LATEST ADDITIONS

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 09, 2022  |  45 comments
When Craft Recordings rolled out its exclusive "Small Batch" limited edition "One Step" series last year it thought it had done a good thing.

Paul Seydor  |  Apr 08, 2022  |  5 comments
Chasing The Dragon, a British audiophile label that has been around for about ten years now, has distinguished itself with digital and analog releases that can fairly be said to have pushed the state of the art in recorded sound. As is not the case with many audiophile labels, the founders Mike and Françoise Valentine have paid equal attention to the musical contents of their label, notably with classical music and jazz, for which oftener than not they eschew studios in favor of venues where acoustic music is typically performed, such as concert halls or other places with appropriately sympathetic acoustics (e.g., churches). One of the best concert recordings I own is CTD’s 45-RPM album with the Interpreti Veneziani Chamber Orchestra in marvelously stylish, spirted performances of pieces by Vivaldi, Marais, and Sarasate, so beautifully captured—London’s St. John’s Smith Square the venue—that if you set the level right and close your eyes, you easily imagine yourself transported to the best seat in the house (VAL45001). Even their studio recordings are so carefully miked they don’t sound studio bound: the singer Clare Teal’s A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, with Chris Dean leading The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, is sonically of reference caliber and musically so stylistically on point as an example of Swing that but for the sonics you’d swear it was made in the 1940s. These are but two albums from a pretty impressive catalog. For a small label to concentrate its repertoire on classical and vintage jazz is not without risk in this day and age, and it is testament to the Valentines’ expertise, taste, commitment, and courage that they have maintained such high sonic and musical standards.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 06, 2022  |  8 comments
The new Rick Rubin produced Red Hot Chili Peppers album Unlimited Love was recorded to analog tape and mixed to analog tape and it sounds so—at least based on streaming where the "analog goodness" shines through. A month long series of "Broken Records" Pushkin Shows covering the release began last Friday.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 03, 2022  |  28 comments
The Southern California retro-band Calling Cadence signed to Hi-Res Records recently released an eponymously titled debut album recorded, mixed and mastered "the way they used to" make albums: recorded and mixed to analog tape and mastered by Kevin Gray from the analog master tape, and pressed at RTI on 180g vinyl. The cover image of an 8-track tape helps seal the retro-deal as does the music.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 03, 2022  |  18 comments
When the CD of this release arrived months ago, I looked at it and figured it was an Armstrong compilation and so put it aside. Nothing on the "jewel" case gave any indication that it was anything but and there was no accompanying press blurb.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2022  |  21 comments
SME debuted a new "Flagship" turntable at an event held March 25th, 2022 at the company's Steyning, West Sussex U.K. headquarters and in the legendary listening room of the company's founder, the late Alastair Robertson-Aikman. When I asked CEO Stuart McNeilis if yet another factory tour was necessary, he said "you be the judge". The answer was "yes" as new owner Ajay Shirke has made considerable investments in SME including new CNC machines, a brand new state of the art plating facility and a new tolerance measuring system that produces even greater machining tolerances than the already legendary SME precision.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  49 comments
The original British pressing of Are You Experienced? (Track 612 001) was a tepid looking and sounding monophonic affair and despite the label’s name, the jacket didn’t list the tracks, nor did the front offer the band’s name.

Malachi Lui  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  52 comments
Mere months after his patience-testing yet rewarding opus Donda, Kanye West is back with its lazily titled sequel, Donda 2. Don’t expect to find it on streaming platforms or in record stores, however. The artist now legally known as Ye instead independently released it exclusively on the $200 Stem Player, a proprietary, Yeezy Tech- and Kano-developed device that allows users tactile interaction with his last three albums (more about that later). Most of Donda 2’s media coverage centers around the Stem Player situation, how everyone thinks Kanye is “crazy” to so highly value his art by making everyone pay $200 for it. Yet, Donda 2 itself doesn’t cost $200; it’s a free download accessible only via the $200 Stem Player, meaning he doesn’t technically have to pay anyone royalties or sample clearances. Kanye would tell you he’s winning, except it’s his own game designed to eliminate any threat of competition. (Either way, Billboard ruled the album ineligible to chart. Kanye’s decision to keep Donda 2 off streaming is immensely respectable, though I wish he also put out a more convenient $20 CD or tape.)

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  14 comments
Blue Note today announced the next series of affordable Classic Vinyl 180g, all-analog reissues mastered by Kevin Gray using the original master tapes plated and pressed at Optimal in Germany. The records come in standard packaging to keep the costs down. Blue Note president Don Was and Cem Kurosman curate.

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