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New Music - David Roth, Guru Guru, and More

12-13-2014 | By Wojciech Pacuła | Issue 76

David Roth Will You Come Home

David Roth - Will You Come Home
Stockfisch SFR 357.8079.1, 2 x 180 g 45 rpm LP

The tradition of Stockfisch LP releases goes back to the 1990s. On a 2006 compilation album, the record label claims that vinyl has been its passion for 14 years. Sara K.'s 2003 album Water Falls and a compilation titled Stockfisch Records Vinyl Collection from 2006 still enjoy immense popularity. The latter features the track No Sanctuary Here by Chris Jones that can be heard on most audio shows all over the world.

The label flirted with many types of vinyl discs, both of the 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm variety, one thing has, however, remained unchanged: the discs are made in the DMM (for 'Direct Metal Mastering') technology. A joint effort of Teldec (Telefunken-Decca) and Georg Neumann GmbH, it was developed in the 1980s to win back some of the customers who were "sailing away" from the LP format in the CD direction.

In short, unlike conventional disc mastering that uses a lacquer-coated master, DMM cuts straight into a copper master disc. The DMM copper master disc allows for producing the required number of stampers using a one-step plating process instead of the traditional three-step approach. By eliminating two electroforming stages, DMM minimizes—at least theoretically—the risk of introducing noise generated in the electroforming process. Stockfisch has been pressing its records for many years in this way, using ultra-soft copper that was previously unobtainable.

Initially, music lovers complained about an unnatural harshness of the sound on these discs. And they were right. However, people at Stockfisch believe that they have been able to overcome these problems and reach outstanding precision, resulting from using special copper with extremely low hardness. One of the conditions necessary for making a proper stamper is the delay of exactly 0.909 sec in one channel. Stockfisch method is to cut the discs using 24-bit digital files, with the necessary signal delay introduced in the digital domain. The digital to analog conversion is handled by the ADC Weiss Engineering GAMBIT DAC1. Currently, the signal on all LPs issued by this label comes from a hard disk drive storing the final mastering, and being an equivalent of the master tape.

David Roth Will You Come Home

The latest record mastered and pressed in this way is Will You Come Home by David Roth. This is not the artist's first black disc on Stockfisch, which previously released his Pearl Diver in 2004. This time we get a compilation album. The four sides of 180g 45 rpm vinyl, feature twelve songs from the whole period spent by the artist under Stockfisch wings and one brand new track. While the other are not new, they have all been recorded again for this release. Hans-Jörg Maucksch has been responsible for the mastering, and the DMM duties were handled by Hendrik Pauler from Pauler Acoustics. Recording and mastering was performed using the Bowers & Wilkins 801D speakers.

Digital or not, the vinyl sound from this label is for many an example of the most analog of analog sounds. There is much truth to that. Roth's vocals are ultra-deep and warm. The songs are gentle, taken at a rather leisurely tempo, which further adds to such reception. The vocals' scale is immense and phantom images have incredibly large volume, which is hard to forget. All the more so that they are beautifully contrasted with a sonorous acoustic guitar.

However, knowing how the guitar sounds in reality and knowing the sound of the human voice, e.g. a vocalist with a deep timbre, recorded through the microphone, we realize that the sound on the album is somewhat souped-up. Part of lower midrange and upper bass has been boosted to achieve this exact effect. It is a "trademark" Stockfisch sound and reaching for a release from this label, especially a vinyl record, this is exactly what we expect.

The resolution is nice, as is selectivity - what else can be demanded from a vinyl disc cut from a digital source? I am fairly sure that in the years to come I will have as many chances to hear this record at various audio shows as I once had with Sara K.'s Water Fall.

The vinyl has a fairly low surface noise and after cleaning it there is virtually no pops and crackle. My only remark concerns the lead-in. Just as it previously did on Ralf Illenberg's vinyl, the lead-in here shows rather intrusive pops and crackle until we hear the first album sounds. When you buy your copy, which I highly recommend, try to look at the disc in a good light. There should be no whitish lead-in groove before the first track, as it is in my copy.

Sound quality: 9/10



Various Kissed by a Song

Various - Kissed by a Song
Dynaudio | inakustik INAK 78011 2LP, 2 x 180 g 45 rpm LP

Compilation albums prepared by audio companies are nothing new. My collection of samplers and demonstration albums, relegated quite some time ago to the basement, includes discs from ISOTEK, Burmester, Isophon, Audio Physic, KEF, Accuphase and many others. At home, I still keep discs issued by Manger and Thorens, mostly because the music is very cool in parts, but also because they are vinyl discs.

Kissed By A Song belongs to this trend of using music material for brand promotion, this time Dynaudio. Two 180 g, 45 rpm discs feature thirteen tracks from such labels as: Chesky Records, Evosound, Vollton Musikverlag, in-acoustics, Diana Panton and Minor Music. All the artists are women vocalists including Christy Baron, Susan Wong, Kasia Lins, Sara K., Carla Lother, Diana Panton and others. It seems that the idea was to select the kind of tracks that would make a good listen but would also be well recorded.

The discs were prepared by in-akustik, one of the largest audiophile labels in Germany. Polish readers of "High Fidelity" should be familiar with it, even if due to the fact that it is a distributor of another audiophile label from behind the Oder River, Stockfisch. And it seems to be the work of the same duet: Hans-Jörg Maucksch who has been responsible for the mastering, and Hendrik Pauler from Pauler Acoustics in charge of the DMM duties. In this context, the DMM stamp indicates that the disc was cut from a digital master tape.

The album is very nice, has a gatefold cover and varnished cover art. Unfortunately, it lacks any information on the type of remastering of the material used, where it was done and the name of the person responsible. And yet the majority of customers interested in this release are audiophiles who are real freaks when it comes to this kind of information.

Despite having the common "fathers" with Stockfisch discs, the Dynaudio album has a different tonal balance. It is brighter and more open. The upper midrange is stronger and shows lots of energy. There is no lower midrange boost, but there is speed and attack. One needs to be careful with the audio system, because if the treble is in any way emphasized, the disc may sometimes sound too bright. The advantage of this kind of presentation is that the individual instruments can be heard deep in the mix. Even if they are in the background, their texture and character can be fairly easily distinguished. The signal level is quite high and the whole sounds better if it is not played too loud.

I'm not sure about that, but it seems to me that the individual tracks may have a different provenance in terms of their word length and sampling frequency. Be that as it may, this is surely the kind of sound that will help to sell many a pair of Dynaudio speakers, and not only them.

Sound quality: 8/10



Guru Guru - Live in Germany

Guru Guru - Live in Germany
Cleopatra Records CLP 6844-2, CD, 2011

Our short album reviews under the common title Nothing but the Music present the most recent productions. Not so this time, as I would like to encourage those of you who are into krautrock to get an album issued in 2011.

As far as I understand, this is the first official recording of Guru Guru concert from 12 September 1971, made by Papa Bear in Bremen, Germany. Guru Guru is a German krautrock band founded in 1968 as The Guru Guru Groove. The name was later shortened to Guru Guru. Their concerts from the late 1960s and early 1970s were politically charged and verged on anarchy. The band members lived in a commune and, obviously, experimented with hallucinogens. The band was a great success, recorded more than 40 albums that sold in over 500,000 copies. It is worth mentioning that Mani Neumeier, the drummer and one of the original founding members of the band is now one of the organizers of the annual Krautrock-Festival Finkenbach.

The album features only three very long compositions:

1. Der LSD-Marsch (23:31)
2. Bo Diddley (22:20)
3. Spaceship (15:46)

The band:

Ax Genrich – guitars
Mani Neumaier – drums
Hans Hartmann – bass

Concert recordings released many years after rarely meets expectations vested in them. They are usually of mediocre quality in terms of artistic value and production. Were it not the case they would have been released soon after recording. The case of Live in Germany '71 is different. I have no idea why the material had to spend forty years on a garage shelf (or so I think) because it is perfect artistically and sonically acceptable. The sound is meaty, dense and most dynamic. People responsible for remastering did a great job indeed. They created a sound with a real “drive”, meaty guitars and strong kick drum. This is a unique concert of a great band.

The album comes with my warm recommendation especially that Cleopatra Records put an effort to make it interesting for collectors. The CD comes in a cardboard envelope. The envelope is in a sturdy box where we can also find a poster featuring an article about the band by Dave Thompson. Moreover, there is a black balloon with the label's logo and a badge with the band's name known from the Tang Fango album cover (1976). I bought the CD on eBay.

Sound quality: 7-8/10

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