Download of the Week

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Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 27, 2012
The Hoff Ensemble Quiet Winter Night 2L (192/24)

This wonderful recording is a blend of jazz and folk with Norwegian songs sung by Norway’s top vocalists including Helene Boksle, Sondre Bratland, Unni Wilhelmsen, Tomine Harket and Cecilia Vennersten. Now I have never heard of any of these singers, but the album fits together beautifully. As the title suggests, this is quiet reflective music with a touch of melancholy that is very well recorded. A large acoustic space with deep bass. And yes, this recording has dynamics; an overall DR13. Another 2L showpiece.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 21, 2012
Has is really been 16 years since Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry wove their gossamer worldly musical threads into album form? Anastasis (Greek for resurrection) is the duo's new album and it's got all the Dead Can Dance you remember. For fans this is great news, for foes not so much. I have to be, as Glenn Miller said, in the mood but when I'd like to be awash in beautiful multicultural sounds with stunning vocals from Lisa Gerard floating over the top like icing on the Sargasso Sea, Dead Can Dance can certainly tickle that very particular fancy.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 14, 2012
The Xx (Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and Jamie xx) arrived with a fully formed sound on their self-titled debut album from 2009 and their sophomore release Coexist continues where The Xx left off but strips even more layers from their slow, seemingly simple spare formulas which add up to...lovely.
Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 07, 2012
Blue Coast Records is offering a free group of performances recorded at the 2012 California Audio Show. To access the downloads you must register with Blue Coast Records. The recordings were made live direct to 2 channel using the Sonoma System at 2.8 MHz.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 07, 2012
Chan Marshall is back with Sun her first album's worth of original material in over six years. And Chan Mashall sings, plays every instrument and she produced this record as well so it's all self Cat Powered power pop. Meow. Marshall explains her songwriting process to the LA Times:
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 31, 2012
Jean Dubuffet Expériences Musicales

Thanks to reader and frequent commenter 'deckeda' for turning us on to The Avant Garde Project:

The Avant Garde Project is a series of recordings of 20th-century classical, experimental, and electroacoustic music digitized from LPs whose music has in most cases never been released on CD, and so is effectively inaccessible to the vast majority of music listeners today.
There are lots of great (great) recordings available for free! and most appear to be at least CD-quality FLAC files. Here are a few I'd recommend (and these were the first three I downloaded):
Steven Plaskin  |  Aug 24, 2012
Linn Records download of Sasha Cooke with the Colburn Orchestra If You Love for Beauty is my download pick of the week. Yarlung Records uses minimalist audiophile recording techniques and prefers to record in concert halls as opposed to studios. This 88.2/24 recording has wonderful acoustics for this mezzo-soprano with terrific performances of the Mahler "Ruckert Leider". I also enjoyed Chausson’s "Poeme de L”Amour et de la Mer".
Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 17, 2012
Ghédalia Tazartès Une Eclipse Totale De Soleil

Thanks once again to friend & colleague Stephen Mejias for pointing me to this oasis among what can seem like a veritable sea of sultry breathy vapidity—Diogenes Music Digital Home for Experimental Music. I was dreaming about something exactly like this for some time, the kind of music I buy on LP but cannot find via download, so this site is literally a fulfilled desire. Some of the labels represented include Alga Marghen, alt.vinyl, Bo' Weavil, Dekorder, Fonal, Incus Records, Machinefabriek, MISF*TS, MonotypeRec, No-Fi, Ping Pong Productions, Presto!?, Singing Knives, Staubgold, Ultra Marine, and many more. A veritable freakin' gold mine for the mind.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Aug 10, 2012
I'm feeling sentimental, so here's a blast from our recent past—Burial's self-titled album released on Hyperdub in 2006 made a whole host of "Best of..." lists and it continues to...crackle. When I first heard it six years ago I wrote, Beautiful, transcendental, hypnotic music from anonymous Burial. Lee Perry’s Black Ark moves to Blade Runner’s LA and they have a baby called dubstep. Primate pirate drum dub crackled. i.e., I liked it even though it sounds so forlorn.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 29, 2012
DJ/PURPLE/IMAGE Head Tear of the Drunken Sun

Stephen Mejias' email read: This one is severely awesome and the included link pointed me to DJ/PURPLE/IMAGE's new Head Tear of the Drunken Sun which I had been listening to the day before. I love when that happens.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 01, 2012
Da Pacem (Give Peace) featuring the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent on organ led by Pärt perfectionist Paul Hillier spans nearly 30 years of the composer's output. Here we have a collection of short-form sacred choral works both a cappella and with organ accompaniment and they are sparse, minimal, medieval, monastic, and lovely. If you go for that sort of thing.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 25, 2012
George Gershwin

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought a pair of related American masterpieces would be especially fitting. First up we have Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue from a June 10, 1924 performance featuring George himself on piano and Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra (abridged arrangement by "Ferdie" Grofé). You'll most likely have already noted based on the recording date that this is an "acoustical" recording meaning the sound was captured by a horn not a microphone (otherwise it would have been an "electrical recording") so it is an early example of HD (horn definition) music.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2012
Beach House Bloom

Any Cocteau Twins fans out there? If you go for dreamy washes of keyboards, fluid guitar, and angelic vocals floating over the top, all wrapped up into songs that are not afraid to sound beautiful, you may very well like Beach House. Bloom, released on Sub Pop!, is the fourth full-length from Baltimore-based Beach House who is Alex Scally (electric guitar, electric bass, piano, organs and keyboards, background vocals) and Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboards, organ and piano) joined here by Daniel Franz on drums and percussion and Joe Cueto on Viola for "On the Sea". Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, !!!, Grizzly Bear, Deadbeat Darling, Blonde Redhead, and more...) gets co-producer credit.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2012
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Hummingbird

Originally released on Spiritual Pajamas as a limited edition 10" Record Store Day EP, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Hummingbird is slow, sad, and to my way of hearing, lovely. As the title suggests, we open with Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" where Billy is joined by a host of musicians including “Farmer” Dave Scher, Paz Lenchantin and Derek James (Entrance Band) for a hand-clapping, foot stomping funk-infused simmering delight. "Tribulations" covered with minimal pomp with the help of Emmett Kelly (Cairo Gang) gets all old-and-other-worldly, and a cover of Merle Haggard's "Because Of Your Eyes" is essential Billy—immediate, moving and worth the price of admission. The closer "Hummingbird Pt. 2" brings it all back home (is that Vangelis flying away?)...

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 02, 2012
Masaki Batoh, Brain Pulse Music

Masaki Batoh, musician formerly of the band Ghost and currently also an acupuncturist, conceived of and had the Brain Pulse Music Machine made to translate brain waves into sound waves which the wearer can learn to control to make music.