Monthly Archives: February 2015

Tangerine Dream Platinum SHM-CD Reviews

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I own more albums by Tangerine Dream than I do any other artist, although that speaks more to their insane output than anything else. Excluding their numerous (and typically fantastic) soundtracks, the Tangerine Dream albums that I treasure the most are their first four for Virgin Records: Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet and Stratosfear. It was with these records that the band moved away from their ultra-experimental krautrock beginnings and into a much more electronic/ambient space that saw them through most of their career.

Now, these four albums have been re-released in Japan as “high resolution” formats; SHM-CD, Platinum SHM-CD and SHM-SACD.

And I realize that most of your eyes have probably just glossed over so I should probably go over those really quick.

  • SHM-CD stands for “Super High Material CD,” and use a different polycarbonate material that supposedly results in higher sound quality with reading errors.
  • Platinum SHM-CDs are the same, but instead of using a standard aluminium coating they use platinum. This also supposedly boosts audio quality.
  • SHM-SACD are Super Audio CDs, an entirely different audio format that is not compatible with standard CD players. These discs can hold more information and playback surround sound audio. They also supposedly sound better than traditional CDs.

Notice that I’m saying “supposedly” a lot. That’s because most of this is audiophile snake oil bullshit. SHM-CDs have never been known to sound notably better than traditional discs, and while I don’t know much about their platinum variants, I can’t imagine the change in coating makes that much of a difference. SACDs have their own benefits of course, the added storage space and surround sound capabilities are nice bonuses, but I’ve never been able to hear the difference between an SACD and a regular disc, a view that science backs me up on.

But I still bought the platinum SHM-CDs for these four titles. Why? Because while the science behind “SHM” is mostly balderdash, SHM-CDs can often sound better than their regular CD or digital counterparts. This is because they frequently use different masters that place more of an emphasis on dynamic range and preserving the feel of the original recording, and not on mucking with the source material or making them as loud as possible.

I also wanted an excuse to write about Tangerine Dream. Continue reading

Scrunged: Bush’s Sixteen Stone

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Scrunge (second-rate rip-off grunge) is a largely forgotten genre, and every few weeks I’m going to examine a scrunge act or two and see if they deserve a second chance. Today’s band: Bush

When I was 15, Bush were on tour with No Doubt and the Goo Goo Dolls. My school seemed to be split into three camps: people who were going to that show; people who desperately wanted to go to that show; and people who were livid and angry that such a show existed and that anyone would possibly find any of those bands worthwhile in the least.

All of these facts blow my mind, because Bush is a band that I cannot imagine anyone having any strong feelings about in any way whatsoever. Continue reading

Limited Editions Unlimited Bullshit: Twilight Time Edition

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I have about 4,000 records. Give or take. It’s hard to keep track with a collection that spans two continents. A lot of time people ask me what the “most valuable” record in my collection is, and to be honest, I rarely know of the top of my head. That’s the kind of thing that changes on a regular basis. Skimming my Discogs page right now, it would appear that the most valuable record in my stacks is my copy of Velvet Underground & Nico, complete with in-tact banana and Verve sticker on the back. On a good day my copy can probably go for about $300 – $400. Most of the other very valuable records in my collection go for around $100 – $200, and include hard-to-find vintage soundtracks, a ton of rare Pearl Jam and Nirvana LPs, and a few old Krautrock first pressings.

Most of these have one thing in common: they weren’t designed to be collectibles, it just kind of worked out that way. The Nirvana and Pearl Jam LPs were pressed at a time when no one was buying vinyl, so they were made to fit a very low demand. Ditto for the soundtracks. The Krautrock records are valuable because demand for them has grown tremendously over the years, and mine happen to be in very good condition – which in itself is a rarity.

My point is that I have nothing against collectibles. I’m a collector after all. I get that people want rare shit. That the act of it being rare makes it a commodity. And that the “thrill of the hunt” is part of what makes collecting records, games, or anything for that matter, so fun.

But while I love rare items, genuine scarcities whose value has increased due to unforeseen circumstances, “collectible” materials, items made scarce on purpose for no other reason than to limit supply versus demand, piss me the fuck off.

Continue reading

Tokyo Street Art Gallery

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I’ve been in Tokyo a little over a year now and during that time I’ve come across a fair share of amazing street art that I’ve been meaning to put up here for quite some time.

Now, before I get a snarky comment, I know that not all of this is “street art” in the traditional sense. Some are graffiti and some are storefront displays, but it’s all art and I saw it all on the street, so I don’t know what else to call it.

Regardless, I think it all showcases what a wonderful and artistic city Tokyo is. I hope you agree. Continue reading

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