Yet another month has slipped by and another HiFi Show. One thing I have noticed is that the favored streaming service among audiophiles is Qobuz, and for good reason. Not only do they offer true high-resolution music (24-bit/192kHz) without resorting to proprietary lossy compression schemes, they also don’t focus on one specific style of music, instead offering an array of new releases from all genres. So without further ado, this month’s list:
1. “A Tip from You to Me” (“Entering Heaven Alive” – Jack White – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) “Entering Heaven Alive” is spectacular and engaging. Jack calls it Folk, but I hear 60’s Psychedelic bringing up images of Nicky Hopkins and Steve Winwood. Again this is one of those albums that could be a top ten list all in itself, each song having its own unique character, but “A Tip from You to Me” floored me from its opening refrain.
2. “Symphony No.7” (“Bruckner: Symphony No.7” – Christian Thielemann and Berliner Philharmoniker – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) It would be disingenuous to say one movement of a symphony was better than another so I have simply listed the whole as a single song, which of course, it really is. Dynamic and emotional, Christian Thielemann’s interpretation of Anton Bruckner’s masterpiece is at once thrilling and contemplative.
3. “This Version Of You (feat. Julianna Barwick)” (“The Last Goodbye” – Odesza – 24-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) “This Version Of You (feat. Julianna Barwick)” is the best of what EDM has to offer, cinematic and hypnotic, it is something in the nature of an introductory fanfare leading into one of the more musical EDM albums I have heard.
4. “Let Me Down Easy” (“Let Me Down Easy: Bettye LaVette In Memphis (Sun Records 70th/Remastered 2022)” – Bettye LaVette – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) It appears that 2022 is replete with previously undiscovered and unreleased Soul and R&B gems and Bettye LaVette is one such miracle. “Let Me Down Easy” is so iconic that Odesza used Bettye’s vocal for the base of their song “The Last Goodbye”.
5. “Message to Belial” (“Colder Streams” – The Sadies – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) Talking about Psychedelica The Sadies Low-Fi grittiness adds an endearing charm to solid performances of musically complex songs. This means that I liked most of the songs on the album especially the Wall of Voodoo meets The Who “Cut Up High and Dry”, but “Message to Belial” captured not only the sound of the band, but my heart.
6. “Exodus” (“Bob Marley with the Chineke! Orchestra” – Bob Marley & The Wailers + Chineke! Orchestra – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) How could I pass up Bob Marley meets a Classical Orchestra? Every interpretation on the album is inspired and enhances the original performance in a way that makes it feel fresh and new, but “Exodus” expanded on the basic theme of the song making it larger than life.
7. “Redemption Song” (“Bob Marley with the Chineke! Orchestra” – Bob Marley & The Wailers + Chineke! Orchestra – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) The opening cello solo sets the melancholy mood that pervades this song, then the later upbeat strings add a whole layer hope to the message.
8. “Good Morning” (“Hello, Hi” – Ty Segall – 24-bit/48kHz – Qobuz) “Good Morning” caught me from the opening notes, but I must say that I truly love Ty Segall’s arrhythmic pacing and atonal harmonies deeply reminiscent of Liz Phair that pervades all of the songs on this album.
9. “Melt Away” (“Melt Away: A Tribute To Brian Wilson” – She & Him – 24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) She & Him is one of my passions so it was great to see they put out a new album. The fact that the album is made up of unique reimaginings of favored songs of my childhood only adds icing to the cake. Their etheric almost Hawaiian Jazz performance of “Melt Away” is simply to die for.
10. “Remember The Future” (“Remember The Future – 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” – Nektar – 16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz) What would you have if Toto went full Progressive? That was my first thought when I first heard Nektar in 1978 (the year that Toto released their first and best album), though, of course, the album “Remember The Future” came out several years earlier (1973) and was in fact the band’s fourth album. Like the classical piece above, “Remember The Future” is a full album length song, with many developing themes and tempo changes in true Progressive style reminiscent of Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick” from the previous year, and remains one of my all-time favorites.
And that does it for this month, until next, 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