Hi-Res Audio

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 29, 2013
New from Gimell, Eric Whitacre's choral meditation Sainte-Chapelle was written to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Tallis Scholars and was first performed on the 7th of March 2013 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Typically, The Tallis Scholars do not perform the work of the living, but in Sir John Taverner's case and now Eric Whitacre's, they've made exceptions. Let's be thankful.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 22, 2013
Miles Davis' In A Silent Way is near the top of any list I'd make. When I first listened to it decades ago my heart raced (literally) after the opening notes and things got more intense from there on in. The same still holds after countless listens. In A Silent Way, along with Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson helped me get over the passing of Jimi Hendrix and pointed toward a very bright future. I don't really care all that much as to whether or not In A Silent Way was the first 'fusion' album because the music speaks to matters beyond category. You simply need to sit and do nothing other than listen.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 15, 2013
Devendra Banhart Mala

Just when I thought the bloom was off the rose, Devendra Banhart reaches way down (and as far back as the '50s) and pulls out a bouquet. Mala isn't for everyone, what is, but I've been streaming the entire thing for days for free from NPR's first listen and I've been smiling, laughing, and shaking my head at the crazy beat and banter of Banhart. This, his debut on Nonesuch Records and overall 8th studio album, is one freakin' fun listen.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 01, 2013
Afro-Bossa from 1963 features Duke Ellington and His Orchestra riffing on some African and Latin themes. The sounds are infectious and fun and the supporting cast including Billy Strayhorn who wrote some of the pieces that make up this sweet suite, Cootie Williams, Ray Nance, Paul Gonsalves, Johnny Hodges, and Harry Carney are a powerhouse of musical invention. The overall feel is somewhat restrained, held captive by a slow driving groove punctuated by plenty of percussion that swings oh so gently. If you're looking for a stone cold classic that happens to sound particularly lovely, you've come to the right place.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 04, 2013
Thanks to reader Martin O. for pointing us to this, the first new album from My Bloody Valentine since 1991's Loveless. That's a long time. m b v sounds just like My Bloody Valentine (how could it not even if it didn't?) which is a good thing to my ears all heavy and somber and hook-laden. The other noteworthy thing about m b v is the way its being released—you can buy the CD ($22), LP ($30.50 includes the CD), or download ($16) which is not uncommon but what is and shouldn't be is the CD and LP come with a free download and you get to choose between 320kbps MP3, 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV, and 24-bit/96kHz WAV versions. If you opt for just the download, you still get to choose the format for the same price. Nice.
Steven Plaskin  |  Feb 01, 2013
Aaron Neville’s latest release, My True Story, is available as a hi res download from HDtracks (96/24, 192/24). Aaron is returning to his “roots” performing doo-wop rock ballads in this album. The recording also features Keith Richards on guitar with a great band. There are no lush strings behind Aaron’s smooth vocals; just a tight band with excellent backup singers including Eugene Pitt, Booby Jay, Dickie Harmon, and Joel Katz.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 25, 2013
Deep Rumba A Calm in the Fire of Dances

Lisa Hershfield of HDtracks asked for a new list of 10 Picks from the ever-expanding HDtracks catalog. I happily obliged and you can see them here.

My old list, which was replaced by my new list is still near and dear to me so I've reproduced it here for posterity. You'll notice that this list puts sound quality after music quality.

Steven Plaskin  |  Jan 25, 2013
Over the years, I have found Patricia Barber to be an acquired taste. Her latest recording Smash, is for me, my favorite Patricia Barber recording. Her original songs are quite good and somewhat more melodic sounding than some of those found in her previous works. Smash was recorded and mixed by Jim Anderson who has done previous recordings for Patricia Barber including Companion, Modern Cool, and Café Blue. Unlike some of the recent Concord Jazz hi-res downloads I have purchased, this recoding is not dynamically compressed and comes in at a DR 11. The overall sound quality is excellent with the 192/24 version presenting an upfront sound to the vocal that is natural with a bit of warmth.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 18, 2013
According to the Discogs database, there have been 76 releases of Pet Sounds. This total includes the original mono LP, numerous LP reissues, the mono CD, a stereo version first mixed for The Pet Sound Sessions engineered and produced by Mark Linett under the supervision of Brian Wilson, a HDCD, a DCC gold disc, a 5.1 surround mix on DVD-A also engineered by Mark Linett, a Mo-Fi SACD from 2012 again engineered by Mark Linett, and the latest stereo/mono CD from 2012 mastered by Mark Linett. We also now have the 2012 HDtracks 24/192 version. Here's what HDtracks has to say about it, "Stereo mix produced, engineered and mastered at 24bit/192kHz by The Beach Boys’ long time Grammy®-Award-Winning engineer Mark Linett under the supervision of Brian Wilson." That's all. So I figured I'd ask Mark Linett about Pet Sounds and see if we could get some more information. Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about what is arguably (I would) one of the most important albums of our time, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 28, 2012
Never has a title been more apropos—The New York Rags. David Chesky composed this suite of 18 sumptuous rags performed on a Yamaha DCFX Mark IV Disklavier Pro concert grand piano and as he tells us in the liner notes, "You’re living in New York City … art reflects time and culture. So you take what’s around you and you write. And in the end, is it symphonic? Is it jazz? It’s a crossover. The way American music should be, like how Bernstein or Gershwin did it." The pace of Chesky's New York Rags is, for the most part, frenetic and mimics life in the big city with its many touches of spice and flavors from other times and places. I immediately heard traces of Conlon Nancarrow, Gershwin, Bernstein, and Joplin with the skeletal structure of the Second Viennese School barely containing the jaunt and roll. Nice.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 19, 2012
Our top 10 (each) HD releases from 2012 (and some from before that) selected by yours truly, Steve Plaskin, and Jon Iverson = 30 great-sounding music picks. Enjoy!
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 03, 2012
How does a free Studio Master download every day from now until December 25th sound? Hint: Good! I'll let Linn tell the story:
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 30, 2012
Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking of the Titanic" is, to my mind, a beautiful piece of work. I've been on the lookout for the original LP version which was released on Brian Eno's Obscure Records label in 1975 (it is Obscure No. 1!) which includes the equally sublime "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". Today's pick was recorded at the 49th International Festival of Contemporary Music at The Venice Biennale on October 1, 2005 at the Teatro Maliban. It features Gavin Bryars on double bass, Philip Jeck on turntables, and the Italian ensemble Alter Ego on Strings, Brass, Wind, Percussion, Keyboard, Tape Recorder and sound design. And the results are, again to my mind, lovely and deep with one of the hugest heapings of sad submerged nostalgia you're likely to encounter on record.
Steven Plaskin  |  Nov 09, 2012
Sessions From The 17th Ward is Amber Rubarth’s latest release on Chesky Records. While HDtracks refers to her music as folk, there is a wide variety of music on this download with songs written by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Amber’s own songs accompanied by her guitar. Along with Amber, is Dave Eggar:cello, Chuck Palmer: percussion, and Tim Snider: violin.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 06, 2012
What better way to pass ones time without power than to listen to music? My modern-day Victrola—a MacBook Pro running Pure Music, the AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC, and a pair of headphones—requires a trip to the local Starbucks for an occasional re-charge as long as I have enough gas to get there and back or there's gas and an open station to pump it on even days (I should have kept my old odd license plates). But when powered up, this tiny personal portable listening station does the trick.

According to Discogs, there are 83 versions of the Velvet Underground's debut album with Nico so I won't be doing a comparison among them all.