ordering american magazines through my local newsagent is always a bit hit or miss. not, as you may think, because the issues fail to turn up - my newsagent is fairly tenacious when it comes to such matters - but mostly due to the erratic nature of when those publications arrive. in the example that we will be discussing today, modern drummer seems to have no rational arrival schedule. it is easy to discover the release date in the usa by either watching the magazine's twitter feed, or taking the occasional look at their website.
however, across all the years in which i have been in receipt of the percussor's magazine, i have singularly failed to discern any form of regularity in its arrival. some periodicals are issued on a calendar month basis, others on a four-weekly cycle. modern drummer seems to follow neither pattern.
however, on thursday past, the april issue of the magazine arrived on the counter of my newsagent, featuring the highly influential bernard purdie, originator of the fiendishly difficult to play competently, purdie shuffle. you may well have come across this particular rhythm when listening to rosanna by toto or even steely dan's, 'babylon sisters'. for those in the know, i hope we are now singing from the same hymn sheet. for the rhythmically inert, i doubt it'll make much impact on your day to day.
but turn to the inside cover and there in all its minimalist glory, is the regular ludwig drum company advert, currently sporting the slogan 'sometimes it's the step backwards that moves you forward' in order to promote their latest range of legacy mahogany drum sets. once more, for those who could care less, the drum world is in the midst of retro angst, during which a substantial number of manufacturers are intent on revisiting the days of thin shells with our without reinforcement rings, and employing the wood combinations used in the forties and fifties. whether any members of the audiences subjected to these retro sounds can truly tell the difference between a six-ply poplar/mahogany shell and one of ten ply north american maple is open to serious doubt.
but in commercial terms, it's the current modus operandi, as original kits from that particular era become rarer and perhaps, like many of us, just a little infirm.
it would be unfair to single out the drumming industry for its retro stance, for their's is not the only one looking backwards and wondering whether things really were better in the past. though the result of several years development, steel as a frame material in the face of the carbon onslaught has not been backwards in coming forwards. and there are a number of vintage cycle suppliers that have sprung up in recent years to satisfy an apparently insatiable demand. you need only witness the oversubscribed nature of both the original l'eroica and the recent british version.
oddly enough, giro's footwear division did not produce their latest empire road shoe out of a yearning for the past, despite what the lace up nature of this item of footwear might suggest. originally constructed for american taylor phinney as an aerodynamic alternative to the more regular lumpy, bumpy closure systems apparent on most team issue footwear, there's no real denying that many thought their days of tying laces before hitting the open road, had pretty much passed for good. however, aside from any aerodynamic benefits the empire shoes might confer, there's no mistaking the technology.
a couple of years back, i received a pair of extremely lightweight road shoes featuring the almost ubiquitous boa fastening system. keen to check the fit of such pristine footwear, i popped them on my feet in the sitting room, their soles still devoid of cleats. unfortunately, the implementation of the boa system on this particular model was not the same as another pair i have in the shoe cupboard. accompanied only by an inscrutable italian manual, it was an embarrassing half hour before i figured out how to get them off.
giro's empire shoes offer no such technical issues, even for the podiatrically challenged such as myself. these remarkably light, stealth black with flourishes of fluorescent orange shoes arrived with black laces already in place. however, based on my tenuous contention that their purpose would be better illustrated via the matching fluorescent laces inside the box, i swapped black for orange to satisfy my latent exhibitionism.
providing the new owner with a zipped carrying bag is a nice touch, as is the inclusion of three differently-sized arch supports to better cossett those tootsies. there's an appropriately constituted slot on the underside of the footbed to accommodate the user's choice. personally, my feet were more than content with the default setting. also in the box is a set of bolts with which to affix the cleats du jour.
quite frankly, these are amongst the most comfortable shoes it has ever been my pleasure to wear. though apocryphal comparisons to a pair of slippers may be rife, in all honesty it's one that bears repeating here. the empires were supremely comfortable even when i sat on a kitchen chair preparing for velocipedinal departure. and there need be no fear over the length of either the orange or black laces; should the loops and trailing edges be on the excessive side, giro have thoughtfully provided elasticated loops half way along the lacing section under which the extra stuff can be tucked.
they've even incorporated tiny flaps on the elastic to ease any prospective difficulty.
i cannot deny that i feared those loops would scarcely constrain flapping laces when in the heat of battle, but after several 60 kilometre plus rides, no untoward flapping was observed. and in the process of trying desperately to pretend i can ride as fast as i think i can, it was comforting to know that the great god stiffness had been kind enough to bless the easton carbon soles of the empires. even when doing my very best to resemble robert millar, flex simply didn't exist. nor any signs of discomfort.
it really makes no nevermind the weight claims (205 grams) proffered by giro; these things are delightfully light, becoming almost physically invisible (if you catch my drift) when doing what it is they do best. the peppering of tiny ventilation holes on the shoes' uppers obviously carry out their mission well, for even under a pair of overshoes in less than chilled surroundings, was fortunate to retain aerated feet. and the folks at giro have not thrown away pragmatism in the face of overarching style. aside from the ease with which a pair of mavic cleats were fitted, all the while paying close attention to the multiple markings around the bolt holes, the compatibly fluorescent orange heel sections can be replaced when they wear out.
though giro offer a more expensive slx version that claims lighter weight as part of its manifesto, a bit like opting for super-record over record, i can't quite see why i'd ever find that necessary. and with those shiny fluorescent orange heel graphics, if i ever have to ditch in the sea, the helicopters will find me first.
giro empire shoes are distributed in the uk by zyro. they are available in sizes from 40 to 48 in half-sizes up to 46.5 and in colours black, black/orange (as reviewed), black/yellow, silver/flash black and white/black. retail price is £229.99
wednesday 25 march 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................