Saturday, September 27, 2008

Too Many Cocks Spoil The Breath

In the studio converting "Take One" by Front 242.

Leave it to the angst and anger of the late 1980s to come up with that title for à;GRUMH's 1987 twelve-inch single release of "M.D.A." It's hard, it's succinct and it's downright offensive. Bastards.

The residual rains from Hurricane Kyle continue to keep the estate soaked to the bone. In fact, I'm watching a veritable river flowing past the back door and a new lake forming on the neighbor's property across the way. Good thing we're not in lowlands or I'd be bailing instead of merely cruising at home.

Instead of heading out into the weather to seek my fortunes in the bosom of women across this great city, I've decided to stay in and concentrate on my music. For the past couple of years, I've been on a very slow campaign to convert my sizable collection of vinyl into the digital world of mp3s, iTunes and iPods. While a number of releases have been released or re-released as CDs, why pay more when I already spent the money years ago? All it takes is a little time and a little patience - not that I have vast reserves of either.

The problem with converting vinyl to digital is that it's a Labor Of Love. Like the way we used to make cassette tapes for friends and girlfriends, digital conversion is a real pain in the butt. It's in real time. There's no 12x conversion like there is when converting a CD. There's no simple, drag and drop functionality, like when you're creating an iTunes playlist and burning it to CD for some mid-riffed hottie.

No, this digitizing thing is serious business and it requires concentration. Are the levels set correctly? Is the record clean? How is the stylus? What are the conversion settings?

In order to capture the warmth and luxury sound of analog, I'm using vintage equipment for that authentic club sound. Technics 1200MK2 turntables outfitted with Stanton 680EL "Disco Duty" cartridges relay the sound to a Numark PPD mixer that feeds an analog signal into a Power Computing PowerTowerPro Mac Clone upgraded to a G3 366MHz processor. Digital conversion is being handled by an application called Coaster: sample rate: 44100, sample size 16.

Considering the newest piece of equipment is the 1997 era PowerTowerPro, state of the art this setup isn't, but it does a good job.

Now, the audio purists out there will want to decry the use of such antiquated equipment and such low sample settings (Coaster is actually maxed out), but let's face it - I'm not listening to any of my music critically. I don't have a sound room with an audiophile setup. My main listening is done by the computer where I'm running Tannoy BPM-6.5 Near Field Reference Studio Monitors powered by an Alesis RA-100 amplifier through an Alesis PowerMix16 FireWire mixer. Other than that, it's on the road in a noisy truck or on an airplane through an iPod Classic 160GB - none of which can ever be considered "critical" listening environments. So, my audio needs are quite simple.

The interesting (and odd) thing about all of this digitizing is that I'm actually listening to the songs in their entirety. Odd because I used to be a club and radio deejay and you never really started at the beginning or made it to the end of a song when you were mixing them together. I'm hearing segments of songs that I maybe never heard before - even though I had played the song hundreds of times over.

Anyway, enough with the chatter. Here's a list of what I converted today:

Front 242 - Take One
Book of Love - I Touch Roses (Dark Rose Remix)
Book of Love - Boy (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix)
à;GRUMH - M.D.A.
Ministry - Halloween Remix
Ministry - Nature of Outtakes
Nitro Deluxe - Let's Get Brutal
Robotiko Rejekto - Rejekto!
Nitzer Ebb - So Strong So Bright
Nitzer Ebb - Warsaw Ghetto
Philadelphia Five - Baby Do You Wanna Bump
B-52s - Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland
Renegade Sound Wave - Cocaine Sex
The Cure - Why Can't I Be You?
Laibach - Life
The Weathermen - Deep Down South
Commodity Fetish - Iron Hop
Skinny Puppy - Dig It
Icicle Works - Whisper To A Scream
C.C.C.P. - American-Soviets
Nitzer Ebb - Murderous
Front 242 - Master Hit
The Weathermen - Poison!
Alien Sex Fiend - The Impossible Mission
Cabaret Voltaire - I Want You
Secession - Fire Island
Skinny Puppy - Assimilate
Ministry - Stigmata
Book of Love - Modigliani (I Dream of Jeannie Remix)
Book of Love - Modigliani Requiem Mass
The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary (Howling Mix)
Bronski Beat - Hit That Perfect Beat
Sisters of Mercy - Temple of Love
Time Zone - World Destruction
Sisters of Mercy - This Corrosion
Book of Love - I Touch Roses (Daniel Miller Remix)
Book of Love - Boy (Extended Mix)
Gary Numan - Cars (Extended E Reg Model)

Is It Raining With You?

Here comes the rain again,
Raining in my head like a tragedy,
Tearing me apart like a new emotion.


It's going to be Peach Jam.

After a morning touring what may be our next food adventure, the skies opened and it started to pour. What better time to stay at home and get cozy in the kitchen?

As is my usual predicament, I seem to always have fresh food in the house on the verge of going bad. I have all the good intentions in the world to process the products right away but my plans always go awry - maybe it's a problem that I'm never home and only come home late at night to crash out.

There's a pile of peaches from Reid's Orchards sitting in the corner by the vac pot brewer that need my attention. The gaskets on my vacuum sealer broke last week so I'm without a sealer until the parts arrive. Lame. So much for freezing, time to make more jam.

Jam is starting to get pretty easy. I'm without that magic box of pectin that Maria used so it's back to the old fashioned way of adding sugar, heating, stirring and reducing for a couple of hours. Filled a two quart container - not bad for a rainy Saturday.

Filipino Southern Chicken Mashup

Now, time for some lunch. I've been thinking about pairing a Filipino-style preparation for fried chicken with a Southern method that I know. It's been on my mind for several months now and I might as well give it a go.

First, marinade the chicken (free range from Springfield Farm) in a mixture of lemon juice and patis (fish sauce). Of course, I'm presuming you've learned to cut up a whole chicken yourself, saving you the additional expense of purchasing pre-cut chicken.

Once the chicken has been coated with the liquid, spread on a baking sheet and place in the fridge for half and hour to chill and dry out the skin. The drier the skin, the crisper it will be in the fryer. After a half hour (or so), dredge the chicken in flour and shallow fry in a cast iron skillet until the skin turns golden brown in 375F canola oil. I've got a convection oven, so I've also set up a baking sheet with rack to finish the chicken.

In first are the thighs and legs since they'll take the longest to cook (about 25 minutes), then the white meat and I'm working them in batches. Once the skins have turned golden, they go into the oven until done. I do the wings last because in ten minutes, they're done.

The chicken is crisp, juicy and moist. The lingering flavor of the fish sauce and lemon is there, but it's just a whisper. To my tastes, the flavor mixed with the crispy floured skin is kinda weird. Odd. Different. I'm not sure if I like it. It's a true mishmash of Filipino and Southern styles and I just don't know. Maybe I need to eat more to be sure.

There's still more to test. I wonder if a longer marinade will make for better flavor. Those that tried it, liked it. I just don't know if I really liked the combination. Yet.