Country of Origin


Season's Greetings

For three days around Xmas, I engaged the time-honoured ritual of music ownership: going on safari hoping for some game discoveries. My usual sources are Qobuz, Spotify and YouTube. Spotify's "similar artists" list can be most useful to discover new performers. Then it's extensive listening to insure that promising material will actually withstand repeat scrutiny. Otherwise no need to buy it. Then it's over to mostly Qobuz whose Sublime subscription means I can buy hi-rez albums for far less than their standard Redbook pricing. Having learnt from experience that using the Qobuz bulk downloader can generate unplayable files, I now download each album as individual tracks. It's a bit more fiddly but guarantees zero errors. With a hunt's bagged goods, I transfer them onto two 1TB SD cards for my upstairs servers sans Internet access; and to my music iMac's external 4TB SSD. Upstairs I mostly use 'folder' searches so pack many albums from one artist into a single folder. They still break out into individual albums in 'album' or 'artist' view. Likewise for the iMac's Audirvana Studio. This year's holiday safari bagged all the new singles from Turkish qanun maestro Göksel Baktagir. I edited their metadata to show as one unified album. I did the same for the Arabian miniature violin covers by Mohamed Aly of which I have more than 40 by now. There's no need to have them appear as forty individual albums of one short track each. Now it's also time to tweak other metadata. I like to sort albums by category to be easy to find. I do it by country or style so on the above examples you see Ambient, Arabian, Flamenco, Iranian and Turkish markers preceding the artist names to enforce my personalized sorting preferences.

These are some of my well-greased music-owning rituals. They start with lengthy listening sessions to whittle down prospects saved in my Spotify or Qobuz virtual libraries. The next day I canvas the selections again to cull what on second listening no longer satisfies; or is too similar to what I already have. Then it's locating where to buy the survivors, download them, edit their metadata, transfer them to my three drives. As you saw, this season's safari bagged 23 albums so a total of 256 tracks representing 18'03" hours of playtime. That'll keep me busy for a bit. It's how I spent three dreary winter days enchanted by new sounds and rhythms from around the globe. What a way to travel without leaving home. Here's to hoping you'll have your own favourite amusements over the Holidaze and well into the New Year. Be safe & merry. Thanks for your ongoing patronage, be you a reader, manufacturer or both. Without you I wouldn't be doing this. And since I very much enjoy doing this, it factors that you're most important in all of it. VIP. Indeed. Cheers!

PS: As a lover of the Middle-Eastern lap harp called qanun, I've long wanted to expand my collection beyond Aytac Dogan and Göksel Baktagir. Now I discovered Panos Dimitrakopoulos who appears on Blend Mishkin's brilliantly minimalist The Lost Continent; and Kutsal Sütoglu with the two albums Hayalim and Askin Sesi. I always have an appetite for first-rate Flamenco guitar beyond my fave maestros Antonio Rey, Vicente Amigo, Juan Carmona, Tomatito and Gerardo Nuñez. This season added Tomatito's son José del Tomate, Jéronimo Maya, José Quevedo 'Bolita' and Ramon Jiménez whilst also finding new stuff by Chichuelo, Rafael Cortéz, Juan Habichuela Nieto and Daniel Casares. YouTube put me on notice about Luciano Ghosn who, as far as I can tell, hasn't published a formal album yet. But that's how it always begins; with a name tied to one or more exciting tracks. Then the hunt is on, often lasting years. If you want some top-level guitar duetizing, check out Sonámbulo by Antoine Boyer and Samuelito. For a mixed Manouche guitar trio meanwhile, Joscho Stephan and friends can always be relied upon to deliver at the very highest level. Don't miss Rory's truly outrageous cover of Willie Nelson's "Night Life" starting at 35'27". Live long and prosper!