Deceleration

life / out and about
Pool.

This year’s trip to the Canary Islands was perhaps one of the most relaxing I have ever enjoyed.

Flawless weather (including hot Sahara winds for two full days and nights) with endless hours of sunshine, late-night walks along moonlit beaches, hours spent at Cafe La Ola /slash/ Dreams (with liters of Cacique), absolutely brilliant food at two of my favorite harbor restaurants, La Taberna in Puerto Calero and Taberna de Nino in Puerto del Carmen, long walks to all of my favorite (tourist-free) spots, tons of reading and … little else.

Service and everything else at my hotel of choice (for the fourth time these past years, a true first in my many years of traveling) was flawless.

This time, the soundtrack was provided almost exclusively by one of my favorite ambient albums, “World of Sleepers” by Carbon Based Lifeforms (2015).

Pure bliss.

P.S.: Photo -> Hotel pool (Hotel Las Costas, Lanzarote).

Herbert von Karajan

life / listening to / thoughts
Herbert von Karajan

For years, I’ve had discussion with music fans about the importance of Herbert von Karajan, a conductor I disliked with a serious passion. In 2008, Norman Lebrecht summed up my feelings and thoughts better than I could ever have attempted in a rather polemic summary of Karajan’s life and accomplishments. Excerpts below:

“[…] The centenary of his birth this weekend is being marked by an outpouring of product from a music industry that he raised to prosperity and propelled to near-ruin. If the mainstream of classical recording has shrivelled to a trickle in the past five years, that is the inevitable aftermath of the Karajan glut. If classical music itself is widely (if unfairly) considered to be elitist, staid and retrospective, we have Herbert von Karajan to thank for making it a safe, corporate entertainment at prohibitively priced festivals. […]

He manipulated the record industry by divide and rule, always working with two major labels while courting a third. […]

Almost everything Karajan conducted came out super-smooth, like cotton undershirts from a washing conditioner. […] If he had any kind of genius, it was for organisation and opportunity.

[…] Karajan learned from Goebbels how to play one man against another, among other black political arts. He strutted his stuff in occupied Paris and Amsterdam, to all effects the Nazi poster boy. […] After Furtwängler’s death in 1954 he became conductor for life in Berlin, using the Reich’s broken capital as his bridgehead for imperial expansion. His home town festival in Salzburg was converted into a black-tie thrice-yearly assembly of industrial plutocrats, masters of the universe. […]

Reactionary by nature, he stuck to the classical and romantic mainstream, excluding non-tonal music and ulterior styles of performance. Christoph von Dohnanyi went so far as to accuse him of destroying the German conducting tradition by imposing his narrow tastes so monumentally on the art. […]

His hegemony was autocratic, brooking no contradiction. […] He knew no loyalty except to himself. His love of music was confined to the way he made it. […]

Some, like myself, found his attitude anti-musical. I have trouble listening to Karajan on the radio with any kind of equanimity. […] For music lovers, there is not much to celebrate. Once the centenary is over, we will drop the curtain once and for all on a discreditable life that yielded no fresh thought and upheld no worthwhile human value. Karajan is dead. Music is much better off without him.”

[Link: Norman Lebrecht: The clapped-out legacy of Karajan that impoverished classical music. Independent Online, April 6, 2008]]

WinCatalog

new / new apps
WinCatalog (2016).

As storage media grow in size, so does the number of files stored on them and, if you back up your precious data regularly, as you should, it won’t take long until you have a large array of, for example, external drives stashed away in various places, often labelled cryptically or not at all.

Backing up my files and mirroring them across several drives has become a habit that has saved my life several times already, but at some point, the sheer number of files stored away from my PC became overwhelming, especially when the data backed up from an internal disk had to be spanned across several external drives, several times. The core library of music ripped from my collection, for example, resides on a 3.8 terabyte partition on my PC and is backed up across several 500GB, 1TB, 1,5TB, 2TB, 3TB and 5TB drives regularly, some of which should be reaching their end-of-life cycle pretty soon.

It has always boggled my mind that Windows or other systems don’t offer a built-in backup management solution (with mirroring) that is safe, user-friendly and can quickly and easily help you find and retrieve any files quickly and securely without packing them into (often compressed) backup images, so for years I have been running my own solutions that were usually more – but often less – successful. No matter how anally retentive I was about keeping notes, at some point a quick last-minute backup to be on the safe side remained unlabeled and uncatalogued and screwed things up when trying to find the latest version.

In steps WinCatalog (2016), a program I ended up with rather quickly after extensively sampling the various other free and commercial disk cataloging programs available. Essentially, WinCatalog reads and catalogs any internal or external media you throw at it and stores a catalog of whatever it finds on those media in its own database. As any good database application should, it then helps you to view, organize (for example in virtual collections) and label the information it stored and, if used properly, helps you to find any file you are looking for very quickly via various search algorithms that help you to narrow down what you are looking for on the many external media you have. If those are then labelled properly, it is a piece of cake to restore – for example – a single song you accidentally deleted or pictures taken on a certain day that somehow disappeared from your internal drive.

WinCatalog – around, regularly updated and supported since 2001 – has quickly become a core component of my very own backup strategy that also consists of other software* that I use to securely store several identical uncompressed backups of all of my files externally and I have no idea how I have managed to exist without it for so long.

Highly (!) recommended.

Thank you, Michael Rusakov.

***

*I’ll cover the other programs that have become essential in future posts on this site.

Bobo Moreno & Noisy Neighbours

life / listening to
Bobo Moreno & The Noisy Neighbours (Stunt, 1998).

I have no idea, but I would assume that I have anywhere between 5000 and 15.000 CDs.
Could be more.
No idea.

Bobo Moreno & Noisy Neighbours’ (only) album from 1998 has been in my top 50 ever since it was released. Every so often it moves to a top-10 position on my rig – like right now –  and it is one of the very few CDs I have listened to so often that the copy that I ripped to my PC is probably a lot more reliable than the original CD I bought when it came out. That one probably has more scratches, Gin & Rum splotches and fingerprints than any of the other regularly-played CDs I have.

Bobo Moreno has been so much all over the musical map that it has been a frustrating experience for all of his fans, but on this CD, he just rips it up. It’s a CD that hails from Denmark, a country that hasn’t exactly been on the international musical map (despite its excellent musicians and bands) besides your average pop dross and an occasional rocker or two, but this CD just rocks, although, I suspect, not all too many copies were sold at a time when other music and styles were prominent.

Besides Moreno ripping the hell out of a whole bunch of (mostly) cover tunes, this CD has exactly the drum sound that I could and would kill for (a really fat and dry bass drum + a punchy snare, to boot), embedded in a cohesive band sound (the guitar and organ are fabulous) that just gets my juices flowing. Jesper Mechlenburg (drums, beat and percussion) is responsible for it and I don’t care how he achieved the sound … my Marantz system and the Dynaudio speakers pump this stuff across the landscape as if there was no tomorrow.

It’s one of my favorites and, if you at all care, have a look around for online samples, which there are plenty of.

Highlights? Too many to mention, as there isn’t a single second on this CD I don’t like, but check out their version of Disco Inferno (yep), Shame, Shame, Shame, the opening track, A Place to Turn, Stuck in the Middle … and so on, and so forth. This is party music that you can/must run on repeat. It grooves like hell.

***

Bobo Moreno & The Noisy Neighbours. Bobo Moreno & The Noisy Neighbours. Sundance [SU 9035-2], 1998.

Tracks:
01.
A Place To Turn (P. Lavon, J. Rugsted & S. Kreutzfeldt) – 4:03
02. Hot Stuff (H. Faltermeyer, K. Forsey, P. Bellotte) – 3:20
03. Disco Inferno (L. Green, R. Kersey) – 3:34
04. For What It’s Worth (S. Stills) – 3:28
05. Back To Where It Started From (J. Rugsted) – 4:37
06. Shame, Shame, Shame (S. Robinson) – 3:20
07. Stuck In The Middle (G. Rafferty, J. Egan) – 3:32
08. I Believe When I Fall In Love With You [It Will Be Forever] (S. Wonder) – 3:38
09. Hard To Handle (Jones, Isbell, Redding) – 2:11
10. See Things My Way (B, Moreno, P. Halberg) – 3:40
11. Love The One You’re With (S. Stills) – 3:07
12. Crazy (W. Nelson) – 3:19

Personnel:
Lead Vocals
– Bobo Moreno
Guitar – Janus Nyeborg
Lap Steel Guitar – Gustaf Ljunggren
Bass – Nikolaj Davidsen
Drums – Jesper Mechlenburg
Backing Vocals – Bobo Moreno, Susanne Marcussen, Trille Palsgård

Engineer – Thomas Brekling
Executive-Producer – Peter Littauer
Mastered By – Jørgen Knub
Mixed By – Thomas Brekling
Organ [Hammond] – Dan Hemmer
Organ [Wurlitzer] – Dan Hemmer
Percussion – Bobo Moreno, Jesper Mechlenburg
Producer – Thomas Brekling
Synthesizer [Moog] – Dan Hemmer

***

P.S.: I saw Bobo Moreno live in many, many different constellations (rock, funk, jazz, pop, fusion ….) and he always delivered.

How the Music Got Free

life / thoughts
How the Music Got Free (Viking, 2005).

I’m currently having a blast reading this rip-roaring yarn of how MP3, at least for a while, threatened to kill an entire industry. It’s a well-informed book which, if you were there, jump-starts a whole bunch of recollections.

Stephen Witt, currently hailing from New York, provides us with a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the music industry, its sometimes frustratingly block-headed bigwigs and, with much panache, a glimpse of the thriving pirate networks that had their own set of values and, as much as the music industry, a highly competitive demeanor.

A real page turner.
Highly recommended.

***

Stephen Witt. How the Music got Free. Viking, June 2015.

  • Finalist for the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize,
  • finalist for the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize,
  • finalist for the 2015 Financial Times Book of the Year,
  • finalist for the 2015 Business Book of the Year,
  • a New York Times Editors’ Choice,
  • and one of the year’s best books in  The Washington Post, Slate, The Atlantic, Time and Forbes.

Weingut Hörner

life / out and about
Weingut Hörner.

Horns.
It’s all about horns.

Several years down the road, “Weingut Hörner” (German) still produces my favorite wines in a region that is positively brimming with excellent wines. In fact, many wine lovers would kill to live where I do, right on the edge of two of Germany’s best wine regions.

The quality Thomas Hörner (a mere 25 years old) has managed to produce these past years (he took over in 2013) is absolutely astonishing. I’m drawn to his wines every single time I go on major wine tasting trips, only to end up once again with a couple of crates of either his “Sauvignon Blanc“, “Weissburgunder” or “Gelber Muskateller” (or just about any other wine he produces in “my” price bracket around 8 to 10 Euro per bottle).

Hörner is a member of the ever-growing group of those young and fine winemakers who have all but revolutionized wine making in south-western Germany. Out went the old “safe” wines that everyone had gotten all too complacent about and in came the young blood, risk-taking, revamped design and a ton of passion.

This summer is going to be grand just because of people like Thomas Hörner.

Scann-Tec – Unyt

listening to
Scann-Tec - Unyt (2016).

I love myself some good ambient music more often than not and Scann-Tec’s “Unyt” is a recent 2016 favorite.

Scann-Tec is Vladislav Isaev, a Russian music composer and sound sculptor from Moscow.

“Unyt” is available for 10.- Euro (or more, if you like) as a 24-bit download from Ultimae/Bandcamp. As someone wrote in a brief review, “[…] The 70-minute “Unyt” is a subdued dynamic ride full of hidden beauty, emotive currents, ethereal spheres and holdback grooviness percolating onward consistently and smoothly. I’d say there’s a kind of hypnotizing veil hanging over the carefully mapped out structures and patterns (especially on “Unyt”, “Svet”, “Klinostat” and “Parsec”) that keep the listener’s attention.

Just up my alley.