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From the Burning Shed
by Gordon Hundley at 06:29 21/07/06 (Blogs::Gordon)
Porcupine Tree shows iTunes the way forward.
Burning Shed has been an online record label associated with the talents behind and related to Steven Wilson's projects for some time. Fairly recently they started making available music downloads, first as MP3s and yet more recently as FLAC files.

FLAC is Free Lossless Audio Codec, a format that achieves substantial compression without losing the ability to reconstruct the original source data. What this means is that you can download FLAC encoded music faster than uncompressed audio, and lose none of the fidelity from the CD quality source material.

Having tested the water with, uh, some of the less well-known acts represented on their label, Burning Shed have now released three Porcupine Tree albums as downloads. Two of these have only been available in very limited forms previously (XM - a session from the US XM Radio that was distributed on tour; and Futile - originally an EP that was a promo-only release, fleshed out with other uncommon tracks) and the third is a superb live recording made for German TV.

The FLAC files are large - around half the size of uncompressed CD files, so even with good broadband it takes a while to download them. The results are nothing short of stellar. Using Roxio Toast 7.1, you can turn the decoding and burning into one quick process. You could just listen to the music in FLAC format, but since you're also getting PDF cover art for your CD cases, you'll probably want to burn them anyhow.

My only quibble is that there's no archive file to download the whole album, requiring instead one download per track, which makes it a slight chore. However, the end results are great sounding CDRs with good cover art for a reasonable price. That a larger share of the profit finds its way to the artists' pockets is also a good thing.

If you like Porcupine Tree, in particular their more recent work, these are all good purchases. The Rockpalast live album in particular is a superb recording of a very fine live performance. If you want to try out a worthy download service or even if you just want to try out Porcupine Tree, this isn't a bad place to start at.


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From the Burning Shed Gordon Hundley - 06:29 21/07/06
Re: From the Burning Shed Bruce Ure - 06:42 21/07/06
FLAC is what I've been busily ripping my CDs to over the last year or two. Since the only lossless format iTunes supports is Apple's proprietary one, added to the fact iTunes does some scary sync stuff with your iPod if you're not careful, I have shunned iTunes in favour of Cog for actually playing music now. It's lacking in sophistication and has an annoying bug (sometimes loading one of the tracks of a dropped album out of sequence), but it plays music.