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From: Chalkhills <owner-chalkhills@chalkhills.org>
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Subject: Chalkhills Digest #14-2


          Chalkhills Digest, Volume 14, Number 2

                Saturday, 12 January 2008

Topics:

           The Dukes of Stratosphear on eggnog
                big Australian live clips
                    The Sound Of Music
    "Complicated Game" is the MySpace song of the week

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This is the end / Of kissing arse and rubbing noses.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 13:30:18 -0800 (PST)
From: Ryan Anthony <hamsterranch@yahoo.com>
Subject: The Dukes of Stratosphear on eggnog
Message-ID: <682904.89070.qm@web51409.mail.re2.yahoo.com>

Happy goyisher new year to all Chalk-types, and
especially you who agreed to be subjected to my
"Christmas card" rant this year.

Thanks for the music, Ike Turner, Dan Fogelberg, Oscar
Peterson, and you too, Joey Bishop, the meekest and
mousiest of the Rat Pack.

Fogelberg's *The First Christmas Morning* (1999) I
bought for a buck at a yard sale a few years ago, and
it has become an indispensable part of my personal
Christmas rotation, alongside Yule-themed releases by
The Chieftains, Michael Martin Murphey, James Brown,
Tom Lehrer ("On Christmas Day you can't get sore/Your
fellow man you must adore/There's time to rob him all
the more/The other three hundred and sixty-four"),
Mannheim Steamroller, Vince Guaraldi, and an obscure
act called The Three Wise Men who sound a lot like the
Dukes of Stratosphear on eggnog.

Oh, plus "Star Of Bethlehem" by Neil Young with
Emmylou Harris (too beautiful to pack away for 11
months, but I do), one appropriate track from *Tommy*,
and "Christmas In Suburbia" by Martin Newell, ably
assisted by Sir John Johns and his jangly Jesticles.

I know, that's all So Very Last Week, but when we get
busy we tend to neglect our Chalkhillizing. Here's a
thought appropriate to today: Fogelberg also wrote the
best new-year-themed song ever. You know it: "Saw my
old lover in a grocery store ..."

Rest in peace.

Ryan Anthony
An independent Internet content provider

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 08:43:18 -1000
From: Jim Smart <jimsmart1@mac.com>
Subject: big Australian live clips
Message-ID: <DC98D724-EAA8-446A-ABF4-7CD329473C14@mac.com>

> I just found this by accident...some of you may already be familiar
> with it,
> but this *has* to be one of the best live XTC clips EVAR.
>
> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S6deXuGhnMY

Wow! Whatever Australian TV show captured those amazing Black Sea
performances really captured XTC well. Lots of great close ups of
everyone in the band at just the right moments.

Live music is wonderful. Andy Partridge is wonderful at making live
music, and looks to be enjoying himself. I still hold out some small
percentage of hope that he will return to the stage someday, under
his own terms.

Off topic, I've made a silly music video for my latest song, which
like all my work is a bit influenced by XTC and the Kinks:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=BCNkzGKUf1c

aloha,

Jim
http://www.familysmart.blogspot.com/
http://myspace.com/jimsmartsongs

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 00:35:03 +0000
From: <homefrontradio@hotmail.com>
Subject: The Sound Of Music
Message-ID: <BAY128-W405C6B36D1F626C0CEAED0D0530@phx.gbl>

Thanks Chalkhillians, for the listening suggestions, the support and the
mocking.  My apologises in my delay in replying.  I've since realized I'm
definitely a lost cause as far as modern music is concerned, and have
identified why.

I've been doing a lot of research lately into the mixing and mastering of
sound for my own musical projects, and have been struggling somewhat since
digital seems to have such different characteristics and properties to
analog.  I accidentally discovered it was far easier to mix if I turned the
average level down to about -15 db, and it was much less tiring to do it
that way.  Instruments and vocals had more separation and definition.
Strange.

I've researched more and since stumbled across the concept of `hot'
mastering, and it explains my problem with modern music completely, and is
something that younger listeners may not understand if they didn't grow up
in the vinyl era, as I did.

Check out this wonderfully-dumbed down explanation, using Paul McCartney's
`Figure Of 8' as an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

On a basic level, you can hear how flat the `hot' mastered track sounds once
the resultant waveform clipping is applied.  Extend this over a entire CD,
and you end up with an uninvolving, unexciting album that's physically
tiring to listen to, because our ears aren't designed to listen to such
uniform waveforms without peaks and valleys for extended periods of time.  A
great explanation I read of it was to imagine our range of hearing as 100%,
and then visualizing modern cds only occupying the top 5% of that.  Someone
else commented that this was akin to the high pitch whine of a test pattern
in terms of uniformity and listening fatigue.

No wonder I now often prefer silence to music.

Out of curiousity, I've started going through my collection and doing
waveform analysis, and things make a whole lot more sense.

Despite containing some of the greatest rock songs ever, the two times I
listened to `Love' by the Beatles, I was struck by the feeling of `won't
this ever end?'  No matter how often Oasis's `What's The Story Morning
Glory' and Sufjan Steven's `Illinoise' have been recommended to me, they
simply exhaust me to listen to them.  Turns out they're all mastered `hot' -
the Oasis one being a big leap forward in the practice.  An almost 80 minute
runtime makes `Illinoise' a slog to listen to.

Although I've enjoyed their earlier albums, there's nothing wrong with the
songwriting or the musicianship of the last `Crowded House' album, or the
last two `Fountains Of Wayne' and `Belle and Sebastian' albums.  So why
don't I respond to them at all?  Why does CH sound so flat and unexciting?
Why does the FOW sound outright obnoxious?  Huh, what do you know.  `Hot'
mastering again - the FOW being particularly clipped and uniform.

Why I did I love Rilo Kiley's `More Adventurous' and the Decemberist's
`Picaresque', yet find both their new major label releases completely boring
and uninvolving?  Yeah I know, indie snoberry - major label sellouts, right?
Turns out they're both mastered especially hot.  I'd pegged the Decemberists
record down to a lack of songwriting dynamics in tracks like `The Perfect
Crime', not realizing it actually *was* a lack of audio dynamics at play.
Rilo Kiley is a big solid block of obnoxious noise, (and the failure of
songwriting doesn't help either).

The most obvious test was the two new XTC songs, both of which I knew I
*should* have liked, but both completely failed to move me.  Admittedly, I'd
download both from various music review websites as free downloads when they
were plugging `The Apple Box', so the dynamics mightn't be the band's fault.
`Say It' is very loud, but I was unprepared for just how loud `Spiral' is -
easily the loudest file I've discovered so far, and by the time it reaches
the outro I don't want to hear it again for *a very long time*.

As to the few albums I have responded positively to in the last few years,
it turns out whilst they're still `hotter' than they should be, they're
nowhere near the average level of albums designed for the Top 40.

To sum up, although it seems like snobbery, the 80db range of vinyl is a
more natural fit for human ears, and it's impossible for our ears to become
fatigued in the same way via analog.  I'm investing in a high-quality record
player, and going to start tracking down the music I like on vinyl.  If it
has to be only old music - well, I can safely live with that.  (I'm now
thinking the 7" Apple Venus Box is a very good investment indeed).

Cheers
Simon

p.s. Further reading, for those who are interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17777619/the_death_of_high_fidelity

------------------------------

Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2008 17:45:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Todd Bernhardt <beat_town@yahoo.com>
Subject: "Complicated Game" is the MySpace song of the week
Message-ID: <502322.42473.qm@web32010.mail.mud.yahoo.com>

Hi:

Over at the XTCfans MySpace site (http://www.myspace.com/xtcfans), the
song of the week is "Complicated Game."

If you want to know exactly who Joe and Tom are, and what it is that
gets Andy mad about the song, check out the XTCfans blog site at
http://blog.myspace.com/xtcfans.

And it's always been the same
It's just a complicated game

-Todd

------------------------------

End of Chalkhills Digest #14-2
******************************

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