At the end of April, it will be time to renew the lease on my quaint Kensington duplex. Over the past three years, a cast of typical New Yorkers rotated residency within these plaster walls: stand-up comedians, chefs, and real-estate agents; art handlers and opera singers; venue managers and musicians. Claiming residential seniority over this home of interchanging misfits, it was time to stake claim on the room my system most deserved.
There sat the hi-fi. Untouched. Unplayed. Unlistenable. Bass resonances continued to torment my sound. Geddy Lee, Paul McCartney, and Sting all produced loose and exaggerated bass energies in unnatural ways. I was constantly perplexed with the unevenness in my bass response. Despite hours of tinkering with speaker placement hindered by random obstructions, namely a queen-size bed, a poorly positioned radiator, and stacks of guitar amps, the bass resonances remained.
Shlohmo! I had a Hebrew School teacher who went by Shlohmo. He smelled like fish skins and wore square, camel-toned, thick-rimmed glasses. Random gray strands of hair dangled from his chin as he tortured us with lessons on silent vowels and morality. His neck bounced when he talked, and he wore his armpit sweat stains like badges of honor. Not sexy, right?
That's why I'm always surprised to hear very sexy music from electronic beat maker Shlohmo.
I remember my first real encounter with the Logitech|UE 900s noise-isolating earphones ($399.99). I broke them out riding the B35 to catch the Q to someplace I don’t remember.The UE 900s’ braided cables unraveled gracefully as I lifted them from their burnished black carrying case.
Have you heard enough about Matmos from the Stereophile boys yet? Probably. Truth be told, upon first listen I didn't really like their new record The Marriage of True Minds. I found it aimless (I prefer music with intent), but I'll let Stephen tell you how he grew to love it in our upcoming April issue. Meanwhile, this remix has me thinking I should give the record another listen.
No, this will not be another monologue where I profess my undying love for Larry, our house cat, the furry little monster with a taste for human flesh and a weird fascination with the refrigerator. Larry is a music lover too. Ever since he was a kitten, we surrounded him with the sounds of Yes, Flying Lotus, and Dvorak, and now his long legs fumble into any room where music is playing. Larry will then sprawl himself out, close his eyes, and listen along.
Alright. I've broken my promise already by talking too much about Larry.
On her debut album Ripely Pine, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper delivers a wandering collection of fantastical folk-pop songs with whimsical lyrics about love enveloped by orchestral arrangements rewarding the listener with an assortment of tones and a praise-worthy use of space.
It opens in a field or maybe an orchestra house. Pastoral and slow-moving strings set the stage. Written as a musical accompaniment to Sebastian Hartmann’s theater adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Apparat’s Krieg Und Frieden is desolate yet tinged with reflection and hope, like Wyeth’s Christina’s World or the ending to a Kurosawa film. Harmonies in continuous ascent intersect with subdued blasts of air and dirt. The occasional soulful vocal provides a lyrical back-story to the desolation: “Deserted hopes / Deserted eyes / Deserted souls / Deserted lies,” and then an alternative, “Turn a light on, Turn a light on.” Like Tolstoy’s work, the listener is never sure if the music is about suffering or the triumph within the pain.
I'm running sound at a new DIY venue in Brooklyn called The LAB, and I snag some weird stuff. Here's a sample…
Trevor Peterson arrived with a guitar and a bevy of pedals and samplers. With the help of adaptable computer music softwares like Ableton and Logic and popular hardware like the Roland SP-404SX or the Akai APC40, the combinations of technologies passing through the Lab morphs constantly.
Stereophile's Assistant Editor Stephen Mejias models the fresh produce
Are you curious to hear J. Gordon Holt's lecture on "Why Hi-Fi Experts Disagree"? Maybe you are yearning for Sam Tellig, the "Audio Anarchist" as identified in the liner notes, to whisper sweet nothings into your ear with his radio-friendly baritone while checking a 1kHz reference tone at 20dB. Or how would you like a dog named Ralph to howl at you while configuring your left and right speakers? All this and more can be found on Stereophile's Test CD 1, now available in the Stereophile eCommerce Store.