Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rock Swings anyone?...

Paul Anka?, yes! and this album was released in Jun 2005. It was recorded at Capitol Studio "A" with live big band recording, awesome!. I can really feel the sense of being in front of the performers. The ambiance of the venue was greatly captured into the recording and I feel like conducting the band. Paul Anka's unmistakeable voice takes on some of the greatest songs giving new and original interpretations to it.

Full tracks listing as follows:

It's my life
True
Eye of the tiger
Everybody hurts
Wonderwall
Black hole sun
It's a sin
jump
Smells like teen spirit
Hello
Eyes without a face
The Lovecats
The way you make me feel
Tears in heaven

The opening track of it's my life with catchy drum beats can really reveals the quality of the recording. The trombones and trumpets at the right side with Sax (Alto/Tenor) on the left side can be greatly defined. My favorite track is Jump originally by Van Halen, I can't stop foot tapping till the song ends. Total contrast on Everybody hurts, Paul Anka's voices are so soothing, and relax with finest clarity of resonance.

Rock Swings
On Black hole sun, the new arrangement was beautifully executed and as a whole of this album I can now really understand or comprehend the lyrics.

This is great recording, brilliantly performed, and Anka sings & swings his heart out. Sonically amazing, musically impeccable, vocally superb, this album swings hard from start to finish. He deserves these accolades...

Recommended!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My life and music in me

I was born in a family that suffered a real struggle for living way back in early 70's, but we're not a broken family for sure. At the age of three, my mother took me and my younger sister travel from Kedah, Malaysia to down south, Singapore with all basic needs to start a new life in Singapore. This was my mother's first ever longest journey with little money to spare. My father working as a care taker in Singapore local construction's site office at that time was earning too little for us to rent a house and you know what?...we lived in a construction area in a wooden long house which has few rooms like motel but 0 star rated with one family for one room. They called it "Kotai"

I did my early kindergarten class at the age of four and that was the first time I've been introduced into music with nursery rhymes with teacher on piano playing the songs. I was so happy and excited and that was the only time for me to enjoy music as my family can't afford to send me to any music classes. Me and my sister started to sing a songs from radio..she'll be the singer and I'll make all the sounds of music vocally and banging the small empty biscuit tin, It was fun though. To earn extra money my mother had to find way to help my father and she made an effort to prepare local hot savoury like curry puff etc.. to be sold at nearby workers canteen, I was the curry puff delivery boy back then.

Age five, we moved to Kuala Lumpur while my father still working in Singapore. We rented a small house attached to owner's main house in suburban area. Time back then was very basic, I can't afford to have new toys like any other kids. So building a kites and to see them fly was so great and sometime we do play combat game with self-made wooden rifle with rubber band along the barrel as a bullet (wild cherry) launcher...quite painful!. I reckon people that have same age with me and living in the suburban area will familiar with those games...Milo tins with full of sand made as a roller (can be multiple stacked), Bola chop and Kara Kondi to name a few.

I still remember when my mother told me that the owner of the house are very nice couple. They sometime peeped through the wall to see what we having for lunch or dinner and she will share her cooked dishes. My mother doesn't know this until she noticed an eye watching over us through a small hole only after few months. We can't thank her enough...she's been very generous.

When I about to start going to school, we moved once again to another suburban area and still renting. Time still bad for our family and we couldn't spend on anything else other than to put food on the table. I didn't remember this but my mother told us about one day that really made her cry. One evening while playing with friends, an ice cream man came as usual. All friends rushed to home to get some money to buy an ice cream. While they are enjoying that, my mother calls us into the house and released back only after they finished the ice cream. She did that because she couldn't look at us looking others enjoying the ice cream as she didn't have any money to buy for us, not even 5 cents and that's really breaks her heart.

After a year our family managed to buy a house in that area and it was not big but cheap & good enough. 1979 my youngest sister was born, the last siblings in family. I was in standard one in primary school and again music lesson is the most favorite one. Mrs Ho was my music teacher and she taught us new song on every lesson and she's really good on piano. There are lots of percussion instruments but the drum (single tom with plastic stick) was always mine!...you can't touch that. Mrs Ho will hand over the drum to me on every time percussionist is needed...am I good at timing and beat?, I don't know. At home I love air drumming and sometime will use my mom's shopping bag sticks to bang the table, pot cover (cymbals) or anything around me.

It's until 1987 when I was in form three and the seniors are looking for a drummer for them to form a band. In a classroom when teachers was not around or in between change of teacher for different subjects, I'll be drumming at my desk and my friend will sing. He thought that I can really play drums and he approached the seniors and gives my name. I take this as an opportunity even though I haven't touch a real drums or even the sticks! and all these while is my imaginations of drumming. The seniors list down a few songs for me to practice for the weekend session. They were from Rusty Blade, Lefthanded, Search (all rock bands) and one to kill time song lambada...ha..ha.

One day, me and seniors (Jeff, Ard & Nizam) went to the jamming studio (Wilayah Complex) I was nervous but cool..I have to, it's do or die mission. From the first until the last songs, I played flawlessly without any glitch and they didn't noticed that was my first time ever on drums. What make me feel good more when another band's drummer (Raja) ask me the beat for the opening song of Rusty Blade. We were jamming few times until they left the school as it was their final year.

Then I started to learn guitar from friend (Vicky) and that was in 1988 when my family lived in Bandar Tun Razak (Sri Kota). After few month I met one guitar genius, his name Lan. We started jamming at staircase area almost everyday after school. We met few friends and formed a band with my friend Rizal as a drummer. We still jamming on rock genre songs as it was the time when new rock bands coming out with new album almost every few weeks. All these happen until mid 1989. In late 1989 I take the drums again and we managed to performed for one night session at Metallica Pub in Pertama Kompleks. Roger, a white American guy was the manager and keen to have us to perform that night right after early evening session from Blues Gang's former band members but Julian Mokhtar was not there...damn what a shame. We were playing songs from Loudness (Japanese rock band) and songs from local rock bands like May, Search, Wings..etc. After the show Gary the Pub cum DJ person in charge told us that we are very good..yeah!!! and he wanted to have us to perform at the pub nightly. Wow, that was hard to refuse but we rejected as few others are still in school.

Mid of 1990 was the time that I met old friends from school (another band members - Charlie & Din) and we hang out occasionally at Central Market..the place for meeting point at that time. They were looking for a drummer and ask me if I interested but with an audition . Yes, why not and few days later we booked the studio and start the audition. "Classmate" the band which already have their new album come to join us as they are Charlie's friends. They accepted me as a drummer and list out the songs for next jamming session. This band are almost Stryper cloned band, a rock band from US which has good heavy metal and weeping ballad songs. This is the peak of my time as a drummer and as a band member. We've been sponsored and coached during jamming from one band manager...and this is a serious shit.

During this time I feel a little bit different than normal people as I sleep in day time and alive & kicking at night time. This couldn't be me, my mother concern about my future and this not going to be my way of life..making money through music. This is the wake up call and since then, I continue my studies and start working few years later. I still enthusiastic about playing music and sometime I did performed during annual dinner of company and that's it, 1996 is the end.

3 years back , my old friends from former company called me for a jamming session, but this time as a bassist. Deep Purple, Bad Co, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, Jimmy Hendrix, Sweet Charity, Led Zeppelin are the numbers. Well, for music sake I'm game for it but not as serious as before due to time constraints. Here I go again...whitesnake
Thanks for your time...

Jazz Bass '62 Japan Reissue by myridzwan.
My Very Own Fender Bass Guitar

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stereotype audiophiles...

In many years into this hobby - listening music through hi-fidelity system, has taught me a lot in this great journey of audiophile/music lover. Some people are to obsessed as if nothing in this world is more important than..so called being an "audiophile or hifi lover",  but it makes you be at home...wife will like it.

Many audiophiles venture into this hobby are mostly because of good sound reproduction in certain system at the hifi show or perhaps friend's home system. Not many who are really music lover or real enthusiast in music, which means knowledge in music, love music since younger age or can play any musical instrument ( a very brief knowledge/skills is good enough). You can tell this by browsing through their music collections and those who are really love the "sounds" of hifi will have lots of test reference disc or cover version of songs from audiophile artist recorded in "enhanced" resolution. Don't get me wrong, discovering music at later stage is fine. There's a fine line between music lover and hi-fidelity sound lover, but these can be brought together in order to enjoy the music to the utmost.

Definition about music from thefreedictionary.com:

mu·sic (myzk)
n.
1. The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
2. Vocal or instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm.

So, banging of drums intermittently from loud to the softest passage, to listen to shakers from left to right of the speakers or getting sucked into acres of depth in sound resolution, isn't about music. The blueman show making music from non musical instruments like plastic pipes..is more musical!.

Lack of experience or knowledge in music will make them to find a mentor or guru as to seek guidance and reference to achieve the best sound. Thus, will make their view and sound reproduction a little stereotype because of too dependent on someone's knowledge which is right or wrong is another issue. Not only that, they will try to make their system sounds closest possible from listening session or home visit. This is a very subjective issue on music reproduction and no one can be very right. If recording engineers or an artists produced a reference note on how the music should be heard, that would be a little help but not 100% as our perception, understanding & system response towards music are varies.

For instance, recently there is one journal or magazine about music/hifi in the local scene and it features lots of informative tips. It has few topics and the one that interest me most was the "listen critically" section from one of the most highly regarded hifi guru in Malaysia. ( joseph ki [listen critically] - audiophile guru Jo ki talking about 5 audiophile albums that impress him) .
image from http://desirableaudio.blogspot.com/2009/02/mtx-out-soon.html
 
In one topic about "first we take Manhattan" by Jennifer Warnes, he mentioned about the singer, Ms. Warnes had cleared her throat "herk" and "hHem"at 15th - 16th seconds into the song and many audiophiles surely will dig out this cd or rush to the store to buy one as to listen and to find whether the system can reveal the "extras". In one review about this guru system, the reviewer couldn't find the "herk" back in his system and that surely a very unwelcome findings!. The guru is using LS3/5a speakers which has midbass (could be upper bass region) boom, hump or bloom in its design as to gives more on clear vocals as being used by BBC sound engineers. It has been used in a van as a mobile studio to monitor recording/transmission such as live telecast. Anything that falls in that spectrum will be prominently audible. (http://www.affordablevalvecompany.com/ls3_5a.htm)

The tale's been told many times: Back in the early 1970s, the British Broadcasting Corporation needed a small nearfield monitor for use in remote-broadcast trucks. A team led by T. Sommerville and D.E. Shorter, both of the BBC's Research Department, developed the two-way, sealed-box LS3/5, based on a small monitor they'd designed for experiments in acoustic scaling. The speaker showed much promise, but problems with the drive-units—a woofer with a doped Bextrene 5" cone and a 1" Mylar-dome tweeter—led to a detailed redesign, the LS3/5a, carried out by Dudley Harwood, also of the Research Department (and later to found Harbeth), and Maurice E. Whatton and R.W. Mills, of the BBC's Designs Department (footnote 1).
The only limitations of the LS3/5a were intended to be those arising from the necessarily small enclosure and the absence, under nearfield monitoring conditions, of the need for a wide dynamic range. Despite its intended use as a nearfield monitor close to a boundary (the studio mixing console), the LS3/5a proved equally effective used as a conventional stand-mounted speaker in free space. Not only did the rise in its upper-bass response give the impression that there was more bass than there actually was, it also provided a degree of baffle-step compensation that resulted in a neutral in-room midrange balance. (The "baffle step" rise in a speaker's on-axis freefield response is due to the size of the speaker's front baffle, which is much smaller than the wavelength of the sound the speaker emits at low frequencies, becoming equal to or less than the wavelength in the midrange. Although the speaker puts out the same energy in the midrange as it does in the bass, the restriction of that energy to a narrower window in the midrange results in a rise in response above the baffle-step frequency.)- Stereophile


One has to really understand few aspects of recordings, perfect/typical studio recording, live studio recording or live event recording. These effects (herk, ahem, inhale, exhale) can be "added" into the song as part of emotion of the singer or musician but here we're talking about this specific song by Ms Warnes. At least, we should consider in this recording that Ms. Warnes only came into vocal on 24th seconds of the song.

This affected me as well and my finding is different!. From my observation , it was not "herk" as clearing throat but a muted guitar strings and later follow slide along the frets (wow!..not bad at all to have such revealing system at my amateur level..;). I called my friend to tell him about my finding and without listen to the track he already assumed that the guru is correct and I don't blame him as to put myself in his position, to believe a guru or an amateur audiophile with little knowledge in music like me.

It's hard to argue on this and differ from guru's statement as he is highly respected audiophile, so I better get things right. I decided to get better clarification from the "ultimate" source of info and spot on, I'm dead right.

The quotes:

* "I forwarded your message when I received it.....probably won't hear until tomorrow. She has physically been present for all the re-mastering from original tapes....so I know she wouldn't let a "pin drop" escape...much less an "ahem"....but I may be incorrect. I'll try to get a definitive answer for you...when she has time out of her schedule"

*"Well....thanks for thinking I'm fast...you just happened to catch me at a time when we had some time to do this....sometimes we don't answer people's notes for a few months...
But in your case..here is a rare personal response from Ms. Warnes. This must be only for your use and not to be quoted in anything...even an audiophile blog on the web....anything you intend to put "out there"...you need to get her permission as what she writes is copyrighted automatically. Dee

That’s Stevie absolutely. In musicians’ aesthetic parlance, any sound which happens by accident or on purpose during the physical act of getting the instrument to respond properly, ( finger noise, resin on a bow, feedback from an amp, strings squeaking) prove that playing a musical instrument is really hard work. (Analogy: the breath before a note can’t be separated from the following note, they are one thing.... a plie’ is the first half of a leap. The organic farmer is half of a healthy meal.
In the old days we hid the trickery and the work involved. We slept in our curlers.
Not only the final result is important. Musicians work with resistant material (bodies, bronchitis, guitars with unpliable strings, machines with bad batteries) to create sound.
Reality is in fashion now." international copyright of Jennifer Warnes 2009

The above quotes from Ms Warnes shouldn't be produced in any other forms, it's copyright protected. I've obtained this right personally through emails and I've tagged in red as a reminder.

further quote from Dee "I should clarify yet again....Mr Vaughn's guitar makes many different sounds as he goes about his work in playing the introduction..it is not a human sound of anything in anyone's throat..no choke..no cough."

I'm looking forward to listen to his system - sting


http://www.dudes411.com/GuitarsStevieRayVaughan.jpg

I fell in love with music, then make love through hifi....

update on 30/3/09, I had an audition to Jo Ki's system. At beginning of the session, we had few high resolution cds on ethnic/world music, the system on these particular music is utterly musical and 3D in presentation. The depth and the ambiance are great with pinpointing separation of the instruments are almost palpable. On Dire Straits's private investigation (proper music diet to my liking), all those quality are still there with bags of detail but slightly less musical to my personal preference (just my preference). Whitesnake - Starkers in Tokyo (live acoustic version of Coverdale & Vandenberg), I can really connects to intimate one vocal & one guitar live jamming. It was honest, minimalist & pure performance/recording. We've listen to cds & vinyls and without doubt vinyl still topple cd's sound. On Jennifer Warnes - first we take Manhattan, the verdicts still the same. If your system could revealed the "extras",  It's not herk, herm, choking whatsoever and it should be easily recognized if you know about music/instruments and how they played.