Brilliant Box Sets and Other Classics

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to explore and enjoy The Complete Liszt Piano Music box set.  After a solid week of digesting the collection I found myself hungry for more classical listening material.

The Complete Liszt Piano Music

For a first-time listener the scope of classical music is daunting.  In which century should I begin?  Other than my Baroque 100-disc set (which is overwhelming both in content and in volume) I had little experience with Early Music, Romantic, and other pre-recording-industry-era musics.

I quickly scanned the classical subreddit, read the sidebar, and perused Rateyourmusic’s classical pages.  It didn’t take long to arrive at a decision – Deutsche Grammophon offers an expansive library of  well-recorded, expertly-pressed, and reasonably-priced compositions from a variety of respected conductors and performers.

As I was not nearly equipped to make individual purchasing selections from their catalog, I opted for the archival collection.  111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon is a two-volume collection of the finest albums in their library.  Each disc is housed in a sleeve featuring the release’s original artwork.

111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon Vol 1

111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon Vol 1

111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon Vol 2
111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon Vol 2
I am currently on my 8th day of listening, taking in 8 hours of content each day.  My favorite highlight thus far is Claudio Monteverdi’s Magnificat.

And by sheer coincidence, a fellow audiophile visited from out of town this weekend and provided me with another hauntingly beautiful choral recording.  Ondine Records released a Super Audio CD of The Latvian Radio Choir performing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s  Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Latvian Radio Choir - The Liturgy

Latvian Radio Choir - The Liturgy SACD

And the great music just kept on coming.  Friday evening, after a month of waiting my copy of the new Miles at the Fillmore, Bootleg Series Vol 3 finally arrived at my local record shop from the Netherlands.

Miles at the Fillmore Bootleg Series Vol 3 Box Set

I had previously purchased the Japan-only issued Black Beauty album – a much abbreviated version of one of Davis’ four Fillmore concerts.  At the time it was the closest I could get to an official vinyl release capturing Mile’s live sound from that era.

When this set was announced, featuring all four performances complete and uncut, and mastered and pressed by Music On Vinyl, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  This release is the PERFECT gift for the Miles Davis fan who has everything.

Before walking out of the shop, I heard that a stack of used jazz had also come in, and I snatched up a $10 early pressing of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in superb condition.


John Coltrane - A Love Supreme 08-15-14 sm

And to finish off the week in style, I gave myself a challenge.  I decided to teach myself data visualization.  A friend recommended Gephi as a free visualization tool and I got to work building and importing a .CSV.

I chose to visually map my library’s top 550 artists by genre as a preliminary exercise in data visualization.  The result isn’t fantastic, (there is far too much information to represent in this method), but it was fun learning how to make it work.

Click to enlarge.

Innerspace Map of Our Top 550 Artists & Composers of 2014

Lisztomania!

Franz Liszt Fantasizing at the Piano  Painting by Josef Danhauser

Franz Liszt Fantasizing at the Piano
Painting by Josef Danhauser

Today’s featured box set is from 19th-century Hungarian composer and rock star, Franz Liszt. In line with my affinity for ze Germans, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the “Neudeutsche Schule” (“New German School”). Liszt invented the symphonic poem, work closely with Wagner, popularized a wide array of music by transcribing it for piano, and was perhaps the biggest rock star of his era. (I’m not even kidding; the man had an illness named after him which swept through Europe – “Lisztomania.

At his performances, fans would swarm around him, clamoring for trophies ranging from his gloves to broken piano strings. In one account from Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years by Alan Walker:

Liszt once threw away an old cigar stump in the street under the watchful eyes of an infatuated lady-in-waiting, who reverently picked the offensive weed out of the gutter, had it encased in a locket and surrounded with the monogram “F.L.” in diamonds, and went about her courtly duties unaware of the sickly odour it gave forth.

Liszt was the Michael Jackson of his day.

Except… without the children.

Or… the monkey.

Lisztaffe_-_Cottontop_Tamarin_-_Saguinus_oedipus
Oh wait… there was a monkey.

The northwest Colombian cotton-top tamarin is readily identified by a long white sagittal crest extending from its forehead to its shoulders. In German-speaking areas, the cotton-top tamarin is commonly known as “Lisztaffe” (literally “Liszt monkey”) as the monkey’s crest is clearly-inspired by the great composer and is likely an expression of the primate’s fandom.

But oh yes… back to Liszt.

The Complete Liszt Piano Music 2

Hailed as a musical triumph; the greatest collection of the complete works of Franz Liszt is an impressive 99-disc box set containing the finest performances of Liszt’s music for solo piano, brilliantly performed by Leslie Howard between 1985 and 2009. All 99 discs were released as a handsome box set with accompanying book in 2010 by the Hyperion label. It took Howard 24 years to complete the monumental task, including every one of his compositions, tone poems and transcriptions as well as newly-discovered manuscripts to create one ultimate and unparalleled collection. Clocking in at 7,256 minutes (almost 121 hours) – this is every note that Ferenc (Franz) Liszt wrote and interpreted for the piano.

I didn’t waste a moment once I had the set, and spent the first day ripping the disc images to FLAC. After an evening of experimentation I arrived at the appropriate template -

“[%directoryname%\]
['('disc %discnumberandname%')']
\%artist% – %album%.cue”

This properly segmented the disc images and volumes into a nested series of subfolders to maintain the set’s original order. (Archival standards MUST be maintained at all times!)

Unfortunately, particularly with classical series, there was no uniformity to the tags for these discs, which were originally issued independently of one another. I tried retrieving data from both MusicBrainz and from FreeDB, but some discs credited the artist as “Leslie Howard (piano)” others as “Liszt Vol.XX” and others simply as “Franz Liszt.” The album titles were no better – some citing the volume number in the series, others only the disc number, and still others the title of the volume only.

And so 7 hours Friday evening were dedicated to manually configuring the tags to have a uniform structure as one commercial release. (If Howard can spend 24 YEARS performing these pieces, then 7 hours is a small price to pay to enjoy it.) Thankfully MP3tag and MediaMonkey both offer batch-tagging commands which facilitated the project, but I’m beginning to understand and appreciate the challenge that is tagging and storing classical recordings!

Franz Liszt, oil on canvas by Henri Lehmann, 1840

Franz Liszt, oil on canvas by Henri Lehmann, 1840

Other than the Top 100 Baroque LPs collage I picked up earlier in the year, and excepting a few Debussy LPs (namely Isao Tomita’s Snowflakes are Dancing and La Mer), I have never ventured far beyond the shores of classical music. My girlfriend swears by Liszt, proclaiming him the most influential composer of the 19th century, so it seemed an appropriate place to start.

With the ripping task complete, I’ve added the box set to the library on my server and will be enjoying them each day at work in the order they are presented in the collection.  By my calculations, this will take precisely 3 weeks to complete. I’m looking forward to it!

A brief summary of the collection:

Discs 1-6: Etudes and early works
Discs 7-19: Major original compositions
Discs 20-29: Dances, marches, & transcriptions of Liszt’s own works
Discs 30-36: Pieces on national themes
Discs 37-49: Operatic fantasies, transcriptions, and paraphrases
Discs 50-61: Concert transcriptions
Discs 62-69: The Beethoven transcriptions
Discs 70-79: The Schubert transcriptions
Discs 80-94: Rare works and new discoveries
Discs 95-99: Music for piano and orchestra

I do so love a proper archive.

 

Creme de la Crunk

Saturday July 26th marked the first time in Billboard music history that a comedy record debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 List.  The record was, of course, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 14th studio album, Mandatory Fun.  This was Al’s final LP in his 14-record contract with RCA, and the success is attributed in part to his brilliant advertising campaign for the record.

Al contacted a number of media portals like Funny or Die and CollegeHumor and offered to deliver virally-popular content in exchange for their funding and producing each of his videos.  Al released one video for 8 days of the album’s 10 day release and acquired more than 46 million views during that short span.

Al commented that, moving forward he would likely focus on singles, as media culture moves so quickly that waiting to build a 12-track album would render your content “yesterday’s news.”

weird-al-yankovic

In honor of “Weird Al’s” success, (and as the delivery of my latest vinyl order has been delayed another two weeks), I thought I’d offer a post on the “lighter side” of music.

So today, we’ll take a look at the best (and the absolute worst) rated records as ranked by aggregate music data sites, Metacritic and rateyourmusic.com.

Metacritic has been tracking aggregate music, film, and video game metascores since January 11 of 2000. Out of curiosity, I populated a list of every album they’ve ever scored and looked up the lowest and highest scores since the site’s inception.

There is a tie for first place –

The Clash – London Calling (25th Anniversary Legacy Ed.)

London Calling 25th Anniversary
and, Weezer – Pinkerton (2010 Deluxe Edition)

Weezer - Pinkerton

Both have a metascore of 100 from 12 sources and a User Score of 8.8 from 148 and 146 sources respectively.

And the lowest-ever score?

The Bloodhoung Gang’s Hefty Fine is 2nd to last with a failing score of 28.

Bloodhound Gang - Hefty Fine

But way down at the bottom is Playing With Fire – an attempt at a rap record by Britney Spears’ ex-husband, Kevin Federline.
It scored a miserable 15.

Hailed by critics as “GENERIC!” … “INSTANTLY FORGETTABLE!” … “TRITE!” … and “INCONSEQUENTIAL!” this is one for the books.

kevin-federline-pimp

Rateyourmusic’s scores are user-generated and span a much-wider timeline.

All-time highest-scoring records include, Velvet Underground & Nico at #3, Dark Side of the Moon at #2, and Radiohead’s OK Computer holding the #1 position with over 27,000 ratings and an average score of 4.24.

But now on to the dark side of RYM’s charts.

Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits (2005) comes in at #1 with a score of nearly zero.  The album was saved by one sarcastic user who composed several hundred words praising the album sarcastically and awarding it 5 stars.

Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits

And not surprisingly, Crazy Frog charted not once but five times in the bottom 50.

And at number 2 is brokenCYDE – a crunkcore band with four albums in the bottom 10 and another in the bottom 50.

In fact, nine total crunkcore records appear in the bottom 100.

Kevin Federline shows up at #4 on the RYM All-Time Bottom Chart with the same record named by Metacritic.

Kevin_Federline_Playing_with_Fire

Soulja Boy charted four more albums in the bottom 50 with a genre called “snap” – apparently a derivative of crunk music.

soulja-boy

Soulja Boy… staying classy.

Aaron Carter and Justin Bieber each placed four times in the bottom 50 with various forgettables.

Aaron Carter… clearly of the same music university.

I'm detecting a pattern here...

And Professor Bieber.  Selfie of a composer who will live in infamy.

How do you think Bach would feel about the state of the music industry today?

How do you think Bach would feel about the state of the music industry today?

Please do yourself a favor and listen to something arresting, challenging and beautiful today.  Thank you.

So I sandboxed, poked and prodded at iTunes for the first time… and ended up with a manifesto.

iTunes-Logo

You know what’s coming, but if you delight in watching me writhe and convulse in the corner, read on.  I’d never once connected to itunes.apple.com as I knew in advance that it had nothing to offer.

But a 17 year old kid assured me that they provide various masters of each recording for the listener to sample to help them identify which they should purchase.

This was, of course, completely false.  By “various masters” he meant that Dark Side of the Moon was available in TWO formats -

 The 2011 CD remaster
ooooooor….
The 2011 CD remaster (with bonus tracks).

So there you are.

But I was already deep in the filth so I said, “what the hell” and started throwing artists at its ‘search’ box.

I figured I’d start out with the easiest of pitches – the 2010 EMI Beatles Box Set.

iTunes ONLY offers the stereo edition and doesn’t even HINT that the Mono Box even exists!

Beginning to sweat, I looked up their page for Captain Beefheart…

NO MENTION OF TROUT MASK REPLICA.  But that’s okay, it’s only one of the most important and critically acclaimed records of its decade.

The 49 awesome albums recorded by Ash Ra Tempel and Manuel Gottsching?  Not today, sorry.

Pete Namlooks’ monumental Fax +49-69450464 record label – not a single word of any one of the 238 legendary albums.

So I tried another approach – searching for Deutsche Grammophon classical releases.

Lo and behold – iTunes offers NO MEANS of searching by record label!

Want to peruse the Ninja Tune catalog?  Forget about it if you’re on iTunes.

Warp Records?  Ohr?  Brain?  Mute?  Mo-Fi?  Too bad.

And the 94 albums produced and recorded by LTJ Bukem on Good Looking Records and its various sub-labels?  You’re going to have to search for them one at a time. (Psst – don’t bother… they aren’t there anyway.)

Salvador Dali’s notorious opera, Être Dieu?  Not so much as an artist entry for the man.

Dig Nurse With Wound?  Only the 26 CD releases of their ~100 disc catalog are available for purchase.

The same applies to Tangerine Dream.  Beside an all-too-small sampling of their most popular early albums, iTunes is overrun with 80s-2000s compilations and soundtracks.  The pink years were easily their best work, but they never happened according to this marketplace.

Independent artists?  Not a single one I searched for produced any results.

Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity – arguably his best free jazz work – doesn’t exist.

The original German master of Stockhausen’s Kontakte?  Forget about it.

Wordless Music Orchestra’s historical live recording of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops?  Never happened.

Spacemind’s 62 hours of psybient works?  Not a one.

Raymond Scott’s Manhattan Research Inc. collection?  Issued in the Netherlands, but nowhere on iTunes.

The Electronic Music series produced by Turnabout records throughout the mid-60s?  Nope.

The popular Franklin Mint 100-disc Classical Collection?  Nadda.

NASA’s majestic Symphonies Of The Planets series?  The cat’s eaten it.

What It Is: Funky Soul & Rare Grooves Box Set?  Not a scrap.

(This one killed me) Kraftwerk’s three critical early albums – Kraftwerk I, Kraftwerk II, and Ralf und Florian?  No, no, and no.

Max & Dima’s 131 releases?  0 on iTunes.

Alban Berg?  Not even an artist page.

Anton Webern?  Zilch.  (However Shoenberg gets some unfair attention.)

Throbbing Gristle has 137 albums and singles.  Six of them are on iTunes.

The hundred-odd crazy moog/bachelor pad/and early synth records which defined the age of futurama in the 50s and 60s?  If not for iTunes’ lonely copy of Perrey & Kingsley’s The In Sound From Way Out, you’d never know they happened.

The mash up craze popularized by 2ManyDJs “As Heard on Radio Soulwax” series?  You’ll have to settle for Girl Talk.

Well done, iTunes.  At least we can say you’re consistent.

 ·                  ·                  ·

The world’s most popular public tracker currently offers over 6.2 million torrents, ranging from single albums to massive discographic archives.  And the top 168 active private trackers host an additional 1.6 billion torrents collectively.  Suddenly, iTunes’ measly 37 million individual songs seems rather inconsequential.

The audiophile community has built a tremendous archive of analog-only issued recordings which cannot be purchased digitally anywhere on the web.  This community remains the simplest and most informative resource for discovering rare music.  It inspires an average of $1200 in vinyl purchases annually for this user, alone… and there are many more like me.

I will not publicly endorse file sharing, but it clearly demonstrates the dire need for a change in the fundamental operation of the music market today.

#anythingbutitunes

Moving to the Cloud

The time has come my friends.  On Jan 13th, 2011 I replaced my text-based Excel record  database with an OrangeCD visual db.  After 3.5 years of extracting data from web-based services, publishing quarterly reports and backing up to an external disk every month, I’ve finally smartened-up and made the move to the cloud.

When I first made the transition from text to a visual db, I thoroughly tested and evaluated each of the prominent softwares of the time.  True to form, I went through the same process with the three biggest online systems this week before setting my catalog free.

FIRST UP – RateYourMusic.com.

Your RYM profile consists of an avatar, a brief profile description, and your top 5-10 favorite composers/artists.  Supported formats are limited to CD, LP, and cassette.  The service does not appear to support official releases of electronic files.

RYM - Collection

RYM – Collection View

RYM permits users to add pressings missing from the db, with a simple preset interface for labels, artists, etc.  The site has a strict upload policy stating that album art images must be from your personal copies, (understandable for reasons of copyright but a frustrating complication just the same.)  Artist pages are accompanied by a profile and a sidebar of related user-generated lists.

RYM - List Browse

RYM – List Browse

RYM - Chart Browse

RYM – Chart Browse

The real power of the site is not collection management, but user-constructed lists and user-sourced album rankings for any search term, artist or genre you enter.  And surprisingly, RYM is not just for music.  The list tools have categories for books, films, games, and more.

User lists are a breeze and are fun to build.  To try this feature out I created a list of films inspired by the writings of Philip K Dick.

https://rateyourmusic.com/list/innerspaceboy/philip_k_dick_inspired_filmography/

At present, RYM includes just under 1 million artists and 2.8 million releases.  Building an RYM collection of my top 300 LPs took 3 evenings (roughly 100 titles per night) plus a handful of manual submissions for rare albums not already in the RYM database.

THE NEXT CONTENDER – MyRecordList.com

MyRecordList recently premiered on the scene boasting that it could provide analytics that discogs.com could not.  I was intrigued so I gave it a try.

After signing up on the site I clicked the link to import a CSV.  I tried exporting raw text from rateyourmusic.com and with a little tweaking (artist columns needed to be merged from FIRSTNAME LASTNAME to a single column), and some quick column re-assignment I successfully constructed  an importable CSV.  The resulting set only contained artist, title, format and year values, so I clicked the big red “DELETE ALL” button and started again – this time from MyRecordList’s preferred import method – Discogs.com.

MyRecordList Collection

MyRecordList Collection

While Discogs lacks support for importing CSVs, its export feature is solid.  MyRecordList wisely incorporated a direct “Import from Discogs” feature so the upload was seamless.  However the result was a clunkily-constructed and sluggish visual interface with a few display variables and absolutely no support for album cover syncing. There is an “automated” lookup tool to find album art, but the process is manual and handles only one album at a time, each prompting the user for input.

But on to the analytics that the site so boldly advertised.  Clicking the large “Your Stats” button I was presented with an over-simplified summary of my test-library, again consisting of my top 300 LPs.

MyRecordList Stats

MyRecordList Stats

None of the tables could be viewed as charts or graphs, and the only infographic the site offered was a pie chart of my library’s formats.

This was thoroughly disappointing, though hardly unexpected.  Any of these metrics are easily determinable from within the discogs.com site, simply by exporting a CSV into Excel or a similar application.

Discogs offers far more information, sorting functions, a community forum, up-to-the-minute sales history, archival organizational standards, and has already established itself as the premier marketplace for used and new vinyl, so there is little reason to look to another site for more, (excepting, of course, contacting labels directly for upcoming releases.)

Simply put, myrecordlist.com is clunky, slow and offers nothing that can’t be achived quicker and more easily on already-established mainstays like discogs.  And I quickly grew tired of seeing their loading screen every time I navigated to another page or view.

MyRecordList Constant Loading Screen

You’ll be seeing a lot of this.

But there was a clear upside to the experiment – rebuilding my database on discogs.com – something I’d been meaning to do for several years.  And building the test library of 300 LPs was easier on Discogs than on the two previous sites.  I completed the task in just 3 hours (three times faster than with the RYM interface.)

 The clear winner – Discogs.com

Discogs contains data for 3.3 million artists – more than three times that of RYM, and has approximately 5 million releases. And unlike the other two sites, Discogs supports 23 languages for worldwide accessibility.

Discogs - Collection - Text w Statistics

Discogs – Collection – Text View w Statistics

For those still clinging to their locally-hosted databases – consider the following advantages of Discogs:

- Eliminates the hassle of local backups to external drives and the paranoia of data loss.

- Offers the same album information you would otherwise have retrieved online for your locally-stored catalog

- Exports easily to a CSV should you require it

- Share your collection with users on the largest and most popular music cataloging site on the web

- Features an active discussion forum

- Discussion groups based on any topic you can imagine (or start your own.)

- High regulatory standards of organization

Discogs - Groups

Discogs – Groups

And lastly, Discogs supports more audio formats that you can dream of.  Sure, they have over 3 million standard 33 1/3 LPs, 1.6 million CDs, and about a million 7” singles, but they also have shellac, flexi-disc, acetate, FLAC, floppy disk, memory stick, Betamax, Edison disc, Ambisonic, Selectavision and one – (count ‘em… ONE) entry for a Bulgarian limited edition 2-track stereo 30 ips RMG Studio Master reel-to-reel.

After 3.5 years of creating extra work for myself, I’ve now embraced the future of music database management.

 

Calling all aging ravers and bedroom rockers… listen up.

Fellow Dirts,
Riders of the sainted rhythms,
disappearing down the tube hole on Farringdon Street,
with Whiplash Willy the motor psycho.

I’m looking at YOU.

Underworld header
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman has been meticulously remastered at Abbey Road for a deluxe reissue by Rick Smith. Revisiting the original MIDI files, Rick uncovered a wealth of previously unreleased material and rare alternate mixes that sit alongside the record”s original companion singles and remixes and offer a fascinating insight into the creation of the record. The resultant release is the definitive version of one of those rare records that truly deserves to be described as a classic.

Thunder thunder lightning ahead
To coincide with the re-release of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld will play the album in full at a one-off show at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 11th October 2014. This show will offer fans a unique chance to see Underworld in one of the capital’s most iconic venues playing this classic album in its entirety for the first time. Tickets cost £35/£30 and are on general sale from 4th July.

Pre-order dubnobasswithmyheadman on underworldlive.com before 2nd July and get access to tickets to the Royal Festival Hall show 24 hours before they go on general sale. 
(Tickets are available to Southbank members on 2nd July, underworldlive.com pre-orders on 3rd July and general sale from 4th July)

When you pre-order you will also get the remastered version of Cowgirl straight into your inbox.

KarlNME
Formats include a limited Super Deluxe 5-CD Box Set with book containing memorabilia and newly created artwork by design collective tomato; a 2-CD Deluxe Edition; remastered single CD; 2LP on 180 GM vinyl; Blu-ray Audio and Digital Equivalents.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman is the first remastered work to be released, there are plans in place to remaster and reissue all of the Underworld’s studio albums in the next few years.

In all its glory

Here is the track listing for the Super Deluxe 5 CD boxset which also includes a 50 page book of memorabilia and new artwork by tomato;

CD1 Dubnobasswithmyheadman

1. Dark & Long
2. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You
3. Surfboy
4. Spoonman
5. Tongue
6. Dirty Epic
7. Cowgirl
8. River Of Bass
9.M.E

CD2 Singles 1991 – 1994

1. The Hump (Wild Beast)
2. Eclipse (Released As Lemon Interrupt)
3. Rez
4. Dirty (Released As Lemon Interrupt)
5. Dirtyguitar
6. Dark & Long (Hall’s Edit)
7. Dark & Long (Dark Train)
8. Spikee Cd3 Remixes 1992 – 1994
1. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Jam Scraper)
2. Cowgirl (Irish Pub In Kyoto Mix)
3. Dark & Long (Most ‘Ospitable Mix)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Telegraph 16.11.92)
5. Dark & Long (Burts Mix)
6. Dogman Go Woof
7. Dark & Long (Thing In A Book Mix)

CD3 Remixes 1992 – 1994

1.Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Jam scraper)
2.Cowgirl (Irish Pub in Kyoto mix)
3.Dark & Long (Most ‘ospitable mix)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Telegraph 16.11.92)
5. Dark & Long (Burts mix)
6.Dogman Go Woof
7. Dark & Long (Thing in a Book mix)

CD4 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED RECORDINGS 1991 – 1993

1. Concord (3 Comp75 id9 A1771 Aug 93A)
2. Dark & Long(1struffid3A15512)
3. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (A1765 Sky Version id4. Harmone6 COMP43)
4. Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (After sky id6 1551 2)
5. Can You Feel Me? (from A4796)
6. Birdstar (A1558 Nov 92B.1)
7. Dirty Epic (Dirty Ambi Piano A1764 Oct 91)
8. Spoonman (version1 A1559 Nov92)
9. Organ (Eclipse version from A4796)
10. Cowgirl(AltCowgirlC69MixfromA1564)

CD5 LIVE JAM KYME RD (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE REHEARSAL RECORDED IN THE BAND’S HOME STUDIO IN 1993)

1.Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You
2.Improv 1
3.Bigmouth
4.Improv 2
5.Big Meat Show
6.Improv 3
7.Spoonman

uwl-live-6
This release is a milestone for the Dirties.  We’ve all shared our copies of  “Thing in a Book,” “‘Ospitable,” the Dubno rehearsal cassette, and every one of the other glorious rarities that appear on the Super Deluxe set over these past 20 years.  These tracks circulated privately among the Dirty forum members for ages while other odds and ends appeared only briefly a decade ago on the retired Underworld website.  Dedicated fans from the corners of the web have compiled well over 2,600 tracks between studio outtakes, official and unofficial live releases, Karl’s web diaries and Tomato ANTI-ROM and other multimedia.  But this release will be the first time these recordings will be available (as raw .WAVs, no less) on an official release.

John Bush of Allmusic.com called it “music for aging-raver activities like driving cars, pushing swings, or jogging on treadmills.”

Regardless, Rick and Karl have been making incredible music for over thirty-five years, and the two latest collaborations with “senior citizen soundscape artist” Brian Eno are no exception.

Tomorrow High Life will arrive on my doorstep, and I look forward to perusing the new Tomato publication when it follows.

…and the light it burns my eyes.

Readings in Modern Music

Anyone who follows this blog with any frequency knows how much of a stretch it is for me to dig a contemporary recording, let alone a modern track by a “band” instead of a composer.  Even scarcer still are the selections I enjoy which contain lyrics and any sort of verse structure akin to rock.

The above is particularly applicable at present as I’ve spent the past week delving deep into the masterworks of musique concrete and electroacoustic composition – recordings which not only abandon contemporary pop structures like lyricism and melody, but forgo the entire tonal system itself, instead favoring abstract and atonal plunderphonics!

So it is with immense surprise and satisfaction that I state the following – A user contacted me on last.fm this week and shared  an unsigned band’s recent video… and I absolutely loved it!

They call themselves Museum – four gents from Berlin who self-released their album, Traces Of on their own label – beat is murder.

museum band
Traces Of followed the release of two EPs – Exit Wounds and Old Firehand but the 2012 single “The Law” is the fan-recommended track which introduced me to their work.  (They actually do the whole lowercase-sentence-fragment thing but I’ve capitalized their releases here for the sake of readability.  Sorry lads.)

Their official site is inactive, simply stating that the album’s release is scheduled for Jul 6, 2012, however the band appears to be active with a performance scheduled at FiestaCity 2014 on Aug 29th – Place du Martyr, Verviers, Belgium.

This recording came onto my radar at quite an opportune time.  The first thing I noticed from the first 20 seconds of the tune’s music video was that the band had incorporated elements of tape music and musique concrete as the very foundation of the track.

The lyrics did not detract from the layering of minimal, looped sounds, as they too were cut up in a fragmented presentation which would have made Burroughs proud.  And while the kaleidoscopic video effect is nothing new, it works well with the track.

Check it out for yourself – “The Law” from Museum.

I began the week with the discovery of a historic jazz release in the Netherlands which should arrive in the post in the next 10 days (Stay tuned for a special feature with high-res photos once it arrives!)

I had been compiling data on the milestones of free jazz and was very happy to find one of them re-issued by Impulse! Records in 2011 – the same label which released the original recording in 1968.

Archie Shepp - Magic of Ju-Ju

The psychedelic cover art commanded my attention when I found it in a local record shop, and while I had never listened to Archie Shepp before I knew I had to check out this record.

I previewed it for a mere 30 seconds – whetting my sonic appetite with Shepp’s free jazz psychedelic tenor frenzy accompanied by five (count ‘em – FIVE) talking drum percussionists.  30 seconds was all I needed.

I instantly purchased the record and added it to my jazz collection, delighted by my discovery but slightly irked that there was no mention of this album by any of the free jazz essentials lists I had compiled.  That’s just further evidence that you’ve really got to get out there and dig.

But on to today’s theme – Music Lit.  I knew it was going to be an intellectually stimulating week when I found Julian Cope’s legendary music crit, Krautrocksampler offered up on the Web in PDF format.  As you’re probably aware, this title is long out of print and the author has sworn never to reissue it.  Copies surface on various marketplaces for hundreds of dollars.   Thankfully, a dedicated fan painstakingly scanned every page of the book, and while it is hardly archival quality, it is the only way most of us will ever see the book.

Krautrocksampler

This will be a pleasure to peruse over the coming weeks, even in its crudely-photocopied form.

I picked up another jazz book from a local used bookshop as it was only a few dollars and I was curious to see what a writer would have to say about jazz in the middle of the era. The bulk of the text was written in 1962, with the “jazz-rock” chapter at the end likely added for the 1975 and 1979 printings.

What Jazz is About
Erlich’s perspective of jazz is hardly academic, and clearly it is not intended to be. The book’s approach is that of a simple love of the genre and acts as a guided tour through the history of its greatest influences, from African drum music to field hollers all the way up to the Third Stream and jazz-rock era.

From a historical context the book successfully builds a fundamental framework of jazz’s legacy. The language is elementary and makes for an effortless read, with a circular structure of artist introductions, childhoods, development, and lasting impacts.

However there are many titles available which better-examine what will soon be a century of jazz culture. There are very few references to What Jazz Is All About anywhere on the Web, and even fewer reviews. I’ve since moved on to better-known resources for further exploration of the genre.

History of Jazz

The History of Jazz by Ted Gioia is Amazons’ best-selling jazz text.  I’m enjoying it thus far, and was happy to see that it included a Recommended Listening index at the end of the book.

I also ordered two highly-acclaimed guides to 20th Century avant-garde music – The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music.

The Rest is Noise and Audio Culture

The Rest is Noise was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and cracked the New York Times’ Top 10 Books of the Year.  Audio Culture is a compiled volume of manifestos and writings from every music theorist from the first discussions of noise by Jacques Attali and Luigi Russolo to a piece about post-digital tendencies in contemporary computer music by microtonal composer Kim Cascone.

Best of all, Audio Culture includes a hefty index with a chronology of noteworthy recordings, a glossary and a Select Discography.

I also enjoyed watching a documentary film this week titled, In the Ocean – A Film About the Classical Avant Garde which sparked my further exploration of musique concrete.

One of the interesting things I took from the film was the discovery that Cage was really interested in Finnegans Wake (his 1979 mesostic composition, Roaratorio is entirely based upon the novel both in structure and in content.)  And by delightful coincidence – what very title arrived in my mailbox just one day earlier?

Finnegans Wake

The Law of Very Large Numbers is a beautiful thing in practice.

All these new music books inspired me to print up some appropriate bookmarks, so I made these… (extra points if you can name the jazz record which featured the Jackson Pollock print.)

Bookmarks 06-14-14 sm

So pick up the music books I’ve featured, check out Magic of Ju-Ju and I’ll be back next week with a fantastic new box set!

Celebrating our 100th Post – Silence and Empty Words

Pencils ready!

Dear readers,

This is officially the 100th entry at The Innerspace Connection.  I have wonderful things planned for the coming month, featuring more great music and original content.  Innerspace has grown significantly in its readership in the last few years, and now I’m looking to you to find out what content you’d like to see in the next 100 posts.

I’m reaching out every active reader and passive lurker who follows this blog to answer this quick-and-easy 9-question survey.  Your responses will help me deliver the content you’re looking for in the future.   Thank you!

Click here and take the survey now!

It was a wonderful weekend.  My girlfriend spend it spinning Franz Liszt LPs,  and I picked up the next installment of John Cage’s lectures and writings for my library.

I queued up one of my new genre autoplaylists of modern-classical piano works while I read.  The list consisted of composers like Zazie Von Einem Anderen Stern, Ólafur Arnalds, Dustin O’Halloran (who you likely know from his collaboration with Adam Wiltzie performing as A Winged Victory for the Sullen), and selections from Reinbert De Leeuv performing the early piano works of Erik Satie.

This put me in a nostalgic Windham Hill mood, so I also threw in George Winston’s simple but enjoyable piano solos into the mix.  I finished off the set with the Interludes LP from Mannheim Steamroller which excerpts all the interludes from the Fresh Aire series of albums.  All in all excellent “thinking music” for a summer afternoon exploring the compositional processes of John Cage.

Mannheim Steamroller - Fresh Aire Interludes

I’m still working my way through SILENCE: Lectures and Writings [50th Anniversary Edition] from last year’s Christmas wish-list.  My girlfriend and I stopped into our local used bookshop and I was delighted to come upon Cage’s Empty Words: Writings ’73-’78 which picks up right where SILENCE left off.

John Cage - Silence and Empty Words

Empty Words is hardly casual bathroom reading, as you can see from the random page selection below.  But in the full context of Cage’s writings it begins to make (some sort of) sense.

John Cage - Empty Words (excerpt)

I’ve just ordered another reference text – Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner.  I came upon the title quite by chance while researching texts on minimalism, and upon reading a particular review of the book I instantly ordered a copy.  Here is the review – from CMJ New Music Monthly.

“[Audio Culture] is an indispensable primer full of the theories behind noise, Free-jazz, minimalism, 20th century composition, ambient, avant-garde and all the other crazy shit your square-ass friends can’t believe you actually like. With writing and interviews from all the players in question (quoting Stockhausen is five points in hipster bingo), this book deconstructs all the essential ideas: Cage’s themes, Eno’s strategies, Zorn’s games and Merzbow’s undying love of porno.” –CMJ New Music Monthly, 7/04

The humor and wit of the review sold me 100% before I’d even read the item summary on Amazon.  This is particularly noteworthy as I rarely read texts written after the late 1970s.  (I have an affinity for Golden Age science fiction and classics of music non-fiction.)

I’ll be certain to post a review of the title, along with a second modern publication which I’ll keep under my hat for the moment.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned for more, and if you haven’t already –  Click here and take the survey now!

Happy 100!

Further Adventures in Vinyl Heaven

INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE: The Shindig! Guide to Space Rock

It’s been a wonderful week of research and first-listens.  I’ve also been enjoying the special edition INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE: The Shindig! Guide to Space Rock.

I must apologize for my delay in featuring the much-anticipated collaborative release from Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde. It was a record which demanded careful reflection, and it took some time to form a conclusive perspective of their first commercial effort together.

Eno & Hyde Album Shot 1

Eno and Hyde have actually know each other and worked together for many years. Their last collaborative performances were the Pure Scenius concerts – three live improvised performances in Sydney featuring Eno, Australian improv trio The Necks, Hyde, Jon Hopkins and guitarist Leo Abrahams.

My first exposure to the new LP was the demo of track 1 – “The Satellites” which admittedly left me less than impressed. The track heavily features canned synth horns which seemed out of place for a recording from these two artistic pioneers. An album trailer soon followed on enoweb, which successfully re-invigorated my anticipation of what madness might be contained within the grooves of this mysterious new disc.

Two copies of the deluxe edition of Someday World arrived in the post – the first mangled within its flimsy overseas envelope, and the second two weeks later. These special edition pressings, limited to 750 copies worldwide, included a photo postcard and a glossy print reminiscent of the art Tomato was producing at the end of the millennium.

Eno & Hyde - Someday World Print

It was only after I had experienced the album in its entirety, along with a few television and radio performances and interviews that I truly appreciated the album as a whole.

Eno & Hyde performed the album’s clear A-side on Later with Jools Holland on BBC Two. This particular track, “Daddy’s Car” is one of the better implementations of the aforementioned synths blended with Eno’s trademarked polyrhythmic percussion and pop sensibility.

The energy is heightened in the album’s two longest cuts – “Mother of a Dog” and “When I Built This World,” the latter of which is perhaps the best example of Eno’s brand of avant-garde rock. The second half of the track is a slow build of multiple synth lines which crescendo to an apex at the finale – highly recommended for headphone listening in a darkened room.

But it was their 45 minute live music and interview set on BBC 6music that really secured my love of the record.   The interview was quite revealing and the enhanced perspective has left me with a greater understanding and appreciation of this strange new LP from my two greatest inspirations. Eno stated that many of the tracks were culled from fragments of “beginnings” he had collected over many years of composition. In hindsight, I detected many sounds as being sourced from past albums like Nerve Net, The Drop, Small Craft, Headcandy, Spinner and even from the Japanese 77 Million AV Installation CD compilation. There’s even a bit of noise-guitar-plus-spoken vocals a la “Blank Frank” if that’s what you’re looking for. And the lyric, “strip it down / make it simple / useless words” from “Strip It Down” might have been lifted right from a card in the Oblique Strategies deck.

Eno & Hyde - in the studio

In all, the album is a mix of strengths and weaknesses, but I perceive the record as more of a collaborative stepping stone than a milestone. On Someday World, Eno & Hyde are simply experimenting together. In the 6music interview, Eno commented that he had initially set out to make a dark electronic record, and was surprised by how “happy” it turned out.

To be absolutely honest I find it difficult to review this album objectively.  As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, Karl Hyde’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman was the very first record I heard which exposed me to a world outside of top 40 radio rock. His brilliant design work with John Warwicker in Tomato’s mmm…skyscraper: A Typographical Journal of New York directly inspired my career in the field of graphic design. And Eno’s Music for Airports seeded my lifelong love of all things ambient and drone. To witness these two men working together is a dream come true, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Eno & Hyde Album Shots 2

[UPDATE] Eno has now released an augmented reality app for Someday World!

On the subject of ambient music – I came to a stark realization yesterday. As much as I love ambient and early synth compositions, I had miraculously managed to live 32 years without listening to Vangelis’ film score to Blade Runner.

The most complete edition available is the unparalleled Esper ‘Retirement’ Edition – 25th Anniversary Culmination – a 5CD bootleg, but far more faithful to the actual score than any commercial release. (Think of it as the Dr. Ebbetts or the Purple Chick edition.) 8-minutes into my first listen I was searching for a copy on vinyl.

BRERE25AC - Blade Runner Esper Retirement Edition CD Case (Front)

As you likely know, the soundtrack had a rough history. It began with the New American Orchestra’s Orchestral Adaptation of the score, released in the UK and throughout Europe in 1982.

New American Orchestra - Blade Runner Soundtrack LP 1982

The actual original soundtrack release was delayed for over a decade, until 1994. The 1989 compilation Themes included some tracks from the film, but it was not until two years after the 1992 Director’s Cut premiered that the proper score saw an official release.

The first official Vangelis soundtrack was a CD released on Atlantic/BMG in 1994. An LP was issued in Brazil that year but I cannot verify whether or not it was a legitimate release. Similarly, a vinyl bootleg surfaced in 2003 but is not of consequence.

This 2013 Audio Fidelity remastered 180g virgin vinyl translucent red pressing is the first-ever official worldwide release of Vangelis’ soundtrack on vinyl and was limited to 5000 copies. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to add this to my library.

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Front)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Gatefold)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Disc A)

Blade Runner Ltd Ed Red Transparent Vinyl (Disc B)
I was surprised by the album’s packaging – it has one hell of a UV gloss coat and the gatefold sleeve is beautifully heavy.  I really appreciate quality packaging when I see it.

As I was on a bit of a roll I decided it was time that I owned a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico in its original format.  (It’s just one of those LPs that everyone on the planet should have.)  After a brief search through discogs I thought it would be fun to pick up the banana-yellow vinyl edition from 2000. Though only 500 copies were pressed it is surprisingly affordable and surfaces regularly on discogs.com. I ordered two copies so that my lady-friend can enjoy it as well.

Velvet Underground & Nico - Banana yellow vinyl pressing

And finally – I acquired one more classic-collaboration this week. Cluster & Eno was released in 1977 – the same year as Before and After Science. Music For Airports would follow the next year, but Cluster & Eno stands strongly on its own as an essential milestone in Eno’s ambient family of albums.

Cluster & Eno - Cluster & Eno LP

The cover photograph has grabbed my attention every time the record surfaced but I was never quite “ready” for the album.  Now that I’ve properly-digested hundreds of classic krautrock albums, I feel daft for not having picked it up sooner.

I suppose this fantastic haul makes up for my leaving the spring record show empty-handed.

And I’m already hard at work on next week’s post – a special in-depth exploration of how to manage large digital music libraries.  When I reached 77,000 recordings, I quickly realized that it was time to re-evaluate my music management system, and I’m happy to share my strategies with the listening community.

Stay tuned!

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