September 26, 2015

Ali Akbar Khan [EMI ECSD 2587] (1979)

Here we have an excellent LP by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan with Pandit Swapan Chowdury on tabla.

At this point Swapanji had taken over for Zakir Hussain as the main tabla instructor at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, CA, after Zakirji's hectic performance schedule no longer allowed him to fulfill his teaching commitments.

There is a school of thought which posits that Khansahib should have stayed in Calcutta and helped his school there to flourish, rather than spend more and more time in California, where (admittedly) there were more dollars and more sports cars. You can find plenty of articles on the internet describing in minute detail Khansahib's supposed decline in terms of his creativity and playing and bemoaning the "good old days" of the 1940s and 1950s.

It's always easier to be a superhero musician when almost no one is recording your performances. People can tell anecdotes about brilliant private house concerts which put to shame anything recently released, without there being any evidence to contradict them. When you start releasing 4 or 5 albums a year, you are exposed to a lot more scrutiny. Certainly, there is a somewhat commercial aspect to albums entitled "Music for Meditation" and a surprising stopwatch quality to others entitled "The 40 Minute Alap" and "The 80 Minute Raga."

What cannot be denied, however, is that Khansahib was a primary musical force in 20th century Hindustani classical music. He helped popularize it in the West and taught many individuals who themselves would go on to become respected teachers. Besides, when one considers the fact that Nikhil Banerjee considered himself a disciple of Ali Akbar Khan, that is all I really need to know in order to greatly respect him.

This LP, recorded for EMI at an undisclosed location (probably India, but there were recording studios in California at the time, too) was released in 1979. It has an iconic cover with a brilliant repeating design and was pressed at the Gramophone Company's plant in Dum Dum, India.

side1:
Raga Suha-Todi
(Compositions in Jhaptal and Trital)

side2:
Raga Chhayanat
(Alap and compositions in Trital)






Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 10 minutes in water, followed by a  quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove one or two clicks per side using the "repair" tool. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. 


24 bit 44.1kHz FLAC files

16bit 44.1kHz FLAC files

320 kbps mp3 files



here is a live video of Khansahib, Swapanji and Mary Khan on tanpura

Here is another, different transfer from a blog post published in 2011



September 23, 2015

A behind-the-scenes peek at a music blog

One thing I have learned over and over about running a music blog (even a modest one like FBC) is that it is very hard work. I have a huge amount of admiration for people who can post music on a regular basis. Some of the blogs on the right side of this page are even updated almost daily, which to me is mind boggling.

Please allow me to indulge myself by giving you just one example of something that has happened several times....

Quite recently I played host at my house for the second time to one of Kartick Kumar's senior disciples. He made a delightful chicken biryani for my family and went to sleep early. He told us several entertaining anecdotes about his training in India and early experiences touring the US. Not only is this unnamed sitarist one of my favorite musicians, he is also just about the most relaxed and easygoing musician I know in any field of music. Talking with him got me thinking about his beloved guru Pandit Kartick Kumar, and the fact that I have an LP released by T-series (see pictures of the LP cover below) which has not yet appeared on this blog. It was recorded in 1991, reissued on T-series' budget label Evergreen in 2000, and purchased by me in 2015 from a seller on Discogs.com.

After transferring the LP and scanning the LP cover and labels, I had a lot of repair work to do. The cover itself was stained and abused and this needed to be mended using both iPhoto and Photoshop (don't ask). The record itself looks spotless but was one of the noisiest I have played on my turntable in years. There were five or six "invisible scratches" -- repeating loud clicks at regular intervals -- per side that needed to be repaired, as well as numerous (maybe 70 or 80) smaller clicks and noises that were removed per side using the "repair" function in Audacity. It was exhausting, and also frustrating because no matter how many I removed there always seemed to be more that needed removing somewhere else on each side.

In short, I became a victim of the "sunk cost" fallacy, where one says, "I have spent so much time [or money] on this effort that I can't just leave it the way it is. I need to keep working on it." It's called a fallacy because it's a stupid way of thinking. It's a common fallacy, one that traps so many people so often, whether it is concerning one's marriage, one's job, a half-read book that is supposed to be good but is not, or this would-be post of a Kartick Kumar LP.

Well, I kept on working and even (against my usual rules) started messing around with mild limiting and compression to get a better sound.

Then -- and only then! -- it occurred to me that possibly there would have been a CD issue of it in 2000 and possibly this might still be in print. It seems kind of obvious when one thinks of it, right? A quick look at www.shrimatis.com (truly a boon to those in the US looking for hard to find Indian CDs of every flavor) and BOOM there it was. For about $5.00 USD. And with 24 minutes more music than the LP.

I received the disk in the mail today and it sounds excellent. Not an audiophile production by any stretch of the imagination, but quite solid and far better than my LP transfer even after all the time I spent working it over!

So will I post my transfer anyway?       No.

Believe me, the CD is what you want. Pick it up from the guys at Shrimati's or another dealer in your home country. I truly am only doing this blog to help preserve the music and share my passion for what to many people is still an undiscovered country. There is no intention of hurting the sales of in-print Indian Classical CDs and LPs. Even when certain labels fail to pay royalties and fail to even send contractually required royalty statements to their musicians (and I know the details of what I am talking about here).

Thanks for reading this post. I will be back within a week with the first of a series of five LPs by Ali Akbar Khan on the Connoisseur label and one on the EMI label which I have had on loan from my friend Nels for too long. To Nels: your babies are coming back home soon!

Also, please note that I will be using Adrive.com from now on and offering transfers in three choices of flavor:

24bit/44.1kHz FLAC (playable from the hard drive of a computer), and
16bit/44.1kHz FLAC (after converting to WAV, suitable for burning CDs) and
320kbps mp3.

Adrive offers larger file sizes and also the files will be available until either I pull them, stop paying the $25 a year to Adrive, or they get shut down in a dramatic and unfair FBI operation.

Onward! And much much much much more carefully next time!






September 17, 2015

Kabir Khan - Mellow Moment on Sitar [Oscar Records PIKA-23] (1978)

Here is my final LP from the somewhat mysterious Oscar Records label. They issued a half dozen LPs in the late 1970s and early 1980s and were based out of New York. There were a few live albums of ghazals from singer Mehdi Hassan. One of popular Pakistani film songs. Then there was no more. It seems they had some sort of contact with EMI Pakistan -- probably help with recording, or else allowing people out of exclusive recording contracts, or something else. There is no evidence for a belief I once held that these were US releases of licensed EMI Pakistan recordings.

There is not much information I could find about Ustad Kabir Khan. He was born in Jaipur in 1924 and died in Karachi in 1980. He is considered to be a member of the Senia Gharana and according to one reference book ("Who's Who: Music in Pakistan"), he counted Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad Ali Khan (both sarod players) as teachers. [Certainly Nikhilji did not mind having two sarod players as gurus.] He appears to have a son who is active musically in Pakistan.

This is from near the end of that dark era when mentioning the name of the tabla player on an LP was considered optional and possibly a waste of time.

The track titles are as follows:

Side 1:
Raga Mian Ki Todi
Peelo (possibly Raga Pilu?)

Side 2:
Raga Multani
Raga Paraj

I would like to thank my internet friend and fellow music lover "Tawfiq" for discussing this label and this LP with me offline. As always his blog is self-recommending and its latest post is noted at right. He also has a superb store on Discogs.com. He might be the most reliable supplier of new-old-stock Indian Classical LPs on the planet. This LP was purchased from a different seller on discogs. LPs from this label only rarely show up on internet sites and only once have I seen one in person before paying for it (that LP was also posted on this blog -- take a look for it!)





Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 10 minutes in water, followed by a quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove a few clicks on each side. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. The record is visually in excellent shape but unfortunately there is some faint surface noise still present in the transfer. 






September 12, 2015

Debabrata Chaudhuri - [SMFP 2101] Meditations in Indian Sitar Music (1968)

Debu Chaudhuri was last seen in this blog a few posts ago with his second LP issued in the West. This, I believe is his first LP to be released in the West, on the EMI budget label called "Music for Pleasure." Unlike a lot of MFP albums, this seems to be an original production and not a reissue.

There was definitely a craze going on in 1966 and 1967 for the sitar, especially given the attentions brought to it by groups like the Beatles and (less famously) the Rolling Stones.

Tabla on the LP is by Faiyaz Khan.

side 1: Raga Maru Behag

side 2: Raga Ahir Bhairav









Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, followed by a  quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove multiple clicks per side. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. The record is visually in excellent shape but unfortunately there is some noticeable surface noise still present in the transfer. 


September 11, 2015

M Balamurali Krishna [ECLP 2324] Classical Songs of MBK (1966)

M Balamuralikrishna was born in 1930 and by the age of 8 was singing publicly. He is one of the great Carnatic vocalists of the 20th century and we are lucky to have so many recordings by him. He was not just interested in performing classical and devotional works -- he sang in Indian films regularly between 1957 and 1997. He is still alive and occasionally performs.

This LP is a delightful sample of his work released in 1966. The songs (all in Adi Taal) are as follows:

side 1:
1) Saraguna (raga = Thodi)
2) Mahadeva Sutham (raga = Arabi)
3) Manu Kanna Thalli (raga = Sindu Kannada)
4) Sadhathava Pada (raga = Shanmugapriya)

side 2:
1) Nanupalimpa (raga = Mohanam)
2) Pibare Ramarasam (raga = Ahir Bairavi) [I would think this would be the last song]
3) Thillana (raga = Brindavani)

Violin is by MS Gopalakrishnan
Mridangam is by TV Gopalakrishna





The technical information is exactly the same as the previous post (I transferred them at the same session).

One charming thing about this copy is the odd inscription in ink on the back: "Borchers from Subu" -- possibly a reference to MS Subulakshmi? Hmm. If anybody has an educated guess, feel free to share it with me.


September 9, 2015

Debu Chaudhuri: Sitar Maestro [ABK2001] (1970-71)

Here is an interesting find, appearing to be Debu's second LP to be issued in the West and the first in the US. The label, ABK Records, is a mystery. I prefer to imagine it being related to Allen B Klein's ABKCO Records, which issued many of the Rolling Stones and (for a time, reissued) Beatles albums. But this seems very unlikely.

What is known is that Debu was born in 1935 and he is a disciple of the great Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan. He still lives in Dehli and performs regularly.

The pieces on this LP include:

side1:
Rageshree

side 2:
Thumri in Pilu
Folk Song

Tabla is by Shyamal Bose

Here is a short youtube clip of Debu playing Raga Pilu







Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, followed by a  quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.
Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove multiple clicks per side. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. The record is visually in superb shape but unfortunately there is some noticeable surface noise still present in the transfer. Considering the rarity of the release, I hope my readers will understand.


September 5, 2015

MS Subbulakshmi: Surdas Bhajans [EMI PSLP 1391] (1986)

Surdas was a 15th century poet, reportedly blind, who is renowned for his many poems about the life of Lord Krishna. The Murty Classical Library of India has published a lovely collection of some of the earliest known manuscripts of Surdas' poetry and the book is well worth searching out.

MS Subbulakshmi was one of the most prolific and popular singers of bhajans, or Hindi devotional songs. This delightful LP, rescued from my local record shop which just recently placed on their shelves a small but choice selection of Indian vinyl, was recorded in 1986 by EMI and features vocal support from Radha Viswanathan. The poems were set to music by P.S. Srinivasa Rao.

At times the close harmonies are reminiscent of heavily applied reverb, but I think the heartfelt singing of MSS shines through.

The songs are as follows:

Side 1:
Prabhuji Tum Bin Kaun Sahai
Nis Din Barsat Nain Hamare
Raakho Laaj Hari Tum Meri
Kunjani Kunjani Bajati Murli

Side 2:
Akhiyan Hari Darsan Ki Piyasi
Madhuban Tum Kyon Rahat Hare
Hey Deen Dayal Gopal Hari
Suneri MAin Ne Nirbal Ke Balram

Click here to watch a YouTube clip of a live performance of a bhajan by MSS.


Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, followed by a  quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove one or two clicks per side. No change in EQ was made. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. There is some surface noise still present in the transfer but it is very minimal.





August 7, 2015

Nayan Ghosh and Yogesh Samsi live in Houston, July 30, 2001

Here is a live recording (straight from the mixing desk) from one of the most revered sitarists of the past few decades: Nayan Ghosh. Originally a talented and sought after tabla player, he eventually changed his primary instrument to sitar. This is an intriguing combination of skills and can result in some exquisite performances. He comes from a very talented musical family (his uncle was the pioneering flautist Pannalal Ghosh, and that's just one of several outstanding musicians in the family).

On tabla is Yogesh Samsi, a disciple of the legendary Alla Rakha.

01 Raga Sohini (2 compositions)             13:00
02 Baul Song                                         9:15

Nayan ji is slated to be on tour in the USA during the next month or so, with appearances in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago at the World Music Festival, Milwaukee, and (I believe) in NYC. There are currently some issues with his visa application, but hopefully these will be sorted out and no shows will be missed.


NOTE: There are quite a few more LPs and cassettes to come. I've gotten behind because of a busy work schedule. I encourage anyone who has not explored the earlier posts on this blog to do so and download files so that the links do not expire (which happens when more than 30 days pass between downloads). Re-upping posts is not as easy as it sounds as it involves locating the original files, making sure there are no discrepancies or missing items, and then uploading the files slowly to Zippyshare. It's much better for people to keep the files alive by downloading, even if the posts don't seem immediately of interest. Thanks!

June 17, 2015

Bismillah Khan: Music From India [EMI ASD 2446] (1969)

Here is an excellent LP which was released in 1969 on the "HMV" label (a subsidiary of EMI) in India. The condition of the vinyl was pristine and the performances above criticism.

Track List:

Side 1:
1) Raga Sarang: Aochar and Drut Gat in Teentaal
2) Dadra (Dhun): Aochar and Madhya Gat in Dadra Taal

Side 2:
1) Raga Chandrakauns: Aochar and Madhya Gat in Teentaal
2) Raga Kajaree: Aochar and Madhya Gat in Keharwa Taal

Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, with no additives, followed by a  quick vacuum drying with a VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Tascam DR-70D at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove one or two clicks. A very subtle (1-2dB) boost was applied between 40 and 60Hz. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound. There is some surface noise still present in the transfer but it is very minimal.













June 16, 2015

Stunning sound from 1964

Recently I had chance to catch up on some releases on Raga Records which had not been released the last time I ordered from them (about 5 years ago).

The bad news is that they seem to have gone to the absolute minimum of packaging: a CD and a paper thin sleeve with a only a modicum of information given. Don't try to find this release on your shelf either, because there is no spine onto which the CD info is printed.

The good news is that one of them, a concert by the amazing Nikhil Banerjee from late December 1964, recorded on a small portable Nagra tape machine, has absolutely exquisite sound. Frankly, I can't really believe how good this release sounds. Three microphones, a Nagra mixer, and a Nagra III recording at 7.5ips in glorious full track mono -- one cannot imagine a more simple setup.

However, the simplicity has worked its charm on this recording. With the exception of a few recordings on the Water Lily Acoustics label, there have been no Indian Classical CDs recorded in the past 30 years that I have heard which boasts such a lovely sound.

In addition to producing an underwhelming physical product, Raga Records has also chosen to essentially make it optional to buy their CDs, which are widely available on commercial streaming services as well as YouTube. It's almost as if they have given up any attempt to be a self-sustaining enterprise. This is quite a shame, given how often they have enriched my life with their releases.



May 29, 2015

M. Nageswara Rao ‎– The Ten Graces Played On The Vína [Nonesuch H72027] (1970)

Here is another in the Nonesuch Explorer series.

This features M. Nageswara Rao on the veena, complete with what sounds like authentic distortion from speakers being overdriven from underpowered amps.

Tracklist:
A1 Telisi Rama Chintanato
A2 Anuragamuleni
B Emi Jesit Nemi






Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, with no additives, followed by VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Tascam DR-70D at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove several clicks. No EQ was used. Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound.




May 19, 2015

Various: Classical Music of India [Nonesuch H72014] (1967)

This is a collection of Indian Classical Music which was first released as part of the legendary Nonesuch Explorer series in 1967. It consists of recordings made by John Levy on one of many tours throughout India and the Himalayas collecting music. 

The pictures (but not the sound files) included in this post are borrowed (with much thanks) from beloved blog, "Anthems from the Nation of Luobaniya."  That blog has been quiet for over a year, but most of the links are still working. There are many treasures on that blog and I highly recommend it. I did, however, feel that I could do slightly better with the sound quality of the vinyl LP rip.

One factor which has made a tremendous difference in my LP listening lately has been the use of an ultrasonic cleaner to clean the LPs. Surface noise on new-appearing disks is reduced tremendously, and it also greatly improves the sound on those older LPs which may have been exposed to mold, fungus, tobacco smoke, etc. There are self-contained ultrasonic record cleaning machines which can cost between US$1,500-4,000 but my set up cost a fraction of that. Look out for a separate post in the future concerning my cleaning regimen.


Side 1

A1 Bansuri: Yaman 8:10 Devindra Murdeshwar
A2 Sarangi: Puriyadhanashri 6:12 Fateh Khan
A3 Jaltarang (cup-harmonicon) Bhupali 4:35 Chintamani Jain
A4 Thumri (love-song) Bhairavi 6:11 Mohammed Ismail

Side 2

B1 Rudra Vina: Chandrakauns 5:40 Zia Mohiuddin Dagar
B2 Haveli Sangit (devotional song) Gauri 14:25 Amarlal
B3 Naubat Shahna'i (Royal Gateway Music) Todi 7:40 Suleiman Jumma & Sumar Jumani, Abdullah Ramatulla









Equipment used in transfer: 
Preparation: Ultrasonic cleaning for 20 minutes in water, with no additives, followed by VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Tascam DR-70D at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove one click. Two brief (less than a second) vocal peaks were heavily distorted and I used EQ on those peaks only.  Conversion to 16/44.1 took place in Audacity. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. So-called "noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances and tone quality of the original sound.

May 6, 2015

BBC radio concert featuring Amjad Ali Khan and sons; Hariprasad Chaurasia, Rupak Kulkarni, and John McLaughlin:

This is a radio broadcast featuring two pieces which were part of a concert to benefit survivors of an earthquake in early 2001 in the Gujarat region. 

Here is the original text file which accompanied the audio files (slightly edited by me):

Two tracks from the live broadcast of an evening charity concert, held to raise funds for relief after an earthquake in the Indian province of Gujarat on Jan 26th 2001. Presented under the patronage of HRH the Prince of Wales, all proceeds were donated to the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) India Earthquake Appeal, the Prime Minister of India's National Relief Fund and Sewa International.

The performances herein are by Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (with his sons Amaan & Ayaan Ali Bangash) and by Bansuri flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia accompanied by guitarist John McLaughlin and [the truly delightful] Rupak Kulkarni.

Venue: London Royal Festival Hall, UK
Date: 18th February 2001

Source: Live FM radio broadcast, BBC Radio 3
Recording: Analogue to minidisc from FM tuner.
Lineage: Minidisc --> CDR via digital optical link. 
         CDR --> WAV via EAC on Windows XP)
         WAV --> FLAC via Flac Frontend on WinXP

The audio quality is very good. I looked around for some photos from this concert but couldn't find any. Please let me know what you think of the performances after you've had time to digest them.

May 5, 2015

Kartick Kumar - Music from India [DG 2726 017] (1968-9)

Here is a 2 LP set from the "DG Privilege" label. It certainly is a privilege to be able to listen to these two LPs of music by sitarist Kartick Kumar. The first LP was originally issued by the Heliodor label [89843] and I am not sure about the original issue of the second LP.

The contents are as follows:

Side 1: Raga Basant Mukhari
Side 2: Raga Marwa and Raga Kafi Dhun
Side 3: Raga Malkauns
Side 4: Dhun Jhinjhoti and Raga Bhairawi

The tabla accompaniment is by SV Patwardhan.







Preparation: VPI 16.5 cleaning machine
Turntable:  Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Tascam DR-70D at 24bit/44.1kHz resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove a few clicks as well as convert to 16/44.1. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3. "Noise removal" was avoided in order to best preserve the dynamic nuances, instrumental harmonics, and tone quality of the original sound.







April 19, 2015

Record Store Day 2015

I guess what I've heard so often really is true: nobody cares about record shops and vinyl LPs anymore. 

As evidence of this sad fact, please see a few photos from Record Store Day at one of the five record stores in my little village. This particular store only sells vinyl (with maybe quite literally a few dozen cassettes and CDs thrown in). 

I got there around 4pm and the owner told me they had been wall-to-wall crowded with customers since opening at noon. I didn't bother going to any of the other record stores because I didn't want to fight the crowds looking for their Kate Bush picture disks. There were two live musical acts and a surprising amount of wine and cheese on offer as well.






So many vinyl releases are planned for RSD each year in the US that pressing plants are booked up solid for the first four months of the year. I've read several articles this year featuring independent label owners bewailing this fact and saying that they cannot release or repress any LPs until May every year. 

I think I should  take this opportunity to mention that the name of this blog is a direct reference to a delightful record store in East Lansing, Michigan: "Flat, Black and Circular" (FBC) opened in the late 1970s and still is in existence. I used to visit there pretty much every single day (as well as the now-gone Wazoo Records) back in the 1980s.

And, to cap off this post, a beautiful video courtesy of the AACM Library in San Rafael, CA.

 

April 11, 2015

Ali Akbar Khan + John Handy + Zakir Hussain live at the 1972 Berlin Jazz Festival (1972-11-03)

Here is an over-the-air FM recording of a performance by Ali Akbar Khan and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain together with alto sax player John Handy. These three, together with a few guest musicians such as guitarist Bola Sete released two LPs in the 1970s on the MPS label.

Some people will enjoy this sort of material and some won't. Likely you know which camp you are in. For what it is worth, the FM capture is pretty good for being 43 years ago.



This was downloaded from a fairly well known torrent site devoted to live music of all sorts. If one were to Google the word "Dimeadozen," I am sure that one would run into their site pretty quickly.

The original text file (with some editing by me) is as follows:

John Handy & Ali Akbar Khan
November 3, 1972
West Berlin, Germany

Track List (1:02:22):
1. Unknown - 23:34
2. Unknown - 11:58
3. Unknown - 16:11
4. Unknown - 10:37

Musicians:
John Handy - alto saxophone
Ali Akbar Khan - sarod
Zakir Hussain - tabla

Source:
pre-FM

Lineage:
pre-FM reel >? >DAT >HDD via coax to Midiman Audiophile 2496 @48 kHz >CoolEdit Pro 2.0 >CD Wave >Trader's Little Helper >FLAC (level 6, ASB)

I feel that I should point out that the text file claims this to be a "pre-FM" -- that is, a direct dub of the tape that was recorded at the concert and then played on the air. It sounds more like a regular FM capture to me, although it may simply be that there are a number of analog generations (cassette copies of cassettes being traded among collectors) as represented by the "?" in the lineage. There was some static which was carefully removed in Audacity and overall I am fairly happy with the resulting sound.



Karuna is usually translated as "compassion" and I think that is close enough to what it means that I don't feel like splitting hairs about it.



April 8, 2015

Kartick and Niladri Kumar - Where Tradition Meets Innovation [Magnasound Cassette C4HI0066] (1989)

Kartick Kumar is one of Ravi Shankar's most senior disciples and a very talented (if under-recorded) sitarist. His son Niladri appears on this cassette as an eager 18 year old with plenty of promise. He seems to mostly be doing fusion and such these days.

The first side of the cassette suffers from excessive brightness and a quite noticeable volume disparity between the left and right channels. These issues had to be (very reluctantly) addressed with EQ and normalization of both channels independently in Audacity. Otherwise the listenability of the side would be minimal. Side 2 is much better, with a fuller and more balanced (in right to left terms) sound.

Many Magnasound releases seem to be available on Amazon.com as mp3 downloads; I encourage anyone interested in these to pursue those. There is a website for Magnasound which seems to promise more activity in the future -- I hope there can be some CD reissues in the future.

Also posted here is the oddly charming advertisement included with the cassette -- see below.








Equipment used in transfer: 
Cassette Deck: TEAC W-890
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24/44 resolution
Software: Audacity to normalize both channels separately and EQ the first side (reduce high frequencies) as well as convert to 16/44.1. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3