As a teenager, my musical preferences were Rock with a slice of quality Pop, Hip Hop, and a twist of classical music. That is, “all over the place”. I remember hanging out with the rock guys, but I’ll admit that the old-school rap was also doing it for me. Hidden, at least from everyone in high school, were my new friends Vivaldi and Beethoven. Fast forward through the university years, and classical music was becoming my predominant thing. How predominant? I have a decent collection of vinyl, which I measure in meters. Several meters. You want to know how much of that is not classic music nowadays? Probably less than a meter. The rest (few thousands of LPs), range from baroque to avant-garde, and come from composers like J.S. Bach and John Cage, and everyone else in between. The best way to spend a weekend? Going in thrift stores in search of an unknown gem, maybe something played on piano by someone who made that recording and not much else.
Scot, for his part, was trying to suggest that I use more conventional [editor’s note: as in, “commercially available”] tracks for my reviews, which was somewhat funny if you ask me; I was actually using all “mainstream” music, at least by my own standards. In a certain way, this is Scot’s problem and not mine, after all, he is the one with less than a dozen meters of classic music records lying around in the cave. He’s promised to look into it, but as you can see, he ended up using the Star Wars OST in a recent review as a “classical reference”. Ahem ….
On one thing he is right though, classical music is not for everybody, and not all gear is made for it. Which is another story … but truth be told, I too like mixing up a bit of rock and jazz when trying to express the emotions a certain piece of equipment may have generated during a review. After all, I profess to have an open mind, and when something interesting airs on the radio, I Shazam it, which serves as a portable agenda. Every now and then, I use Shazam to search for those tracks, download them to my NAS (now containing something like 4TB of hi-res music), or if something is available on vinyl, I order it through the usual channels. Other great sources for shopping new material are soundtracks, both those compiled or originally composed. Also, I’ll rely on suggestions from a friend, or forum discussions, and the various top 10-20-whatever Best Of [you name it category] that can be found on the net. My problem is time; I don’t have much as my day job is keeping me rather busy; I work as a doctor, where my field of specialization is ophthalmology.
What does all this have to do with you? Well, I am about to hand you your first musical prescription. That is an album that you must buy. Why is that? Because this is your Doctor telling you to, and you know you have to trust your Doctor, right? Also, because I really think this is “worth it”, in terms of musical content, interpretation, recording and engineering. Some of the recordings that may follow over time could be available on high-resolution downloads or on vinyl, many on both formats, but my promise to Scot is that none of the prescriptions will be unobtainium, or even silly expensive; in point of fact, they have or probably will appear in one of my reviews — and for good reason. And just for Scot, I won’t limit myself to an all-classical music diet.
The first prescription is Tron: Legacy, the 2010 soundtrack of Disney’s sequel to the 1982 classic science fiction film Tron. Now, why would I prescribe a 5 years old album? The problem with this particular OST was that Disney released a very limited first pressing and the price for the double LP skyrocketed within days, reaching $300 or more on eBay and Discogs.
Well, guess what, Disney finally decided to reprint it and is now available for $29.98!
The album was recorded in the notorious Air Lyndhurst Studios in London, and features an 85-piece orchestra mixed with headbanging electronic music from the frenetic French duo, Daft Punk (Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter). The frequency spectrum is as wide as it gets, bass is especially deep and rhythm goes from ambiance all the way to machine gun devastating. My ATC speakers love it! The interposition of tunes is so tight that makes of a great intermodulation test for your equipment. If you can resolve this on a proper volume, say 95-100dBs at listening position with distinct identification of each instrument and synthesizer, then you will definitely have no problem even with the most demanding passages of just about any given musical style and composition. Moreover if your amplifiers do not lose their grip and keep pushing during the nasty “Derezzed” passages, then you probably have a hefty filtering capacitance bank and well-designed power supply.
Very few tube amplifiers can cope with the content of this OST, and you will be surprised to find how many solid-state designs might deflate after a few seconds of continuous pushing to the limits. I could write an entire review using just this soundtrack because I have the “male voices” box ticked too with the deeply familiar interpretation of Jeff Bridges doing the introduction in “The Grid”. Does he sound right? Would you say that this is him? Then your equipment nails the tonality of human voices.
So what are you waiting for? Your doctor just prescribed you the Tron: Legacy OST on double LP.
Go out and buy yourself a copy before it runs out, again!