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No. 142 March 2016

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: „MOJO”, „Q” & „Classic Rock”
VERIFICATION


VERIFIED

Exactly a year ago „High Fidelity” published an text titled „Q” & „Classic Rock” : Verification. It was a result of sort of a game we came up with when reading a yearly summary by two prestigious British music magazines – „Q” and „Classic Rock Magazine”. Rules of the game were simple: we bought some albums recommended by either or both magazines, we listened to them and tried to decide whether the place on the best albums list was really deserved. Some of these albums stayed with us (including a fantastic album X by Ed Sheeran and another by Rival Sons), some others we didn't like very much (especially the Lost in the Dream by The War On Drugs). As far as I know this game of ours was really well received by Readers even though our approach wasn't deadly serious despite the fact that the topic was quite serious. That's why this year we decided to do it again only slightly modifying the rules of the game called „best albums 2015”.

Changes include using three, not two British music magazines recommendations including: „CRM”, „Q” and „MOJO”. The latter was founded in 1993 in London and it quickly became one the the most important titles on the market. It was „MOJO” that, as the first British mainstream magazine recognized bands like The White Stripes and it was also involved in promoting and 'immortalizing' such artists as Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Little Richard or The Beatles. Until now they released already 268 issues, and in June 2013 their sales achieved an impressive number of almost 80.000 copies per issue.

The second change, even more important one, concerns our test method. A year ago we decided to choose randomly few albums from the charts published by „Q” and „CRM”. This time we decided to focus on 'the best of the best' – only three best albums according to each of the 3 magazines. One of them (in a moment you will find out which one) was on two of three lists so in fact we 'verified' 8 albums: Psychic Warfare by Clutch, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, Currents by Tame Impala, Have You In My Wilderness by Julia Holter (it's the one awarded by two magazines: „MOJO” and „Q”), The Book of Souls by Iron Maiden, Sol Invictus by Faith No More, Music Complete by New Order and last but not least In Colour by Jamie xx.

As you can see there are representatives of many different genre among the awarded artists. There is an artistic pop (Holter), heavy metal (Maiden), and rap (Lamar). We bought 6 of these 8 albums on Japanese CD releases and two of them on vinyl. For clarification below you'll find a short breakdown on tested albums.

2015 A.D. according to:

„MOJO”
1. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly”
3. New Order – Music Complete

„Q”
1. Tame Impala – Currents”
2. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
3. Jamie XX – In Colour

„Classic Rock Magazine”
1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
2. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
3. Clutch – Psychic Warfare

Each review will include 2 parts. I (Bartosz Pacuła) will describe my assessment of music, Wojciech Pacuła will assess release and sound quality, plus his few remarks about music too. We listened to these albums using following systems:

System A
CD Player: Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition
Turntables: Gold Note Mediterraneo | Transrotor Jupiter
Phonostage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Linestage: Ayon Audio Stratos III
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40,1 featuring Acoustic Revive stands
Rack: Finite Elemente Pagode Edition
Headphones: HiFiMAN HE-6

System B
D/A Converter: Chord Hugo TT
Turntable: Pro-Ject 1 Xpression Carbon Classic/Ortofon M SILVER
Phonostage: Remton LCR
Integrated amplifier: Leben CS-300 X (SP) [Custom Version]
Loudspeakers: Graham Audio LS5/9 (with original stands)
Headphones: Audeze LCD-3

Are you ready for a trip to the crème de la crème of a mainstream music A.D. 2015? Buckle up, off we go…


JAMIE XX
In Colour

Released (world/Japan): 29.05.2015/16.01.2016
Medium: Compact Disc

It was no accident that I started with this album. It is, in my humble opinion, a clear winner of our game. This album by English artist Jamie Smith, better known as Jamie xx, born in 1988, is a fantastic, ingenious piece of music. Listening to it I could hardly believe that it was only Jamie's second studio album. In Colour is the most 'graphic' album I know. I have no idea whether my perception was influenced by a colorful cover, by the title or maybe something else, but each time I listened to this album I thought about music being a way to 'paint pictures with sound'.

It's a particularly intimate album, and yet also vigorous, having a great momentum, full of ideas. At first it might seem as if there is almost nothing going on; it's an electronic music but so much different than what Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream or Manuel Gottsching propose, it is more refined, artist is playing with silence and with seemingly irrelevant details. All it takes is just a few minutes to be completely sucked into the soft world of Jamie xx music. It is a fantastic album, a great piece of music, one of the best, regardless of genre, that were released last year. Jarre with his Electronica 1: The Time Machine simply can not compete! BP

RELEASES

Album In Colour was released as files for download, CD and LP. Also a limited edition is available with 3 45 r.p.m. LPs on color vinyl inside that included also two additional, instrumental tracks. Since the colorful cover contains no information on artist in some countries a transparent label is added (in Korea for example) that contains information about artist and a title.

The art work is particularly sophisticated. There is a rectangular cut-out in the cover that allows user to see a white insert inside. The cover itself is combined of rectangular pieces in different colors. I believe that Japanese release uses the art work printed in Europe. On top sits Japanese Obi which covers the whole back of the box as there are four more tracks in this version. But the CD itself was pressed in Japan. Inside one finds a black and white insert with a Japanese essay.

SOUND

Producer of this album did a great job and the sound it multi-layered. I loved how well some powerful elements worked with those presented closely to the listener, how vocals (the amazing Oliver Sim in Stranger In A Room!) and accompanying music combined. Sound is warm and rich but also quite open. Differences between elements happening in the front of the stage and those in the back are based on contrasts – elements in the back are 'round', rich and those in the front are much more open.

Sound is truly resolving and selectivity is also remarkable. Treble is 'creamy' but it's midrange that is a key here. And yet bass is also a very important part of the range on this album. Producer decided that it needed a lot of deep, powerful bass. The deepest notes might not be so well controlled but it's possible that that was the idea – it's an electronic music after all, no reference to 'real' sound of real instruments so artist might do whatever they want.

This album contains great music – it rocks, it flows, it involves listener emotionally and it's rich with meaning. WP

Sound quality: 7/10
Music: 10/10

Awards: BIG RED Button | RED Fingerprint


CLUTCH
Psychic Warfare

Weathermaker Music WM042

Medium: 180 g LP, gate-fold
Released: Oct. 2nd 2015

I remember very well how emotional was my perception over a year ago of an album by American band Rival Sons. Their fourth studio album, Great Western Valkyrie, brought back my faith in rock music, in powerful guitar riffs and this incredible chemistry between vocalist (Jay Buchanan) and the lead guitarist (Scott Holiday) reminded me a similar relation between Plant and Page, Mercury and May, Jagger and Richards. This album recorded by Clutch reminded me the above described experience a lot – that's a highly energetic rock music.

One can find here everything that made rock great: fantastic guitar solos, powerful rhythm section, great vocal, and very likable melodies. What is most important is the fact that Psychic Warfare is a very honest album, very truthful about what it represents, there are no shortcuts, no cheap tricks to full listeners. Instead what we get is a hell of ride from the very first until very last second that fans of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Stones should find very attractive And one more thing – they also found a space for a classic ballad called Our Lady of Electric Light. A remarkable one, I must add. BP

RELEASES

Cover features a picture and a graphic by Dan Winters, who's been cooperating with the band since their 1993 debut album Transnational Speedway League. This album is available on CD (as a digipack) and on vinyl. There are few color version of LP – black, blue, red (transparent) and white. 500 copies on red vinyl are signed by the band members. An interesting fact – band also released a turntable mat with graphic from a B side of the album.

SOUND

This album came as a huge surprise for me as I didn't know this band before. And it's like real TNT! Powerful guitar riffs, huge dynamics, fantastic vocal. Plus it's a well produced album offering high quality sound. Guitars sound is dense and powerful, drums play in the back but are still very dynamic. Tonal balance of vocal seems slightly shifted up and upper midrange is just tad too bright which makes it sound bit less rich than instruments but it wasn't a real issue. The most important element of this album is music – it sound fresh, enjoyable despite the fact that it uses some traditional rock motives, but it does it in a very good way, just like Rival Sons did on their album. WP

Sound quality: 7-8/10
Music: 9/10

Awards: BIG RED Button | RED Fingerprint


IRON MAIDEN
The Book of Souls

Parlophone/Warner Music Japan WPCR-16856/7

Medium: 2 x Compact Disc | Limited Edition Deluxe CD
Release: Sept. 4th 2015

On my personal list the 16th album of the Iron Maiden released in September 2015 landed on the opposite end than Clutch. It's not only the biggest disappointment of the past 12 months but also a piece of music left me completely unmoved. The circumstances of its making were touching and depressing – it was recorded already in 2014 and before they finished Bruce Dickinson, the vocalist learned of his cancer. So the band decided to wait with the released also because Iron Maiden always promotes their albums with big tours which at that time was not possible. The double album was finally released and… it received mixed reviews and not only from music critics but also from fans.

I belong to those who didn't like The Book of Souls because it offered nothing new. Everything The Book of Souls offers is already well known, the last 'fresh' album of Iron Maiden I still 2000 Brave New World. There is no reason for this album to last 90 (!) minutes or for Empire of the Clouds to last 18 long minutes. Both, the album and the track could last half of that time and nobody would really notice. I know it's like kicking man when he's already down but I have to add that the famous Iron Maiden three guitar simply don't sound right this time, most of the time they sound as if only one of them played. It's a real pity. BP

RELEASES

The band decided to take album's title literally and instead of regular box they used a large 'book-like' box. Since the material lasts over 90 minutes (92 min 11 s), it's been released as a double album. fCover design was prepared by Mark Wilkinson, who worked with Iron Maiden before on few occasions. Album is available in three formats as five different releases. A list below:

  • 2 x CD „deluxe hardbound book limited edition”
  • 2 x CD „standard edition” jewel-box
  • A triple vinyl „heavyweight”, with a separate master made by Chris Bellman
  • Hi-res 24 bit files, „Mastered for iTunes” and „non-Mastered for iTunes”
  • Standard resolution 16 bit/44 kHz files

Even though often Japanese releases include some additional tracks, Japanese version of The Book of Souls released by Warner Music Japan offers exactly the same track list as any other. Part of Japanese edition includes a small poster. An interesting fact – there is a beer with a label featuring the cover of The Book of Souls.

SOUND

I haven't listened to Iron Maden for years, although back in the days some of my friends were huge fans and they managed to pass their love for this 'legendary' band also on me. So yes, I did love Live After Death. Anything that was released later in my mind blurred into one album with unrecognizable individual tracks. It does not mean that all of them were bad – simply they were much alike so for not-such-a-fan it was difficult to tell one piece of music from the other. But The Book of Souls is somewhat different, there is something that makes it sound 'fresh' – it offers quite a good music. As you can see my assessment differs from Bartek's. I wouldn't call call it special but for me it was enjoyable.

To enjoy the music one has to accept album's shortcomings in terms of sound quality. Sound is highly compressed and treble is definitely rolled-off. Cymbals play only background for guitars and vocal. It seems that album producers tried to achieve good selectivity so the sound is not that bad, it's not just a 'sound wall'. A good selectivity, despite poor resolution and rolled-off treble, was achieved via skillful usage of reverb – drum-roll's sound is accompanied with a fast reverb which makes it sound more distinct. It's a nice album with a acceptable sound quality, that doesn't hurt ears with brightness or harshness of the sound. On the other hand sound is too damped to properly convey tone of cymbals and guitars and to make them sound like they do during concerts.

Sound quality: 5-6/10
Music: 5-6/10


NEW ORDER
Music Complete

Mute/Traffic TRCP-200

Medium: Compact Disc
Released (world/Japan): Sept. 25th 2015/Sept. 23rd 2015

The latest New Order's opus - Music Complete did not win my heart either. It is their tenth studio album and the second (right after the Lost Sirens) recorded after their comeback in 2011. Listening to it I couldn't resist the feeling that Peter Hook leaving the band actually doomed the band. I truly can't remember any other as poor album as this one. This reminded me a sad story of Pet Shop Boys, who, back in the day, recorded fantastic albums filled with hits, and recently sell some completely meaningless music.

The same can be said about this new album by New Order that also left me unmoved, numb so to speak. To be honest – this is such a strange, 'false' sounding album that it might even repulse you. It was clear to me that Gilbert and the rest of the band had absolutely no fun or whatsoever recording these tracks, it seemed like that were forced to do the job without even knowing what they wanted to do. This is an album only for absolutely crazy fans of the New Order, all the rest might just as well skip it. BP

RELEASE

Music Complete was released in 3 formats: as Compact Disc, download and LP. Each of them has a slightly different cover. Graphic for the cover was created by Peter Saville, who had been working with the band for your, who had been inspired by De Stijl, a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. These are colored surfaces (red, blue, yellow and green with white background), separated (or joined by) thick black lines. The cover differs with the different layout of the same colors. In many countries an additional white strip was added on plastic cover with the name of the band, title and information on singles released in particular country: Restless and Tutti Frutti

Japanese CD includes a bonus track, remix of Restless: Extended Bonus Mix. Both, CD and cover, were produced in Japan. Insert offers no information, only some more graphics. Therefore Japanese version includes additional insert with track list, lyrics (in English and in Japanese) and with essay. In Japan one can but this album with a T-shirt.

Apart from a regular, double vinyl release also a limited edition is offered on black and white vinyl. On November 6th a collector's box was also released that contained 8 discs: 2 on transparent vinyl with a regular version of the album, 6 on color vinyl with extended versions of all tracks. Together with the box comes a code that allows user to download the album in digital form. Another version of vinyl album is available in UK that includes a poster and a postcard.

SOUND

Music Complete includes much more 'electronic' material than previous ones. It is quite enjoyable (in an opinion of a guy who's been band's fan since Joy Division times). But it is surely not particularly original and alongside some really good tracks like Singularity, that reminded me of the band's golden era, there are also many boring ones. That's why the album seems too long, hence I agree with Bartek – that's an album for real fans only.

Frank Arkwright, who, I believe, mastered material for this album in Abbey Road Studios, takes credit for a high quality sound. Lots of compression used for the material did not destroy the flow of the music. Sound of Japanese release seems creamy and there is no impression of it being coming from a closed jar. All that despite the fact the individual tracks (vocals in particular) were recorded in different studios. That's a proof that mastering guy behind this album is a genus.

Sound is rather rich, dense, like it was supposed to support listening via smartphone headphones. There is nothing wrong with such approach but as a result there is almost no deep bass, and mid-bass is not particularly selective. Despite that I don't think that this album is as bad as Bartek described it, although my opinion might be biased by the fact that I'm an old band's fan. But I also do realize that this is surely not one of the best albums in New Order's discography, it's rather a commercially motivated come back of the band. Also this 'sound' fits this particular music which is not a bad thing.

Sound quality: 6/10
Music: 5-6/10


KENDRICK LAMAR
To Pimp a Butterfly

Top Dawg Entertainment | Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records UICS-1287

Released (world/Japan): March 15th 2015/May 20th 2015
Medium: Compact Disc

In September 2015 I went to the cinema with my friend to see a highly acclaimed movie Straight Outta Compton. This film tells a story of an American, coming from Compton, formation N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitudes). This history of rap musicians (representing so called gangsta rap, to be exact) truly impressed me. It was an emotional movie telling lots of interesting stories that included a lot of cool music. I'm not really a rap fan and yet not long after seeing this movie I bought the first album of this group (Straight Outta Compton) on vinyl. Of course this fact, or knowledge of some albums by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg, does not make me an expert on the subject. I just like, from time to time, spend an hour or two listening to rap, that's all.

The latest, third to be exact studio album by Kendrick Lamar called To Pimp a Butterfly gave me another opportunity to dive into rap world. Lamar, born in 1987 in Compton, live in rap world from his youngest years. At age of 8 he accompanied Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakura in a California Love video. Eight years later he recorded his debut track Youngest Head Nigga In Charg, and later in 2011 his debut studio album Section.80 appeared in music shops. A measure of his success might might be established with the names of the guests who accompanied him on To Pimp a Butterfly such as Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams or Flying Lotus.

Even though I'm no expert on rap music I have to admit that I liked this album a lot. It's not only fresh, energetic but also imaginative – it's obvious that Lamar likes to play with music – and it;s also quite relaxing. It's a perfect album to listen during hot, summer evening with a cold beer in your hand. Track after track flows around and you can perfectly relax listening to them. And even though all tracks together create a complete story, one does not have to listen to the whole album as individual tracks are as much fun as the whole story. Let me also mention very sexy female vocals that accompany Lamar on this album. I guess if my girlfriend knew that she could get seriously jealous. BP

RELEASES

Albums was released on CD in a classic jewel-box The Japanese version offers no bonus tracks – probably because it's already quite a long album. Album is also available for download in iTunes Store and Spotify – in fact, by mistake, album was made available there 8 days before official premiere on March 23rd. Also a double 180g vinyl is available on black and on transparent vinyl.

SOUND

Hip-hop albums are produced in a certain way to offer very deep, punchy, selective bass. The key to this type of music is rhythm and clarity of presentation. Lamar's album offers all that. Plus it is really well produced. Sound is deep and clear, open but without excessive brightness. Element recorded out of phase, like supporting choirs in opening track Wesley's Theory (featuring George Clinton and Thundercat) these sound truly surround listener. Bass is particularly deep and coherent with the rest of the range. Clarity of vocals is outstanding.

In my opinion one could only wish that many rock recordings offered similar sound quality, because many of them, compared to To Pimp a Butterfly, sound flat, 'damped'. Albums offers great music and sound quality. Even if you're not a fan of this genre give it a try – you might not find a better album to do that. A great album indeed! WP

Sound quality: 8-9/10
Music: 9/10

Awards: BIG RED Button | RED Fingerprint


TAME IMPALA
Currents

Universal Music Australia/Hostess 4730676J

Medium: 2 x Compact Disc
Released: July 17th 2015

Are fans of psychedelic rock? What about a modern one, one that does not necessarily follow the same path as the classics from 1960ties and 1970ties? If so let me present the third studio album of an Australian group Tame Impala, that formed already in 2007. This group might not be well known here, but it is surely known in the West, of which their success during 2015 ARIA Music Awards (Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards) is the best proof. They received awards for the Best Rock Album, Album of the Year, and were also nominated in Best Pop Release category. The latest release of the group that took its name after Impala antelope, was appreciated also by critics in many countries, and acclaimed by journalists of „Q”, „NME” or „The Guardian”.

I also liked this album although it was not a love at first sight. At first I did not enjoy the long play at all. There was a lot going on, musically speaking, and sometimes it even too much for my taste. I couldn't figure out what was important, what should I have focused on. It was the second listening that allowed me to appreciate some great, although bit hidden, melodies (Eventually, The Less I Know The Better), interesting sound passages (Gossip), and even two elaborate composition (Let It Happen i New Person, Same Old Mistakes). Band members are highly talented and skilled musician which further enhances the positive experience –I personally liked drums a lot, also guitars, and this intriguing vocal – you just have to hear it for yourself. You definitely should listen to this album. BP

RELEASES

The cover was created by artist and musician from Kentucky, Robert Beatty. Albums is available on Compact Disc and as a double LP. The latter was released in few versions with black vinyl, half-transparent with one purple record and the other amber, and another version featuring violet and green colors. Some LP releases include also printouts of five graphics.
Japanese version features gate-fold cover and „mini LP” discs. It includes an anti-static envelope for CD, and an insert with Japanese essay and with lyrics in English and Japanese. It I also a double album. The bonus disc includes 9 tracks performed live.

SOUND

Music of this type, fluid, slow, the type that gets under man's skin, but also technically advanced requires a certain level of skills not sound boring. Sound engineers and producers of Currents did a great job. Sound is open but also very deep. Sound smoothly crosses from powerful, rhythmic parts to those slow ones that seem to be coming from under the water. Vocal is nicely recorded, no brightness or harshness here. It is also not 'enlarged' in front – it fits perfectly into the whole mix sitting far away from listener. Bass is nicely extended, deep, rich but at the same time the sound of the whole album is not particularly dense but rather quite 'light'. I'd appreciate more dynamic, more resolving sound, but obviously we can't have it all at once. It is a well made album that I truly enjoyed. WP

JSound quality: 7-8/10
Music: 8/10

Award: RED Fingerprint


FAITH NO MORE
Sol Invictus

Reclamation Recordings!/Hostess K.K. RRIPCOO2J

Medium: Compact Disc
Released (world/Japan): May 19th 2015/Nov. 12th 2015

For whatever reason I was never really a Faith No More fan. Sure, I realized the importance of the group, their influence on genre but I never shared the delight about Patton, Bordin and others' talents. So when the seven, highly anticipated 7th studio album called Sol Invictus arrived I could start listening to it without any particular expectations or emotions. For fans it was an emotional moment as they waited for the next studio album since 1997 (Album of the Year) long-play released by FNM, and it was supposed to give an answer to a question whether these guys still had it in them.

The biggest problem I have with Sol Invictus is that it doesn't offer an unambiguous answer. It includes some great tracks (Rise of the Fall or released as a single Motherfucker) but also some mediocre ones, and even really shitty ones. It seemed like this album was created by two very different crews: the good old one, full of ideas and energy, and the old old one that simply lost its spark. The former reminded me of their previous achievements presented now in a more modern, catchy way, the latter sounded like they wanted to do the same as the former but simply wasn't able to. My friend, a big fan of FNM who enjoyed this album a lot said that it this was a quit challenging album for any listener, one that required some level of confidence in the band. Well, I didn't obviously have enough of such confidence. But maybe some of you will? BP

RELEASES

The CD release of Sol Invictus looks really good in a digipack with golden letters engraved in the cover – the mane of the band in front and the track list on the back use such engraved golden letter. The Japanese version offers a bonus track Superhero Battaglia (Remixed by Alexander Hacke). This version features traditional Japanese OBI, and inside one will find an insert with an essay in Japanese. Both CD and box were made in Japan. Version available outside Japans includes an insert in English. Some national releases, like Australian for example, feature addition label with warning about foul language used in lyrics. Band members signed numerous copies of the album and such copies are available on eBay, reaching 60-80 USD a piece.

Vinyl release is even more spectacular. Apart from a 'standard' black release also other colors are available: gold, white and also transparent vinyl version. Customer if informed of a color inside with a label on the outside cover. Some copies are sold bundled with 7” vinyl with Super Hero track. It is clear that the band and their management did their best to reach as many fans as possible with a variety of versions and collectibles.

SOUND

The first successful album of this band Angel Dust (1992) was re-issued in 2008 on 180 g vinyl and on Gold CD by Mobile Fidelity. MoFi always offers high quality sound on their releases, so my expectations for this album were rather high. As it turned out even such a great label couldn't produce miracles – there is only so much one can do with given material.

I thought about it right after I started to play Sol Invictus. The Japanese releases (and I used such for this review) usually offer better sound quality than others and so it did also this time. Despite the fact that a high level of compression used on this material was pretty obvious from the start. It makes it sound rather flat, sound is not not well differentiated and presented in a distance (from listener). Unless somebody on a sound engineer team wanted guitars presented closer.

One of advantages of Japanese release is that it lacks brightness or harshness. It's a relief for man's ears. Artificial harshness is a carrier of subjectively understood dynamics and 'power', which reminded me of what Americans from MoFi did with Angel Dust.

I belong to band's fans ever since the release of The Real Thing (1989), but I don't particularly like this new album. Band uses the same harmonic and rhythmic patterns over and over again. To be perfectly clear – it's not a bad album, I'd even say that some of its parts are quite good. But others (other bands I mean) create something more interesting and even a true FNM fan deserves better than this album – and I mean in terms of both, music and sound quality.

Sound quality: 5/10
Music: 6/10


JULIA HOLTER
Have You In My Wilderness

Domino Records WIGLP341

Medium: 180 g LP + MP3/WAV16 /44,1
Released: Sept. 25th 2015

I left this album for the last because in this case I had troubles deciding what to do with it. Have You In My Wilderness is a fourth studio album by Julia Holter, born in 1984 in Los Angeles singer, composer and producer. Even though her carrier started already in 2006 she became known only recently due to release of this particular album. Previous ones went rather unnoticed although recognized by some music magazines. Before Have You In My Wilderness the most successful album in artist carrier was 2013 Loud City Song.

Will her latest album, awarded by both, „Q” and „MOJO”, let her become more popular, reach more fans. Yes and no. On one hand one can't refuse Ms Holter a true talent for writing original and catchy pieces of music – 'original' been a key word here as she has her own, Julia Holter style. Her works clearly show a great potential with Feel You or my personal favorite Everytime Boots being great examples. It's a really good, artistic pop,well played and sung.

On the other hand while listening to this album I felt all the time as if she wanted to be this music to be as 'artistic' as possible. Some really cool, catchy tracks are mixed with strange ones that I couldn't even understand or that were simply boring, like How Long? (listening to it I kept asking the question from the title). It's possible that this artist is not after popularity, that she lives in her own niche and she's comfortable with it. For me it felt like each time she recorded a really good track she immediately tried to balance this impression with some 'artistic' tune nobody understands. Having aid that I still recommend that each of you listens to Have You In My Wilderness yourself. Album is not particularly long (circa 47 minutes), and few tracks are real gems definitely worth listening to.

A fanny story – the vinyl issues include a code that allows user to download this music in digital form. The instruction says that code allows you to download mp3 files. In general I don't use mp3 but this time I decided: what the heck – let's download it. To my surprise when I went to download page I was given a choice – I actually could download a mp3 version of Have You In My Wilderness or… choose a lossless WAV format (16 bit/44,1 kHz). Why would anybody inform vinyl owner only about possibility of downloading the lower quality version? I have no idea. BP

RELEASES

This album is available as Compact Disc (digipack and jewel-case), download (mp3 and WAV 16/44,1) and a single 180g vinyl. Buyers of the vinyl receive also a code that allows them to download music files. Japanese CD was made in „mini LP” format.

SOUND

This album offers quite a specific sound that reminded me, maybe not at first but after a while, works of This Mortail Coil and 4AD label in general. It's about truly spacial presentation with a tonal balance shifted up, with bright reverb and vocals. Sound is clear, selective which allows, for example, a double bass opening I Feel You to shine. It is a pretty well produced album, but it lacks some “foundation” it could rest on. Systems with some emphasis in treble also lacking real foundation in bass will react won't be best partners for this record. The ones properly balanced should deliver a nice, enjoyable sound. The music itself is surely not my cup of tea, tracks are quite similar so listening to the whole album gets bit monotonous. But I do realize that many people like this type of music. For me it is a waste of time.

Sound quality: 6-7/10
Music: 5-6/10


SUMMARY

Last year our summary read: „We still do love to read both “Classic Rock Magazine” and „Q” despite the fact that, as our small experiment proved, we don't always agree with their opinions. We don't regret time spent with those albums that were recommended and awarded by both magazines, as now we feel that we know what is “trendy” today. And despite all those people who claim that rock is dead, that nothing interesting has been happening in music for a long time, we want to say that it is not true. We live in interesting, although different times and it is up to us whether we consider them equally interesting and involving as the “old times”.

Over the past 12 month the situation hasn't changed at all. OK, we decided to use recommendations not only of „Q” and „Classic Rock Magazine” but also of „MOJO”, but the situation is the same – as opposed to popular believe a lot of really good, engaging music is made today. So one should look for it. Obviously not every album one buys will turn out to be a fantastic one even if one uses recommendations of prestigious music magazines, but listening to some new music always offers us at least a new experience and often something more. You will be coming back many times to these particularly good albums and these will repay you with hundreds of hours of great time. That's something that no one and nothing can take away from you.

To summarize our game after careful consideration we created the list of “for” and “against” presented below:

Bartosz Pacuła

FOR
1. JAMIE XX, In Colour
2. CLUTCH, Psychic Warfare
3. KENDRICK LAMAR, To Pimp a Butterfly

AGAINST
1. NEW ORDER, Music Complete
2. IRON MADEN, The Book of Souls

Wojciech Pacuła

FOR
1. JAMIE XX, In Colour
2. CLUTCH, Psychic Warfare
3. KENDRICK LAMAR, To Pimp a Butterfly

AGAINST
1. JULIA HOLTER, Have You In My Wilderness
2. FAITH NO MORE, Sol Invictus

BP | WP


This text is an effect of combined effort of „MUSIC TO THE PEOPLE” and „HIGH FIDELITY”.

About Us

We cooperate

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the Music.com”, “Positive-Feedback.com”“HiFiStatement.net”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

For years, "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other audio magazines, including “Enjoy the Music.com” and “Positive-Feedback.com” in the U.S. and “HiFiStatement.net”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “6moons.com”.

You can contact any of our contributors by clicking his email address on our CONTACT  page.

enjoythemusic linia positive-feedback linia hifistatement linia

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE TESTED DEVICES ARE MADE USING THE EQUIPMENT OF THE COMPANY



Digital camera:
Canon EOS 5D MkIII

Lenses:
EF-16-35/L II USM
EF 100 mm 1:2.8 L IS USM


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