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Tree albums for the fools’ day

by Pavel Shlyapnikov

Yaron Herman Trio — Songs of the Degrees

Yaron Herman is an Israeli pianist with a funny career. He intended to become a basketball player, but was injured. Where does a would-be basketball player go? To play jazz, indeed.

There is nothing interesting in writing about ‘Songs of the Degrees’. It is good per se, as all other Herman’s works are: buoyant improvisation, unexpected Corea-like harmonic movements. Ziv Ravits the drummer doesn’t hide his admiration of Manu Katché style. The more boring the exercise of reviewing this album seems, the more enjoyable the listening experience is.

Sound and mastering are quite remarkable, though. Drums have prominent mid frequencies — not something one often hears, even in jazz recordings. And there is an almost disappearing level of compression. Altogether, it sounds like a bootleg, nonetheless with the good instruments layering and the wide stereo panorama for the grand piano.

Track to begin with: 2

Worth adding to collection: Yay!

Mainstream-o-meter: 3/5

Audio Fidelity: 5/5

Deaf Center — Low Distance

Out of the blue has emerged the new album of an ambient Norwegian duet of ‘Deaf Center’. The last recording named ‘Owl Splinters’ released in 2010 was admired by critics. Some of those erected it to the top of the ambient works lists.

A few reviewers even crowned the duet with a Crown left of ‘Coil’. Yet, Norwegians’ fate and career were not as horrendous as the British gay couple’s were.

As lore goes, ‘Deaf Center’ compose their albums in a hut somewhere in the middle of Norwegian woods.

The duet retains the signature sound. An inexpensive but well tuned piano plays, covered with simple one-toned pads and ambient sounds, like crickets’ chirping passed throughout high reverb.

In brief, nine years have passed since the last release, and Norwegians came up with a good old idea that ambient is not just some howling grannies of rare ethnicity, but also well-weaved Nordic yearning.

Track to begin with: 3

Worth adding to collection: Yay!

Mainstream-o-meter: 2/5

Audio Fidelity: 3/5

Lang Lang — Piano Book

A Chinese virtuoso pianist Lang Lang (郎朗) could be described as ‘Bono, yet from classics’. On the one hand, he was caressed by mainstream media with due attention (even found himself on the Time’s ‘Top-100 Influential 2009’ list). On the other hand, he is one of the most prominent champions for classical music popularity. Meaning, ‘classics’ classic — from the repertoire of an elementary music school.

Lang Lang is a genuine virtuoso. He negligently played Listz’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody’ three times faster than any other pianist of his level. Being scolded by critics, he responds with classic ‘I play the way I hear’. Although, Lang Lang plays with Metallica on their Beijing concert.

On the album he keeps making fun of critics. He recorded Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’ and Debussy’s ‘Claire de lune’. And that’s a good thing. At least one can listen to it played by a great pianist, not by a neighborhood’s kid.

Track to begin with: 5

Worth adding to collection: Yay!

Mainstream-o-meter: 5/5

Audio Fidelity: 2/5

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