96kHz/24-bit FLAC, ECM 2423/24, 379 7776 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

Recorded by the Swiss Italian-language broadcaster RSI, this album by oudist Anouar Brahem apparently draws its inspiration from the recent political and social traumas of his native Tunisia. It sees Brahem’s lute-like instrument front and centre in the mix. He’s helped by close miking, and partnered by Francois Couturier (piano), Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet) and Bjorn Meyer (bass) – oh, and the small matter of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. Here the orchestra performs the function of the backing drone so often heard in Middle Eastern and North African music, underpinning Brahem’s lyrical, reflective playing and the rich interjections of Gesing’s clarinet. It’s an unusual effect: what is basically a background sound takes on a whole new texture when it’s being produced with the weight and scale of an orchestra, and the set as whole is soulful and just a little hypnotic, making it one well worth exploring. AE

Sound Quality: 95%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

While tracks 7-11 show some spurious tones (mainly ultrasonic and at <–100dB) this recording is a genuine 96kHz offering, mercifully free of compression. Intriguingly, the close-miked oud puts out most of the energy ~10kHz. PM