Thursday, May 19, 2011

"The King Of Limbs" VINYL to CD comparison

Comparison, well...not in the strictest of nerd-aphile specifications. Look, I don't have the time nor the will to do an A/B comparison... I know, as countless others can attest to, that VINYL has it's own sound. It ALWAYS sounds different than a CD, and most of the time any given song sounds BETTER than it's CD counterpart.

Besides, Radiohead's new album The King Of Limbs (TKOL), Special Edition "Newspaper" release, in and of itself warrants some lauding.

The day Radiohead announced their new LP, I without hesitation dropped the $53 for this special edition. As soon as it arrived yesterday, I knew it was money well spent...even if just from a collectors perspective.

The whole shebang was wrapped in "oxo-degradable" plastic printed w/ TKOL cover art. I carefully opened it, retrieving it's contents:
(L toR: Newspaper, CD copy, 2x 10" Clear Vinyl LP, sheet of perforated "tabs")

After looking through what I think is an ingenious packaging idea, and laughing about the perforated tabs included (next time I cook up a batch of Lysergic acid diethylamide, i'll be sure to use these,) I got right down to listening to the beautiful clear vinyl 10" disks...

First of all, let me say that I had been listening to "Kid A" on 10" 33rpm recently, and I have always been a little unimpressed w/ a few of the songs on Vinyl. IMO, "How to Disappear Completely" and "National Anthem" have suffered a little on my particular pressing (possibly due to the questionable release on the smaller 10" 33 rpm format.)

For instance "How to Disappear Completely" doesn't have the same wide-open hi-end airyness as the CD version, due to Vinyl's inherent physical inability to handle high frequencies (8kHz +) at the same amplitude (volume) as a CD...not too mention the strings at the end of the song probably ate up a considerable amount of "groove space" to keep them epic sounding, so something had to give (see This Article for an explanation) . So I ask, why even do a 10" version, go 12"... just sayin' ;)

That being said, TKOL being on 10" gave me slight pause, but it was cut at 45rpm and the sides (4) only have 2 songs each, so I cleared my head and eagerly put the needle to the groove. The first few seconds of the opening "twelve finger piano riff" on TKOL's "Bloom" had me glued to my speakers. When the bass jumped in, the sweet fret sound resonated from the vinyl...the tape cued percussion was punctuating and punchy!...and MAN...all the layers of this song had a new face on the Vinyl release. Good job mates.

The biggest surprise to me was the 3rd track (first on side B) "Little by Little"...the CD version didn't really catch my ear has a groove, it's a cool song...but something didn't really get me going. WELL, the Vinyl version puts this song in a WHOLE NEW LIGHT. Their is some CRAZY GOOD separation of all the songs little elements, making it a very interesting composition, not the mushy warble I first heard on my complimentary FLAC download.

Throughout this record, the Vinyl version blew the CD away. And though I have no quibbles about said CD version, hearing what at first impression was a very digital and electronic album turn into a fleshy organic affair, was quite the treat. The imagery of laptop editing and sample tweaking over groovy rhythms has given way to imagery of tape splicing, vintage analog Jamaican dub-ery, and Thom Yorke as Roger Waters smoking a cigarette behind a big clanky synth with patch cords.

The sweet vinyl coupled with the sweet art(ifacts) made this completely worth the price tag. Go snatch up a vinyl copy for yourself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rare-Fi Studio

I believe in taking the most holistic approach that one can, when "navigating" our path. Obviously, trying to control our fate too much disintegrates the fragile (and perhaps elusive) holistic way of find a balance between "doing what we can" and "going with the flow" is about as close as we may come.

Music is truly no different. The contrived and heady song, constructed from blueprint often falls flat, while the noodling whimsy of a jam band doesn't always command our attention. If I have learned anything, it's that pulling from what I think I know, must meet the musings of feeling my way through- eye to eye. This is not something I can force, the mood must be right, my head must be clear and my ego has to cease to exist, if the holistic truth of a song is to resound.

And as the writing of music goes, so must the recording/engineering/producing follow suit. Often when a band has appeared with a sound or style that is not conducive to the studio methodology of the day, the recorded result, for all it's accepted technical merits (assumptions?), doesn't do the music justice. This is indeed an injustice. Who's to say (especially with hindsight) that sticking a screwdriver through your amp's speaker is wrong!? As the writing of music should ideally reflect life's dynamics of shade and light, so must the recording of it.

The artist and the engineer/producer (in my case, for better or worse, I am both) must therefore obtain wisdom and experience without compromising intuition and experimentation.

Fortunately I've had the chance to consider these principles when designing the "Rare-Fi Studio". With all the possibilities, all the limitations, all the contradictory proclamations...I have put the holistic principle, the wisdom of balance, foremost in my decision making process. The results that follow are of a studio that not only fits me and our home, but is capable of functioning dynamically, allowing room for both shade/technical detail AND the light of unrestrained inspiration.

A technical look
An aesthetic look

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

on 'Producing' music in 2011

Here I am, for the first time in my life, putting the finishing touches on a music "studio" I feel very lucky to have. Granted, this is merely a remodeled room in our home, but it is not 1) a closet, 2) a spare room with NO functionality, OR 3) some $lavish$ "industry standard" space I'll spend the rest of my life paying off. It is a Home-Studio of a different kind... it's not the sum of products & assumptions that Guitar Center nor MTV Cribs have sold me. It is the sum of (un)common sense and necessity...let me explain:

As always I've stripped away rhetoric, pompous declarations and naivete to get down to the core of what EVERYONE truly needs to yield QUALITY* recordings. Of course I could have sprung for a standalone building with a gazillion track mixer, separate control room and live room, $2,000 dollar mics, and Pro Tools... all of which are more than appropriate to get you to your end goal. But the fact remains; you put all of that in the hands of an incompetent, product driven producer or otherwise uncreative person and you get...well, the POP(fizzle) product that the masses consume.

So what separates the ultra loud (compressed), digital product line from a QUALITY* recording? I RESOUND: ART. LIFE. MUSICALITY. DYNAMICS. A TALENT FOR MAKING PLEASING RECORDINGS THAT SATISFY THE BIGGER PICTURE!

These things are not acquired by shelling out $ or following every trend or contradictory comment in your favorite online "recording forum". Like most things in life I believe you have to pull back, view the WHOLE of your ambitions in their proper context and then practice practice, learn learn learn.

I believe I've been successfully doing this for some time. Sure, I have a TON more to learn, but I am more rapidly evolving with every recording and newly employed tidbit of wisdom. Basically I've simply identified the essentials needed to make the BEST decisions in what is a totally subjective discipline, and I have secured those things.

All that's left is to apply my OWN vision and artistic sensibilities (which are constantly evolving from enumerable sources) with the confidence that my "brush strokes" will be intelligible to all the different ears that listen.

In a nutshell: I want to FEEL what the performance is conveying, and be transported to a place beyond identifiable constructs of time and space...I WANT TO BE INSIDE THAT RECORDING...whether i feel like I'm on a dusty porch recollected in 8mm grain with a raspy toe tapping blues man, or front and center in a world class Live Room hearing every well pronounced transient snap and pop of drums, buzz of bass frets, and tube gristle guitar fuzz...I want everything to cease to exist except the vibrations being transmitted to me in a timecapsule (hopefully a vinyl record, but nothing wrong with a thoughtfully rendered CD)!

*Quality Recordings- In my opinion a quality recording can vary widely, but should always possess an organic and full of life dynamic, putting THE SONG and THE TALENT in the best light obtainable. It doesn't matter if it's a fully analog chain (always a nice treat!) or if it's a digitized reproduced (field?) recording from a single mic in a room...AS LONG AS THE FIDELITY WORKS WITH THE FEEL OF THE PERFORMANCE CAPTURED AND DOESN'T LIMIT OR DISTRACT FROM IT, well that's a quality recording that will hold up play after play, infinitely.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Building an Eternal Temple

The day before my foray into the House Show movement was cold and rainy, the threat of ice causing some anxiety, as our friends Dark Fruit were making the 4 1/2 hour drive down from Lincoln, Nebraska. I have my suspicions that ice was only the scapegoat for the true nerves on hand...would anyone show up, would the logistics all work in harmony so the sound, atmosphere, parking?...would turn out okay and let the performances take center stage, or..."center of my living room."

In the end pretty much everything went smooth, although no one I invited showed up, thankfully Joel Cachero's invites yielded a small but warm group of participants... I say participants because truly, in such an intimate setting the vibe is essential, the collective energy of everyone present was going to weigh in on the experience as much as any other elements of the night.

And the energy was very conductive! After convening with Adam, Israel (comprising Dark Fruit), Joel, and Anibal over a crock-pot of vegan chili, and setting up the treasure trove of misfit electronic gear Dark Fruit employs, a scene recalling a mad scientist's operating room literally filed my living room from corner to corner. It seemed whatever the night was to hold, Dark Fruit could resuscitate & animate it back into a twirling furry of energy.

Joel Cachero and Anibal Rivas played some fervent jazz tunes, one of which was a beautiful original by Joel. Those two get bolder and brighter every time they play together (you should keep an eye out for their appearances around Wichita, bringing class to whatever venue they command.)

Next, after an interlude of more chili and libations, Joel played a set that was the most at home I've witnessed. The improvisational confidence and genius captured in his home recordings burst forth displaying the lush moods that envelop the listener. It was a performance that really set the tone for the evening and one I will always hold in reverence.

Another short break, and then the main event, Dark Fruit, with Adam and Israel's set-up sprawled out and facing each other, Israel, bounding with energy, shuffled toward every light switch in the house, replacing the relaxed light with darkness, as a sole lamp with a stained glass bulb under-lit a floor tom residing directly below a microphone stretched out to reach Israel who was standing, almost levitating from the pent up energy about to be unfolded. As Adam was seated at a keyboard with numerous pedals and a guitar in close reach...he started a droning whizz, click, whirl of a sound...more organic than digital in nature...which built up as the two set forth on their improvised set. It was like jazz sorcery beating with a tribal pulse that quickly put most everyone into a trance...many times I shut my eyes, trying to become aware of the truth that all which existed was sound (vibrations) as I let the glyphs and wormholes Dark Fruit was churning out take me further into the realm of the ceremony at hand.

Beyond the above description, I have nothing else to offer in the form of words, as it really couldn't do Dark Fruit any justice. Adam and Israel are truly unique and vibrant people who use music as a vessel for channeling so much through the music, as are Joel and Anibal.

The small group of partakers thinned to a couple of people (musicians included), so I saw no point in performing other than for the sake of returning the gift of sharing that I just received.

After a couple of songs, we started tearing down, dismantling the temple we had just erected, a temple in which we all took away a piece to carry with us. The house show was a success on the deepest and most meaningful of levels...and surely you will be hearing more about my take on the implications this form of community has opened my eyes to.

Oh, and we recorded the show...! ! Video and AUDIO...So stay tuned for the artifacts that we preserved!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


That's the sound of life flying by.
I have SO much going on these days that this blog has been cast to the pile of "no time to's", and therefore isn't even close to what I have envisioned.

As the year closes out, there are 3 HUGE projects I have going on, 2 of which will directly affect my vision for Rare-Fi, if I can finish them up. One of the projects includes me sprucing up this blog with interesting content, guest bloggers, and tying it into another BIG interactive website project i have in the works...

Basically I'm just making it known that this blog won't be another tired mouthpiece adding noise to the blogosphere, so keep checking back periodically to see my vision unfold and hopefully impact some people with some heartfelt art.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The story of the Hare and the Muse

While waiting on the vinyl to arrive, I feel I should recount what has occurred here, because it really does put a smile on my face. To know that an idea has grown and developed into the vision I've nurtured, we've nurtured, validates the philosophy that has always dominated my being; that idealism is only one step removed from reality...action is and always will be the determining factor.

The album itself, & title as well, are commentary on that belief. "Find a sluggard without a 'scuse, and find a hare without a muse", this is an old and rather odd proverb that inspired the title. The proverb basically means that a lazy person always has an excuse, like a rabbit always has a hole or opening to creep reach the "garden". I interpreted this a bit more metaphorically, and the dual meaning of Muse was irresistible...when doesn't an artist find inspiration by going through that opening, rabbit hole, or by entering a fruitful patch via that coveted MUSE!

It was a very fitting title, especially since I had recently penned a couple of songs that seemed to just fall in my lap. I had indeed been visited by a muse, and happily, my wife Nichole actually is and was the real embodiment and subject of that inspiration. With a real life muse, a whim of inspiration, all fueling my ambitions, I took the step of starting a Kickstarter project ( is a great resource for artists) to build a base of supporters that would help in funding a vinyl release of an album that was still only a vision. In fact, all of these ideas, my vision for an album that was an ode to things of beauty, meaning, and inspired empowerment, on a vinyl record...a co-op DIY effort, would have never been more than an idea, without the dedication, devotion and action of myself and the gracious people forging this into a tangible piece of art. Art that can become a muse for another, becoming the seed for another wave of creation, only requiring the nurture of action to bloom.

The people that were instrumental in making this happen will never be forgotten, and not only deserve credit, but a look into some of their projects and passions. Sincere thanks go out to the following supporters:
my wife Nichole, my mom Gena, and other family members Nan, Jane, Billy, who all showed faith in my vision in addition to their love.
Kris Rue- a musician and supportive friend. Seth Smith- long time friend and artist who you can check out here @, Andrew Helt- life long friend and partner in crime, Joel Cachero- friend and musical contributor, old friend Joe Shamrock, friends- Candy & Chuck, and Joseph Lavender & Tim Baughman. Check out Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor @ and Jeff Cohen @


Friday, April 30, 2010


The master has been sent to the Vinyl Lacquer Mastering House, so the LP should be in my hands in about a month!