Hi-Res Downloads, October 2023

hfnalbumSebastian Rochford/Kit Downes
A Short Diary (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.ecmrecords.com; ECM 2749

This is an intensely personal project for drummer Sebastian Rochford, who write this 'short diary (of loss)' as 'a sonic memory, created with love, out of need for comfort', following the death of his father, poet Gerard Rochford, in 2019. Written soon after the passing, this set comprises eight tracks composed by Rochford, and one final tune, 'Even Now I Think Of Her', written by his late father. Recorded on the son's phone, it was forwarded to pianist Kit Downes, and the project began. Adding to the personal, wistful mood of the project, all the pieces were written at Rochford Senior's piano, and then recorded in the family home in Aberdeen, and then mixed by ECM supremo Manfred Eicher in Munich, giving the combination of Downes' sensitive piano and Rochford's subtle percussion a wonderful intimacy. This is one to listen to with the lights down low, absorbing every magical moment. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Sensitively recorded with peaks ranging from just –10.6dB to –2.1dB ('safe' for any DAC) this 96kHz file has range to spare for the piano (up to ~12kHz) and splashes of percussion, plus inherent distortion, up to ~30kHz. PM


Tiril Heide-Steen
Favorites (44.1kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.grappa.no; Grappa Musikkforlag NOFGG2371050

Short and sweet, this EP from Norway's voice of Thomas The Tank Engine – yes, really! – does just what it says on the tin: actress Tiril Heide-Steen stretches into singing with a handful of her favourite jazz standards, recorded with a simple lineup of pianist Anders Aarum and bassist Marius Reksjø. Her voice is expressive, if seemingly fragile at times, and continuing what seems to be a theme this month she 'duets' with a recording of her late father, Norwegian actor/comedian Harald Heide-Steen, Jr – whom she credits with introducing her to jazz – on the last track, 'You Must Believe In Spring'. That aside, this is an album entirely free from trickery and artifice, and while there's an appealing simplicity to the focus on her vocals there's also a wonderfully natural substance to the accompaniment that gives the whole project an inviting intimacy throughout. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Limited only by the 44.1kHz Fs, at least the 24-bit encoding is well used by the ~18dB peak-to-RMS signal content. The (analogue) noise floor is higher than average at –88dB (re. peak o/p) but Ms. Heide-Steen's voice is crystal clear. PM


Cappella Romana, Alex. Lingas
A Byzantine Emperor At King Henry's Court: Christmas 1400, London (192kHz/24-bit; DSD64)*
www.cappellarecords.com; Cappella Records CR-427

This celebration was released in late Jan of 2023, making it too late for Christmas '22, but now, with the festive season looming on a distant horizon, it's time to recall the Christmas visit of the Byzantine emperor to our own King Henry IV at Eltham palace in 1400. That's the back-story, but while this is definitely Christmas music, with services for Christmas Eve and the day itself, it's going to be largely unfamiliar to most listeners. It's a discovery well worth making – both the performances and the recorded sound here are glorious, with the mixed voices of the Portland, Oregon, ensemble creating tapestries of polyphony to immerse the listener. It's all recorded in a rich church acoustic by producer Blanton Alspaugh and engineer Mark Donahue, for the ensemble's own label – the result is a real treat, at any time of the year. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
While the original recording was said to be 'in DSD', spectral analysis [see Graph] suggests a 176.4kHz LPCM file that's upsampled to 192kHz here. Nevertheless there's plenty of clean bandwidth to capture those haunting voices. PM


Josh Nelson
LA Stories (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.samfirstrecords.com; Sam First Records SRF002

As it used to say at the end of that old '50s TV series, 'There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them'. That was New York; this is Los Angeles, as pianist and composer Nelson pays tribute to some of the forgotten stories of the city, from 19th century bandit Tiburcio Vasquez to the old Red Car trollies of the first half of the last century, and film stars including Sidney Poitier and Kirk Douglas. He's joined in this live recording by Walter Smith III on sax, guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Luca Alemanno and drummer Dan Schnelle, with guest vocalist Gaby Moreno. It's a beautifully measured set captured with fine clarity and decent dynamics, giving a fine opportunity to enjoy the relaxed pace of the likes of 'Lonely Are The Brave', or the evocative rhythms of 'Red Car Reminiscing' – even if I'm not quite sure how 'Feed The Birds' from Mary Poppins sneaks in here! AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
While this recording is presented in a 96kHz 'digital envelope', and 96kHz will be indicated by your DAC, the content was steeply filtered at ~28kHz before encoding. Aside from trks 2 and 6 this file peaks into the 0.0dBFs end stops. PM


Mull Historical Society
In My Mind There's A Room (48kHz/24-bit)
www.xtramilerecordings.com; Xtra Mile Recordings XMR183DD

Here's some high-concept album-making from Mull Historical Society producer Colin MacIntyre. Inspired by his grandparents' sitting room above the bank in Tobermory, Mull, he asked a number of leading authors to give him 25 lines about a room with a significant part in their lives. The result? Input from the likes of Nick Hornby, Ian Rankin, Liz Lochhead and Val McDermid, among others, plus his grandfather Angus MacIntyre. Recorded in his grandparents' flat, converted into a recording studio, it's an album full of different tonal colours, from the jangly rock of 'Panicked Feathers', from words by Nick Hornby, and Rankin's 'My Bedroom Was My Rocket' to quieter, more introspective tracks, such as former Makar Lochhead reading her 'Anaglypta'. And while the sound isn't the most dynamic around, being fairly dense, as a set it's consistently interesting and intriguing. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
While tracks 1-12 are normalised to tight –0.3dB and –0.8dB peaks, the final two pieces – narrations with faux analogue noise – are more relaxed at a maximum –2dB/–3dB. It's authentic, but squeezed by the limited dynamic range. PM