The Year Before Yesterday= Music by WILLIAM KRAFT, SHAUN NAIDOO, ERIK GRISWOLD, JOSEPH PEREIRA, ISAAC SCHANKLER, NICHOLAS DEYOE /Los Angeles Percussion Quartet – Sono Luminus (2 disc set with multichannel Pure Audio Blu-ray and standard CD) DSL-92180, 72:19 (9/30/14) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

I always approach percussion music with trepidation. While often interesting, it usually fails to hold my attention. So I was pretty neutral at best when I put The Year Before Yesterday into my universal disc player.  No worries. This sonically and musically spectacular recording is excellent and has a high repeat-listening quotient.

Let’s start with the technical. The two-disc set contains a Pure Audio Blu-ray with multiple encodes. There is a 7.1 version, a 5.1 version, and a two-channel stereo mix. The second disc is a standard CD. There are also downloadable MP3 files so you can listen on your portable player of choice.

I listened in 7.1 and stereo on the Blu-ray, and then listened to the CD as well. If you have any doubt about the quality differences between formats, than give this set a work-out. While the CD is excellent, the multi-channel mix is sonically and spatially superior. This kind of music, a percussion quartet, is tailor-made for multi-channel listening, and many of the works offered were composed to show this sense of space and surround.

This stunning recording, especially in multi-channel versions, simply transports you to the hall with the musicians. The subtleties and the impact of the instruments is palpably there. The high frequencies of the chimes. The massive amounts of air moving when the mallet strikes become physical experiences.

This current offering is a follow up to the LAPQ critically acclaimed and Multi-GRAMMY® Nominated album Rūpa-Khandha, which received wide-spread praise for both the performance and audio presentation.

This time the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet is showcasing different composers with selections from William Kraft, Shaun Naidoo, Erik Griswold, Joseph Pereira, Isaac Schankler and Nicholas Deyoe. The pieces are distinctly different, and each transports the listener into a different and calming sonic landscape. I didn’t find anything in the set boring, in fact the music here is engaging and emotional.

The first selection on the disc is Fore! by one of the most lauded composers of percussion music, William Kraft. I liked this best of all the selections on the disc. It held my attention against low expectations and would up being a great experience with drama and impact. Instruments included a vibraphone, marimba, chimes and drums. Also noteworthy was The Year Before Yesterday by South African composer Shaun Naidoo.

I also deeply enjoyed the Mallet Quartet composed by Joseph Pererira, who is the Principal Timpanist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.The Quartet features two marimbas and two vibraphones. In multi-channel, or even stereo this is a rich composition that simply draws you into this unique sonic environment.

Yes, The Year Before Yesterday is a demonstration-quality disc, especially in the higher resolution versions, but it is also musical and demands your attention. I appreciate the range of listening choices from stereo to full 7.1 surround, and having a regular CD and computer-based formats is a welcome bonus.

Listen to, and enjoy this disc. Highly recommended!

—Mel Martin