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The Look of Love (SACD): Diana Krall

Diana Krall’s The Look of Love will undoubtedly exacerbate the fears of purists who worry that surround sound for music is a dangerous toy that will corrupt producers and mixing engineers the world over. Without doubt, when “Dancing in the Dark” sways into motion, and bongos start slapping in the left-rear channel, it is difficult to make a case that this recording is about accurately recreating an experience of live music. Ditto when, on “Cry Me a River,” you find yourself wrapped ’round by the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra. For many listeners, the placement of discrete instruments behind them will always constitute a distraction, an intrusion upon the suspension of disbelief necessary for the experience of recorded music. But the aesthetic intention of producer Tommy LiPuma and recording/mixing engineer Al Schmitt does not appear to be literal realism. Even more than most LiPuma productions for Krall, The Look of Love is extravagantly lush, with endless velvet depths of violins and Krall’s voice whispering so close that you almost feel her breath. The 360-degree surround mix enhances the dreamy euphoria of surrendering to Krall’s seductions. Even hard-core two-channel reactionaries may wonder, “If this mix is ‘wrong,’ why am I having so much fun?”

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