Hi-Res Downloads

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A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 31, 2017
Guitarist Eric Johnson says of this album, ‘With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side. ’ Which is all well and good, and the result has a certain homespun charm with a feeling of the artist sitting in his own studio, noodling his way through some standards and some self-written tunes, both solo guitar pieces and songs. However, anyone expecting much sign of Johnson’s past catalogue might be disappointed in this all-acoustic set, which is winsome at best: it opens with a cover of ‘Mrs Robinson’ and continues in a similar vein. Taking on board PM’s comments about the sources of the material here, it sounds respectable enough in a very detailed audiophile kind of way, but it’s all rather uninteresting, sounding like music for hi-fi show demonstrations rather than anything able to withstand repeated listening.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 30, 2018
Fleet Foxes, insofar as I have been able to determine, is a millennial cult item from Seattle. Their first album in six years, Crack-Up is an exercise in high-minded art for art’s sake, in which densely orchestrated and intensely overproduced music obscures reverb-heavy lyrics whose meaning is known only to their author or his acolytes. Was the reverb intended to evoke the sensation of a live performance? Throughout most of these inscrutable compositions, one can hear echoes of every ambitious big-statement pop-rock album of the past 40 years. Some tracks are intriguing – or have intriguing parts – and the musicianship is very good, but for the most part Crack-Up is heavy-handed, self-indulgent, pretentious, overwrought, over-engineered, and baffling beyond comprehension.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 01, 2014
Subtitled ‘The Sacred Polyphony of El Greco’s Toledo’ this 70m selection of a mass by Alonso Lobo and motets, etc, by various composers, celebrates devotional music associated with Toledo Cathedral, and links to the painter who came to the city in 1557. Ensemble Plus Ultra comprises a small consort of singers, formed in 2001, who specialise in early Spanish music: their 10CD Archiv set of sacred works by Victoria was a runaway success. The unaccompanied voices, close-set in a reverberant acoustic have a strong presence. The music, of course, is by no means ‘easy listening’ (surprisingly, it was a Classic FM mid-May album choice), although the ‘et incarnatus est’ section in the Lobo Credo is strikingly lovely.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 01, 2016
The eighth album from this Philadelphia-based trio features the familiar line-up of Garrett Dutton (aka G Love) on guitar, harmonica and vocals, bassist Jim Prescott and Jeffrey Clemens on drums, and is a familiar mix of rock and blues styles. It opens with the slam into the title track, but soon settles down into a familiar groove, the three musicians as easy when laying down a good-time chug against which Dutton can solo as they are with the blues-boogie of ‘Back To Boston’ or the horn-laden ‘Let’s Have A Good Time’. But there’s little new ground being broken here, either stylistically or in terms of recording quality. This album may be delivered in 96/24, but there’s little to trouble a system’s hi-res capabilities, and the band’s usual laid-back, ‘rough round the edges’ sound isn’t the most obvious candidate for the audiophile polish treatment.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 01, 2018
Appropriately, the veteran bass player’s second album with his trio starts with a delicate, considered bass-led piece, ‘Contact’. It starts with taut, cleanly-recorded solo bass, gradually joined by the slightest of shimmers from Joey Barron’s cymbals and the odd subtle chord from pianist Marc Copland, before settling into a more familiar piano trio form. Even then, Peacock is constantly busy in the background, and Barron rock-solid.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 02, 2018
Definitely smarter than your average charity album, this one has been produced by the veteran pianist to benefit the Southern Californian hospital where he received bone transplant surgery a few years back, spending his recovery time in the hospital auditorium composing the pieces here. OK, so all very worthy, but this is also a great album, both in the ease and fluidity of the playing and above all in the superb sound quality on offer. For anyone thinking that dynamics are all about the punch of a rock track or the Sturm und Drang of a big orchestra, the way this set captures the power, light and shade of Winston’s piano will be quite an eye-opener. From the tinkling ‘Carousel 1’, opening the album, through to the infectious ‘Requited Love’, this is a masterclass in vibrant, enchanting piano recording.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2015
Unusually, perhaps even a ‘first’, DG offers this at 192kHz/24-bit resolution. Kremer’s new programme – two really lightweight pieces and more substantial fare by Philip Glass and Giya Kancheli – was last month’s Album Choice CD [HFN Oct ’15] and, we thought, worth revisiting at this higher resolution. The eight-movement Glass Violin Concerto No 2 is a kind of response to Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ (although ‘Movement III’ is more suggestive of the Brahms). There’s some astonishingly wonderful music in it and the higher-resolution option certainly makes the reiterations of, for example, ‘Song No 1’ seem more purposeful.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 01, 2014
After recording for DG in the 1990s – with memorable versions of the Bartók Second Concerto with Boulez, the Brahms with Abbado and the Barber with Previn – Gil Shaham founded Canary Classics in 2004. This present compilation is from live recordings, apart from the Hartmann Concerto funèbre (where the strings are also directed by Shaham), made between 2008 and 2013 in Boston, Dresden, London and New York. Shaham seems able to identify with each of these markedly different scores – his Barbican Stravinsky is especially enjoyable – but it’s not an ‘audiophile’ package: the Britten has the best sound and brilliant accompaniment (Boston SO); the Berg is pretty good (Dresden); but the Hartmann is quite claustrophobically close-balanced. CB Sound Quality: 70% Hi-Fi News Lab Report The Stravinsky, Berg and Hartmann were recorded and delivered here at 44.
J. Bamford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 01, 2014
Still in his 20s, acclaimed pianist Giovanni Guidi is regarded as one of the most original and inventive pianists on the Italian jazz scene. While he accompanied trumpeter Enrico Rava on his ECM albums Tribe and the live On The Dancefloor this is his first album for the label as a band leader, where his creatively daring improvisations are shared with American bassist Thomas Morgan and Portuguese drummer João Lobo. ‘The Forbidden Zone’ demonstrates Guidi’s talent for creating sublimely haunting atmospheres, its meditative melody achingly beautiful in its apparent simplicity. And ‘Just One More Time’, in which the bass and drums are given space to work out, highlights the recording’s splendidly natural feeling of musicians performing in a room.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 13, 2017
Our ‘MQA-encoded album of the month’ has no bass, rather no bass player – unusual for a jazz album. In practice there’s no shortage of low end in this largely improvisational set, treated to the usual excellent ECM sound quality. The album brings together Italian pianist Guidi and compatriot trombonist Petrella, who have previously worked together in bands and as a duet, and then adds to them American drummer Cleaver and French clarinettist Sclavis. The title track is treated to a considered, contemplative reading, there’s a slow-growing cover of ‘Per I morti di Reggio Emilia’, and the quiet interplay of ‘Rouge Lust’ lets one almost sense each performer step forward to take his place in a conversational series of near-solos.
J. Ford (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2014
Authentically Norwegian as Torvik and trio may be, Tranquil Fjord commences just as you might fear, the opening title track plinking a New Age path into a gentle guitar-led arrangement, meandering slowly through shallows rather regimented in their quantisation, and underlain by an intrusively full-width soundstage granted to the percussion of Hermund Nygård – close-miked snare brushes lent distracting prominence. These two qualities, forward percussion and ‘swinglessness’, continue even on speedier pieces such as ‘Kryssande’ and ‘Land Veg Helm’, bass and guitar each lacking a fully resolved space in either soundstage or equalisation, all three performers instead firing from the same place. When Torvik gives his guitar synth a few directionless refrains at the close of ‘Endelaus Veg’, it encapsulates the general meaninglessness of it all. JF Sound Quality: 70% Hi-Fi News Lab Report Unlike the ‘96kHz’ Mike Oldfield: Five Miles Out download (reviewed here) the limited ~20kHz bandwidth of this 24-bit recording is perfectly in keeping with its claimed 44.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Aug 21, 2017
Possibly all you need to know about this album is that ‘Glauco Venier plays sonorous sculptures built by the artists Harry Bertoja and Giorgio Celiberti’, so if that description sets you up to expect something extremely arty, you’re definitely on the right track. In fact Venier plays piano, gongs, bells and metals on this programme of self-composed pieces and reinterpretations of pieces from the classical canon, and the result falls somewhere between delicately contemplative and a harmless wash of sound that passes the listener by. Part of the reason is that much of the content here sounds very similar, and one really needs to work hard to hear the shimmers of percussion and the like behind the piano figures. It’s all very subtle and precise and beautifully recorded, as PM notes in his lab report [below], but I’m just not sure it’ll bear repeated listening.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 01, 2016
There’s an apparently unlikely, but close, relationship between Japan and Brazil, and from this background come the works of Goro Ito. This guitarist, composer, arranger and producer is heavily influenced by João Gilberto, and has performed both solo and as part of the bossa nova duo Naomi+Goro. Here he joins forces with Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum for a programme paying tribute to songwriter/singer Antônio Carlos Jobim, best-known as the writer of ‘Girl From Ipanema’. In a set combining Jobim’s compositions and originals from both performers, they’re joined by Morelenbaum’s wife Paula as vocalist on three tracks, with daughter Dora on one.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 01, 2014
192kHz/24-bit FLAC, CKD 424 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) Why would you wish to forgo orchestral strings and the pairs of oboes and horns of the orginal scores for these three concertos from 1783/4? Mozart himself sanctioned just strings ‘a quattro’ as in this new recording, produced at Potton Hall, Suffolk, in May 2012. The Viennese pianist plays a Steinway D in this, his third programme for Linn Records, and provides the booklet notes; his supporting string players are all equally young.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2018
Whether or not it was intended as such, recorded while Allman was suffering from the liver cancer that finally claimed him in 2017 at just 69, Southern Blood serves as a suitable epitaph by combining a self-written opening track with nine takes on songs by friends and acquaintances. There’s a suitably dirty and authentic feel about the set, recorded in FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and produced by Don Was.