Jake Bugg – Shangri La (2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jake Bugg – Shangri La (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 40:04 minutes | 923 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie Rock

2013 sophomore album from the British singer/songwriter. The album shares its title with the Malibu studio where it was made, once the ’70s haven of Bob Dylan and The Band, now the creative hub of legendary producer Rick Rubin, the recording titan whose jaw dropping c.v. spans from Def Jam and Johnny Cash to Adele and Kanye West. Rubin’s assembled wrecking crew of Shangri La session regulars includes guitarist Matt Sweeney, bassist Jason Lader, and drummers Chad Smith and Pete Thomas. Yet for all its stellar cast and production kudos, the real star of Shangri La is, unquestionably, Bugg himself. Asked to compare Shangri La with its predecessor, Bugg concludes: ‘My first album felt like a list of songs, whereas this one feels like a whole entity with something to say. Or if my first album was the color of grey reality, this one’s the color of the sun’. The color of our planet’s nearest star. Or maybe the sound of a new star intensifying their musical colors.

Jake Bugg’s eponymous 2012 debut was enough of a success to push him into neo-stardom across the Atlantic Ocean. He never had an actual hit in America — the album did get to 75 on the Billboard 200, though — but his reputation was strong, strong enough to gain the attention of Rick Rubin, who signed up to record the young British singer/songwriter’s sophomore album at the producer’s home studio. Literal guy that he is, Bugg named his second album Shangri La after Rubin’s Malibu studio, and it’s an appropriate title because it’s a collection of 12 songs that were recorded at Shangri La. There is no greater theme than that, apart from perhaps how Rubin assists Bugg in going electric, accelerating the process that took Bob Dylan the better part of three years into less than 12 months. Rubin skillfully retains a veneer of authenticity throughout Shangri La, adhering to the Dylan in Greenwich Village vibe of the 2012 debut and never letting the electric expansion feel like exploitation, but all this care is applied to songs that are deliberately slight — “Kitchen Table” and “Pine Trees” signifying country authenticity, while the Wire-inspired “Kingpin” signifies urban grit, the two tied together through picture books and cable TV — and delivered in a voice that’s the Bard channeled through Alex Turner. Here, Rubin is a help: he brings in Pete Thomas, one of rock’s great unheralded drummers, to anchor this throwback to 1965 Dylan, a sonic achievement undercut by Bugg’s adenoidal whine. At every turn, this high-pitch sneer acts as a reminder of Bugg’s terminal adolescence, offering another opportunity to examine his sophomoric solipsism. Cut out Bugg’s delivery, and Shangri La is a perfectly appealing singer/songwriter throwback — an exercise in ’60s folk-rock pastiche that is just pleasing enough on the surface. As this is music that is determined to be authentic, it’s impossible to cut out the guy responsible for the tone, melody, and words, so attention is always drawn to Bugg, a songwriter who can cobble together melody but not meaning, a singer whose severely limited skills cripple whatever chance he has in communicating.

Continue reading

Johann Sebastian Bach – Partitas Nos. 2 & 6, Toccata – David Fray (2012) [Qobuz 24-88.2]

Johann Sebastian Bach – Partitas Nos. 2 & 6, Toccata – David Fray (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:05:20 minutes | 958 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital booklet
Recorded: Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, 24-26.IX.2012

Сomposer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Artist: David Fray
Title: J.S. Bach – Partitas Nos. 2 & 6, Toccata
Genre: Classical
Label: © EMI Records Ltd / Virgin Classics
Release Date: 2012

David Fray, described as «perhaps the most inspired, certainly the most original Bach-player of his generation,“ launched his career with Bach and this is his third album to feature the composer’s keyboard music.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging the expressiveness of Bach’s music,” says Fray. “The Romantics don’t have a monopoly on expressivity!”

David Fray was born in 1981 and began the piano when he was 4 years old. He worked with Jacques Rouvier at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, and graduated with top honours.

David Fray has received numerous prizes and awards including a prize and a grant by the Banque Populaire, the Diploma of Outstanding Merit at the Fifth International Hamamatsu Competition in Japan; the Jeune soliste de l’année (Young Soloist of the Year) award, the most important prize awarded by the Commission des radios publiques de langue française; the Feydeau de Brou Saint Paul grant and the Révélation classique (Classical discovery) prize from ADAMI. At the 2004 Montreal International Music Competition, David Fray received both the Second Grand Prize, and the Prize for the best interpretation of an imposed Canadian work. As a direct reward for his success in this competition, ATMA Classique released his first CD (Liszt and Schubert).

David Fray gave numerous recitals in Europe, America and Asia, in the most prestigious halls: New York Carnegie Hall, Cité dela Musique, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Châtelet, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Place des Arts in Montréal, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Alti Hall in Kyoto, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, as well as in festivals such as La Roque d’Anthéron, Montpellier, Piano aux Jacobins in Toulouse, Colmar, Saint-Denis, Bad Kissingen, Ruhr, Rheingau.

David Fray has been supported by artists such as Dimitri Bashkirov, Menahem Pressler, Paul Badura-Skoda, Christoph Eschenbach, and Pierre Boulez. Under his recommendation, David Fray received in Germany the prize for young talents of “Klavier Festival Ruhr” where he played in Summer 2006. Christoph Eschenbach invited him at the 10th Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw to play Bach Concertos with him, Robert Levine and Ya-Fei Chuang.

He performed with the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Orchestre de Paris under Christoph Eschenbach and John Axelrod, the Orchestre National de France and Kurt Masur in Paris, Vienna, Germany and the USA, the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Deutsche Sinfonie-Orchester, the Jerusalem Symphony, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, New-York Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, London Philharmonic, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchester, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as in tour with Riccardo Muti in Italy and with Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, again with Riccardo Muti. He will soon play with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland, San Francisco, Boston Symphony, and the NHK in Tokyo.

In 2007, a recording devoted to Bach and Boulez was released that won him great critical acclaim (Newcomer of the Year 2008 by BBC Music Magazine, Best recording / Echo Preis 2008), as well as his recording of Bach Concertos with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (with a DVD by Bruno Monsaingeon) and his Schubert recital.

Continue reading

Johann Sebastian Bach – Ich elender Mensch: Leipzig Cantatas – Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

Johann Sebastian Bach – Ich elender Mensch: Leipzig Cantatas – Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:07:52 minutes | 1,18 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital booklet
Recorded: 31 January, 1-2 February 2013, Jesus-Christus-Kirche Dahlem, Berlin

Сomposer: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Artist: Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Title: J.S. Bach – Ich elender Mensch: Leipzig Cantatas
Genre: Classical
Label: © Phi | Outhere Label Group
Release Date: 2014

For the second time on the Phi label, Philippe Herreweghe presents four Bach cantatas written during the first year the composer spent in Leipzig. In relation to the repertoire composed in Weimar, the instrumentarium is enlarged to adapt to the size of the churches of Saint Thomas and Saint Nicholas. But, above all, the instrumental virtuosity is much greater, as are the vocal demands confronting the choirs and solo singers, trained at the time by Bach himself. The Collegium Vocale Gent, under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe and in the company of top-notch soloists (Dorothee Mields, Damien Guillon, Thomas Hobbs and Peter Kooij), show us in dazzling fashion to what point the composer endeavoured to create veritable musical sermons going far beyond a simple musical setting of the text. By way of a bonus, the album contains a magical little piece, Komm, Jesu, komm by Johann Schelle, one of Bach’s predecessors in Leipzig.

Continue reading

INXS – Welcome To Wherever You Are (1993/2014) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

INXS – Welcome To Wherever You Are (1993/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 45:05 minutes | 588 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

Welcome to Wherever You Are is INXS’ album that was drastically different from their previous albums. As the Australian rock group’s eighth studio album, it changed direction and incorporated a new sound, featuring a 60-piece orchestra and sitars to create a “raw” sound, an overall heartfelt creation. Welcome to Wherever You Are reached number on in the UK and featured singles “Baby Don’t Cry” and No. 2 single on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks “Not Enough Time”.

Although INXS needed to experiment badly, their attempt at self-reinvention, Welcome to Wherever You Are, didn’t even come close to gaining commercial or critical acceptance. From the start of the album, it’s clear that INXS are out to confuse the standard perceptions of the band; the first instrument on the album is an Eastern-flavored horn. Special recording effects and exotic rhythms and sounds are abundant on the album. Evidently, the pop audience didn’t care about INXS anymore, since nobody bought the album. And that is a shame, since it is one of their strongest.

Continue reading

INXS – Listen Like Thieves (1985/2014) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

INXS – Listen Like Thieves (1985/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 37:14 minutes | 479 MB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover
Genre: Rock

INXS’ fifth studio album masterpiece, Listen Like Thieves! Impeccably remastered from the original Atlantic tapes by Joe Reagoso, this modern rock INXS classic sounds as stellar and brilliant as you remember it. Featuring smash hits like “What You Need,” “This Time,” and “Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain,” the album would go on to become a platinum plus record. The original master recording features the classic line-up of Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farris, Jon Farris, Tim Farris, Garry Gary Beers & Kirk Pengilly.

INXS completes its transition into an excellent rock & roll singles band with this album. Unfortunately, the new configuration only works for three songs: “What You Need,” “Listen Like Thieves,” and “Kiss the Dirt (Falling Down the Mountain).” But these three songs are so strong that the album cannot be dismissed completely. The album is worth its price just for “What You Need,” a strong Stonesy groove with Michael Hutchence singing more warmly than he ever has.

Continue reading

INXS – Kick (1987/2014) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

INXS – Kick (1987/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 39:56 minutes | 459 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

Kick is widely considered one of INXS’ greatest albums. The six-time Platinum masterpiece reached the Top Ten in Australia, the U.K., Germany and the United States. It includes the Top Ten singles, “New Sensation,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “Devil Inside” and “Need You Tonight.” The recording is included in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums. This instant-classic is one of the band’s finest releases.

“What You Need” had taken INXS from college radio into the American Top Five, but there was little indication that the group would follow it with a multi-platinum blockbuster like Kick. Where the follow-ups to “What You Need” made barely a ripple on the pop charts, Kick spun off four Top Ten singles, including the band’s only American number one, “Need You Tonight.” Kick crystallized all of the band’s influences — Stones-y rock & roll, pop, funk, contemporary dance-pop — into a cool, stylish dance/rock hybrid. It was perfectly suited to lead singer Michael Hutchence’s feline sexuality, which certainly didn’t hurt the band’s already inventive videos. But it wasn’t just image that provided their breakthrough. For the first (and really only) time, INXS made a consistently solid album that had no weak moments from top to bottom. More than that, really, Kick is an impeccably crafted pop tour de force, the band succeeding at everything they try. Every track has at least a subtly different feel from what came before it; INXS freely incorporates tense guitar riffs, rock & roll anthems, swing-tinged pop/rock, string-laden balladry, danceable pop-funk, horn-driven ’60s soul, ’80s R&B, and even a bit of the new wave-ish sound they’d started out with. More to the point, every song is catchy and memorable, branded with indelible hooks. Even without the band’s sense of style, the flawless songcraft is intoxicating, and it’s what makes Kick one of the best mainstream pop albums of the ’80s.

Continue reading

Illinois Jacquet – Swing’s The Thing (1956/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Illinois Jacquet – Swing’s The Thing (1956/2014
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:20 minutes | 1,38 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front cover
Genre: Jazz

Illinois Jacquet was “foremost of the WWII-era “Texas tenor titans”, an influential figure in both jazz and R&B saxophone. “Swing’s The Thing” is one of his first recordings. Recorded in Los Angeles in 1956, it features Illinois Jacquet on tenor sax, Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Jimmy Jones on piano, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Jo Jones on drums. These magical performances capture the genius that was Jacquet’s playing, backed by a stellar ensemble.

Continue reading

Igor Levit – Bach: Partitas (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

Igor Levit – Bach: Partitas (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 2.43 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

Igor Levit has recorded Bach’s Partitas BWV 825-830. It is the second release by the 27-year-old pianist, whom many regard as the greatest talent of his time, on Sony Classical. With his debut album, featuring the late Beethoven sonatas, Levit received critical acclaim and awards from international publications and organisations.

After Beethoven, Levit now turns his attention to Bach:

“It’s simply amazing what Bach could do!” Levit exclaims “He had a command of form second to none. Take the long slow movement of Partita no. 6: at the end it’s not a sarabande any more, but a crazy, radical free fantasy – incredibly emotional, it stands no comparison. It really shakes you up. This is music of the utmost perfection!”

And of the minuet from Partita no. 5, BWV 829 Levit says: “this is a humorous piece, not a minuet! And then suddenly it is one. And then it isn’t.”

Igor Levit has worked his way meticulously towards the famous Bach partitas. He read, studied and played music that came before Bach. While he was pursuing his research, he didn’t play Bach at all. And then he spent three or four years on the partitas without performing them in concert until he had the feeling he had finally mastered the scores and could do them justice.

In the intervening period since his first album was released, the young pianist has become more laid-back, and that is immediately apparent from a comparison of the two albums. When he recorded the Beethoven sonatas, Levit seemed to be hurling all his strength at the keyboard, battling the elements, as it were. In the Bach partitas, a relaxed distance can be felt; a happy calm that makes it easy for the pianist to enjoy performing the music to the full.

“For the first time in my life, I have the feeling that the way I play now is just right for me” he says. “Everything comes together, inwardly and programmatically. I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s where I want to go. Since then, I’ve felt immensely relaxed. It’s true that I had to struggle with every note from the Bach just like with Beethoven – but this time I enjoyed the struggle.”

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Igor Levit

Continue reading

Ibragimova, Tiberghien – Schubert: Violin Sonatas, Rondo, Fantasy, Sei Mir Gegrusst (2013) [Hyperion 24-96]

Ibragimova, Tiberghien – Schubert: Violin Sonatas, Rondo, Fantasy, Sei Mir Gegrusst (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.93 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Hyperion

The luminous partnership of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien returns to Hyperion for this double album containing Schubert’s complete music for violin and piano. Their intelligence and technical prowess, their seamless and intimate connection as performers and their profound understanding of the music combine in magical performances.

While still in his teens, Schubert wrote four works for violin and piano that could have been given the label ‘sonata’, yet none of the four was published with that title. The first three, completed in 1816, bear instead the designation of ‘Sonatina’, perhaps to appeal to the amateur market. But these are highly accomplished works by the teenage composer and there is little ‘domestic’ feeling in the extended, mysterious unravellings of D385 which hint at compositions yet to come.

The later Violin Sonata in A major, D574 (now described as a ‘Duo’), urges the violinist on to greater virtuosic feats, and the Rondo in B minor even more so, with the piano sometimes treated as a surrogate orchestra. The extensive Fantasy in C major, written in the last year of Schubert’s life, is a masterpiece: the composer’s greatest achievement in this genre, which combines poignancy with sheer joy in life itself.

Composer: Franz Schubert
Performer: Alina Ibragimova, Cédric Tiberghien

Continue reading

Horace Silver – The Cape Verdean Blues (1965/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Horace Silver – The Cape Verdean Blues (1965/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 43:44 minutes | 1,55 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

The Cape Verdean Blues followed Song for My Father as another album by Horace Silver that was inspired by his father, who hailed from the island nation of Cape Verde. The Cape Verdean Blues featured the added contribution of legendary bop trombonist J.J. Johson, whom Silver had wanted to work with for quite some time leading up to this album.

After the success of Song for My Father and its hit title cut, Horace Silver was moved to pay further tribute to his dad, not to mention connect with some of his roots. Silver’s father was born in the island nation of Cape Verde (near West Africa) before emigrating to the United States, and that’s the inspiration behind The Cape Verdean Blues. Not all of the tracks are directly influenced by the music of Cape Verde (though some do incorporate Silver’s taste for light exoticism); however, there’s a spirit of adventure that pervades the entire album, a sense of exploration that wouldn’t have been quite the same with Silver’s quintet of old. On average, the tracks are longer than usual, and the lineup — featuring tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson (a holdover from the Song for My Father sessions) and trumpeter Woody Shaw — is one of the most modernist-leaning Silver ever recorded with. They push Silver into more advanced territory than he was normally accustomed to working, with mild dissonances and (especially in Henderson’s case) a rawer edge to the playing. What’s more, bop trombone legend J.J. Johnson appears on half of the six tracks, and Silver sounds excited to finally work with a collaborator he’d been pursuing for some time. Johnson ably handles some of the album’s most challenging material, like the moody, swelling “Bonita” and the complex, up-tempo rhythms of “Nutville.” Most interesting, though, is the lilting title track, which conjures the flavor of the islands with a blend of Latin-tinged rhythms and calypso melodies that nonetheless don’t sound quite Caribbean in origin. Also noteworthy are “The African Queen,” with its blend of emotional power and drifting hints of freedom, and “Pretty Eyes,” Silver’s first original waltz. Yet another worthwhile Silver album.

Continue reading