An engaging journey of the mind and heart
In high-end audio, less is more when there is less electronic transition and digital processing of a performance during recording and mixing. In the case of this Opus 3 SACD, How Deep Is The Ocean by female jazz vocalist, Yamina, we’re told the original DSD128 file had “never been in the PCM domain…” The rest is appreciatively more: more processing power by way of a pioneering eight channels of native DSD128 recording from Europe and then mixed in analog format completely.
Most delightfully, the entire album was a audience-less live recording in the Jarna Kulturhus’ Concert Hall with no post-recording dubbing. The result is a dynamically well-balanced work of art infused with high transparency and complex tonality. Though closely miked and hence cast effectively to the front and over the instrumentalists, Yamina’s voice never eclipses her band mates.
Small labels like Opus 3 churns out distinct gems occasionally, while many established artists flock to major labels for their marketing muscles. But the mainstream propensity and standardized recording processes often paled in comparison to the individually tailored musical accompaniments and discriminating choices in studio complements prevalent at small, independent labels by new artists.
Take Yamina, for example, a newcomer who first garnered a reputation from her debut of four songs in 2013 with the label. In this new album, she sings with a delicate sensibility and yet revealing a remarkably uninhibited style. Hers is one well-crafted, probably even well rehearsed. Nonetheless, the result speaks for itself, and she flaunts her vocalizations diligently and professionally. At one point she conveys care and longing, while sighing carelessness and abandonment moments later.
Her band plays with equal proficiency and taste. The interplay between the bass clarinet, cello and double bass in the popular “My Foolish Heart” is brilliant and the mood effective. They also have the wisdom of keeping each track short and sweet, not risking redundant lamentations exercised by so many others that made the “Next” button my favorite one on the remote. Besides the first track of five and a half minute, all other tracks in the album run for a little over three minutes. Nonetheless, good music makes one want to listen to it over and over again.
The sheer creativity on display is startling. The album is a first-person take on the events to take place to H. C. Andersen’s “Little Mermaid” when the fifteen-year-old ventures beyond her domain into humanity and meets the love of her life. Yamina composed most of the songs in this album, and the liner notes offered in-depth narrative on the state-of-mind of our protagonist.
We don’t very often come across a work of such concerted efforts and intensity as How Deep Is The Ocean. Now that she and Opus 3 have raised the stake so considerably, I await her next album eagerly.
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