This list of tracks are the ones we used at the Bristol Show this year. Playing on a full Signature system through some KEF blades, they really did sound amazing. See how they work with your set up. Below is a little bit on why we chose each track.
Glen Howard: Roll On Slow (Between Two Shore) 2018
Irish Musician originally busking in Dublin in the 80s.
Really well recorded and mixed track, builds as it goes through. Listen out for the sliding bass notes, you can really hear the finger running over each of the individual winds in those big strings. The track also features brass, which I find notoriously difficult to reproduce on Hi Fi in a complex mix like this. Drums are really snappy. At the very end, muted cymbal brings the track to a polished end.
Bahamas: Alone (Earthtones): 2018
Afie Jurvanen is a Finnish-Canadian from Barrie (Ontario). Simply but compelling track « revels in the spare but intensely flavourful textures »
Opens with guitar panning left to right and the vocal locked in the centre. Builds with good use of backing vocals.
Doubt Thou The Stars: Bob Stenson Trio (Contra La Indeicision) 2018
Bob Stenson is a Swedish Piano player and Jazz musician, now 73. Fascinating opening with the sporadic drums, which include hitting the shell and scraping the cymbal stand across the floor. A really well recorded track, and some lovely Jazz musician ship. Masquerades as an improv piece but takes you on a journey.
Zorbing: Stornoway (Single) 2007
Actually, from Oxford, despite their name.
This their debut single from 2007. Haunting but rhythmic vocal, with Celtic lilt.
Some nice layering of instruments and vocal on this track. On this set up you and really feel the space around each instrument, a bit like each instrument is in its own spotlight, and yet the trick of the system is to achieve and still let it come over as a coherent piece
Confession Pt III: Badbadnotgood (Single) 2017
Toronto based Jazz group. This track features just Drums, Bass, Sax and Clarinet, but take you on a wild journey. Some great sax playing
Listen out for the doubling of tempo of the sax, on first listen you just think half way through « when did he start doing that? »
Altamira: Mark Knopfler (Altamira) 2016
What Hi-Fi show reel would be complete without a Mark Knopfler track. His trade mark style instantly recognisable from the opening notes, but in fact this is a movie soundtrack, from the 2016 Movie « Finding Altamira » with Antonio Banderas (5.9 on IMDB for those who are interested). As usual with Mr Knopfler, really well recorded and subtlety arranged, it’s a track that wraps itself around you.
Tale of Two Lawyers: Marcus Miller (Marshall OMPST) 2017
Another track from a movie. This one is down to Marcus Miller, known for enigmatic bass playing, but there is not a single bass note on this track, instead you have some very breathy and atmospheric clarinet, and a touch of sleazy brass. That is because while famous for his bass, Marcus is also in fact a classically trained clarinettist.
Hymn For The Weekend: Coldplay (A Head Full of Dreams) 2015
Clearly mixed as a pop song, when played on a system like this, you do get an extra dimension to tracks such as this. From the opening sound effects and Beyoncé’s guest vocal, the tracks take on extra vibrancy and depth, crisp pianos and punchy bass drums. Chris Martin’s vocals are a bit ragged, but I think that is the effect he was after.
The Time Machine: Jean Michel Jarre (Electonica 1: The Time Machine) 2015
Proving he can move with the times this Jean Michel Jarre track fits the modern dance genre, yet is still unmistakable Jarre, an explosion for the senses.
Summertime, Annie Lennox (Nostalgia) 2014
An over covered classic this maybe, but the talent of Annie Lennox manages to bring something new to this track. It’s a stunning vocal performance, taking the emotional power of this track to a whole new level.
The Rescue Blues: Ryan Adams (Gold) 2001 – Hi Res 24/96
From Jacksonville Carolina, a country rocker who has achieved mainstream success. This track from hit second solo album is classic of Adams, Rock back rhythm with country style guitar layered with backing vocals, a sumptuous involving track.
Watermelon Man: Herbie Hancock (Taking Off) 1962
This track really shows that even for something recorded in 1962, with a good system and quality source what you can achieve. Close your eyes and imagine a Ronnie Scot cocktail on the table in front of you.
Vanishing Act: Lou Reed (The Raven) 2003
A very simple track, piano and vocal. But how emotive is that closely miked vocal, such a rich tone. Listen to how you can really hear the varying textures of the opening piano notes as they die away. Also, someone has left the snare on, on a snare drum in the studio, so you can hear it resonate on some of the piano notes. What was the producer thinking tagging the string section on the end?
The Deer’s Cry: Arvo Part – Vox Clemetis (Arvo Part – The Deer’s Cry) 2016
Arvo Part is a modern (still alive) composer, whose music is modern in an interesting but very approachable way. He uses lots of repeated patterns, but with subtle variations in each time. This is one of his Choral works. You can really here the recording space as the end of the notes reverb and fade out. Amazing clarity of separation of the various parts.
A Thousand Kisses Deep: Till Bronner (Nightfall) 2018
Till Bronner is a Famous German Jazz Trumpeter. This album has just been released (Jan 2018) The track features some beautifully textured soft trumpet. Bronner is « young » for a Jazz Musician at 46, but his bassist needs to go on fitness regime, as you can hear how out of breath he gets.
Villains of Circumstance, Queens of the Stone Age (Villains) 2017
What do you get if you cross a Californian Heavy Metal band with a London Jazz producer? Well last year Queens of the Stone Age released « Villains » produced by Mark Ronson. Its an interesting junction of styles that works better on some tracks than others. What I like about this track is the jazz double bass style clarity of what is so obviously a heavy metal bass. Also listen out for the deconstructed ending.
Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony 4th Movement (Finale), Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Yevgeny Mravisnky 1961
Another example of how Hi-Res can roll back the years, this recording was originally made in 1961. Good music is high on emotional content and this performance has energy and drive in spades that is perfectly captured, and reproduced on this Cyrus system. From the strident opening strings and sympathetic brass, this movement builds you up to a crest, takes you down the other side, then takes you to an even higher crest, again and again. At the end you feel emotionally charged, and exhausted.
Mercury, the winged messenger, Holst – The Planets, Berlin Philarmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
A delicate and flighty piece, with that sense of air and freedom really well captured in this performance.
This is it: Ryan Adam (Rock N Roll) 2003
Crisp closed hi hat in opening. Discordant guitar chord. Like good rock and roll, it supposed to be edgy and exciting without being uncomfortable, and this track achieves that in spades. The system enables you to hear all the different layers without destroying the overall rock power ambiance.
Deceive, Trentemoller (Lost Reworks) 2014
Good system can cope with huge dynamic ranges. The driving bass line throughout this track put real stress on the whole system, and yet listen to how clearly all the overlaying instruments can be hear.