ODESZA – In Return (2014) [Qobuz 24-44,1]

ODESZA – In Return (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 48:56 minutes | 582 MB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover
Genre: Electronic

ODESZA’s second album showcases the Seattle duo’s impeccable signature tribal sound filled with celestial synths, smooth chord progressions, glitchy digital effects and chillwave beats. Definitely an adequate audio companion for your upcoming weekend adventures.

Seattle duo ODESZA stated their own sound with the title of their 2012 debut, Summer’s Gone, a two-word phrase that perfectly captures the bittersweet and blissful mood of their electro-pop. In Return, the band’s sophomore release, is an equally apt title on chronology alone, but it’s also an indication that the band continues to offer the warm fuzzies, and still fills the gap between acts like Pretty Lights and Miike Snow. Making their porridge “just right,” ODESZA are the group for the third bear, as highlight “Say My Name” with vocalist Zyra could be an asset on a mixtape marked “hipster,” “everyman,” “reserved snob,” or “club kid.” With clicks and chaos both soothed by the siren that is vocalist Py, “Echoes” holds appeal for those who like things brittle and glitchy, but also those who like things very Sia or Lorde. Ethereal and epic as well, “Memories That You Call” must be what it sounds like when Buddhist temples hold raves, while “All We Need” with Shy Girls is a different, more Prince-like and radio-worthy take on the genre of cloudy indie R&B. In the end, the diverse and dreamy In Return is just like Summer’s Gone with sampled vocals being replaced by well-selected vocalists, but more than anything, it’s a humble crowd-pleaser, wistful and warm just like another end of summer.

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Norma Winstone – Dance Without Answer (2014) [HDTracks 24-88,2]

Norma Winstone – Dance Without Answer (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz |  Times – 01:02:34 |  693 MB
Genre: Jazz | Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet

The great British jazz singer Norma Winstone once again casts her net wide for source material for this thirdECM album with Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German clarinetist / saxophonist Klaus Gesing. Alongside new pieces by Winstone/Gesing and by Venier, the trio covers tunes by singer-songwriters Nick Drake, Fred Neil and Tom Waits. They take a fresh approach to Madonna’s “Live To Tell”, and to Dave Grusin’s “It Might Be You”, as well as Ralph Towner’s “A Breath Away” (now with lyrics by Norma) and “Bein’ Green”, a children’s song elevated to jazz standard status by Sinatra, Stan Kenton, Ray Charles and many more. “As Winstone moves ever farther from the Great American Songbook,” All About Jazz observed, “it’s certain that, with band mates as sympathetic as Gesing and Venier, there’s precious little she can’t do.”

Recorded December 2012.

Norma Winstone voice
Glauco Venier piano
Klaus Gesing bass clarinet, soprano saxophone

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Myung Whun Chung – Piano (2014) [HRA 24-96]

Myung Whun Chung – Piano (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 54:59 minutes | 1,01 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Classical

The ECM New Series debut of Myung Whun Chung features the widely-celebrated conductor as pianist. Recorded at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, in July 2013, the album marks the first occasion that Chung has recorded solo. In a performer’s note, he describes the album as a gift for younger listeners, as well as a personal thanks to those who share his love of this music. Chung’s touch and sensitivity for dynamics cast a new light on familiar pieces – by Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Schumann and Mozart – as they are experienced in a gently flowing sequence which also serves to highlight affinities between the compositions. Although conducting now fully occupies his professional life, Chung (born 1953 in Seoul) made his debut as pianist with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of seven. He later studied the piano with Maria Curcio, the last and favourite pupil of Artur Schnabel. In 1974 he was a prize winner in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He then began his career playing piano trios with his sisters, Kyung Wha Chung and Myung Wha Chung.

Better known as a dynamic conductor with a large repertoire of 19th and 20th century orchestral music, Myung Whun Chung is also a noted pianist, though he is seldom heard in this capacity. On his 2013 ECM New Series release, he presents ten greatest hits of the piano, and while they may be surprisingly easy for a musician of Chung’s abilities, their simplicity is deceptive. Such pieces as Debussy’s Clair de lune, Beethoven’s Für Elise, Tchaikovsky’s Autumn Song, Schumann’s Träumerei, Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, and Mozart’s Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman!” are miniatures that are frequently heard on student recitals, though it’s less common to hear them interpreted by a sensitive and skilled pianist. Chung has selected these pieces because he has strong personal associations with them, dating back to his music lessons in childhood, and the impulse to record them for his grandchildren was a strong inducement to make this album. But beyond the artistry that Chung displays, which will be attractive to many listeners, these chestnuts may not be sufficiently challenging to entice experienced fans of piano music, and may miss the core ECM audience.

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My Precious Manuscript: Fantastic Sonatas from England to Germany – La Sainte-Folie Fantastique (2013) [Qobuz 24-88.2]

My Precious Manuscript: Fantastic Sonatas from England to Germany – La Sainte-Folie Fantastique (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz | Time – 01:06:46 minutes | 1,24 GB | Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Covers & Digital booklets
Recorded: 24 au 27 septembre 2012 à l’église Saint-Pardoux de Pindray

Сomposer: Henry Butler († 1652), William Young († 1662), Heinrich Scheidemann (c.1595-1663), John Jenkins (1592-1678), Wilhelm Brad (1560-1630), Dietrich Steffkins († 1673), Dietrich Becker (1623-1679) et anonymes
Artist: La Sainte-Folie Fantastique
Title: My Precious Manuscript: Fantastic Sonatas from England to Germany
Genre: Classical
Label: © Alpha Productions | Outhere Music
Release Date: 2014

From England all the way to Germany, the douce folie of a young ensemble! Four musicians, among the most talented of their generation . . . A repertory of which Alpha has been one of the most fervent champions over the past few years. . . An unknown manuscript containing unpublished sonatas by Young, Abell, and other pieces by anonymous composers . . . All this plus the complicity of Thomas Dunford and Jérôme van Waerbeke: the ingredients seem to have come together for this new release, like the first disc of Lucile Boulanger and Arnaud De Pasquale, which received a Diapason Découverte and a ‘Choc’ de Classica, to become a major event.

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Motorhead – Aftershock (2013) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

Motörhead – Aftershock (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:59 minutes | 596 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Heavy Metal

Recorded at NRG Studios in North Hollywood, Aftershock – Motorhead’s 21st studio album, it is a true leveler, a crushing confirmation of everything Motorhead stands for, marching from the dust storm to deliver 14 belting statements which see Motorhead in perhaps their best writing form for years. There’s swagger, there’s punch, there’s speed and there’s dirty filthy grooves, Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee showing clearly that Motorhead is not simply a band, it’s a genre!

In the history of music, there are few true mavericks on the level of the legendary Lemmy, a man who seems to do his own thing without any concern for what anyone else thinks about it. This level of confidence has made Motörhead a timeless institution in the world of rock & roll, and on Aftershock, the band’s 21st album, it’s clear they’re not even close to running out of gas. While the band’s elemental sound doesn’t show much in the way of innovation, the spirit of true rock is so strong within it that it doesn’t really matter. These guys aren’t influenced so much as they are influences, and as the elder statesmen of being badass, Motörhead deliver yet another show of strength, putting on a master class in the sort of down-and-dirty grit and grime that most other bands can only summon ironically. Although Aftershock probably won’t go down in history as one of the band’s great albums, it serves as a reminder of Motörhead’s, and by that virtue Lemmy’s, status as true originals who play by a set of rules that only they seem privy to. Fans of the band, or really anyone who has ever dared to cut the sleeves off of a jean jacket or carved a skull into a desk with a knife, would do well to pay tribute by checking this one out, lest they incur the wrath of Kilmister.

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Milt Jackson – Sunflower (1972/2014) [Mora-JP 24-192]

Milt Jackson – Sunflower (1972/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:28 minutes | 1,31 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: CTI/Mora.jp | Small cover
Genre: Jazz

Milton “Bags” Jackson was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is one of the most acclaimed improvisational blues instrumentalists of all time and was a founding member of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet. Milt Jackson was voted by Down Beat s readers into its Jazz Hall of Fame in 1999.

Recorded over two days in December of 1972 at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood, New Jersey home studio, vibraphonist Milt Jackson’s Sunflower is the first — and best — of his three albums for Creed Taylor’s CTI imprint. (And one of the finest offerings on the label.) With a core band consisting of Herbie Hancock (playing electric and acoustic piano), bassist Ron Carter, drummer Billy Cobham, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, drummer/percussionist Ralph McDonald, and guitarist Jay Berliner. A chamber orchestra exquisitely arranged and conducted by Don Sebesky adorns the session as well. Jackson’s “For Someone I Love,” opens the five-tune set, with Berliner playing solo flamenco guitar before the vibes, trumpet, and elements from the chamber orchestra delicately, impressionistically color the background. It gradually moves into a languid, bluesy ballad that slowly gains in both texture and dynamic until the strings trill tensely. Hubbard and Hancock engage them in solos that gently swing out the tune. The reading of Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life” is a gorgeous showcase for Jackson; his solo dominates the arrangement. Carter gets downright funky on his upright to introduce Thom Bell’s “People Make the World Go Round,” and Hancock follows him on Rhodes. Jackson takes the melody, striking a layered contrast as Hubbard slips around all three playing an extension of the melody with requisite taste, fluidity, and taut phrasing. Hancock gets funky to the bone in his brief solo, as the vibes soar around and through his phrases. The title track is a Hubbard composition that floats and hovers with a Latin backbeat before shifting tempos as the solos begin. The expanded harmonic palette of trumpet with the reeds, woodwinds, and strings on the melody add an exotic textural palette for his solo. Jackson’s “SKJ” closes the set with an old-school, swinging hard bop blues with barely detectable embellishments by Sebesky. While Sunflower sometimes feels more like a group session rather than a Jackson-led one, that’s part of its exquisite beauty.

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Michael Tilson Thomas, The San Francisco Symphony – The Mahler Project (2010) [24-96]

Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco SO – The Mahler Project (2010)
11 Releases | FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 907:08 minutes | 16,1 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: SFS Media | Covers & Digital booklets
Genre: Classical

Michael Tilson Thomas is among today’s foremost interpreters of Mahler, and critic Mark Swed, writing in the Los Angeles Times, has called MTT and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra “The most exciting Mahler combination anywhere right now”. The Mahler Project in Studio Master including all of Mahler’s Symphonies and Songs as recorded by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas. This collection’s recordings have been awarded a combined seven Grammy Awards.

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Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – Bridge The Gap (2013) [HRA 24-44,1]

Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – Bridge The Gap (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:10 minutes | 564 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Front cover
Genre: Hard Rock

‘Bridge The Gap’ – the first studio album of award winning guitar legend Michael Schenker featuring his new band Temple Of Rock. The band which consists of ex-Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz, vocalist Doogie White (ex-Rainbow) and Wayne Findlay (guitar, keyboards) marking the first time Schenker, Rarebell and Buchholz appeared on the same album together since the Scorpions’ 1979 Lovedrive.

Michael Schenker as composer and Doogie White as Lyricist managed to get a balance between songs that are heavy, fast and melodic, complimented by his signature guitar solos. Result: Powerful songs steeped in shades of dark and light. Musically and lyrically, the new album shows a re-energised guitarist at the top of his game, surrounded by top drawer musicians.

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Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979/2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 42:22 minutes | 932 MB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover
Genre: Pop

Off the Wall marked Michael Jackson’s departure from Motown Records and was an enormous success, and has been listed among the Definitive 200 Albums of All time by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (#80). A blend of R&B, pop, disco, funk, and soul, Off the Wall had five singles, four of which peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album was produced by Quincy Jones and featured the songwriting talents of Rod Temperton, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, in addition to Jackson and Jones. To date, the album is certified 8x Multi-Platinum in the US (8 million units sold) and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.

Michael Jackson had recorded solo prior to the release of Off the Wall in 1979, but this was his breakthrough, the album that established him as an artist of astonishing talent and a bright star in his own right. This was a visionary album, a record that found a way to break disco wide open into a new world where the beat was undeniable, but not the primary focus — it was part of a colorful tapestry of lush ballads and strings, smooth soul and pop, soft rock, and alluring funk. Its roots hearken back to the Jacksons’ huge mid-’70s hit “Dancing Machine,” but this is an enormously fresh record, one that remains vibrant and giddily exciting years after its release. This is certainly due to Jackson’s emergence as a blindingly gifted vocalist, equally skilled with overwrought ballads as “She’s Out of My Life” as driving dancefloor shakers as “Working Day and Night” and “Get on the Floor,” where his asides are as gripping as his delivery on the verses. It’s also due to the brilliant songwriting, an intoxicating blend of strong melodies, rhythmic hooks, and indelible construction. Most of all, its success is due to the sound constructed by Jackson and producer Quincy Jones, a dazzling array of disco beats, funk guitars, clean mainstream pop, and unashamed (and therefore affecting) schmaltz that is utterly thrilling in its utter joy. This is highly professional, highly crafted music, and its details are evident, but the overall effect is nothing but pure pleasure. Jackson and Jones expanded this approach on the blockbuster Thriller, often with equally stunning results, but they never bettered it.

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Michael Jackson – Bad (1987/2014) [Acoustic Sounds 24-96]

Michael Jackson – Bad (1987/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 48:14 minutes | 1,0 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover
Genre: Pop

Bad is the seminal masterpiece by one of music’s most influential artists. It has sold over thirty-five million copies worldwide, making it one of the bestselling albums of all time. The album includes five #1 singles: “Bad,” “Man In The Mirror,” “Dirty Diana,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Michael Jackson is among two artists to have five #1 singles from one album. The GRAMMY Award-winning album is included on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

The downside to a success like Thriller is that it’s nearly impossible to follow, but Michael Jackson approached Bad much the same way he approached Thriller — take the basic formula of the predecessor, expand it slightly, and move it outward. This meant that he moved deeper into hard rock, deeper into schmaltzy adult contemporary, deeper into hard dance — essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft. He wound up with a sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a rousing success, either. For one thing, the material just isn’t as good. Look at the singles: only three can stand alongside album tracks from its predecessor (“Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”), another is simply OK (“Smooth Criminal”), with the other two showcasing Jackson at his worst (the saccharine “Man in the Mirror,” the misogynistic “Dirty Diana”). Then, there are the album tracks themselves, something that virtually didn’t exist on Thriller but bog down Bad not just because they’re bad, but because they reveal that Jackson’s state of the art is not hip. And they constitute a near-fatal dead spot on the record — songs three through six, from “Speed Demon” to “Another Part of Me,” a sequence that’s utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies, even when Stevie Wonder steps in for “Just Good Friends,” relying on nothing but studiocraft. Part of the joy of Off the Wall and Thriller was that craft was enhanced with tremendous songs, performances, and fresh, vivacious beats. For this dreadful stretch, everything is mechanical, and while the album rebounds with songs that prove mechanical can be tolerable if delivered with hooks and panache, it still makes Bad feel like an artifact of its time instead a piece of music that transcends it. And if that wasn’t evident proof that Jackson was losing touch, consider this — the best song on the album is “Leave Me Alone” (why are all of his best songs paranoid anthems?), a tune tacked on to the end of the CD and never released as a single, apart from a weirdly claustrophobic video that, not coincidentally, was the best video from the album.

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