February 17, 2009

Gitzo Ball Heads for Photography

Gitzo Ball Heads for Photography

Having chosen a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod the next step was to choose a suitable head for it. This was no easy task as Gitzo do a large range of ball heads ranging from around £30 to well over £200. I  made a basic mistake when choosing and didn't check out the weight of the heads. Seduced by a spcial offer I ordered the head below which turned out to be not far short of a kilo in weight. As I had ordered a carbon fibre tripod in order to reduce weight this meant a rethink.


The Gitzo G1377M weighs in at nearly a kilo

I decided to go for a G1077M which is far more portable and claims some good anti-vibration features.

Gitzmo G1077M

The Gitzo G1077M. A good head for 35mm/D SLRs

February 16, 2009

Gitzo Carbon Fibre Tripod

Gitzo Carbon Fibre Tripod

Plans for the day had included searching for a high quality tripod and head to go with a Nikon  D80. The current tripod in use is a lightweight Veblon which is fine for compact cameras and probably the lighter weight  "bridge" cameras such as Fuji Finepix S100. The tripod proved wanting when trying to take precision shots of architectural models and we ended up borrowing a friend's birdspotting tripod which is used to support my old Kowa ED 77mm spotting scope which is pretty heavy. So with birthday time coming around it was time to upgrade the tripod.

Gitzo Mountaineer 531

Gitzo Mountaineer 531 Carbon Fibre Tripod

My plan was to go for a Manfrotto. They have a good reputation and I had been purchasing Manfrotto systems for the college. However, I discovered some interesting clearance deals with Gitzo. I had vaguely heard of them but had no real familiarity so I investigated the company and its products a little more closely:

Gitzo was founded in France in 1917 by Arsène Gitzhoven, who produced cameras, cable releases, shutters (at a rate of 750 per day) and filmpack frames for the photographic industry until 1942, when the World War led to the company being temporarily dismantled. Production started again in 1944 and tripods were introduced to the Gitzo’s product range in the 1950’s.

The company is now ownd by Vitec:

Vitec companies are primarily focused on the broadcast live event and photography markets. Our premium brands have unique characters and are organised in clusters by market served, so as to maximise synergies. We share ideas, infrastructure, and technology across our decentralised Group.

General Gitzo Tripod Features

The company is highly innovative in both the materials used and the actual designs.


G-lock is the innovative evolution of the original twist-lock system: completely redesigned to be faster, stronger and more rigid than its predecessor. Unwanted gaps in between lock parts have been removed to give a rock solid structure to the leg sections, resulting in more clarity and sharpness to your pictures.

Gitzo G Lock 2

Gitzo Ground Level System

For low angle shooting, the center column can be removed and the upper disc fitted directly to the tripod top casting. the disc is locked into position using the retrsctible column hook. The ground level configuration can be achieved in a few seconds without tools or extra components, and only the column need be removed.

gitzo ground level 2

Gitzo Mountaineer 531

The smallest and lightest tripod in the Gitzo range, Series 00 offers surprisingly good rigidity. Ideal for spotting scopes, binoculars, compact cameras and DSLR with lenses up to 175mm. Convenient for use on top of tables, car bonnets and walls or when working at ground level.

Gitzo 6Xtube

The Gitzo Carbon Fibre Tube Structure

When Gitzo launched the Mountaineer tripods in 1994, they were the World’s first carbon fiber tripods. Ever since then they’ve set the standard for performance and quality. The main feature of the range is the new 6X carbon fiber tube, made of a unique structure of 6 crossed layers that maximises rigidity, vibration absorption and lightweight performance. 6X tube has a high density structure made of top quality ultra-thin carbon fibers (7?m or 0.007 mm). Built-in Anti Leg Rotation is now a feature of the whole carbon fiber range. Mountaineer tripods have been further improved with features and details that increase performance, versatility and quality.

Well this is the tripod I went for not that mountains are on the agenda but it is light enough to be carried around over a day without sacrificing stability. I'm looking forward to it's arrival and shall comment further once it is in situ. There is also a ball head arriving as well which will be subjct to a separate posting.

New Nikon Cameras on Ebay: Beware Void Warranties

"New" Nikon Cameras on Ebay: Beware Void Warranties

Nikon D90 1

Whilst rooting through Ebay in search of a second-hand tripod  I decided to check out Nikon cameras out of idle interest.  I came across a very useful warning about the risks of buying "New" camera equipment such as lenses and bodies (Ebay buyer guide). With many Ebay traders being secondary traders who have got hold of camera equipment at trade prices they are not considered by Nikon - and probably other leading makes - as primary dealers who are authorised to provide warranties on the equipment sold.

There are a number on ebay that are retailers as they run photographic shops and use ebay to increase sales - but there are also many that are simply selling items they have bought. Unless you can provide Nikon with a photographic
retailers invoice with your repair request to show where it was bought, when it was bought (to determine if the warranty is still valid) and its cost - there is not a lot of chance of getting your item fixed within its warranty cover -

Nikon Lens 3

For the poor ebay buyer cited above he had bought a lens from ebay via a secondary buyer rather than a proper camera dealer and although it had a warranty card Nikon refused to validate it.  The cost of repair was more than the lens cost. As a result all the buyer's money was lost !

It should also be noted that the same conditions would apply if you buy from an individual seller who is selling with a warranty in small ads in camera magazines for example.

January 29, 2009

iPod Nano 4th Generation Review

iPod Nano 4th Generation Review

iNano Pod

I am well pleased with my iPod Nano which was a birthday Xmas present. It is a luxury 8gb model and it's worth paying out the extra for doubling the memory. They clearly aren't hi-fi although they do offer very good quality. The iPod is better as the AAC compression is a higher bit rate than MP3 players. That they don't off the last word in high fidelity is besides the point. Where they are going to be listened to on trains / coaches etc is an ideal listening environment.

The key thing for quality improvement is a good pair of headphones. I have a pair of Audio Technica EC7s the forerunner to th EC 700s pictured here. I got them for an excellent end-of line price. The EC700s are around £130.

Audio Technica EC 700

Audio Technica EC700

Here is the blurb if you are interested

Incredible lightweight ear-fitting headphones designed to offer both style and high quality sound. Audio-Technica has improved the EC7 earphones to bring you the EC700 GM's. With an increased driver unit and a reduction in weight to 11g, you'll get earphones with superlative sound and a lightweight fit, for total listening comfort.

The earphones feature an all aluminum body and unique, unobtrusive stylish design. Easy to clip on and designed to offer long hours of listening without them becoming uncomfortable, they come with a convenient protective carrying pouch.

Key Features

  • Type: Dynamic type
  • Driver: 15.5mm, neodymium magnet
  • Output overpressure value: 100dB/mW
  • Playback frequency zone: 10 - 24,000Hz
  • Largest input: 50mW
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated stereo mini- plugs
  • Cord/code length: 1.2m (Y type)

My EC7s are superb but there is a problem when travelling that a lot of surrounding noise can be heard. Wearing them for a long time if you are a glasses wearer can also be uncomfortable. This means that I would be tempted towards good quality in-ear headphones such as the ones shown underneath if you plan to us them on public transport.

AT in ear headphones

Audio Technica CK9 In-ear headphones. Seem to retail for around £160

Audio-Technica presents the all new CK9 black earphones. These stunning earphone

s feature an advanced balanced armature system that has been precision factory tuned for sound quality across the full frequency. An acoustic seal improves noise isolation and an 11mm diameter driver delivers deeper bass, extended treble and higher fidelity. Yet these earphones are small enough to fit inside your ear and their size and fit means they passively block out a lot of unwanted background noise, too, so you can immerse yourself in sound.

Half the weight of the CK7 eaprhones at just 5g, neodymium magnets mean maximum energy in minimum size - far more powerful than conventional Samarium Cobalt or aluminum magnets. The CK9 BK earphones are designed for a simple and classic look and are great for outdoor pursuits such as running or at the gym. 

Key Features

  • Type: Balanced armature
  • Maximum Input Power: 3mW
  • Output Sound Level: 104dB/mW
  • Impedance: 30 ohms
  • Weight: 5g
  • Cable: 1.2m/Y-type
  • Connector: 3.5mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
  • Colour: Black or White
  • Accessories: Protective pouch

Sennheiser IE8

Top of the Range Sennheiser IE8 in ear headphones recommended price £250

The IE 8 are optimised for professional monitoring use and ideal for portable AV devices like MP3, DVD and CD players, iPods, iPhones, or any other mobile phone with a 3.5mm stereo jack.
Features :

- Dynamic drivers with powerful neodymium magnets ensure outstanding sonic accuracy and clarity.
- Excellent attenuation of ambient noise.
- Durable housing and rugged, interchangeable Kevlar®-reinforced cable.
- Unique, manual bass response tuning function.
- Sleek ergonomic design and various types and sizes (S/M/L) of ear adapters ensure a comfortable, secure fit and excellent attenuation of ambient noise.
- Optimised for MP3, iPod, iPhone, DVD and CD players, and mobile phones (3.5mm stereo plug).


- Frequency response : 10 Hz – 20 kHz.
- Cable length : 1.2 m, symmetrical (earphone to separator: 0.4 m; separator to plug: 0.8 m).
- Impedance : 16 ohm.
- THD, total harmonic distortion : < 0.1%.
- Sound pressure level (SPL) : 125 dB (1 kHz, 1 Vrms).
- Attenuation (passive) : up to 26 dB (95%).
- Connector : 3.5 mm, angled.
- Ear coupling : intra-aural (ear-canal fit).
- Transducer principle : dynamic.
- Weight : 5 g.

Supplied Accessories:

- 1 IE 8
- 1 protective case
- 1 set of ear adapters (S/M/L)
- 1 cleaning tool
- 1 cable clip

Unsurprisingly the Sennheisers got an excellent write-up in the Feb 2009 BBC Music Magazine although paying this kind of price just to use with an iPod seems a little excessive.  It is worth using on a full audio system but be sure to get an adaptor to fit the standard headphone sockets. One thing for certain is that the audio experience of an iPod can be considerably improved.  There are plenty of mid-priced in-ear headphones coming onto the market and they will offer a very good listening experience.

January 27, 2009

Ben Nicholson (1894–1982)

Ben Nicholson: Artist (1894-1982)

Ben Nicholson by Humphrey Spender

Ben Nicholson by Humphrey Spender


I have been excited that on of Britain's most important 20th painters Ben Nicholson has got a retrospective exhibition. "A Continuous Line" has opened earlier this month at the Tate St. Ives - a gallery I love.  The exhibition continues until the first week of May and offers an excellent opportunity to develop ones knowledge and ideas about the enormously influential St. Ives artists. Take a drive into the surrounding countryside afterwards to discover what influenced the abstract landscapes.

Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson was born in 1894, in Eight Bells, Denham, Buckinghamshire, England. Ben Nicholson's father was the artist William Nicholson, and his mother was the Scottish painter Mabel Pryde. He studied, for a short time, at the Slade School 1910-11. His first solo show was held at the Adelphi Gallery in London in 1922. Nicholson spent several years in Cumbria with his first wife, the painter Winifred Nicholson. The couple bought in 1923 Banks Head, a 17th-century farmhouse built over a mile castle on Hadrian's Wall. In 1939 he moved to Cornwall:

"Despite the geographical distance between Cornwall and Cumberland, both locations shared certain characteristics that were attractive to Nicholson at this time, to his taste and disposition and to the development of his painting...Both possessed a distinct quality of remoteness, an important sense of distance, far from the excessively cultivated and commercial metropolitan centre and from the predictably picturesque 'guidebook' imagery of the countryside popular in the years following the end of the Great War." (Ysanne Holt catalogue essay 2008)

Nicholson Coldfell 1922

Ben Nicholson: Coldfell (1922). Painted during his time in Cumbria with Winifred

From the early 1930s his work became increasingly abstract, geometrical and austere. In 1937 he was editor of Circle An International Survey of Constructivist Art.   From 1939 to 1958 lived in Cornwall. In 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, Nicholson and his family moved from London to St. Ives where they stayed initially with Adrian Stokes in Little Park Owles in Carbis Bay. Nicholson became a mentor and advocate for many of the younger artists living in the area, particularly Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost and John Wells. In 1943 he joined the St. Ives Society of Artists. He left it to found the Penwith Society in 1949, with Herbert Read as president.

Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth

Ben Nicholson & Barbara Hepworth

It wasn't until the 1950s that Nicholson won international attention. In 1952 he took first prize at the Carnegie International Art Exhibition in Pittsburgh. In 1954 he won the Ulissi Prize at the Venice Biennale. The next year he won the Governor of Tokyo's Award and was honored by the Belgian Art Critics in Paris. In 1956 he won the Guggenheim International Award.

In 1968 he received the British Order of Merit (OM).

Nicholson was married three times: firstly to Winnifred Roberts (married 5 November 1920 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London; divorced 1938) with whom he had two children, a daughter Kate in July 1929 (who later became an artist herself) and a son Andrew in September 1931. His second marriage was to fellow artist Barbara Hepworth (married 17 November 1938 at Hampstead Register Office; divorced 1951) with whom he had a son Simon in 1934 and third to Felicitas Vogler, a German photographer (married July 1957; divorced 1977).

Nicholson Painted Relief

Nicholson Painted Relief: Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art owns a fine collection of paintings and prints by Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), one of the leading British artists of the twentieth century. That collection has now improved and expanded dramatically, thanks to an extraordinary bequest made by Felicitas Vogler, Nicholson's third wife. Vogler was a celebrated photographer, holding a major exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in 2006. Following her death later that year, she left the Gallery a superb collection of Nicholson's work, including ten paintings and carved reliefs and twenty prints and drawings. These works now join the works already belonging to the Gallery to form an outstanding collection of Nicholson's art, ranging from the early 1920s to the 1980s. The whole collection is on show in this new display, occupying the top floor of the Dean Gallery.

Nicholson Green Goblet blue square

Nicholson: Green Goblet Blue Square (1961). One of earliest paintings after moving to Switzerland

Ben Nicholson Retrospective Exhibition Tour

Abbot Hall is the opening venue of the first major exhibition of Ben Nicholson in the UK for over fourteen years. Curated by Chris Stephens, Head of Displays at Tate Britain and a leading expert on the art of St Ives from the 1940s-60s, the show focuses on the artist’s years in Britain from 1922 to 1958. This new exhibition highlights those periods that earlier exhibitions have marginalised and reveals a view of Ben Nicholson quite different from the established one.

The exhibition looks at the landscapes of the 1920s, including works painted in Cumberland where he lived with his first wife, Winifred. It includes his time in St Ives, Cornwall during World War II, when his abstract and landscape works became central to the establishment of the modernist art community, alongside his second wife, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. The final section of the show focuses on the Cubist still-lifes made by Nicholson between 1945 and 1958.

nicholson Still Life 1945

Nicholson: Still Life 1945 in the Continuous Line Exhibition

This project has evolved through a unique collaboration between Abbot Hall, De La Warr Pavillion ,Tate St Ives and draws on the Tate collection and the Ben Nicholson archive, as well as loans from major public institutions in the UK. Many of Nicholson’s finest works are still in private collections, and a number of these rarely seen pieces are included. There will not be a London venue. One of the central ideas behind the project is to link the works to be shown in a different context where each of the venues has a particular relevance.


Ben Nicholson at Kettle's Yard Cambridge

Guardian 2008: Another Look at Ben Nicholson

Abbot Hall: Nicholson Retrospective

Independent review of the retrospective

Tate Collection of Ben Nicholson

Further Reading

Norbert Lynton: Ben Nicholson, Phaidon Press

Chris Stephenson: Ben Nicholson, Tate Publishing

Peter Khoroche: Ben Nicholson, Drawings and Painted Reliefs, Lund Humphries

Buying Titian for the Nation: Diana and Actaeon

Buying Titian for the Nation: Diana and Actaeon

Emin delivers titian Petition

Tracey Emin delivers a petition to save Titian masterpieces for the nation

Diana and Actaeon 1

The sale of Diana and Actaeon by Titian for £50 million is being negotiated with the Duke of Sutherland Here the painting is at the National Gallery in London being shown for 4 weeks as a part of the fund raising exercise. The visit was later extended as it was so successful.

Late August 2008 the Duke of Sutherland declared to the National Gallery of Scotland that he wished to sell Diana and Actaeon as well as another Titian Diana and Callisto at a later date. The Duke of Sutherland was prepared to accept £50 million for each of them. It is likely that they could fetch three times the amount on the open market. now if this sounds like a financial bargain for the nation one must remember that the tax payable on an open market sale would run into tns of millions of pounds.

As argued elsewhere the financial concerns should be set to one side, the key issue here is the dvelopment of cultural citizenship within the nation which requires high quality cultural products and services in order to achive this. Clearly the opportunity to acquire some 'Old Masters' by a canonical painter is extremely rare. The reason the Damien Hirsts can command such high prices is because there is a shortage of older work available for collectors. Any painting like this must be considered as an investment in lots of different ways. It is an investment in education for a start so that spurious argument about spending the money on schools is vitiated.

Having high quality art by canonical artists gnerates long-term wealth creation through tourism as anybody going around the main London galleries could hardly fail to notice. These visitors create a lot of tax as well as create a lot of employment. Nevertheless there are a lot of retrograde attitudes out there with many coming from those who ought to know better:

"Very few people will ever have heard of Titian, many will have thought he was an Italian football player. What is the point of wasting this money in this way?"(Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Davidson, the member for Glasgow South West)

Davidson's comment is both patronising and at the same time a strong indictment of the educational system!

Diana and Actaeon 2

Diana and Actaeon by Titian

The Scottish National Gallery

Scot Nat Gall Complex

The Scottish National Gallery Complex

Scot Nat Gall

The Scottish National Gallery

At time of writing it sems that the deal is going through there are just some loose ends to be tied up so fingers crossed! This acquisition can only be of long-term benefit to the nations and their citizens.


BBC News Story on Sales of Titian

The Art Fund gives £1 million to Titian Fund

Scottish Executive gives £17.5 million towards Titian. The Independent

Lubbock in Independent: Is Titian's Painting Worth Saving?

Andrew Graham-Dixon on keeping the Titians

Titian Fundaraising Sparks Political Row - BBC

Tracey Emin on Saving the Titians -BBC Interview

The Fight for Turner's Blue Rigi

January 26, 2009

Blu–ray Audio: The New Hi–fi Audio Format?

Blu-ray Audio: The New Hi-Df Audio Format?

The talk about new formats and players is clearly being taken over by the release of higher nd Blu-ray players which will be able to give an excellent audio as well as video experience. Currently for those interested primarily in audio quality the lack of available software is going to hamper take up of the format in audio installations. The Trondheim soloists Divertimenti is the first blu-ray audio disc to be released. It won a Gramophone Choice in Nov 2008 and was well received by the BBC Music reviewer of the Denon  3800BD Feb 2009. The disc is actually a package of two one being SACD and the other Blu-ray as the formats are (of course) incompatible.

Bluray audio disc

There are now a number of high-nd Blu-ray players bginning to enter the market place however they will be of little us to the audiophile until companies commit to recording in this format. Presumably there will be a load of "remastered" ons coming available although it is questionable how good these are likley to be.Sony could well do this as it own music catalogues spreading across a wide range of genres

Denon Bluray 3800BD

The Denon Bluray player 3800BD for a cool £1700. Players like this will soon be replacing high-end DVD playrs in expensive AV installations

We can expct a plethora of Blu-ray players that will play CDs as well coming to the market from the likes of Pioeer, Marantz & Yamaha. These will probably people who are mainly focused upon the film reproduction aspects very happy however if this isn't a main priority I would hold fire on any purchase of on of these until there is some audio material to play. Th problem is that companies like BIS and Harmonia Mundi who have made a big investment in SACD may well be reluctant to invest in the facilities required for recording blu-ray audio.Hi-fi comapnies such as Linn are prioritising the high quality download market.

Marantz Blueray BD7003

Marantz Blu-ray BD7003 at the mor affordable end of the market

Perhaps the market will be pushed from the popular end? Oasis in 10 channels anybody?

January 24, 2009

The Future of the (Classical ) Record Shop

The Future of the  (Classical ) Record Shop

The January issue of BBC Music had an editorial bemoaning the fate of the classical record shop noting the collapse of Zavvi and with a minor swipe at downloads. There was a touch of nostalgia in the article which thought that 'buying music shouldn't be a solitary affair'. The article suggested that a return to the listening booth and listening posts might be the way forward.

This all seems remarkably unrealistic and is mere tinkering at the edges of what seems to be a much deeper problem that was also alluded to. This is the fact that pop and rock accounts for 90% of all music sales! Assuming that this figure is right this means that Jazz, Classical, Folk, World and a couple of other genres are sharing a mere 10% of music sales. The issue here is not listening booths in the shrinking number of record shops but examining how it is that the populist / popular genre has come to dominate the marketplace despite / because of the unchallenging simplistic nature of popular music. A form which relies upon spectacle, celebrityand desire to self generate - A perfect example of Adorno's "culture industry"!!

A core issue surrounding classical music, in Britain at least, is that of class and the sociologist / social anthropologist Pirre Bourdieu puts a strong case for the concept of 'Cultural Capital' which effectively outlines what is important knowledge to have for power and status. For working class people to become enthusisatic about classical music requires shifts at the level of social structure. This means ownership of the music and a valuing of the music. This can only come through education and with the current dreadful skills based discourse driving the worst sort of ineffective education system there hasn't been much hope of change here to date.

That classical music doesn't have to be class-based was shown under the old Soviet system where many working class people could attend local conservatoires in the evenings after school. Currently the best model going is "El Systema" in Brazil which seems to be remarkably effective. Stirling Council and now I believe others in Scotland are moving towards it. Apparently Boris Johnson has asked for it to be considered in London as well. There are plenty of links below explaining the system and describing its successess so I won't go over this at present.


Gustavo Dudamel came through "El Systma" and now conducts the Los Angles Symphony Orchestra

What has this got to do with record shops you might well ask? Well, I think the issue is developing audiences in depth with a wide range of people who have knowledge. These people may well be performers, concert-goers and of course music buyers. With a much wider discourse of non-pop music within the culture I think outlets will start to look after themselves. The issue is to get to the roots of the problem in the first place. 

There are other things which need to be considered which could develop new audiences. The built environment could be changed with a range of small venues properly designed for acoustics. These concert halls would be suitable for chamber music and would have the benfit of building audiences.With a cultural milieu recreated which has a broadbased audience it will matter less how and where people purchase their music but that they discuss the pros and cons of various recordings.

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra at 2007 Proms

[media] [/media]

Gustavo Dudamel and Venezuelan Brass Ensemble 

[media] [/media]


WNYC Discussion of 'El Systema'

Stirling Council Report on 'El Systema'

Stirling Council news on introducing 'El Systema'

Axis of Logic. Article on Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

NEC Today on Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

Instruments of Peace on Bolivar Youth Orchestra

January 23, 2009

ECM Records 40th Anniversary Year

ECM Artwork 1ecm_artwork_1.gifRava New York Days

ECM Records 2009 40th Anniversary Year

I only recently realised that 2009 was the 40th anniversary of my all time favourite record label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music ) which was founded by Manfred Eicher in Munich in the autumn of 1969. I didn't discover them until some years later in the later part of the 1970s.  The range of interesting jazz musicians from The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, John Abercrombie, Jack de Johnette, Don Cherry,Gary Peacock,Jan Garbarek and many others was fantastic. There was a well-known committment to the highest possible standards of recording. The vinyl was top quality and the art work for the covers was both modernist but tremendously artistic making the whole package a work of art.

Much of the music was ethereal and more contemplative what many described as "chamber jazz". Over the years the catalogue and number of artists has continuously developed. The Wikipdia entry associates some ECM artists with the rise of "World Music" but this is to ignore the cross-cultural links positively sought by many Afro-American jazz musicians from at least the 1960s. Africa was inspirational to musicians such as Randy Weston and Pharoah Sanders who are just 2 examples. Nana Vasconcelas, Don Cherry and later Shankar are good examples of cross-cultural fusions on th label. I love them and have seen many in concert over the years. These musicians are explorative and on the whole I wouldn't describe the works as "World Music" as this term often seems to double as folk musics. No, these were cutting edge musicians out on the edge! One can also add Steve Reich to this as he too was strongly influenced by rhythmic patterns from Africa and Bali for example.

Thirty years later, it remains the most uncompromised and distinctive entity of its kind. Eicher still goes entirely his own way, beholden to no major corporation and allied with different companies only for the purposes of distribution. Jazz was his original impetus, but his catalogue now boasts a plethora of recordings from numerous other disciplines. (Richard Cook New Statesman on 30th ECM Anniversary)

Weeping Meadow

Eicher has supported unusual composers such as Eleni Karaindrou well known for providing the music for the films of Theo Angelopoulos.

Eicher and Reich

Manfred Eicher with Steve Reich (Right) from booklet of Reich's Octet 1980

ECM New Series

Beethoven cello sonatas

February 2009 BBC Music Magazine Building a Library recommends this ECM version of Beethoven's complete music for Cello and Piano

In some of the finest Beethoven playing I've heard from Schiff, he combines a melting piano sound with crystalline articulation. (Helen Wallace, BBC Music Feb 09)

ECM has engaged some of the world's leading classical musicians to play well known works but they also took an early lead in commissioning works by musicians who were at the time relatively unheard of such as Arvo Pärt from Estonia along with the work of another Estonian, Tüür:

tuur crysallisatio

Taking advantage of the breakup of the old Soviet Union ECM was also able to promote the work of Georgian composer Giya Kancheli.


ECM official website

Wikipedia ECM entry

ECM Forum Record Corner

Richard Cook in New Statesman on ECM 30th Anniversary

Jazz.com with Manfred Eicher

Below: Audio interview with Manfred Eicher from 1985

January 22, 2009

Fraudulent Designer Bags: Modalee.com

Designer Bags

Modalee.com the Fraudulent Bejing Based So-Called "Designer" Bag Company

modalee logo


Well it was the Xmas period and people slip up and make buying mistakes in the general excitement. A friend of mine was recently telling me how she was suckered by a fraudulent internet shop called Modalee.com which sells "Designer" bags Chloë, Balencagia, Hermes, Mulberry etc. at large discounts.

In reality these "discounts" are entirely unrealistic and things follow the old adage: "If it's too good to be true it probably is!"

Nevertheless the site is very convincing. Photographs of the bags are genuine ones presumably culled from the web. A potential customer can quickly convince themselves that these are overstocks bcause of recession, or slight seconds etc. As can be seen from the internet traffic measurement company Alexa below Modalee gains a lot of visitors.

The visitor numbers are hardly surprising as lots of people are bound to check out the possibility of saving considerable amounts of money on what they percieve to be top-quality products however if you search very carefully through the packaging and returns policy you will finally find a disclaimer about the actual products they send out to you:

Note: The products in Modalee.com are are produced by the dedicated manufacturer based in Hong Kong and they are not genuine. They were tested and inspected strictly and attain relevant quality standard. The products customer bought are the same quality with that in our website which customer intent to buy. Please contact customer service at service@modalee.com if there is quality problem in product that customer bought from Modalee.com.

These are some of the images drawn from the Modalee website:


The Modalee Image of a Bottega Veneta basket weave bag. RRP $3,540 but "discounted" to $531!

Hermes Birkin Bag

A so-called Hermes Birkin bag from Modalee

Here is a link to the real Bottega Veneta site . What appears to be the same bag is on page 109.

A Not Balencagia Bag..........

My friend had finally been tempted to a so called "Balencagia" bag. When the thing turned up it was immediately clear that it was nothing to do with a Baelncagia.  The matrial dosn't ven seem like leather and the quality of everything is pathetic even down to the pretend storage bag which says Balencagia on the outside!

This company is clearly trying to mislead potential customers as much as possible. You can see that the returns policies are very bad and there are no real points of contact beyond an email address. One has no idea where the company is actually based - always a bad sign!

My friend is trying to get her money back but so far to no avail. What is particualrly disappointing is that Modalee is legitimised by the number of credit and debit cards it takes.Clearly these companies do not monitor whether the company they are dealing with is legit. Don't be fooled!!!!

I have suggsted complaining to her credit card company and possibly trying to claim insurance on the grounds of being defrauded - we will see.

In the meantime please pass on the message to avoid this site like the plague. Buyers will recieve a rotten product and they will have given credit card details to a very dodgy company. For all legitimate users of the Web every rotten apple like this reduces trust as well as citizenship rights. As can be seen from the figures below the prospcts on offer tempt many and undoubtedly many people get ripped off.

I have also noticed that there is a site called Kaboodle.com which appars to run a "community" which dals with various companies. They have one for Modalee and there are bag adverts on this page. Please beware as it is clearly an uncritical site.

The Alexa Web Information Site gives the following figures using the Modalee website

Modalee.com users come from these countries:

Other countries24.0%
Other countries24.0%


Accessories:How To Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton Bag[/media]

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