It has been a busy and eventful month for me, and given recent world events music is about all there is to pull us through and keep us sane, so luckily, Qobuz is out there providing us with new music on a daily basis. Without further ado, here are my picks for this month:
1. “Silence And Sorrow” (“Invisible Pictures” – Jeremy Ivey – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) Billed as Country, Jeremy Ivey sounds a bit more like Southern Rock, sounding very reminiscent of Tom Petty, though one does hear influences of Pink Floyd and the Beatles in many of his tunes. “Silence And Sorrow” is both typical and atypical of his sound and songs. It contains his melancholy rambling style with complex overlapping layers of rhythm produced by the different instruments each playing their own melody, yet it is starker with less instrumentation and no percussion other than that provided by the piano itself which provides the core melody, rhythm, and beat.
2. “Are You Leaving for the Country” (“In My Own Time (50th Anniversary Edition)” – Karen Dalton – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) ‘60s/‘70s Folk Blues artist Karen Dalton had her own unique interpretations of the songs she covered creating a sound that was well ahead of her time. “Are You Leaving for the Country” opens with bass harmonics and features four melodies, one on bass, two on acoustic guitar, and one for vocal. The rhythm guitar is strummed with occasional picked and bent notes, while the lead guitar is plucked throughout. Her vocals have a folksy Billie Holiday burr.
3. “Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39 (Jean Sibelius) I. Andante, ma non troppo – Allegro energico” (“Sibelius: Complete Symphonies” – Klaus Mäkelä & Oslo Philharmonic – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) Lovers of Jean Sibelius cannot but be sucked in by Oslo Philharmonic’s performance, from the gentle curves of the opening oboe bolstered by a feather-light tympani roll to the epic crescendos to the delicate woodwind and horn backed harp, the performance is caked with dynamics and emotional sweeps.
4. “Compassion” (“Genesis of Genius: The Contemporary Recordings” – Ornette Coleman – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) As an improvisational musician myself, I have always had a fondness for improvisational Jazz, and Ornette Coleman is an example of the art form at its best. Fast-paced and lyrical, while focused around the saxophone player “Genesis of Genius: The Contemporary Recordings” highlights the talents of each of the individual members of the band, allowing them to do their own thing during the tunes along with offering plenty of solo time for each performer. “Compassion” seems to exemplify this while also offering a little more eclectic structure, opening with a byplay of the bass and drums before melding into the interweaving sax and trumpet that appears to be their core sound.
5. “The Furthest Thing” (“Humble Quest” – Maren Morris – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Another Country artist, Maren Morris offers a very upbeat Poppy sound that should appeal to contemporary Rock fans as well. There is a percussive bell-like quality to the electric piano, guitars, and bass for “The Furthest Thing” creating an ethereal vibe.
6. “It’s in Your Heart Now” (“Labyrinthitis” – Destroyer – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Destroyer is a band after my own heart, no two songs are alike, yet each is brilliant in its own way. “It’s in Your Heart Now” is a sort of ambient bolero with David Bowie/Lou Reed style vocals, that builds from the opening electronic percussion and fast-paced bass guitar, adding instruments and melodies until an overwhelming cacophony of sound is reached then it gently fades out.
7. “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” (“Warm Chris” – Aldous Harding – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) Not to be confused with the traditional folk song of the same title “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” demonstrates how primitive recording techniques belie the extreme complexity of composition and rhythm of Aldous Harding’s songs. Opening with alternating 6/4 and 7/4 timing signatures, the timing remains in a continual evolving flow as the song develops. Starting with simple piano backing Aldous Harding’s angelic voice, eventually, banjo joins in as do soothing horns.
8. “Reborn” (“Reborn” – Kavinsky – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Usually, I’m good for about two or three EDM songs before I figure out that all the songs are just continuations of the same song, with that incessant twenty-first-century electronic Techno drum machine track. Not so Kavinsky. Kind of Alan Parsons meets Peter Schilling most of their songs are instrumentally electronica, but with individual percussion tracks, rhythms, and beats. The title track of their latest album epitomizes their sound in its uniqueness, featuring choral style vocal and electronic piano rhythm tracks, I’m not really even sure it qualifies as EDM without a monotonous thumping one-note bass line, but it seems perfect for slow dancing.
9. “This Thirst” (“Nightclub Daydreaming” – Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) I was immediately drawn in by the “Punk – New Wave” appellation and was intrigued to find that all of this music comes from a duo, enough so that I looked up a live video to see how they do it live (it appears that they either play against a recorded back-track or use guest musicians in most of their performances only the bass is used on stage). Jim Morrison style vocals over a strong bass line with fast-paced drums, and sporadic piano, growling guitar, and twisting organ in the background “This Thirst” shows that Punk is not only not dead, but kicking and progressing.
10. “Taurus” (“Spirit” – Spirit – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) For my dive into favorite songs of times past this month I decided to go with the song that would eventually become “Stairway to Heaven”, without permission or credit of course, odd that after opening for Spirit Jimmy Page ran to his hotel room and composed a new song that sounds remarkably like “Taurus”. Of course, the strings and harpsichord add a different dimension to the piece.
Well, that’s it for this month, until next month remember it’s all about the music.
Manley Absolute Headphone Amplifier, Audio-gd R2R-1 DAC, Cardas Iridium single-ended RCA interconnects, Cardas Iridium power cords, Core Power Technologies A/V Equi=Core 1000, Cardas Clear USB cable, iFi Purifier 3, Dan Clark Audio ETHER2 headphones.