Blue Coast Collection 2 – Sunset Sessions E.S.E./Various Artists – Blue Coast Records stereo-only SACD BCRSA 3012a, 56:16 ****:
(Featuring Keith Greeninger; Dayan Kai; Jane Selkye; Chris Key; Brain Bryan Mantia; Garett Brennan and The Great Salt Licks; Jenna Mammina; Matt Rollings, Chi McClean; Luis Perez and Houston Jones)
Blue Coast Records is establishing a presence in the hi-resolution recording industry. Founded in 2007 (by producer/engineer Cookie Marenco and French engineer Jean Claude Reynaud), the label records music at OTR Studios in Belmont California. Their proprietary technique, Extended Sound Environment (E.S.E.) utilizes 2” analog tape and records without headphones, overdubs and digital effects. Vintage direct and room microphone placement help in developing an organic, surround-type ambiance. This is mixed to Sony’s Direct Stream Digital (DSD) at 2.8 MHz. Albums are available on Hybrid SACD Stereo, DSD and PCM downloads and MQD 24K Master Quality CD. Authentic “live” performance ambiance is captured with this technology.
Blue Coast Records brings advanced sonic acoustics to live performances. Their first Blue Coast Collection garnered critical acclaim for its auditory excellence. Now they have released Blue Coast Collection 2 – Sunset Sessions E.S.E. A variety of label acts interpret covers and original compositions, delivered with “live” aural finesse. Opening this luxurious SACD is Keith Greeninger (with help from Chris Kee and Brain Bryan Mantia) offering a folksy version of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”. Greeninger has a gusty vocal style and injects some blues into the reggae standard. A slowed down final chorus is a nice touch. Another highlight is Luis Perez and his instrumental guitar version of Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind”. His “classical” interpretation and impressive guitar technique (including some crisp tempo shifts) are filled with graceful execution. Studio intimacy is captured on “Hole In My Heart” (Chi McClean) with a simple, heartfelt lament. Both hushed restraint and emotional punctuation receive appropriate emphasis.
Matt Rollings contributes significantly to the collection. His solo piano opus, “Rise” is lyrical and elegiac in its Americana theme, reminiscent of classics like “Ashokan Farewell”. The tonality of the piano is pristine and full. He backs up Jenna Mammina on Warren Zevon’s underappreciated ballad, “Mutineer”. Mammina’s winsome voice fits with the melancholy of later Zevon. The duo collaborates on James Taylor’s moody rumination, “Another Grey Morning”. Another duet (Jane Selkye/Chris Kee) display atmospheric chemistry on two meditative pieces, “Colville” and “On The Moon”.
Embracing country roots, Garett Brennan and The Great Salt Licks shine with mellow harmonics. Both “Hard Up Babe” and “Heaven” adopt natural folk music dynamics (with different tempos). The overall sound quality is exceptional. The SACD format has superior mix levels and injects warmth into instrumentation and voice. There are occasional missteps (some over-emphasized string plucking), but the live feel remains intact.
TrackList: Three Little Birds; On The Moon; Hole In My Heart; Mutineer; Hard Up Babe; Rise; Waiting For The Rain; Colville; Another Grey Morning; Heaven; I Found A Heart; Dust In The Wind