Search this Blog


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld - the surprise beyond the silence

... yes, I'm - definitely - still smiling...

Went to Sesto al Renghena, a nice village about 140 km from home, to attend to a concert of Teho and Blixa... an Italian and a German gentlemen and musicians whose music in their newly brewed disc was a 2 years in the making... every note, sampling, text and drama was carefully planned and made possible.

I'm in deep family troubles, these days... yet, after the heaviness of an awful day, I decided to feel alive again and, joined by my pal Edo, we reached the place where the musical event was to be held.

An heavenly place, a stone paved square in an ancient Benedectine monastery, old bricks and frescos... fresh air, blue sky, stars, a quarter moon...

The bell and clock-tower: Italy at its VERY best!

... and a music which was talking about Sargasso Sea, eels, fishes and sea... and more... Teho's sampling, INCREDIBLY weird and thunderous and evoking and Blixa persona, voice and italian texts reading, reminding me a God-blessed Bruno Ganz...

I REALLY felt... defenestrato:-))) (italian for throwed out of the window, as per Blixa's joyful playing with italian language and phonetic:-) by this music and mood.

Words aren't able to describe the soundscapes the musicians created, joined by cello and bells and glockenspiel and a string quartet...

People in the audience, myself included, were breathless... in awe to preserve the atmosphere, the mood and soul of this artists dream made public, shared with a sense of easiness and surprise... like on stage the artists were feeling same alien beauty the audience was experiencing.

Teho and Blixa's "Still Smiling",  a four stars for Mojo magazine this month, is "Record of The Year" for yours truly, as well...

Available in vinyl and disk forms... and... superb... SUPERB, indeed!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cymatic, Saturn's secrets and NASA silence... the untold truth...

... or an elaborate hoax?

Cymatics is the study of how sound can alter the physical structure of materials, creating interesting structural patterns. To see this for yourself, you can turn a stereo speaker on its edge (with the speaker facing up), then place a liquid pudding of corn starch and water on top of a layer of plastic wrap, on top of the speaker. When you crank up the music, the corn starch creates bizarre and fascinating shapes due to the expression of the structure of the sound.

See an example of this "DIY cymatics" on YouTube:

I've been thinking that the giant hexagon on Saturn could theoretically be caused by very low-frequency sound waves emanating from some sort of geological action on the planet's surface. Perhaps these sound waves are being focused toward the north pole of the planet in much the same way that earthquake shockwaves can "bounce" off subterranean geological features. These sound waves could theoretically create a "cymatic" effect that we're seeing as a giant hexagon swirling around the pole.

It sounds far-fetched, I know. But not nearly as far-fetch as "aliens built it." When it comes to bizarre phenomena like this, all the explanations sound far-fetched because the universe is more bizarre than we imagine.

You can come up with your own theory to explain all this, but make no mistake: There is a giant hexagon of clouds 15,000 miles wide swirling around the north pole of Saturn, and even NASA has no idea why or how it got there.

Is this possibly a "natural" event taking place on a massive scale? If it's natural, it would demonstrate that nature can create some astonishingly complex (and large-scale) designs in the worlds around us. That's particularly interesting because the FDA believes nature is incapable of creating even a single plant-based nutrient that has any beneficial effect whatsoever on the human body. "There's no such thing as any vitamin or mineral that can prevent, cure or reverse any disease or disease symptom," the FDA seems to insist.

Learn more:

R.I.P. Dept. - J.J. Cale passed away at 74...

... he had an heart-attack and died in La Jolla, California, on July 26th, 2013.

How I loved his laid-back music: own ALL his discs and listened to them several times, fondly... he represented for yours truly "America" long before going to USA, several times: the broad, blue skies, freedom, the highways and the back-porch playing and smoking and chatting and drinking with friends in the unknown, deepest province... not Americana, an undefined pout-pourri of B-movies cliches, but truest, living America... love, hauling, unfearful of moving and changing life and experiences.

Does it still exist or is it a romantic idea, now superseded by Wall Street's disasters, global crisis and wars... the contractors nightmares!

R.I.P. dear J.J. and thanks for giving the world your music, spanning decades of world changes, faithful to your soul...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vinyl alternative use

... better than thrashing, yet, don't know why, my heart someway suffers looking at these handicrafts...

De gustibus... I still prefer collecting and listening to vinyls.

Thanking my friend Fabio-san.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Analog Instruments' "Siggwan" 12" arm from New Zealand

A new cat is in town, folks...

From deeeep Downunder - actually windy, beautiful New Zealand - James Grant (and his one-man-company Analog Instruments) is brewing a very intriguing organic 12 inches tonearm.

After "Apparition" 12 inches arm, he now further improved and refined the previous design, always an unipivot design, now named "Siggwan" (an ancient Gothic-era verb for singing, song).

This apparently exotic name is - I believe - not a casuality: using a 12" Cocobolo arm-wand and brass, it reminds more a musical instrument than a mechanical piece of gear.

Like a luthier in his workshop, James, carefully machines the arm parts and then assembles into a beauty, carefully, slowly... a so human, artisanal kind of job vs. the machine-made stuff.

Strange enough, it happened several times in the last five years: I almost exclusively buy audio stuff I personally know who made it!

My fault, maybe... yet, I consider this bespoke making and the relationship an added value to good sound and musical path.

I fell in love, folks... and I ordered one, shame on me;-)... before scheduled delivery-time will increase exponentially;-))) - BTW, the Siggwan arm is being shown at the Capital Audiofest in Washington, DC in a few days and displayed by Ijaz Khan so, as James points it out "it's quite exciting times at the moment";-).

I wish to James the VERY best with his nice, NICE creations.

A sonic appreciation will follow, when time (and schedule;-)) will come.

Western Electric 421A: what a (double) triode!

I remember I owned my first 5998-based little amp in early '90s... at that time I used Altec 803 in a back loaded horn and Altec 806A in an Iwata mid-high horn... and listened to music and music and music.

Back then, in a pre-Web days, I read that also Western Electric had its double-triode... I searched, faxed some U.S. based collector and got it.

Enter the WE 421A: I bought a N.O.S. quintet, just in case, for peanuts which I always kept in my (little) tubes warehouse and I loved the romantic, pleasant, yet detailed sound of these tubes, so much better articulated than stock Tungsol's I had before.

My path brought me here and there and my listening habits changed... yet, I always kept this little, handmade amp, with WE 421A which I used, in the years as a spare amp, a tweeter amp while multiamping and as a display item;-)

I recently - following my friend Lo's suggestions about smaller and smaller amps for La Scala's - I put on a shelf and...


Holy (double) triode!

The sound of this apparently unassuming 3,5 W gizmo is SOOO BIG and impressively nice... pretty right for my old Klipsches: I read Srajan's report about a Fi WE 421A vs. Yamamoto 45 and I fully, 100% agree!

It's smoothness, delicacy and slam!... less unforgiving than 45s, yet eating some lesser 300Bs based amp  around... my own Emission Labs "Mesh plate" 300B with Partridges' irons is a different breed... but the TK-series of early '90s Partridge are coming from an outer world, as they make a 300B to sound like an AD1 or a 45, with more guts!

Anyway, back to the WE 421A... I've been impressed, TRULY impressed by this old tube, now with prices sky-rocketing... my little amp sounds like a 35 W solid-state Class A, and the soundscape is... right, superbly natural.

A nice time-capsule aural experience for free.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Non-human persons!


I still have carved in my memory when I swimmed with two dolphins, in Dahab, Egypt, some years ago... their eyes were like my Chicco's!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Robbie Basho's "Laughing Thunder, Crawling Thunder" - Vanguard 1974 Lost Tapes

Today it's a special, a VERY special day for yours truly!!!

Thanking Alan Morse Davis and his sharing.

... DL it, folks... and save it in your hard-disk for posterity!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jean Hiraga meets ALE and Be Yamamura: one of the VERY best systems in the world?

Italian design meets Japan at its VERY best: ALE 6-ways ALL The VERY top Beryllium diaphragms, weighting between 100 and 160 kilos each, a grand-total weight for speakers - horns and drivers of about 1.300 kilos (!!!) and NO paper woofers around, ONLY compression drivers, a system of a VERY seldom heard finesse and capable of 128 db SPL;  all bespoke hand-made by Be Yamamura Class A 45 W amps... all cables hand-made by Be himself, six-ways multiamping with 20th order (120 db/octave) crossover and digital room-correction/crossover via a proprietary software and last generation DAC using Wolfson's newest DAC - always by Be Yamamura, of course - and only liquid music, you'd bet it, via a proprietary top class computer/server by Be Yamamura!

A Statement... the Audio Zenith: highest grade handicrafts and the lightness of best italian design> the horns, for example, aren't wood or leather, but metal with an exotic and elegant oxide and was treatment!

A masterpiece.   

The bespoke discs boxes... superb!

What about the sound?

Imagine Keith Jarrett's seminal "Koln Concert" on ECM (1974).

Not the vintage vinyl, but a 44.1 khz liquid/lossless computer-stored version... the sound and recording, NOT the music (...) aren't this good, IMHO... in Marco's BY/ALE system the piano was so real and full of nuances, it was like I listened to this music for the VERY first time.

The bass was light, yet deep, but that deepness you only experience in a live concert; unboomy, not violently hitting stomach or tinnitus;-)

A very, VERY enlightening performance, indeed.

Another highlight was again when listening to Keith Jarrett's Bach's "Goldberg Variations" on ECM, played on harpsichord with a sense of trueness, both musical and sonic really unbelievable: airy, beautiful sound and musical bliss.

Something REALLY strange happened, while sipping Keith "Gne-Gne" Jarrett's Bach rendition: while slowly walking behind the sofa, at the very sweet spot, about 6 meters from ALE's mouths, it was like walking in front of a real 1:1 sized harpsichord.

The instrument was standing still in its virtual position, yet the sense of looking at the wooden old instrument if only looking at the sound source was AWESOME.

The granite-like scene was carved in the room... an hard to believe sensation.

The DAC, music storage and room-correction and crossovering was all in the digital domain
of a newly conceived Be Yamamura's software and hardware: a 52" wall mounted monitor was showing everything, from music played (a lengthy process of downloading the several, precious vinyls in the superb "boxes", so cleverly wall-mounted is a work-in-progress...) to time-delays, cut-off frequencies and every parameter, incl. impulsive and medium real-time SPL and more.

The different LPs curves will be a specialty... every disc playing will be read, equalization used recognized and extracted and then stored... every vintage eq. curves by Decca, EMI, RCA, Mercury, etc. etc. will be then available in digital domain and automatically re-applied, always using Yamamura's software and powerful server.

A truly super feature!

As the new, recently established commercial partnership called "Yamamura Crawley Limited"'s statement says, the company will deal in:

"Apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound; loudspeakers; loudspeaker systems; radios; DVD players; CD players; digital music players; amplifiers; remote control devices; batteries; headphones; headsets;
microphones; converter; digital to digital converter, Digital-to-Digital converter which may consist of a sample rate or bit depth converter, it may also convert one form of digital data to another; analogue to digital converter, analogue-to-digital converter which converts a continuous physical quantity in voltage or current to a digital
number that represents the quantity's amplitude; computer software, computer software for controlling and correcting response from speaker/speaker systems as well as an acoustic characteristics of the listening environment in connection with the speaker system; reforming converted digital data from analogical signal from
such as LP record with more appropriate equalizing curve."

A site and links will be available, soon.

Teflon washer between ALE's drivers and horns.

Both Marco and Yamamura-san were (almost) apologizing the new DACs (Wolfson's newest chip based) were new and in the system since a few days, now.

An unused/unconnected "normal" sized ALE's tweeter with Imai-san's (Audio Tekne) carbon-block driver holder and horn.

Everything was finely tuned on "old" DAC's sound and the voicing of the ALE's six ways is so potentially able to further improve, when everything will be adapted to new level of resolution and finesse.

In my opinion, ALL other guests of the panel agreeing, the old DAC was smoother sounding, BUT the new was already INCREDIBLY natural and much more analytic and detailing.

More audio-hinting paintings... ALE's town;-)

Design, peel-off-the wall lamps... italian design and Marco's good taste...

Be Yamamura-san framed in one of his own cables...

Be Yamamura's hand-woven resistors...

Mo' boxed ALE's...

Jean and Be, chatting in Japanese, of course... chotto!

Cool oil on canvas...

... vinyls a go-go!

Dragan, Jean Hiraga and Be Yamamura, while listening...

An old Yamamura's turntable

Sakuma-san's weirdo, cool amp  "creation", from one of his '90s Italian tournee/audio concerts.

... humbly dedicated to J.S. Bach...

Thanks, the VERY deepest thanks for hosting and commuting and EXTREME kindness to Marco, the Landlord, and  Dragan, Be Yamamura and Jean Hiraga for the invitation to join him at SUCH an incredible listening...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jean Hiraga meets Gotorama...

... but smaller, La Scala's based system was playing better*...

After our recent German gatherings and meetings and so, even more, appreciating Jean Hiraga's passion, skill, humanity and down-to-earth approach, always friendly and supportive with (sincere) music and audio scholars and lovers worldwide, it was discussed about the possibility for Jean - eventually joined by other French gentlemen like Julien Sullerot and Andre Klein, for example - for an Italian grand-tour visiting my own and other nice audio/music systems in my Country.

The above conversation happened on last November, in Lindlar, Germany.

Jean and myself then swapped some emails, and Hiraga-sensei-san confirmed to be a goldmine of hints and tips, music- and technical-wise... not surprisingly.

I regretfully missed the last June Lindlar's gathering which, as per superb Reinhard's recent chronicle, then confirmed by Jean himself, proved the superbness of Doede Douma's digital efforts and research and of Klaus' system uniqueness.

Months passed and, suddenly, only few weeks ago, I got an email,  sort-of "Hey, Stefano, are you available on July?'

I was, freshly unstressed back home after some seaside weeks, and not disturbed that much about wet, hot Northern Italy awful weather.

... and so was Jean... available, I mean:-)

I was sooooo thrilled and HAPPY - yes, HAPPY - the old (yet forever young!) master was interested in joining some hours listening and evaluating my humble system... he, the man who listened to 330+ of the VERY best systems in Europe and Japan.

I was both worried and like a first-schoolday kid - i.e - am I the only one to think my system plays Music? Will Jean understand some technical and gears and room-correction choices I did in thelast  years?

Will JH enjoy as I do and will he have same good time he had at Klaus' and Reinhard's and Bernd's places, in Germany's so nicely oversized auditoriums?

All the above mixed feelings immediately vanished when I met Jean at my town railway station, on last Friday night... fresh, unstained, enthusiast and athletic like a man in his thirties; we headed to the B&B and then, in few minutes walk, we were chatting and chatting and sipping delicious "Carmenere" by Inama (love this wine and italian producer) red wine and eating and enjoying delicate lemon tasting and scented steam-cooked vegetables, veal fillets with a weird, yet great tuna-fish sauce and almonds, and a fresh gaspacho with burrata (super fresh mozzarella) and basil and extra-vergine olive oil...

Empathy is a specialty,  for JH!

After dinner, we had a relaxed walk in old town, few meters from my little, tiny studio: walking and chatting (no audio, only architecture, history and the like) I noticed - at first guessed it was a single case, but...  - he captured details I never, ever noticed in 28 years living in town!

"Look at this! It's lead between stone and brick... to better stabilize building..." or... "Look there: 1622! An hidden date on a wall, in the shadow"... and more and more...

Incredible eagle, razor-like sight... not only 10/10 eyes/sight,  but attention and love for the details, history, virtually everything (worthwhile) around.

I looked at the wristwatch and... oh, oh... 0,04 A.M.!

Three hours blown away... swoooosh, like a breeze!

It only happens when having good time... while feverishly waiting for a doctor visiting, one minute lasts hours, as shit happens!

We reached my studietto in few minutes and... after deciding to listen to the "small" system (Thomas Mayer's line-stage with Cunnigham CX 310 (1929 vintage), Studer A 730 disk player, my own all Partridge's irons and coils, bespoke monoblocks and Emission Labs "mesh-plate" 300Bs, all feeding my old trusty, '69 vintage, Klipsch's "La Scala"... it was double-bass, classical guitar, harpsichord, theorbo, voice, male and female, sax and flugelhorn... classical, folk and jazz a go-go.

Jean, the living treasure and audio and music encyclopedia, after listening to a superb "The King's  Singers" performance, quietly, almost casually, whispered "I'm floating!"

A very nice performance.

At 2,05 A.M.... we agreed, very naturally, it had be a looong day for both:-) and we headed in the fresh night air, in a De Chirico-like town, only lights and shadows and two individuals sharing same love for life: Music.

The day after, it was yesterday, we met at B&B, had a breakfast Jean and myself enjoyed, and... ready for more audio?

Definitely not:-)))

We visited a famous theater, a masterpiece from 16th century and a very old, ancient church, appreciating mosaics, furniture, atmosphere and mood of the places:  as I told Jean, I was looking at places I (guessed) I knew quite well, with completely brand-new eyes... more focused, sharper-looking... thanking (again and again) my long-time mentor.

Chatting was an interesting mix of random audio tales and anedoctes, witty comments about this or that... a TRUE pleasure spending some time with JH... as only veritable greats do, he knows VERY well how to adapt himself to his hosts, as I already knew from our German meetings: he understood immediately I'm into acoustic jazz, ECM, ancient music and when I tried to play some "La Bamba",  Lindlar-style, looking at him, I got it wasn't the case, as we both knew VERY well it wasn't my cup of tea:-)))

At about 10,30 A.M. we headed to the studio for some Gotorama's

Jean remembered - to my VERY surprise - every disk we played the night before and he wished to replicate the aural memories he had with Gotorama on the same tracks... ears and mind, with soul:-)

My host sported his typical audio-grin and attention to capture nuances and understand the several parameters involved in my larger system: he appreciated - as he asked for in a last email before leaving France heading Southbound - I prepared for him a synopsys of system gears and links and descriptions, etc.

I must honestly said that I was a little surprised when Jean expressed his wish to listen to my system and publishing an essay about it: I guessed that his spotless, immaculate integrity and humbleness was - sort-of - not allowing him considering an audio system with such a load of his own old company gears (these huge red-caps La Maison de l'Audiophile's Le Classe' A solid-state Class A amplifiers)!

This proved to be not an issue, only my own erroneous guessing, nothing more...

*Yes, better - unfortunately, Gotorama's sound was a bit flawed by Garrardzilla's 301 missing, actually not sounding for further improvements and refinements and overall sound wasn't up to par for some crossover troubles I'm working out: Jean also noticed this, of course.
After some looong months of great satisfaction, the level of naturalness and detailing of Mayer's and La Scala's is teaching me I can ask for "more" to my Gotorama and I'm working on the matter.

He focused a lot to sound, then he took pixes of disks covers, listened again, and so on and on...

Sometimes, he stopped, looked in his Eega Beeva-like hand luggage, and some cool disk or paper about Japanese oil for turntables bearing or disk again or a little present he had for yours truly.


When time came, as we had a train to catch to reach together Bologna and a new audio experience (more later and soon...), the journalist took place of Jean, the down-to-earth music lover: HE TOOK TONS OF PIXES... a true professional and so strange looking at HOW FAST he changed into this new persona!

Details, whole, everything... dozens pictures, indeed.


At his very own convenience, he will (possibly) publish in his superb, cool "Stereo Prestige" magazine a report of the listening sessions we shared at my place... this tiny, unassuming room I fondly call  "STUDIETTO" since three years ago, when I decided to go hot-rod with my audio passion, only worried and paying attention to my tastes, my wallet and possibilities, 100% WAF-unaffected:-)))

Thanking Jean Hiraga for... being Jean Hiraga, a Wise Man, loving laughing and having good time, a master and a scholar... 'cause he well knows one life cannot last to know and learn everything!