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6moonbeams #2 – April 2015

  • If variety be the spice of life, many an audiophile would prefer it if you just held back on the cayenne. Difference is often met with bemusement. The Zu Audio guys nearly always cop a handful of quizzical looks each time they unleash a Nick Lowe or Four Tet record.

    Last year I detailed how Sydney Audio Club gives over the second half of its monthly meets to member music choices, selected randomly by host Tom Waters. These Australians prove time and again that it’s eminently possible to tolerate difference without the need for a snarky remark to distract from onlookers from consternation. I’ve no doubt that a handful of members positively despised Nicolas Jaar’s “Space Is Only Noise” but they had the presence of mind to keep a lid on it.

    With others, distaste is more palpable: one Stateside distributor openly rubbished selections that comprised last year’s Electronica for Audiophiles playlist. He called it “Klingon battle music” with nary a sign of a nod or a wink.

    That’d be fine if it were a scarce event but this kind of attitude tends to permeate the audiophile world – musical difference is frequently met with displeasure. And nowhere is this more apparent than at audio shows, especially with two-channel demos where each attendee must enjoy/endure whatever’s being played. Break from the norm and you run the risk of losing your audience. However, is a break from the norm, and the ensuing evolution of musical programming, not a pre-requisite for a show’s ongoing appeal? No-one lives forever.

    For this second installment of 6moonbeams, I didn’t want to bang the drum yet again about the preponderance of aural beige. Instead, I opted to compile a playlist in the spirit of Zu Audio – vive la difference! Sean Casey and his crew consistently spin music from artists covered by the mainstream music press: The Quietus, FactMag and Consequence of Sound. In the audiophile press, think TONEAudio.


    Alas, the majority of exhibitors choose to keep the spicier choices to a minimum. When they do turn up it’s often not until after hours. Beer caps snap as the daytime’s more polite musical programme is parked and the good stuff comes out.

    Zu Audio are the same day and night. The Casey family’s afterhours parties spin psychedelic rock and dubstep no matter what the time of day. They just play it LOUDER.

    Remember that? Getting your heart rate above 115pm is good for your health but it ain’t gonna happen with a diet of more polite fare. And there’s nothing wrong with polite – far be it from me to tell you what to listen to at home – my beef is with the face-pulling and smart-ass wisecracks that follow someone’s attempt to bring something different to the table. The audio show world is in dire need of more exhibitors like Zu Audio, not fewer.

    If kick-ass rock n roll and intense electronica is how you get your rocks off, head on over to 6moons for April 2015’s playlist.

    Keeping it more downbeat, here is a song that I’d initially wanted to include in the playlist before I discovered that it wasn’t on Tidal or Spotify: John Cale’s devastating cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

    Further information: 6moonbeams #2

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. “the soundtrack of the 3pm meds round at a retirement home” !!!! BRILLIANT. Blew half my lunch out through my nose with a poorly suppressed guffaw at that one.

      Through the wonders of modern technology (specifically DNS thank you UnoTelly) I am now enjoying the wonders of TIDAL here in NZ. I have added your suggestions to my first custom playlist though I couldn’t seem to get the Grinderman track to load.

      My track du jour is Black Cherry Pie by Jeff the Brotherhood. Powerchords by Black Sabbath, Lyrics from the Ramones, vibe from Waynes World and a total bonus at 40″ in when none other than Ian Andersen makes a cameo flute solo. Sheer dumb ass rock n roll fun.

    2. Keep in mind that 2 channel has reached a point where $10K+ amps are the norm, and anything under five figures is considered “bargain priced.” Chances are that somebody ready and willing to drop this kind of cash on audio gear is probably more interested in Coltrane than the Chemical Brothers. It also doesn’t hurt that traditional audiophile fare is very easy for most systems to handle. If your room sucks, which it probably does, and/or your speakers are -10dB at 50Hz, you can avoid letting that be known by sticking to piano trios and acoustic guitars.

      • “Traditional audiophile fare is very easy for most systems to handle”. Agreed.

        One of this site’s aims is to inform people who don’t conform to those traditional tastes.

    3. Yay, I’ve been singing the praises of Cale’s Halleluja since I got the cassette of I’m Your Fan in a record store close-out in the early 90s. No idea how anyone can say they know this song without hearing the Cale version. Sadly, though, it took me a decade-plus to figure out who the hell Robert Forster (Tower of Song) was — apparently cool is very unevenly distributed. Anyway, you are a man of discerning taste, sir!

    4. You’ll find Hallelujah cover on the Cohen tribute compilation album “I’m your fan”, along with a stellar cover of “First we take Manhattan” by REM.

    5. Fantastic playlist John – that selection is right up my ally.
      Having just upgraded my DAC I can vouch for electronic music sounding a lot better and more engaging on a decent system. Turns out synths and drum machines have timbre…

      Can I suggest Eno/Hyde, Swans, Boards of Canada, and Hiatus Kaiyote for the next playlist?

      • Love that most recent Eno/Hyde, BoC are a shoe in, Swans might be a little bit intense for some, don’t know Hiatus at all.

    6. Two years in a row Zu room was already playing music I brought with me to the show. I love them. I don’t NEED new speakers, but when I do…

    7. Even funnier, one night at 11 pm Sean was sitting solo in his demo room listening to Les Claypool’s Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver from Duo De Twang, the same exact track that I had just decided the day before would be too much for an audio show, but was really inclined to hear on top of the line equipment! Hahaha! (I was wandering the halls of the hotel excited for the next day and could not sleep). New music is key to keep things fresh. I learned of Alt-J one year in the Giya / VTL room, sounded amazing btw. That bell in Tessellate!

    KEF Reference – an engineer’s perspective