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The Specials - The Specials (1979/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: The Specials
Title: The Specials
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Punk, Ska Revival
Label: © Chrysalis Records
Release Date: 1979/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 47:45
Recorded: Summer 1979 at TW Studios, Fulham, London

A perfect moment in time captured on vinyl forever, such is the Specials' eponymous debut album; it arrived in shops in the middle of October 1979 and soared into the U.K. Top Five. It was an utter revelation -- except for anyone who had seen the band on-stage, for the album was at its core a studio recording of their live set, and at times even masquerades as a gig. There were some notable omissions: "Gangsters," for one, but that had already spun on 45, as well as the quartet of covers that would appear on their live Too Much Too Young EP in the new year. But the rest are all here, 14 songs' strong, mostly originals, with a few covers of classics thrown in for good measure. That includes their fabulous take on Dandy Livingstone's "A Message to You Rudy," an equally stellar version of the Maytals' "Monkey Man," and the sizzling take on Prince Buster's "Too Hot." If those were fabulous, their own compositions were magnificent. the Specials managed to distill all the anger, disenchantment, and bitterness of the day straight into their music. The vicious "Nite Klub" -- with its unforgettable line, "All the girls are slags and the beer tastes just like piss" -- perfectly skewered every bad night the members had ever spent out on the town; "Blank Expression" extended the misery into unwelcoming pubs, while "Concrete Jungle" moved the action onto the streets, capturing the fear and violence that stalked the inner cities. And then it gets personal. "It's Up to You" throws down the gauntlet for those who disliked the group, its music, and its stance, while simultaneously acting as a rallying cry for supporters. "Too Much Too Young" shows the Specials' disdain for teen pregnancy and marriage; "Stupid Marriage" drags two such offenders before a Judge Dread-esque magistrate, with Terry Hall playing the outraged and sniping prosecutor; while "Little Bitch" is downright nasty. Those were polemics; "It Doesn't Make It Alright" reaches a hand out to listeners and, with conviction, delivers up a heartfelt plea against racism, but even this number contains a sharp sting in its tail. It's a bitter brew, aggressively delivered, with even the slower numbers sharply edged, and therefore the band wisely scattered sparkling covers across the album to help lift its mood. The set appropriately ends with the rocksteady-esque yearning of "You're Wondering Now," the song that invariably closed their live shows. Even though producer Elvis Costello gave the record a bright sound, it doesn't lighten the dark currents that run through the group's songs; if anything, his production heightens them. It's left to guests Rico Rodriguez and Dick Cuthell to provide a little Caribbean sun to the Specials' sound, their brass sweetening the flashes of anger and disaffection that sweep across the record. And so, this was Britain in late 1979, an unhappy island about to explode. --Jo-Ann Greene
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The Specials - More Specials (1980/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: The Specials
Title: More Specials
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Punk, Ska Revival
Label: © Chrysalis Records
Release Date: 1980/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 42:29
Recorded: Horizon Studios, Summer 1980

Less frenzied than its predecessor, but more musically adventurous, More Specials was nearly as popular in its day as its predecessor, falling just one chart place below their debut. It kicked off in similar fashion as well, with a classic cover, this time with an exuberant take on Carl Sigman and Conrad Magidson's 1940s chestnut "Enjoy Yourself." A slower, brooding version with the Go-Go's in tow brings the album to a close, taking the place of the set-sealing "You're Wondering Now," which brought the curtain down on their first set. But there the similarities come to an end. The rest of the album is comprised of originals, including a pair of instrumentals -- the Northern soul-esque "Sock It to 'Em JB" and the Mexican-flavored "Holiday Fortnight" -- as well as a duo of minimally vocalized pieces, the intriguing "International Jet Set," and the overtly apocalyptic "Man at C&A." But fans had already been primed for the band's changing musical directions by the release the month before of "Stereotypes," its spaghetti western aura filled with the group's more mournful mood. It's an emotional despair taken to even greater heights on "Do Nothing," as the group futilely searches for a future, but musically stumbles upon a cheery, easygoing rhythm more appropriate to the pop styles of the English Beat than the angrier sounds the Specials had made their own. But to prove it's no fluke, there's the equally bright and breezy "Hey, Little Rich Girl," boasting fabulous sax solos from Madness' Lee Thompson. However, it's an immortal line from "Pearl's Cafe" that Terry Hall and the guesting Bodysnatchers' Rhoda Dakar deliver up in duet that best sums up their own, and the country's pure frustration: "It's all a load of bollocks, and bollocks to it all." It was an intensely satisfying set in its day, even if it wasn't as centered as their debut. The group seems to be moving simultaneously in too many directions, while the lyrics, too, are not quite as hard-hitting as earlier efforts. --Jo-Ann Greene
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The Sacred Spirit of Russia: Christmas Liturgy from a Russian Cathedral - Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson (2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/88.2kHz

Composer: Various
Artist: Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson
Title: The Sacred Spirit of Russia: Christmas Liturgy from a Russian Cathedral
Genre: Classical, Choral
Label: © harmonia mundi
Release Date: 2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 88,2kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 01:17:55
Recorded: February 2013 at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas

To understand and partake of the 'Sacred Spirit of Russia' requires one, first and foremost, to experience the beauty and splendour of the Russian Orthodox liturgy, which has been an integral part of the Eastern Slav identity for over 1000 years. The sacred music of the New Russian Choral School features sublime settings of the liturgy that draw on a rich history of Orthodox chants and native traditions, creating music of unprecedented colour and textural richness. Following the lead of Tchaikovsky, composers such as Kastalsky, Gretchaninov, Chesnokov, Rachmaninov and a host of others have left us a treasure-trove of musical delights.
Craig Hella Johnson and the 35-strong Conspirare (featuring the astounding basso profundo Glenn Miller) present a glorious sampling of some of the finest works in this genre including Martynov's mesmerising 'Beatitudes' for three sopranos and choir and Kedrov's setting of the Lord's Prayer.
Conspirare's esteemed language coach is the editor of Musica Russica, Vladimir Morosan who has also written the booklet notes. The only 'inauthentic' part of this HighResAudio recording for harmonia mundi USA is the spot-on intonation.
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The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Artist: The Prodigy
Title: The Day Is My Enemy
Genre: Electronic, Breakbeat
Label: © Take Me To The Hospital | Cooking Vinyl
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:56:12

The Day Is My Enemy is the sixth studio album by British electronic music group The Prodigy. It is the follow-up to 2009's Invaders Must Die and was released on 30 March 2015 (and for Friday-release countries is on 27 March 2015). The album will be released by Three Six Zero Music/Warner Bros. Records in the United States. The first single, "Nasty", was announced on the band's Instagram and Facebook pages on 29 December 2014.
The album title is a reference to the Cole Porter song "All Through the Night", in particular its lyrics "the day is my enemy, the night my friend", although it is the Ella Fitzgerald version that first inspired the title track. On 26 January 2015 the band released the official audio for the title track "The Day Is My Enemy" on their official YouTube channel. On 23 February 2015 the band released the official music video for the third single "Wild Frontier".
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The Chopin Project - Olafur Arnalds, Alice Sara Ott (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), Ólafur Arnalds (b.1985)
Artist: Olafur Arnalds, Alice Sara Ott
Title: The Chopin Project
Genre: Classical, Modern, Avant-Garde, Neo-classical, Ambient, Chamber Music
Label: © Mercury Classics
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 45:35
Recorded: E7 Studios and Harpa Concert Hall, Iceland

Award-winning young Icelandic pop/classical musician Ólafur Arnalds (celebrated composer of the score for TV series Broadchurch) has always loved the piano music of Frédéric Chopin, but he d grown weary of the uniform and standardized perfection of recordings. There has been no re-invention of the way Chopin s music has been presented since recording began, and I was longing for someone to come along and try something different. And one day, on a long flight to London, I thought: why don t I do it myself? And thus, in partnership with the acclaimed German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, THE CHOPIN PROJECT was born.
In order to achieve his aim, Arnalds developed an intimate, fragile and often charmingly imperfect sound using old/unusual/altered pianos captured on vintage recording equipment. He also employed various mixing techniques to re-enforce feelings of solitude or loneliness, and to create dreamlike ambient soundscapes. The listener should feel so close to the performer that he or she can hear each breath, or fragile touch of the keys.
Ott was instantly hooked by the project. I love playing on out-of-tune bar pianos and, in my opinion, Chopin s music fits very well to those circumstances, she says. He wrote for intimate spaces, for living rooms, and he loved to improvise and improvisation flourishes in these kind of venues, where lots of things are happening, and the performer can respond to them.
At the start of their project, Arnalds and Ott went piano hunting in Reykjavik, and found instruments with lots of personality . Some of them were prepared with felt to create otherworldly effects. Arnalds then recorded the pianist using vintage equipment, creating a very close-up, intimate setting for her performances. Sometimes there are creaks, breaths, jangling piano strings, rustles of paper in other words, the sounds of real life which are usually removed from Chopin recordings. The result after studio mixing - is a textured, multi-layered musical experience unlike any other.
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The 5 Countertenors - Yuriy Mynenko, Xavier Sabata, Max Emanuel Cencic, Valer Sabadus, Vince Yi, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Niccolò Jommelli (1714 - 1774), Nicolai Porpora (1686 - 1768), Baldassare Galuppi (1706 - 1785), George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759), Josef Myslivecek (1737 - 1781), Johann Christian Bach (1735 - 1782), Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 - 1787), Johann Adolph Hasse (1699 - 1783)
Artist: Yuriy Mynenko, Xavier Sabata, Max Emanuel Cencic, Valer Sabadus, Vince Yi, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou
Title: The 5 Countertenors
Genre: Classical
Label: © Decca
Release Date: 2015
Quality: Studio Master FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Duration: 01:03:41
Recorded: Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, Megaron, The Athens Concert Hall, Athens, 12, 13 & 15–18 July 2013

‘The 5 Countertenors’ draws together five of the world’s most renowned countertenors, who bring the rich world of baroque opera to life.

Described in their heyday as “beyond all creatures upon earth.” (William Congreve, 1700), countertenors are once again firmly established on concert platforms, opera stages, the covers of music magazines - and the subjects of heated on-line debate and of fan-pages on social media.

These world-class performers showcase the expressive variety of this unique genre. This album also celebrates the individuality of each singer’s voice and in turn the art of the countertenor. The countertenors are accompanied by the brilliant, ECHO-Klassik winning baroque group, Armonia Atenea, under George Petrou.
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Richard Strauss - Ein Heldenleben; Vier letzte Lieder - Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nezet-Seguin (2011) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Сomposer: Richard Strauss (1864–1949)
Artist: Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Title: Strauss - Ein Heldenleben; Vier letzte Lieder
Genre: Classical
Label: © BIS Records
Release Date: 2011
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Source: eClassical
Duration: 69:13
Recorded: June 2010 at de Doelen Hall, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The first recording by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for BIS centred on Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, a work which stands squarely on the threshold between Classicism and Romanticism. Nézet-Séguin’s interpretation brilliantly demonstrated this ambivalence, as the reviewer in CD Review on BBC Radio 3 remarked: ‘A Fantastic Symphony that relishes in the transparency and the delicacy of Berlioz's scoring while remaining true to its vivid imagination and dramatic punch’. On the follow-up to that exciting release is another work that straddles a musical divide, namely Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. Composed in 1948, these late blooms of an unabashed Romanticism stood in the midst of a musical landscape which featured the twelve-tone serialism of the Darmstadt School, John Cage’s prepared piano and the first examples of musique concrète. In accordance with Strauss’s wish, it was the dramatic soprano Kirsten Flagstad who first performed the songs, but they also became closely associated with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. On the present recording, it is Dorothea Röschmann, one of today’s foremost Mozart sopranos who lends her voice to what is often regarded as an expression of the composer’s acceptance of death’s inevitability, at the age of eighty-four. We meet Strauss in a completely different mood in the disc’s opening work – the large-scale symphonic poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) composed fifty years before the songs. By casting himself in the role of the Hero, Strauss managed to provoke generations of music-lovers for years to come. A study of aggressive egotism, the work has been called, as well as the most conceited piece of music ever written. But it is also widely regarded as one of the most brilliant, and virtuosic, orchestral scores in the history of music, displaying the possibilities of a large symphony orchestra to the fullest.
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Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Sleater-Kinney
Title: No Cities To Love
Genre: Rock, Punk Rock, Indie Rock, Post Punk
Label: © Sub Pop Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 32:23
Recorded: January - February, 2014, Tiny Telephone Recordings, San Francisco

“We sound possessed on these songs,” says guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein about Sleater-Kinney’s eighth studio album, No Cities to Love. “Willing it all–the entire weight of the band and what it means to us–back into existence.”
The new record is the first in 10 years from the acclaimed trio–Brownstein, vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker, and drummer Janet Weiss–who came crashing out of the ’90s Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, setting a new bar for punk’s political insight and emotional impact. Formed in Olympia, WA in 1994, Sleater-Kinney were hailed as “America’s best rock band” by Greil Marcus in Time Magazine, and put out seven searing albums in 10 years before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006.
But the new album isn’t about reminiscing, it’s about reinvention–the ignition of an unparalleled chemistry to create new sounds and tell new stories. “I always considered Corin and Carrie to be musical soulmates in the tradition of the greats,” says Weiss, whose drums fuel the fire of Tucker and Brownstein’s vocal and guitar interplay. “Something about taking a break brought them closer, desperate to reach together again for their true expression.” The result is a record that grapples with love, power and redemption without restraint. “The three of us want the same thing,” says Weiss. “We want the songs to be daunting.”
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Sinikka Langeland - The Half-Finished Heaven (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Sinikka Langeland
Title: The Half-Finished Heaven
Genre: Jazz, Folk, World Music, Fusion, Modern Creative, Nordic
Label: © ECM Records GmbH | ECM Player
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:49:17
Recorded: January 2013, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

The Half-Finished Heaven is the fourth ECM album from Sinikka Langeland, the kantele player, singer and composer from Finnskogen, south-eastern Norway’s “Forest of the Finns”. The music she has written for the ensemble here touches on, as she says, her “whole scale of expression”. Sinikka’s highly original and self-contained oeuvre is informed, in changing degree, by folk traditions of Norway and Finland, as well as classical and contemporary music and improvisation from jazz and other sources. Each of her gifted bandmates brings his own range of colours to the music.
This time around the ratio of vocal to instrumental music has been adjusted: after Sinikka’s first ECM recording (Starflowers in 2006), producer Manfred Eicher proposed a solo kantele album, “with three songs and the remainder instrumental”. The idea had to settle for a while, but proportions have remained, even as Sinikka’s writing for the project has expanded to embrace viola and percussion - and saxophone on some pieces - as well as her own kanteles (table harps).
Much of Sinikka’s work addresses the natural world, and our place in it, and on The Half-Finished Heaven, she chose to develop music expressing “the mystery and joy of everyday encounters with animals in the forest”. For three pieces she sets texts of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, which in their own way speak of the transformative power of nature. “Despondency breaks off its course. / Anguish breaks off its course. / The vulture breaks off its flight. /The eager light streams out. …” The sung poems, reflecting the changing seasons, suggest a frame in which the music can unfold, with its melodic and rhythmic suggestion of animal movements, from scurryings in the undergrowth to the slow arcing of wings in the sky. Amongst the compositions, Sinikka integrates a very early and previously unrecorded piece, “The White Burden”, which she wrote in 1978, newly arranged for viola and kantele. “Together with ‘Caw of the Crane’ it has some sacral feelings connected to loss and sorrow and contributes to the space in which the creatures are flying, singing and running.”
Sinikka, who has proselytized for the work of other writers who have spoken directly of the natural world (see for instance the fine poems of Hans Børli set to music on Starflowers), says that she came late to Tranströmer, reading his Den stora gåtan (The Great Enigma) in 2004 and the Collected Poems in 2005. As she prepared the music for The Half-Finished Heaven in 2011, the news of Tranströmer’s Nobel Prize win broke.
“I was so happy for him but also a little worried that it would be difficult to make contact and get permissions for setting the poems. But his wife Monica called me and I got such a warm stream of positive answers and support from them, right in the middle of their most busy time.” In Tranströmer’s writing Langeland responds to “his painting of the big questions of humanity and nature with small brushes and his pointing to the life-spirit in everything, lifting up the mystery in normal things and everyday moments. His poems can be consoling, like religious parables…”
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Simple Minds - Sparkle in the Rain (1984/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC 5.1 Surround 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Sparkle in the Rain
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Synth-pop, Pop Rock
Label: © Universal Music
Release Date: 1984/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC 5.1 Surround 96kHz/24bit
Source: Blu-ray Audio
Duration: 00:45:07
Recorded: September–October 1983 at Monnow Valley Studio in Rockfield; The Town House in London

Sparkle in the Rain is the sixth studio album by Simple Minds, released on 6 February 1984. A breakthrough commercial success for the band, the record peaked at number one in the UK Albums Chart on 18 February 1984, and reached the top 20 in numerous other countries around the world, including New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and Australia. Receiving mostly positive reviews in the United Kingdom and the United States, Sparkle in the Rain was ultimately certified double platinum in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry, and significantly increased media interest in the band.
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