My brother gave me an Amazon.com gift certificate for Hanukkah and I finally used it last week to buy some items from my wish list. I got Dream Theater's Octavarium, which I listened to at the gym on Saturday. It's more lyrical and less hard-core metal than their previous album, and they even use an orchestra on the last track, a 24-minute opus along the lines of "A Change of Seasons." It's not ideal workout music, but it's a good album nonetheless.
The big purchase was the Switched-On Bach boxed set. I've written about S-OB before, and it has been one of my all-time favorite albums since the first time I heard it over twenty years ago. Wendy Carlos recorded other Baroque albums on the Moog synthesizer throughout the 1970s, and this set brings them all together in one collection. I'd heard everything in the set before except for three of the Brandenburg Concertos, but not in many, many years. So listening to these CDs was like being transported back to my pre-teen years, when I was a geeky kid discovering Bach. In fact, it was a long time before I heard most of these works performed on anything other than a Moog. Even now, I'm still amazed at the range of sounds that Carlos was able to get out of this equipment nearly forty years ago. Listening to this music makes me happy in ways I can't even describe.