Welcome to the HiFi Starters Club April 23 playlist, and as promised we’ve ratcheted up the tempo a bit this month. Find the playlist on Spotify here, Qobuz here and Tidal here.
1. “Empire of Light” by Schiller from Illuminate
A bit like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, the elements of Illuminate are fairly predictable. In this case anthemic synths, punchy beats, lots of reverb. As with RAM, Schiller’s craft is in melding the elements into an irresistable stream of electronica though. Which he does brilliantly, this is totally addictive.
2. “Pace” by Nubya Garcia from Source
Afro-Caribbean jazz, a blend of traditions with heavy emphasis on the beat and with saxophone to the fore. A genre I first encountered with Blue Lab Beats’ The Sound of Afrotronica. Nubya Garcia takes it to the next level, for me at least. Swirling, evocative music that’s well recorded. Jazz traditionalists may sniff, but then they did when Miles Davis started going off-piste didn’t they?!
3. “Tower of Babel” by Natalie Merchant from Keep Your Courage
The album is released on 14th April ’23. For now this track is available as a single. And it seems Natalie Merchant is on form again; that familiar voice with the melancholic undertones. The rasping brass, an upbeat tempo. Another single – Come On, Aphrodite – is also available and is equally good. Which bodes well for the full album.
4. “Symmetry” by Simo Cell from Online, Vol. 1
Not so much upbeat as wickedly low bass. Okay it’s a bit gratuitous. It is infectious though, and it will test your system’s low end performance no end. Just watch the volume first time round, you don’t want to blow your speakers or amplifier. The track was first highlighted by Darko, one of many I wouldn’t have found myself but am glad I now know.
5. “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd from Dark Side of the Moon (50th Anniversary, 2023 remaster)
Yes, DSOTM, that oldest of old stalwarts again. I’m no fan of record companies milking fans with reissue after reissue of classic albums. This remaster does add up to a subtle but sufficiently different take on the album though, James Guthrie has done a fantastic job (WYWH next?) Everything has been cleaned up, the different elements of the mix are clearer, with bass lines in particular more prominent (Roger Waters must be loving it). It’s getting a lot of playtime here, you might want to give it a spin too (the whole album that is, “Brain Damage” was a random choice of track).
6. “Strauss’ Also Spracht Zarathustra” by Francoise Xavier-Roth / LSO from the album of the same name
This one is even older than DSOTM. Well the composition anyway; 1896 since you ask. This live recording was released in March ’23. Yes it’s a barnstorming piece, known by most as the theme to Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. This recording is a cracker, the horns blasting from the speakers with real intent. Short it may be at 1’37”. Everyone needs at least one version in their library though don’t they?