Craft Recordings has picked three of the best-selling classical titles and the best-selling opera from the revered Telarc label and given them the deluxe reissue treatment: audiophile quality pressings and heavy duty gatefold jackets. While many fans will love to replace their vintage copies of these titles, these works have also been selected because together they make a wonderful entry point for anyone just getting into classical music. The classical titles are Stravinsky's The Firebird (Suite, 1919 version) with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, available on vinyl for the first time in 40-years, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons with Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with Erich Kunzel conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Fans of a certain age may remember unwittingly learning about the 1812 Overture as they sang along to a TV commercial for Quaker Puffed Rice; "This is the cereal that's shot from guns!" The opera is the beloved Carl Orff work Carmina Burana featuring soprano Judith Blegen, baritone Hakan Hagegard and tenor William Brown. Shaw again conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This title comes as a 2-LP set.
Feel Freeze – Feathers and Scars – (LP on black vinyl)
Raymonde Gaunoux and Mathias Vinther Lilholt are Feel Freeze, and Feathers and Scars will be the treat of the year for many. The set begins with the brief piano and effects instrumental "Alting Foregar," giving the impression that the whole set might be very trippy. To the contrary, the effort is a set of exquisite synth pop grooves, some of which will lead you straight to the dance floor, and some of which will induce wonderful lucid dreaming. "Bend the Night" is a dreamy slow dance with a bit of hip-hop vocal work mid song, "Take a Look" recalls the sublime side of the Human League, and "No Headlights, Just Stars" is a masterpiece of chill out that could also be thought of as progressive rock. Each song here can stand on its own, but to appreciate the full talent of the duo the album should be listened to all the way through, and most will not have a problem with that.
Wajatta – Casual High Technology – (2-LP on black vinyl)
Here's another duo offering; Wajatta is Reggie Watts and John Tejada, both of whom are heavy hitters on the West Coast dance scene. Opening cut "We Know More (Than We Lead On)" is a mellow groove perfect for getting that pre-clubbing buzz on while "Slippin'" kicks up the BPMs a bit and features a bit of scatting, and "Make Some Sense" is a funky chant set to an insistent beat. "Je Wa Soto" is a lengthy club banger, and the album as a whole seems to mimic a night at the club as the beats get crazier the further you go. Near the end of the set though the beats chill a little for "Synchronize," a cut that reminds of a Duran Duran remix.
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence – (LP on black vinyl)
Echoes of '90s-era Yes resound in "Behind the Curtain," the opening track from this prog rock band featuring namesake Deninzon on vocals and 7-string violin. Sometimes referred to as the "Jimi Hendrix of the electric violin," Deninzon does indeed set off some fireworks on "Behind the Curtain," but he sounds more like Jean Luc Ponty on "Take Your Medicine." The title cut harkens a bit to King Crimson with its precise musicianship, propelled by the rhythm section of bass man Jamie Bishop and drummer Lucianna Padmore. Guitarist Aurelien Budynek and Deninzon trade licks throughout and they finish "Guilty of Innocence" with a guitar and violin maelstrom. The band romps through a cover of Muse's "Hysteria" and finish off this prog opus with the tour-de-force "Soul Food," a cut that goes through multiple moods and accompanying changes and that will surely have a long life as one of the band's signature tunes.
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