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David Darling 8-String Religion

Label: Wind Over The Earth/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 041
Details: disc made of 99,9999% silver, reissue
Released: 2001/2009
Sound director:: Mickey Houlihan/Paul Stubblebine, Bruce Brown, March 20th 2009
Producer: David Carling, Mickey Houlihan/Winston Ma
Recording place: eight different locations
Date of recording: 1982-1983

Remastering: Doug Sax, The Mastering Lab, Los Angeles, USA

Format: silver-CD (DXD)

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba

Track list::

1. Soft Light
2. Clouds
3. Sweet River
4. Minor Blue
5. Only One Wish
6. 8 String Religion
7. Sojourn
8. Remember

8-String Religion is a recording categorized as New Age. Let me be frank with you – that's not my kind of music. There are so many fantastic jazz, classical and rock recording I will never have a chance to listen to, that I surely won't lose time for any crappy music. But sometimes ... Yes, that's the case. Since I received a package from FIM I've listened to this CD four, maybe five times and I still don't have enough of it. I can't even tell you that this one is different from New Age “achievements” – no, it is the same mood, lots of reverb, peace, focus. But this time there is something that makes it the real Music, and not music used as background for everyday activities. And the sound quality… Winston Ma promotes strongly a new format - DXD. Just a reminder – DXD is digital PCM format using 24-bit signal sampled at 352.8kHz. No, it can't be at present released on any medium, but that is how the material from master tapes is saved on a hard drive during mastering and in this form it is processed. Than the signal is downsampled to 16-bit, 44,1 kHz. By shaping noise and using adequate dithering (an intentionally applied form of noise, used to randomize quantization error) they manage to achieve 20-bit resolution on CD! And CDs recorded in this way can sound extraordinary which FIM's releases prove very well. Mr Winston adds a cherry on the top – he uses discs made of 99,9999% silver. This particular CD under review has been released by FIM's daughter company - Lasting Impression Music.


As I said I was not a fan of New Age, because songs are simply boring and irritating with lack of concept for the song itself and also for sound production. My interest was caught by Mr Ma's short note stating that he doesn't listen to this kind of music ofter, but this particular recording is one of the very few New Age ones that features emotional depth and a very special sound. I agree with him fully! It's not that I always support Winston's selections but this time I don't have a choice.
The space is captured extremely well. And it is not artificially produced, there is real depth, three-dimensional, and the furthest plane is really far away. The attack is slightly rounded just as the contours – but it is perfectly combined with artistic contents, it's just a way it has to be done. David Darling's eight-string cello is incredibly palpable – something we, audiophiles – always chase like a bunny. To be honest I have no idea how they managed to put all those sounds – natural and those from synthesizers - together. And this material was recorded in eight (!) different studios, actually each piece comes from a different place. Most of the credit should go to Daug Sax – “master” of mastering – the man I highly regard. And finally DXD technology – on one hand it is just a way of saving and processing the signal by upsampling it to 352,8 kHz (24-bits are standard), but obviously done by the right people can bring the sound ABOVE the level. This recording sets a New Age standard for me considering both – sound and songs. Gentle, slow, abstracted, but not trivial or boring.

Sound quality: REFERENCE

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"High Fidelity OnLine" is an internet magazine, published since may 2004, devoted to high quality reproduction of sound and picture. It is a monthly magazine, but the articles are uploaded twice a month - in the beginning of the month and in the middle. The news column is updated on on-going basis, if possible. The main sections are: "Tests", "Events" (interviews, reportages, and similar), "Hyde Park" (user tests, opinions) and "Who asks..." (readers questions and HFOL answers). Articles from earlier issues can be read in the "Archive". Have a nice read!

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