Saturday at 20:56 (8:56PM NM time) is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment that man set foot on the moon for the first time. I was ten years old and played soccer with other kids in a small village in Austria when I heard my dad whistle and holler. He made me come into the house and watch the event, and I am glad he did… It was grainy black and white, but it was exciting and great.
Where were you? Or perhaps you are too young?
This morning I took a loaf of bread to my friend who owns a local bike shop. He was sitting with another friend of his and we started talking about bread. His friend told me he is thinking of building a wood-fired oven for baking bread. I said I would love to learn how to bake in that kind of oven.
Then my friend’s friend asked me what my name is and I said Ottmar. He didn’t understand so I repeated my name.
Then he said oh, Ottmar, like Ottmar Liebert… except you can’t play guitar. Exactly, I replied.
I left and laughed all the way home… :-)
Since posting this I have heard two other stories, but I don’t know whether they are true or just musician lore. The first one concerns Johnny Cash who was in a bar when another man told him he resembled Johnny Cash. The reply was I am Johnny Cash. No you’re not. But I am. You can’t be. Back and forth… and then Johnny Cash was slugged by the other men for impersonating the great Johnny Cash. It’s sounds so outlandish that it just might be true!
The second story is about Christopher Cross. A TSA officer told him that he looked like Christopher Cross. Yeah, I heard that before. The TSA officer ended with, it’s so sad that he passed away. Oops.
I recently learned that many of the first books that were printed following the invention of the Gutenberg press were books about witchcraft. Perhaps there is hope for the internet after all.
The new album has gone through a whole bunch of different titles, from the first working title Rumba Pa Ti, which was a reminder to myself that I wanted to create an upbeat album, to Hu, which I’ll write about separately, to Indigo, and now Fete. This last one seems to stick for several reasons. When Jon heard the first track of the album he sent me a message that said “this song is a party”.
In Köln, in the mid-seventies, we always used the word Fete for party, pronounced with two syllables instead of one… Fete or Fête, comes from the French language. A lot of French words are used in Köln. Portemonnaie means wallet, or Pottmonné in Kölsch, the local dialect. The dialect word Trottewar comes from the French Trottoir, or sidewalk.
Although Indigo was my favorite album title for a while, because the song of that name started a new development for me, it became clear that Fete was the right name for the album.
Because the music is upbeat – joyful is the word several people who listened to new songs used – I wanted a strong color for the cover. I really haven’t used color in ages and for a long time my albums tended to use neutral or earthy tones. I opened Lightroom and searched the 16,000 images I have collected there for the word red. I played around with a few of the images – this is a photo I took when we performed at a theater in Ecuador a few years back – and this one stood out for me. I imported the image to an iPad and played with it. I like the hand lettering which gives the cover the feel of a personal postcard.
Fete is in the final stages and I hope to have the album finished by the end of July. The ListeningLounge is very old and rickety and I have been convinced to replace it by joining Bandcamp. That means that the LL will go away within the next few months, to be replaced by a Bandcamp page on this website. The album will first be released on Bandcamp in multiple downloadable formats – this should happen sometime in August. Next we will have CDs for sale at our concerts, although I don’t have a target window for that yet. I imagine I will also start selling the CD via mail order. The rest of the usual digital distribution, including streaming services, will have to wait a while.
Fete will be the first album, catalog number 001, for my new label HuHeartDrive.
And just like that the loudness wars are over. Honestly, I only found out about it this weekend. I was having lunch with Jon Gagan and he informed me about this, apparently not so new, development. Yesterday I did some research and reached the conclusion that I will have to mix several different versions of the new album, one for streaming, one for CD, and perhaps a third one for HD files.
How did the loudness wars end? It was the logical result of so many millions of people subscribing to streaming services, like Apple Music or Spotify. Whether one listens to a personal playlist or a curated stream of music, it’s not fun to have the volume go up and down with each track. In fact sudden changes in loudness are the #1 source of user complaints. The same is true for watching a bunch of videos on YouTube. It would be annoying if some of the videos were much louder than others, right?
As a result the streaming services came up with guidelines and are turning down loud songs. Here is an article about loudness normalization across different platforms. This has been going on for a while now. Here is an article about YouTube normalizing volume since December 2015.
If you want to see what this means in practical terms, go to the website Loudness Penalty and drag and drop any mp3 file on it. It will show by how much that file will be turned down by streaming services.
Here are a few links to posts I made about this subject in the past: