May 5, 2012

Playlist Week of 5-05-12

Clearaudio Concept

* Schmelzer, et al.: Unarum Fidium (Holloway/Assenbaum/Mortensen) (ECM CD)
* Biber: Mensa Sonora (Musica Antiqua Köln/Goebel) (Archive Produktion CD)
* Poulenc: Works For Piano (Parkin) (d.3) (Chandos 3CD)
* Miles Davis: Agharta (CBS-Sony 2CD)
* Herbie Hancock & Headhunters: Sendsaal, Bremen, W. Germany 11-06-74 (FM CDR)
* Stanley Clarke: School Days (Epic/Friday Music LP)
* Barre Phillips: Three Day Moon (ECM LP)
* Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group (ECM LP)
* Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up (Nonesuch CD)
* Steve Tibbetts: Big Map Idea (ECM CD)
* Mephista: Black Narcissus (Tzadik CD)
* Tom Rainey Trio: Camino Cielo Echo (Intakt CD)
* Aych (Hobbs/Halvorson/Bynum): As The Crow Flies (Relative Pitch CD)
* Peter Lang: Lycurgus The Wolf Driver (Flying Fish LP)
* The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (EMI/Capitol LP)
* Grateful Dead: Wake of The Flood (GDP/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Jeff Beck Group: Jeff Beck Group (Epic LP)
* Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple (EMI/Odeon LP)
* Deep Purple: Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton LP)
* Black Sabbath: Master Of Reality (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Black Sabbath: Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Yes: Fragile (Atlantic/Analogue Productions LP)
* Emerson Lake & Palmer: Emerson Lake & Palmer (Cotillion LP)
* Gentle Giant: Three Friends (Vertigo/Alucard CD)†
* Gentle Giant: Octopus (Vertigo/Alucard CD)†
* Gentle Giant: In A Glass House (Vertigo/Alucard CD)†
* Camel: Mirage (Gama/Janus LP)
* Camel: (Music Inspired By) The Snow Goose (Gama/Passport LP)
* Camel: Moonmadness (Gama/Janus LP)
* Camel: Rain Dances (Gama/Janus LP)
* Camel: Breathless (Gama/Arista LP)
* Supertramp: Breakfast In America (A&M LP)
* Patrick Woodroffe/Dave Greenslade: The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony (Dragon’s World/EMI 2LP)
* Peter Gabriel: Plays Live (Charisma 2LP)
* Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (Reprise/Warner Bros. 2-45RPM LP)
* Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (Reprise/Warner Bros. 2-45RPM LP)
* Steely Dan: Aja (ABC/Cisco LP)
* Elvis Costello: My Aim Is True (Columbia/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Elvis Costello: This Year’s Model (Columbia/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador 2LP)
* Lee Ranaldo: Between The Time And The Tides (Matador LP)
* Guided By Voices: “We Won’t Apologize[…]”/”The Unsinkable Fats Domino” (Matador 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Doughnut For A Snowman” (GBV, Inc./Fire Records 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: “Chocolate Boy”/”As The Girls Sing Downing” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Keep It In Motion” (GBV, Inc. 7”EP
* Guided By Voices: “Jon The Croc”/”Breathing” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Robert Pollard: Mouseman Cloud (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Beck: Sea Change (Geffen/Mobile Fidelity 2LP/CD)
* Jim O’Rourke: Eureka (Drag City LP)
* Porcupine Tree: The Sky Moves Sideways (KScope 2CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Stupid Dream (KScope CD/DVD)†/‡
* Porcupine Tree: Lightbulb Sun (KScope CD/DVD)†/‡
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)†/‡
* Opeth: Still Life (Peaceville/Icarus CD) †/‡
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner 2LP)
* High On Fire: Death Is This Communion (Relapse CD)†
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise 2-45RPM LP)
* Ray LaMontagne: Trouble (RCA/Legacy LP)



Despite regular maintenance, my eighteen-year-old turntable, a low-end but trustworthy Thorens TD-260 Mk.IV, has been showing its age lately. It won’t get up to speed at the press of the button like it used to and requires a vigorous push on the platter just to get it going—and when it gets there it sometimes wavers, creating an audible wobble. Now, if you are at all sensitive to pitch fluctuations (as I am) this is simply intolerable and is just the kind of thing that makes me want to ditch the LP altogether. Despite its faults (and there are many), digital doesn’t have this particular problem: the music is always pitch-perfect—and no surface noise to boot!

But the truth is: I can’t live without a turntable. I love records too much—and I have a lot of them! Moreover, we are now living in a vinyl renaissance I would have never predicted: there are more high-quality “audiophile” LPs available now than perhaps ever before. In this dark era of harsh, dynamically squashed CDs and miserably lossy downloads, the LP remains the format of choice for folks who care about sound quality. Go figure. The music industry’s relationship with technology is needlessly fraught and completely retarded—but this has also been a boon to obsessive record collectors like me.

So, my old Thorens has been replaced with a Clearaudio Concept, the entry-level table from another highly-regarded German company, makers of a complete line of fine turntables, including the notorious Statement, which stands five feet tall and costs a whopping $150,000.00. That might sound completely ridiculous, but the relatively affordable Concept incorporates some of the cutting edge technology of its bigger brethren with a frictionless magnetic bearing on the elegantly designed carbon fiber tonearm, an ultra-dense acrylic platter and a hefty (yet tastefully diminutive) plinth. Available with a factory-mounted cartridge (either moving magnet or moving coil), the Concept is about as close to “plug-and-play” as you can get in the realm of high-end turntables—which is just what I needed.

Right out of the box, the combo sounded very nice and has only gotten better as the cartridge breaks in. Is it the last word in vinyl playback? Certainly not—and I look forward to tweaking it. But here’s the thing that blows my mind: I have been staying up way way too late spinning records well into the night and I never, ever do that with CDs. That tells you all you need to know about why I will always need a turntable—and why I am deleriously happy I am with the Clearaudio Concept.

Now, excuse me; I’m going to go put another record on.


Sam said...

The thing I love about your blog is that you're always having fun! Staying up late to play records on a brand new turntable? Paradise!

I see you're digging up lots of old prog records...I went through a big Camel phase at one know, I assume, that the bass player/singer on "Rain Dances" is Richard Sinclair, post-Hatfield and the North? Also, did I ever tell you I saw Gentle Giant in Atlanta in the late '70s, back around the time of "Playing the Fool?" Fun times....

Sam said...

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2012-05-07

*Mozart: The Late String Quartets Nos. 14-23 (Alban Berg Quartett) discs 1-4
*Ravi Shankar: Master of Sitar
*Boris Bobby Jr.: 2012-04-22 (wav)
*Anthony Braxton & Derek Bailey: Royal Vol. 1
*Anthony Braxton: Quintet (New York) 1975 (BL014)
*Anthony Braxton: Solo (Kent) 1979 (BL020)
*Anthony Braxton: Trio (Pisa) 1982 (BL019)
*Anthony Braxton: Quartet (Karlsruhe) 1983 (BL017)
*Anthony Braxton: Duo (Belfort) 1985 (BL021)
*Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra (Portland) 1989 Part 1 (BL024)
*Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra (Portland) 1989 Part 2 (BL025)
*Ornette Coleman & Prime Time: 1978-07-24 Nervi, Italy (CDR)
*Duke Ellington: The Centennial Edition: The Complete RCA-Victor Recordings (disc 2)
*Duke Ellington: The Complete 1932-1940 Brunswick, Columbia and Master Recordings of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (discs 2, 3)
*Duke Ellington: And His Mother Called Him Bill
*Joe Henderson: Black Is the Color
*Joe Henderson: Multiple
*Joe Henderson: Canyon Lady
*Charles Mingus: Epitaph (disc 2)
*New Loft: 2010-03-03: "Spread Thick" (wav)
*New Loft: 2011-06-08 "Proof of Concept" (wav)
*New Loft: 2011-12-14 "Left Angle" (wav)
*New Loft: 2012-01-09 "Try Again for Rain" (wav)
*New Loft: 2012-04-16 “Content Intent” (wav)
*Parker/Guy/Lytton: Imaginary Values
*Howard Riley-Tony Oxley Orchestra: 1970-01-23 Hamburg (CDR)
*Cecil Taylor w/John Coltrane: Coltrane Time [Stereo Drive]
*Henry Threadgill’s Zooid: 2008-11-04 Koln (CDR)
*Beach Boys: The SMiLE Sessions (disc 4)
*Beatles: The Beatles (disc 1) selections
*Deerhoof: Deerhoof Vs. Evil
*Grateful Dead: 1972-08-24 Berkeley Community Theater (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead: 1972-09-10 Hollywood (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-26 Cincinnati (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead: 1972-10-28 Cleveland (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Zach Hill: Face Tat
*King Crimson: Lizard
*Barbara Lewis: Hello Stranger: The Best of Barbara Lewis
*Prince: Work It 2.0 (boot CDR) Vol. 6 (disc 24)
*Shirelles: The World’s Greatest Girls Group (disc 2)
*Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen: For the Ghosts Within

Reading List 2012-05-07:

*Thompson, Craig. Habibi (started/finished)
*Kirby, Jack, et al. Essential Thor vol. 1 (finished)
*Morgan, Richard K. The Cold Commands (finished)
*Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler (in progress)

Rodger Coleman said...

@Sam: Heh, well, what can I say...I went to a record convention last Sunday and found a whole bunch of prog vinyl. Camel is excellent! How come I'd never really heard of them until Akerfeldt started hyping them up? Sinclair was also in Caravan, right?

Anyway, I HAD to get a new turntable. It's not the TT of my dreams, but it's pretty darn nice!

That is so cool you saw Gentle Giant. There's another band I basically ignored growing up. Interesting compositions and still kind of rocking. I need to explore further...

...and Black Sabbath was a way more interesting band than most folks give them credit for -- including me up until about a minute ago. What next? KISS?