The Piano man

Having just came back home from a late night out without kids with wifey and friends, my nerves are tingling. This has got nothing to do with the night-time energy of Zurich Niederdorf – the hub of Zurich nightlife. The culprit is the Piano Man. No – it’s not Billy Joel. I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing him live, and he certainly wouldn’t be playing at that incredibly crowded Zurich bar with people almost falling over him, waitresses buzzing around him carrying trays loaded with trays 6 inches over his head and his entire Piano being used as a table top by women for resting their drinks and swooning over him.

The Piano man in question here is some unknown(at least to me) gentleman probably from Poland or some other east European country. Even after reading his name a couple of time on the front page of the menu of the bar, for the life of me i cannot remember his name now, except that it sounded vaguely polish. And it’s probably for the better. Some things are best left as mysteries. So why is it that at 3 in the morning, having just reached home – I am not in bed and all i can do is write about the evening?

It’s because I can’t get the songs out of my head. I can almost taste the liquid air of that nightclub, the made heavier by the fact that i was only 2 feet away from the Piano being pounded by his fingers. And that i could read the titles and the lyrics of the songs in his notebook which has been thumbed a million times. And it certainly wasn’t for his musical virtuosity – he had the knack of murdering many songs, as he did with ‘The Piano man’. There were many passages where he should have sung Bass, but instead he sang Soprano. Many a times his tune was out of whack with the original. And top it up with the fact that i cannot really bear to hear more than half an Elton John song in a year – and he sang three of them today evening. Apollo, pls forgive me and him.

But the reason my mind is still tingling is the sheer visceral impact, energy, enthusiasm, enjoyment, vibe that the performance contained. It is another glowing tribute to the power of music, especially when you can have the pleasure of it being played live in front of you. The impact feels so much pronounced to me as at any point in time there is a song going on in my head. My first instinct when i get home it to put on some music on the divine Cadence Amayas and the Audio Analogue Puccini, much to the chagrin of my lovely wife at times.

A song being played back from a shiny disc or the grooves of a vinyl record, can never come close to recreating the magic that live music is. No matter how good or how close it sounds to the real thing thanks to good Hi-Fi gear, recorded music can never hold a candle to witnessing it being produced live. Even as I write this, Dylan is playing in the background, belting out ‘Angelina’. His anguished and soaring voice is palpably placed dead center of the soundstage, right between the two speakers, slightly recessed behind the Piano. I can almost ‘see’ the hammers on the piano, hitting the strings and producing the plaintive melody. Thanks to the incredibly fast electrostatic panels, I can ‘sense’ his movement, as he probably shifts his position in front of the microphone, pouring his heart out into the song. I can ‘feel’ his mood as he shifts gears and emotions throughout the song. The picture that he is painting with his words, is coming together very close to as he intends it to be – part Rimbaud poem, part Van Gogh painting and part Kurosawa movie. Having heard him live, his voice is an incredibly close rendition of how he sounds  in real life – shifting from indifference to total immersion in a hearbeat. It is perfect, almost.

As good as it gets, there is something missing. As I wait for the magic to happen, it just doesn’t kick in. All I can do is compare it to the sometimes imperfect renditions belted out in flesh and blood, just an hour back. There is a an invisible veil somewhere. It wasn’t there an hour back. Music is better off without that veil. If you like music, I strongly recommend the following. Firstly, play or learn to play a musical instrument (though I sadly can’t, I will endeavor to it). Secondly, buy the best possible music playback gear you can afford ( … and please don’t get fooled by thinking the Bose is all there is to Hi-Fi). Lastly and most importantly, get out and go to a live concert. Just go, don’t think too much or over-analyze the artist. If you like a musical genre, and there is a relevant live musical event happening close to where you are …. just go. Let lightning strike.

A little trickery and creativity goes a long way!

I have 2 kids, who possess many unique superpowers & (so-far) hidden skills that will undoubtedly make them world famous one day. One of these powers, however is less unique and shared with countless other 4 / 7 yr olds around the world. And that is their ability to sense anything remotely nutritious in their food and run a country mile.

So one day, being charged with the responsibility of feeding them a proper lunch, while my wifey was out gallivanting, I contemplated the dilemma at hand, and a logistical regression backed hypothesis testing led me to the following choices –

  1. The easy way: French fries and chicken nuggets, out of the freezer, into the oven, into their stomachs – job done!
  2. Calvin’s mom’s way:

    calvin and hobbes cartoon about food

  3. The last – most righteous and creative: So the following was conjured up

I and my son are currently obsessed with the fantastic newly acquired Cadence Amaya hybrid electrostatic speakers, and the daughter – surprisingly with cricket. So a quick dash to the fridge, some veggies are unearthed, the Victorinox knife is yielded in precisely controlled motions. Lo and behold – the best salad creations of the whole world are presented to the kids with all the pizzazz and style that rivals the best Parisian brasserie and were devoured in record speed.

salad for kids in shape of cadence amaya speakers original cadence amaya speakers

 

salad in shape of cricket stumps

So now that you know the trick to feed your kids right, exercise your brains to answer the following questions:


Alpine Soundscapes

Switzerland : does it bring to your mind mountains, cheese, cows, watches? Leave these aside for a moment and think of divine tube amplifiers, precision turntables and exquisite speakers than that play music sweeter than Apollo’s harps or can recreate the sound of thunder. These were the images and sounds I experienced when the latest edition of the HighEnd Swiss show beckoned.

 

Read the full entry here …

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Breaking News : This write up has also been published on a leading Audio website – 6moons.com. The first of hopefully many more to come! Read it here

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