October 27, 2012

Playlist Week of 10-27-12

Wadia i171
* Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op.5 (Manze/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Laurie Spiegel: The Expanding Universe (Unseen Worlds MP3)†
* Thelonious Monk: Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Solo Studio Recordings (Columbia 2CD)
* Sonny Clark Trio: The 45 Sessions (Blue Note CD)
* Tony Williams: Fear Of Flying (Columbia LP)
* Pharoah Sanders: Karma (Impulse! CD)
* Pharoah Sanders: Jewels of Thought (Impulse! CD)
* The Pyramids: Otherworldly (Disko B CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: Bremen, W. Germany 3-13-78 (pre-FM FLAC)
* David S. Ware Quartet: Cryptology (Homestead CD)
* David S. Ware Quartet: Dao (Homestead CD)
* Weasel Walter/Mary Halvorson/Peter Evans: Mechanical Malfunction (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Zeitgeist Gallery, Nashville, TN 9-06-12 (master CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Coliseum, Oakland, CA 10-31-91 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Can: Can (Spoon SACD)
* REM: Life’s Rich Pageant (IRS/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* REM: Document (IRS/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls & Marches (Ace of Hearts/Matador 2EP/DVD)
* Guided By Voices: Class Clown Spots a UFO (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Royal Trux: Twin Infinitives (Drag City 2LP)
* Royal Trux: Hand Of Glory (Drag City LP)
* Neurosis: Honor Found In Decay (Neurot MP3)
* Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph MP3)†
* Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord 2LP)
* OM: God Is Good (Drag City LP)†
* Grails: Take Refuge In Clean Living (Important CD)
* Grails: Doomsdayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence CD)(†)
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence CD)(†)
* Opeth: Orchid (Candlelight CD)
* Opeth: Morningrise (Candlelight CD)
* Opeth: My Arms, Your Hearse (Candlelight CD)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – Sect(s) (Debemur Morti CD)†
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – The Desanctification (Debemur Morti CD)†(‡)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 –Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti CD)†(‡)
* Alcest: Les Voyages de l’Âme (Prophecy CD)†
* Yakuza: Of Seismic Consequence (Profound Lore CD)†
* Yakuza: Beyul (Profound Lore CD)†
* Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop 2LP)
* Metz: Metz (Sub Pop MP4)†



I love my iPod Classic 160G: it’s perfect for the car and through decent in-ear monitors (like my Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10s), it sounds pretty darn good. But I’m a physical media guy – a record collector as they used to call us. I like CDs and vinyl and high-resolution formats like SACD, DVD-Audio and Blu-Ray. I like the way they look on the shelf (or piled on the floor). I like the way they feel in my hand. I like the way they smell. Most importantly, I love the way they sound. I never really thought of an iPod as a particularly high-fidelity audio device; I just loaded it up with 320 kbps MP3 files and utilized it as a handy portable music library. It never occurred to me to want to hook it up to the big stereo in the living room – why would I do that when I have all these great-sounding records so close at hand (or at least buried in a pile somewhere)?

Well, ever since I started writing for Spectrum Culture, most of my access to advance albums has been in the form of digital downloads. Occasionally, I get promo CDs but it makes a lot of sense for labels to just pass out zip-filed MP3s to scribblers like me. And that’s fine – except that it means I am tethered to the iPod in order to hear this stuff. Earbuds are convenient when I’m out of the house but I really don’t like the sensation of the music originating from the middle of my head. I much prefer listening to recordings through loudspeakers in my living room. So, what to do? I could burn CDs, but that seems like a waste – especially for lossy MP3s. Alternatively I could load the files onto a flash drive and play them through the USB input on my Oppo BDP-95. This would work OK, but, unfortunately, gapless playback is not possible—very annoying if tracks are supposed to flow together without pause. Finally, I could plug the iPod directly into an analog input on my pre-amp using some sort of cable adapter. But as anyone who has tried this knows: it is a less-than-ideal solution in terms of sound quality since you have to rely on the either the headphone output (with its attendant gain issues) or the cheap digital-to-analog converter (DAC) contained in the 30-pin connector. None of these options were particularly appealing.

As it turns out, Wadia Digital has pondered this problem and come up with an answer: the 171iTransport. Unlike other iPod docks, the 171i completely bypasses the iPod’s internal DAC to allow direct connection to an external DAC via optical or coaxial outputs. Brilliant! Now I can listen to my iPod in the highest fidelity possible! I’ve had mine for about three months and it sounds fantastic connected to the 24-bit DAC on my McIntosh C50 pre-amplifier—way better than I ever expected! So good, in fact, I’ve started re-converting favorite CDs to Apple Lossless encoding, which sounds noticeably better than 320 kbps MP3 while still compressing the files to save disc space. I’ve even started making “needle drops” of select LPs on my old Harman-Kardon CD recorder and transferring the WAV files losslessly to the iPod; very convenient for casual playback and sounds very good indeed. My only quibble is: I wish the iPod supported the FLAC file format—then I’d really go to town.

A few years ago, I would have never considered purchasing a product like the Wadia 171iTransport. But now that I've had it for a while, I can’t imagine life without it. Even if I wasn't downloading advance copies of new albums in order to write about them, I would still use it—not only for its convenience but for its spectacular sound quality. Who knew an iPod could sound so good?

October 26, 2012

Metz @ Spectrum Culture

My review of Metz's self-titled debut is up over at Spectrum Culture. "Good" punk rock.


Also, the Monthly Mixtape has been posted. My pick? Katatonia's "Dead Letters."

Dusted Interview @ Spectrum Culture

My email interview with Brian Borcherdt of Dusted is up over at Spectrum Culture. This is definitely one of my favorite pop/rock records of the year.

October 20, 2012

Playlist Week of 10-20-12

Reference Masters from Richard Dodd

* Holloway/Mortensen/ter Linden: Garrison Church, Copenhagen 4-08-08 (FM 2CDR)
* J.S. Bach: Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079 (Moroney et al.) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* J.S. Bach: Solo & Double Violin Concertos (AAM/Manze/Podger) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* John Cage: Three Constructions (Donald Knaack Percussion Ens./Clayton) (Tomato CD)
* Morton Feldman: Works For Piano 2 (Schleiermacher, et al.) (hat ART CD)
* Jimmy Giuffre 3: 1961 (d.1) (ECM 2CD)
* Muhal Richard Abrams: Vision Towards Essence (Pi CD)
* Myra Melford Be Bread: The Image Of Your Body (Cryptogramophone CD)
* Myra Melford Be Bread: The Whole Tree Gone (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Rodger Coleman & Sam Byrd: Zeitgeist Gallery, Nashville, TN 9-06-12 (CDR)
* Pat Metheny Group: Offramp (ECM LP)
* Grateful Dead: Capital Center, Landover, MD 9-27-81 (SBD 3CDR)
* R.E.M.: Document (IRS/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* ABC: The Lexicon Of Love (Mercury LP)
* ABC: Beauty Stab (Mercury LP)
* Guided By Voices: “White Flag” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Hangover Child” (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Circus Devils: Capsized! (Happy Jack Rock Records LP)
* My Bloody Valentine: Loveless (d.2) (Sony 2CD)†
* Wilco: The Whole Love (dBPM 2LP)
* Converge: All We Love We leave Behind (Epitaph MP3)
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/Sony CD/DVD)†
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Katatonia: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Peaceville CD/CDEP)†
* Katatonia: Viva Emptiness (Peaceville CD)†
* Katatonia: The Great Cold Distance (Peaceville CD)†
* Katatonia: Night Is The New Day (Peaceville CD)†
* Katatonia: Dead End Kings (Peaceville CD)†
* Anathema: Weather Systems (The End CD)
* Agalloch: Marrow Of The Spirit (Profound Lore CD)†
* Baroness: First And Second (Relapse LP)
* Baroness: Red Album (Relapse 2-45RPM LP)
* Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse 2-45RPM LP)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2LP)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – Sect(s) (Debemur Morti CD)†(‡)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – The Desanctification (Debemur Morti CD)†
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 –Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti CD)†
* Alcest: Les Voyages De L’ame (Prophecy/ProMedia CD) †(‡)
* Yakuza: Of Seismic Consequence (Profound Lore CD)
* Yakuza: Beyul (Profound Lore CD)
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence CD)
* Pineapple Explode: Cooke City (Pineapple Explode cassette)
* Pineapple Explode: Pineapple Explode (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: A Bushel & A Barrel (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: Skye’s Christmas Card (World Trade Center CDR)
* Metz: Metz (Sub Pop MP4)



The CD project is coming along:

I just got the reference master back from Richard Dodd and it sounds amazing! You may not recognize his name but Mr. Dodd is a legendary audio engineer, whose work has earned him no less than five Grammy awards and a client list which includes such big names as George Harrison, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and Wilco among many others. For a prime example of his superlative work, just listen to Petty’s Wildflowers album, one of the best-sounding records ever made (especially on LP). Although not known for working with “jazz” per se (and, frankly, I’m not sure that’s exactly what Sam and I are doing), his mastering of our tracks is superb: vivid, detailed and, most importantly, incredibly dynamic. The music sounds great at “normal” volume levels but if you crank it up, it sounds simply awesome! That is the sign of an excellent mastering job. I am super pleased with the way the CD is turning out—and as you probably know, I’m not easy to please!

Earlier this week, I met with graphic artist, Griffin Norman, who will be designing the packaging for the disc. I know Griffin through lovely Lizzy. He has done a lot of really nice work for the library and has designed numerous album covers over the years—he's a real pro. Griffin was at the performance—and liked it!—so I’m really looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. I have some other business details I need to take care before it can all be finalized and sent off to the pressing plant but I am hoping to have the whole thing done by the holidays. As you can see, I really want to do this right, even if it takes some time. I’ll keep you posted as things progress!


Now, excuse me, but I have to do some writing for this other website. Can you guess from this week's playlist what it might be about?

Morton Feldman @ Spectrum Culture

Now this was interesting! Check out my review of Morton Feldman: Crippled Symmetry: At June in Buffalo over at Spectrum Culture.

October 13, 2012

Playlist Week of 10-13-12

Roy Futureman Wooten 2012-10-06h
* Morton Feldman: Crippled Symmetry: At June In Buffalo (Frozen Reeds 2CD)
* Anthony Braxton: GTM (Iridium) 2007 Vol.4 Set 1 (New Braxton House FLAC)
* Anthony Braxton: GTM (Iridium) 2007 Vol.4 Set 2 (New Braxton House FLAC)
* Henry Threadgill: Song Out Of Our Trees (Black Saint CD)
* Henry Threadgill Zooid: Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp (Pi CD)
* Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Altitude (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Veryan Weston/Ingrid Laubrock/Hannah Marshall: Haste (Emanem CD)
* Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: Moers, Germany 5-26-12 (FM FLAC)
* Ingrid Laubrock/Olie Brice/Javier Carmona: Catatumbo (Babel CD)
* Mary Halvorson Quintet: Saalfelden, Austria 8-25-12 (AUD FLAC)
* Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol.20 (9-25-76 + 9-28-76) (d.2, 4) (GDP 4HDCD)
* Grateful Dead: Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ 11-24-78 (d.3) (Pre-FM 3CDR)
* Joni Mitchell: Hejira (Asylum HDCD)
* Deep Purple: In Rock (Warner Bros. LP)
* Deep Purple: Who Do We Think We Are! (Warner Bros. LP)
* Soft Machine: Het Turfschip, Breda, Netherlands 3-14-71 (SBD 2CDR)
* Soft Machine: 4 (Columbia LP)
* Soft Machine: 7 (Columbia LP)
* Gentle Giant: Acquiring The Taste (Vertigo LP)
* Gentle Giant: Three Friends (Vertigo/Alucard CD)
* Gentle Giant: Octopus (Vertigo/Alucard CD)
* REM: Document (IRS LP)
* REM: Green (Warner Bros. LP)
* Sonic Youth: “Simon Werner A Disaparu” (Original Soundtrack) (SYR LP)
* The Flaming Lips: Embryonic (Warner Bros. 2CD/DVD)
* The Chills: Kaleidoscope World (Normal/Flying Nun LP)
* Robert Pollard: Jack Sells The Cow (GBV, Inc. LP/MP3)(†)
* Porcupine Tree: The Sky Moves Sideways (KScope 2CD)†
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)†/‡
* Katatonia: Dead End Kings (Peaceville CD)†
* Agalloch: Pale Folklore (The End CD)†
* Agalloch: The Mantle (The End CD)†
* Agalloch: The Grey EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)†
* Agalloch: The White EP (Agalloch/Bandcamp FLAC)†
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – Sect(s) (Debemur Morti CD)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – The Desanctification (Debemur Morti MP3)†
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 –Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti MP3)†
* Tortoise: Beacons Of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Six Organs Of Admittance: Ascent (Drag City LP)
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence CD)†
* Russian Circles: Empros (Sargent House CD)†
* Metz: Metz (Sub Pop MP4)†



Last weekend was the annual SoundCrawl here in Nashville, which coincided with the monthly ArtCrawl in downtown Nashville. I took a bunch of pictures, some of which you can check out on my Flickr Photostream.

On Saturday, Brian Franklin set up his interactive installation in the Arcade downtown. Consisting of a modified keyboard which controlled old-school videogames while emitting dulcet piano tones, it was fun to watch people get into it, battling it out onscreen while simultaneously generating frenetic, minimalist music. Later, electric violinist Tracy Silverman played duets with drummer Roy Futureman Wooten at the Brick Factory, a late night of trance-y looping and occasional rocking. Their cover of Hendrix’s “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” was quite effective, with Wooten’s supple timekeeping and Buddha-like presence keeping it from getting too spaced out.

On Sunday was “Art of the Future,” again at the Brick Factory with electro-acoustic performances from Mark Zanter, Timothy Harenda and Sally J. Williams, Adam Vidiksis and a computer-generated work by Jason Fick for dancer Ilana Morgan. Franklin’s videogame piece was set up and there were video and audio installations from a variety of artists worldwide. It was a fantastic evening, but the highlight for me was Harenda’s  “Absence,” which combined variegated electronic sounds with Williams’s virtuosic violin figurations (and the birds chirping en plein air) for an unpredictably enticing six minutes. Spiky, dissonant and totally enrapturing, I wish it had gone on longer than it did.

I also went with my nephew to the semiannual record convention at the Holiday Inn on Sunday morning—we just couldn’t resist. After some digging, I found a few choice platters, including Soft Machine’s 7 and the semi-rare three-LP live collection, Triple Echo (which I have yet to listen to); plus a couple white label promos, including a nice clean copy of Deep Purple’s Who Do We Think We Are! Other selections turned out to be irredeemably trashed (despite a thorough cleaning) but so it goes with these things. Used vinyl is a crapshoot: you win some, you lose some.

Unfortunately, all this activity (and miserable weather) wore me out and I wound up getting sick—so I missed out on the rest of SoundCrawl and Indeterminacies as well. I’m just not as young as I used to be—and obviously, not physically fit. Thankfully, this is a stay-at-home weekend—my favorite kind!

October 12, 2012

YOKOKIMTHURSTON @ Spectrum Culture

My review of the Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore album, YOKOKIMTHURSTON, is up at Spectrum Culture. You can read it here. The rumors are false but the record is good!


This week's "List Inconsequential" topic is "Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Originals." My pick? The Grateful Dead's cover of Bonnie Dobson's "(Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew." Check it out here.

October 6, 2012

Playlist Week of 10-06-12

Pineapple Explode CDs
* Reger: The String Quartets/Clarinet Quintet (Drolc Quartet/Leister) (d.3) (DG 3CD)
* Cage: Complete Piano Music Vol.9: Etudes Australes (Schleiermacher) (MGD 3CD)
* Dusapin: Quatours à cordes & Trio (Arditti Quartet) (æon 2CD)
* Henry Threadgill: The Complete Novus & Columbia Recordings (selections) (Mosaic 8CD)
* Henry Threadgill Very Very Circus: Spirit Of Nuff..Nuff (Black Saint CD)
* Henry Threadgill: Flutistry (Black Saint CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group (ECM LP)
* Bill Frisell: Nashville (Nonesuch CD)
* Grateful Dead: Coliseum, Greensboro, NC 4-30-81 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Big Star: Keep An Eye On The Sky (selections) (Ardent/Rhino 4CD)
* Sonic Youth: Whitey Album (Blast First/Geffen CD)
* Sonic Youth: Goodbye 20th Century (SYR 2LP)
* Sonic Youth: “J’Accuse Ted Hughes”/”Agnès B Musique” (SYR LP)
* Yoko Ono/Kim Gordon/Thurston Moore: YOKOKIMTHURSTON (Chimera MP3)†
* Robert Pollard: Jack Sells The Cow (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Steven Wilson: Get All You Deserve (KScope BD/DVD/2CD)
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations/KOCH CD)†
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner HDCD)†
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)†
* Katatonia: Dead End Kings (Peaceville CD)
* Anathema: Falling Deeper (KScope CD)†
* Anathema: We’re Here Because We’re Here (KScope CD/DVD)†
* Anathema: Weather Systems (The End CD)†
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – The Desanctification (Debemur Morti/Caroline MP3)
* Blut Aus Nord: 777 – Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti MP3)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2CD)†
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence CD)
* Pelican: “March Into The Sea” (Hydra Head EP)
* Pelican: City Of Echoes (Hydra Head CD)
* Pelican: What We All Come To Need (Southern Lord CD)
* Pelican: Ataraxia/Taraxis (Southern Lord EP)
* Pineapple Explode: Pineapple Explode (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: A Bushel & A Barrel (Pineapple Explode CDR)
* Pineapple Explode: Skye’s Christmas Card (World Trade Center CDR)



Last Saturday, we went to the 2012 Circuit Benders’ Ball, an annual celebration of cracked electronics hosted by Theatre Intangible’s Tony Youngblood. This was our first time at the ball, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. According to Roth Mobot (whose late-night set we unfortunately missed) “circuit bending” is defined as “the creative recycling of common discarded technology, often children's toys, by opening the device and soldering in new connections to create unique musical and video instruments.” Of course, there was plenty of low-bitrate bleeping, buzzing and screeching going on—but the sheer variety of approaches made for a fascinating and fun evening. Mostly it was serious-looking guys crouched over modified toys, archaic synthesizers and cheap mixing boards but there were still moments of sublime music. Opener Posthaste added loud rocking drums to his pulsating drones while set closer Pimpdaddy Supreme brought over-the-top theatrics to his set, with costumes, props and nightmarish makeup added to his darkly danceable DJ/electronica act.

But by far the most impressive act (at least to me) was Nashville’s own Pineapple Explode, who brought actual musicianship and instrumental skills to bear on the proceedings. While Marcus Sisk weaved luxurious blankets of electronic sounds, Steven Roy sang in a sweet tenor, played banjo and occasionally beat on an enormous Slingerland bass drum. Demonstrating remarkable control of these humble resources, each song was emotionally riveting, even if the subject matter was indecipherable. After fifteen blissfully transcendent minutes, it was all over, leaving me wanting more—a lot more. Fortunately, they were selling hand-made CDRs and I bought them all—hey, for the ridiculously low price of a buck a piece, how could I lose? Their brief set hardly prepared me for the music found on these EPs. Pineapple Explode creates experimental avant-pop music, cinematic in scope yet deceptively simple and direct in its execution. The recordings are deliberately lo-fi yet utterly engaging, a rare feat matched only by classic-era Guided By Voices (or the inimitable Sun Ra). Meanwhile, the oblique poetry of the songs never quite resolves, leaving you floating in a tantalizingly ambiguous sea of sound. I’ve been listening to these discs over and over again, hearing new enticing things with every spin. Pineapple Explode has quickly become my new favorite band and I cannot understand why they are not signed to some label like Merge or Matador or Drag City or Thrill Jockey—they would fit right in!

So, I’m doing my part to spread the word: these guys are great! An exclusive NuVoid interview with Pineapple Explode is in the works!


It’s “Artober” here in Nashville: SoundCrawl starts this weekend with events at the Arcade downtown and at the Brick Factory over in “The Gulch”—plus Indeterminacies continues with the legendary improvisers LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams at Zeitgeist Gallery on Thursday October 11. See you there!

October 5, 2012

John Cage @ Spectrum Culture

My review of John Cage Shock Vol.1-3, a three-CD compilation of previously unreleased recordings from Cage's first tour of Japan in 1962, is up on Spectrum Culture and you can read it here. This was definitely one of the more interesting and obscure things I've had the opportunity to review for the website. Good stuff!