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Sparks (Vinyl)

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Vinyl, August 19, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

Grammy and Ivor Novello award winning recording artist Imogen Heap will release her highly anticipated 4th solo album "Sparks" on August 19th, 2014 through RCA Records.

Sparks has been on a well traveled journey, one which Heap began at 6am 14 March 2011, with a live stream from her home studio in a small village on the outskirts of London, gathering 'sound seeds' from fans and weaving them together to form the first song (Lifeline). Fast forward, 4 continents later, a dozen related projects and 14 tracks, the album cover artwork was then completed by those who pre-ordered the limited edition, super deluxe box set by sending in their footprints! The stunning piece of artwork and packaging, designed and developed over the past three years by Imogen and her creative team with CSV (the company behind Radiohead's special packaging) it is the very first time that Imogen has released such a super deluxe package.

Says Heap, "The album began with someone sending in the sound of striking a match for what became Lifeline in March 2011. I then dived into the most immense, intense creative 2 and a half years of my life that took me all over the planet, collaborating on so many projects with so many people and often totally spontaneously. The album is then in some ways for me grounded with fans' footprints bringing the finishing touch for the album art, as so many of them came along for the ride."

While working on "Sparks," Heap turned songs into projects and projects into songs, to bring her out of her studio and 'let life in' rather than postponing things until her album was done. This fresh approach found Imogen collaborating with everyone from her fans to unsuspecting passers-by, gardeners to filmmakers, scientists to newspaper journalists and brings us her most diverse and daring body of work to date. From the River Thames (You Know Where To Find Me) to 5000 feet up in the Himalayas (Climb to Sakteng, Cycle Song), from her local community garden (Neglected Space) to 6 weeks in the Chinese metropolis of Hangzhou (Xizi She Knows), Heap was soaking it up, writing, developing, recording and producing. Sounds of a dishwasher door to a Bhutanese dranyen, the voice of a crumbling wall to 700 fans' becoming a spoken word chorus. Some of Heap's projects include her brilliant Mi.Mu Gloves, developed over this album period with an incredible team of scientists, engineers and artists (Me The Machine) and dabbled in generative and reactive music with music app developers RJDJ (Run-Time) connected to a jogging app. From the deeply personal love songs Propeller Seeds and Entanglement to the crowd sourced response to the Sendai earthquake (Lifeline), her trademark honesty runs through the album.
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Digital Booklet: Sparks
Digital Booklet: Sparks
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (August 19, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00J89SFQK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,612 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Heap is singular among pop singers for the diversity of skills she brings to each project. Yes, she writes and sings songs, and plays piano too. But unlike most of her musical peers, she also has the studio skills to win a "Best Engineer" Grammy award for her 2009 album. She's a singer-songwriter not just in the obvious and literal sense that she writes the songs that she sings, but also in the sense of the genre of confessional singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Sarah McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette, whose songs describe their own life experiences in eloquent and vulnerable detail. Heap's first solo album "I Megaphone" (as often noted, an anagram of her name) chronicles her high school and early adult life, with school crushes, religious crises, and challenging of authorities. The second album, "Speak For Yourself," found her producing her own work about the life and times of a young woman immersed in London's city culture. Success brought her the means to return to and renovate her childhood home in the country, a process covered in her third album, "Ellipse," named after the shape of that house and containing sound samples recorded in its environs. What would be next?

The answer would be five years in coming. The intensive do-it-yourself ethos of "Speak for Yourself" and "Ellipse" had been artistically satisfying but personally draining, and Heap has resolved to live her life, not just embalm it in music.
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Format: Audio CD
Imogen Heap doesn't just compose catchy melodies that are arranged and produced to fit a trademarked style (and if that is what pleases you, this album may disappoint). Rather than comforting hooks and refrains, her music seems instead to almost explode forth from her DNA, creating an aural pastiche that washes over you. One would be hard-pressed to compare her to another artist working today. Sparks is a somewhat challenging album that begs to connect to the listener on a different level than a mass audience of radio trained ears may be conditioned to expect.
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Format: Audio CD
Imogen Heap would be worth a listen just for her innovation alone. Her musical experimentation vocally, visually, and instrumentally all are intriguing. However, her beautifully lyrical voice, overall musicality and stunning lyrics all put her in a class of her own.

Imogen Heap, innovating once again, has released music videos for her upcoming album Sparks (will be released August 19th). Usually you'll get one or two teasers but she gives you a full picture. If you haven't chanced upon Ms. Heap's music, she has a beautifully unique voice which avoids making every song sound alike by her incredible range of songs, embracing experimentation and her impeccable performance.

To get a sense of Ms. Heap's experimentation and outright playfulness, take a look at her teaser for Sparks:

There is a sense of magic in all she does, by which I mean fanciful flights of delightful surprise. She weaves technology, cultural themes and haunting beauty into her songs in contrasting ways. For example, look at the music video of Cycle Song. The content is about as old school as it gets with Buddhist monks in Sakteng, and folk dancing. Yet it uses time elapsed photography and a contemporary tempo to the music which pulls in elements from Buddhist chant in more modernized setting.

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Format: Audio CD
Imogen is an amazing artist, not just a performer, song writer, engineer and multi instrumentalist. Some may criticise the album for not being as cohesive as previous albums or leaning towards "art" and away from music. These are valid points but I see her endeavours to create something original and extraordinary as breaking out of the boundary of a traditional album.

Without digesting every minute detail that went into every single song, you are missing out on a chance to understand a true musical pioneer. Imogen leaves no stone unturned in precisely engineering every sound, on every track to a detail that most of us cannot imagine, she has drawn inspiration from every corner of the world and even invented hardware and software to make it all possible. She opens up her soul and an amazing landscape of work pours out. Perhaps in a world of quick fixes and short attention, Sparks may feel like a long novel, rather than a light read, but delve deeper and you may find the rewards are much greater than an album with a simpler premise.

Sparks is a long journey and I applaud the art rather than criticise the music. There's magic in the lyrics, and blood, sweat and tears in every melody.

Her box set is an unprecedented, outrageously overflowing creation. If you are a real fan and have a long summer holiday then you should definitely dip your toes in, take a deep breath and wonder how one woman could have created so much.
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Will the Vinyl version come with MP3 tracks of the album?
I hope so... The CD is Auto-Rip eligible. Hello, Amazon? Why one and not the other?
Aug 16, 2014 by Eric B. |  See all 4 posts
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Sparks (Vinyl)
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