Dive into the minds and palettes of the Qobuz music team with our 2023 Qobuzissime retrospective!

A Qobuzissime is the highest honour bestowed upon an album by the international music team here at Qobuz. To be nominated for the award, the album must be a debut or sophomore album, must contribute something new and exciting to the world of music, and of course, must be in 24-bit Hi-Res. So without further ado, let us recap just a handfull of the international team’s personal favourites.

Miss Grit - Follow the Cyborg

In Margaret Sohn’s debut album as Miss Grit, initial doubts about the artist’s sound — reminiscent of early St. Vincent — quickly give way to a unique, sci-fi-infused musical journey. Drawing inspiration from diverse sources, including films like “Her” and literary works such as “Mirror Games: Reflections on Our Illusions,” Miss Grit shapes an album conceived during lockdown. Delving into the cyber world, she embraces synthetic sounds evocative of new wave, all whilst maintaining her humanity during this exploration of identity. Hailing from a Michigan suburb and studying music technology at NYU, Miss Grit skillfully blends electric guitars and synthesizers, supported by collaborators like Stella Mozgawa and Aron Kobayashi Ritch. Follow the Cyborg earns its Qobuzissime status, unfolding layers of fascination with each listen, as Miss Grit skillfully navigates the realms of both familiarity and the avant-garde.

María Dueñas - Beethoven and Beyond

At just 20 years old, María Dueñas emerges as a captivating virtuoso, making a remarkable debut with her album Beethoven and Beyond. Trained in Dresden and Vienna under Boris Kuschnir, Dueñas brings a youthful brilliance to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Her rendition, recorded with Manfred Honeck and the Vienna Symphony, transcends mere technical prowess, as she imbues the concerto with her personal touch. Winning the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin Competition in 2021 catapulted Dueñas into the spotlight, leading to a contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Notably, she not only interprets Beethoven’s masterpiece but also adds her own cadenzas, elevating the album’s uniqueness. With a sincerity that unveils Beethoven in a contemporary light, María Dueñas promises to go beyond expectations, marking her as a rising star in classical music. Undoubtedly, Beethoven and Beyond earned the well-deserved distinction of being a Qobuzissime.

Yussef Dayes - Black Classical Music

Yussef Dayes, a prominent jazz drummer since the early 2010s, unveiled his first solo album in September, Black Classical Music, exploring his distinctive vision of jazz. Rooted in the rich cultural tapestry of New Orleans, the Caribbean, South America, and African traditions, Dayes draws inspiration from the legacy of Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and John Coltrane. The album showcases a 360° jazz experience, incorporating afrobeat, cosmic jazz, soul, funk, rap, and Caribbean influences. Collaborating with an impressive lineup, including Shabaka Hutchings, Chronixx, and Tom Misch, Dayes seamlessly weaves rhythm and melody through diverse genres like jazz-fusion, smooth jazz, nu soul, and reggae. With a quartet delivering brilliance in improvisation, Black Classical Music stands out as a 74-minute masterpiece, defying categorization and it earned the well-deserved distinction of a Qobuzissime.

Olivia Dean - Messy

Olivia Dean, a young English talent, exudes the charisma of legendary soul singers in her debut album, Messy. Following a series of well-received EPs from 2019 to 2021, the album seamlessly blends pop, R&B, soul, and a touch of jazz. Recorded live at London’s Jazz Café in 2021, accompanied by a brass ensemble, Dean’s performance garnered the interest of many. The album’s 12 tracks showcase her diverse musicality, from the piano-driven solemnity of “Slowly” and “Everybody’s Crazy” to the brassy energy of the standout single “Dive” and the funky vibes of “Ladies Room.” Dean’s warm voice, which she modulates to her heart’s content, effortlessly navigates the album’s varied soundscape, establishing her as a unique voice in the crowded British music scene. At just 24, Olivia Dean claims her distinctive place at the table, making Messy a solid foundation to debut with.

Squid - O Monolith

Squid’s music, with their ultra-fresh and esoteric sounds, defies easy categorization, living up to their sophomore album’s name O Monolith. Following the 2021 release of the punk-driven Bright Green Field, the quintet, led by Ollie Judge, embarked on the Fieldwork Tour, creating up to 80% of their second LP through live improvisation in remote British landscapes. This unconventional approach yielded compositions that refused to conform to conventional formats. The album was shaped in Bristol and recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios with producer Dan Carey. The result is a dynamic, experimental rock album, constantly in flux—whether it’s the turbulent energy of “Devil’s Den,” the fragmented intensity of “The Blades,” or the weightless atmosphere of “Siphon Song.” Squid’s adept handling of post-punk bass, hypnotic synth loops, and evocative brass amplifies the intricate allure of this highly sensitive and captivating album.

Angie McMahon - Light, Dark, Light Again

In the tapestry of modern struggles, Angie McMahon’s sophomore album, Light, Dark, Light Again, delves into profound reflections accumulated over the past four years. Addressing the complexities of acceptance—of endings, a burning world, and the stressors of late-stage capitalism—McMahon fearlessly shares nuanced revelations through her raw and soulful music. The opening track, “Saturn Returning,” sets the tone, exploring life changes and spiritual growth. While her debut felt direct, this album creates an intimate, vulnerable space, woven between Melbourne, regional Victoria, and Durham, North Carolina. Tracks like “Letting Go” exude expansiveness, inviting cathartic screams, while others, like “Divine Fault Line,” navigate darkness, offering a hopeful journey toward light. McMahon’s angelic voice and meticulous details in production and vocals make this album a deeply considered and special exploration of the human experience—the perpetual dance between dark and light, chaos and peace, death and rebirth. Light, Dark, Light Again transcends McMahon’s personal journey, resonating as a universal narrative of resilience and renewal.