Rating Carolina CD Review : Carolina Chocolate Drops LEAVING EDEN

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Picture is copyright Jim Brock Photography

With 2013 still early in its run, an early contender for my favorite CD of the year is Carolina Chocolate Drops LEAVING EDEN (and yes I know it came out in 2012). It has been a while since I was so thoroughly in love with a CD from first song to last (Terry Callier’s opus SPEAK YOUR PEACE comes to mind, and that is high praise indeed).

I like their 2006 debut cd, DONA GOT A RAMBLIN MIND, but I don’t love it. The same can be said for their 2009 concert CD entitled CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS & JOE THOMPSON. However their latest LEAVING EDEN is another story. It is an album that is not only listenable from first song to last, it is immediately re-listenable. An album that can be on rotation in your cd player often without wearing out its welcome; no small feat in this day and age of too much, too fast, too poorly done.

What really endears me to this CD is how these young children of the Diaspora, these four children of the atom, of the early 21st century, are so thoroughly channeling and keeping alive this quintessential music of the early 20th century. What endears is how these young men and women of the race: Human, of the ethnic group: Nubian/Black, of the Nation: American and of the tribe: Artist; are creating music that incorporates the width and breath of all of the above.

LEAVING EDEN is at once joyous and jubilant and haunting and innovative, and sublime. The spirit of Robert Johnson moves strongly here, and well. ‘Howls in the bones of her face’ to borrow from Dylan, the cd LEAVING EDEN howls in the bones of your face.

Not only do I have a new favorite CD, I have a new favorite band. And luckily they are touring this year so if coming to a city anywhere close to you I highly recommend checking them out in person. I had the chance to see them in concert last year and missed it. I won’t miss them this year, and if you are smart neither will you.

Their touring schedule is here.

And their CD LEAVING EDEN? In an age of digital and Itunes do CDs still have a place? That appears to be the question of the moment. My answer? When they are this good, hell yeah CDs have a place. Owning just an mp3 sample would just be a crime. This is a work of art in the listening, and should be a work of art in the displaying. Grade: A+.

You can buy cds here:

Leaving Eden

And Don’t fail to also check out the following essential CDs:

Speak Your Peace

The Complete Recordings (The Centennial Collection)

And for more Carolina Chocolate Drops albums go here:

CDs available

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Picture is copyright Jim Brock Photography

ESSENTIAL CDs in the Age of ITunes #15-10 – Under Construction

In the age of ITunes, easy and user tailored content of individual songs at whim, is there a place for CDs?

For great ones, I would say yes.

MP3 is a great sampling medium, a very good compression medium, but it should not be considered an end onto itself, especially where music is concerned.

There is some value in the physical medium, when it comes to a great album. A great CD that stands up from first song to last, is worthy of the process.Of listening to that music in high-fidelity without the compression of MP3. Is worthy of the cover art and liner notes, and more is worthy of the tangible, tactile experience of engaging with that physical medium as a touchstone to the process and enjoyment of the physical medium.

From LPs to CDs, their is something as vital in the form of the medium as well as the function, something in the beauty of interacting with a great LP presentation or a great CD presentation in a physical space, that is not replicated in a digital download.

But it has to be a CD/Album worthy of putting on and listening and enjoying from first song to last. Something with sporadic good songs isn’t going to cut it. For that you might as well stick with the Itunes model of downloading random songs.

But for those CD and LP releases of music as functional and vital novel, as compelling art, the medium matters, has value.

Without further ado, here is a list of 5 essential CDs and/or LPs worth owning in the age of Itunes, where increasingly we own nothing:

incoldbloodIN COLD BLOOD – One of the seminal and ground-breaking movie soundtracks of all time. Quincy Jones’ finest work. Last I looked only available on LP.IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS:GLENN GOULD – This album began my love and appreciation for the piano and remains one of the great classical recordings.

JIMI HENDRIX:THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE- Lives up to its name. One of the pivotal and formative icons of modern Rock and Roll.

speakyourpeaceSPEAK YOUR PEACE:TERRY CALLIER- Overlooked during the heyday of Soul, Terry Callier was rediscovered by a British promoter in the early days of the 21st century, which lead to his old albums being reissued, and Terry Callier producing new albums. SPEAK YOUR PEACE is one of those albums, and more it is one of the great Albums of all time. Terry Callier being a devastatingly beautiful and poetic songwriter, easily on par with the best of Dylan, with a voice far superior to just about anyone’s.Speak Your Peace

SNAKES AND LADDERS- This Alan Moore and Tim Perkin’s helmed spoken word CD in many ways is a reworking of an earlier and no less mind-blowing Alan Moore CD, THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS. However SNAKES AND LADDERS manages not only to be its own thing, but manages to be a great and compulsively listenable experience in its own right.Alan Moore and Tim Perkins – Snakes and Ladders

Well that’s this installment’s picks. Come back next time for five more. And if you are moved to buy the CDs and add them to your collection, please you the supplied links to do so. Thanks and go out there and hug somebody today. (but ask first :))

WORD OF THE DAY: ANTINOMIAN

Antinomian- The mad idea that a religion (typically Christian) is exempt from moral law, by virtue of being that particular religion/God’s grace, and therefore can undertake any and all actions without respect to morality or moral law.

I’m relatively well read, but I must admit to never having come across this Latin derived word with its roots in 16th century Germany.

Historical examples would be Slavery and Manifest Destiny under Christianity in the Americas, and the Holocaust under Nazi ruled Germany.

Modern examples of this theology in practice would be the continuing apartheid in Palestine under Zionism/Judaism, or the modern day crusades that a ‘Christian/Roman’ America is embroiled in throughout the world.

Religion should elevate humanity not debase it. Raise our morals, not lessen them. Keep us from murder, not push us to revel in it.

Antinomian.

A word.

We must be vigilant against such words.


“Nobody’s fault but mine
Nobody’s fault but mine
I had a mother who could sing
I had a mother who could sing
If I die and my soul be lost
nobody’s fault but mine”
—Nina Simone

The Very Best Of Nina Simone, 1967-1972 : Sugar In My Bowl

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. :)