It has been extremely busy here at Enjoy the Music.com headquarters as this month marks our annual Blue Note Awards. Add to that, for the first time in nearly a few decades a new percussion and drum album will be released! Our annual award are precious in that unlike elsewhere, we give out so few awards each year that it it that much more important to make the choices extremely carefully. While it is obvious that giving out few awards in counterproductive to the marketing-minded, it makes no sense to paint a broad brush and award everyone with some accolades. As such, the truly outstanding products in our opinion are therefore brought into a more tuned spotlight as it were. Like in racing, for which i am so very fond of, the very best win Moto GP, WRC, Formula 1, etc and the like driver's championships while few remember worldwide who came in second place. Unlike racing, there can be multiple winners within a league and so we should all understand that our Blue Note Award list has been whittled down from a large list of products that may also be deserving on their own merits yet somehow may slightly miss the mark in achieving the very best the Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed in 2009. Of course no single magazine can review every product that was released within the past year, so there may indeed be some products we somehow miss. As such, our continued focus on offering World Premiere reviews helps to ensure you are reading about the latest and greatest gear available in the industry. i shall personally be handing out the awards at the upcoming RMAF 2009 (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest) so see our coverage for photos of manufacturers receiving this rare and prestigious award.
A little backstory before i get to the good stuff. Over two decades of 'practice' in my love for music as a musician has finally come to fruition! As a longtime percussionist and drummer i could not begin to try and count the hours and playing with bands, playing along with commercially-available music and devising my own rudiments techniques in concert with the original 26 all classically-trained drummers are taught. In my teens i learned how to compose, transpose and arrange. During late teens i was in front of a few recording labels in New York City after years of playing live yet my life was a bit, how shall i say this, fragmented. After a ten year hiatus beginning in my mid-20's, a fellow drummer sent me a drumset in my mid-30's and my love once again flourished. It evolved from a simple acoustic set to the latest and greatest Roland electronic set due to noise constraints. Now with a new home with excellent acoustic space came the opportunity to once again go acoustic. You can read more about the drumset at this link.
Frankly, i did not want to release a reference type drum album. i find those things extremely boring and lacking in diversity. Considering the staggering array on textures and tones available in my current arsenal, it would also have been an insult to music enthusiasts be the so very limiting. So who is really the target audience? This is perplexing to pin down as the vastness of sounds and playing techniques offered on this album is too wide to pigeon-hole so narrowly. Yes, the sound quality is indeed reference quality, of this there is no doubt. But then we get to what exactly is on the album.
Those who enjoy ethereal sounds will find pleasure with the first few tracks, as various percussion instruments are featured in a wonderfully melodic gathering. For audiophiles, it will also easily test your system's high frequency extension, microdynamics and phase accuracy. The next tracks on the album are one or very few instruments coming into play. Sure a super huge collection of instruments can be used as a crutch to hide technique deficiencies, yet to truly understand a drumset i feel one needs to understand each and every instrument on its own merits. The album goes into full explosion with some very powerful tom-tom and Koto-like tracks. This is when one must ask themselves if their amplifiers and woofers handle such dynamics at extreme volume levels? i here and now state that i shall not be held liable for burned out rail fuses or overheating problems within amplifiers or woofer cones being ripped from their mounts and landing within your soundroom's floor in helpless distress. Choose your volume level and system's capability well!
Basically rounding out the album and a few jazz tracks and then the usual big drum solo tracks. My favorite type of music usually has odd time signatures with syncopated rhythms. As such be prepared as there are times when you will not hear the usual 4/4 time signature as found on most popular/modern music. Debated adding the bonus track, yet after multiple playback sessions i felt it stood on its own merits with interesting sections that deserved to be included within the album.
While any solo effort may be fraught with too much repetition, hopefully the diversity offered on THTST will have something to satisfy every music lover. Also of note it that it took eight hours for me to find the best microphone positioning and all mastering was dome by yours truly. If there is enough demand for more specific genres of sound or simply a follow-up i am open to that as have been looking at getting tympani, concert chimes and other bits to augment the already wide variety of instruments... plus have much more to 'say' musically with additional performance techniques that is not contained within this release. As for the title's name, there are a few hints in the text and whoever e-mails me first with the correct album title will win a special prize! Of course in the end what really matters is that you...