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The Absolute Sound
Availability: In stock.
Pinch me when this is over...I really want to be sure I remember it when I wake up...One of the fondest dreams of any record company is to have their native enthusiasm for their chosen type of music confirmed - first by the public in the form of sales, for that way lies survival; and then by the fraternity of music writers, reviewers, and critics - for that way lies respect.
Like many independent labels, music isn't just a business for us. Like the artists we publish, sometimes we follow our muse without overmuch thought to the financial consequences. Over the nine years we've been in business, we've learned to seek out specialty markets where we can find support for our chosen obsession.
I've been reading 'high-end' audio publications and buying audiophile equipment for almost ten years now, but I confess it never occurred to me that members of this community of listeners would ever have much enthusiasm for the concerns of a self proclaimed "spacemusic" label with a roster of predominantly electronic musicians.
To be sure, there always were a few, but when reports reached me through the good offices of my audiophile friend Nick Despotopolous that the legendary Harry Pearson, editor of the premiere audiophile journal The Absolute Sound, was an enthusiast of several of our early releases, I must have stashed it in the corner of my mind labeled Cognitive Dissonance: Try to Understand Later.
I mean, go figure: these guys are supposed to be into the ultimate in literalistic imagery - the goal of reproducing the sound of real acoustic instruments in a real concert hall space. Why should they be interested in the imaginary studio-created sounds and ambiences of spacemusic?
I guess I should have realized that sooner or later they'd get their systems working so perfectly that they'd get restless for something else. Post facto, I deduce that Harry Pearson (known to all simply as HP), a man possessed of several of the best sound systems on this planet at his Sea Cliff, L.I. manse, must have been one of the first to undergo this spontaneous literalist deprogramming. Ironically, to do quality fantasy, you have to calibrate your ears with the image of "reality" first.
I might have realized something was up in early 1992 when we started getting more and more requests for promo CDs from the TAS office. Then one summer night I received one of HP's famous guerrilla phone calls. "YOU KNOW," he thundered in his basso profundo drawl, "I'm frustrated because my favorite spacemusic pieces are scattered all over your catalog. I want to do a compilation CD of the most sonically spectacular cuts."
I must have missed more than a few breaths before I managed a quick NO PROBLEM, HARRY! In very short order the deal was done and we agreed to meet in the fall to do the work.
HP showed up in San Francisco on one of his extended West coast tours in late October. We had a great Japanese dinner and a great night in the studio. From his initial list of fourteen choices,we pared it down on our digital editing system to the sequence of the nine pieces you have here.
While making some copies of the assembly, we started talking about possible cover ideas. My wife and HOS General Manager Leyla Rael Hill remembered an incredible book of photos of the Black Pearls of Tahiti (enhanced by strategic images of Tahitian maidens au naturel) by a French photographer named Michel Roudnitska. She handed it to HP and he immediately seized upon the picture that graces the cover. We moved to our Macintosh graphics workstation, did a few quick scans, added the type, and presto! we had a cover mocked up in about an hour. A few faxes to Tahiti and Paris the next day and we had the repro rights for the image. The whole thing was going entirely too well to be believed.
At HP's prompting, I decided to remaster each piece to optimize the quality for playback on audiophile systems. The HOS studio has been equipped with an audiophile grade monitor system for the last seven years, with Thiel CS 3.5 speakers, a Spectral DMA-50 amplifier, a Threshold FET-1 preamp, and Straight Wire Maestro cables, so getting the sound right was a matter of listening a little louder than usual, patient tweaking of the digital equalizer, and balancing the levels between pieces. Happily, mortals with ordinary sound systems will also find the material sounds better than average.
A word about the music: since it all comes from the Hearts of Space catalog it represents the sonic and musical goals of the various artists involved as well as my taste as producer and repertoire director for the label. Added to that you have HPs golden ears and (I maintain) his very personal involvement with the emotional and psychological content of the music, which in several cases clearly predominates over the "spectacular sonics." In the end, a concatenation of personal choices have given birth to a widely enjoyable product.
Available digitally only as full album.