Audiophile: Digital, April 2024

hfnalbum.pngOtis Taylor
Otis Taylor's Banjo…
Octave Records OCT-0032

Blending touches of blues, funk, alt-country, whatever you call Tom Waits' oeuvre and The Band's view of the USA, Taylor's material excels in storytelling, each song a little vignette worthy of John Prine. Vocally, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's some Taj Mahal that might have slipped past you. Blessedly for some, the name of the album is misleading, as there's not an overabundance of the titular instrument – but I find that a shame as the banjo is a sonic challenge combining strings and percussion, not unlike piano, and it speaks to my inner hillbilly. This is so beautifully recorded that those who bemoan the dearth of blues albums with the sonic merit of Muddy Waters' Folk Singer will find this a near-godsend. KK


Terra Nova
BMH Audio BMHCD004 (two discs)

If this month's Caravan reissues haven't provided you with enough prog-rock, or you crave something more muscular, this double album – only HeKz's fourth in 12 years – will easily last as long as whatever intoxication you prefer when revelling in the sort of bombast that dominated the early 1970s, by way of Vanilla Fudge and Blue Öyster Cult. This marries the sonic power of stadium-filling metal acts – rat-a-tat percussion, shredding guitars – with the imagery of more cerebral bands like King Crimson. Read the libretto to follow its grim tale, aptly underscored by keyboards and bass, while that relentless drumming will have your woofers begging for a truce. KK


Trio Mediæval
An Old Hall Ladymass
2L 2L-175-SABD (SACD/Blu-ray)

A treat: two discs offering 'red book' stereo PCM to 7.0.4 Dolby, for 10 playback modes. Why so many? Because 2L's slogan is 'The Nordic Sound' and it's as close to a sonic representation of Scandi-noir TV as music can be: all about atmosphere. Again, 2L has employed ancient charts, this time a 15th century choir book known as the Old Hall manuscript (English rather than Norwegian), lost for four centuries. A perfect fit for the Trio Mediæval. They're accompanied on organetto, with new music from David Lang and Marianne Reidarsdatter Eriksen. Via their ethereal voices, for which the only word is 'haunting', it's like a score for The Name Of The Rose. KK


Various Artists
We Can Work It Out
Strawberry CRJAM3BOX020 (three discs)

Arguably the best-ever collection of cover versions of Beatles songs from all over the world. Its compilers chose a different artist for every title, 84 plus an oddity, roughly chronological. Thus you only get one each from Cilla, Peter & Gordon or Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, all of whom covered multiple tunes. As over 2200 versions exist of 'Yesterday' alone, choosing which to include must have been torture, but one omission is almost inexcusable: Del Shannon's 'From Me To You' from 1963. I adore The Crickets' version, but he was the first US artist to record a Beatles song, and it was the first Lennon-McCartney chart entry stateside. That aside, it's essential. KK