It’s a rainy Sunday morning here in Texas, which is the perfect weather to make some coffee, breakfast, and do some listening on “the hi fi,” as my father always calls it. Depending on my system du jour, the start-up process is as simple as pushing a single button, or sometimes akin to the scintillating fireworks in Fantasia: Turn on the initial warm-up stage of the tube amp, turn the preamp on, then the DAC, the turntable, the phono preamp, each subwoofer, then the second stage of the tube amp. This morning, my listening room is aglow with the warm light of getters, orange iridescence of grid screens, and the twinkle of power lights and meters.
Nothing warms me up like all that gear. (Though, my electric bill isn’t as happy.)
Music this morning
Bill Callahan – Apocalypse
Epic, droning, deep-vocal singer/songwriter Bill Callahan is one of the guys whose looks don’t match his voice, but man can that voice really enchant. He sounds like a grizzled 70-year-old cowboy, but he looks like he is barely 25. Looks aside, his lyrics are haunting and make you feel as if you are on a cattle drive (which the opening song “Drover” is about). This is one of those albums that you can play alone on a rainy Sunday morning, or around a campfire with friends. Listen to the powerful lyrics and Callahan’s deep voice, and you can’t help but feel the epic journey his tales recount. http://www.dragcity.com/products/apocalypse
Melody Gardot – My One and Only Thrill
Everyone knows Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Shelby Lynne in the hi-fi community, but somebody whom I feel is highly underrated is Melody Gardot, who exploded onto the jazz/vocal scene at the age of 23. I feel like I am in Paris every time I listen to her amazing, upbeat album My One and Only Thrill. She’s beautiful, she has a sublime voice, and the sonics are really superb. This album definitely deserves to be in your collection. Get the 45RPM vinyl if the budget allows. Standard 150g vinyl available as well. http://www.musicdirect.com/p-108051-melody-gardot-my-one-and-only-thrill-numbered-limited-edition-180g-45rpm-2lp.aspx
Carl Orff – Carmina Burana
I don’t know if much needs to be said about one of the most recognizable and glorious pieces of composition, but if you don’t have a good copy/version of Orff’s Carmina Burana, you need to get it. No music collection is complete without it. I like André Previn’s 1975 Kingsway Hall version, which is cut from the original EMI master tapes at Abbey Road. I purchased mine from Music Direct some time ago. http://www.musicdirect.com/p-42294-orff-carmina-burana-previn-180g-lp.aspx
Balmorhea – All is Wild, All is Silent
Balmorhea (pronounced Bal-more-ray, and named after a spring-fed swimming hole deep in west Texas) is an avant-garde “classical” group based in Austin, TX that has garnered worldwide attention for their groundbreaking and genre-bending music. This six-piece band will blow you away with their unique atmospheric instrumentalism, which sounds like nothing you have ever heard and will sweep you down a mysterious road. With an emphasis on sound quality and vinyl records, your money is well spent when you buy an album from Western Vinyl, the label/pressing plant based in the Live Music Capital of the World. All is Wild, All is Silent is Balmorhea’s debut album, but they have six more albums that continually push into “progressive neo-classicism,” if you will. This is music to transport you to a different world—an ethereal, aural oasis of sorts—which is apt for the name Balmorhea itself. Look up pictures of Balmorhea State Park, which again is in the-middle-of-nowhere desert of west Texas, and you can see how fitting the music is for such a dichotomous landscape. http://westernvinyl.com/catalog/WV59.html
So, what are you listening to this morning?