of 78-records in the mining town of Bjørnevatn in the far north-eastern part of Norway. From on-the-spot recordings of Sigbjørn Apelands legendary collection of vintage harmoniums in the St. Jacobs Church in Bergen, to high-end capture of the unique sounds of Alogs many custom built instruments in the studios of Notam in Oslo and BEK in Bergen. For a period of three years Alog collected material from all kinds of sources, times and situations and made new songs that constantly push their creative freedom in unexpected directions.

Alog was formed in Tromsø in the late 90s, as the duo of Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan. While touring and composing over the past years they have met a lot of unique musicians, and for "Unemployed" they were invited to extend Alog into new constallations. The soothing harmonium drones of Sigbjørn Apeland. The minimalist fiddle improvisations of the Sheriffs of Nothingness (Ole-Henrik Moe and Kari Rønnekleiv). The resonating everyday objects of the talented young soundartist Signe Lidén. The magical voices of fellow Rune Grammofon artist Jenny Hval and the legendary dutch sound poet extraordinaire, Jaap Blonk. All join in to explore new musical territory, either together or by being invited to create their own pieces for the album. The result is an open-ended collection of voices and expressions, genres, sounds and non-sounds that define a new extended version of Alog.

They say: "On previous albums we have worked slow and with control of every minute detail of our pieces. On "Unemployed" we wanted to exhibit the compositional process, the experiments, the rough sketches and the stream of ideas that goes into it, and not just a series of perfected tracks. Our goal was to free ourselves from the standard song-structures and album-formats widespread today."

Meaning: braveheart experimenter on their very own path, yet IMO also paying hommage to (some) Penguin Cafe Orchestra's climaxes, yet soooo different... again, the very best music is both heard and unheard, brand-new and old.

Available on Rune Grammofon from Norway, at yr. brick shop or at Alog's site shop.

Give'em a try, as I'm doing:-) - I'll order the 4-Lps limited edition: a labour of love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Analog-friendly digital? Yes, why not: a cool, useful app for your iPhone or Android

That's for you, a tad nostalgic and VERY tech-heads & fashion-victims:-)))

An app that finds record shops?!?! We all know the feeling - you're in an unfamiliar town and feel like scoring a vinyl copy of Locust Abortion Technician by the Butthole Surfers... or last Tom Waits' vinyl or...

Fulfilling the urge is now made easier by The Vinyl District Records Store Locator App!

Available for yr. iPhone or Android, it will direct you to your nearest indipendent music outlet, and withe US and 400 British record shops included - plus further coverage promised for Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Canada and beyond - full global reach can only be a matter of time.

It's free, too, so take the cash you could have spent and buy some records.
You know it makes sense!

Check it at

Thanks to Mojo magazine for hinting and... being hi-jacked:-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

R.I.P. Dept. - Whitney Houston dies at 48 in LA's Beverly Hilton Hotel

Sad news few hours before Grammy Awards...

Sunny Garrardzilla vs. Snowy Sunday

Snowy Sunday?

Garrardzilla and (sun hinting) baby-deer* yellow mat... a superb sonic matching with heavy platter.

P.S.- the statue pix was taken early this morning, few steps from my home, on my way to my studio.

P.P.S. - Hey, I. - your mat is THE very same:-)

My wife hates me for this mat:-)

M.I.M.M.A - Museo Interactivo de la Musica in Malaga

After M.O.M.A in NYC... M.I.M.M.A. in Malaga:-)))

A great place were you can learn about Doppler:-) and you and your kids are able to pluck, strum and play several instruments ethnic and conventional.

A great place to visit if in Spain. .. and a great site to browse, indeed.

R.I.P. Dept. - Paul Motian passed away...

I was lucky enough to see him alive a dozen times... with Bill Frisell, Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett and other stellar musicians hidden in my mind hard disk... his playing, light and inventive accompanied Bill Evans in his first, seminal, "perfect" trio, with great, late Scott La Faro's double bass...

He sort-of invented a drumming so rich and non-violent, where his brushes were caressing his Zijldjan's accenting, underlining and keeping the climax under the harmonic and lyrical lines...

His playing has been a firm lighthouse for generations... I loved his playing: his last disks, with his own ensemble or as a collaborator with other groups, usually on ECM label were his VERY Zenith, his maturity, classy, full bodied.

He played extensively in concert 'til last year...

He was eighty.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ivan's Choice - Nils Petter Molvaer's "Baboon Moon"

In the great noble tradition of Miles' haunting trumpet and down, down to Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvaer's last effort is cool as it can be, both new and already heard like only the best music is...

I got it.

An Ode to Vinyl

... Safe as Milk, Wheels of Fire, Axis: Bold of Love, Blue, Cheap Suit Serenaders, T. Rex... these and others appears on this nice video containing movies scenes where our beloved vinyl appears... in David Bowie's "Space Oddity" sauce.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Garrard 301's Ray new statement - the brass solid chassis

Well above your craziest (analog) dream... it's 8 (eight) times the weight of original 301's chassis!

According to an old italian popular saying: "Ottone, oro del Giappone", which means "brass: gold from Japan"... i.e. (without being offensive...) fake gold, BUT I'm pretty sure the sound coming for this super-on-steroids brass 301's is pure gold - despite the above saying;-))) - to the ears of the discerning audio lover.

Clever, Ray... look at the gorgeous shiny surface: let's call it the "Moghul" model;-)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pierre Bensusan, early Cezame discs and Christian Orsini's Translab cutting-room

Strange topic, don't you?!?

This freezing, 10 degrees Celsius below zero Sunday afternoon, I had a relaxing listening in my studio... a couple of hours, nothing excessive... BUT very heart warming, indeed:-)

After enjoying some Tojohiko Satoh's lute and Bach's harpsichord, I found by chance some records I forgot I had... the first pressings on Cezame label of Pierre Bensusan's first three records.

I know Pierre awesome music and guitar playing since early '80s, I play on my acoustic several of his beautiful pieces and own ALL his records in vinyl or disk formats...

So what?

Some years ago, after owning "Pres de Paris" , "2" and "Musiques" on Rounder label, nice reissues and the only available pressings for years... I enjoyed these discs immensely, but I knew they were reissues, so (maybe/someway) "second choice"...

Cezame first issues... I searched everywhere all the times I was in France: Paris, Aix, Cannes, Nice, Strasbourg... all record shops received my request for those elusive sought-after items... nothing, at both new or second-hand shops... for years!

Only a couple of years ago, at a flea market in my area... all three a.m. records in a row fairly priced and in top conditions... searched for years and then... ZUT! Found!

I remember I only handled them and, maybe, had a short, distract listen: it's collector syndrome:-)))... since these very afternoon...

... oh, oooh...

I listened to "2" and "Musiques" and at first notes I became aware of something special was going to happen... the sound, quite "old timey", smooth and romantic, also due to the flesh-only, no fingerpicks or nails, Pierre's playing was lively and sparkling, much, MUCH better than my (aural) memory told me.

Reading covers liner-notes, I understood - "gravure", French for cutting, was done by one of THE greatest, ever: Christian Orsini and his Translab cutting room!

He's "guilty" of several "Owl" record label masterpiece, Michel Petrucciani, solo and with Lee Koonitz, Steve Lacy with Gil Evans, several, almost all the 20+ vinyls on Owl I own in my discotheque are blessed by Orsini's masterful hand.

Sound is always dynamic and natural, tracking is a bliss for my Lumiere's DST... Translab REALLY is among the very best, ever - i.e. Doug Sax' and Bernie Grundman's in the USA, The Cutting Room in Solna, Sweden, John Dent's The Exchange and Loud in England.

I was surprised, nicely and pleasantly surprised and Pierre's voice and singing never sounded soooo natural, effortless and rich of nuances and details and harmonics... Pierre's Lowden's still young and far from getting "her" present "Old Lady" status:-) - the guitar Pierre used for many years, in concert and studio - was so woody with that seldom heard "all flesh" playing.

A very lucky find - both years ago, at that flea-market and today, on that shelf - and impressive thinking about the weight a nice cutting of a master-tape can do to the final sonic result!

... forgot to say... when I briefly tried "Musiques" on Rounder label... needless saying it sounded like broken vs. Cezame's!

A nice lesson.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Rolling Stones opened their archives

Thanking my friend Reinhard...

A load of material will be available, soon.

It's only rock'n'roll, but I like it!

Wintertime motorbike frenzy!

Despite wintertime, chilly polar winds, heavy snow and the like... let me post a picture of my BMW/HPN R80 GS Kalahari vs. its grandma - i.e. an old, glorious, sought-after "Six Days" I found only few km from my hometown.

A rare find, indeed!

How I'd like to have plenty of time and ride, ride, ride... on offroad, gravel and sandy roads worldwide.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Garrardzilla - the custom-made bronze platter, unveiled...

... found some iPhone's hidden (ugly) pixes of the VERY first batch of 12 kilos B14 bronze replica platters for our beloved 301: one is my own, the other for a dear friend of mine, another lunatic, as you imagine...

They're two platters, still on machinist workbench... shiny and raw, at same time;-)

They're so cool and nice looking I almost feel guilty I covered - i.e. pro-painted - such a beauty, as I made a butter white and a grey hammertone sampler, only leaving underside, inner-rim mirror polished and ,000 inches smooth and natural finish for ultra-precise idler-wheel running and spinning.

BTW: only half-an-hour after taking these pixes with my mobile - nervous and sweated as a teenager at his first date - I was tasting for the first time the new, unpainted platter... with the original, blue leaded-cloth 800 grams Shindo's mat.




Every parameter of the several 301's strengths and pluses was GREATLY improved: impressively dynamic and smooth, surprising at every spinning... the added, improved mass and fly-wheel effect sure helps, supports and improves the spinning stability, both mechanically and aurally... the notes decay is of SELDOM heard beauty and quality... looooooong and extremely various, with a world of ever changing harmonics.

As I leave platter running for hours and hours, never stopping its running but if I have to change speed for some - rare - 45 rpm discs, when I finished my listening session I finally gave off to the Garrardzilla;-) and, you won't believe... my hand light touch almost wasn't able to stop the spinning platter... an enormous apparent weight was felt by my fingers...

I could (maybe) find more words, blah, blah... to describe what's going on... yet, 'nuff said: I spent five solid hours in a row, listening to everything I wished... when I turned off my system... well, it was 1,30 A.M.... and, on my way back home, I watched at the stars;-)

(Local) musings - the Italianish Enigma

... now, folks: I WELL know my English is very basic... I unfortunately know, and I'm not so proud of it;-)

... but... BUT... this large, proud, sooooo amusing yellow signpost placed outside a little, unassuming park I recently met... well, much better using Italian, yet the results are both comical and poetic;-) and worth reporting...

Anyone - English mother-language - who will properly correct ALL and EVERY mistakes and miswritings, out there?