Category Archives: musics


I keep being surprised by Spotify, by the depths of musical obscurities within. Just now I saw an Airform Archives post that quoted the liner notes from John Fahey’s Yellow Princess, one of his albums that I don’t happen to have. So I looked on Spotify and sure enough there it was. Listening now, transported back to the first time I heard Fahey (a record playing at a party in Berkeley in July 1967 –it was Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military Waltzes, which I do have and love… and Spotify has it too).

working sound recording

I’ve finally solved the problem of easy high-quality recording, using tools that I’ve had on hand for years but never quite managed to put together into working configuration. My glorious Earthworks microphones (QTC1) plug into an M-Audio MobilePre USB unit (an earlier version of this), which I was never able to make work in the Windows world, and I’ve had but never explored GarageBand ever since I got the Mac a year or so ago. It’s my ignorance of electronica that’s at fault here, but now I can record stuff whenever I want to. Here’s a short snippet with the new instrument (see it here), trying out one of the GarageBand preset effects. I’m sure I’ll find it embarrassing when I have more experience with the instrument and the equipment/software, but for the moment it’s a nice little marker.

And here’s another fragment, working up to a tune I particularly love and will do more with real soon now: Sovay

links for 2011-09-25

Another much-loved musician

Hossein Alizadeh is one of the (scores of…) musicians I most admire. His Sallaneh (available as an MP3 download from Amazon for $3.96. Incredible) is one of the most endlessly fascinating sonic experiences, at least if you have any weakness for the nuances of the plucked string, and any curiosity about niceties of timbre in acoustic instruments (the instrument, sallaneh by name, has sympathetic strings and was designed by Alizadeh himself).

(here’s a link to one of the cuts on the CD)

Alizadeh’s wonderful 2009 Moon & Fog is available via Spotify, and seems to be lodged at nayzak.blogspot for the rar-empowered/inclined. The instrument here is shurangiz, apparently another instrument developed by Alizadeh. The CD doesn’t appear in Amazon’s Alizadeh oeuvre, but his 2010 If Like Birds and Angels I Could Fly is available via Amazon, and I’m listening to it as I write… This necessity to manage multiple sensory appendages is all very confusing to the Enthusiast, and I am coming to have more sympathy for octopods than formerly.


I happened upon the 1988 documentary “Music of the Outsiders” on YouTube. Here’s the first of seven magnificent parts:

I’ve been entangled with re[m]betika since… well, when? I suppose I first heard of the genre as ‘rebetika’ about 30 years or so ago, but my taste for Greek music goes back much further, to the early 1950s when I used to listen to Greek and Armenian music on AM radio. When I was in college in the early 1960s I had a few Greek records, most notably the Folkways “Songs and Dances of Greece” (1953, and a mix of ‘folk’ and urban styles, but without the disreputable rebetika, or the Levantine smyrnaica). I got Gail Holst’s Road to Rembetika (1975) in 1980 or so, and in the early 1980s I bought a lot of vinyl reissues of rebetika 78s, and a mountain of CD reissues once the material started to appear in that format. I also got my hands on the Costas Ferris film “Rembetiko” (1984) Watch this bit for the flavor, and this too:

and I’ve collected books and articles more or less systematically. Being unable to read or understand Greek is the main stumbling block to further development –there’s only so much that translations of lyrics can tell you, especially when their language is nuanced argot. But I have thousands, literally, of MP3s, and there’s a fine array of video on YouTube… and Spotify has tons…


Looking through the New Yorker that arrived today (July 25), I saw an illustration of monster mandolinist Chris Thile and discovered that he’s released a new album Sleep With One Eye Open. I’d just finished reading a Fretboard Journal interview of Chris, done by Dave Grisman, so I was already in Thile-mindspace and it occurred to me to check Spotify… and sure enough, there’s the album. And it’s dynamite, highest-octane bluegrass in duet form (with Michael Daves, guitar). I note that the Amazon MP3 comes with a pdf of the booklet, the first such that I’ve noticed. And some searching turns up the duo’s website, with a YouTube video of an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert:

…and even if you don’t watch the embedded video, don’t miss a particularly hot mandolin break (keep watching for the second mandolin break too). And there’s more video on their website, too.