Friday, January 30, 2015

Rattling In My Brain-Pan

I’m sadly short on inspiration. Normally that would propel me out the door and off for a walk. But the view outside my window . . .

. . . is discouraging. Sunshine is welcome, of course, but bright sunshine over a fresh blanket of snow means only one thing: it is very, very cold outside.

I’ll force myself out later. If something brilliant occurs to me, I’ll come back and share. In the meantime, here are some links to material that’s been rattling around my brain-pan.

“The player is not what this is about. It’s about the files” -- Neil Young being Neil Young.

I am a reluctant iPod user, not a fan. But even so, Neil’s lost me on this particular venture, because his claims are baffling.

It is about the files, yes. There are bajillions of inferior-sounding mp3s in circulation, and the m4a files Apple sells on iTunes are of varying quality. Neil is selling FLAC files, and those can indeed sound pleasantly fat.

But c’mon: Neil’s 20 years older than I am, and he’s been playing rock concerts since before I was born. His ears must be in worse shape. Give me the CD and I daresay I could rip an mp3 that is indistinguishable from the FLAC.

The problem for audiophiles of a certain age is not the file format, it is the mastering or remastering that went into the file. And there is a tonne of older material, including Neil’s, that could stand remastering. The big bad record companies all know this, btw. Hence the recent, spanky offerings of old Beatles and Led Zeppelin discs. RUSH is putting a little spit and polish on their back catalog. Say, where’s the shined-up Steely Dan?

Neil Young, RUSH . . . Canadian-bred acts that have stubbornly followed their own muses and stuck to their own unique creative code.

"Record? With Nickelback? Do I have to wear pants?"
“I went to LA and I wrote with a team that produced all the Nickleback stuff . . . And I hate it in such a way that it is hard for me to quantify.” Hm. Seems Devin Townsend is cut of similar cloth. Here is his account of what went down.

Speaking of RUSH, drummer Neal Peart doesn’t give many interviews, but he sat down with CBC’s Shelagh Rogers to discuss his latest book, over here. It is a short, reliably erudite and lovely exchange.

And speaking of Led Zeppelin, I recently posted this passage from Stephen Davis’ LZ-’75: The Lost Chronicle of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 American Tour. The entire book, like this passage, is terrifically evocative of that particular time. Also, not a little eerie -- as befits the subject, and the era.

Finally: a writer yaks about writing -- nothing new, but Jeff VanderMeer's account of writing three novels in a year is a surprisingly trippy read, suggesting (to me, at any rate) that the books themselves are worth a look.


Yahmdallah said...

Re: the Neil Young/audiophile thang: couldn't agree more.

Especially that a lot of older stuff needs to be redone in the lossless 192.0kHz/24bit sample rate, because ALL of it was recorded in good analogue, so should transfer well.

But also, unless you're listening on a good system over at least OK speakers, you can't notice the difference, even with good ears. That means over headphones and in the car, it's a waste of your time and money. FWIW, I bought a few DVD audio discs when they came out, and on most of them I could tell the difference at home. And what a great difference, but it was only on those that were musically complex in the first place, like Dave Matthews or Donald Fagen, the Foo Fighters not so much.

I've love to listen to a 192.0kHz/24bit FLAC file for a song I know, but they're already making the same mistakes they always have when they introduce a new format, they overprice it and handicap it from the start. Also, often you can't buy the single you want. I'd've bought Jackson Browne's fabulous "Yeah, Yeah" from either of these places, but no:

And I'm not gonna pop $22-$24 for an album I already have.

Quoth Bob Dylan: When will they ever learn?

Darrell Reimer said...

I worked pretty hard to compress my audio DVDs into a more user-friendly file format, for activities like driving in the car. I sure don't mind the extra sweat, so long as the sound file in question sounds like a million bucks.