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Reviewing always surprises by how components take control to lead one like a sleepwalker from song to song with just the appropriate selections to do them justice. Here it just had to lead to Echo & The Bunnymen’s "Higher Hell". On first listen, this song is less accessible to likely trigger the itching skip button finger but after two minutes it does open into a fascinating world of deep space and wildly frizzing guitar. As I began to understand, the Heeds manifested an interesting form of stereophonics. Often rectangular or square, the Heeds rendered the soundstage instead as a trapezoid with the longer edge in the back

That was unusual but interesting and on the Bunnymen’s Heaven up here album with their cut "All my colours" clearly confirmed. The dominant toms were tracked fully from first attack to final fade-out despite massive reverb trails as though illuminated and then dying like embers against a dark background. Ian McCulloch’s pained voice, a lone flute centimeter-precise in the room… this was good stuff!

So was "McCann" by the Berlin formation Monoland who in my mind are the only credible successors to My Bloody Valentine – synth drums, layers of samples and guitar loop, with all vocals deeply embedded in the background. Once again the Heed combo delighted in finely sorting through the homogenous sound clusters to instead deliver a delectably ordered buffet. Pop was next by way of the dub version of "Love etc." from the Pet Shop Boys. There’s an icy cold saw-toothed synth riff with plucky beat box for great disco fun. The Heeds lived it up with feathery lithe bass impulses, proper punch and fat tone into low-down synth territory.

Justus Köhncke’s hypnotic "Time Code" was equally fluid, vital, bass potent and fat, with very apparent contrast against a so-called blackground.

I next reached into the classic drawer for some Mahler symphonies and Wagner’s Rienzi. The first surprise was the exacting precision of it all. Aside from live performances, I’ve rarely heard individual voices in grand choruses so sharply separated to make out individuals. Nothing got crowded, there was plenty of airiness and the overall stage seemed highly organized. This added up to very solid detail, articulated bass, occasionally frisky highs—more on that below—and a goodly pound of space. Could this lead into somewhat austere clinical turf? This was best tested with productions that lack in technical brilliance what they more than make up for in emotional persuasiveness. If a hifi chain overdoes precision, it kills this type of fare.

A good sample of the breed is Peter Gabriel’s twofer Plays Live. Recorded live in the mid 80s, the sound is a bit foggy. Even so, I cued up my favorite track "San Jacinto" to see what would happen. Technical limitations were clearly evident. The Heeds were unflinchingly direct to point out what they’d be capable of if one just showed proper respect with one’s music selections. In short, no glossing over ugly truths. Whilst in all other aspects plainly inferior, the Yarland FV34CI valve amp applied a far more gracious filter over such blemishes.

One of U2’s most under-appreciated songs, the apparently monotonous "Love Comes Tumbling" which turns out strangely rich in fascinating bass runs and the Edge’s warbling guitar, fared better. 80’s production values did seep through but what turned the tables on the Heeds was bass articulation—both mid and low bass—and compelling depth layering. Wallflower’s "One Headlight" from Bringing Down the Horse is very tautly produced to become great fun over the Heeds. The snare had attack and bite, Jakob Dylan’s voice stuck—in the positive sense of this—like glue between the speakers, the bass rebounded without boom and the Leslie-powered Hammond sound flew through my digs with proper timing and tacit live vibe. The Heeds overall struck me as very fresh and vital performers that didn’t short-change musicality.