Audiophile: Digital, May 2021

hfnalbum.pngNorwegian Girls Choir
Stille Grender
2L 2L-164-SABD (SACD + Blu-ray)

Another two-disc affair giving the inquisitive audiophile the means to try myriad formats, this eerie, alluring set features the Norwegian Girls Choir and pianist Tord Gustavsen with a mix of secular songs and Christmas carols, which run the gamut of moods. Depending on your affinity for choral music, this is more a demo disc than a sit-down-and-savour affair, but then I'm not Norwegian. It's worth finding because the SACD provides 5.1 and stereo DSD, PCM and MQA-encoded CD, while the Pure Audio Blu-ray offers 2.0 LPCM and 5.1 DTS-HD MA in 192kHz/24-bit, 7.1.4 Auro-3D 96kHz, 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos 48kHz and 'mShuttle: MQA+FLAC+MP3'. You'll need to play this a half-dozen times to compare the lot. KK


Grateful Dead
American Beauty
Warner/Rhino 603497848515 (three discs)

Yet more Dead. Uniform with the 50th anniversary set for 1970's Workingman's Dead, this was released a mere five months after its predecessor. The Dead's consecutive pair of roots music albums remain the most accessible and listenable efforts in a wildly prolific career; both still sound fresh and ear-friendly. The two bonus discs give you 23 tracks from a live gig in February 1971; they always gave your money's worth in concert. Oddly, only a few of the American Beauty songs appear in the live CDs despite it taking place just a couple of months after the album's release. As this gave us 'Truckin'', that's enough to ensure forever its status as a classic. KK


Raising Hell
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD2169 (stereo hybrid SACD)

Hip-hop albums rarely get full-blown audiophile treatment (which in these woke times might cause a raised eyebrow), so MoFi deserves kudos for offering a superb transfer of one of the genre's milestone releases. This Rick Rubin-produced masterpiece added enough hard rock to the recipe to make Run-DMC's music more mainstream and accessible, and it paid off with platinum sales. Issued in 1986, much of its crossover value came from a clever cover of Aerosmith's 'Walk This Way', a massive hit featuring two of that band's members. This SACD will tax your woofers with powerful bass attack and extension; scratch transients are super crisp. KK


Various Artists
Vocalion CDLK4639 (multichannel/stereo hybrid SACD)

Nice theme for a compilation: the subtitle of this album is 'Classic Film Scores For Humphrey Bogart', naturally kicking off with the title track. Originally released in 1974 as one of RCA's Classic Film Scores series of 14 albums (and many of the regular CDs were reissued with Dolby Surround), it contains performances by Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra of a Casablanca medley, followed by the scores to Passage To Marseille, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, The Caine Mutiny and seven others, most composed by Max Steiner, plus a bonus track not connected to Bogie: Peyton Place of all things. A feast for soundtrack fans. KK