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June 2, 2015

MA Recordings: ‘Prayers Wishes Illusions’

KL INTERNATIONAL AV SHOW 2015

Audiophile CD of The Year

Article by Dick Tan

 

Todd Garfinkel’s “Prayers Wishes Illusions”. An audiophile’s musical gem waiting to be discovered.

 

 

Regular visitors to the KL International AV Show over the last three years may have noticed this unassuming, soft spoken yet highly approachable man. He seemed always alone, manning his booth and promoting a wide selection of his unique, custom miked audiophile CDs and LPs.

 

His name’s Todd Garfinkle and its highly likely many of you would have got to know him by now. For those who have not, the following, in a nutshell, is what Todd is about.

 

Todd founded MA Recordings some 25 years ago in Japan to produce custom recorded music that will appeal to music lovers and audiophiles looking for that natural audio quality that is so often missing in most commercial recordings. Using this recording method, MA Recordings has now accumulated almost 90 albums of a wide variety of musical genres.

 

Todd wears many hats. He is often both an engineer and producer for the many albums he has produced and is also a composer and an accomplished pianist. Todd says, “My recording process is simplicity itself although this method has been well and thoroughly researched. In all my recordings I use only one pair of custom made, very high performance omnidirectional microphones with equally high performance recording equipment and cables. There is no equalization or artificial sweetening process involved.”

 

Todd adjusting the dual microphones over a Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano for optimum recording capability.

 

 

In all these four years that I have known Todd I have always marvelled at the sheer quality of his CDs and LPs, all recorded through such a simple, practically ‘live’ process. And although I own, by now quite a few of his recordings, the one that caught, quite literally, my undivided attention is Todd’s own “Prayers Wishes Illusions” a jazz piece with Todd on piano accompanied by Shigeo Sugiyama on bass.

 

Todd Garfinkle

 

 

Recorded live in Japan in 1987 via Todd’s minimalistic purist dual spaced microphones approach, “Prayers Wishes Illusions” is the most absorbing piano jazz piece I have ever heard… period.

 

The music, and I can’t explain this in an educated or even rational manner, is so emotionally absorbing, I am still listening to it with a scary regularity almost a year since Todd so nonchalantly passed it to me at the last Show and say, “Listen to this Dick, you may like it”! Wow! What an understatement.

 

The fact is, it’s been a long while since I have come across unfamiliar music and taking an instant liking to them. “Prayers Wises Illusions” is that long missing exception.

 

I knew, Todd was a pianist of some standing but until I heard this CD I did not realise just how accomplished he was. I was ‘blown away’.

 

Sonically, this two channel recording is crisply detailed with a superb rendition of Todd’s distinctive piano works that are at times up close and personal and at times distant yet beckoning.

 

There’s a nice, pleasant ambience to the recording and a balance that audiophiles would describe as natural.

 

Most importantly it’s quiet, there’s no noise in the background that intrudes into the music. It’s simply pure, revealing natural audio…. true hi-fi if you like.

 

There are in total eight tracks in “Prayers Wishes Illusions” and they are all excellent but I like in particular track 2- “Children’s Prayer”. Track 3 – “First Flight”, Track 4 – “Sweet Illusion” and Track 5 – “Happiness”.

 

As I have so thoroughly enjoyed this unique CD musically and sonically I would like to take the extraordinary step of naming “Prayers Wishes Illusions” the KL International AV Show Audiophile CD of the Year. I hope you will like it as much as I do.

 

The full range of MA Recordings album can be auditioned at the KL International AV Show 2015, July 03 – 05, JW Marriott Hotel, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

 

Article by Dick Tan