96kHz/24-bit WAV, ALAC, FLAC*, Absolute/Megaphonic megad007 (supplied by www.naimlabel.com)

As our Lab Report warns, there’s nothing ‘hi-res’ about the sound of Imogen Heap’s latest assemblage of sonic sculptures. Nevertheless she’s as inventive and eclectic as ever in her musical explorations in which she has cut ’n’ pasted a patchwork of myriad samples and ‘sound seeds’ (field recordings of mundane sounds sent in by her fans). She’s impossible to pigeon-hole precisely but strikes me as a fascinating fusion of Laurie Anderson and Kate-Bush-on-acid jumbled with a concoction of contemporary pop singers. And while too many of the tracks on Sparks tend to develop into a cacophony of brash, heavily-treated and hard-to-decipher vocal gymnastics, it’s impossible not to be impressed by her creative zest. ‘You don’t have to be a chef to make an omelette, and you don’t have to be Mozart to make a piece of music’, she’s said. Hear, hear! JB

Sound Quality: 60%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

This download is listed as exclusively available via the Naim Label in the UK, courtesy of her own label Megaphonic, in ‘hi-res 96kHz’ guise. It’ll light the 96kHz LED on your DAC but the file is clearly a 2x upsampled 48kHz recording. PM