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TOTO XIV is the band s first album of new material since 2006 s Falling In Between. However, the band personally considers the new album to be the true follow-up to TOTO IV, which made the band global superstars. The album is a realized vision three plus decades in the making, exhibiting world-class musicianship, masterful arrangements, topical lyrical commentary, and melodies that the collective genius of Lukather, Paich, Porcaro, Williams and their assembled band-mates bring to life. The band s current line-up includes original members Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro and sees the return to the fold of original bass player, David Hungate. Joseph Williams (singer on The Seventh One and Fahrenheit ) returns to handle lead vocals, while Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Sting) now sits behind the drumkit.
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The sound of this CD is terrible. Mastering destroyed what could have been an album enjoyed over and over. Go listen to the old original Toto CDs, you can crank the volume up and they sound really good. This new CD would blow my speakers if I cranked it up. This is what stops the new Toto CD from sounding like full on Toto. Toto is suppose to be quality, when you destroy the music in the mastering stage the quality is gone. Not as enjoyable.
A good example is Van Halen's - A Different Kind Of Truth. When I am playing songs ripped to my phone in highest quality, as soon as any song comes on from that album, my ears drums are blown out and I am rushing for the volume. Toto's new album has much audio distortion too.
I really don't understand the trend for so long in making music sound bad, isn't music suppose to sound good ? Blu-ray movies aren't being made to look worse, so why are we doing this to music ? Ears don't like loud, squashed and distorted music.
It use to be bands cared about the mastering, as it can make or break the music. It's almost as important as the music itself, as it represents how the music comes across to the listener.
I also forgot to mention the overblown bass, could you imagine listening to this CD on those terrible beats headphones ?
Shame on the band, they know better than this and should have been awake for the delivery of the music and finished product. To deny it just does not make them look good. Great material ruined by another label, who don't care about how music is delivered to the listener.
There is not a bad song nor even a weak song. Vocals are superb, Mr. Williams, wow. I pray we don't have to wait 10 years for the next CD!
But, when auditioning the CD last night on the IRS Beta's and with Audio Research amps and preamp I thought I was having equipment problems. Rough compressed abrasive sound in some passages. A nebulous sound stage with compression artifacts. Although this being a revealing system, it is also forgiving. Switched to the Tambu CD and wow it sounded great, what you have come to expect, revealing some very rough edges in the mastering of this new release.
So why 5 stars? The music itself! I would have given it more than 5 stars if possible on music alone, the average mastering brings it back to 5 stars as a whole.
Happily after listening for a while the weak mastering gives way to the music and quickly is forgotten the rough edges in sound quality and one zones off into the hypnotic power of the music.
My measuring stick for any new album is repeatability and whether I change my viewpoint on tracks I didn't like on the first or second pass. In this regard, I think I've listened to the album about 120 times now across multiple continents via air, across the lawn while mowing the grass, across town while driving, or just sitting at home. The tracks I liked least (or even really disliked) are now actually the tracks I tend to fast forward to now, because they are unique, well-written and masterfully executed (like "Chinatown" with it's 70's-ish Steely Dan vibe -- no doubt due to an ex-Steely Dan drummer joining the mix!).
My only serious gripe with this album is the way it was mastered -- it was compressed far more than it needed to be, and the dynamic range suffers noticeably because of it, especially on tracks such as "Burn." Otherwise, it's a really fantastic album, well worth the wait, and hopefully won't be their last. But if it is (this was the last one of their contract with their Italian promoters), then they went out in a blaze of awesome!