937 words on Music
The day started off hot. Too hot to be comfortable. Still, I made my way to town, having to pick a book at the library. The library was closed for some reason.
Tom Lehrer, Fight Fiercely Harvard
Ironically, my flatmates have gone to the pub to see the Scotland vs. Germany football game now. With no success at the library, I went downtown, bought some food, did some 'research' in a bookstore for the quotation game we're playing:
Everyone sends in a quote per month and everybody else has to find out where it's from. That's pretty tricky as everybody takes care that the quotes they submit aren't easily discoverable using Google, leading to some fairly obscure stuff. I didn't do too well last month – while I found out about half of the quotes, nobody found out mine which is penalised by taking away my points again.
I confirmed two sources in the bookstore so that was pretty good. Afterwards I couldn't resist going to the record store. I intended to get Evan Dando's Baby I'm Bored record. It seems OK musically but has one of the coolest record titles I can imagine. Unfortunately, they didn't have any more copies.
Of course that did keep me from getting something else. They had the new Sigur Rós single there on ten inch vinyl. Which thankfully seems to mean that it runs on 33rpm rather than 45, saving lazy me the slightly annoying action of having to take off the turntable and move the belt over, as I'd have to do with ordinary singles.
The record contains the first track of the ( ) album and an extra B-side. The cover obviously refers to the song's video with the children wearing gas masks playing outside. It's done as a nice fold-open cover for the record, showing only the non-inverted part of the cover displayed above. In addition, the record contains a plastic stencil of the motive. Not particularly useful – but that's hardly the point.
The B-side is very quiet and subtle in the way it sounds. I think I'll need a while to get used to it. It reminded me of the recordings by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble. Although they're in a vastly different genre, the sound is quite similar. I am tempted to extend that similarity and guess that having Sigur Rós perform in an old cathedral should be pretty cool and just the right setting for their music.
Listening to the record also made me feel happier about my record player. I tend to find pop and rock record sounding a bit dull on it. Particularly when directly comparing to the CD player. As the CD player is very good I don't expect the record player to be able to match it exactly, but it should come close. While visiting, Jörg suggested, that perhaps my impression is caused by my copy of Led Zeppelin IV, the only album I own both on vinyl and LP, being a bit shabby. He may have been right. Doing a direct comparison of the single's song to the CD, made the differences sound much less apparent than with the Led Zeppelin record. The CD player sounds a bit more crisp, while the record player sounds a bit richer.
While playing with my stereo, I had another look at the settings you can make. One of them is called unity gain. Trial and error suggest that I should leave that option turned off as the volume was fixed at a rather high level when I tried it out. Does anybody know what that option is good for and why anybody would want to use it?
In addition to the record I got myself some ice cream and a copy of Rolling Stone magazine. The cover CD is quite promising, having songs by Hot Hot Heat, The Hidden Cameras, who's record I skimmed through at the record store the other week and wasn't overwhelmed – which is sad because it's a pretty album. Perhaps I can get used to it and buy it anyway. Then there's also Black Box Recorder and a song by Turbonegro, whom I recently saw saying something along the lines of
if xyz were the Lenin of rock music, we want to be the Stalin.
One of the columns in the magazine gives a fairly positive review of the iPod and the iTunes music store. It doesn't even mention that the store isn't available in Germany. Another one says He's simple, He's dumb, He's the pilot is Grandaddy's Paranoid Android. Interesting.
Black Box Recorder, Andrew Ridgley