Tuesday, 30 October 2012

El Gaucho

by Müller and Makaroff

From Christoph H. Müller and Eduardo Makaroff of Gotan Project fame comes something very different: the music from and inspired by El Gaucho, a film by Andrés Jarach. Tango electrónico it isn’t.

It’s all about nostalgia, of course, and nostalgia rarely comes in better packaging, in every sense of the word. The cardboard CD sleeve even has a pop-up model of a corral, the gaucho and a horse. How cool is that? As for the bonus multimedia material, one of my PCs can play it and another can’t, and in any case there’s nothing that isn’t on El Gaucho website. Check out the Gaucho Glossary, if you want to know what the words (and song titles) el piche, jinete and payador mean.

The opening song, Andrés Retamal, is zamba featuring vocals of Daniel Melingo and Mavi Díaz and musical hand-saw by Rodrigo Guerra.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Страна, где ночует солнце

by Ivan Smirnov

A few years ago, an old friend of mine send me the DVD published by TeRiRem Productions. I am not sure if this DVD is/was available anywhere outside Russia. Which is a great shame, for Ivan Smirnov is one of the finest guitarists Russia ever produced. Back in 1980s, I saw him in two very different incarnations of Kozlov’s Арсенал (Arsenal), playing... well, very different music indeed. Страна, где ночует солнце (The Land Where the Sun Slumbers) is a live concert of Smirnov’s quartet recorded on 30 January 2002 at Le Club. The double CD of the same name (“currently unavailable” in its physical form, on Amazon or elsewhere, but you can listen to it for free), contains more material from the same concert. (Five songs, to be precise.)

It’s all achingly beautiful stuff but — or should I say “and”? — a bit on the melancholy side. And (or should I say “but”?) then, when you think you got the idea, comes the final number: Tipsy Dance, a sort of Russian folk-inspired tune with a healthy dose of humour... and heavy(ish) blues riffs. What does it prove? Once a jazz-rocker, always a jazz-rocker.

Иван Смирнов — Страна, где ночует солнце (DVD)

  1. Долина эха / Echoes in the Glen
  2. Страна, где ночует солнце / The Land Where the Sun Slumbers
  3. Братан / Buddy
  4. Черная Бабочка / Black Butterfly
  5. Среди пустыни / In the Heart of a Desert
  6. С тобой / With You
  7. Долгое озеро / Long Lake
  8. Дикое поле / Steppe Frontier
  9. Наигрыш / Folk Tune
  10. Когда сжигают золотые листья / September (by the Fire)
  11. Хмель / Tipsy Dance
Иван Смирнов — акустическая гитара
Михаил Смирнов — клавишные, аккордеон, перкуссия
Сергей Клевенский — кларнет, свирели, рожки, волынка
Дмитрий Сафонов — акустическая гитара

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Brecklands Dawn Chorus

produced by Andrew Flintham

I heard of the recording called Brecklands Dawn Chorus before, but it was the article on BBC website that made me actually get the album and listen to it. Amazon.co.uk credits this CD to “Various Artists”, and in a way they are right. They just don’t know the artists’ exact names. Apparently, most of them are birds performing a dawn chorus. In Breckland.

The CD has just one track, 70 minutes 16 seconds long. So, on my (rather old) CD player, I cannot simply go back a few minutes in case I missed something. But maybe this was the idea? The audio track is unique as it is uninterrupted and unedited. Recording like that is impossible nowadays because of increased noise pollution. In fact, I can hear almost uninterrupted sound of distant motorway (A11?), plus some aircraft, on B.D.C. too. (Oh wait, wasn’t it my washing machine? No.) Back in 1993, The Brecks were not exactly the most isolated part of Britain: RAF stations Lakenheath and Mildenhall are both located there.

It doesn’t matter really. This is an epic record. It also may be referred to as “relaxing” and “soothing”, at least that’s what they write on the CD sleeve. And then there are a few moments which I’d call comical, although I should study bird songs a bit more comprehensively before being able to understand the joke fully. What creature(s) produce(s) the splashing noises at this time of day (4 am?), I cannot tell.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Roll Pad Notebook Cooler

by Gigabyte Technology

This is one of a very few computer-related things acquired in my previous life that are still working. According to the description, it is “silent 0 dB” with “no power needed”. Which hardly seems surprising given that the cooler is a sushi-roll-shaped affair consisting of aluminium tubes. It’s usually found underneath my netbook and it does it job. Silently. A shame that Amazon does not sell it any longer (maybe it is not produced any longer), I wouldn’t mind having couple more of those.