Andy Sheppard Quartet : Surrounded By Sea


96kHz/24-bit FLAC, ECM 2432-471-4273 (supplied by

Now here’s a download to divide the jazz purists. On this album Sheppard’s Trio Libero set-up of bassist Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford is joined by Elvind Aarest on ‘guitar and electronics’, suffusing much of the music here with underlying drones and washes of sound, in a kind of ‘jazz meets ambient’ mixture. It’s a tribute to both the (typically ECM) quality of the recording and the ability of all the musicians that this doesn’t just become a mush of sound, although those more used to hearing their traditional jazz combos crisp and clean may find the amalgam somewhat less than satisfying. That’s especially so on a track like ‘Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir’, where the electronic layers often threaten to rise up and overwhelm the acoustic instruments, but to these ears the combination is both intriguing and highly effective. AE

Sound Quality: 85%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

Excellent use of dynamic range here while the percussion and (soprano) sax carry out across the ~45kHz bandwidth. Some ultrasonics may be distortion, of course, while there’s also evidence of low-level spuriae [green trace]. PM