Those of you who have visited me at any of the regional shows in the USA have also gotten a chance to hear the really stunning recordings done by my close friend, Todd Garfinkle, of MA Recordings. I’ve known Todd since the mid-90’s when we met at a CES – he was using one of my D-60 digital cables in his demonstration setup and I became mesmerized by his recordings and started stocking up on the spot.
LIVE TO 2-TRACK
Todd’s technique is simple, elegant, and extremely refined: two very-high-resolution omni mics are placed on a stand a certain distance apart. They are custom constructed for him such that they have line-level signals that exit their posteriors and plug right into his high-resolution digital recorder. Todd will have already arranged for the band to record in some wonderful acoustic – an ancient church, for instance – and he spends time with the musicians getting their “levels” right … situating them closer or further from the microphones and having them play softer or louder, etc:
Music With a Mind of Its Own
Established in Japan in the spring of 1988, the MA label continues to issue provocatively creative musical statements in strictly acoustic settings.
While presenting mostly original music with elements of improvisation, structure, and traditional touchstones, the label is also “traveling” to lesser known areas such as Southern Siberia and Macedonia for some slightly different musical moments.
Technically speaking, the recordings are produced with only two omni-directional microphones, the signals of which are “fed” through exotic audio cabling into handmade and customized recording equipment, designed specifically for MA .
M•A Recordings Philosophy
Quite often, I lapse into modes in which I wonder why some of us insist on having music in our lives. The phenomenon of melodic sounds having a strong emotional impact on the human psyche is rather amazing when one considers the countless number of creatures on this planet that don’t really seem to care. For thousands of years, human beings have been creating what have become known as musical instruments and striking, strumming, bowing and blowing on or through them in such a way as to create sonic waves that, for reasons about which whole books are written, are found to be pleasant, useful and sometimes absolutely necessary. Throughout the history of so called “Art Music,” although some of these sounds or combinations thereof have not always been unanimously considered pleasant, their creators have endured and proceeded with their development, leading the way to the establishment of new “musical” frontiers.
The reason I am wasting all this ink is that, first of all, I believe it is healthy for those of us who do find music to be of value in our lives to think about why that just might be, and second, to contemplate upon the fact that a single sound and its quality, can have as much importance as a complete melody. For, without the initial quality of sound, the material really means a lot less. Creative musicians have always been aware of this and I think the listener will also find this to be of significance on all recorded performances presented on the M•A Recordings label. Since the outset, the importance of a solitary sound – its musicality and sound quality – has been one of the primary reasons for our existence.
In order to maintain the quality of sound, all M•A Recordings are produced in large, acoustically significant environments such as classical concert halls, churches and galleries. The importance of these environments cannot be overemphasized, as these spaces can only be considered as one of the co-creators of the recordings produced in them. The sounds created in a given space could simply not have been perceived anywhere else.
– Todd Garfinkle
Some years ago Todd actually released vinyl of one of my favorites within his catalog – the “Nuevo Tango” music of Sera Una Noche, an unreasonably talented group of musicians from Argentina that really blew my mind when I heard them play. To me, this was some of the most deeply felt, extraordinary music I’d ever heard! I once purchased about 20 of the LPs from Todd as I wanted to have a supply in case he ran out (it also was a limited edition), and over the years I wound up making gifts of all of those LPs except two of them – which remain as permanent fixtures in my collection.
This was of the original Sera Una Noche album – which was my second favorite of the two – but never ceases to blow people’s minds when I play it for them on my rig. Still – I’d been cajoling Todd for several YEARS to release the second of their albums, appropriately titled “La Segunada” (which means “the second one” in Spanish). Whereas the first album established the extraordinary musicianship of the band members and the seductively interesting music itself, for me “La Segunda” had actually improved upon the first release. The music was even more interesting and dynamic, more seductively complex, and the performances seemed even more deeply felt by the musicians.
MY WISH CAME TRUE! – LA SEGUNDA!
Finally, Todd has relented and agreed to release the vinyl of “La Segunda” – cut from high resolution masters that were upsampled to 5.6MHz DSD before being engraved to the lacquers for this pressing. I got a chance recently to hear an initial lacquer from this album at OSWALD’S MILL AUDIO, played over their Imperia horn speaker system. The session was relentlessly ear-gasmic! I was in heaven, and this was certainly one of those unforgettable musical moments we so rarely (but gratefully!) get to participate in as a benefit of being a part of this amazing industry.
But better yet: Todd GAVE me the lacquer!
I’ve got it here in my listening room and it’s just as eargasmically wonderful as I remember. Maybe there’s a few ticks and pops – we’ve played this a bunch of times, and lacquers are more susceptible to noise encoding than vinyl, especially over many successive plays – but man oh man is this good stuff!
But Todd had a reason for giving me the lacquer … and that was so that I could share it with you all, to give you a taste of what is coming on the LP. So – I’ve ripped one of my favorite tracks from the lacquer to my Sound Devices 702 PCM recorder and have processed it for easy download so you can hear a little bit of what the music is like (analog front end: KLIMO Beorde record player, Soundsmith Boheme cartridge, Soundsmith MMP3 phono stage, KLIMO Merlino Gold Plus preamplifier, 100% Black Cat LectraLine cabling throughout).
Sera Una Noche “La Segunda” will be a 2-LP 33.3rpm, 4-sided album in a gatefold jacket pressed to premium vinyl! TONS of great music awaits!
BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE!
Todd’s evidently got “the bug” and decided to also release a 45rpm record with three cuts from the first Sera Una Noche record. Side 1 will have “Nublado” and Side 2 will have two versions of “Malena” … and I’m including one “Malena” version in my rips for you, which I’ve ripped from the original LP in my collection as Todd didn’t have a lacquer to share with me for this one … frownie-face 🙁
Only 1,000 pcs of the 45rpm will ever be pressed from what I’m told – that’s 1,000 pcs for the whole world, no more. They’ll be serial-numbered, too. Almost 7 billion people on the planet … only 1,000 pcs of this remarkable 45.
I WANT THEM!
The “La Segunda” LP is going to sell for $60 and the 45rpm EP will sell for $30, these will be pressed in limited quantities, and it might be difficult to get your hands on either of these through “ordinary” channels. But I’ve arranged with Todd to put these two records together in a package-deal for my customers – and we’re offering a little bit off of the cover price, to boot! This is a rare occasion, indeed – Todd Garfinkle releasing vinyl has turned out to be a “twice in a lifetime” thing for me, and I know he doesn’t like to press a lot when he does it, so I’m going to be sure to get a couple sets for my personal library .. one set to play, one set to save for a rainy day when I’ve worn the grooves out on the first set!
Meanwhile, thanks to having a good relationship with Todd as friends and as colleagues, I’m also able to offer this to all of you as a pre-order reservation for a special price:
$76.50 + shipping
(regularly $90+ shipping!)
CAVEAT! – I’m only allowed to sell a limited quantity at this price, so you’ll want to pull the trigger on this sooner rather than later. When they’re gone, they’re gone, and Todd will be selling them at audio shows (Newport, RMAF, Las Vegas, etc) and on his website.
This one also has a ticking clock: This offer will expire May 31 or as soon as our allotted inventory runs out. After that the records will be available only on the MA Recordings Website.
LASTLY – if you want ONLY the LP and not the EP, the price will be $60 + shipping and you’ll be able to get that product here: LP ONLY
You want ’em? Get ’em HERE.