This review page is supported in part by the sponsor whose ad is displayed above
Samuel had dispatched two 2-meter pairs of Ocellia speaker cable for biwiring if necessary and two 1-meter pairs of interconnects. For the full Ocellia cable effect, I pulled out my customary Crystal Cable Ultras between my Polish Ancient Audio Lektor Prime player, Australian Supratek Cabernet Dual preamp and Japanese Yamamoto A-08S power amp. I also replaced the single run of speaker cables between the 45 SET and Indian Rethm Saadhanas. From my hardware collection, this was the conceptually closest match I could assemble to Samuel's own - tube-driven CDP, tube preamp, single-ended power amp, high-efficiency widebander speakers.

From the outputs of the amp to the DX55 Lowthers, there now wasn't a single solder joint in the signal path since Rethm simply hole-punches their flat copper ribbon hook-up wire to slip over the custom terminal posts of the speaker cable and Lowther's terminal screws. Rethm's self-powered isobaric 6ers per channel tap off the high-level input internally.

The wooden dress bodies with model name and directionality arrow of the interconnects have to be turned narrow side up for conventionally spaced RCAs. All wired up, I reached for:

Jamshied Sharifi's 1997 A Prayer for the Soul of Layla [Alula Records 1005]. Though already 10 years old, this well-recorded album has worn
exceptionally well. It's a quasi precursor to the Tulku canon and a classic example of visionary world beat here evocatively set in a composite North-African milieu. From powerful drums to exotic timbres, low synthesized bass and truly eclectic instrumentation like godje, qarqaba, Bedouin harp, shamizen, sabar, brekete and hadgini, the ethnic voices of Hassan Hakmoun, Paula Cole, Pedro Aznar, Marie Afonso and Mamak Khadem are spine-tinglingly otherworldly and conjure up National Geographic globe trotting in some very remote desert locales where extreme heat creates mirages of otherness.

For review purposes, A Prayer offers deeply layered vast soundstaging, powerful and occasionally infrasonic bass, a wealth of vocal and instrumental timbres, first-rate production values and complex shifting sonic events where rain tree, shakers, bells, flute, synth pads, plucked bass, background voices and talking drums create a virtual soundtrack to fanciful imaginary vista on a grand and ambitious scale.

My déjà vu was sudden and specific. A simple wire swap and I was powerfully reminded of the Panjas aroma Samuel Furon had demonstrated in his sizable personal listening room. Things once again were positively huge and seemingly decorrelated from mechanical reminders. Excellent articulation extended way down into the lowest bass and with true but lithe power. I again experienced that apparently tell-tale directness without bluntness. It's full speed without artificial charge. The absence of hidden smearing lays bare the suddenness of transients without etched sharpness or bite. It's true directness without rounded-over diplomacy or aggressive posturing.

Cristina Branco's Live [Universal 984 3206] is a modern "in black" Fado performance with three chorus guitars, a Portuguese solo guitar, piano and
vocals. The completely black dress code evidenced in the below photo is emblematic of the serious aspect of this musical style. It strips excess and flourishes in favor of emotional severity especially in how the singer delivers the poetic Portuguese lyrics.

A special attraction of superior Fado, beside the artistry of the vocalist, is the unique crying timbre of the Portuguese guitar, here played masterfully by José Manuel Neto. To do this instrument justice during playback is nearly as challenging as spinnet or harpsichord with whom it shares the innate glassiness and thinner tone. Yet it adds a ravishing, very short-
lived vibrato that modulates and transforms into the profound expressiveness this instrument is capable of which was made most famous perhaps by virtuoso Carlos Paredes.

On Live, Cristina Branco returns to her roots, leaving the lesser exploits of the earlier Ulisses album. Live is very lyrical Portuguese chamber music by some of the finest living exponents and obviously recorded live for that extra encoded intimacy which superior systems can translate for added emotional impact in our living rooms. The above liner photo shows exactly how the ensemble appeared on stage to make an ideal reference for the playback likeness.

The same qualities already evident on the Jamshied Sharifi albums became especially admirable on the rich upper harmonics of the Portuguese guitar which create its 'tweaked' sound so unique among guitars and so especially apt for the melancholy Fado tunes meant to evoke longing and sadness. Just how long those harmonics ring out riding the strings before fingering damps them again is a good test of detail retrieval, especially when it's set against the more powerful piano. With the Ocellia cables in the mix, these overlaid intermingling decay actions were unusually lucid because they remained distinct rather than bleeding together. Another challenging instrument in that regard is the quanun. Few play it as muscular as the bald-headed Aytaç Doğan does.

On Taksim Trio's eponymous première, Turkish clarinet phenom Hüsnü Senlendiriçi plays with Ismail Tunçbilek on acoustic and electric baglama
and Aytaç on the Turkish zither. Some numbers are originals, others meditations on recognizable melodies made famous by Zülfü Livaneli, Memet Reşat Aysu or Hasret Gültekin. The Taksim Trio's name gives away the member's dedication to classic Turkish scales and improv, an art that is closely related to the Indian raga tradition.

With many cognoscenti belaboring the younger generation's lack of interest in traditional ethnic music traditions, these three musicians who are very successfully serving the modern needs seem compelled to keep alive the older styles as well. Their familiarity with modern
music necessarily informs their take on classic forms. Taksim Trio hence is an inspiring example of this vital retro trend before things homogenize to have us lose the stupendous variety which ancient cultures developed in relative isolation over many preceding centuries.

This album became a great demonstrator for tone, something I could fully appreciate having played the clarinet for 20 years. This instrument produces few upper harmonics and its far narrower bore over a saxophone limits its dynamic expressiveness. Some variability is possible from how the bahn (German for track) of the mouth piece is angled and how much or little of it contacts the reed. A long bahn lengthens how much of the reed is free to vibrate and a steeper angle creates more distance between the end of the reed and the tip of the mouth piece. Add variable reed thickness and you've got the main aspects which influence clarinet tone outside player embouchure and lip pressure.

To support creation of the vibrato and pitch bends so typical of Eastern music -- but completely contrary to German orchestral clarinet practice --
Hüsnü uses light thin reeds and a long open cut on his mouthpiece. It makes for more fluid and greater amplitude transitions while the Turkish version of the clarinet being longer than a standard B-flat also darkens the overall tone. I won't bore you with further specifics which would be germane only to actual clarinet players. Suffice to say that with the Ocellia cables in the chain, there were more particulars to have me appreciate exactly what the performer was doing and how he was technically doing it. Subtle timbre cues revealed specific fingering choices.

In standard audiophile terms, the Ocellia Signature Silver cables passed on great tone, i.e. timbres vibrant and rich. This betrayed no evidence at all of the lit-up, overly energetic top-end behavior silver is claimed to produce on principle by its detractors. The percussive elements of the quanun produce signature noises embedded inside the pure string tones and once again, these cables maintained individual textures for highly resolved detail. On the subject of shielding -- or more specifically here, the lack thereof -- incoming cell phone calls, for the first time in my life, announced their rings in a weirdly fed-back version over my speakers. Once I picked up such calls, that parasitic antenna behavior stopped. Despite a wireless router on the premises, I had zero other apparent noise issues. Nor did I note any subjectively overt evidence such as hash or grain that the Ocellia cables might have theoretically suffered by being unshielded - except how one might reasonably suspect that close proximity to radio or cell phone towers in clustered cosmopolitan living could preclude the successful use of these cables.

Naturally, I can't claim that the Silver Signatures' powerfully liberated sonics were due to their abolishing shielding altogether; or their single solid-core construction instead; their avoidance of plastics; their superior RCA connectors; their bare-wire speaker cable connections; all of those factors combined or just some; or fundamentally, the claimed banishment of the mysterious ultrasonic MDI distortion. All I knew at that point was that a full dosage of Ocellia signal cables -- no AC cords to be sure -- sounded exceptionally fast yet relaxed, detailed, organic, huge, tuneful and toneful... and indisputably more open, immediate, vital and involving than what I had in there before. Put differently, it seemed as though a substantial portion of the Panjas aroma had been resurrected in Coral Bay/Cyprus without substantial and costly component swaps but rather, a mere few lowly and low-tech cables.

Time to mix 'n' match Ocellias and Crystals for a reality check and to learn whether Samuel's high- or low-level cables made the bigger difference; whether this was an additive phenomenon maximized by employing the Frenchies exclusively; and to describe conclusively what the Ocellia effect sounded like by comparison.