Archive for January, 2007

Sundance Recap

I’m back from Utah and Sundance is a quickly fading memory. It was crazy, and if I were to do it again, there are a few things I would differently. First of all, buying tickets in advance is a good idea since it guarantees a seat in the film of your choice. We got into all the movies we wanted to see by waiting for tickets, but it’s a lot of waiting. Finding a place w/ a kitchen would also be a good thing since food is pretty pricey. Some random things I saw: Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal playing guitar in subzero weather…wearing a dress no less. The Theater Loop bus we were riding whacking a parked car during our trip to see the disappointing movie Teeth. A pack of kids costumed as penguins running around downtown for no apparent reason. Stuff like that. The skiing in Utah is fantastic. We spent a full day at The Canyons and it was amazing snow – really put our Oregon snow to shame. I’ll have some photos to share latter in the week after I finish off the last of the roll. Stay tuned.

Add comment January 30th, 2007

Summer NAMM 2006

For those of you not electronic music geeks, NAMM stands for National Association of Music Merchants…but NAMM really is a twice yearly mega-event rather than an active association. The winter NAMM is basically a show-and-tell where all the various manufacturers trod out their new wares. Honestly, most of it is crap. Many of the big players in the industry simply tweak an already profitable product and many of these instruments are aimed squarely at folks making painfully boring music. But this year seems like a bit of a fluke. There are some really interesting new products geared towards electronic music. And some of them are even from big name manufacturers like Korg and Roland. What follows is a brief overview of stuff that looks slightly interesting to me. I doubt I’ll consider buying any of this product, since I rarely spend over $150.00 on any piece of gear. BTW, I’m not sure where all of these pics came from, but most were swiped from Brandon Daniel at fdiskc.

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Eventide Time Factor

An Eventide stompbox? I would love to have one of these things, but I think they’re going to retail for like $500.00. On the plus side, these boxes will probably drive down the price of Line6 DL4s, so I’ll finally be able to pick-up a used DL4 for around $150.00.

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Korg Mini Kaoss Pad

Can gear look sexy? Yes it can. I love anything mini and this is no exception. But why God, why the RCA jacks? Who the hell uses RCA cables to connect effect boxes? And still no MIDI?

Korg r3

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Well at least Korg was listening a little bit and got rid of those tiny keys from the miniKorg. The small size of the pitch and mod wheels concern me though. But I suspect this keyboard is gonna sound great. Are they really asking $699.00 for it though? That seems a bit high. And no battery option? That was one of the coolest features of the miniKorg.

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Waldorf Zarenbourg

Waldorf is back? WTF? And they have a bunch of new products. The Zarenbourg is an electric piano, but it’s not electro mechanical. Instead, it uses physical modeling technology to create electric piano type sounds (yawn). I’m a bit skeptical about the entire Waldorf line-up, but we’ll just have to wait and see, all this new stuff kind of strikes me as vaporware. They don’t even have any sound demos. Below is a link to some video. Did I hear that guy say the flagship keyboard will load Microwave patches? And have module analog filters?

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Rhodes mk7

Speaking of electric pianos, the venerable Rhodes is back in production. And this one is electro mechanical just like the original. But why the USB interface? To me that makes about as much sense as putting a USB jack on a toaster. I predict this thing will cost a fortune. Maybe it will drive down the price of used Rhodes? I suppose its possible subsequent models will be simplified and cheaper. They definitely need to rethink the case on these things. I mean, they look really cool (orange!), but I don’t think they would do well on the road. And the top should be flat, so you can put another keyboard on top.

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Roland V-Synth GT

I always thought the V-Synths were kind of a lame — the Cadillac Escalade of synths. But this keyboard actually looks pretty great. I’m sure it will cost a fortune, but it might actually offer something special if Roland delivers on the promised specs. I guess if you chain a hundred moneys to a hundred typewriters, you will eventually get the great American novel.

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Haken Continuum

Don’t know what it is, but it looks cool. Some kind of alternate controller I guess.

1 comment January 23rd, 2007

Laserdiscs: They Use Laser Beams!

I was holed-up recently due to snow and a flat tire. During some rummaging in the basement, I came across a bunch of my old laserdiscs (LDs) from college. It was a hoot watching ’80s sci-fi classics like The Thing and Aliens on cutting edge ’80s technology. Yeah, LDs don’t have the fancy specs of current DVDs, but I was surprised at how good they still look. I was also stunned to find that LDs were manufactured all the way up to 2000, with Sleepy Hollow being released by Paramount that year. Another interesting fact is LDs are all analog — they playback using frequency modulation technology (although some audio tracks were digitally encoded). There are still folks out there who claim some LDs can deliver better a picture than DVDs because LDs are not digitally encoded and compressed. And I guess some people think LDs offer a more “film like” image. I find DVDs have better detail and richer color rendering, which is probably because luminance (black and white) and chrominance (color) information is transmitted on different signals on DVDs. A really big weakness of the LD format was that the best picture and audio usually came at a price, meaning if you wanted a great player, you needed to spend $$$. DVDs, one the other hand, generally playback the same regardless of player quality and price. Finally, the big advantage LDs have over DVDs is they are not copy protected, allowing you to make VHS copies of your LDs (of course who owns a VHS deck these days?)

Just as an aside, the best TV I’ve ever watched (better than any plasma, DLP, or LCD I’ve seen recently) was at the Wilsonville Incredible Universe circa 1995. It was your basic flat-tube CRT set around 36 inches (widescreen!), but it had an amazing picture and cost, like, $9,000. They were using the Criterion Collection version of 2001 on LD to demo the set and the picture almost made me pee my pants. The only time I’ve seen 2001 look better was the re-release of the 70mm print circa 1997 in Chicago at the Navy Pier IMAX. I still wonder who made this TV because I would love to find it secondhand. It must have had some pimp-ass comb filter technology working its mojo to produce such a great picture.

MCA Laserdisc - The Ultimate Consumer Analog Video Format?
http://www.retrothing.com

Add comment January 19th, 2007

Portland’s New Tiki Bar

Portland has a new tiki bar! Yesterday afternoon Meredith emailed me a note mentioning the opening of Thatch on NE Broadway. I don’t know how the development of the place managed to fly under my radar, but apparently the owner has been working on this place for months. According to rumors on Tiki Central, much of the décor comes courtesy of the old Jasmine Tree. I think the booth seating was salvaged from an old Denny’s.

So of course I went to the opening last night. Tony, bless his heart, volunteered to join. It was pretty crowded, but we managed to find seats at the child height bar. Unfortunately, the drink selection was limited to Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiians, and Daiquiris – but the bartender assured us they would be offering a wide range of exotic drinks in the near future. The true test of a tiki bar is their Mai Tai. I’m happy to report the Mai Tais at Thatch are in the tradition of Trader Vics and are quite good. Apparently, they make a lot of their ingredients from scratch, like the syrup, so they should have fantastic drinks when they really get up and running.

But what about the tikis, you might ask? Well, Thatch has quantity, quality, and diversity covered. There are some digital pictures below I took last night, so that should give you a taste of the tiki goodness going on there. Thatch occupies a pretty small space, but the owner managed to stuff a fair number of tikis into the bar without it becoming overly cluttered.

If folks are thinking about visiting Thatch, I’d recommended waiting about a week or two. The staff is still trying to get everything sorted out, so they don’t really have much in the way of drinks and I have no idea if they’ll be offering food. And they don’t even have a credit card machine yet!

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Here are some photos of Thatch’s development from the Tiki Central forum

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January 5th, 2007


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