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CES, The Musical!

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by Josh Ray on December 15 '06

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So CES is coming up -- you know, the biggest electronic dork fest of the year -- and it struck me that I don't have the perfect custom demo CD. Then I began thinking, is there such a thing as a perfect demo CD? With various tracks across a broad range of musical genres, forcing audio equipment to walk over a pit of fiery coals (and causing audiophiles to flee in terror)?

So what do you think these brutal tracks should be? It can even be snippets of tracks spliced into a complete 5 minute sonic torture test. Tracks will be ripped via Exact Copy, chopped and burned back onto black CDs. And if all works out as planned (no legal issues), I'll post the MP3 online so everyone will know the basis for my Vegas audio ramblings.

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Cocteau Twins w/Harold Budd: Ooze Out And Away Onehow Butthole Surfers: Jesus Built My Hotrod Bath Festival Orchestra w/ Yehudi Menuhin: JS Bach's Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major Naked City (John Zorn): Saigon Pickup Led Zeppelin: When The Levee Breaks Amon Tobin: Slowly Chemical Bros: Starguitar off the top of my head and not necessarily in that order....
I'm only bringing black discs this year
'cept they wont fit in any CD player.
Audiophile Indie. Here’s a lucky 11 that I used last year when visiting Verity Audio in Quebec. If it’s good enough for their DCS/Nagra fronted $60-ish thousand-dollar Lohengrin’s, it’s good enough for any audio show… even in Vegas. Yes, indie can sound so good. 1. “We're So Happy (We Left The Piano In The Truck)” by Earlimart from “Everyone Down Here” 2. “Run” by Air from “Talkie Walkie” 3. “Switching Off” by Elbow from “Cast of Thousands” 4. “Revenge Wears No Wristwatch” by The Walkmen from “Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone” 5. “Who Am I (Remix by Chateau Flight)” by Peace Orchestra from “Reset” 6. “1983” by The Incredible Moses Leroy from “Electric Pocket Radio” 7. “The Average Man” by Simple Kid from the album “1” 8. “Stay Where You Are” by Ambulance Ltd from the album “Ambulance Ltd” 9. “Jacksonville” by Sufjan Stevens from “Come On Feel The Illinoise!” 10. “Dear Prudence” by Brad Mehldau from “Largo” 11. “Truth Serum” by Smog from “Supper”
Stephen: I wrote a comment on your blog, but it's not showing up. I said I'd be highly disappointed if you didn't bring that baby Nirvana music. David: That's a pretty great set. Actually, that Chem bros album was a staple until I lost it at the last CES. But isn't "Jesus built my hotrod" by Ministry, not Butthole Surfers? Or is it a cover? John: Where'd you get black laserdiscs? Sandy: Dang, you're far more indie than me (and I'm even rocking the indie beard, but it's not doing me any good with the women). I think TV on the Radio should be on your list, since it's like the definitive album this year.
People tend to bring their audiophile-approved sonic favorites to these shows, which to my mind is exactly the wrong approach. I'd take a cross-section of familiar but average-sounding recordings, maybe even something like the last Flaming Lips album that's so horribly recorded, or that Red Hot Chili Peppers album that's mastered way too hot. If a system will make crap sound good it's a great system, IMO. A Steely Dan CD will sound great on a boombox
I mean crap as in sounding like crap, not that the band itself is crap.
A little Nine Inch Nails (Pretty Hate Machine -- "Sin," the remixes) is fun to BLAST at the shows, but usually half the people in the room waiting for a chance to throw in their audiophile discs leave the room and leave it in a hurry! Some METAL doesn't hurt either, like Pantera (Vulgar Display of Power -- "F_cking Hostile"). That usually gets the other half of room to run out in pain! :-)
>Stephen: I wrote a comment on your blog, but it's not showing up. I said I'd be highly disappointed if you didn't bring that baby Nirvana music.

Thanks Josh. Our comment tool is temporarily down, due to spam clean-up. In any case, that's a great idea. I'm totally going to rock that Nirvana baby music. Maybe I'll bring baby Led Zep for the old-timers.

You are absolutely correct Josh, it IS Ministry. I guess I still think of them as a synth pop band from the '80s (remember 'Work For Love'?). Like I said, off the top of my head. It's so easy in this digital age to just open a new window to double- and triple- check ourselves, not to mention spell check and so on... I find it refreshing to throw in an error once in a while! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
My theory in audition music is bring stuff that has soft and loud passages (the Cocteau Twins track and the Ministry), passages populated by completely different instruments (the Led Zeppelin), important information buried in noise (John Zorn and Chemical Bros.), and then of course 'typical' tracks of whatever genres you will be listening to. I've never owned what I consider expensive speakers (over $1'500 new or used) but I've never owned bad speakers...
I hope you get to go to the show David and that I get to follow you around from room to room... just to hear what happens... Hope to see you at the show, too, Josh :-) -Mike.