Sunday Jul 23, 2006

What am I listening to

Last week I was visiting our colleagues in Prague. Talking about Xen, Dtrace, FMA and other cool stuff, but also helping out with some problems they were having. Anyway I did have a nightmare journey back and was thankfull of two things. A good book (Use of Weapons - Iain M Banks: I love the detail he puts in the worlds he creates), and an IPod.

So what did I listen too? Well I found I had subscribed to a podcast that has some excellent music on it. IndustrialRadio. Plenty of interesting music I'd not heard before. Apprarently the detroit industrial scene is pretty active, which is more than can be said for most places.

Any way back in the real world, I rediscovered I like some Handel, Having bought Essential Handel I've remembered learning Violin as a child. May be I should take up some more.

What else. Well in complete contrast there's been Classic Euphoria Which is pretty much audio wall paper but great for getting stuff done too.

My eldest Son did a part in the school production of Oliver a couple of weeks a go. Today there was a local schools show case of the out of school activities that they've been doing. Naturally eldest was the best, but one other that stood out was another schools "Rock School". They have taken "Feel Good Inc" by Gorillaz and re recorded it using the instruments they can play (The group only sang to a backing track which I guess is fair enough given the size of the venue, and the fact they had no switch over time, Oh and hey're only 8-11). I only realised it wasn't to the real track when I heard recorders on it! Pretty impressive.

And this evening while watching the end of The Tour They had a butchered version of One Which made me put on the original which was much better.

Thursday May 25, 2006

HiFi Upgrade

Well you've probably gathered I like music, but I've really been dissapointed with my hifi for a number of years. When I graduated with my first few months pay cheques I bought a budget set of seperates. JPW speakers, Rotel 20W amp, Marantz CD52MkII CD player (second hand from a friend). I've been pretty happy with it - I still use it in the dining room. However about 5 years a go I started to get the desire for Home Cinema. This is not something that goes well with having children as they have a tendancy to think the speakers are things to be climbed on. So I bought a Sub and Sat set of speakers. The KEF KHT2005 which sounded pretty good when I auditioned them with an Arcam AVR 100 which I also bought. However with the reality of normal living rooms and the fact my DVD player may not be the best source for CDs you can imagine it never quite lived up to my expectation. It was pretty good with movies - but I just stopped listening to CD in the living room. For some reason I had convinced myself the the CD52MKII was a good enough source so I asked my local hifi shop if I could audition some new speakers or a CD player to see which gave me the best improvement. I tried some KEF IQ5s and an Arcam CD73 along side my exisiting CD player and the KHTs. (I nice mix and match session). Over all I wasn't too impressed with the IQ5s. They didn't seem any improvement over the KHT as long as you are using the Sub with them for music (you have to really), but the difference the CD player mad was stunning. So I am now the proud owner of an Arcam CD73. Then of course I've had to rearange the living room to keep it all hidden a subtle but it was worth it. I've been listening to some of the 560 CDs we have. The bass is much more controlled and the detail astonishing. So what have I listened to that really impressed? The Orb: Towers of Dub (UFOrb) Depeche Mode: Precious (Playing the angel) The Sisters of Mercey: Everything (...) New Order: World (single) Linkin Park: Faint (Meteora) Placebo: Bitter End (single) Plenty more but thos stick out. Especially for the detail revieled after the upgrade. Technorati Tags:

Friday Jun 10, 2005

Garbage

Last night I got to go to see Garbage at Brixton Academy. I'd forgotten what a good venue Brixton was.

The place was completely packed. I think its about a 5000 capacity venue, and it sold out within a day of the tickets going on sale. We were lucky to get downstairs tickets, a friend of mine also went but could only get upstairs. For some reason, it's not the same if you have seats and can't get down the front. Mind you we couldn't get further forward than the mixing desk as we only got there 10 minutes before they were on. (Putting children to bed does cramp your giggin' style).

So lets just say the sound was not the best I've heard there. Especially during the first couple of songs. Shirley's voice sounded way too brittle. Guitars were scratchy and there was a sever lack of bass. Either I got used to it or after a few songs the sound guys managed to get most of it under control. There were some moments of brilliance, Why do you love me?, Only happy when it rains, When I grow Up. I think I'm Paranoid, and Push It really stand out. Androgyny was excellent too. I haven't listened to the new album too much so I didn't know the songs as well as I'd have liked. I'm listening to it now.

There was a clever backdrop. They had 4 plasma TVs which showed some video footage. The backcloth of the stage was then projected with probably 200x200 spotlights which showed a pixelated interpretation of the TV's image. It worked really well.

Garbage's music lost a lot of it's subtlety live. They don't use (much) sequenced stuff, there's no backing vocals. OK there were a couple of drum loops I spotted, but generally anything sampled was triggered by one of the guys on stage. So you get a much more raw interpretation of the songs. Shirley, two guitars, bass and drums. Overall excellent.

On a human note, the couple in front were interesting to watch. She was obviously not a fan, had probably only in the new album. He was obviously a die hard fan, new everything. The look she gave him when he wolf whistled waiting for the encore was priceless.

A fantastic evenings music

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Saturday May 14, 2005

Sisters' Tour

OK. So this is the first in the music section. For years I've been kind of an obsessive cumpulsive about music. I can handle it. I've just got a bit of a cold right now. And right now it's great because one of my favorite bands is going to tour this summer. The first time for a 2 years. Last time I saw them was in Leeds. Which was stonking. But they are now a festival band. They need the big field, the huge light setup. A sound system that shakes your trousers. So. This summer I will be mostly following the sisters. Here are the dates 06 August 2005 Netherlands Tilburg 013 08 August 2005 Belgium Lokeren Lokerse Festival 10 August 2005 Switzerland Zurich X-Tra 11 August 2005 Austria Vienna Vienna Arena Open Air 12 August 2005 Czech Republic Tabor Love Planet Festival Love Planet Festival tickets probably not on sale yet 14 August 2005 Germany Hildesheim M'era Luna Festival We're not sure which of these we'll be doing, but we're hoping to do at least 4. ... I'm really looking forward to this ...
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Chris W Beal

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