Tuesday 27th January

January 27, 2009

The other slightly mad option by the way was to post even less here but change the website design daily. Maybe that wouldn’t work so well though…

So travelling into work today at about midday I was again accompanied by the Yoshimura/Okura disc. Something occurred to me today though as I listened to this again. Listening to an album repeatedly for the purposes of writing a review can actually spoil my enjoyment of said CD. I quite like this release, but listening to it over and over, and particularly when doing so means I have to overlook other interesting new items for now can seem a chore. It’s not uncommon for me to spend a considerable amount of time with a CD I am formally reviewing only to not play it again for many months after the piece is finished, simply because I don’t want to hear it again. I suspect that may end up being the case with this one. Its a shame I think when you virtually wear out your ability to listen to one particular piece of music, but I also think that the practice of listening intently to one disc repeatedly before writing anything formal about it is a good one.

Four parcels of discs have arrived here over the past three days with a total of 17 discs enclosed so there is no shortage of new music for me to get my teeth, or at the very least my ears into. Twelve of them came from Goh Lee Kwang’s Why Not label, with eight of the discs making up one intriguing release by Lee himself entitled Wiring My Ear To The Ground. I plan to listen to one disc from the set a day over the next eight days. I haven’t really looked into what the CDs actually contain, but I think they are recordings made during a particularly long live performance or installation of some kind. I’m kind of hoping I like it or that might make for a tedious series of posts.

On the way home tonight I listened to Blechmann and Manuel Knapp’s Untitled_22, one of the free downloads I mentioned yesterday. I’ve played this one three or four times over the last few days and it continues to grow on me. I wasn’t aware of Knapp before I heard his releases with Blechmann so I have no idea of his history, but his work here compliments that of his colleague very well. The two musicians work with a similar set of electronic sounds, but Knapp adds a little grit to Blechmann’s more gentle hiss and purr. The music contains far more incident than solo Blechmann material, and in places it gets very angry, with sharp little edges poking out of the grey drones here and there and a few sudden shifts upwards in volume allowing the music to dramatically roar in places. Untitled_22 contains a sense of triumphic grandeur in the way it builds every so often into swells of sound that really lifted me tonight as I walked home in the cold. A bit of a cliché but I am reminded of a stormy sea, continually crashing on the rocks, but every so often building into one almighty wave that engulfs everything. Powerful music, recommended for walkers!

I got home a little before midnight, made dinner and am now sat eating peppered salmon as a new CDr kindly sent my way by Nick Hennies plays softly behind me. This is my first listen so I won’t judge it right away but my first impressions are very favourable. Gentle, minimal no-input mixer sounds replace Nick’s usual percussion here, and comparisons with Toshi Nakamura are I guess inevitable, but I’m not sure I ever heard Toshi play anything as minimalistic as this. I’ll add this one to my iPod and give it a listen tomorrow.

Comments (12)

  • jon abbey

    January 28, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Richard, how do you listen to music when you’re on the train? lossless rips on your iPod? I personally have trouble listening to most of this music on headphones even at home, and have mostly stopped trying when travelling.

    also, for me, music from artists like Yoshimura or Sachiko doesn’t make nearly as much sense via headphones, the fixed position eliminates the interactivity with the room, it’s like trying to look at a three-dimensional object in just two dimensions (less than ideal analogy, but something along those lines).

    also, e-mail me back or I’m going to post here every day. :)

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Richard, how do you listen to music when you’re on the train? lossless rips on your iPod?

    No, I take along my full hi-fi system, though if the train is likely to be busy I only use bookshelf speakers and wedge them into the luggage racks because there often isn’t room for the floorstanders. 😉 !!

    But being serious I prefer not to listen to this music while travelling either, and last year I wiped everything but spoken word comedy off of my iPod. This year though my listening time at home has been reduced even further, so its a case of listening while out and about or not at all. I have a good quality set of headphones and do the best I can.

    I don’t subscribe to the idea of Sachiko or Yohimura’s music being 3D though. If you position speakers correctly in a room so that they are equidistant from your listening position then you will here pretty much the same thing as if you are wearing headphones. That effect you get when you turn your head during a Sachiko concert is merely because you are then listening more to one channel than the other. The same effect can be achieved by wearing headphones and turning the balance dial back and forth.

    Yes in certain rooms the sound will also bounce off of the walls and seem like it is coming from different angles, but my usual space for listening at home is far too small and cluttered to ever notice any of that anyway.

    I listen a lot on headphones at home and have a pair of good quality Sennheiser cans I am very happy with. As you may have noticed from my posts I get home very late when others are asleep here and so I cannot just turn the stereo on. Some discs, particularly those containing a lot of small, detailed sounds are improved by headphones though IMO.

    also, e-mail me back or I’m going to post here every day.

    I’ve emailed you! I’ve emailed you!

  • jon abbey

    January 28, 2009 at 11:44 am

    heh, I just meant maybe you use a Discman, just curious. I also asked because I hope you rip CDs as AIFFs or WAVs, I don’t think Apple Lossless is really CD quality (Robert thinks I’m insane for thinking this, but my mastering engineer Earl Howard completely agrees with me, so FWIW, just giving you my perspective, especially if it’s something important that you’re thinking about releasing or reviewing).

    also, I think you’re oversimplifying the differences between speakers and headphones, but we all have limitations on our listening possibilities. I had a much better stereo/listening room in my old apartment, but I’ve learned to make do without that in the new place, irritating as it may be at times. I didn’t realize how much headphones listening you do, though, that might account for some of the differences in our taste.

    anyway, thanks for the explanation and the e-mail…

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Unfortunately I am entirely with Robert on that one. I read the online arguments on this in detail, then did a lot of comparative listening and remained perfectly happy to use Apple Lossless. The arguments against Apple Lossless always reminded me of the arguments against Natural Selection… “I don’t care what the science says, it just doesn’t sound the same!!” 😉

    Anyway let’s not have that argument again here .

  • jon abbey

    January 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    OK, fair enough, although you might want to take a look at this post and the first answer below it when you have a chance sometime, complete with actual ‘science’:


  • lukaz

    January 28, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    hi Richard!

    Thanx for mentioning Taus recording and althou i release it in coop w Tim and Klaus i really think the same as you do. It was released in amount of 1000 copies due to support from austrian foundation that Klaus and Tim got for it so i still have more than plenty of them:)

    As for Manuel Knapp there is a concert recording w him and Hong Chulki from Seoul avilable for download here that might interest you:

    Manuel Knapp & Hong Chulki live @ Daospace in Seoul, September 08


    best Z

  • timblechmann

    January 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm


    nice to read this discussion about headphones/speakers along with comments about some of my music.

    `turning the head’ and `turning the balance dial’ have two completely different effects. the perceived sound is not the sum of the sound of the left speaker and the right speaker, but the sound of the air in the space, exitated by two speakers, perceived by two ears with a head in between and the vibration of the whole body.
    hearing with headphones doesn’t mean 2d, though … if the recording has been made using binaural microphones, the filtering of the head has been applied on the sound, so one can hear (almost) the same 3d sound as sitting in a concert. otoh, if you listen to a digitally produced piece via headphones, there is no information about the space at all … the acoustic effect of the head between the ears and the sound traveling from speakers to ears is not there at all.

    personally, i would prefer people to listen to my music via speakers, not via headphones. e.g. a few months ago, i did a performance of `rrrr’ (4 `r’, by the way) using 4 speakers facing the roof of the room, so you heard the reflected sound coming from above. you get another quality of sonic perception (sound `filling the space’ without requiring high volume), than you would ever get, listening via 2 tiny speakers attached to your ears (i.e. headphones).
    unfortunately, distribution of music is usually limited to two channels, making it difficult to release multichannel music … but i guess, that is the reason to do concerts :)

    btw, manuel also has one solo release on mokabar [1]. beside being a musician, he is a fine artist [2], mainly doing painting and computer animation. he also did the cover design for `rrrr’ and our duo releases.

    cheers, tim

    [1] http://tim.klingt.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=1906_cross_field
    [2] http://www.manuelknapp.com/

  • simon reynell

    January 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I can see that this is going to be THE place to look for discussions of current releases. The trouble is that you’re way ahead of me and I haven’t heard any of the discs you’ve discussed yet.
    I don’t know how you have the time to keep up with everything and run Cathnor as well, and hold down a full-time job – and now manage to write a daily blog. I find that ‘another timbre’ completely monopolises my listening these days so that I haven’t time to buy any new releases, let alone listen to them properly. If I’m not listening to tracks from recording sessions, I’m listening to other things by musicians I’m considering, or to proposed discs that people have sent in. It’s exhausting and exhilerating in equal measures.
    In fact I’d love you to discuss your new releases (of which I’ve only got ‘buoy’ so far, unbought but swapped with Lee P), but I fear you’ll be too modest to allow them or your forthcoming discs to creep into your daily blog. I’d also be interested to hear a bit about the practicalities of how you manage your label – or is that a bit incestuous?

    I really like ‘buoy’ by the way; my cd of the month, and therefore of the year so far (but then there’s several I haven’t bought yet, as explained above….)

  • Brian Olewnick

    January 28, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I believe it’s now just about Thursday in the dreary isles and no new post. Slacker.

    Yeah, the Hennies disc is very nice…

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 28, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Oi! I left home around midday and returned at half eleven. Some of us work hard you know! The post is on its way.

    Can’t believe you posted here twice in a few hours and managed to forget your password between the comments. I’m amazed you even remember what the Hennies disc even sounds like! 😉

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 29, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Thank you Tim for your comment above, nice to hear from you!

    I’ll bow to your superior knowledge on headphone / speaker listening, and I assure you that whenever I can I try and listen to music on my hi-fi rather than on an iPod, but I just don’t get enough time these days to just sit at home and listen when I can have the volume high enough without waking people, so headphone listening has to suffice. I hope one day to be able to hear your music in a live setting anyway…

    Thanks for the links to Manuel Knapp’s work. I had already downloaded his solo piece from your Moka Bar site but I haven’t had the chance to listen yet. I’ll add the duo with Hong Chulki that Luka mentioned and I’m sure I’ll get to them soon.

    Sorry for missing out an “r” as well!

  • Richard Pinnell

    January 29, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Simon thanks for your kind words.

    Its unlikely I will write much here about Cathnor. I do try and keep my writing separate from my label activities so as to at least try and keep questions of conflicting interests at bay. I do have some interesting things to add about how listening to music leads me to choose certain images or designs for sleeves though. I’ve been working on some recently that might make for some nice posts. (or maybe not if that kind of thing bores you!) All in good time.

    As for any discussion with me about how I manage to do all the things I do and still run a record label, write here, listen to so much music and also put 50 hours or so a week into my dayjob… well the answer is I am crap at all of those apart from the last one, because that one pays the bills. I’m the worst possible example for all of the other things on that list whereas I think you are a very good example when it comes to a well run, efficient label.

    Glad you like Buoy though. Its one of my favourites too.

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