Janet Feder SACD - This Close

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Hey All,

I just received notification that the most recent release from Janet Feder, previously a download only release in surround, has been made available on multichannel SACD. You can read more here:

https://janetfeder.bandcamp.com/

I have placed my order, and as soon as I can get my ears on it I will report back here with a full review.
 
As promised, here is my review of this excellent disc:

Short take: For the adventuresome listener this is a recommended purchase! If pop music is your thing, this might not be for you.

Janet Feder is an independent musician from Colorado, USA. This is her second SACD release containing a surround mix. The first, Songs With Words, is discussed here:

https://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/showthread.php?19009-Janet-Feder-SONGS-WITH-WORDS-SACD

The Content: Because it is unlikely many of you are familiar with her work, I will start here. She has been described as an "avante-garde musician" by America's National Public Radio. This could work as a description, but that doesn't really paint a picture of what you might hear. The feel of the recording is a little like Cowboy Junkies - Whites Off Earth Now meets Beck - Sea Change, although without a backbeat. The music is kinda spooky and dark. Then there is a touch of Tom Waits ethos in the lyrics and instrumentation - the later-era mellow stuff as opposed to the cat-in-a-blender work he has done.

Much of the disc is instrumental, with vocals appearing only on three of the nine tracks. I liked this SACD on the first listen, and I liked it more on the second. Having listened now multiple times in multiple configurations in order to review it, I can say I am still enjoying the work.

The surround mix is not as ambient as Whites Off Earth Now, not as active as Sea Change, but with enough discrete elements to keep my interest. There are times on the disc where the surrounds take a back seat (bad pun - sorry). For instance, at times the rears serve to sustain elements from the fronts, which then drift off in a swimming sea of reverb and delay. Very subtle, and yet enticing in the context of this music. At other times there is much more. The risk in listening to this disc is that a cursory review might miss some of the very cool stuff that is on offer here. As I isolated the channels I came to appreciate some of the more subtle aspects of the mix.

The center channel is used quite sparingly. For instance, Track 1 features the only vocal to appear in the center - a Riders On The Storm-esque stylized doubling of the lead vocal. Track 2 contains a single clarinet line in the center with no bleed (in the center) from vocals or any other element from the other channels. In track 4 there is an ever so incrementally building dissonant element which appears in all channels including the center. In track 6 there is a subtle percussive element. In track 9 there is a morse-code like element which is so discrete I was able to eliminate it from the mix by defeating the center. Most of the other tracks are stone cold silent in the center. Definitely an unconventional use of the medium.

As far as the recording quality, it is superb. Very present, very clear, plenty of dynamics - I do not have the equipment to measure the DR but at least I can say it does not suffer from heavy compression, if any. This is a recording where dynamics are important, and the engineers seem to have honored that.

The physical presentation is perhaps the weakest part of the package. The case is gatefold, and the disc slips into one of the flaps from the inside by the spine. The good news is there is a plastic sleeve within the holding side which should protect the disc from scuffing, so it is better than a similar configuration without such a provision. Also, there are little in the way of liner notes to help us understand the sound. From the notes I am not sure exactly where this was recorded, who mixed the surround ("Recorded and Mixed: Mike Yach," but I suspect producer Joe Shepard and Janet were also involved in the surround mix), and which musicians played what instruments. With such a varied spectrum of instrumentation it would have been interesting to know exactly what instruments were indeed played here. On the other hand, maybe I am too hung up on "knowing more" and should simply accept the sound at face value without further analysis. Imagine that!

Summary: I am giving this an 8. This is not a disc which will leave you humming or whistling a tune - it is very moody and atmospheric. I happen to like that sort of music (and much of it IS musical), and I will listen to it repeatedly. The clarity of recording is stellar, and the surround mix is interesting enough to bring it back off the shelf for multiple explorations.

Because it is an indie release I am including info on where it can be previewed and purchased:

SACD:

http://janetfeder.bandcamp.com/

Download:

http://store.acousticsounds.com/d/1...C_L_O_S_E-DSD_Multichannel_28MHz64fs_Download
 
Your review aptly describes Janet Feder's musical expression.........haunting and just a little spooky but highly listenable due to a state of the art multichannel recording which casts an immersive front/back soundfield. "Song With Words" garners a solid 8 from me.

I have "This Close" on pre~order from AmazonUS (although they're experiencing a delay in shipping this order) and look forward to her second multichannel SACD outing.
 
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