21 Tracks for Newport Beach: A Playlist

T.H.E. Show Newport Beach will be held May 31 through June 2, at the Hilton and Atrium hotels, near Orange County Airport, in Irvine, California. John Atkinson and Jason Victor Serinus will cover the show for Stereophile.com, while Tyll Hertsens and Michael Fremer will represent for InnerFidelity and AnalogPlanet.

Jason asked if I would send him a flash drive carrying a few demo tracks that he might use to audition systems at the show—a fun idea, however one that I can’t successfully realize: At this time, I have no real library of high-resolution (or even CD-quality) digital files, nor do I have proper means of ripping CDs. Simply put, while I do plan on building a proper computer-audio system, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve been busy hanging out with girls and cats, decorating the new apartment, and admiring the Mets’ ability to find creative ways to lose close games. Give me a few more months.

In any case, I liked Jason’s idea too much to completely disregard it: I’m basically dying to share music with people. So, instead of a flash drive stuffed with hi-rez digital files, I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist. As I mentioned to Jason, I’m typically too shy, or scared, to bring my own demo material to a hi-fi show: Too often, the music I most want to hear proves offensive to too many people, and, despite how it might seem, I’m really not interested in pushing people away or clearing listening rooms.

What I have here, then, is 21 Tracks for Newport Beach: A Playlist Comprising Songs I’d Love to Play at a Hi-Fi Show, If I Wasn’t Afraid to Play the Songs I Love at a Hi-Fi Show. Newport Beach might be just the venue, actually: More than any other North American hi-fi show, this one’s getting a reputation for being a party.

Not that my playlist is especially booty-shaking or anything. It actually contains quite a bit of rather tame, civilized sounds: You’ll hear piano, harp, violin, cello, beautifully recorded female vocals. But, yeah, you’ll also hear some booty-shaking beats.

1. Mary Lattimore: “Poor Daniel”
2. Nadia Sirota: Etude 3
3. Valgeir Sigurdsson: “Reverse Erased”
4. Julia Holter: “Marienbad”
5. Julianna Barwick: “The Magic Place”
6. Sophie Hutchings: “Half Hidden”
7. Nils Frahm: “Ambre”
8. Jenny Hval: “Mephisto In the Water”
9. Hildur Gudnadottir: “Into Warmer Air”
10. David Lang: “Death Speaks, No.1: You Will Return”
11. Nicolas Jaar: “Balance Her In Between Your Eyes”
12. James Blake: “Retrograde”
13. FaltyDL: “For Karme”
14. Usher: “Climax”
15. R. Kelly: “Double Up”
16. Kendrick Lamar: “Money Trees”
17. When Saints Go Machine: “Love and Respect”
18. The Asphodells: “Beglammered”
19. Standish/Carlyon: “Nono/Yono”
20. Beacon: “Feeling’s Gone”
21. Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto: “By This River”

You need a Spotify account to listen. It takes about two minutes to open an account, and I found the experience to be a lot of fun. I thank Stereophile’s editorial assistant, Ariel Bitran, for getting me started, and Jason for the original idea. I hope you enjoy the playlist. Please don’t hate me if you don’t. (It’s just music.)

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COMMENTS
Ariel Bitran's picture

(nt)

volvic's picture

My wife loves Spotify, I have resisted because I still love listening to FM radio broadcasts and my vinyl and CD's and hate installing new software that tracks so much of my movement. However, even I can't deny how well it works in suggesting and allowing one to find new music.  There is no reason to hate your playlist, the fact that this music exists means that it connects with people and that people like it or allows them to discover new artists.  I think you may have pushed me over the edge to register for a spotify account.  

JasonVSerinus's picture

Well, Volvic, I've been over the edge for so long, there's no concern for me being pushed further. If you heard the angry crap my neighbor is now blasting as he washes his car, you'd understand. 

Stephen, I attended the world premiere of Death Speaks, and have interviewed David Lang twice. I was moved even more by his Little Match Girl Passion, which won the Pultizer Prixe in music, but I think Death Speaks is probably more excerptable.

I will never forget the time that JA and I visited an unnamed speaker manufacturer's room at the T.H.E. Show Las Vegas. I asked to hear a bit of the Pappano Tosca with Gheorghiu, a recording that HP really loves. "That's room clearing music," was the manufacturer's angry reply.

No doubt about it. It was room clearing music. We left shortly thereafter.

Clearly I write for the right publication. Given you, me, and Ariel for starters, our masthead is filled with room clearers of all ages. Long may our music spin.

dalethorn's picture

Well, ignoring the "don't wanna hear new music" thing, still, do you really carry material you've only heard a couple of times to a gear show, to hear how an unfamiliar system reproduces it? That seems to me a lot braver than the odd seller being willing to play the stuff, if you know what I mean.

volvic's picture

You are a scholar and a gentleman JVS.  

 

P.S. who makes speakers and doesn't play Tosca through them?  The Horror!!!

P.S2 - Happy Birthday Bob Dylan....before I forget.  

JasonVSerinus's picture

To answer your question, people who are unwilling to take the plunge, for starters.

For such comments, and from someone who is scared of heights, no less, I should face a firing squad... 

MikeMercer's picture

Stephen:

 

KILLER list brotha!!  I was psyched to see Nicolas Jaar and Blake in there!

Hope you got a chance to check out my review of the new Blake LP.  I'll be rockin my 10" 45rpm of "Limit to Your Love" (sounds AMAZING on Dan Meinwald's system with all E.A.R and the Marten Coltrane Tenors).  Also making some playlists!

As for Spotify - you know I was an early advocate (goin back to 09) and I'm also a fan of MOG (KILLER iPad interface) Spotify Premium has replaced my need to bring music anywhere unless I'm carrying vinyl!  ALMOST

Seriously: We had a very seasoned veteran of the audiophile press here, and with the right DAC he had no idea we were streaming music (in this case was the dCs Delius)!  I pushed play on the transport and he thought it was a CD - four times!  He's now a devotee.  Hey, more music in more places is a great thing right!

Hi Jason!  

Peace,

Michael Mercer

garysi13's picture

Writing this in a Kohl's, and Wilco is playing on the house channel!!!  Good choices Stephen!!!  I especially like Etude 3, which I just saw Nadia perform with Nico Muhly at LPR last week.  Talk about degrees of separation, you have Valgeir, another Nico co-hort and Usher's "Climax", which Nico did the orchestrations for.  You should add something of his in there to complete the circle. Maybe "Pillaging Music"?

Stephen Mejias's picture

You should add something of his in there to complete the circle. Maybe "Pillaging Music"?

Good call! I knew I was missing an obvious musical link.

volvic's picture

@JVS 

Imagine if you had asked to play Wozzeck.  

JasonVSerinus's picture

How about Schoenberg's Moses und Aaron? I've heard it only once, in a movie theatre in which every note of the track rang. It was enough to make one forswear religion for many lifetimes.

ken mac's picture

On top of the 200 jazz LPs I bought at Princeton Record Exchange yesterday, this is the greatest thing I've seen all weekend. Thank you sir!

List well done!

Ken

shiitaki's picture

Seriously?   Been living in Afghanistan  or something?  

Any desktop computer can rip a cd to a lossless audio format, FLAC or ALAC, even WMA.  The first step is really to determine how you plan on playing the files back so you know what to rip them to.  My suggestion is a old laptop, asyncronous USB dac, and an installation of OpenELEC.tv   It's is a dedicated version of XBMC ontop of linux.  Finding a good device to play digital music that doesn't involve a mouse and keyboard is surprisingly difficult, more so if a person doesn't have deep pockets.  I like it because I can push stuff from my mac using a secure shell client by dragging and dropping.  I use a iPad to control it over my network.  Most importantly it's new audio system will decompress and output audio at it's native bit rate and depth, no resampling or mixing of the audio.

Personally I use a cheap computer I put together for the purpose and have a hdmi cable going to my receiver, but I'm a audio enthusist not audiophile.  192k/24bit recordings sound so good.  The strength of digital is how it doesn't wear or change over time, and at high enough data rates it is as good as analog.  Analog recording suffers from numerous limitations, despite the fanatical BS surrounding them claiming unlimited resolution.  Now if only we ould get more of the music industry in to the 21st century, and away from lossy downloads and 'mastered for bose'. 

Stephen Mejias's picture

Seriously?  

Um, yes. But I didn't say that I don't know how to rip CDs. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. When I do it, I'm going to do it right. And, for me, that will require some planning, a few purchases, and some adjustments to my current listening habits and environment.

Been living in Afghanistan  or something?

No. Jersey City.

I'm a audio enthusist not audiophile.

That's interesting. What's the difference?

shiitaki's picture

Seriously?   Been living in Afghanistan  or something?  

Any desktop computer can rip a cd to a lossless audio format, FLAC or ALAC, even WMA.  The first step is really to determine how you plan on playing the files back so you know what to rip them to.  My suggestion is a old laptop, asyncronous USB dac, and an installation of OpenELEC.tv   It's is a dedicated version of XBMC ontop of linux.  Finding a good device to play digital music that doesn't involve a mouse and keyboard is surprisingly difficult, more so if a person doesn't have deep pockets.  I like it because I can push stuff from my mac using a secure shell client by dragging and dropping.  I use a iPad to control it over my network.  Most importantly it's new audio system will decompress and output audio at it's native bit rate and depth, no resampling or mixing of the audio.

Personally I use a cheap computer I put together for the purpose and have a hdmi cable going to my receiver, but I'm a audio enthusist not audiophile.  192k/24bit recordings sound so good.  The strength of digital is how it doesn't wear or change over time, and at high enough data rates it is as good as analog.  Analog recording suffers from numerous limitations, despite the fanatical BS surrounding them claiming unlimited resolution.  Now if only we ould get more of the music industry in to the 21st century, and away from lossy downloads and 'mastered for bose'. 

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