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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000!



Something wrong going on? 



Deadly wrong, indeed!

 Please read The Guardian's article... and let's think about it.







Friday, October 13, 2017

Zippers and Rolling Stones!







Thanking YKK...




or...





... call me crazy;-), but... Andy Wharol or not... my choice goes to the color one;-)))







FZ's Legacy







This is just an amazing and useful tool to (better) understand Frank Zappa's musical heirloom.



... for posterity.







Piero Umiliani's Italian "poliziotteschi" movies and OSTs







Piero Umiliani Studio Umiliani: Rare and Unreleased Tracks From Sound Work Shop Archives '67-'83



  • 2×LP + Bonus CD 
  • 1. Avventura
  • 2. Missione Speciale
  • 3. Petra – Tema Jazz
  • 4. Petra – Sottofondo Generico In Re Minore
  • 5. L’Invasione Dei Folletti
  • 6. Non Mollare
  • 7. Commandos
  • 8. Il Burattinaio M8+M9
  • 9. Vita Cittadina
  • 10. C’è Un Fantasma Nel Mio Letto M47
  • 11. Pane Burro E Marmellata M52+M47
  • 12. Preistoria
  • 13. Ratko E L’orso – Tema Moog
  • 14. Grand Canyon
  • 15. C’è Un Fantasma Nel Mio Letto M68
  • 16. Le Cascate di Iguaçù
  • 17. Musica Nell’aria
  • 18. Risaie
  • 19. Millenni
  • 20. Ritrovarsi
Piero Umiliani’s Sound Work Shop archives to select rare and unreleased tracks • First archive compilation of Piero Umiliani’s work for the Rome-based record label and the first one focussing on Piero Umiliani in recent years. Exotica, psychedelic jazz-funk, proto-trip hop: this selection is a cross-cutting portrait of Umiliani's activity during the golden years of his Sound Work Shop, the studio-laboratory where he has been playing, creating and experimenting with total freedom from 1969 to 1983. This exhaustive compilation comes as a deluxe, 2xLP gatefold issue and is accompanied with liner notes and archive images.







Italian Prog '70s - Battiato at his best!







Franco Battiato, 1971-73


There is no figure in Italian music, nor within the country’s shimmering, expansive avant-garde, who demands the respect and awe offered to Franco Battiato. He is the beginning and the end. An artist whose output, stretching across six decades, is so diverse and singular, that it defies any concrete definition. We are thrilled to announce their long awaited reissue on vinyl by Superior Viaduct. This is nothing short of a momentous event, placing three of the most remarkable albums of the 1970’s into a new generation’s hands, offering them the attention and appraisal they have always deserved.

In celebration of the long awaited reissue of three records so close to our heart, we're offering a special 10% discount on all Superior Viaduct releases (15% off for the members!). Only valid until Sunday!
Franco Battiato

** 3 LP in bundle** There is no figure in Italian music, nor within the country’s shimmering, expansive avant-garde, who demands the respect and awe offered to Franco Battiato. He is the beginning and the end. An artist whose output, stretching across six decades, is so diverse and singular, that it defies any concrete definition - darting from psychedelic Prog, definitive gestures in the history of Minimalism, to the heights of explicit Pop. Fans of avant-garde and experimental music have long coveted Battiato’s five seminal Minimalist marvels issued between 1974 and 1978 - Clic, M.elle Le "Gladiator", Franco Battiato, Juke Box, and L'Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie, but far fewer are aware of their predecessors, three brilliant albums issued by Bla Bla during the early 1970’s. Fetus, Pollution, and Sulle Corde Di Aries - a stunning trio branching into the outer reaches of Rock and Roll, are among the great gestures in sonic radicalism of the era. We are thrilled to announce their long awaited reissue on vinyl by Superior Viaduct. This is nothing short of a momentous event, placing three of the most remarkable albums of the 1970’s into a new generation’s hands, offering them the attention and appraisal they have always deserved.
Franco Battiato
Battiato’s career as a singer began during the mid-1960’s, but his attempts within the Pop realms failed to chart success. By the end of the decade his attentions increasingly turned toward radical gestures in experimental electronic music and synthesis. Beginning in 1971 he began working with the fledgling independent label Bla Bla, which would subsequently rise as one of most renowned imprints in Italian music, releasing, in addition to Battito’s music, groundbreaking albums by Juri Camisasca, Aktuala, and a number of others. Issued later that year, his full length debut Fetus shattered nearly every category of music during its day. With foundations formed by the VCS3 synthesizer, it is credited among the first electronic albums created in Italy, though, even to that end, this creation is unwilling to rest so easily within genre or categorisation.

Battiato is often referred to as Italy's answer to Brian Eno, an allusion to his melding of synthesis, avant-garde sensibilities with Pop, and later sculpting of minimalist ambience. Rightfully, that distinction should be reversed. At almost every turn, Battiato was ahead of his more famous peer. Fetus released a full year before Roxy Music’s first album, and two before Eno’s solo debut, Here Come The Warm Jets. Equally, Battaito’s subsequent shift toward radical instrumental music, proceeded Eno’s by leaps and bounds. While heard by few at the time, when framed in its own multilayered context, Battiato’s debut outstrips almost every effort of the early 70’s in ambition and accomplishment.

Fetus is impossible to nail down. Constructed as a thematic whole, enigmatically sub-titled "Ritorno al Mondo Nuovo" (Return to the New World) and dedicated to Aldous Huxley, it skirts effortlessly into the territories of Pop ballad, synthesis, Musique concrète, folk, and psychedelic Prog. Stunning and brilliant on every count, it employs a distinctly detached lyricism, an approach which would spark a new breed of songwriting in Italy. A writhing, gauzily punctuated pool of sound, Fetus is arguably  greatest album of 1971, and unquestionably one of the most important albums of decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come. Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco BattiatoPollution, Franco Battiato’s second LP, issued in 1972, catapulted itself into the world on the creative momentum encountered within Fetus. A rich tapestry of diverse sonic organisation, touching the territories of Pop ballad, synthesis, Musique concrète, folk, and psychedelic Prog. Featuring Baroque textures, motorik rhythms, and oblique vocals, it encounters its creator more at ease within these radical realms. This is a world all his own - the ambitious, never before seen heights of Rock and Roll.

Constructed by the same band of collaborators which helped him create its predecessor, augmented by an eighteen-year-old Roberto Cacciapaglia on keys, within Pollution these remarkable voices are pushed into the foreground. Filled with Kraut / Psyche riffs, hypnotic grooves and cinematic flourishes, the album is a topical marvel, a product of the era, built on themes of environmental catastrophe. Futurist allusions seep in through eccentric lyrics, all joined within a stunning, shimmering landscape of sound. This is the album which solidified Battiato’s status as one of the foremost cult figure in music. Like Fetus, Pollution is one of the most important albums of its decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come. Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco Battiato
 
Sulle Corde Di Aries, issued in 1973, is Battiato's last effort of wild eccentric Pop music before venturing toward more explicitly avant-garde realms. It is arguably the most ambitious and remarkable of the cycle of albums which began with Fetus, pushed further by Pollution. Filled with remarkable energy and creative brilliance, the album is a hint at what was to come, the laboratory in which Battiato's wild mutant seeds were planted. It is a true masterpiece on every count, yet, for those aware of his early work, the most inexplicably overlooked and neglected of the three.

Sulle Corde Di Aries, far more cohesive than its predecessors, is an evolving cycle of four electroacoustic suites - each drenched in structural challenge and shimmering tone, flirting with the minimalism of Terry Riley and the rhythmic brilliance of Can, while managing to sound like nothing else of its day. Though the album features similar vocal treatments to those on Fetus and Pollution, binding them together as a conceptual body, Sulle Corde Di Aries is marked by long extended instrumental passages, as abstract and challenging as anything in the experimental music world, pregnant with allusions folk traditions, while still penetrating and pushing the potential of Pop. The result is overwhelming. Even four and a half decades after its initial release, the album feels revolutionary and stunningly fresh. A tangent in sound, which few others have ever reached. Overwhelmingly beautiful and creatively brilliant, Sulle Corde Di Aries is the final chapter in Battiato's intervention in the realm of Pop music, before his return at the end of the decade. Long overlooked and neglected, this reissue, lovingly produced in its original gatefold sleeve, is as important as they come.

Absolutely essential on every count.
Franco Battiato

Monday, October 9, 2017

Одна из многих записей, найденных вчера на рынке: шедевр!




YES!

Yesterday I visited my trusty vinyl-disc pusher... he cherry-picked among his thousands discs some unseen nuggets which I greatly appreciated: a lot of Japanese pressings (more to come), Telefunken Royal Sounds', Deutsche Gramophones', Eratos', Harmonia Mundis'...

I bought 37 (thirty-seven) discs for an amount quite often the average audiophiles buy a so-called super disc digitally remastered re-re-repressing - i.e. half the cost of David Gilmour's Live at Pompei 4-discs box-set, if you prefer!

Polemic?

Naaah!!!

Objective sounds more appropriate to me, as far too many artists sold their shiny past to cover huge mortgages and jet-set lifestyle hideously high costs.

How many "new" Roger Waters' The Wall iterations or David Gilmour's or Rolling (rolling? maybe sinking...) Stones' is an audiophile able to buy before realising it's muzak in luxury packages?



Among the awesome discs I brought home, let me highlight this one as an example: a Melodya disc from 1983, Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinski music for clarinet, violin, piano, harp and strings.

The cover is the ugliest of ugly, so ugly to be elegant... low quality paper and printing to par.

This disc almost looks like a classical music bootleg.

... but Music content is of highest quality and the recording quality... just of awesome beauty.





Saturday, October 7, 2017

Harmony Sovereign H-1260 - Das Volksgitarren



My '69 Harmony Sovereign H-1260 ladder-braced isn't my most expensive or sought-after guitar, yet it represents something for yours truly: not only a guitar, but something which in pre-WEB era, I fell in love with!



Its sound was first heard on Tir Na Nog's first disc: I loved it at first notes, so unique and different from Martins and Gibsons'... the inner sleeve pix showed the duo both playing Harmony guitars...



No one saw a Sovereign in Italy, back then...

When I took interest in John Fahey and Robbie Basho and Takoma label... again an Harmony Sovereign on a sampler cover...



... and when - finally and at last - some years ago I got my Harmony from a gentleman in New Mexico, when I began exploring its character and qualities, well... I felt I got the Humblest of Holy Grails!

The Sovereign



Its sound was EXACTLY the one I so much liked on Tir Na Nog's disc: sweet, round, the right mix of wood and steel strings, extremely lightly built, yet strong and so responsive.




It's maybe the ideal everyday guitar, the one I play around and bring to parties, the one I play most.

My Volksgitarren!

A true life companion.




M15 is back home...




... after a minor surgery at GF's workshop... a silly single transistor failure only about one year after the full re-capping...

Shit happens...

... but, WOW... the pleasure of playing some nice master-dubs on Gotorama is greatly appreciated after a couple of month of unwanted separation...



Furthermore - in the meantime, while the Telefunken's was at the workshop - I had a large, thick plexiglas dust-cover bespoke made to order: this fancy thing -  as I learned today - is also even more useful than its name suggests!

It greatly tame reels and motors spinning noises while playing and the listening experience is - you'd bet it? - more satisfying.


Great listen, this afternoon.




Tandberg 10 XD reel-to-reel




Three motors, three speeds, four tracks, four heads, including Crossfield-technology head, sort of pre-magnetising record-tape-head.

This enhancing quality method only works on transparent Mylar tape formulation, not thick, not-mat back pro-tapes in recording-mode... no problem using other tapes in Playback.

This recorder was a teenager dream for yours truly, back in the '70s... it costed an arm and a leg.



I feel some embarassment in saying how much I paid for it, thanking a friend's kindness.

Consider that this superb tape-machine remained in Tandberg's catalog in-parallel with TD-20A (which I also have in my collection, a sought-after two tracks-19/38 cm/s version), and it costed exactly half the mighty 10 XD's price tag!

... not surprisingly, Tandberg 10 XD represents the peak of reel-to-reel technology of the Norwegian brand... even more than the fabled, rare TD-20A-SE, soundwise.

A true Studer-killer, at least sonically...

So, here is a cool add for the smaller system, parallel to Gotorama - i.e. Fidelity Research AS-1, my all copper Partridges's 300B mono blocks, Tandberg 9220 XD 4 tracks-3,75/9,5/19 cm/s reel-to-reel and Tandberg 10 XD 2 tracks-9,4/19/38 cm/s, reel-to-reel, Merdidian CD 500 transports Mk1 and Mk2 and 564 DAC and Tandberg Typ !1 speakers on Foundation Designer speaker-stands.

A small, humbly great, no-frills audio system.

Love it.




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday's Disc - Rod Stewart - Every pictures tell a story (Mercury 1971)



I love finding and sharing superior quality - both musical and sonically - discs...

Brand-new or decades old, I don't care, as best music is timeless as it can be...

Today I gave a spin to a disc I didn't listened in eons: Rod Stewart's iconic 3rd album from the '70s on Mercury.



... and it is a truly great disc!

It's full of life and great musicianship... the musicians are top and Rod's young gravel voice is far from the later stardom-tinted over-productions and lesser waxes.

A lot of nice acoustic guitars, six and twelve strings, and slide guitars... bluesy, some songs, a Bob Dylan's cover... Danny Thompson on double bass as guest-artist in one track!

A nice °Amazing Grace" version for slide twelve strings guitar and... one of the MOST CONVINCING drums kit I ever listened to, period!

The '70s recording skills, ahem... art was truly remarkable and this old disc is a truly well kept secret and a demo quality disc with music to par!

Enjoy as I enjoyed, folks.

P.S. - it was also issued on Mobile Fidelity Super-discs... even better, if possible!




Wine





If I wish peace of mind for my discs, I listen to my Puritas in Archè headshell, if I want to go for smoothness, use my Decca SC4E in Bosoeoum headshell or my Signet MM;  for everyday listening my cherry-picked Lumiere DST will superbly do... but if I wish to taste the ineffable - i.e. something more, a one-of-a-kind musical experience I go with Neumann DST.




The above to explain that - you'd bet it? - you cannot always sip for dinner a Romanèe-Conti, a Sassicaia or a Petrus... 




You have to also enjoy lesser, yet pleasantly fresh and scented Cabernet or Sauvignon.

The cuvee are for anniversaries or special events... 

I keep my feet on the ground, humbly, you know... without forgetting the pleasures of life.






Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Swan




She's about 55 years old and 100% N.O.S.... I got her a few years ago and only listened sparingly, almost fearful about her weight and vertical tracking force.

She didn't played a groove in years 'til the recent cleaning and check up... papers say it's "only" good up to 15khz, but you'd say the same about a Neumann U47, blaming about its frequency curve, dips and peaks? 


The Swan simply "is" the Holy Grail! 




She sounds so zest, shiny, so rich in texture and music nuances portrayal and soooo quick and authoritative... 

Who cares about using 6,5 grams VTF? 

As Jonathan Halpern - also a passionate and avid DST-design scholar and collector (both Neumann and Lumiere's) - wisely commented on FB after someone guessed about excessive VTF: 

"Remember that its a 15u tip and conical so the pressure is spread. If Neumann thought it was correct, I feel pretty good about it. Neumann was the master of LP cutting and playback with the DST and WV2a, not to mention the lathes and GV2a reverse RIAA preamps. The only experiments I'm aware of were done by RCA with 6g of tracking on a mono LP. They found no appreciable wear after 2000 plays, I believe."

Furthermore, I feel confortable to add the high quality diamond tip was extremely expensive at the time - i.e. USD 9 each (1958 US Dollars...) vs. average USD 1 each of best contenders.










WTF!

I could listen to a record played with The Peak and the DST and then sell my system, as I - simply, plainly said - got The Ultimate Knowledge, found The Source of Sparkling Musical Bliss. 

I'll be able to recall this intense pleasure for a long time simply thinking to the shivers of joy I today experienced with the Swan! 





I got Satori... and shamelessly howled like a lone, old wolf to the Moon.

Listened to William Welch, Piers Faccini, Ravi Shankar, Skip James and Bill Frisell in a row... every disc was playing like brand new, lots of hidden sounds blossoming here and there, percussions decay, acoustic guitars resonances and harmonics, room and studio noises, female and male vocals a specialty... a palette of new vivid colors.

I had to regretfully stop listening to music - a sort-of coitus interruptus - to go home from my studio... not before having (you'd bet it?) my longest eargasm, ever... 


... and tears (I swear...) poured, as well.





I'm just an old, romantic fart, pals... yet, let me say: too much joy for only one person.






HUGE thanks to Leonid Sinitsin who freed She from the debrises of a decades long storage. 



Friday, September 29, 2017

The secret history of messages etched into records runout groove




Practically since day one, the inside track or runout groove of a vinyl record or 78rpm disc has been the domain of the matrix number, an alphanumerical code either stamped or handwritten into the wax to help pressing plants assign the correct stamper and label to each side of the record.

Extra digits often refer to the cut or take of a particular record, while some plants or cutting engineers will assign their own signatures to the space.



Far from an exact science, matrix numbers will often be taken into consideration by collectors, either as proof of first pressings or sought-after alternate takes and re-cuts.

All this code though is rather formal in contrast to the hidden messages which have since jostled for space alongside their more conventional brethren in the runout groove.

Sometimes other messages are etched... or hidden as Jack White's or other artists/discs...

Intriguing...






Sunday, September 24, 2017

Flea-market ephemeral joys...











Feet in felt...




Feet warm in felt home-shoes and the Tandberg 9200 XD singing for hours through the smaller system... a good book, good music.



What else for first Autumn days?



Another Neumann DST replica from Russia



This gifted gentleman from Russia was finally able to properly replicate a Neumann DST cartridge...

The triangle-shaped coils

The AlniCo magnets

The new parts composing the DST's clone.

The pixies say more than a thousand words...




The almost dismantled Neumann DST used for reverse-engineering.


The DST-clone!


Thanking LencoHeaven...  do you a favour and read the full story there.

... and HUGE compliments to Yuriy for his skill.









Saturday, September 23, 2017

T.S. Elliot & John Fahey




Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyager..
"I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant-
Among other things - or one way of putting the same thing:
That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.
You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
That time is no healer: the patient is no longer here.
When the train starts, and the passengers are settled
To fruit, periodicals and business letters
(And those who saw them off have left the platform)
Their faces relax from grief into relief,
To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.
Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,
While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
You shall not think "the past is finished"
Or "the future is before us".
At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
"Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: 'on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death' - that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward.
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination."
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers."
Τ.S. Elliot, Four Quartets (The Dry Salvages)