The November 2010 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. Immediately after shipping the issue to press, we had to redirect our focus to shipping the 2011 Stereophile Buyer’s Guide. And almost immediately after shipping the Buyer’s Guide, we had to redirect our focus to shipping the December 2010. While the December issue was in its very final stages, we had to fly to Denver to cover the outstanding Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. It’s been a whirlwind and I can honestly say that I hardly remember working on the November issue.
One of my favorite albums of the year comes from Brooklyn-based artist Julianna Barwick. The album is called Florine. Michael Lavorgna told me about it. It was months ago and I remember leaving work that day and rushing over to Other Music to buy the album. I got one of the first 200, pressed on white vinyl. Karen congratulated me and told me that I’d be very happy with the music.
Michael Lavorgna’s October issue “As We See It” generated many more responses than we had space for in our December issue “Letters” section (a great bunch!), so we’ve appended all of the letters to the Web reprint, which you can find right here.
Belle and Sebastian’s new album, Write About Love, is due in stores on October 12. I spied an advance copy in the office of our music editor, Robert Baird. He’s hogging it up for himself, though. Something about having to “write a review.” Whatever. Fortunately, from now until the 12th, NPR will be streaming the entire album, so we can get a cheap fix until we buy the real thing.
Returnal (Editions Mego EMEGO 104), the fourth full-length release from Oneohtrix Point Never, explodes into the listening room (or out from the speakers or out from the headphones) with real violence and penetrating force. We are thrust into a heavy storm, a maelstrom; we find ourselves standing beneath an ocean of falling glass, falling sky, falling electronic haze. If instruments could scream, their screams might sound like this, like the opening few moments of Returnal, moments that don’t seem like an opening at all, but someplace else, some other time that escaped us, that started without us, before we were ready. I don’t mean scream in the way that guitars and saxophones and other instruments can and do scream. I mean that if instruments could be dealt such pain that they were brought to life, given sentience, to wail with wonderful suffering, it might sound like this, like the opening few moments of “Nil Admirari.”
Stian Westerhus plays guitar in a band called Puma. Having enjoyed Puma’s latest album, Half Nelson Courtship, a powerful assault on the senses, I was anxious to hear Westerhus’s solo work. I expected something brutaleven something frightening, something perhaps verging on the unlistenablebut Westerhus’s second solo LP, Pitch Black Star Spangled (Rune Grammofon RCD 2099/RLP 3099), is something else, something more.
Today, “Elements of Our Enthusiasm” turns five years old, which, in blog years, is older than the universe. I thank you, dear readers, for sticking around and making this blog one of the most visited pages on our entire website. “Elements” is more popular than Justin Bieber.
The October 2010 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. On the cover, you’ll see a pretty much life-sized image of Logitech’s Squeezebox Touch, a real dandy of a hi-fi product that costs just $300 and seems to captivate everyone who comes into contact with it. The normally unflappable Kal Rubinson ends his review (page 118) by advising, “Get a Squeezebox Touch right now. You’ll never look back.” Even our cover photographer, Eric Swanson, fell in love with the little thing. He bought his sample. We chose the Mobile Fidelity version of Beck’s Sea Change for the cover art because it connects with Robert Baird’s feature piece on outstanding reissues (page 111), and because the colors are pretty. The colors featured on the Squeezebox Touch’s display dictated those used by our graphic designer, Natalie Baca, in her cover treatment.