TODAY’S TOP 3 BINAURAL RECORDINGS/NATURAL MUSIC!

I became a fan of Binaural recordings well over a decade ago. A technology that became briefly popular in the early days of the search for surround. Using a very interesting concept and relatively affordable requirements, Binaural allowed the effective reproduction of a surround sound environment, using only headphones. Unlike simple stereo in traditional recordings and systems, Binaural recordings created a definite spatial soundstage. Sound could be close or far, above or behind or in front. In other words it offered an alternative to expensive receiver/multi-speaker Dolby Surround setups, using only the binaural recording and a pair of headphones.

Needless to say the cost effective Binaural was crushed out of existence by multi-million dollar marketing push of competing technologies such as Dolby and licensing deals of companies whose livelihood depended on selling you expensive receivers/decoders and multi-speaker setups.

And don’t get me wrong, those things have their place. I grew up during the age of great speakers and receivers, from Polk to B&W 801s to Legacy Classic series; sound systems that cost more than cars. And I went through my share of such systems, but for personal entertainment, when you are not trying to blow the roof off or entertain a roomful of people… such systems are overkill.

Especially now in the age of miniaturization (and to some extent isolation) that the itunes and media player model has made of music listening, everyone is listening through headphones. And in such an environment Binaural not Dolby, is the surround scheme that is most impressive and immersive.

Unfortunately big business has a way of killing the affordable technology or alternative technology in favor  of the bloated, controllable, and prohibitively expensive model. So for this reason there is only a handful of mass-produced binarual music cds in existance.

Thankfully the very nature of Binaural means anyone can produce recordings using this technology. The detriment of that being you get the binaural recording technique, coopted by ‘new agey’ and suspect alternative health types, putting out mostly awful CDs that are supposed to help you receive some exceptional brain state. Most of these CDs are what you would expect from such claims.

But the real fans of Binaural understand the technology is for making kick-ass ‘you are there’ sound recordings.

Binaural allows effective placement of sound using headphones. So yes it makes for effective recordings of environments, be it a rain forest or a subway or a concert hall.

So without further ado here are the best binaural recordings currently available:

The Mist Movie Tie-In: In 3 D Sound [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]
Book Description
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Suspended in a haze of terror, humanity makes its last stand against unholy destruction!

Stephen King’s sinister imagination and the miracle of 3-D sound transport you to a hot, lazy day in a sleepy all-American town — where a sudden, violent storm leaves behind a mysterious mist that traps you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world.

The Mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. The Mist has you in its grip, and this masterpiece of 3-D sound engineering surrounds you with horror so real that you’ll be grabbing your own arm for reassurance. To one side — and whipping around your chair, a slither of tentacles. Swooping down upon you, a rush of grotesque, prehistoric wings. In the impenetrable mist, hearing is seeing — and believing. And what you’re about to hear, you’ll never forget.

The Mist: In 3 D Sound

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Camille Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 (Organ)


‘This is my favorite classical recording in my whole collection. This is a true audiophile recording for those seeking recordings with above standard audio qualities. This recording uses the binaural Neumann KU 100 dummy head and 20-bit resolution. Binaural recordings produce natural ‘3d’ audio, in 360 degree direction using only standard headphones. This is not Dolby surround. This is two-tracks. You don’t need a 5 speaker setup, all you need are headphones!

If you are a headphone user you should not hesitate one moment to get this, especially if you’ve never heard a binaural recording before. The difference is profound. When listening with headphones you will experience the orchestra as if you were there- all the instruments will be in their proper locations and distances all without using mixing board tricks.’
— Amazon reviewer

Also Sprach Zarathustra / Symphony 3


Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps / Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

‘Binaural recordings are very rare and very unique. But in my opinion, binaural is the BEST way to record live music. Why? Because binaural captures the exact audio of a live event in 100 percent natural 360 degree audio.

To hear the binaural effect properly you must wear headphones while listening to this CD. And when you do, in effect, you will ‘be there’ like no other audio technolgy can offer. In fact, I’d say binuaral is far superior than Dolby or any other 3D technology.

When listening with headphones, thanks to the binaural recording technique, you will hear every instrument in every location exactly as they really are- the perspective is incredible. You can detect the exact distance and location of each musician. This is an UNBELIEVABLE experience! ‘– Amazon Reviewer

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps / Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

PODCAST & SONG OF THE DAY!

The always excellent B-Movie cast is in fun form with their latest episode covering the 50s classic TARANTULA. And in addition they introduce me to a great song I had never heard before, Bob Schneider’s Tarantula from his LOVELY CREATURES album

An enjoyable podcast, and a fun, addictive song.


“If you’re reading this because you just heard 40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet) and don’t know about Bob, your’re in luck! In addition to this pop-friendly brilliant single you’ll receive an excellent introduction to the multi-talented Bob Schneider and his tremendous versatility. I dare you to not tap a toe to “Til Somebody Catches a Feeling”. Elvis Costello is wondering why he didn’t write “Everybody’s Doing It”. Latin rhythms are abound in crowd favorites Bombabaza and Tarantula. In between there’s funk, ballads, and other crunchy grooves.” –Jeffrey D. @ Amazon

Listen to the podcast here (a sample of the song is at the end), and purchase the album here: Lovely Creatures CD

Enjoy.

“I met a woman down in Mexico
Sweet as sugar with a heart made of stone
We drank tequila by the light of the moon
I didn’t know that she would be my ruin
She said she knew about the voodoo ways
And could make me love her till the end of my days
She lit a candle then she took my hand
And in the street I heard the mariachi band

She tried to say she was the last of her kind
She started to change I nearly lost my mind
When she said that I’d be her honeybee
I realized she had put a spell on me
I looked around and my eyes grew wider then
I realized I was inside her spider den
Caught in her web I never had a chance
When she did her tarantula dance

You say its too fantastic that it cannot be true
But I say that can happen and it can happen to you
One minute you’ll be thinking that everything’s fine
The next thing you know well you’re there with your heart on the line”
–Tarantula by Bob Schneider

Album of the Day: TASSILI by the band TINARIWEN.

In an age of bits and bytes I still like having the CD (still bits & bytes, but more of them :)). The physical item, the liner notes, the process, Plus MP3 is not the music, it is an approximation of the music. A compression of the music. A whole generation raised on the lie of music, rather than its truth.

Something the NO APOLOGIES podcast said about kids raised on their mp3 downloads and American Idol, realizing when they go to a real concert, that till then… they had never actually heard music before.

Today’s recommended CD is TASSILI by the band TINARIWEN.

Tassili:Price the CD Here


“Just as it took a bitter, misguided war to kick-start the Summer of Love, Tinariwen was born out of refugee camps in North Africa in the early 1980s during a prolonged period of unrest.

This band of genuine nomads turned rebel fighters might never have made it out of the desert and onto the world stage if French band Lo’Jo hadn’t caught Tinariwen performing at a festival in Mali in 1998 (eight years after it had returned to its homeland from exile) and invited the musicians on tour. Since then, championed by the likes of Robert Plant and Carlos Santana, the band has received numerous awards and accolades, and stands at the forefront of desert blues.

Not bad for a band that didn’t acquire its first acoustic guitar until 1979, and for years after would perform for free for anyone who had a blank cassette and was willing to record the performance to share with others — basically YouTube without the Internet.

Tinariwen — which means “empty spaces” or “deserts” in its Tuareg tongue — has grown into an ever-evolving collective with a handful of core members, which helps its sound stay fresh. On its fifth studio release, “Tassili,” the band expands its horizons further with guest artists Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), Nels Cline (Wilco) and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. All are musicians at the top of their creative game.”
—-By K. D. Kelly Amazon Reviewer

BOOKS ON THE HOT SEAT: Dave Mckean’s PICTURES THAT TICK vs Stephen King’s NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES

As always I’m reading several books at the same time. Things will slow down when I’m dead. :). In the meantime…

So here’s a bit of feedback on a couple I’ve been reading:

Dave Mckean’s PICTURES THAT TICK- Dave Mckean is a great artist, and quite a good writer in his own right as anyone who owns his magnum opus CAGES will attest. I’ll know I’ve found the love of my life when I find a girl who wants to stay up all night, sipping cocoa, listening to Sonny Rollins, kissing softly and taking turns reading CAGES. Awwwwwww…

Yeah… isn’t that sweet. I want to throw up too. :)

But yeah, suffice to say, PICTURES THAT TICK is no CAGES. It’s a book you really have to be in the mood for to get anything out of. I find, having lived with it for a couple weeks, I just don’t find myself interested in it.

Your mileage may vary.

I’m hard pressed to find one story in the whole book i even like.

Next up….

I jumped all over Stephen King for his short story collection JUST AFTER SUNSET, well I have to report that several stories in, I’m far happier with his earlier collection NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES.

I have the audio book and it is read by a bevy of personalities from Whoopi Goldberg to Tim Curry to Rob Lowe, etc. One of the highlights so far being his creeping evil story CROUCH END, just brilliantly read by Tim Curry (who will always be the best Sheriff of Nottingham in my favorite version of ROBIN HOOD, as well as PennyWorth the Clown in King’s IT mini-series). It’s one of those examples of a great reading helping to elevate something that may or may not sing quite as well on the page.

I’d recommend picking the audio book up, a huge monstrous thing, for that story alone.

Now get to reading or audio book listening. :)

Song of the Day: WEREWOLVES OF LONDON by Warren Zevon

Song of the Day: WEREWOLVES OF LONDON by Warren Zevon

Okay I admit that the above album cover does not inspire confidence. Quite frankly it’s weird and creepy, and not quite something I want staring at me for any length of time. That said, you can’t argue with the music, particularly this song:

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walkin’ through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was lookin’ for the place called Lee Ho Fooks
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein
Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London
Aaahoo! Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London Aaahoo!
Ya hear him howlin’ around your kitchen door
Ya better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again

Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London Aaahoo!
Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London Aaahoo!
He’s the hairy, hairy gent, who ran amok in Kent
Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair
You better stay away from him
He’ll rip your lungs out Jim
Huh, I’d like to meet his tailor
Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London Aaahoo! Aaahoo!
Werewolves of London Aaahoo!
Well, I saw Lon Chaney walkin’ with the queen
Doin’ the werewolves of London
I saw Lon Chaney Jr. walkin’ with the queen
Doin’ the werewolves of London
I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a pina colada at Trader Vic’s
And his hair was perfect
Aaahoo! Werewolves of London
Draw blood
Aaahoo! Werewolves of London
— by Warren Zevon

Find this song, and more, on the album EXCITABLE BOY (Which most people tend to agree is Zevon’s best) here:

Excitable Boy

To try before you buy, you can listen to a sample of the song here.

And remember….

“He’s the hairy, hairy gent, who ran amok in Kent
Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair”

:)

AUDIO BOOK REVIEWS: THE DRIFT by John Ridley

AUDIO BOOK REVIEWS: THE DRIFT by John Ridley- An unfortunate Ridley thriller that has moments of interest, interspersed with protagonists doing plodding, incredibly stupid things to the point of just being an unsatisfying and frustrating listen.

Kudos to the excellence of JD Jackson as the reader that just barely makes worth finishing, a book I would, in book form, have given up on long ago. The ugliness of the language, and the ugliness of the story you wade through… hoping there’s something to all this. But it just leads to more ugliness.

The story just goes on too long, has a tendency toward repetition, and a certain degree of sickening spinning of wheels, that all ends in the moronic and belief defying and unsatisfying. And a twist I’m pretty sure most will see coming. That’s part of the plodding nature of the story, it takes you through a lot of words, to an ending you see coming, and have to endure till the story catches up.

And worst of all it’s just not an entertaining bone in this story’s length. It increasingly feels endless and pathetic. Ridley’s early novels are so strong, that it makes this later work all the more frustrating and disappointing. Grade: D-/F.

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS by John Ridley

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: THOSE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS by John Ridley, Read by Patricia R. Floyd

This is the first book in John Ridley’s SOLEDAD series. Set in an alternate world where superheroes aren’t just real, but have fallen from grace like pop stars or athletes, and are now considered terrorists and are hunted and killed if found in America.

Our protagonist, Soledad, is a member of the special LA unit that hunts and kills super powered beings. It’s capably read by Patricia R. Floyd, who gives the characters distinct voices. The issue isn’t the reading.

The problem is trying to do a super-hero pastiche/deconstruction is a bit of an uphill battle in any format, just because it has been done so well, by so many in comic-book/graphic novel form. From WATCHMEN to KINGDOM COME to MARVELS it’s this huge history of mankind dealing with beings they do not trust. And it has been done, exceptionally well, in the medium that is tailor-made for these types of stories… comics.

Now John Ridley brings this tale of a mutant hating cop into novel form, and it’s not badly told, even exciting in places, it’s just from scene one it feels dreadfully familiar and by the numbers. Bigoted cop and this tale of redemption, either because she sees the good some ‘mutants’ can do, or perhaps learns she’s part mutant. And if there’s no redemption, that’s even worse. That’s spending time with an unlikeable character that stays unlikeable, ie a David Ayer movie (Not a fan, hated his TRAINING DAY, didn’t like his HARSH TIMES any better).

I don’t know, point is by the third cassette, I just don’t care. I’m just not interested. It just feels like a chore to slog through. Cop shoots Angel, and tries to justify it. Yada, Yada, Yada. It’s just hundreds of words in and I don’t feel any fresh ideas.

Possibly someone who brings no superhero experience to the novel will get more out of it, though I find it hard to believe if you have no interest in previous superhero items you’ll for some reason find this of interest. And those who do bring a history with the concept, will just find it, like myself, marking time till it gets out of first gear.

I couldn’t tell you, because I just could not be bothered to go any further. Only the excellent reading by Patricia Floyd kept me going this far, reading the paperback I would have become severely disinterested quite a bit before.

My recommendation… stick to John Ridley’s earlier pure mystery/pulp fiction novels. He’s a good writer I just don’t think he brought enough engaging or captivating to this story. FINAL GRADE: Rent something else.

THE THIRD MAN : One Never Knows!

“ONE NEVER knows when the blow may fall.

When I saw Rollo Martins first, I made this note on him for my security police files: “In normal circumstances a cheerful fool. Drinks too much and may cause a little trouble. Whenever a woman passes raises his eyes and makes some comment, but I get the impression that really he’d rather not be bothered. Has never really grown up and perhaps that accounts for the way he worshiped Lime.”

I wrote there that phrase “in normal circumstances” because I met him first at Harry Lime’s funeral. It was February, and the grave-diggers had been forced to use electric drills to open the frozen ground in Vienna’s central cemetery. It was as if even nature were doing its best to reject Lime, but we got him in at last and laid the earth back on him like bricks.

He was vaulted in, and Rollo Martins walked quickly away as though his long gangly legs wanted to break into a run, and the tears of a boy ran down his thirty-five-year-old cheeks. Rollo Martins believed in friendship, and that was why what happened later was a worse shock to him than it would have been to you or me. If only he had come to tell me then, what a lot of trouble would have been saved.”

-Graham Greene, The Third Man

First published in 1949 in the wake of the popularity of Carol Reed and Orson Welles'(star and uncredited co-director) THE THIRD MAN, the eponymous novel/novella was never really intended to exist. The novella was the first draft of Greene’s screenplay for the film. The film is the preferred format, even by Graham Greene. However the film’s extreme popularity spurred interest in the publication of the novel, as well as birthing a very popular score/record,

and a wonderful radio show (starring Orson Welles called THE LIVES OF HARRY LIME, it is brilliant).

The Lives of Harry Lime, Volume 1

Listen to Lives of Harry Lime for free Here!

But the novel really doesn’t sing by itself. It’s only in the audio-book format, when it’s tightened up a bit, and read by the cultured yet world wearied voice of the great James Mason that it becomes something brilliant and essential, and as haunting as the film.

The Third Man – Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition)

As someone who considers THE THIRD MAN one of the greatest movies ever made, perhaps my favorite movie of all time, The James Mason read audio book (avoid the Martin Jarvis audio book, it’s just nowhere as good) is without doubt my favorite audio book.

The Third Man

I listen to it in the car and in my home… often.

And there’s something between the words, and the inflection of Mason’s voice that never ceases.. to enthrall.


“Happiness isn’t about getting what we want, it’s about appreciating what we have.”
—SPOOKS

Great CD for the Holidays: Alan Moore’s SNAKES & LADDERS

“Within only fifty million years of this, life makes its debut. Eden was white-hot and radioactive. Eve and Adam were both anaerobic, breathed formaldehyde and cyanide.”
— Alan Moore. Snakes and Ladders

“Snakes and Ladders is currently available as a CD and comic. What’s it about? Well, it’s about Oliver Cromwell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the dawn of time and the information explosion, magic , the DNA double helix, and author Arthur Machen’s breakdown after the death of his wife, all in or around the Red Lion Square area of London.
Snakes and Ladders is a board game, here usually called Chutes and Ladders, where you can advance if you land on a ladder, or fall back if you land on a snake/chute. Moore uses the game as a metaphor for how life can be random. He also explores snakes in creation myths and as a metaphor for DNA.
It’s not for everybody, and you may have to listen to it several times to follow and enjoy, but if you have an appreciation of Alan Moore’s language and an interest in sometimes obscure English history, give it a try.”

— by Stephen Bitsoli @ http://bitsolisbibliofiles.blogspot.com/2011/07/snakes-and-ladders.html

Of the 6 or 7 CDs of Spoken Word by Alan Moore, this (along with MOON & SERPENT, recorded at the same time in 1999) is Moore’s finest hour, and one of the most haunting, insightful, and mind blowing CDs of all time. A+.

Audio Book Review: David Morrell CREEPERS and Joe Hill 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS & HEART-SHAPED BOX

Audio Book Review: David Morrell CREEPERS and Joe Hill 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS & HEART-SHAPED BOX

An Audio Book when done well, by a great reader, can enhance a good story, or make finish-able an underwhelming story. When done poorly, an audio book can take away from a good story.

All of my reviews are of unabridged readings (the full book is read, nothing is cut out) unless otherwise stated. Okay onto the reviews:

**********

HEART-SHAPED BOX- Stephen Lang of MANHUNTER, TOMBSTONE and AVATAR fame is one of my favorite character/bit actors, so his name as much as anything else spurred me to give this book a try. And he is a fantastic reader, and this Joe Hill novel starts off strong and interesting but by disk two, with the protagonist going in and out of reality, just gets plodding and annoying and uninteresting. The whole dream sequence plot, completely loses me, and even Stephen Lang can’t salvage it. The dialog circles itself into tedium, over explaining things into the ground. By the time the same anecdote was retold for the third time, somewhere around disk five, I was done with the book. You get the impression early on, that this is a short story/novella, that the writer is desperately trying to pad out to novel length. A common failing of some other horror writers, padding a story till it feels like they’ll never get to the point. This however emphasizes the strength of a good reader, I’ll listen to a good actor finish a lackluster story, that I would have long ago stopped reading (grown bored of) in book form. All in all great read by Stephen Lang (B+), and at times well written, particularly the beginning, but unfortunately overlong and plodding story by Joe Hill (D).

Heart-Shaped Box CD

2OTH CENTURY GHOSTS- This audio book of Joe Hill’s Short story collection, read by David Ledoux is an example of how a poor reading can torpedo an otherwise interesting book. The slightly nasally sounding reading, seems rushed, and lacks any gravitas in the voice, and generally wears out its welcome quickly. Had to stop listening, that’s how problematic I found the reading, on the wrong side of annoying. D-. So avoid the audio book for this one and pickup the book instead, because the short story collection (avoid the over descriptive introduction) itself I quite like, and succeeds where I felt Joe Hill’s HEART-SHAPED BOX failed. Joe Hill is an elegant writer, and here in the short story format he can show off his subtle, understated, beautifully worded tales.

20th Century Ghosts Hardcover

20th Century Ghosts Audio Book CD

CREEPERS- David Morrell has had a long and surprisingly successful career as a writer of thrillers, and more, for his work being often and well adapted into a variety of mediums, from television to films. CREEPERS is a very cinematic read, wonderfully read by Patrick Lawlor, that you can perceive making a very good film. While some of the twist and turns are relatively well telegraphed to any fan of thrillers, the buildup is riveting. I do find the final act a bit cliche ridden, but that excused it moves at a fast clip, very well paced and keeps you turning pages, or in audio book terms, plopping in CDs. Grade: B+.

Creepers