We don’t review many New Age albums, which is what this xrcd really qualifies as, but it is such a lovely combination of striking packaging, enjoyable music and sounds and topflight sonics that it deserves star billing. For one thing, since all xrcds sell for around $30, many have no notes in English, and total times are often only around 30 minutes, it may seem to some audio buffs that they are coming out on the short end of the stick. Not with this album – bound as a small book – from F.I.M.
Each of the ten selections has a double-fold page in the book with lovely nature photography – by both a Hong Kong banker and a manager of a Hong Kong high end dealership; both are amateur photographers. The photos are also decorated by a teacher of Chinese calligraphy. The music encompasses sensitive arrangements of such classics as Shenandoah and Amazing Grace, played by a variety of unidentified instrumentalists. Between the selections and mixed in during them are nature sounds recorded on location in several famous parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. The sounds were all recorded with a Neumann KU-100 binaural dummy head- used by many nature sound recordists around the world. The spatial information is preserved with much greater realism than with standard stereo. And due to the accurate L – R information in the two-channel signal, when the signal is run thru a matrix surround processor such as ProLogic II, it recreates a very convincing surround soundfield. Along with the music that makes this disc a superb surround experience even though it is basically only two-channel. I’m planning to take this disc along the next time I have a message – it’s perfect for such useage.
TrackList: Shenandoah, Walk In Beauty, Greensleeves, Water Is Wide, Open Your Eyes, Amazing Grace, Into the Light, The Daybreak, Faces of the Earth, Big Sur.
– John Sunier