Breaking with tradition

December 31, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

I know what I am about to do isn’t proper, kosher, or acceptable, but it’s the last day of the year so, what the hell.

The first time I heard Thom LaFond’s first track New Wildfire, I thought it was Harry Connick Jr.


I know, it’s not cool to suggest one artist sounds like another, but…

And danged if the next track, Isolation Hymn doesn’t sound like another famous group (you tell me).

And then the third track, Life as a Sigh is pure Thom.

This latest release from Octave is by far my favorite to date. Not only do the releases get better as the engineers hone their skills, but the artist’s productions do as well.

I have a new reference album in The Moon Leans In. It’s one hell of a great piece of music and an amazing accomplishment in the recording arts.

Whether you have just a CD player or a full on streaming rig you want to rip or add the download to, this is now not to miss.

Have fun!

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46 comments on “Breaking with tradition”

  1. Our hearts, thoughts & prayers go out to extended family in Boulder County and friends in Louisville & Superior Colorado.

    It has rained steadily for two weeks here in the Bay Area and 17 feet of snow has fallen up the hill in Lake Tahoe. Hopefully the California cold rain & snow will travel east and make love to the Colorado winter wildfires.

    These certainly are crazed times we live in!

    1. Louisville and Superior are relatively small developments about 5 miles SE of PS Audio. That area is kind of a wide-open plain with big gulches in it, as I recall. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. Correct, but the most important geographical feature occurs to the west. The Continental Divide comest closer to the front range than anywhere, creating a steep path down to the plains. This allows winds from the western slope of the Rockies to climb over the divide, cooling in the process and dropping precipitation. Then they accelerate dramatically as they roar down the front range and onto the plains, warming as they go. This is why the winds are so severe in Boulder County. These winds were only 105 MPH. Only. BTW, this also accounts for the warm winter days in Boulder County when the winds are more mild.

        1. The laws of physics are dispassionate. There is one description that weather is essentially a heat engine that works to achieve equilibrium. However, the spatial and temporal complexity of the terrestrial system makes this a nonlinear process. Generally one can say that the more heat energy that is in the atmosphere and hydrosphere, the more extreme the weather will be to do this work.

          Welcome to the bat-sierra crazy weather phase.

          1. Just understand the winds aren’t the crazy part. They were quite common during the 45 years I lived there. They Zephyrs, as they are known, have been around since the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and these were only 105 MPH. There are higher winds on record. Circa 1970, radio station KFML called the Boulder chief of police and asked how strong the winds were. He replied he didn’t know exactly, but they were below 100 as people were walking and still standing up.

            My father commented that during World War II, when he was stationed at F.E. Warren in Cheyenne, WY, that they learned to walk backwards to protect their eyes.

            The crazy part is the dryness. The drought is pervasive. That’s the tragedy. I’m hearing from friends that another fire started on the north side of Boulder, west of Longmont, also from a downed power line. They managed to put that one out. It would have run right through my old house.

            This is a bad and unfortunate way to start the new year.

            1. Ah yes, the good old Laramide Orogeny and subsequent erosion that provided the coarse grained sediments for the High Plains aquifer system, including but not limited to the well known Ogallala Formation, that Nebraska irrigaters are so dependent on. The dynamic Earth, still a work in progress and only partially understood.

      2. I recall those 100 mph January winds blowing down the canyons and the sound of the eerie howl as our second story condo up on Shanahan Ridge would creek and slightly sway. Not conducive for sleep.

        Looks like Xcel Energy attorneys are gonna be busy in 2022 and beyond.

        1. It was initially attributed to downed power lines, but in a news conference the Sheriff said there were no downed power lines near the ignition point. They wouldn’t say anything more. Hmm.

          1. Yeah, i may have jumped the gun on that one. My opinion was based solely on early speculation from Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. Perhaps some idiot threw a lit cigarette to the wind, who knows? The fuel began with grassy prairie embers flying into trees and then onto residential structure lumber in close proximity within the subdivisions.

            Out here in California we see these destructive fires every year. The 2018 Camp fire destroyed 18,000 structures and completely leveled the town of Paradise resulting in 80+ deaths. It was determined to be caused by a faulty PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) power line. The utility company responsible filed for bankruptcy citing expected wildfire liabilities of $30 billion.

            The 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties destroyed 5,600 structures in and around Santa Rosa resulting in 20+ deaths. Its cause was determined to be a private electrical system adjacent to a residential structure and that there had been no violations of the state’s Public Resources Code.

            The 2013 Boulder County floods destroyed hundreds of homes as Boulder recorded 17 inches of precipitation, nearly a year’s worth of rain, in just eight days resulting in three deaths. 9 inches of rain fell in the 24-hour period ending on September 12th, the wettest 24-hour period on record nearly doubling the prior best. This was a 1000-year rainfall event. Eight days, 1000 year rain, 100 year flood.

            As it applies to the wrath of Mother Nature which is most deadly? – asteroid, drought and heat wave, earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, viral disease, volcano and/or wind related events?

            Ps -> I also believe creak as in noise is not spelled creek as in water.

    2. Indeed. Anytime is horrid for such calamities, but it seems so much worse during what is supposed to be the Season of Joy. Last I heard, there have been no fatalities, which one local official described as miraculous.

      Like most truisms, the old saw that ‘things can be replaced, but people can’t’ is only a half truth. Which makes it a half lie. True, the mundane things for living can be replaced. But old photos of loved ones now passed, old letters, antiques, and other historical items (especially personal ones) and such are gone forever. This can be a weight on the soul.

  2. Octave Records (Paul McGowan) is being told by someone in America that their CDs can not currently be shipped to Australia (been waiting over 3 months now) because our postal system, here in the land of OZ, doesn’t have enough staff to deal with the incoming packages from overseas OR that Australia is not accepting packages from America because of CoViD-19
    …take your pick.
    However, AMAZON can get a package delivered from The States to my front door in 2 weeks from ordering on-line AND when my wife orders a cheap handbag or pair of shoes from China, it is, again, delivered to our front door within 3 weeks of ordering them on-line.
    There is something majorly screwy going on over there the good ol’ US of A, & I’m not talking politics this time.

    It’s just gone 9pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) here in Sydney, so in 3 hours it will officially be 2022 with little to celebrate except more CoViD-19 cases & higher retail prices & lower interest rates.
    Under the current circumstances it seems somewhat disingenuous for me to be wishing everyone here a happy new year…a lesson learned from wishing everyone a happy new year exactly a year ago, & look what happened.

    Please everyone, do the best that you can to stay safe in 2022 & may you all prosper, keep smiling & enjoying the music…whatever you are playing it through.
    Best regards,

    1. You can celebrate winning the Ashes! I’m not sure it qualifies as winning, I think we gave them away. So looking forward to a new coach, new everything really.

      One thing won’t change, I still won’t pay double the price for formats, whether country, western or Americana. Last download is a wonderful recording “Josquin’s Legacy” (Hyperion – $11 in 16/44, $17 in 24/96) recorded in All Hallows’ Gospel Oak. Lost out in this year’s Gramophone Early Music award to “Josquin Masses Vol. 9” (on Gimell – also available from Hyperion $10 in 16/44, $15 in 24/96). The Spatial Audio award went to “The Golden Renaissance” more Josquin, recorded by Decca also in All Hallows’ Gospel Oak.

      Josquin’s having a great run, 500 years after he died. May have to wait as long to win again in Oz.

      So please, Octave Records, a new year’s resolution, regular formats at regular prices for regular people who don’t do DSD.

      1. So maybe what should be done is the 44.1/24 be broken out into a separate download for $19.99
        $15 + $4.99 to cover the programming of the web site for the special Steven rate 🙂
        The rest of us can download a plethora of formats for the going rate of $29.

        What we do with them versions is a bit of a mystery…..

        Besides, if you prefer to stream, then why are download prices even a concern?
        I would think you’d be beating the drum to get all Octave recordings on a streaming service.

        As far as pricing for a DSD download, with a little research you’ll find the pricing runs from ~$20 to $50 depending on what and where. Plus usually it’s a one format only download.

        The 1st requirement is to see if you truly like the music, not just supporting a label who’s recording a certain way.

        1. How about doing exactly what Cookie Marenko at Blue Coast Records does:
          – Chose format
          – Chose resolution
          – Pay ($13.50 for 16/44, $27 for DSD)

          Call me weird, but I don’t want multiple digital copies of the same thing. I’ve never come across any other service that forces you to buy multiple copies or that does not offer 16 bit PCM downloads.

          I’ve bought dozens of albums from Hyperion because they don’t put their music on subscription services and I’m not suggesting Octave Records do either. Just my 2 cents for the 99% of music listeners who don’t use DSD.

          1. Hey weird 😀

            Double check your pricing. And then look at the pricing numbers they are mastered / remastered in. (Although there are sales and promotions to be had) Those list price numbers won’t support your point, so leave them out.

            I don’t disagree with your logic, and in fact in some places I see that offer multiple formats you have the option of paying the top price and then downloading any other formats also.

            As far as your rally against DSD for your reasons (or others) I’m ok with that. Your choice.

            So if Octave Records isn’t profitable enough with the current pricing model then they’ll have to regroup and I’m sure will gladly accommodate your advise.

            Until their pricing changes, you’ll stand firm and every time these posts turn to the Octave side of the business you’ll beat the same drum. It’s all cool 😎

            I’m very happy with the Blue Coast Record recordings I have downloaded. I’m happy with the Octave Records recordings I’ve downloaded. Plus since I have the capability to playback in DSD up to 4x I look for the music I like in that format. Once the pricing number has reached a certain level, like you, I’ll back away… if enough back away then something will be done.

            1. I don’t rally against DSD, I tried it and gave it a pass, I rally for PCM and the great unwashed.

              Cookie sells high rate DSD for $45. (All the prices quoted are from her Cecile Mclorin Salvant reissue.) I quoted standard rate.

              I’m really for the artists because I suspect total download revenues would be far higher using the pricing structure Cookie and most others I’ve seen use. I’m sure as an act of seasonal goodwill Cookie would advise Paul of what works best.

              Audiophiles go on about HD music, but few people are willing to pay for it. Qobuz, which specialises in classical and the more affluent subscriber (at least it did), only ever had about 5-10% of their subscribers paying the HD premium.

              1. Blue Coast sells many of of their top rate DSD’s for 50 US… retail no discounts applied. (No hand picking to make my point.)

                If you’ve been able to get Paul and Octave Records to rethink the way way they distribute and price, then good for all and this discussion was worth it. (If it happens)

                There are a few who are willing to pay for DSD…. As noted by how many places you can find it, from SACD to downloads. There is also a big enough market to support them all to some level or they wouldn’t be there.

                I agree Most aren’t interested in any of this “higher end audio” recordings or gear, and yet that’s the fall back position you always use when these discussions come up…. Mass market….

                Just don’t look in the mirror, or up…. 😉 you might see what you have… 🙂

                1. I’m sure Paul will do the right thing in the best interests of Octave Records and its recording artists, which I assume include good recording standards, maximising revenues and popularising the artists.

            1. See above re Cookie. I saw that the url diverts to Now that Octave is picking up steam, well done to all, perhaps it’s time to separate the two?

              Best wishes for the new year.

      2. Martin, I think I missed a trick. MCRU here in the UK have your SACD on a clearance offer, I could have got a copy and dropped it in to Lords and had it hand-delivered by ECB management. Unfortunately they left for Oz a couple of days ago.

    2. The good ole’ USA is screwy. What an epiphany….
      There’re items you just can’t get in the AU.
      Why not send a postal letter in cd size packaging with a recording expressing your displeasure to PSA. If they receive it at least you’ll know the postal system can get things out of AU.

      Or maybe be creative and figure out a way to have the SACD put on an Amazon carrier.

      ….. new year …. SOS ✌️

  3. “Not only do the releases get better as the engineers hone their skills, but the artists do as well.”

    Just don’t tell Don Grusin, Clandestine Amigo, Otis Taylor, Zuill Bailey etc 😉

    1. “Just don’t tell Don Grusin, Clandestine Amigo, Otis Taylor, Zuill Bailey etc”
      Haha Richtea…, the first thing I was thinking. You beat me to it.
      Will this second hand bunch of amateurs ever return to the Octave studio now they know what PmcG really thinks of them ?
      Oh well… if they read these posts they know that this is the usual PmcG with the usual superlatives 🙂
      Next artist will undoubtedly be the BEST and the GREATEST PmcG ever heard and by then poor Thom is forgotten 🙁
      I wonder if he people from PSA really think they are going to change/save the music world with these artists that virtually no one buys, except a few readers of these posts. What is the point of this studio ?

    2. Yes, that came across wrong. What I should have said is something more like the artist’s productions. I didn’t mean the artist’s themselves. Good point and I will change the copy to reflect that. Thanks for bringing that up.

      1. Just got your new byline – Octave Records, where all recordings are equal, but some are more equal than others.

        On second thoughts, publish that and you’ll get cancelled forever.

  4. I’m waiting for the delivery of this recording now. I’ll hold judgment until I hear it, but I don’t think it will replace ( Clandestine Amigo as my favorite so far.It’s beautifully recorded with great vocals and well written songs. I’ll take this music anytime over what I hear on the radio these days.

    1. Clandestine Amigo is a brilliant album. To this day, Flying Blind is my favorite go-to track that still brings tears whenever I hear it.

      But Thom’s album is extraordinary though in a different way. Love to know what you think when you get it home.

  5. Worried about you,Teri, your children, grand kids and friends, the PSA and Octave crew and all of the thousands of Boulder residents in the area affected from this unbelievable wildfire and snow just before the New Year.

    Stay safe, stay well.

  6. I realize it’s easy to scrutinize and pick apart every post that Paul writes. I know there’s a marketing side to this, but do we really think he has to answer questions with a video and write post everyday of his life to get by.It should be obvious that he does it because he loves people, especially Audiophiles. I will probably never own a piece of PS audio equipment because It’s out of my price range. I did recently purchase a used Marantz sacd player in order to enjoy all of the Octave Records disc so far. I have played all of them many times for myself and friends who have been vaccinated for Covid. I’m just happy in knowledge that I have a friend in Boulder Co. who has the same passion for music that I have and look forward to meeting someday when it’s possible again.
    PS Watching the wildlife coverage and thinking of everyone in the area. Stay safe!!

  7. Wish everyone at PSA and those wonderful audiophiles who follow Paul’s Post a Happy, Healthful and Peaceful 2022! Best success at PSA with the new FR-30 and their siblings!

    Hope this doesn’t sound hollow with all the calamities, wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, tornados, melting of the glaciers, political fighting, war and threats of war, unsound ideologies, treatment of women, and all the other disagreeable people including Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and the CCP on our precious one and only beautiful blue and green planet.

    We all need to be optimists! Just look in amazement at the Jack Webb Telescope launch reaching into the far reaches of the universe. A hundred years ago, who would have thought that homo sapiens could challenge and investigate the heavens? So much to learn and so little time for our generation.

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