May 17, 2010

Drum Battle. Shefield Labs Drum & Track Disc Vs Charly Antolini's Crash!

Drum battle on a boring Monday night! A drummer boy's melody rehab.

It's a boring Monday night and what can be more exciting than re-visiting some good ol' drum music? Well at least for the occasional drummer boy in me any way.

Joe Morello has been my idol drummer since his stint as a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. For me, a good drummer must have endurance, stamina and speed for skill(none of which I possess as a drummer by the way, except perhaps when playing my imaginary "air" drum kit along a realistic hifi reproduction, like mine, He!He!). A truly exceptional drummer on a roll(pun much intended) like good ol' Joe performing "Live At Carnegie Hall" as part of the Dave Brubeck Quartet can sound like he got more than just a pair of hands! I frequently found myself asking, where that extra rim shot came from, as he's already sounding like he has his hands full!

The Shefield Labs Drum & Track Disc is a must have if one is an audiophile, and is frequently used to demo hifi equipments at shows or showrooms. It's an excellent test disc for testing a system, or the component's in questioned transient attack, speed and accuracy, bass response, and more importantly for loud speakers, can it take the sustained abuse at near clipping volumes! Why so loud? You asked?

For me the system must be able to mimic the loudness of a drum kit heard from about 2 meters away(believe me, that's very, very loud!), that way, I could still feel the beat of the kick drum, the attack of the snare and the shiny sizzle of the hig hats, shimmering in to decay, then disappearing in to thing air. As my drum instructor always tell me, drums must be loud and proud, otherwise, who'd notice you, set all the way back in to the stage, behind everybody else in the band?

With the PMC Fact 8 speakers, I could do just that! It has the clarity and linearity of driver excursion to go all the way near full volume, just a touch before clipping levels of the system, yet delivering the sonic signature of a drum set realistically, without damaging it self in the process!

Did I digress? Sorry about that, back to the Shefield Labs CD, I do find it to be a very informative and academically correct test disc, check the liner notes. My favorites tracks are the two drum improvisations by the now famous Ron Tutt and Jim Keltner, plus the Le Ballade and The Higher You Rise track, both available separately from other Shefield Labs CDs.

I've only recently discovered the Swiss drummer Charly Antolini's Crash! CD, released in 1980, by Bell Records. This is a musically amazing drum album. I was enthralled right away, from the very first track tittled, Motodrum. Charly's drum kit is set up on the right of the sound stage, and is supported by a second drummer/percussionist on the left, the tonal differences of both drum sets were clearly presented. Note the last 45 seconds of Charly's enigmatic continuous drum roll! He has proven his mettle to be one of the top drummers on this track. On track 2, which is the album titled track by the way, Charly is accompanied by a steel stringed bass electric guitar mainly. This rock based track is very demanding on amplifiers and speakers. Thank fully, my Pass Aleph and PMC F8 combo is up to task. Doing drum tracks at near system clipping levels are already difficult, adding a bass guitar lick and separating the notes clearly without distorting, bring the game to a whole new extreme level! Charly also shows his Jazz side on the track called Rotation. The track called Carambolage is a bit like Samba styled arrangement but still very catchy. Track 7 is called Co-Pilot is just another excuse for Charly to strut his stuff!

No wonder they call this Crash! CD a system killer back then in the 80's. Perhaps after more than 10 years of being exposed to the Shefield Labs Drums & Track Disc, I find Charly's Crash far more musically appealing, but I also felt it does present more challenge to one's system too! No pain, no gain is the name of game here, is your system(speakers in particular) up to the challenge?

If your answer is YES, then play this CD loud and be proud!

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