Category Archives: Music

My passion: #Music! All song and instruments and concerts and their impact to … well: me, in essence – but maybe others, too. As said earlier: I’m one human being in a whole – hence cannot run a blog with only the Technology part of my life …

Longplay

We are the sole generation to watch vinyl’s decline and(!) rise!

  • These days, news reported vinyl purchases to exceed digital downloads.
  • My birthday this year saw a very special present: My brother had produced his first ever record. Circulation: 2 – one for him and one for me!
  • My last turntable didn’t make a move anymore for more than 15 years; I recently disconnected it from my HiFi – it still lurked around somewhere …

However, with that disc – that black shining vinyl disc from my brother – at hand, I had to find a way to listen to it …

A 70ies kid

I “learned” music in the 70ies. My dad had kind-of an album of single records: Kinks, Walker Brothers, … one had Omar Sharif on the cover, I recall (no clue what that one was). Also some LPs – Roger Whittaker, Bert Kaempfert, … I grew up with that stuff. We had a Lenco compact HiFi system with a turntable. It exists to the day. Records were played “wet” (anyone here knows what this means?).

Later my bro and I owned a cassette player – mono – which we used to create our own “samplers” from the albums we found at home. I recall, that some day in 1986 or 1987 I played Jethro Tull’s “Bursting Out” to my parents on my dad’s HiFi – and tried to explain it to them … they probably laughed upon my enthusiasm 😉

1988

My brother and I found a chance to leave home for a few days; we decided to visit friends in Kassel. Back in these days, HiFi was cheaper in Germany. I already owned some vinyl and needed a turntable of my own. My brother – bastard! – wanted his first ever CD (shall I mention that he was the one to buy a DCC recorder in the days when Minidiscs hadn’t made the race? – another story to tell another time ;))

After a week of fun, we returned home on a long motorway ride with a Technics CD Player (which still exists, too) and a Thorens turntable (the most basic you could get) in the booth of our Golf II — — and were caught on the border. In the end, that stuff cost us the same amount as in Austria – BUT Hey!: I had my first own turntable.

I later exchanged that one for a Technics – as it had more semi-automated controls (still sad, that the Thorens vanished into dust in some cellar).

Compact Disc

I commenced “Communication Engineering and Electronics” in autumn 1988. And one of my first classroom presentations was about compact disc technology. I was amazed by what technology could do with music! In the same year, “Flim & the BBs” recorded their album “Tricycle” fully digital – “DDD”, the formular for pure technical sound – still my favourite HiFi testing album of all times; while purist discussions in those years circulated around the inability of CDs to reproduce overtone harmonics and the warmth of an analogue vinyl recording.

In the years after, I moved most of my vinyl collection into a well cared archive. Some time between 1995 and 1999 I recall to own my first computer-based CD recorder. Some of my self-recorded – digitalized – vinyl CD-copies date from that time. And some vinyl of earlier times vanished in those days as I didn’t deem’em important …

Over time, my CD collection grow to a decent 1800 pieces store. And I admit, that I am proud of some stuff that can be found in there …

Rooting

I never understood about the capabilities of a DJ until around 2014 I discovered Freestyle Furioso! Dedicated to vinyl with a feel for the right tune to come … made me think of my polymere at home – still lingering in some cupboards …

And then – on occasion 2016 – I received that previously mentioned “disc”; one of the best presents I ever got … so – well: I had to find a way to play it — and therefore purchased the 3rd turntable ever in my entire life!

The only thing I didn’t expect was the overwhelming joyous shiver down my spine, when the first tone elapsed of it …

 

 

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Another facebook music challenge

Music

I was invited to participate in a new facebook game. Everybody knows, I dislike those and wouldn’t participate. A few friends know that I cannot refrain from participating in a musical challenge.

So, what follows now is the collection of “7 days – 7 pieces“.

I proclaimed my overarching theme to be “Rarities”, hence tried my best to find rarely played bands, singers and/or tracks.

Day 1

Sandi Thom – Scottland – Singer/Songwriter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandi_Thom

Or this one: “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair)”

 

Day 2

slowfrog – Austria – Progressive Funk on a level pretty unreached – unfortunate that they ceased to exist (well, at the moment): http://www.slowfrog.net/

Day 3

Ever dived into Viennese song tradition? The “Wienerlied” – the typical Viennese folk music – has gone a long and beautiful path through time and – sometimes – world. These days (months, some years actually) there’s a new kind of Viennese folk emerging – well – actually: has already emerged! “Die Strottern” are one of that kind and Peter Ahorner is (one of) their ever-great lyricist. The following needs close listening but may be a bit tough for non-native speakers …

Day 4

When talking about New Folk – new Austrian folk – there’s a band one *must* *not* *miss*. Their music is amongst the most beautiful of music, I’ve heard since long – a crossover of traditional Austrian folk with innovative sounds and arrangements reaching as far as Jazz elements sometimes – undescribable, actually 🙂

Day 5

Doing a huge leap to a completely different genre: Vocalism. To me “The Real Group” is one of the utmost best of its kind. And here comes the song which led me onto their path …:

Day 6

And now for something completely different (again ;)): This is BritPop – or is it Singer/Songwriter? Well … anyway: We used to listen to this without halt during the early 90ies, and to date this record has a special place in my collection – even though musically seen this isn’t much of a bummer, I think – I just love it: Boo Hewredine’s & Darden Smith’s “Evidence”:

Day 7

And finally – no music series without The Beatles. But as rarely anything from the Fab Four is rare, here’s the trick: “Thenewno2” – the intro track of their debut album is the closing track of my little #7days7songs collection (leaving it up to you to guess the Beatles connection ;))

 

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The Big Data Evolution (updated)

In 1969 (the year I was born), an 8″ floppy disc by IBM was able to capture 80 KB (or 80 * 1024 = 81.920 byte). Only IBM could write to it; for “normal” people it was read-only.

In 1976, an 5,25″ single-side floppy disc could store 110 KB (112.640 byte); in 1984 it had made it to double-side and high-density with the famous capacity of 1.200 KB (or 1.228.800 byte).

The 3,5″ double-density classic appeared in the same year. Unforgettable its epic storage capacity of 720k (or 737.280 bytes). It took until 1987 for the high-density brother to come up with 1.440 KB (1.474.560 byte). MS DOS needed 3 of those floppy discs. My Amiga computer back then still worked with DD types of 880k and all of my private data in 1990 when I seriously started to program fitted onto only 1 of those little HD wonders.

I do not really recall the tape drive era; however I recall that guy responsible for source control in our projects in the office back then who could watch flying sheets of paper in Windows Explorer for hours when he backuped our VSS database (probably onto 2,4 GB – 2.516.582.400 byte – Sony tape).

More or less at the same time I discovered the tremendiously brilliant invention of the IoMega Zip Drive, bought a 100MB (104.857.600 byte) type of it and was utterly happy to be able to do backups of not only all of my private data but also all of my source code of one project onto just one disc.

And just when I had purchased the second Zip Drive for a – then – reasonable price in order to be able to carry data between home and office without carrying a drive, our company had ordered the first CD RW writer – an epic piece made by — ? not sure ? — Plextor, I think. What I however do remember clearly is an audio CD project which I did in that time, using the utterly famous “Feurio!“. For an 8th grade school class I sampled English songs with strong lyrics like “Free Electric Band” or “Me and Bobby McGee” for their English lesson and as a school’s-out present. I think I destroyed like 20 raw discs before getting 13 working ones 😉

It was 1997++ and there were the 74 and the 80 minute CD-RWs. 74 equalled to around 640 MB (671.088.640 byte) and 80 equalled to 700 MB which by “overburning” could be extended to 730 MB (765.460.480 byte) sometimes – involving the risk that the target drive couldn’t read it anymore.

It was in those years that I started backing up my data onto disc around once a year (incl. some transfer of some very old projects from the early 90ies) and the backups captured from 1995 until 2010 hold 159.666 files or 40,3 GB (43.363.611.776 byte) of data – which is

  • 57 times the 80 minute CD
  • 414 times my Zip Drive
  • 28.408 times the 3,5″ HD
  • and 529.341 times the 8″ floppy disc

Which is still a ridicolously little amount of data compared to a 59,- EUR 1TB (1.099.511.627.776 byte) external HDD or my 800,- EUR 4-bay 6 TB Raid-5 NAS (6.597.069.766.656 byte).

One Windows Azure Storage Account has a limited capacity of 200 TB (219.902.325.555.200 byte) – which obviously is still quite small compared to the overall data storage capacity of all Azure data centers worldwide. And facebook is reported to hold the equivalent of over 100 PB (112.589.990.684.262.400 byte) of data while its more than a billion users utilize 7 PB of foto storage each and every month only.

Which means, that in 45 years time the storage used by a private person for private reasons has increased by a factor of more than 96 billion!

I just do hope this isn’t all food and cat pics.


Update:

I’ve just purchased a MiniSD for my mobile. 16GB at the size of a fingernail (0,3″ roughly or 5,7% the size of a 5,25″ floppy disk). It cost EUR 7,70. I digged out the price of a 5,25″ double-side high-density; according to my records that was about EUR 0,17 back in 1995. Which equals a price drop per Gigabyte by more than 99% throughout those years … Gives an interesting twist to the quote “this is worth nothing anymore” …

 

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All Things Must Pass – Top Album Challenge No. 10/10

Video

The No. 1 issue of “my” Top Album Challenge – in a way – ends with “The End”. No. 10 sort-of closes the loop to No. 1.

While the first marked the end to the only ever band in this world’s music scene which transformed multiple eras (yes, puritans, it wasn’t their last album), the latter marks the beginning of the solo career of one of its members, who’s work during the band’s time always remained a little neglected and underestimated (yes, again, it wasn’t his first solo album, either 😉).

However, by the time the Beatles broke up, George had the amount of a three-piece vinyl masterpiece of songs ready to be published. Issued – eventually – under the name of “All Things Must Pass”, mastered by the “infamous” Phil Spector (who’s art of “thickening” every song with a whole lot of doubled instrumental tracks and a huge and fat drum section I not always appreciate; however, in this case, this is how it has to be).

There isn’t really something authentic on youtube for presenting the album in its original form. I did, though, find this list which is pretty accurate. So, here’s the closing of a challenge I very much enjoyed. And here’s a “thanx” to Claudia for nominating me.

 

P.S.: And there is, of course, the following. It contains almost all the important songs of this album and more, played to honour their creator by his closest musical friends … May the holiday season provide time for enjoying the all-time-greatest concert ever: Concert for George, Royal Albert Hall, Nov 29, 2002.

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The Story of Little Milton – Top Album Challenge No. 9/10

Video

Later – when announcing his epic live – Ian Anderson would say: “… we even did concept albums …” – with a little pitch in the tone on “concept”. Jethro Tull weren’t particularly a progrock formation, more like a genius crossover of folk, rock, a little irish/celtic here and there with progrock as the icing of the cake.

No. Wrong. The icing of the cake was Anderson’s art of playing and “singing” the flute at the very same time.

Anyway – there is one Tull album, indeed, rightfully to be claimed into the progrock section. And it is accompanied by a brilliant story (composed into a newspaper issue of the “St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser“) around a boy winning a literature contest and being disqualified afterwards as psychiatrists judged him to have a “seriously unbalanced mind”. Embarrassingly enough, it was years past my acquaintance with the record that I realized, the story was actually 100% fake 🙂

“Little Milton” named the poem he won with “Thick as a Brick”. And the newspaper reports are reprinted beneath the youtube link, I chose … Have fun with my penultimate top album challenge feature!

 

P.S.: When searching google for “thick as a brick newspaper“, one can find loads of copies of that 12 page St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser from 1972.

 

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Bedürfnispyramide / Hierarchy of Needs

… und auch wenn die allgemeine Digitalisierung und das dauernde Verbundensein grundsätzlich spannende und bereichernde Entwicklungen sind, dürfen wir – gerade dieser Tage – WLan und Akkuleistung auf der Maslow’schen Bedürfnispyramide ruhig ein wenig weiter oben einreihen. Tim Minchin hat da ein paar ganz gute Ideen dazu …


 

… and even though Digitalization and ubiquitous connection of everyThing are interesting and enriching advancements of mankind, we’re surely allowed – especially during these days – to put “WiFi” and “Akku” onto some higher places within Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. Tim Minchin has some nice ideas to this, indeed …

 

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A “Yes” for progrock – Top Album Challenge No. 8/10

Video

Commencing the holiday season with my passion for progrock (and I won’t keep you long with words): “Yes” were my entrance into progrock. “Yes” were amongst my first ever bought LPs (and I still own those). “Yes” opened a way into music during my late teenage years like no other group. “Yes” – for me – remains the utmost musical art. It was a complete artistic masterpiece. Songs. Suite-style compositions. Ever-changing hard-to-follow rhythm and structure. And beyond-awesome album cover artwork by Roger Dean.

Meanwhile my collection – crazily enough – contains all the official Yes-work, the records of the “diaspora” era when Chris Squire and Jon Anderson had parted paths, the “Yes, Friends and Relatives” albums and a few semi-official stuff. Why I chose “Yessongs” for the Top-Album-Challenge? Because I’ve restricted myself to only one per artist 😉 – and this is the most comprehensive compilation of their early works. And it’s live – showing off their tremendous genius.

Sit back and enjoy – 2+ hours of Yesmusic:

 

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Not the Best Show of Hands – Top Album Challenge No. 7/10

Video

Yes, it is not the best of recordings. And: yes, it is not the best of their shows. BUT: It was the one show of Rush that – when having been confronted with them by my brother – left a scar in my striving. No – not to play guitar or keyboard the way Alex Lifeson or Geddy Lee do it. That would’ve been lightyears out of reach for me. The vow I – no: we! my brother and me – made when having seen this was: Once in a lifetime we WILL see that band live on stage.

Which was a pretty difficult thing to accomplish as the closest they normally get to Vienna is as far as Hamburg or Berlin. So, when eventually they were announced for London Wembley in October 2007 we had to be stupid enough to book a mediocre expensive flight and hugely expensive concert tickets for that once in a lifetime experience – and it was worth every single cent! Oh! Yes!

What you need to know before listening:

  • Geddy Lee plays bass, bass pedal, keyboard and sings (and the amps are always some kind of weird specially manufactured shape – like e.g. washing machines on some later tour).
  • Alex Lifeson plays all guitars (and normally these days has an armada of pet animals on stage in front of him).
  • The two write the songs.
  • I adore a few – only very few – drummers; and Neil Peart is one of them.
  • Neil’s drumset is always especially manufactured for the respective tour; it’s full circle and has all kinds of sample pads included – and he’s the only drummer in the world, I can listen to in a full-length drum solo (OK – except for Ginger Baker’s Cream and Blind Faith stuff, I think ;)).
  • Neil writes awesome progrock-kind-of lyrics.
  • What you hear is what the 3 guys play live. No joke. No tricks. No backing tracks or overdubs.
  • The 3 are friends. They still are. Since 1969.

And now: Raising the curtain for “A Show of Hands”, Birmingham, 1988 (the quality is pretty awkward, but this was the only version acceptably in sync):

 

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Wish You Another Final Lapse of the Moon – Top Album Challenge No. 6/10

Video

While composing (long before actually publishing) post No. 6 of the challenge that my friend put onto me, my favourite online music store notifies me of the delivery of the “Endless River” CD (yes, I am still one with that old-fashioned utterly outdated habit of buying CDs). “The Endless River” is probably to be the real “final cut” of Pink Floyd’s oeuvre. It’s essentially compiled of abandoned tracks for the “Division Bell” album (1994) and at this very moment of writing I have no clue whether it will be able to beat any of the Pink Floyd masterpieces I could have chosen to be featured in this series (10 is far too few for a top album list).

I could have chosen “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”. That one was the first after Floyd’s breaking up with Roger Waters and Gilmour and Waters entering a year-long lawsuite about the IP rights for the band’s name. After Waters having had characterized Pink Floyd’s issues for years, the album is a solid representation of what Gilmour and the rest of the crew where capable of doing without other influence.

I could of course have picked the one before – “The Final Cut” – for a few of the greatest anti-war lyrics ever written in musical history and for the steps at the beginning of “Paranoid Eyes” which used to scare me to death when walking an empty dark street with my walkman’s headphones on …

I could’ve picked “Wish You Were Here”, of course, for “Wish You Were Here” and the “diamond ode” to Syd Barrett (at least as I see it). And I could probably have picked any of the other original Pink Floyd albums for they are all under my utmost favourites in musical history.

However, I picked the most obvious album I could possibly have chosen – “The Dark Side of the Moon” for each and every bit of it. To me it is kind-of a concept album even though the songs seemingly do not form that much of a story-line as in e.g. Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick”. There’s glimpses of psychadelic in it (which I like a lot) as well as those awesome sound clouds that let the music kind-a sweep all over and around you + plus all kinds of real life sounds recorded – as always with Waters’ stuff – really live (like e.g. the interviews for accompanying songs with human dialogs)

Waters reportedly once explained the final song “Eclipse” and the album itself by stating:

I don’t see it as a riddle. The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols; the light and the dark; the good and the bad; the life force as opposed to the death force. I think it’s a very simple statement saying that all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influence of some dark force in our natures prevents us from seizing them.

Another detail (makin’ me chose this one before the others) is that little bit of Beatles in it: When listening to the original album on good gear, one can hear a glimpse of “Ticket to Ride” at the very end, which results – according to different sources – either from it being played in the Abbey Road studios while recording one of the interviews (to be precise, the famous words at the end: “There is no dark side in the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.”) or from Alan Parsons (who engineered the record) using a tape which contained the song.

Why not “The Wall”? one might ask. Well … there is nothing compared to “The Wall”. “The Wall” is gloriously unique. Eternally unique. Hence, it cannot rank in any list. Never.

So – here we go – onto “The Dark Side of the Moon”:

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Bridging the Gap – Top Album Challenge No. 5/10

Video

No top album list without this one! There have been a few live concerts in my life which made it to the top of the list at least for a few years: Sting’s Tuscany piece “… all this time”, recorded at 9/11, the “Concert for George” Harrison, of course, and this one: Peter Gabriel’s live tour for the “Us” album, in which he – according to sources – worked up several personal problems like his failed marriage or the relationship with his daughter. The stage concept for the life show underpinned the conceptual approach to the album’s music by presenting the band on 2 stages – a circular and a square one – linked together by a conveyor belt and constructed to be set up in the middle of the respective venue. Gabriel had developed the concept together with Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage (and I am never able to tell that bit without mentioning the Canadian film drama “Jesus of Montreal” where Lepage had one of his first ever cinema appearances; the film is really worth a watch).

I saw the show in 1993 when it stopped by in Wels, Upper Austria, unfortunately omitting the original stage concept, which I discovered only afterwards – the more I loved it! Best piece in it? “Secret World” (never heard a stronger version of it than this one; maybe because of the rotating vidiwall used to underpin the song’s motif).

Youtube luckily features the full original concert film in 4 parts and in reasonable quality. Enjoy:

 

 

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