Bernhoft Islander Review

Bernhoft Islander Review

Bernhoft’s iPad app tries to resurrect the album sleeve for the Spotify era with HD music and interactive elements

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll know that downloading a handful of MP3s to your hard drive or clicking a link in Spotify isn’t quite the same as opening up a CD or vinyl album, and this is Jarle Bernhoft’s attempt to bring back “the true voice of the artist” to the album-making process. The Bernhoft Islander app is essentially the new Islander album, wrapped up with a pile of extra features and add-ons that flatter to deceive.

There’s some very average fare here — the obligatory merchandise links and photo galleries are pretty ho-hum — but the 8-track mixing console and loop station are more interesting. Unfortunately there’s only one track you can remix, and the loop station ends up being pretty limited too once you dig into it. On the plus side, the software design and interface is polished throughout, and everything flows together in a nicely done carousel front-end.

It’s a similar story with the Inside Islander section (a lukewarm attempt at digital sleeve notes) and the 360-degree video, which are both diverting but only for a few minutes. You do get the album in high-quality 48k 24-bit HD audio (hence the hefty 1.48GB download size), which is certainly a welcome approach, even if you are going to have to upgrade your speakers or headphones to notice the difference. The trouble is, you’re going to have to break out of Rdio or iTunes every time you want a little dash of Bernhoft, which isn’t ideal.

Overall, Bernhoft Islander doesn’t really fulfil its potential — it feels a little half-baked throughout — but as you get the entire album as well it’s difficult to complain too much (buying standard quality MP3s alone would cost you about half the price). It’s a shame the extras don’t have more meat to them, but we’d like to see more artists going down this road in the future. More exclusive content and more tracks to play around with and we’d really be interested.

Rated 3 out of 5

Some decent ideas here, and the high-quality audio is to be applauded, but it’s largely disappointing.

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  • roger

    I saw Berhoft perform at the Renaissance hotel St. Pancreas London earlier this year and was so impressed with his style that when I saw an advertisement for this HD360 App in Music Week I waited for the release date and purchased the App version of his Islander album. I also bought the CD too by the way.
    I am from the generation that owned and cherished a record collection and I see this new format as way of making music collectible again. I think there is some amazing content in this App and particularly like, not only the 360 video, but the other 9 video’s you also get. The live performance recordings are really cool. I hope some great legacy artists like the Eagles, David Bowie or The Doobie Brothers produce one, or more, of these apps as it will give me a great reason to re purchase some of my favorite music all over again. The sound quality through decent speakers / headphones seems a fuller rounded quality; it makes my commute far more interesting! Well done whoever it was who came up with this idea, something like this was long overdue.