Together with his partner Ralph Werner, Jörg Dames owns and operates, 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

"The essence matters."
That bit of philosophy goes back. Far back. 2.500 years to be precise. If it's true that the old Greek Thales was one of the first to propose that life isn't about stuff but something deeper - the essential, the being.

Granted, at first glance this has nothing to do with music except being a heavy abstract diet. But, eminently practical. And on second sight, applicable to music. Why? Well, ask me about my favored musical styles and my answer will likely leave much to be desired:

I like it calm, harmonious, classical. But also loud, dissonant and avantgarde. Pensive and calming. Aggressively disturbing. Embedded in densely arrayed sonic collages. Yet sparse instrumentation is equally fetching. Accompanied by crstyal-clear song - or alternatively, cleverly distorted voices. All of it electronic. Or purely acoustic.

True, I occasionally do feel stylistically adrift. But needn't if I just remembered the above maxim. After all, it's the musical essence I'm after, not genre or label. I'm completely convinced that I can tell whether music was authentically created or the outcome of product design. It's audible whether artists care not merely about the result but the creative process; who are one with their art whether playing loudly or quietly, furiously or dreamy. Gospel or Death Metal. There's a depth to the music. Consequently, there's a special connection between music and listener - at least when one is in the right receptive mood. Then one is touched. However it happens. Here I have no expectation but
intimacy is important. The tactile transmission of emotion. The consistency within the piece. The absence of contradiction between musical essence and form. Bona fide bio music if you will. It simply tastes better.

The first group I ever played with was a three-chord punk band called Rear Light. Our singer gyrated ecstatically across the floor during our rehearsals in a drab Youth Center basement only to jump about in the next instant as though stung by a tarantula. He was always 'live' even without an audience. Without cool outfit. Without show. He always inhabited the music. No, occasionally he was the music.

At the time an amateur drummer, I nowadays reach for the guitar to play more low-key. The best moments and tunes always develop in the same space. Self forgetfulness. No awareness that one plays the guitar. But not spaced-out or ecstatic. Things simply flow. And that you hear. Even though fundamentally, it's not that different from way back when.

When I power up my hifi, I expect the same. It's not about flashy sound effects. Or hitting peak figures in certain sonic or measurable sub categories. I need flow, suchness, believability. No posing. No high-gloss center fold. I want to be so involved that my system nails me softly to the couch. Without pain. Mature coherence is key. Superior hifi can't be developed with material excess. Just as you can't with music. Nor a good meal. Nor excellent wine.

No, you hear it and taste it. When the essentials are in place...
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