Archive for 2005-03

BBC News: Global Study

02005-03-31 @ 12:03

This report is essentially an audit of nature’s economy, and the audit shows we’ve driven most of the accounts into the red.

Music Industry

02005-03-29 @ 19:03

Wow, this is crazy!

I received the SACD of Romero’s album. And I didn’t hear anything!!!

I learned the that the industry has not been able to agree on a way to connect the SACD player to the Surround Sound System. Normally, one connects a DVD player via a coaxial digital audio cable or an optical digital audio cable to a processor, which in turn is hooked up to a surround sound amp – basically 6 amps for 5.1 surround sound (the .1 is the subwoofer) or 8 amps for 7.1 surround sound. Often the DVD player contains all of the processing and can send seperate outputs to a receiver.

Well, I found out that the industry hasn’t been able to agree on how to send SACD to a processor. Instead of using the coaxial digital audio cable or optical digital audio cable which already exists for Dolby or DTS, some use a FireWire cable – also known as IEEE 1394. Well, since my Lexicon processor is from 1997, it does not have a seperate FireWire input for SACD and my Pioneer DVD/SACD player does not have a FireWire output… To listen to SACD I would have to buy a new receiver – if I want to use the analog outputs of my existing DVD/SACD player, since my Parasound THX amp does not have any volume controls as that is controlled by the Lexicon processor… or I have to buy a new SACD player AND a new receiver, which both have the said FireWire interface.

Who cares? What were they thinking? They basically crippled the technology right from the start. How many people will spend thousands of dollars to listen to a pitifully small number of SACDs? Hilarious, actually. The music industry is shooting itself in the foot – again.


02005-03-29 @ 19:03

Looks like we are floating on water… there, look at those pillows. They might have been infested with moths already at that point. The little devils. I still see one fly about the recording room every once in a while, even though there is zero wool anywhere… I like to think it is a sole survivor looking for a non-existing mate. The Robinson Crusoe of moths. One lonely moth… how long can those insects live on air? What’s their life-span?

Summer Tour

02005-03-29 @ 12:03

I added more confirmed dates to the Summer tour. We have unconfirmed dates for Tuscon and Phoenix, AZ – but I am not supposed to let you know about those yet. I also sent out a note to our mailing list – please go to our homepage and click on mailing list if you want to receive email updates.

Flickr Tag Browser

02005-03-29 @ 08:03

Very cool little app.


02005-03-29 @ 08:03

Beautiful web site for Aisslinger’s Loftcube. Now if one could only carry a loftcube inside a backpack onto a suitable roof… then pull a lever and watch it assemble itself and voila – you are squatting in style on top of a 30 storey office building and they’ll never know you are there. I would love to put one of these up as a tea house and practice room…


02005-03-29 @ 07:03

Beautiful sunny Monday, which Jon and I spent in my studio. We went in at 11AM and somehow time accelerated and when I looked on my watch again it was 6PM and Jon was leaving and my stomach was growling because we had forgotten to eat lunch. And guess what – now it is snowing again…

What a mix of songs this album is: recorded over a timeframe of about three years, and containing 4 christmas songs, 2 classical pieces, and 6 original pieces. Did I mention it is snowing again?


02005-03-29 @ 07:03

It is difficult to imagine that water shortages could be a problem on a planet that is 75% water, however, only a tiny fraction of the earth’s water is drinkable and overconsumption and pollution of water supplies have stressed the world’s fresh water systems to the brink.

Today, over 1.2 billion people don’t have access to clean water to live. Every year, over 5 million people (many of them women and children) die of water-related diseases which are the world’s leading cause of illness. Additionally 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation and services that exacerbate these diseases.

World water day was last week, March22nd.

Monday Sunset

02005-03-28 @ 18:03

Monday Sunset


02005-03-27 @ 17:03

Doesn’t this make you sad that we don’t have a train culture in the USA?

Weather + Guitar

02005-03-27 @ 16:03

It is as if Winter and Spring are fighting. A few days ago 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then another foot of snow and freezing temperatures. Today the sun is shining and the melting snow is coming off the roof in a torrent of water… The ground is muddy because 6 inches of snow melted in less than 12 hours. Monday 60-70 degrees and then right back down and possibly more snow?

The trees are happy, very happy. Most pinons have shot up 3 inches to half a foot! Some branches were snapped by the snow, but already the pine trees are a rich green we haven’t seen in years.

Practiced guitar early in the morning and had a great time. The new Negra from Lester is getting better every week. What an amazing guitar! How lovely to hear a guitar find its voice.

Wrote a new Tangos piece a little while ago and have been refining it over time. I am tempted to record it right away, but decided that we should perform it this year and see where it goes, before I record it next Winter sometime, for the up close album. Very catchy tune.

Watched a documentary about Derrida, the father of deconstruction, which did not do much for me, and The Incredibles, which I thought was great.

Tomorrow Jon will add bass and keyboard on several new pieces I recorded for the Holiday album.

Oh, and although I ordered, and paid for, the SACD version of Romero’s Un Segundo Una Vida, I believe amazon sent me the regular CD, which might explain why the surround sound experience was less than thrilling. I listened to the album again on headphones, and did not like it much. Some nice elements, some nice playing, but it won’t make it on regular rotation here.

I listened to La Semana in the wee hours of the morning and yes, I am still very, very happy with it. Heard that the Italian label we want to use for distribution there is still on the fence about releasing La Semana – wanting, no doubt, more of a NF or Borrasca rumba sound. Well, 15 years have passed. I have shed all of my cells twice… Will I record more rumbas? Yes, of course. Will they sound like those songs from a decade and a half ago? I hope not. Will I write and record in a certain style because there is a demand for it? Yes, but under two conditions: 1. a nice fat advance and 2. not with my name on the CD.

Respect the Ditch

02005-03-26 @ 22:03

But you know, we saw a Hummer in the ditch too, come to think of it. My little front wheel drive Honda Accord made it much farther than that gargantuen Hummer. Why? Finess. Why? Agility. Why? Cuz I know I’m not invincible. I respect the ditch. In fact here’s an offering to all who own SUVs and Semis; The rubber on your tires is the same as the rubber on the tires of a Yugo. See? Rubber + Ice = Slip. Period. If I sound snotty it’s because 75% of the cars in the ditch were Semis and SUVs, exactly the vehicles that are supposed to be all-weather, but people think because their driving something big the laws of physics will somehow morph to accomodate them. Rubber + Ice = SLIP.
(Via stuart davis’s blog)

Eva Zeisel

02005-03-26 @ 15:03

Eva Zeisel: The Playful Search for Beauty, April 19 through December 4, 2005. At 98, Eva Zeisel is one of the most important and best-known designers in the United States.

The grande dame of American design. Find some images here. More info can be found here.

Green Machine

02005-03-26 @ 07:03

Global warming. There. We said it. So declared a 2001 advertisement taken out by Ford in newspapers nationwide. It was an unusually frank admission from an industry better known for pooh-poohing all evidence of rising greenhouse gas emissions. But carmakers have begun to do the math. Right now, there are about 800 million cars in active use. By 2050, as cars become ubiquitous in China and India, it’ll be 3.25 billion. That increase represents an enormous sales opportunity for automakers and an almost unimaginable threat to our environment. Quadruple the cars means quadruple the carbon dioxide emissions – unless cleaner, less gas-hungry vehicles become the norm.
(Via Wired News)

Must start looking further than to the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the year.

In another article Wired writes about the Prius:

Performance is adequate – if you don’t care about performance.

What performance? My Prius gets me from point A to B with perfect gas-saving performance. No, it would not sound impressive to rev the engine at a stoplight. No, it would not beat a Porsche off the line, and no, it could not take four hunters into the wilderness. But, I ask you, how much performance does a man need? What happens once you know that this performance comes at a price, a price we all have to pay: emissions? I think the Prius’ performance is perfectly fine for most applications. I have driven mine for a year now and yes, I still love it and would buy it again.

Life on a Mountain

02005-03-25 @ 18:03

Music: a new Blues in Buleria time called Winter for the Holiday album

3-4 inches of snow on the ground since this afternoon with a forecast of 27 degrees overnight – and for Monday the forecast is 60-70 degrees and Sunny.


02005-03-25 @ 15:03

Bought Un Segundo Una Vida by Romero. It is a SACD Hybrid, which means it has two layers, one for your regular stereo CD player, and another single-bit surround-sound layer for SACD enabled CD/DVD players. You can find more info on SACD here.

I picked this CD, because DigiDesign had a feature article about this project on their web site and it was up for a new Surround Sound Award. It is my first SACD, but I have about a dozen DTS Surround discs, my favorite being Gaucho by Steely Dan.

I listened on a B&W THX Surround Sound speaker system, using 3 of these, 2 of these and 2 of these speakers, powered by Parasound THX Amplifiers. It is a 5.2 speaker configuration, that is Left Front, Center, Right Front, Right Side, Left Side, Left Subwoofer and Right Subwoofer. Everything was flat, no EQ, all speakers set to neutral output.

Nice guitar playing, but overall I did not like it very much. That is, I liked the sense of space, but not the overall sound… but that could be the mix, I thought, and switched to another room with a Parasound CD Player and Stereo Amp, connected to the Gallo Reference Speakers. Here it was clear that the producer has a mixing style I do not like. Too much bass taking up too much space. Too much low-end everywhere. I prefer to EQ all my reverb returns – a simple roll-off of all frequencies below 150, because I find that it clears up the imaginary room and lets the music breath better. If you use a lot of bass and then leave all that low end in the reverb’s reflections – wow, it gets too rich very fast. And that’s the impression I got from this recording. Too rich, too much.

I will call a high-end audio dealer here in town to hear the CD again on another system, since my surround sound system is almost a decade old and my DVD/SACD player was not very expensive.

I am intrigued by the possibilities, but really there has not been a lot of great product available. People are still finding their legs with it. But since it looks to have a lot of potential, I am going to look into how much a SACD Hybrid costs to manufacture. It is a possibility for up close or Tears in the Rain, but I am still wondering how many people will bother getting a decent surround sound system. Now, if they developed great surround sound headphones for a decent price it would be another story.

PS: I thought about this some more:

1. It seems to me that the microphone and its placement, and the microphone pre-amp are much more important that the bit rate or sampling rate of the recording. La Semana sounds better than most guitar recordings that were done at higher bit and sampling rates.
2. There has to be a trade-off for either investing in surround sound equipment or renting a surround-sound equipped studio for mixing my next album. I don’t see it. Even though I think it is fun to sit in the sweet spot of a nice system and to spend an hour really listening to music, I don’t think that is what most of us do most of the time. I spend more time listening to a simple stereo system playing music in the background – or on my iPod, with earphones. I am sure that there is a certain novelty effect and that some publicity might be gained from releasing a good SACD, but at this point at don’t see that it is worth it – although I will continue researching it.
3. I think the medium to mix for right now is not surround sound, but headphones! And that is exactly what I am doing with the new Holiday album. I find myself using my Stax Ear Speakers a lot when I am making rough mixes.

This is not going to be you regular Christmas CD. It will sound great with headphones and on your regular stereo and you will want to play it long after the Holidays are over.


02005-03-25 @ 13:03

Music: Drawn from Life – Brian Eno

This age, known as Very Beautiful, Very Beautiful, lasted 400 trillion oceans of years, and gave way to that known as Very Beautiful, which – as the name suggests – was exactly half as fortunate as the former. The wish-fulfilling trees, the earth, and the waters were only half as bountiful as before. Men and women were only four miles tall, had only 128 ribs, lived for only two periods of countless years, and passed to the world of the gods when their twins were only 64 days old. This period lasted 300 trillion oceans of years, declining gradually but inevitably to the stage called Sorrowfully Very Beautiful, when joy became mixed with grief.
– Jainist story of origins, sixth century BCE”


02005-03-24 @ 11:03

The new New Order. Great album cover. Not a fan of their music, but their album designs have always been pretty great.

RFID Implant

02005-03-24 @ 11:03

This man has implanted an RFID chip into his left hand, allowing him to open his car door and house without using a key. It also allows him too log onto his computer automatically.
(Via Protein Feed.)

I bet that saves him about 4 minutes of time per day, which he can use to play Doom?

Banksy Hits NYC

02005-03-24 @ 10:03

The work of street artist, graffiti writer, and over all mischievously impressive prankster ‘Banksy‘, never seizes to amaze me–but this time he really hit a home run. Banksy hit New York’s most famous museums, dressed as a British pensioner. He entered the Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (shown above), and the Museum of Natural History, carrying some unusual works to install. He installed his own works in each location, along with a name plaque and explanation. It seems from the pictures that he had no issues with security, and waltzed in and out without distraction. The pieces at the MET and MoMA were discovered after some time and taken down. The other two pieces still remain for the publics viewing. Goodness, what an excellent job.

More pictures and info @ Wooster Collective
(Via Josh Rubin: Cool Hunting)


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