Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Over the years, the record and CD collection has grown while the hi-fi has slowly got worse, as things broke down, speakers blew, separates got minitiarised, cassette-players became obsolete and now of course we mostly listen to music as lo-fi MP3s. I still have a half-decent Sherwood amp, Technics turntable, Pioneer CD player and TEAC cassette deck (grimace) but they go through a tiny pair of speakers which were bought for their convenient shelf size rather than because they were any good.
But today, finally, with encouragement from Liz (honestly!) and guided by my colleague Jason, I bought a pair of decent speakers. It wasn't looking good. Everything we saw was super-expensive (1K, 10K, 72K anyone!?) and the shops were starting to close. In the end we found a place which wasn't high-end and I sat on a sofa and listened to a few models while trying to act like I knew what I was doing. Turn the volume up and down, get up and take the grill off & put my ear to the cones, have a look round the back... all to the sound of Tricky's Overcome which Jason brought along to "test the bass". Finally I settled on a pair of slim, tall-ish, free-standing BNTNs - American apparently. I won't bore you with the model.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
More leftfield, we'd have to include turnrtablist Philip Jeck, if not for his albums, then live (I have fond memories of three shows in Japan particularly); Journeyman's dubby electronica; and Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson.
Those that didn't quite make it: James, Jane & Barton, Johnny Conquest, Jazz Jamaica, Keith Jarrett, Jesus & Mary Chain, Marsen Jules and respect to Robert Johnson. But forget Jamiroquai, Joe Jackson, Howard Jones (although, embarrassingly, I quite like his first few singles), Jane's Addiction, Jethro Tull, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Judas Preist and Journey - except their excellent version of (Don't Fear) the Reaper. Did I forget anyone?
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Anyway, it's a public holiday and unlike yesterday it's a beautifully sunny day so we combine continued unpacking with a visit to Chaoyang Park.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
In the afternoon we explore our neighbourhood in search of food and find two great little cafes. The first is trendy amost by accident, run by an old lady with a tiny, hyperactive dog which throws the girls into hysterics. But it only sells drinks. The other is equally small but more knowing and serves good western food. Hopefully we'll pluck up the courage to eat local Chinese before too long.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
It was fascinating. The rooms were beautifully restored and there was an excellent exhibition about Puyi's life, with commendably realistic dioramas and a fair amount of English captioning. Next to the palace is a huge, new, no-expense-spared museum about the whole episode of Japanese occupation which despite the hurry, made for a sombre experience.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Left Liz to supervise and headed off to the airport for an hour-and-a-half flight to Changchun in Manchuria, not too far from the border with North Korea. It's China's 'motor city' and 'film city', though I'm more aware of its historical interest (China's last Emperor lived here for 13 years) and actually my colleague Jason and I are here for a birthday celebration - see tomorrow. But we have a bit of free time in the evening so Jason - who's an obsessive music fan - takes me to a record shop. Yes, a record shop. Selling bonafide (and not so bonafide) CDs. We spend an hour browsing the racks and I eventually buy quite a few things, mainly Chinese electronic stuff. Let's see what it's like. The shop manager brings out a bowl of water for our hands which are blackened by years of accumulated dust.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The tower on the left is home to a lot of German companies, and their German Café seems to be the best deal for a quick lunch.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Work itself was fine. Induction efficient and everyone very friendly. Shown where printers, faxes, kitchen, colour-coded meeting rooms, fire exits and (empty) first aid boxes were; IT guys reconfigured my PC; HR meeting; whisked round to meet everyone; then down to business. Before I knew it, 11 hours had passed.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
The appetite for steel in China is immense. Importing it is super-costly and building steel plants from scratch can take years. So one answer is to buy a loss-making one from abroad, dismantle it, ship it over right down to the last screw, and reconstruct it locally - not forgetting to bring an assembly manual. That’s exactly what happened to the ThyssenKrupp steel mill near Dortmund, which used to employ 10,000 people but by the end of the 90s was haemorrhaging euros. It was bought by a Chinese company called Shagang, dismantled in less than a year (two years quicker than the German experts had estimated) and was up and running in its new home, Jinfeng, in another year or so. Read more here.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Here's my Top 10 Homework Music, by necessity ambient, lyricless and what I happen to have on my iPod:
- Higher Intelligence Agency with Biosphere Birmingham Frequencies
- Vangelis Best of 1970-2002 (own compilation)
- Eno Music for Airports
- Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Vol 2
- Heavenly Music Corporation Consciousness III
- Kiln Holo
- Stefan Micus Listen to the Rain
- Paul Schutze Regard: Music by Film
- Simon Fisher Turner Best of (own compilation)
- Steve Hillage Rainbow Dome Musik