Since I bought the record "plan b3" by Tommy Schneider & Friends in 2010 and enjoyed the excellent sound every time I played it, I had the idea in my head to own this music with an even more uncompromising dynamic. So when in summer 2018 I had the pleasure to listen to the tape version produced under license by ETERNAL MASTERS, copied from the original digital files, I was already thrilled. I reported about it in analog 3/2018.
In November 2018, I met the bandleader and owner of the label KOLIBRI RECORDS, Tommy Schneider, at the AAA Analog Forum in Krefeld. We moved from one topic to the next in our rich discussions and got lost in technical talk about the last remaining ramifications of sound quality feasible on tape. Tommy expressed the idea to remaster selected recordings from the three albums "move", "plan b3" and "hidden port", which were made with his friends, in order to get the last bit of sound out of the recordings. This was then taken care of in August 2019 by the professional Dan Suter from the Swiss quality mastering studio ECHOCHAMBER. The files were carefully matched in dynamics and volume, so that the music now comes out of the compilation as if from one cast. The eight selected tracks find their place on a new tape "SM 911" from RTM (Recording The Masters), wound on an uncompromisingly manufactured tape reel from the German noble forge Feinwerktechnik Allgäu GmbH.
The design of the reel is unique, as is the color-coordinated gatefold box with the cover of the accompanying booklet. The text in the accompanying booklet lists all the important information: Be it the three albums on the inside pages with the selected pieces standing out in bold print or the source and recording equipment. After the explanations of every detail, I can very well understand the perfectionism of Tommy Schneider. This production is rock solid, lacking nothing.
The sound aesthete runs, besides his activity as a musician, the store "Hammond Times" in Zurich. His other remarkable talent is shown by the fact that he can maintain and restore historical Hammond organs, as well as the Leslie cabinets that go with them, impeccably. In addition, he gives music lessons on the Hammond organ.
For the present recording, Tommy Schneider worked his way into the technology of tape recorders. It was a matter of finding out from which variant of the transfer which sonic nuance would emerge. The transfer of the digital files to the analog medium was then done with a TELEFUNKEN "M10A" equipped with "V86" and "V87" tube amplifiers (see photo). From this master tape, the copies for the end customer are now made completely analog and in real time. For this, a STUDER "A80R" is used for playback and a TELEFUNKEN "M15A" for recording. The music includes the genres swing, acid jazz, blues, funk, soul, Latin, peppered with rock elements. In addition to contemplative moments, there are also times when things really get going. Mostly even within the pieces, which are thus arranged very entertaining. Six of the eight selected songs for "The best of" were composed by Tommy Schneider himself. In the selection of songs he can also be heard on the flute. His colleagues in the band are all brilliant as well, and the interplay is wonderful to listen to. This tape is for me a highlight of the magnetic medium, which shows the limits of what is possible. A must for every tape fan. From a lover for lovers.
The following musicians can be heard:
Adrian Stern, born in Zurich in 1975, is an excellent guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. His appearances on Swiss television under his own name or as a band member with well-known Swiss musicians testify to his great musical skills. He has released several albums of his own. On this compilation his versatility can be heard.
Philippe Chrétien, born in Basel in 1958, was first taught piano and trumpet and found the tenor saxophone in 1979. He developed his personal style. Listen to his unmistakable tone in harmony with his musical sensitivity. Motto: "He's got a killer sound!"
Hans Peter Bartsch, born in 1966, hails from the German Frankfurt am Main region. He is known as a session drummer and is also an excellent pianist. He plays in various music projects. His variability makes him a perfect fit for Tommy Schneider's music projects.
Massimo Buonanno, born in 1985 in Egnach (Switzerland), is a passionate live musician who, for example, played about 280 concerts in 2015 (with Seven, Gregor Meyle or Claude Diallo Situation, among others). At the turn of the year 2015 he played with Gregor Meyle at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in front of a million people - and now from the tape for you in your living room.
Tommy Schneider, born in Zurich in 1962, works as a composer, flutist, Hammond organist and producer. He plays with various bands and can look back on a total of five released albums (four studio and one live recording). Listen to his masterfully played Hammond organ with all its tonal nuances.
Album: Tommy Schneider and Friends - The Best Of
Label: Kolibri Records
Playing time: 37 min
Specifications: half track ¼", stereo, RTM SM911, 1 metal reel, CCIR, 510 nWb/m, 38 cm/s
For decades of the last century, tape technology was the only way to record music. After the advent of digital technology, the medium of tape became very quiet in the 1990s. Fortunately, some studios held on to the technology during this time and continued to produce in analog. For some years now, tape has been celebrating its comeback. Master tapes from the 1940s to the 1990s are still available in large numbers in the archives and are often so well preserved that they can either be copied directly or are available again in their best sonic form after remastering.
Many tape recorders could be saved over the decades and are available in best condition after maintenance. New manufacturers are on the market with machines. Some companies produce accessories such as tape reels, adapters and devices that allow connection to a modern stereo system. There are also brand new tapes for sale.
Master tape copies allow you to hear the uncompressed music signal exactly as the studio produced it. From the tape, you hear two true stereo channels directly, so they don't have to be generated from a digital data stream or from the groove of a record. Master tape copies are the pinnacle of music listening.
The look and feel of tapes make a valuable contribution to the music experience, and of course it's also about revering the technology from the past. It's great to hear the rich sounds of operating the buttons on the tape recorder and watch the spinning reels. Many publishers package the tape reels lavishly and include special photos, booklets or other material with them.
By Claus Müller - audiotapereview.com