Underworld MK1 – The Sire B-Sides

Underworld - Glory Glory.JPG

Another Underworld classic has arrived at Innerspace Labs! “Glory! Glory!” is a single from the Mk1 era before they changed their sound and released their epic Dubnobasswithmyheadman LP.

Their singles from this period were released between 1988 and 1989, and the Sire label singles featuring b-sides not found anywhere else in their catalog were issued exclusively in Germany and Australia.

I’ve researched all 53 variations of these single, compiled a list of all edits and b-sides and have been collecting them for years.

The Sire Singles b-sides include the following:

Glory Glory (7 pressings)

  • Shokk The Doctor
  • Glory! Glory! (Live – Full Length Version) – same as “Glory! Glory! (Live)”

Underneath the Radar (17 pressings)

  • Big Red X
  • Underneath the Radar (Edit)
  • Underneath The Radar (Instrumental Version)
  • Underneath The Radar (12″ Remix)
  • Underneath The Radar (7″ Remix) – 4:43 and exclusive to the Sire ‎– PRO-CD-2942 US CD Promo Single
  • Underneath The Radar (Dub)
  • Underneath The Radar (8:00 Remix) – same as 12″ remix
  • Underneath The Radar (6:00 Dub) – same as “(Dub)”
  • Underneath The Radar (Edit From Shep Petitibone Remix) – 4:40 and exclusive to the Sire ‎– 927 937-7 European 7″ single manufactured in Germany – NOTE: This version has the same runtime as the track listed on Sire ‎– PRO-CD-2942 called 7″ Remix issued as a promo CD in the US and the Discogs entry lists it as being “Edited By – Shep Pettibone.” They are very likely the same track.

Show Some Emotion (7 pressings)

  • Show Some Emotion (Remix)
  • Shokk The Doctor – also featured on some of the “Glory! Glory!” singles

Stand Up (14 pressings)

  • Stand Up (Extended Dance Mix)
  • Stand Up (Edit)
  • Stand Up (Ya House Mix)
  • Stand Up…(And Dance)
  • Outskirts

Thrash (3 pressings)

  • Thrash (Dance Pass)
  • Thrash (Extasy Pass)

Additionally, “Change the Weather” (3 pressings), “I Need a Doctor” (1 pressing), and “Pray” (1 pressing) were also issued as singles but only contained standard A-sides from the two full-length LPs released during the Mk1 era, Underneath the Radar (1988) and Change the Weather (1989).

Of these 53 releases I am missing four tracks –

Underneath the Radar (Edit) – 3:59
Underneath The Radar (7″ Remix) aka (Edit From Shep Pettibone Remix) – 4:43
Thrash (Dance Pass)  – 6:25
Thrash (Extasy Pass) – 5:46

I am actively working on completing the set.

I want to give some praise to Post Punk Monk who has engaged in a similar endeavor with Underworld’s even earlier work as Freur. His (or her) REVO Remastering: Freur/Underworld [Mk I] – Stainless Steel Tears [REVO 036] self-produced remaster compilation is exactly the sort of work I’m tackling.

At the present moment my Underworld collection presently comprises 62 physical releases and artifacts, memorabilia, subway posters, books, prints, magazine articles, DVDs, VHS tapes, etc, as well as 589 digital albums, EPs, mixes, concerts, and other materials. With new material being released every week, they’re showing no sign of slowing down.

(06.30.2019) The KLF – Welcome To The Past (Unedited) [WAV]

The privilege of hearing exclusive private releases can sometimes be the most rewarding and fulfilling musical experiences in an archivist’s life. And so it is with this brand new edit. The history and context of its composition is cryptic and shrouded in mystery, with very few search results on the internet, (I count three in total at the time of this drafting), which make the honor of receiving a copy all the more exciting.

From the very little information available publicly, it seems that this was originally released in an unknown number of exclusive edit singles, (at least 39 as evidenced by what members have compiled and contributed to theritesofmu wixsite at https://theritesofmu.wixsite.com/klf-kommunications/welcome-to-the-past-puzzle). It appears that the new complete(?) cut titled, “Welcome To The Past (Unedited)” was issued June 30th and distributed directly by the artist via private email in WAV format.

One of the previously-issued segments have been filed on Discogs here:
https://www.discogs.com/The-KLF-Welcome-To-The-Past/release/12381982

But the new complete (?) WAV now has an entry of its own:
https://www.discogs.com/The-KLF-Welcome-To-The-Past/release/13822393

The WAV’s Discogs entry sheds little additional light on this mysteriously wonderful release. It has what appears to be placeholder artwork as I’ve found no record of official art for the track, but the Discogs entry does provide a few other pieces of information.

klf

First, it confirms the total run time of the track to be 41:47 (corroborated by the WAV file I received), and bears the style tags of “ambient,” “synth pop,” and “trance.” It also offers a catalog number as part of the unofficial (but intensely professional) series, with this entry marked as “KLF 000RE.”

Distribution is denoted as UK and Europe, but with my understanding that this was a non-physical digital release issued via email I would say that the UK and Europe designation serves more a point of origin rather than an official region for the release. (I am in the US.)

But on to the track itself. The KLF Recovered & Remastered series is infamous and highly-prized for good reason, with several titles outshining even the original incarnations by Bill and Jimmy, themselves. Live From The Lost Continent is the greatest concert that never was. This Is Not What Space Is About and This Is Not What Chill Out Is About are each a pure triumph of the art of remixing and are powerfully epic listening which transport the listener to new worlds of experience.

Welcome To The Past (Unedited) is no exception to the incredibly high standard of production and musical cut-up artistry maintained consistently throughout the continuing Recovered & Remastered saga. It is frankly astonishing how much dynamic and fresh content its creator has been able to construct from the finite bank of the KLF’s catalog. He effectively breathes new life into their music and meticulously and masterfully assembles an array of seemingly innocuous samples of sirens, trance beats, and train station field recordings into a seamless and transportive opus of provocative proportions.

The final minutes of the mix are evocative and stirring, tugging wistfully at the heartstrings of every KLF devotee who has followed their zenarchistic madness from 1987 to the present day. Perhaps it is silly to romanticize trance music built upon discordian mythos and mayhem, but Welcome To The Past is an exquisite specimen of remix culture and a pure and proper celebration of the legacy of The KLF.

Five stars. Pure joy. “This is what the KLF are about. Over and out.”

Hearts of Space No. 1: First Flight (1983) Limited Edition 2LP

Hearts of Space - No 1 - First Flight 2LP.JPG

I’ve been an avid fan of the Hearts of Space radio program for many years. The show’s producer and presenter, Stephen Hill has been showcasing the finest in ambient, space, and contemplative music for over thirty five years.

Their label has issued almost 150 albums and in 2001 they launched an online streaming service where members have access to the complete broadcast history of the program, complete with playlists and the ability to enable or disable the narration segments.

As of the date of publication of this article, I maintain a complete archive of all HOS program broadcasts from their premiere on January 1st, 1983 to program 1,219 which aired on June 28, 2019. I also have the official HOS poster framed in my office.

Hearts of Space Framed Official Poster

You can imagine my delight at discovering that in 2018, Valley Entertainment, (the company that bought Hearts of Space Records in 2001), issued a limited edition double LP of the music from the first-ever syndicated broadcast of the show.

Originally issued on compact disc in 2008 under cat # 2-HOS-11500, this special vinyl edition was released Sept 21, 2018 in honor of the 35th anniversary of the program.

From the official release page:

Best of Hearts of Space,No.1: First Flight appears on vinyl as Hearts of Space celebrates the 35th anniversary of the airing of this – its first ever show. This double-LP pressing is a limited edition of only 500 pieces and features the music of original broadcast including Academy Award winner Vangelis with Irene Papas and Grammy Award winners Kitaro and David Darling. Other artists include Russian composer Thomas De Hartmann, instrumentalist Deuter, and pioneering ambient musician Michael Stearns.

“You have in your hand something of a classic. This was the kickoff program of the nationally syndicated Hearts of Space Public Radio show in January 1983. It’s perhaps the best example of the creative mix of contemplative jazz, classical, electronic, world and new age music that remains the central innovation of the program. Far from the chaos of digital music today where everything is accessible but uncurated, First Flight is an enduring, transcendent experience.”

– Stephen Hill, Producer – Hearts of Space

______

After ten years as a local Bay Area program Hearts of Space emerged in January 1983 with syndication to 35 non-commercial radio stations. The program is now syndicated on over 200 NPR stations and boasts the second largest footprint of any current show on NPR. From the beginning, the program’s success has come from consistently high production quality and sensitive, knowledgeable music programming. The program has defined its own niche — a mix of ambient, electronic, world, new age, classical and experimental music. Artists and record companies around the world recognize Hearts of Space as the original, most widely heard, premiere showcase for “contemplative music, broadly defined.” The Best of Hearts of Space: First Flight is the first show aired from January 1, 1983. The show features what are now premier names in the format including Academy Award® winner Vangelis with Irene Papas, Grammy® Award winner Kitaro and Grammy® nominated David Darling. Other artists include Russian composer Thomas De Hartmann, instrumentalist Deuter, and pioneering ambient musician Michael Stearns.

BOHOS_MockUp_1024x1024.png

This limited edition double LP is catalog no. 1-HOS-11500 and is another proud addition to my archive.

“Safe journeys, space fans, wherever you are.”

Published in: on July 6, 2019 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports book by John T. Lysaker

Brian Eno's Ambient 1 - Music For Airports by John T Lysaker 06-30-19

When I learned that Oxford University Press had just published a volume of its Keynotes series wholly dedicated to examining Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports, I raced to secure a copy.

The keynote was written by John Lysaker, the William R. Kenan Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department. Researchgate.net reports Lysaker’s project goal with the book was to provide “a 30,000 word study of Eno’s seminal album. This short study will explore the nature of ambient music, situate the album in 20th century avant garde music practice, and consider multiple forms of listening.”

Lysaker outlines the origins of this exploration in the Acknowledgements:

I test-drove some early thoughts at a meeting of the American Philosophies Forum. This was a great prod in the right direction, and comments from other participants proved useful as the project developed, as did the opportunity to concretize those remarks in an article, “Turning Listening Inside Out” which appeared in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy.

(He also acknowledges) the writings of Geeta Dayal, David Sheppard, Cecilia Sun, Eric Tamm, and David Toop (and included) the titles of their books alongside others in the section called Additional Sources for Reading and Listening. (He also thanks) the tireless laborers that maintain two websites: MORE DARK THAN SHARK and EnoWeb. Each has gathered numerous interviews that are resources for scholars and fans alike.

The Introduction quickly frames the tasks undertaken by the book:

This short study is for listeners who want to think and reflect on what Eno’s LP has to offer, and in a way that deepens future listening rather than replaces it with scholarly prose.

Five chapters and an afterward follow. They blend musical and historical analysis with occasional philosophical reflections on what “music” means in a context as provocative as the one convened by MFA.

Chapter 2: Music for Airports and the Avant-Garde touches upon a number of pivotal composers and works which paved the way for MFA. David Toop’s Ocean of Sound is discussed, as are Debussy, Ives, Schoenberg, Luigi Russolo, Pierre Schaeffer, Edgar Varèse’s Poème électronique, Michael Nyman, La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room, David Tudor, Cage, and Riley’s In C. Lysaker demonstrates how each of these predecessors provided an environment for Eno’s composition and he concludes the chapter by succinctly identifying the properties and musical concepts embraced by Music for Airports:

…in a short book, one is forced to make choices, and I elect to provide what I consider MFA‘s most immediate context… …Rather, I’ve been marking conceptual, technological, and sonic shifts that helped make a record like MFA possible, and we’ve encountered several.

  • Music can be built around something other than a motif, or basic musical phrase.
  • Microtones and the dissonances they introduce can be musical.
  • Traditional harmony (and even harmony altogether) neither exhausts nor is required for a musically legitimate arrangement of sounds.
  • Any sound is suitable material for a musical composition.
  • New technologies for the generation and reproduction of sound are not only welcome but necessary.
  • The presence of unintended sounds, i.e. noise, is an acceptable (and inevitable) part of a musical work.
  • Musical works can productively interact with the sonic environment in which they are produced.
  • Single tones and chords are musically complex and interesting, particularly when sustained for lengthy periods of time or subjected to extended repetition.

Chapter 4: Ambience explores the nature and function of the general umbrella of various ambient musics. Satie’s musique d’ameublement (“furniture music”) is examined, as is divertimenti music of the eighteenth century. Lysaker goes on to contextualize Cage, La Monte Young, Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening album, Moby, Aphex Twin, Thomas Köner, Wolfgang Voigt, Robert Scott Thompson, Max Richter’s Sleep, William Basinski, Stars of the Lid, and FSOL, as well as a brief history of Muzak and the 1950s Capital Records “Moods in Music” series.

Lysaker quotes Eno’s description of MFA‘s movement “away from narrative and toward landscape” and says that “MFA‘s somewhat amorphous and discontinuous sonic material seems to suspend its listeners somewhere in the space between hearing and listening.”

He describes the state of reverie induced by MFA, and suggests that it “enters life differently – obliquely, gently, but nevertheless, at least on occasion, transformatively.”

The final Chapter 5: Between Hearing and Listening – Music for Airports as Conceptual Art effectively summarizes the conceptual nature of MFA:

At one extreme, futurists like Russolo tried to humanize those sounds, creating compositions that strove to translate the sounds of the world into an expanded but nevertheless fully realized musical idiom. At the other extreme, Cage sought to let sounds be sounds through compositions that removed as thoroughly as possible his taste, judgment, and skill as a composer.

When interpreted conceptually, the approaches of Russolo and Cage create an opposition: either (a) art absorbs nature in the self-enlarging process, versus (b) art exposes nature in a self-effacing one. The former offers us culture over nature, whereas the latter labors to displace human activity from an emerging culture-or field-of sounds. MFA eludes this opposition, seeking neither a denatured culture nor an ascetically cleansed field of sounds. Instead, it enacts itself as one aspect of the world operating on another. By working with its world, and by clarifying itself with theories that naturalize the human desire to make art, it presents itself as nature unfolding, taking nature, cybernetically, as a dynamic system of interactions that includes its (and our) own efforts.

Lysaker presents and describes various forms of listening, including background listening, foreground or performance listening, aesthetic listening, adequate listening, and regressive or narcissistic listening. He then offers a metaphor for the reader to consider the type of listening warranted by MFA through a different “lens” of prismatic or immersive listening.

He goes on to observe the subtle differences between listening to MFA across different media formats, from compact disc to vinyl, and then explores the vastly different texture, spaciality, and sonic palette offered by the instrumental realization of the album by Bang on a Can which displaces the monochromatic character of “2/2,” effectively enlivening and humanizing the track.

The book concludes with an Afterward framing the enduring influence of MFA, and the author closes with a brief list of further reading and listening materials. Additionally, Oxford University Press created a website to accompany the book that features audio clips of many musical passages discussed over the course of its chapters.

The short text was a delightful and engaging read, and the philosophy explored by the author is never lost to overly-academic pomp. The book is a thoughtful and knowledgeable reflection on a critically influential work of music which continues to influence and inspire musicians and listeners alike over forty years after its release.

How Record Collectors Find Lost Music And Preserve Our Cultural Heritage – A TED Talk By Alexis Charpentier (2018)

Ted Talk FB Note Image.png

This is a wonderful 14-minute talk about my most impassioned life’s work.

Charpentier shares a fascinating tale about a record digger discovering an unknown independent artist’s music in a dusty flea market – an artist who had never experienced fame in his time. This discovery and the determination and passion of the digger directly led to the artist’s music being reissued by a major label and inspiring the artist to begin performing again for the first time in decades. This is the magic that can come of crate digging and cultural curatorship.

And he describes how our collections become an autobiographical legacy meant to be passed on to future listeners.

He says, “Beautiful art deserves to be cherished, shared, and rediscovered.”

“We are alternative voices to the mainstream music channels, digital or otherwise. Go beyond the algorithm.”

“This music will change your life.”

Watch this short segment and understand my motives and my passions just a little better. ❤

The Challenge of Articulating Abstract Music

Luigi Russolo - Music (1911)-1.jpg

I’ve read a number of texts on experimental and ambient musics, whether academic, philosophical, or critical, and have always admired when the author finds creative and insightful phrasings to discuss soundscapes where very little is happening on a superficial level. Sparse, minimal drone works are characteristically challenging to describe, so I take note when a journalist does an exceptional job at painting a conceptual, impressionistic image of a recording for those who might be curious to explore it, inspiring new listenership.

Kyle Gann published a fascinating mathematical examination of early minimalist music in his essay, Thankless Attempts at a Definition of Minimalism which provided many of the descriptors I incorporated in my personal response to the oft-posed question, “what kind of music do you like?” My general reply:

I particularly enjoy minimalist music – compositions which employ static harmony, quasi-geometric transformational linearity and repetition, gradual additive or permutational processes, phase-shifting, and static instrumentation. I am captivated by the metamusical properties which are revealed as a result of strictly carried-out processes. Many of these recordings explore non-Western concepts like pure tuning, (e.g. pure frequency ratios and resonant intervals outside the 12-pitch piano scale), unmetered melodies like those of Carnatic ragas, and drones.

As Roland Barthes describes, “…it is each sound one after the next that I listen to, not in syntagmatic extension, but in it’s raw and as though vertical signifying: by deconstructing itself, listening is externalized, it compels the subject to renounce his ‘inwardness.’” (Listening 259)

I’ll provide below a few examples of music criticism which exemplify this particular talent. Each inspired me to revisit the classic work they describe and rekindled my appreciation for the music. The first is an excerpt from Philip Sherburne’s recently contributed article published by Pitchfork on May 5th of this year celebrating Aphex Twin’s epic, Selected Ambient Works Volume II from 1994.

Then, as now, the first thing you become aware of with Selected Ambient Works Volume II is its purity, its starkness, its emptiness. There have been quieter records, more minimal records, more difficult records. But few have done so much with so little; few have shown less interest in being any more forthcoming than they are, in meeting the listener anywhere near halfway, in making the slightest attempt at articulating their own ambiguous emotional terrain. SAW II can be warm and it can be chilly; it can be sentimental and it can be forbidding, but it would be hard to call it expressive, exactly. A little like those samples of Mars’ terrain thought to contain evidence of amino acids but which turned out to be merely tainted with the sweat of some careless lab tech who didn’t pull his gloves on tight enough, Aphex Twin’s creation frequently seems only accidentally contaminated by human emotion. Whatever you feel when listening to it—well, that’s on you.

The album opens with a subtle tension: soft synth pads, the most basic, three-chord progression imaginable, cycling uneventfully round and round, while a breathy syllable—a voice, or something remarkably like one—bobs overhead, like a loosed balloon rapidly fading from view. Lilting harp accents turn to steel drums and back. The voice is detuned by just a few nearly imperceptible cents; the delay lags almost unnoticeably behind the beat. It’s a child’s lullaby turned queasy, a music box with a whiff of attic mold.

That tension—between disturbing and reassuring, trouble and calm, mutation and stasis—is the album’s defining characteristic. Across its 23 (or 24, 25, or 26, depending upon the format and edition) mostly untitled tracks, the balance tends to tip from one extreme to the other, like someone nervously shifting body weight from foot to foot. Some tracks, like #3 (known by fans as “Rhubarb”) are soft and consonant, welcoming as a well-kept lawn; others, like #4 (“Hankie”), with its bowed metal and whale-song laments, are deeply unsettling. The lilting chimes of #7 (“Curtains”) suggest a fairground populated only by tumbleweeds; the slow-motion grind and whirr of #22 (“Spots”) might be a chopped-and-screwed edit of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. #23 (“Tassels”), recorded on an EMS Synthi, one of the first synths the young artist ever bought, might come closest to James’ description of the album, in an interview with David Toop, as being like “standing in a power station on acid”: “Power stations are wicked. If you just stand in the middle of a really massive one … you get a really weird presence and you’ve got the hum. You just feel electricity around you. That’s totally dream-like for me.”

The four tracks that open CD2 (both the US and UK editions; tracks #13-16 of the digital release) make for a particularly compelling stretch. “Blue Calx”—the only song to bear an official title, it originally appeared on the 1992 compilation The Philosophy of Sound and Machine, credited to Blue Calx—is surprisingly pretty, placid, dreamlike. #14 (“Parallel Stripes”) delicately balances the album’s most tactile tones—I imagine metal shavings dancing across a magnetic field—with a meandering hint of melody. The shuddering, clanging “#15 (“Shiny Metal Rods”) is a tumultuous counterbalance to the album’s gentlest passages, the closest James comes here to the jagged techno of his earlier singles. And #16 (“Grey Stripe”) is pure filtered white noise; it might be the dying breath of a distant star.

The other example is taken from David Stubbs’ 2018 examination of the history of electronic music titled, Mars By 1980:

Certainly, as a young man, I played my vinyl copy of Kontakte to friends as a sort of test, which I rather hoped they’d fail, enjoying a hollow and slightly pyrrhic feeling of superiority when they did. Even fellow music journalists regarded the music as a sub-Clangers farrago of sonic nonsense, cerebral snake oil perpetrated by mad Germans on po-faced, pseudo-intellectual dupes.

Some of them, though, have since come around, not least because the ubiquity of electronica and ambient has sophisticated the collective sound palate; or because of the undiminished capacity of the piece to astonish and impact. I’m playing it now as I type. In its deep background, a vastness murmurs; then, a sudden asteroid splash of concrète makes a crater in the cerebellum. Recessions, a nervous tinkle of percussion, a distant pulse like a receding spacecraft that, in a trompe l’oreille, is actually closing in. Pianistic anxiety. Serrated fragments of metal, ancient drones, sudden fresh, cold waves. Whiplash intensity, particles illuminated by explosive flashes. Rumbles and signals from alien sources, unpredictable and irregular, but which seem premeditated, operating on a higher plane of thought. Long-extinct stars flickering obscurely. Diagonal bursts of radiation. Sudden catastrophes whose immolation leaves no afterburn, just a void. Single piano notes, isolated and disconnected from their original keyboard context, lost in space. Growling electric currents like approaching waterborne reptiles, changing course at the last second. Decelerations, then another crash-landing, sidelights whirling. Moons spinning off their axes. Cosmic birdsong. Oscillations, impossible droplets, curlicues, sparks.

Coiling sine waves, slowing and rearing like aliens right up in your face, probing and examining you as you try to remain stock still. A more regular broadside of events, constructions of stone and metal floating at speed from all angles, against a backdrop whose indifference and omnipresence is represented by a wispy perma-drone. Sabre squabbles, multiple collisions, scorched aftermath; a laser bolt between the eyes, the scatter of cerebral matter. Untranslatable alien exclamations writ large in carbon tags. Fresh Big Bangs, new universes. Inconsequential clatter, like spinning coins coming to rest. A dance of percussion and piano, brief echoes of Pierre Boulez’s Le Marteau sans maître. Then, radioactive glitter in the eyes. An aluminium chorus, glass waves, siren calls, revolutions of light, varispeed. An ending, without resolution or arrival, whose fadeout merely indicates that we’ve been staring through the window at processes that are both permanent and infinite. (Stubbs 108-110)

These examples actively engage the reader and inspire listeners old and new to explore or to revisit the works they describe. I aspire to do the same with my journaling and to find novel and effective phrasings to articulate the beauty of the music I share. If just one listener develops an appreciation for a work because of something I’ve written, then all my efforts are worthwhile.

Russolo, Luigi, 1885-1947; Music
Luigi Russolo, Music, 1911

Making My Office At Work Feel Like Home

I’m always excited to embark on little personal projects and this one really made a difference for me. I figured that if I am going to spend 9 hours a day, 5 days a week at the office, I might as well make it feel like home.

I’ve just won an auction and received an antique art mirror of Francis Barraud’s “His Master’s Voice” with ornamental engraving to add a touch of class to my desk.

01 Victor Talking Machine His Master's Voice Antique Art Mirror on Red Velvet Chair

Hanging the antique piece proved incredibly challenging, as the frame is real antique wood and the art mirror is incredibly fragile. I didn’t dare attempt to drill / screw / hammer any nails into the piece to add mounting hardware.

It took an hour and a half at my local hardware store but four different staff took great interest in my project and worked together to develop a solution that wouldn’t risk damaging the valuable piece. (I made sure to submit a customer survey of thanks and to write a review of the store in gratitude.)

It took six attempts to arrive a potentially viable solution. First, we tried these hardware items and kits…

02-03-04-05-06 combined (for BBCode)

I bought and returned each of the items above one at a time trying each on the antique in the store. But none of the above would penetrate the wood without risking cracking the frame or shattering the glass. It was only the final item – one associate’s bright idea of using Command Hooks which would be removable without marring the original work.

The nylon hanging wire didn’t end up working with the plastic Command Hooks but thankfully I had more fine and pliable beading wire on hand at home from a prior crafting project.

After a good night’s rest, I trekked to work and hung the new art mirror in my cubicle. Tragically the Command Hooks couldn’t bear the weight and instantly tore from the cubicle wall, but thankfully it didn’t shatter.

I improvised, realizing that I could knot the spare beading wire around the heavy metal staples affixing the mirror to the frame. The simplest solution proved the strongest and this is how it ended up:

03 Back of Art Mirror Fixed with Beading Wire Directly Applied to Staples.JPG

Here’s the piece displayed proudly:

04 Art Mirror Hung at Office

It complements my other cubicle adornments, which include:

– my newly-antique-framed custom-printed portrait of my favorite modernist author, James Joyce

05 James Joyce Portrait Framed at Office.JPG

– a pair of handsome wood speakers with copper cones for a regal finish

06 Speakers with Copper Cones.JPG

– an engraved wood felt-lined tea chest filled with my favorite variety of teas

07 Engraved Tea Chest Closed and Open.JPG
– a framed collage I put together showcasing portraits of a few figures in the 20th-century experimental music scene.

08 The Rest Is Noise Framed Collage
– and a 24×36 framed print of Miles Davis in New York in 1948 from the Herman Leonard Collection

09 Miles Davis 24x36 Poster Framed at Work.JPG
The next investment for my office should arrive this autumn. I’ve located a craftsman in Norway who custom designs rosewood headphone stands and will be commissioning one for the ORA Graphene Q cans once they ship.

It’s a cozy space and I’ve really made it my own! ❤

10 Cubicle Full Shot.JPG

Vintage Receiver Upgrade – Norwegian Wood

It’s an exciting day at Innerspace Labs! Our latest vintage amplifier upgrade provides clean and detailed sound and gorgeously complements our Denon DP-60L turntable as both units feature a rich rosewood finish, further mirrored by the liquid wood ear cups of our AudioQuest Nighthawk closed-back circumaural headphones and our pending order of ORA GrapheneQ wood ear cupped cans presently forecast for delivery later this year from Kickstarter.

Long-time readers may recall that our first receiver upgrade took place in 2009 when our beloved and trusty Yamaha CR-840 (1979-1981) Natural Sound Receiver was replaced with a McIntosh 4280.

Here is the Yamaha –

Yamaha CR-840 and Denon DP-60L Rosewood Turntable 04-09-19.JPG

And the MAC 4280 –

McIntosh MAC 4280 Front lg.jpg

Sadly, the amp had some issues and after 3 years of service attempts at McIntosh Labs headquarters it was declared dead.

In 2012 I was generously gifted a replacement MAC – a MAC C39 pre-amplifier paired with an Integra adm2.1 power amplifier. They made my Focal 814v Chorus series floor speakers sing beautifully.

McIntosh C39 Pre-Amplifier.JPG

Integra ADM2.1 Power Amp.jpg

Focal Chorus 714v b.jpg

Eventually, that MAC was retired as well, and I returned to my beloved Yamaha which, with only a single transistor replacement around 2006 and a Deoxit cleaning in 2019, it has served me faithfully for nearly two decades, and has been kicking since it was built 38 years ago in 1981.

But Sunday evening it occurred to me that I had one more component I’d never tried with my system. This is the Tandberg TR-2060, manufactured in Norway, which debuted in late 1977 and was introduced to US markets until about 1981. It originally retailed for $700 in 1977 ($2,919.85 in today’s dollars.) Though fairly scarce, they are available on the used market at an affordable price and perform impressively well. I found it for a few dollars at a junk sale several years ago.

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 01.JPG

The amp has two sets of speaker outputs with a power output of 60 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo). The only snag is that the inputs are DIN connectors. Thankfully, I remembered precisely where I’d stored a pair of DIN-to-RCA conversion cables which I’d ordered years back when I originally acquired the receiver.

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 05.JPG

I polished and connected it and was really pleased with its powerful sound. The classic Yamaha Natural Sound receivers of the same vintage are far more neutral, and there is really something to be said for the stunning rosewood cabinet of the Tandberg matching the finish of my Denon. (I am an unabashed fanatic for rosewood.)

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 10.JPG

It’s always a thrill to incorporate new vintage gear into my setup, and I’ll be curious to see what I think of the punchier, bolder sound this amp provides over the more transparent signature of the Yamaha, and to test various favorite recordings with both the speaker and headphone outputs. It will be a fun project for the spring!

More Minimal Ambient Classics

A visit to the legendary Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY yielded two delightful surprise acquisitions. The first was one of the three of Harold Budd’s 1970s and 80s classic output missing from my vinyl collection – Abandoned Cities. (I now need only The Pavilion of Dreams and The White Arcades to complete my collection.)

Harold Budd - Abandoned Cities

The other was an equally unexpected but similarly important work of early ambient music – a German import from Grönland Records combining two classic recordings of Can’s co-founder, Holger Czukay with the great David Sylvian.

Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability is a double reissue and remaster of their late-80s collaborations experimenting with abstract ambient soundscapes which are sparse, sombre, and atmospheric. Pitchfork contributor Robert Ham remarked that these recordings laid “the groundwork for years of ambient music that would follow.”

David Sylvian & Hogler Czukay - Plight & Premonition and Flux & Mutability

“Each feature two long instrumental works built around drones from a synthesizer or guitar interrupted by random shortwave-radio intrusions and occasionally disorienting tape edits.”

The first disc, Plight & Premonition, originally released in March of 1988, comprises drones of harmonium, synthesizer, piano, and guitar. The second disc, Flux & Mutability followed in 1989. Allmusic describes its ambience as “deep, expansive atmospheres with eerie samples and vacuous walls of sound” and calls the album “an important selection for fans of electronic minimalism.”

Both the Budd classic and this new remaster from Grönland are exquisite additions to my library of pioneering early ambient music. My next ambition is to secure a copy of the Editions EG 1981 reissue of Budd’s debut on Eno’s magnificent Obscure Records label in 1978. The Pavilion of Dreams is ethereal, holy, and exquisitely beautiful and has been a long-standing favorite recording of mine in the realm of the genre’s origins.