Together with his partner Jörg Dames, Ralph Werner owns and operates fairaudio.de, a German online audio magazine. 6moons and fairaudio have elected to collaborate with mutual syndication translations whereby I translate their reviews into English and publish them here while they translate selected of our reviews into German for their audience. - Ed
"It's so easy to fall in love, ohhoho, it's so easy to fall in love ...". That was my first hit at all of four-and-a-half years of age. And it rocked my world. Quite interesting what one has listened to since. My musical tastes did evolve but it was a long trip during which, at whatever intermediate stops, various dogmas turned into holy grail, with anything else duly shunned.
In a bizarre twist perhaps, my tour kicked of with Blues. I surprise myself to this day with certain finds in my library: sorely cracklin' Howlin' Wolf LPs, John Lee Hooker stuff from the 50s and of course my fave of that period - Muddy Waters. A holiday acquaintance pointed out that it was Waters who electrified and screwed up the Blues. He provided proof by way of tapes from the 20s where the Delta feeling still shone untouched. Unbelievable how nice anti-hifi can be...
The boiler room of adolescence naturally demanded harder stuff. Indie Night is how our small town referred to those Wednesday outings. The morning after often had me visit our optrician to repair my glasses which had gotten knocked about during spastic dance moves. Funny. As a member of the self-proclaimed musical elite of our province, it was discussed whether dancing to a song was cool or too commercial. I viewed such discussions as asinine but was still viewed with the in-crowd - which meant, being a Jello Biafra fan.
Edge and speed were important then and down with ear worm melodies and sweet harmonies. One evening, during a pre/post/whatever finals party, I visited a buddy capable of dancing to Boney M. Expecting more ills, all I had for him was a snide remark while I uncorked a wine. Then came "Fade into you" by Mazzy Star and I had to reach for a seat. Not bad. That thing rocked. A year later my LP collection had grown: Hope Sandoval rubbing shoulders with D.O.A, and Tori Amons sneaking betwixt Fugazi and Ministry. Thus macho fantasies dissolved (or gained a new lease on life). But Smooch Rock you cannot accuse me of even today.
Evolving musical tolerance paid dividends. One entered forbidden gardens to discover luscious fruits. But shadow sides exist, too. If you like anything served up, all too soon you stop caring. Perhaps afraid of just that, I remained dogmatic in the sense that I didn't automatically pursue each new trend. Living proves that not everything is new that claims to be...
But some of it is. I long proclaimed that German music sucked because of our language and because one couldn't turn off the brain's word recognition habit as one can close the eyes. Then there I slum in a record store facing another half meter stack of CDs when a trumpet announces the line "her heart is cold as a frozen chicken, her beauty garnished with violence!" If this hits you during romantic troubles, you better pack it and walk home, bro - with the Elements of Crime LP tucked under yer arm of course. Cool to make such mistakes. Which I did repeatedly, claiming the scene dead only to discover Fugazi; rejecting Rock riffs only to listen to P.J. Harvey's early stuff; to feel estranged from Classical music only to stumble upon outlandish New Music. At present, I'm grooving regularly to Banjo while second-guessing myself on Sufijans Stevens...
What's gotz any of it to do with hifi and high-end? Well, I'd start by claiming that a good S/N ratio helps to discern just how ingenious the lazy delivery of Howe Gelb really is; or how the fragile melancholy of Mrs. Sandoval turns trivial sentimentality over a cheap Electric Avenue rig. And that's simply so not happening!
I'm not the hifi type of hunter/gatherer, nor gear head as the US boys put it. For me a system is primarily a tool to produce the illusion of being there. Across the entire range. From a singer's secret inhalation between two words to a gnarly bass drum attack, it's gotta deliver. And quick, to cater to my personal proclivities: Even if a component was balanced and tonally pure but failed at dynamic gradations or heaven forbid, blurred impulses, I'd pass. But if timing and detail were handled, preferably in combination with great soundstaging - then I'd easily forgive minor squigglies in the frequency domain. If you added articulate bass and treble that didn't pierce my eardrums...
Let's set out then to explore suitable tools. After all, as with music, everyone has her own style, treasures his personal little philosophy. But what's across the street doesn't sound too shabby neither.
|redaktion @ fairaudio.de|
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