Posts Tagged ‘Pink Floyd’

in the garden

July 11, 2010

It’s a ripe garden of great tunes on this week’s World of Music, including DJ Frane’s organic-electric fantasy, the Electric Garden of Delights.

We’ll hear the newest releases from Brazil’s Luisa Maita, Vermont’s own Guagua, and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo.

Mongo Santamaria and the Easy Star All-Stars offer tributes to the Beatles and Pink Floyd, and we’ll preview Crescent, the exceptional new Coltrane tribute album from vibes artist Mike Mainieri.

World of Music is a fertile compost of blues, poetry, jazz, and international music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

riding the gravy train

March 11, 2010

Some time ago here I mentioned the viability difficulties of some kinds of music in today’s plug-n-play, single download kind of world.

Like, Pink Floyd’s landmark album Dark Side of the Moon.

Yes, you can listen to Money or Us and Them and still enjoy them apart from the larger work. On most radio stations you’d never hear Floyd at all if they didn’t break it up into the separate songs. But you listen differently, knowing the experience is something akin to listening to an isolated movement of a symphony, or concerto, outside of their greater musical context. That’s fine, sometimes the only thing that really hits the spot is the middle movement of a Mozart Piano Concerto, a good Mahler Adagio (and they’re ALL good), or the sublime Largo from Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony. With classical music especially there’s a long history of concerts where single movements were played over and over, repeated spontaneously as a sort of in-concert encore in immediate response to audience enthusiasm.

It’s one thing when you, as a music consumer, make the choice to excerpt your recording of – whatever. It’s another when a recording company willfully convolutes contractual reality (the same contract to which they fiercely adhere, when the financial advantage is to their benefit) in the name of profit.

Today Pink Floyd scored a victory against EMI in an effort to preserve the artistic integrity of their recordings. The dispute centers around whether or not the original contract, prohibiting EMI from selling records other than as complete albums without written consent, still holds in a world where individual mp3 downloads are the standard. Pink Floyd says it does. EMI contends that the existing contract only applies to the physical product, not to online distribution.

So why did it take this litigation to bring that to light? iTunes has been around for TEN YEARS now, if EMI felt their standing contract didn’t cover new distribution methods comprehensively enough, they’ve had a decade to renegotiate the contractual terms.

EMI didn’t do that, because – “valid” or not – the existing contract was financially beneficial to them until now. With today’s ruling, both EMI and Pink Floyd will likely have less revenue rolling in from downloads. The musicians (millionaires, yes, but artists nonethelss) don’t seem bothered by that. 

Artistic integrity: 1

Corporate greed: 0

Oh, by the way, which one’s “Pink”?

playlist #81 (9/14/2009) – under the covers, pt. 3

September 14, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #81 – Under the Covers, pt. 3 – a revival of our occasional series featuring all world and jazz covers of pop tunes
Listen Mondays 3-5pm EDT  – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Denver Dub Collective (covering Prince): When Doves Cry / Purple Dub / 2009 – (USA) *NEW*
Easy Star All-Stars featuring Sugar Minott (covering the Beatles): When I’m Sixty-Four / Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band / Easy Star Records 21622 – (JAMAICA) *NEW*
Tarrus Riley (covering Sting): King of Pain / Spirits in the Material World-A Reggae Tribute to the Police / Shanachie 45067 – (JAMAICA) *NEW*
Soweto Gospel Choir (covering U2): In the Name of Love / In the Name of Love-Africa Celebrates U2 / Shout! Factory 10608 – (S. AFRICA)
Sunshiners (covering David Bowie): Modern Love / Sunshiners / BMG Japan 21074 – (OCEANIA)
Seu Jorge (covering Bowie): Rebel Rebel / The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge / Hollywood Records 62576 – (BRAZIL)
Oslo Gospel Choir: Vaer Meg Naer (Kumbayah) / Salmeskatt / FX CD 272 – (NORWAY)
Junior Parker & the Jimmy McGriff Orchestra (covering the Beatles): Taxman / Funny How Time Slips Away / LaserLight Blues B000001J12 – (USA)
Mongo Santamaria (covering the Beatles): Daytripper / Jazz Moods: Cha-Cha Party / Concord Picante 5220 – (CUBA)
Bonerama (covering Led Zeppelin): Ocean / Bringing It Home / 2007 – (N’AWLINS)
Matt Haimovitz (covering Zeppelin): Kashmir / Goulash! / Oxingale 2007 – (USA)
Steve Blanco Trio (covering Zeppelin): Black Dog / Piano Warrior / Art of Life 1035 – (USA) *NEW*
Accoules Sax (covering Mr. James Brown): I Feel Good / Fiesta Music / CMD 12597 – (FRANCE)
Mo’ Horizons (covering Percy Mayfield): Hit the Road Jack (Pé na éstrada) / Brazil Remixed / Groove Gravy 1102 – (BRAZIL)
Nat King Cole (remixed by Cut Chemist): Day In Day Out / Nat King Cole RE: Generations / Capitol 2009 – (USA) *NEW*
Rachid Taha (covering The Clash): Rock el Casbah / Tékitoi / Wrass 126 – (ALGERIA/FRANCE)
The Fabulous Thunderbirds (covering the French original by Louiguy): Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White / Blues Masters, vol. 4: Harmonica Classics / Rhino 71124 – (USA)
Lila Downs (covering the trad. Mexican tune): La Cucaracha / One Blood – Una Sangre / EMI 78049 – (MEXICO)
Magnifico (covering the Animals): Land of Champions (House of the Rising Sun) / Grand Finale AVIH ? – (YUGOSLAVIA)
Kruno (covering Irving Berlin): Puttin’ On the Ritz / Gypsy Jazz Guitar / Gypsy Jazz Distribution 2006002 – (CROATIA/USA)
Easy Star All-Stars featuring Dr. Israel (covering Pink Floyd): Brain Damage / Dub Side of the Moon / Easy Star Records 21606 – (JAMAICA)
The Bad Plus (covering Pink Floyd): Comfortably Numb / For All I Care / Heads Up 3148 – (USA)
Denver Dub Collective featuring Venus Cruz (covering Prince): Purple Rain / Purple Dub / 2009 – (USA) *NEW*
Jake Shimabukuro (covering Chick Corea): Spain / Live / Hitchike Records 1109 – (HAWAII, USA) *NEW*
Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion (covering George Bizet): Klazz Meets Cuba / Carmen Cumaba / Sony 93090 – (CUBA)

trading fours: remember ‘albums’?

August 22, 2009
from my album collection

from my album collection

Back with “trading fours” today, the occasional series here where we talk a little about four recordings on some common theme.

This one came to mind recently when a friend was getting ready to take a long flight. He’d just gotten the new iPhone, and was frustrated in the experience he was having with iTunes in trying to download some music to take with him on vacation. The problem? You may already know where I’m headed with this. He likes classical music. Turns out, to purchase a particular recording of is favorite Mahler symphony, he could only get the piece (we’re talking about one symphony here) by downloading it in seven different individual files – at .99 per download.

He did it, because he loves Mahler and couldn’t think of a better companion for the trip. Then the question was, if the symphony’s broken up into seven different files – would it play continuously, or would there be inordinate breaks between each segment, potentially ruining the intended flow and continuity of the work? Since he’d already spend $7.00 on the work, he was happy to find that it did play continuously once downloaded into the phone.

This is a pretty common iTunes experience, though when you’ll encounter it seems rather random. Not all multi-part classical (and non-classical, for that matter) works are treated that way in download form. I’ve asked the question of  iTunes but have not received a response: does it just depend on the variability of the recording ripping process on their end? Is it because the people responsible for the process don’t know the music well enough? Are there no internal policies that would inject some common sense and help inform the process?

My best guess is that this happens as a direct result of how the music is formatted on the original recordings. Sometimes a piece (a symphony, a suite, whatever) is a single track on a CD; other times the individual parts of a piece are on separate tracks. It’s a considerable hurdle that radio stations are having to overcome now too, as music libraries are going digital and playback systems are set up to work with these digitized (mp2 or mp3, generally) files. In the work I’ve done in this area, it comes down to ripping a work’s files individually, loading them into audio editing software (I’ve used ProTools, CoolEdit and Vegas) and editing the individual selections into a single, cohesive file. Save, render, and you’re good to go. The seven-download Mahler symphony is now transformed into a single, beautifully contiguous, 74-minute file. It’s the kind of work that even today’s best audio ripping programs can’t do automatically, it takes a real, live pair of human ears to do the editing. 

Now factor that process out over an average classical music library: CDs often have several different pieces on them, and music archives often contains thousands of these CDs with multiple, multi-movement works on them. No wonder classical radio has been relatively late in adapting to the world of digitized music. Without a dedicated, skilled, classical music-knowledgable staff to help with this process it can be an overwhelming proposition to digitize a library.

More has changed about music today than the process of digitization itself. There’s also the terminology. Remember “albums”? When I ask the question, you might think I’m talking about vinyl LPs. I could be. The two words are synonymous. But in our new digital world if you still say “album” when you actually mean “CD” or “recording”, it can lead to that fleeting moment of realization that using “album” dates you in some unflattering way.

Let’s just shoot that one down once and for all and stop being mildly embarassed about saying “album”. The word also means a ‘collection of music’, so it speaks to a recording’s content, not its format. “Album” continues to be relevant in our digital world – CDs and LPs are both “albums”.

So. That brings us back to “trading fours”. With the iTunes scenario in mind, today’s theme is “four albums that should be heard, beginning to end, as a single piece”. (Incidentally, I own all of these albums as CDs.) Because the musical expression in each of these works develops intentionally throughout the course of the experience, and “dropping the needle” (21st century version: “downloading only one part of it”) and listening randomly doesn’t allow you to follow the arc of its artistic intent. Yes, for deeper listening, you can/should also take the time to listen to the individual parts as well. If I rallied against that, then I’d be in favor of brilliant moments like Pink Floyd’s “Money” or Coltrane’s “Psalm” rarely – if ever – being heard on the radio since the days of ‘album sides’ and ‘album formats’ are mostly gone, where it would be possible to hear those moments in the context of the larger work.

My point is: techology is great, it makes music more widely available and accessible to a bigger audience than ever before. I’m all for that. But do guard against allowing the constraints of the delivery mechanisms shape, inform, or ultimately determine the quality of your music experience. That, alone, is the artist’s job.

#1 – John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” – Acknowledgement, Resolution, Pursuance, Psalm. A personal journey of faith, and redemption. Simply put: perfection.

#2 – Gustav Mahler’s Symphony #4 (Leonard Bernstein/NY Philharmonic/soprano Reri Grist) –  One of Mahler’s shortest symphonies, (still no guarantee that it won’t be broken up into individual downloads on iTunes) the Symphony #4 is described programatically as “a child’s vision of heaven”. It starts enchantingly with the gentle shaking of sleighbells and ends with the song Das himmlische Leben (“Heaven’s life”) where the ‘child’ (generally a female soprano part) sings, “There is just no music on earth that can compare to ours.” Indeed.

#3 – Omar Sosa, Battista Giordano & the Tenores de Oniferi “Isolanos” – Recorded live (Nov. 18th, 2007) at Sardinia’s Cagliari European Jazz Expo – In the best tradition of ‘East meets West’ cultural cross-blends, this one’s an extraordinary ‘West meets West’ effort to fuse the traditional sounds of Sardinia with the rhythmic energy and rhythmic sensibilities of Cuba. All in a (very!) live environment. It starts with a jazzy intro, continues with a ‘world music’ percussive overlay of Latin and African rhythm, and then, – enter the tenors. In the ‘tenor singing’ tradition native to Sardinia (and Corsica, for that matter), their polyphonic blend of voices sends this album into another musical realm altogether. Neither here nor there, it is successfully BOTH. Isolanos offers a surreal, melodically lush, and sonically exciting landscape. The tracks are continuous, like being in a live concert with only applause for segues between the pieces. 

#4 – Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” – For the next 43 minutes set aside all superlative and iconic associations with this album and just — listen. From Speak to Me to Eclipse, it’s a complete vision.

The offer stands for Trading Fours – send me your top four picks along with a quick explanation of the theme that holds them together, and I’ll do the rest and get yours posted here. Pass on the tradition of learning about music from friend.

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