Deutsche Grammophon is Signing Everyone Worth Listening To, Apparently

Not content with signings of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Dustin O’Halloran (can Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie be far behind?), and Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s), Deutsche Grammophon’s drive to world domination continues with the scheduled March 20 release of a new album by Brian Eno and Roger Eno.

That’s So 2019: Favorite Books, Music and Video

A Winged Victory for the Sullen The Undivided Five FLAC (Ninja Tune, UK)

Heather Woods Broderick Invitation FLAC (Western Vinyl, US)

Dustin O’Halloran Sundoor EP (Deutsche Grammaphon, Germany)

K. Leimer Irrational Overcast LP (First Terrace, UK)

Loscil Lifelike FLAC (Frond, Canada)

Craig Leon The Canon – Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2 LP (RVNG Intl, US)

Chernobyl Miniseries (HBO)

Hildur Guðnadóttir Chernobyl score LP (Deutsche Grammophon, Germany)

Craig Childs Virga & Bone: Essays from Dry Places book (Torrey House Press)

Amy Irvine Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness book (Torrey House Press)

Terry Tempest Williams Erosion: Essays of Undoing book (Sarah Crichton Books)

Seymour Glass What’s Going to Happen to Us? book (Butte County Free Music Society)

Be Bop Deluxe Modern Music 2019 stereo mix and 5.1 mix 4xCD+DVD (Esoteric, UK)

The Beatles Abbey Road 2019 stereo mix and 5.1 mix 3xCD+DVD (Universal/EMI, US)

funharm

In the early- to mid-80s, I had a home recording project called Funharm.

It was low-fidelity instrumental dabbling, consisting of synthesizer, tapes, and sometimes guitars. Most of it was improvised; all of it was recorded to cassette. I managed overdubs by jamming a broken Q-Tip across the cassette recorder’s retractable erase head. As you can imagine, hiss became part of the mix. And, I liked to think, part of the charm.

I released two Funharm cassettes in 1983 and 1984. They got a certain amount of coverage in OP/OPTION, Sound Choice and the Contact List of Electronic Music (CLEM). I traded a bunch of copies with like-minded cassette-trading types. Each tape is numbered, and supposedly limited to 100 copies, but still have some left. Imagine that.

After the 1984 tape, Segments, I stopped releasing new music. I kept recording through 1988.

Last year, I digitized both tapes and offered them on Bandcamp. The tapes are for sale on Discogs. Mark Griffey interviewed me earlier this year. I just launched a low-key blog. And, because nothing’s real until it happens on Facebook, there’s that.

I’m going through dozens of old cassettes from the latter (and former) era and working on editing and cleaning up viable tracks, and have some other ideas in the works. I’ll post about any significant developments here and there.

Thinking About Ordering Vinyl From CDJapan?

I spent over $100 — not including shipping — ordering two Ryuichi Sakamoto LPs and two seven-inch singles from CDJapan.

The Bernie Grundman remaster of “Left Handed Dream” — US$34, plus overseas shipping — had a significant defect. The first song wouldn’t track during the last half of the song. The stylus on my cartridge actually bounced a 1/4-inch off the playing surface and continued to do so for 10 seconds, and the last half of the song was unplayable. I considered recording a video of the bouncing cartridge and sending it to CDJapan’s customer-service email address, but feared the defect was destroying my stylus.

I contacted CDJapan about the issue.

Their reply?

About the manufacture defective you mentioned, we haven’t got the issue from any other customers who purchased this LP.

And also we checked Sony Music website, they do not announce any defective for this LP.

We also checked the review in Amazon, there is only one comment, but he didn’t mention about the defective, he says the sound is very nice.

I’m touched by the fact that Sony couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge a problem with an expensive LP on its site. Shocking. Similarly, the fact that the only Amazon review claims the sound is “very nice” is consoling, as well.

I recommend that no one buy anything — especially vinyl — from CDJapan if this is what passes for their customer service.

——————-

Update [December 20, 2109]:

After I contacted CDJapan and informed them their reply was inadequate, I didn’t hear from them for two days. Finally they sent an email replying they were crediting my account (not refunding my money, or sending a replacement) for the defective LP.

I had also pointed out to their customer service rep that CDJapan needs to improve their packaging for shipping LPs. The two albums and two 7″ were loosely packed in bubblerwap, the placed in a carton that was twice as big as necessary, with no padding. When the package arrived, the contents were shaking loosely in the box. This issue wasn’t adequately addressed by CDJapan, other than the statement “we are relieved to hear that none of them [were] damaged.” This, alone, would make me reluctant to even consider ordering vinyl from CDJapan in the future.

Update [December 28, 2019]:

I was contacted by someone who stated they were “the A&R at Sony Music Direct Japan.” Evidently they noticed me ranting about the issue on Twitter. More news about this soon (most likely by way of me posting again on Twitter about it).

Update [January 14, 2020]

Sony Music Direct Japan has resolved the issue to my satisfaction, as has CDJapan. Thanks to both.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen “The Undivided Five” review on Part-Time Audiophile

AWVFTS "Undivided" cover artIt’s been eight years since we’ve had a dedicated, non-score, non-soundtrack album from AWVFTS. This is a review I’ve been wanting to write since 2011, and now you can read it on Part-Time Audiophile.

Recent Acquistions

Dustin O'Halloran "Sundoor" album coverVinyl:

Hollie Kenniff The Gathering Dawn LP (n5MD, US)

Karma Moffett Sitting Still Within-Sitting Still Without LP (Morning Trip, Canada)

Dustin O’Halloran Sundoor LP (Deutsche Grammophon, Germany)

Ryuichi Sakamoto B-2 Unit LP reissue (Great Tracks/Sony, Japan)

Ryuichi Sakamoto Left Handed Dream reissue LP (Great Tracks/Sony, Japan)

XTC English Settlement 2xLP remaster/reissue (Ape House, UK)

Digital:

Bersarin Quartett Methoden und Maschinen (Denovali, Germany)

Zoë Mc Pherson String Figures (SVS Records, UK)

Pieter Nooten Se Dire Au Revoir (Rocket Girl, UK)

OHIO Upward-Broken-Always (12K, US)

Olga Wojciechowska Infinite Distances EP (A Strangely Isolated Place, US)

Recent Vinyl Acquisitions

Aragon Aragon LP (HMV Record Shop, Japan, 2016 reissue of 1985 Invitation/JVC LP)

Sheila Chandra ABoneCroneDrone ‎LP (Passat Continu, UK) reissue

Danceries Danceries LP (Denon, Japan, 1981)

Chihei Hatakeyama Forgotten Hill LP (Room 40, Australia, 2109)

Inoyama Land Commissions: 1977-2000 2xLP (Empire of Signs, US, 2019) reissue

Karma Moffett Sitting Still Within​/​Sitting Still Without LP (Morning Trip, Canada, 2019) reissue

The Legendary Pink Dots The Crushed Velvet Apocalypse 2xLP (Soleilmoon Recordings, US) reissue

K. Leimer Irrational Overcast LP (First Terrace Records, UK, 2019)

K. Leimer Recordings 1977-1980 2xLP (Vinyl On Demand, Germany, 2019) reissue

Seigén Ono Seigén LP (JVC, Japan, 1984)

Slow Meadow Happy Occident LP (Hammock Music, US, 2019)

Studio Mule “Visible Cloaks Remix” ‎12″ (Studio Mule, Japan, 2019)

Christina Vantzou ‎”Six Cellos For Sol Lewitt” 7″ (Sonic Pieces, Germany)

A Winged Victory for the Sullen The Undivided Five LP (Ninja Tune, UK)

Olga Wojciechowska ‎”Infinite Distances” 12″ (A Strangely Isolated Place, US)

Heather Woods Broderick “Invitation” review on Part-Time Audiophile

Heather Woods Broderick released her third album in April. I listened to it. I still do. I like it. I wrote about it for Part-Time Audiophile.

Amazon’s New “HD” Service

I’ve been on more than one end of the Amazon, uh, experience.

I worked for an independent distributor that provided physical and digital music to Amazon from 2007 through 2017. During that time, I dealt with at least 12 different account managers at Amazon.

“Churn” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had no idea who was in charge of our “content” from month to month. We were being handed off to someone new on a regular basis, and that person was often untrained, overworked, and/or clueless. It became an in-house joke.

Trying to get artists featured on Amazon was a waste of time. They’d take your money in return for placement and promotions, sure, but there’d be no metrics or accountability or reports telling you what resulted from the money you spent. With iTunes/Apple Music, you just had to send an email and a couple tracks, and bang, there it was, 90% of the time. Because iTunes people were music people. There was always someone at Apple who’d answer a voicemail, or an email. And they were always engaged.

But with Amazon, music wasn’t music, it was a widget. It didn’t matter if you were pitching high-profile acts with a proven sales record. There was no one to talk to on the other end. If something was broken on Amazon’s side, getting it fixed took weeks, often months.

No one there cared. If you could find anyone with the potential for caring, that is.

Today, having been informed of Amazon’s foray into higher-resolution downloads and streaming, I searched the site for any information about the upgraded service.

An Amazon search on “Amazon Music” and “digital music” resulted in nothing regarding high-resolution offerings. I’ve read first-person accounts of eager users befuddled by the lack of coordination on Amazon’s end, and, when using phone and chat to contact them, being told “this is all new to us, can we get back to you?”

You can find the introductory page with a web search, but Amazon is doing little or nothing on its own start page or music pages to push the launch. The only luck I had is by using the Amazon search box, pulling down the “digital music” category, then typing “ultra hd”. Of course, the first search result returned is an album titled “Ultra HD”.

And, of course, it was an MP3.

Finally, I was able to track down the page where I could log on for a free trial. I downloaded the macOS app. The UI looks like Qobuz and Tidal. However, two app icons showed up in my dock. One revealed itself to be in “not responding” mode, and when I force-quit it, it reappeared in the dock, and again froze. I deleted the app, rebooted, and reinstalled. Same result — multiple apps running, one freezing. I went into Activity Monitor and tried to force-quit several times before the app went away. But it always came back. I finally got rid of it by trashing the app icon immediately after a startup.

I question whether Amazon knows how to roll out a major upgrade like this, other than with a breezy press release. Because anyone trying to find out more is just gonna run head-on into the Amazon “experience.”

Amazon’s been cheapening books and music for over two decades now. And hey, nothing’s so cheap that Amazon can’t cheapen it further.

Recent Vinyl Acquisitions

James Bernard Atwater LP (A Strangely Isolated Place, US)

Deaf Center Low Distance LP (Sonic Pieces, Germany)

Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno Apollo Atmospheres and Soundtracks 2xLP reissue (Virgin/Universal EU)

The Frogs It’s Only Right And Natural LP reissue (End of All Music, US)

Loscil Equivalents 2xLP (Kranky US)

Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Arnold Kasar Einfluss 2xLP (Deutsche Grammophon, Germany)

Section 25 Always Now 5xLP box set reissue (Factory Benelux EU)

David Sylvian Alchemy An Index Of Possibilities LP reissue (Virgin/Universal UK)

David Sylvian Brilliant Trees LP reissue (Virgin/Universal UK)

David Sylvian Gone To Earth 2xLP reissue (Virgin/Universal UK)

Yagya Stormur 2xLP (A Strangely Isolated Place, US)

YMO BGM Collector’s Vinyl Edition 2xLP reissue (Alfa/Great Tracks, Japan)

YMO Technodelic: Collector’s Vinyl Edition 2xLP reissue (Alfa/Great Tracks, Japan)

Neil Young and the Stray Gators Tuscaloosa 2xLP (Reprise/Warners US)

Young Scientist Results, Not Answers LP reissue (Bureau B, Germany)

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