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Review By Karl Lozier
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Hiromi Brain

SACD Number: Telarc Hybrid CD/SACD-63600


  I had not gotten around to listening to this recording when I received some information from Telarc's publicity director Amanda Sweet. She included a note that this recording was one of her current favorites; I figured it was time to give it a spin and a serious listen. The first thing that really hit me was the audio quality of this hybrid CD/SACD. I mean it hit me like a half ton of bricks. Superb or of demonstration quality were adjectives that worked their way through my still functioning brain cells. Glancing through the technical information sheet pretty much explained it. Here is Michael Bishop showing off again but not with his predilection for outstanding sound effects (previously earning my nomination as the uncrowned prince of sound effects). Here again he is simply "pushing the envelope" showing what can be done for the best in home listening. It is all there and difficult to imagine anything is missing or even slighted. In addition, nothing or no performer is over emphasized. Here is a trio (with a second bass player on three tracks) sounding as you can readily visualize them playing in a night club and you are at a front row table. This is not a distant sounding recording!

You might want to know something about the music. All eight compositions are by Hiromi Uehara and not a single title rings a bell with me. Hiromi also plays the piano on most of the compositions and is the soloist on the single solo track. There is no singing on this disc, though a few times had me wondering if there was some show-off sound effects on a couple of the tracks, a wounded vocalist, or a hint of the group Radiohead. Her background is quite amazing for such a young Japanese lady who has resided in the U.S.A. for only a few years.

I have to admit that upon first listening I was a bit disappointed. Repeated listening now has me intrigued and interested much of the time. If you need a descriptive label for these compositions, the closest I can come is progressive, free form jazz crossing over to alternative music and some rock at times plus a few classical measures and mixed perhaps literally by Michael Bishop? The slower passages and measures are what I particularly enjoy here and as clearly aided by the superior sound.

In addition to being listed as the recording and mix engineer, Bishop is also credited, along with Hiromi Uehara, as the recording producers and as usual, Robert Woods is executive producer. Hiromi is joined by Martin Valihora on drums and cymbals, and Tony Grey on bass and added bassist Anthony Jackson on three of the selections. I also listened to the recording in its entirety on my multi-channel home theater system using the multi-channel SACD surround layer. Nothing in my multi-channel system is as good as in my main, stereo only, system (except for Alon's Napoleon subwoofer). Not every vestige of detail was obvious nor the last word in power and punch of course. Yet the overall listening quality was quite excellent, enjoyable and proof again that if you start with an outstandingly good source, minor deficiencies in the sound system simply fade away leaving enjoyable music. The system does not have to be real expensive to be enjoyable though I understand that the words, "expensive and enjoyable" are descriptively, relative terms.




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