Tuesday, September 02, 2014
September's calendar / wallpaper features a rainbow-coloured kite that Olly and I spotted while out for a stroll in Gourock. Battery Park is a fantastic space, right on the waterfront, and well worth a visit.
Usual flavours are available below.
iPhone with Calendar + iPhone without Calendar
| David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars |
I'm still working my way through the pile of records Cousin Silas gave me ... and thought I'd show off some of the albums I've been listening to (following on from this post).
| Miles Davis - The Birth of Cool |
| Tangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation |
| Leonard Cohen - Songs of Love and Hate |
| Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon |
| Jean Michel Jarre - Magnetic Fields |
| Miles Davis - "Electric" from The CBS Years 1955 - 1985 |
I am very grateful to Cousin Silas for his gift ... a gift that keeps on giving.
Monday, September 01, 2014
The top three are all soundtracks - "Guardians of the Galaxy", "The Lord of the Rings (complete)", and "Blade Runner".
From there we have "O" ... an amazing album I am reviewing for This Is Not A Scene ... and Adrian Lane's latest on Twice Removed. I am loving the new album from polymath Tommy Guerrero and the East German 'Krautrock' of Kosmicher Läufer too.
The only thing that surprises me is why Cousin Silas has only 3 plays ... I have been playing the tracks from his upcoming CD on my netlabel - The Sound of Silas - like crazy. I guess those tracks didn't get scrobbled.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The latest instalment of circumambient is up on Mixcloud ... it features a mix curated by Brian Housman, the man behind Stationary Travels.
Have a listen here ...
... then head over to circumambient.co.uk to grab the download or follow the link to iTunes.
Monday, August 25, 2014
I have become very fond of the minimal musical expressionism of Richard Ginns through his album - "Fall, Rise" - released through the fantastic Twice Removed Records microlabel.
On the face of it, "Fall, Rise" isn't that interesting a proposition: extensive field recordings used underpin gentle meandering neoclassical music ... but then when you get beyond the surface, when you dive deep & let Ginns’ work it's magic then his proposition not only makes sense but becomes remarkably compelling.
This is a true minimalist expression, a less-is-more approach that utilises all available elements: subtle synths, strings, guitar and glockenspiel provide layers of sound that interplay with the field recordings and glitchy surface ambience to create a marvellous wall-of-sound.
I know field recordings aren't for everyone but here Ginns has used them superbly well, creating soundscapes that work. He weaves his sound effortlessly with these found sounds and, in doing so, really highlights the poetry of sound that encompasses us in our day-to-day lives. In fact, if you reduce the volume of the album during playback, you can incorporate the sounds that surround you ... it adds an extra dimension to the music presented.
According to the notes on the Bandcamp page, "Fall, Rise" is inspired by a snowstorm/whiteout that Ginns experienced while on a winter trip to the Alps in France:
Ginns was caught alone by a snowstorm ... it completely took over and reduced his visibility to next to zero. He was far from home, cold, tired and in fear of his surroundings, the reality of where he was really hit him. A voice in the distance, to which direction it was coming from Ginns couldn't tell, helped him, however ... he followed the sound and began to trek back knowing his ears would guide him ... the voice brought him back home and to safety.
I'm glad Ginns was able to turn this lemon of an experience to the lemonade of "Fall, Rise". I, for one, am glad for this 'lemonade' ... I found this release utterly compelling and would recommend it to folks who like minimal ambient soundscapes.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
While not to come over as pretentious ... I do love my vinyl and this short video explains why it makes me happy.
Apart from "meeting someone cute" ... I met someone cute 22 years ago and am still with her, even if she's not a crate-digger.
Friday, August 22, 2014
I use the term ’progressive’ broadly when it comes to music ... I use it to define sounds that develop, that try new things, that surprise me with their twists and turns.
For me, progressive is an ideal word to describe "Tales from Urban" by Zenjungle & Tunedin52, an album filled with delightfully experimental ambient soundscapes that underpin Zenjungle's beloved saxaphonics (yes, I just made up a word).
The combination of Zenjungle & Tunedin52 suggests something rich, vibrant, varied, challenging ... something interesting & engaging ... I was not disappointed, "Tales from Urban" is all that and more.
According to the notes on Bandcamp ... John Daly aka Tunedin52 plays the baritone and acoustic guitar, ebow, and percussion ... whilst providing noises, glitches, loops, and field recordings too. Where as Phil Gardelis aka Zenjungle plays his distinctive tenor and soprano saxophones ... and also brings loops, noises, synths, voice, and field recordings to the table ... he also mixed and mastered the album too.
It is food for the brain, great late at night or when you need to let your subconscious off the lead for a wee while. It is a wonderfully immersive album, a warm duvet of sound in which I could fully relax.
I won't lie to you, however ... this isn't exactly easy listening ... especially for the uninitiated. I was already familiar with Zenjungle through his fab release on Twice Removed. I knew what to expect. I was, however, blown away with the progressive soundscapes the partnership have created together.
Some tracks are more instantly gratifying, such as "Pavement Play" with it's electroacoustic free jazz being more of a soundtrack that simply a soundscape. The saxophonics on this track are phenomenal - think late night jazz but with an ambient twist, and an intoxicating bass.
Whereas other tracks, such as "We'll return to another place" with it's ominous, heavy tone and slow moving presentation ... or "Timetouch" with it's multi-layered jazz fusion expression and field recordings may take a wee while longer to get.
I, for one, am glad I held out ... "Tales from Urban" by Zenjungle & Tunedin52 really does tick my boxes. They are doing something new and seeking to move ambient music forward. I welcome that as I welcome their efforts on this release. I have thoroughly enjoyed it & would highly recommend their particular form of progressive music.
Replacements by Last Harbour from Andrew P Brooks on Vimeo.
I picked up the album from which this track is taken from on Saturday when I took a wee trip round the record shops in Glasgow ... "Your Heart, It Carries The Sound" by Last Harbour is utterly fascinating ... it is dark, brooding and wonderfully baroque in it's expression.
Watch the video ... then have a wee listen to the album below. I picked it up on CD for £3 in Fopp.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I've spoken before about the need for "ginger" to cleanse the palate from the particular flavour of musical "sushi". I listen to a lot of progressive sounds and every-so-often I like to dig deep in another genre, especially folky acoustic sounds.
I was given Steve McCabe’s "Painting the Evil Man" a good while back from Resonating Wood but, due to poor health and other reasons, I was unable to post some thoughts until now.
Steve McCabe is an eloquent singer and guitarist, someone equally comfortable singing or playing his acoustic guitar. In fact, he's the kind of overly talented chap who can do both ... at the same time ... very, very well.
I have become rather fond of McCabe’s music. I find his playing very reminiscent of Paul Simon's in his Simon & Garfunkel period: eloquent without being overwrought, technical without being flowery, expressive without being verbose; I could listen to his laidback playing for extended periods.
It is when he adds his voice, however, that the magic happens. It's not that he’s a brilliant singer, he's very good but has limitations. It's more that he plays to his constraints & makes up for them by being both interesting and engaging. Don't get me wrong, he isn't Dylan or Cohen when it comes to delivery ... he can sing and hold a tune, which is more than can be said for a lot of singers (like Dylan & Cohen). It's just that he has limitations (such as range) ... he has obviously realised this and plays to this constraint.
McCabe is both interesting and engaging, singing songs that challenge and provoke thought as well as entertain. Add in his delightful guitar playing and you have something very magical indeed. Many singer / guitarists have a preference ... focussing on one part to the detriment of the other ... McCabe’s music demonstrates wonderful balance - he is equally good with vocals and guitar, and that's rather rare these days.
McCabe is the kind of musician I'd love to catch at a small, intimate venue. I could easily see him entertaining a living room full of folk and would gladly host him at my place.
Tracks like "Big Brother" with it's delightful melody, expressive vocals and upbeat guitar is one reason for this ... as is "Cave" which has a more melancholic vibe.
"The Boatman" is, however, my fave track ... remarkably reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel's jaunty yet ever so slightly dark storytelling.
I would recommend this album to folky folk and others who enjoy expressive guitars & engaging narrative.
Have a wee listen below & if you like what you hear, please support McCabe & Resonating Wood. We need more from them.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I'm not sure who said it or where I saw this ... but I recall the idea being expressed that progressive music, especially rock, isn't a genre, more a way of thinking about music ... a drive to keep moving forward, a desire to progress.
I like that idea.
I like it when I consider the self-titled EP from Le Néon Noir, a band introduced to me by David Lawrie, who produced them and released them via his brand new label - Ishikawa Records.
Lead by Dani Lacroix on vocals & bass and featuring J.W. Greenwood on guitar, Carl Banks on drums, Jim Atkinson on live programming and synths, and HARUKO on synth melodies on "La Petite Mort Synphonique" and "Proxima" ... Le Néon Noir create my kind of future music ... music that is wonderfully progressive, full of surprises and innovation.
Le Néon Noir's self titled EP is one that takes multiple listens to fully sink in. The four tracks presented feel more ... somehow. I'm not sure how but they do ... maybe it's the numerous ideas than fill each track?
The opening track - "ps..." - opens at a fast pace with some programmed beats, syncopated guitar & bass before rocking out with fuller guitars & big swirling synths. The piece alternates between these fuller sections & the earlier syncopated sound. All the time, the vocals are deliciously melodic & engaging.
The second track - "Better than me" - is a full-on rock ballad but with an 80's drum machine ... one that builds towards the fuller sound of guitar / keys. As before there is a creative use of dynamics with periods of less balancing the periods of more. It really is a delightful track, more an extension of existing balladry than a replacement. Think a progressive evolution rather than revolution, especially when the guitar solo begins ... an earnest, heartfelt, soulful, bluesy solo.
The third & penultimate track - "La Petite Mort Synphonique" - is a more downbeat, electronic affair with syncopated bass, earnest vocals, and the dynamic use of guitar playing over sequenced synths. It is a delightfully dense & layered track that benefits from multiple plays for all the sounds used to become apparent.
The last track - "Proxima" - has a jaunty vibe with a quirky synth melody, snare drum rhythm & vocals. The track opens out after a couple of minutes with guitar & keys building on the established sound. "Proxima" is an idiosyncratic delight & a fitting end to a rather lovely EP, one I thoroughly enjoyed & keep coming back to.
I would highly recommend this EP and look forward to more from Le Néon Noir, from producer David Lawrie and his new label Ishikawa Records.