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