The CDs of Soundkeeper Recordings
Small label, great music
The CDs of Soundkeeper Recordings
"Tempt not a desperate man"
"Bring a desperate man not into temptation" says Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet”. Audio lovers and passionate music lovers are often, at least by outsiders, regarded as desperate people, because they are obsessed with music that must be recorded and performed according to the highest qualitystandards.
Therefore, outsiders believe that audio lovers are mentally challenged. The question is whether this is true. Since I was a little kid I’ve dealt with the study of humanities, to which music belongs in my opinion. I am not medically trained, but that does not mean that I can say with confidence "I have no infection and my legs are still in the right place, but I am cursed with the music virus”. It is a virus that does not affect your health, but rather your wallet. Fortunately you can live with it, as you’ll run out of money eventually.
A few months ago, a friend told me about the Soundkeeper Recordings label. It is a small label with a catalog of only four titles, but according to him one with beautiful music both in terms of recording aswell as performance. Curious as I am, I visited Soundkeeper’s website and started reading. Immediately it became clear to me that this is a special record label with an equally special approachto music: "The goal of every Soundkeeper Recording is to bring the listener to the performance, tocreate the feeling the listener is in the presence of the musicians, in the space where the performanceactually took place." Anyone who wants to know more about producer Barry Diament and hisphilosophy should definitely visit the website soundkeeperrecordings.com. One can order the record label’s CDs via the same website.
The recordings are available in seven different formats: as CD, slow-burned CD-R (made directly fromthe CD master) and as high resolution files (24/96 DVD-R, 24/96 DVD-R as .aif or .wav files and24/192 DVD-R as .aif or .wav files). Prices range from $15 for a CD to $45 for a files-on-disc DVD-R, excluding shipping costs.
For me the choice was very easy since my CD player can only read CDs or SACDs. For the last few days, I have been listening to several of their CDs, or even better the CD-Rs, more than once.
The fun of record labels like Soundkeeper Recordings and other smaller labels is that you’reintroduced to artists and music which you've never heard before. Artists such as Work of Art and Markus Schwartz & Lakou Brooklyn are unknown in the Netherlands and probably not really known to the public in America either.
Each of the Soundkeeper Recordings CDs distinguish themselves by their natural and realistic performance. Undoubtedly, the fact that the music is recorded live in just onerecording contributes to that fact. Moreover, only a limited number of microphones is used which hasa great influence on the final result. Another label, Tone-Pearls Records with the CD Hegedus makes use of a similar recording technique.
Paul Beaudry & Pathways
To me, two of the Soundkeeper Recordings CDs jump out: “Confluence” by Jason Vitelli and “Americas” by Paul Beaudry & Pathways. This does not mean the other CDs are bad. In fact, those are also very nice. However, it is the type of music that determined my preference. Beaudry was on tour in South America in 2010. The music he heard is reflected in his own arrangements for “Americas”. So, the CDhas music from Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Suriname, Nicaragua, Cuba, Argentina, Honduras and Brazil.
Whoever thinks that CD is no longer alive should listen to Jason Vitelli’s record or another record from Soundkeeper Recordings. Especially, a CD-R with a 1: 1 copy of the CD master is very special. Obviously, a good CD player can achieve even more from such a CD. This is not essential but can contribute an important addition to the listening pleasure.
After listening to the CDs of Soundkeeper Recordings and once you’re accustomed to the recording quality, you do not want anything else. For the music and audio lover, fortunately there are other labels aswell that meet these criteria: Reference Recordings, MA Recordings, Caro Mitis, Ambronay, Alpha and Linn Records to name a few. They all have sufficiently attractive titles and beautifully recorded CDs in their catalogs.
One final comment. Next to the recording quality that distinguishes Soundkeeper Recordings from many other labels, they also have very special cover art. It’s not a photo of the artist(s), but rather a graphical representation of the music. On the cover of “Americas”, the nature of South America is represented in a very beautiful way. Hopefully other record companies will be inspired by thisexample and abandon the boring covers with a photo of the artist. What I missed was a booklet with background information about the artists and their music. Fortunately, this information is on the website.
Available CDs Soundkeeper Recordings:
• Work of Art - Lift (SR 1001)
• Markus Schwartz & Lakou Brooklyn, "Equinox" (SR 1002)
• Jason Vitelli, 'Confluence' (SR 1003)
• Paul Beaudry & Pathways, "Americas" (SR 1004).