Tag Archives: music


I first heard Blackmill through my Pandora Chill Out channel. It’s great if you’re working and need something simple and melancholic in the background. Robert Card is the artist behind the music, and according to Facebook is unsigned.

Evil Beauty


Let It Be

The Drift

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Filed under Music

Everything Old Is New Again: Public Library Staff

I picked up Oscar Peterson plays the Cole Porter Songbook at the library today. The self-checkout computers were down and the staff member who checked me out complimented my selection and recommended another jazz musician (see below) she heard about on NPR/NYT. The world briefly and suddenly felt smaller and more comfortable again — it wasn’t just an Amazon or Pandora recommendation.

It is not as if I walk in to the library thinking, “Thank goodness for the interchangeable automatons that fulfill my media requests via KCLS.org“, but that’s what technology allows us to do in practice. I like the speed and efficiency self-checkout allows, and there are times when I can’t afford to indulge even the most well-intentioned chit-chat. However, today it was a welcome change of pace and I’m grateful for the staff at the KCLS Kingsgate branch.

Boyd Lee Dunlop

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Filed under Zeitgeist

Heard on c89.5 FM 7/10

Feed Me  – Blood Red

30Hz – Daddio (Miles Dyson Re-Edit)

Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed (Jakwob Remix)

c89.5 Seattle

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Filed under Consumer

Online Music Stores and Lossy Compression Redux

It’s 2011, why are Amazon.com and the iTunes Store still selling compressed music?

Because they know they can get at least two more “upgrades” out of you. They know they can increase the bitrate from 256 kbps to 320 kbps (while calling it CD “quality”, equivocating on quality – here meaning perceived quality), and then from there to lossless compression (mathematically equivalent to CD “quality”). Each time they might charge you an upgrade fee (or “forgo” it to increase loyalty) to alter your purchased music licenses to the latest standard and cover the relatively small cost of serving music downloads.

They also both sell  transducers (loudspeakers, headphones), and profit from the belief that buying more expensive equipment will result in higher perceived audio quality than will using source files with lower compression levels. While this may prove true for some (using the absolute worst DACs/transducers, or for those with impaired hearing), I doubt it is true for the majority of their clientele. Even on iPhone headphones or my Honda’s stock radio/paper-cone speakers, migrating from compressed to uncompressed music has yielded audible improvements.

It’s definitely not bandwidth or bandwidth cap issues.

With AT&T’s 20GB bandwidth cap, you can download 27 uncompressed CDs, or 54 losslessly compressed CDs, or 150 lossy (256 kbps) compressed CDs. That’s assuming each CD is full length (700 MiB).

For AT&T’s 150GB cap, those numbers change to 204, 408, and 1126 CDs respectively.

For Comcast’s 250GB cap, those numbers change to 340, 681, and 1877 CDs respectively.

Dynamic Range Compression

Online music stores also have an opportunity to continue differentiating themselves by pressuring labels to release “organic” remasters – forgoing, or with reduced dynamic range compression. Since music is increasingly consumed privately (as opposed to in ice cream parlors or on analog (tuned) radios half a century ago), they can fight the Loudness War. This differentiation complements increases in music quality as higher dynamic ranges benefit from decreases in compression.

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On Belief

We’re never gonna win the world
We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this
If belief is what we’re fighting for

What miserable and subversive words! We have them courtesy of John Mayer’s song ‘Belief’ from his album Continuum. I’m not panning the artist or his music, but I wonder, where did he get the belief, quoted above?

If only it were simple nonsense! Sadly, I fear people assent to these trite lyrics because they generally turn off their minds when listening to ‘pop’ music. The implicit logic is similar to arguing that anti-abortion laws are wrong because beliefs shouldn’t influence law. As if such statements were fully-contained, self-evident truths!

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Filed under Rant, Religion