Friday, January 11, 2008

Abstract Index Playlist - January 9/08

The household got an Ipod for Chrismukkah and we're all thrilled with the miracle of shuffle play. One thing that continually amazes me about Ipod users is their willingnes to use those damned earbuds. I was swept up in the Walkman 1.0 obsession some 25 years ago, and over the years have tried all manner of earphones. Earbud technology has improved over the years, but I find my ears get tired after about an hour - and that's before accounting for "chapped ear syndrome". However, lately I've been doing a lot more mobile listening; my headphones of choice being wraparound phones rather than buds.

The Exploding Star Orchestra has a sound that won't cut it on a mobile device. They're a 15-strong jazz orchestra from Chicago under the direction of trumpeter Rob Mazurek. On their new album they're joined by free jazz founding father, fellow trumpet player Bill Dixon - the connection between the two was forged at the Guelph Jazz Festival last year.

With so many members, it's a band that's best experienced coming from the stage. The mix of this CD opts towards that kind of experience - it's mixed to emphasize a unified sound from the band, not to isolate instruments within it. What's more, Dixon's breathy, spare style is liable to get lost in the power of the band - and alongside two additional trumpets. On headphones, I mostly heard a groove with a haze of instrumentation on top, with only the riffing sections standing out.

I made a point to start the show with Dixon's composition "Entrances Two" just to hear how it would sound on CIUT battered but trusty JBL monitors . Sure enough, more details emerged as well as a previously absent sense of majesty which suited this grand, declarative composition. Sweet. Dixon's contributions were a lot more apparent, as was flautist Nicole Mitchell.

I can turn up my home stereo all I like, but when it comes to some serious air movement, CIUT is a vital part of my listening experience. Besides, I don't have a broadcast-quality compressor hooked up to my home stereo to punch up the percussion and low end... In any case, I wouldn't be blogging about this album were it not for that somewhat transformative experience.

The moral of the story is - don't trust your Ipod. Love 'em, just don't trust 'em.

Hour 1 Podcast
Hour 2 Podcast

entrances two - exploding star orchestra (thrill jockey)
100 year old game - henry threadgill very very circus (columbia)
oshgbo - adam rudolph (justin time)
kronos - alien chatter (six degrees)
your life - konk (strut)
padlock - gwen guthrie (island)
kaba kaba - djosos krost (quango)
teratogen - ghostlight (under see)
the bungalow mystery - fat legs (no label)
struck twice by lightning - tim brady (ambiances magnetiques)
osaka - alexander von schlippenbach/aki takase/dj illvibe (leo)
volks! - icarus (rump)
el rapidon no se rinde - quinteplus (vampisoul)
tabey tarate - tartit (crammed)
crying time - claudius linton (sun king)
rootsman skanking - bunny wailer (solomonic)
minister for ganja - rapper robert/jim brown (soul jazz)

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