June 26, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-06-25

* Schmelzer: Violin Sonatas (Romanesca) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day (Geffen DVD-A)
* Pat Metheny: One Quiet Night (Warner Bros. CD)
* Olu Dara: In The World: From Natchez To New York (Atlantic HDCD)
* Tim Berne: Snakeoil (ECM CD)
* Jeff Parker: The New Breed (International Anthem LP)
* Alain Goraguer: La Planete Sauvage OST (Superior Viaduct LP)
* Mandrill: Composite Truth (Polydor LP)
* Mandrill: Madrilland (Polydor 2LP)
* Alan Stivell: Journee a la Maison (Keltia 3/Rounder LP)
* Steeleye Span: Original Masters: The Steeleye Span Story (Chrysalis 2LP)
* Steeleye Span: Ten Man Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again (Chrysalis LP)
* Steeleye Span: Now We Are Six (Chrysalis LP)
* Van Morrison: Poetic Champions Compose (Mercury LP)
* Moby Grape: Moby Grape (Columbia LP)
* Moby Grape: Wow (Columbia LP)
* Spirit: Spirit (Ode LP)
* Deuter: Silence Is The Answer/Buddham Sharnam Gachchami (Kuckuck 2LP)
* Strange Days: 9 Parts To The Wind (Retreat/EMI LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Prisoners of Love (Deluxe Edition) (d.3) (Matador 3CD)
* Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (XL CD)
* Meshuggah: obZen (Nuclear Blast CD)
* Enslaved: In Times (Nuclear Blast 2LP)
* Baroness: Purple (Abraxan Hymns LP)
* Uncle Acid: The Night Creeper (Rise Above 2LP)
* Thal: Glitter (Voodo Chamber CD)



Happy Summer!

Although the world appears to be losing its collective mind, we went ahead planted some trees this week here Chez NuVoid, including this beautiful Yoshino Cherry. We hired Moore & Moore for both the design work and installation, who were delightful to work with. They have the nicest plants in town and were worth every penny.

Of course, summer is not the best time for planting, so I will have to be diligent in keeping them all well-irrigated in the unrelenting heat. It will be worth it in the end, however, for in a few years, they will be providing some much-needed shade.

Now, back to the insanity....

June 20, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-06-18

* J.S. Bach: Motets (Collegium Vocale Ghent/Herreweghe) (PHI CD)
* Messiaen: Catalogue d’Oiseaux (Ugorski) (DG 3CD)
* Carter: Figments And Fragments: Chamber Music (Johannes Martens Ens.) (2L54 SACD)
* John Coltrane: One Up, One Down: Live At The Half Note (Impulse! 2CD)
* John Coltrane: Living Space (Impulse! CD)
* Andrew Hill: Eternal Spirit (Blue Note CD)
* Tony Scott: Music For Zen Meditation (MGM/Verve CD)
* Larry Coryell: Fairyland (Mega LP)
* Oregon: In Performance (Elektra/Asylum 2LP)
* Regan Ryzuk: Trio Comprovisations (Happening LP)
* Nils Økland Band: Kjolvatn (ECM CD)
* Material: Temporary Music: Compilation (Celluloid LP)
* Osibisa: Happy Children (Warner Bros. LP)
* P.M. Dawn: Of The Heart, Of The Soul, And Of The Cross (Gee Street/Island CD)
* Phil Manzanera/801: Listen Now (Polydor LP)
* Hawkwind: Warrior on the Edge of Time (UA/Atomhenge 2CD+DVD)
* Hawkwind: Space Ritual (EMI 2CD)
* Heldon: Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale (Cobra LP)
* Richard Pinhas & John Livengood: Cyborg Sally (SouffleContinuum 2LP)
* Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures (Factory LP)
* Sonic Youth: The Spinhead Sessions 1986 (Goofin’ LP)
* Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (XL CD)
* Boards of Canada: Hi Scores (Skam EP)
* Boards of Canada: Twoism (Warp EP)
* Wolves In The Throne Room: Diadem of 12 Stars (Vendlus/Artemisia 2LP)
* Locrian & Christoph Heeman: Locrian & Christoph Heeman (Handmade Bird LP)
* Pelican: Australasia (Hydra Head CD) †/‡
* Pallbearer: 2010 Demo (20 Buck Spin EP)



Here's my latest Vinyl Community video:


June 12, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-06-11

* Boulez: Explosante-Fixe, etc. (Aimard/Boffard/Ensemble Intercontemporain) (DG CD)
* Takemitsu, Hindemith, et al.: Five Pieces (Duo Gazzana) (ECM CD)
* Wayne Shorter: Moto Grosso Feio (Blue Note LP)
* Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer (Columbia LP)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (Atlantic 4MWB LP)
* Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare For The Warriors (Atlantic/4MWB LP)
* Henry Threadgill Zooid: Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp (Pi CD)
* Derek Bailey & Ruins: Tohjinbo (Paratactile CD)
* Borbetomagus: Snuff Jazz (Agaric LP)
* Combo FH: Veci (Things) (Panton LP)
* Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath/Interscope 2LP)
* Kendrick Lamar: Untitled Unmastered (Aftermath/Interscope LP)
* Bob Dylan: Fallen Angels (Columbia LP)
* Tim Buckley: Dream Letter: Live in London 1968 (Enigma Retro 2CD)
* John Martyn: Well Kept Secret (WEA LP)
* Vashti Bunyan: Heartleap (DiCristina LP)
* Bill Bruford: Feels Good To Me (Polydor LP)
* Curved Air: Second Album (Warner Bros. LP)
* Bob Marley & The Wailers: Catch A Fire (Island/Mobile Fidelity CD)
* This Heat: This Heat (Piano/Modern Classic LP)
* This Heat: Deceit (Rough Trade/Modern Classic LP)
* Mekons: Crime And Punishment (Sin EP)
* Steven Halpern: Eventide (Halpern Sounds LP)
* Steven Wilson: 4 ½ (KScope Blu-Ray)
* Boris: Absolutego + Dronevil2 (Southern Lord 2LP)
* Boris: Noise (Sargent House 2LP)
* Animal Collective: Painting With (Domino LP)
* Locrian & Christoph Heeman: Locrian & Christophe Heeman (Handmade Birds LP)
* Nothing: Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse LP)†



When I set up my home studio a couple of years ago, I bought an Arturia 61-key MIDI keyboard which came loaded with the first iteration of Analog Lab and a collection of presets from their V Collection of instrument emulations. However, in order to actually edit or create sounds from scratch, you had to purchase the software package separately -- which, of course, I did.

While I thought the sound quality was generally pretty good, the GUI was an absolute nightmare to use: pretty pictures -- but ridiculously small, static displays with often unreadable text. Squeezing the wall-sized Moog Modular synthesizer into a 4"x 6" window made it all but impossible to use creatively. And although subsequent updates to the V Collection added additional instruments and functionality, the teeny-tiny GUI remained a big issue for me. In fact, it was partly my frustration with the Arturia software that led me to purchase an honest-to-god analog synthesizer, my beloved Moog Sub 37.

No regrets there! But I still desired the added instrumental colors (and polyphony) available with the software instruments. So, when Arturia announced the new V Collection Five -- finally featuring a scalable, re-sizable GUI -- I just had to go for it.

The new GUI is fantastic -- but Arturia has gone a step further and totally revamped the entire V Collection of instruments, including an entirely new sound engine. This is immediately apparent on old favorites such as the Oberheim SEM, Prophet 5, Arp 2600 and Solina emulations, which now come stunningly close to their analog counterparts. Moreover, the updated MIDI implementation is ingeniously simple, allowing for easy and flexible programming of my keyboard's knobs, sliders and pedals. Overnight, the V Collection has gone from good-sounding but nearly unusable to great-sounding and extremely expressive. Nice job, Arturia!

Additionally, several new instruments have been introduced in V Collection Five, including a Farfisa organ, the Synclavier digital synthesizer, a Fender-Rhodes electric piano, and a Hammond B-3 organ. Now, for me, the Rhodes and Hammond B-3 are two of the most iconic analog keyboard sounds ever. But, as much as I would love to own the real things, their rarity, immense bulk, and high cost of maintenance put them totally out of reach. And, given the complexity of these instruments, I was extremely skeptical of how useful these software emulations would be. 

But, I checked them out and, dang, I gotta say: These things sound mighty impressive!

What's most impressive is how they not only got the basic tones right but also the additional effect of amplification (and, in the case of the Hammond B-3, that crucial, swirling sound of the Leslie spinning speakers). All this gives these software emulations a remarkably realistic, three-dimensional quality that I was simply not expecting. Amazing to me how these harmonically rich, analog-like sounds are created with nothing but mathematics!

I was so inspired by what I was hearing, I quickly recorded this doodle the other day. Hear for yourself just how close these software emulations come to the real thing:


June 5, 2016

Playlist Week of 2016-06-04

* John Cage: Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano (Vandré) (Mode CD)
* David Tudor: Music For Piano (d.1) (Edition-RZ 2CD)
* Helmut Lachenmann: Allegro Sostenuto/Serynade (Sugawara/Oka/Fels) (KAIROS CD)
* John Coltrane: Coltrane Time (Blue Note CD)
* Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet: Illumination! (Impulse! CD)
* Herbie Hancock: Lite Me Up (Columbia LP)
* Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia LP)
* Wayne Shorter: Super Nova (Blue Note LP)
* Bennie Maupin: Moonscapes (Mercury LP)
* Les McCann: Invitation To Openness (Atlantic LP)
* Les McCann: Live In Montreaux (Atlantic 2LP)
* Alphonse Mouzon: Mind Transplant (Blue Note LP)
* Miroslav Vitous: Mountain In The Clouds (Atlantic LP)
* Stanley Clarke: Journey To Love (Nemperor LP)
* Gateway: Homecoming (ECM CD)
* Denny Zeitlin: Expansion (1750 Arch LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Rubycon (Virgin LP)
* Tangerine Dream: Ricochet (Virgin LP)
* Popol Vuh: The Werner Herzog Soundtracks (d.1-2,4) (SPV 5CD)
* Jordan De La Sierra: Valentine Eleven (Global Pacific LP)
* Steven Halpern: Higher Ground (Open Channel/Rx Sound CD)
* Steve Roach: Dreamtime Return (Fortuna 2CD)
* Steve Roach & Byron Metcalf: The Serpent’s Lair (Projekt 2CD)
* Jansen & Barbieri: Worlds In A Small Room (Pan East LP)
* Swell Maps: A Trip To Marineville (Rough Trade/Munster 2LP+7”)
* Swell Maps: …in “Jane From Occupied Europe” (Rough Trade/Munster 2LP)
* Mission of Burma: Vs. (Ace of Hearts/Matador 2LP+DVD)
* Robert Pollard: Of Course You Are (Fire LP)
* Tortoise: The Catastrophist (Thrill Jockey LP)



Happy anniversary to me and Liz -- 22 years!

It seems at once a lifetime ago and just like yesterday. So many people who were there (and there weren't many!) are no longer with us: grandparents, parents, and some who died way too young. 

I feel amazingly lucky to have married the love of my life.