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Entries in music (4)

Wednesday
Jan202010

Do i prefer vinyl records?

No i don't. In fact i don't prefer any medium, be it vinyl, cd, or some downloaded digital thing. When i listen to music on my home stereo the sound quality has to be at least ok. With ok, i mean, no distortion, relatively-uncompressed and does not sound like a 128kb mp3, where I hear a constant ocean when I should be hearing cymbals. I've got a 1200 piece vinyl collection, some 500 CD's, 450 tracks bought online and 1 Album-USB stick ;) by Mr Scruff on Ninja tune. It has to be about the music! but sometimes I catch myself prefering sound quality above any other quality and that is something dangerous.

So preferring a single quality above something else is dangerous to me. But why? I think that there is more to music then one single quality, sound, composition, sharing (how share-able with other people ;), complexity, impressiveness all come mind. (some of those qualities are a bit personal and vague ofcourse!) So I try to not prefer one to the other but judge them on different qualities. Sometimes it can be hard to not fall into the trap of just focussing on sound quality because I've got a pretty good sound system which is like Simon Cowell of XFactor coming down on an unsuspecting and innocent sounding music piece with a bolt of lightning if it does not sound right. When I first got my Speakers aka Maxima's I thought I could throw away 50% of my music collection because it sounded terrible or so-so. Thankfully I had learned that while sound quality is important! it is not the bar to which the rest must be compared with. Take for example, Peter Broderick, sound quality, so-so, but the composition and the arrangements give me goose bumps!

There must be something more to music then sound quality and that is something I have learned in the last 3 years! It is also about other qualities. Beautiful music sounding bad is beautiful music sounding bad ;) But i still enjoy THE beautifull part of it. So do i prefer vinyl records? No i don't, i like the sound and the spinning black disc, but other media has its uses too and that is where the real enjoyment starts. Wherever i am, i can always equally enjoy music be it on my big speakers or doing the dishes while my iPhone is playing some mp3 from LCD Soundsystem. I enjoy them both and equally. In the end it is all in my mind. 

Saturday
Apr252009

Discovering music...

The music sound sourceOn the 17th of april i went to the Utreg United party with a friend. But before we went she let me listen to some nice new electro. Thus i discovered some nice new artist names which I'm going to be spending money on. Downloading it from iTunes, buying it in the shop or looking out for some excellent vinyl.

The thing i love about music is discovering. It's always a great sensation to hear a new track and getting goosebumps, learning/growing to love it, sharing it with friends and family. You can find a diverse range of music in my iTunes and vinyl library ;). From Alan Parsons Project to Kilimanjaro dark jazz ensemble, jazz to breakcore and back again to minimal classic. I'm open to listening to new music and there are a few good ways of finding it. In this post i'll tell about a couple of my favorite ways of discovering new music! 

Ye olde shop.

You know where you go into a store and a man/woman stands behind a desk and sells you music. There are loads of these shops in the city centre of Utrecht and most of them are terrible because they cannot recommend me any music based on my taste. It's the reason why i started buying music online. Nevertheless there are a couple of exceptions; The first; Metro record store, the second; de Jazzwinkel (the jazzstore). (there are more exceptions of course) Why do i keep going to these stores? Well, it's because they are run by music lovers with a great deal of knowledge. Whenever i go to these stores, i want to hear something new! i ask the owners if they can recommend me something. I listen to a couple of records they select, pick the ones i like and leave with a couple of cd's or vinyl records. I'm a lazy person and in my mind there is nothing better then to just say; "Could you recommend me some new music that sounds like a cross between Miles Davis and Toytronic" and they come up with Nils Petter Molvaer. Great!

iTunes store.

You can of course fill in any online store here that you want but the reason i say iTunes store is because i have a couple of Apple products. iPhone and Apple TV. So I'm locked down into the Apple eco-system. The cool thing is i can get recommendations, watch out for new releases, it lets me buy music on a saturday night at 00.10 from the couch. What i usually do to discover new music is type in the name of an artist i already know, like Johan Johansson, go to the album and look at the recommendations. One of those was the album Float by Peter Broderick and oh gosh! wow is it beautiful, minimal classic! Goosebumps!

Friends and Family

This is my all time preferred way and the one i was talking about in the beginning. People showing off their music. It's great, especially with an excellent bottle of wine, cheese and a good sound system. What i like to do is ask someone to let me hear some new music he/she has recently bought or some of their classic stuff which gives them goosebumps. I just make some notes and order the music i liked the next day. I think about 70% of my music collection has been bought this way and i look forward to spending yet again a day/evening with some friend on the couch listening to music.

But of course the thing that makes discovering music with friends and family the best for me, is a people social thing. The music is just a bonus ;)

ps. i want to shout out to DJ Illusive and DJ Westrum in remembrance to the Biltstraat sessions. Every thursday night, listening to great music all night long! ah, always the amazing atmosphere! oh the good ol' days........wanna know more? i'll soon blog about it.

Friday
Mar202009

Review of The Prodigy's album "Invaders must die"

I like to listen to music, heck i used to DJ and produce it as well. The stuff i listen to gets rated using the iTunes stars-rating-system in my car and in the train while i listen to my iPod. This is the first review I'm doing based on the star-ratings i give in iTunes, you can use it to perhaps buy an entire album or just buy individual tracks.

Last week i bought the new Prodigy album from the iTunes store, "Invaders must die", after a girlfriend recommended it to me. She told me to check it out because i really like the old skool Prodigy sound (Charly, Out of Space, etc.). I even produced some mashups as Soundbites. You might say I'm a bit of a fan from the early days.

Sitting in front of my laptop i listened to the too-short 30 second previews from the iTunes store, the first couple of tracks sounded like the "Voodoo People" remix from Pendulum. It sounded ok, then i heard some old skool beats with some old skool sounds and a massive bassline! It was decided, i immediately bought the whole album. A couple of days later i put the album onto my iPod and started listening and rating the individual tracks.

Track rating of "Invaders must die"

The first two titles are massive sounding clean produced tracks which have a Pendulum versus Prodigy sound to them. There are a couple of other tracks which also sound that way and it is not quite what i like and thus have received a lower rating (2-stars). If you like Pendulum and the Prodigy, this is the album for you. Massive beats, with the ever so recognizable snare drum and well produced.

Then there are what i think are the old skool tracks and of-course are my favorites, less well produced and with beats from the 90's. "Take me to the hospital" has it all, rave, bassline, a beat that sounds like it came from the "Fat of the land"-album, vocals, reggae and a police siren which has been skewed and is dangerous to listen in a car because you think the police is chasing you. Then there is "Warrior's Dance" (4-star) which is simply amazing, when i first listened to it it gave me goosebumps, twice! Old skool beat from waaaay in the beginning of the nineties, screaming "drum and bass" bassline, a catchy female vocal but best of all at the very end there is an air horn! You cannot rave without an airhorn! The other three tracks that have gotten a 3-star rating are; "Omen-reprise", It gets 3-stars because I'm a big sucker for Vangelis, it's like track 2 but without the beats and a lot more synth, building up to a climax. "World's on fire" is so so in the beginning but then a very recognizable rave sample is used and i get goosebumps all over again! btw the rave sample has been taken from Vamp from Outlander. Finally, "Stand up" is just nicely experimental (3-star again).

Although i don't think every track is as good, i have found a couple which have become favorites. To me the Prodigy have proven that they are still the kings of rave.

Wednesday
Mar112009

Finding little gems hidden in sleeves of 2nd hand records

Yesterday evening i was listening to some vinyl records on my Thorens TD-160 MK 2 with Ortofon 2M Blue needle (no not the knitting kind). I started with some Miles Davis, then some Air (you know, with their hits "All i need", "Kelly watch the stars" and something with a monkey) and lastly put on some Steve Miller Band - Fly like an Eaglewhich i bought 2nd hand recently.

I sat on the couch drinking some wine, bought at the local grocer and noticed some brown piece of newspaper lying on the floor. I reached to pick it up and it was a cutout of a review of the record in German. It must have fallen out of the paper sleeve of the vinyl record when i put it on! I read it, didn't think much of the review itself but the nice thing about it is that somebody put a review of an album in there some 32 years ago (1976) (when i was born ;) ). Perhaps because it was the reason why he or she bought the album, perhaps not, but the record felt personal, like it really belonged to someone.

Anyway that kept me thinking during the day. It's nice that you can attach some information to media, be it a vinyl album, cd or mp3. You can add, pictures, pieces of text to add some personal touches and read the descriptions on your Apple TV or other favorite media center and even discover them 32 years later. So as of today i decided to add some personal notes, reviews, pictures i find to songs in my iTunes library. I can use the description field and artwork to personalize my digital media, to make it mine and not something i just downloaded from the Apple iTunes store like everybody else.

oh before i forget! Here is the piece of brown newspaper i found.

German review from 1976, Steve Miller Band - Fly like an Eagle