The Null Device


Scare meme of the day: can MP3s damage your hearing? The issue is whether the "inaudible" frequencies removed in the MP3 encoding process are necessary for the ear to calibrate itself, and lossily-compressed sounds can cause damage to the listener's perception of timbre. The RIAA's much-vaunted watermarking plans could also be dangerous. (via Slashdot)

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I went to the Neil Halstead gig at the Evelyn. First up was a local band named I Panic, whom I hadn't seen before. I caught only their last song, but was impressed. They consisted of a girl singing through reverb and delays, and two guys playing guitars (one strumming an acoustic and one playing an electric), and sounded a bit like Love Spirals Downwards before they went drum'n'bass. I'll have to look out for them.

Next up was Sodastream; I missed most of their set, running home to get a Slowdive CD for Neil to autograph. Then Neil came on; he sat on a chair, playing an acoustic guitar and harmonica and singing softly into the microphone. One song into the show, he snapped a string on his guitar and had to borrow one from Sodastream. He did mostly his recent repertoire, in acoustic folk style, and was joined by the bassist from Sodastream and a violinist named Kelly for two songs.

And no, he didn't play any Slowdive-era tunes; which was a little disappointing (after all, where would we be if Morrissey didn't play any Smiths songs in his sets?), but on reflection, understandable. Most Slowdive songs would not translate very easily to solo acoustic-guitar performance, and the ones which would tend to be like cruder versions of Mojave 3 numbers. People in the audience kept calling out requests ("Alison", "Catch The Breeze", "Dagger"), but Neil politely turned them down. Well, it shows that he's not doing this to cash in.

I got to speak briefly with Neil (I bought the Seasons EP from him, and only found out later that the chap behind the table who looked like a young surfer-dude Kenny Rogers and was somewhat unfamiliar with Australian banknotes was him), and he seems like a very friendly, approachable person, with a disarming humility and warmth about him.

(Alas, it also turns out that the rumours about Pygmalion being rereleased are untrue; Sony still own the rights, it's too small fry for them to release, and neither 4AD nor any other more suitable label has managed to acquire it (or necessarily attempted to). Pity; in my opinion, it is a classic and more people should be able to hear it than can afford the extortionate eBay prices.)

(Aside: I must confess that I don't like the Evelyn as a venue much. For one, you'd think that the overpriced drinks (A$7.50 for a can of Guinness? No thanks) would allow them to put hand dryers in the toilets, but you'd be wrong. And then there's the high wank factor of the Beautiful People(tm) who make it their home.)

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