Tuesday, April 15, 2014
"The Secret of the Sea" is a truly exceptional album from Italian pianist Bruno Bavota. It is a captivating experience, one that takes the listener to a place of sheer, unadulterated beauty.
His piano playing on this album is truly first class - technically brilliant but with a tone & approach that focuses of melody & feeling rather than solely virtuoso expression.
This level of expressed feeling was something I had come to expect from Bavota after being beguiled by "La casa sulla Luna" last year. There is more, however, within "The Secret of the Sea" ... take the opening track as an example: "Me and you" features an electric guitar / piano duet that is so utterly glorious that I asked to use in on my recent podcast - circumambient_011. It has a post-rock vibe to it that just blows me away. It opens "The Secret of the Sea" so well with the drifting ambient guitar & piano-driven melody.
The third track - "the man who chased the Sea" - features an acoustic guitar / piano duet that is similarly lovely. It has an euphoric feel to it ... it builds in intensity and feeling through its 4m27s duration ... with the introduction of subtle percussion adding to the overall effect. A sun-riser of a track, if ever I've heard one.
"The Secret of the Sea" is a treasure trove of an album, filled with real gems like the ones mentioned above & others like "Constellations" with its subtle guitar & upbeat piano-led melody ... or the exquisite grace of "If only my heart were wide like the Sea" with some seriously gorgeous acoustic guitar playing intertwined with Bavota's signature piano.
Tracks like "Les nuits blanches" & "Plasson" where it is just Bavota's piano are also utterly precious. He has true skill & these tracks demonstrate this without him shouting from the rooftops with twiddly runs or more notes than necessary. His singleminded focus on melody is exemplary & these tracks prove this point extremely well.
The stand-out track, for me, is "the boy & the whale" with the field recording of the ocean as backdrop to a truly elegant melody played on the piano. It is simply gorgeous & mesmerising all at once.
The music contained with "The Secret of the Sea" is up there with some of the best neo-classical expression I have ever heard. It is utterly captivating & a delight to consume.
My thanks go to Bruno Bavota for recording something this good & letting me in on it before it was release. "The Secret of the Sea" will be high on my "best of 2014" without any doubt?.
Put it this way: "The Secret of the Sea" deserves to be huge! It should be used as incidental music on the BBC. I want to see an Osprey catch fish in slow motion and in HD with a song like "the man who chased the Sea" as it's backing.
If you enjoy piano-led melodies and neo-classical soundscapes then you will love "The Secret of the Sea". I do.
"The Secret of the Sea" is released on Monday, 21st April on Pyschonavigation.
Friday, April 11, 2014
My eldest daughter turned me onto this video from the chaps behind 'Good Mythical Morning' ... Rhett & Link. I proudly connected with the Geek ... and really, really liked some of the ideas presented.
Now ... if you are not familiar with 'Good Mythical Morning' then can I please recommend you watch this video. It had me hooked on their brand of crazy.
Recommended viewing. Thanks for the heads-up Dayna!
40 Days of Enough ... Day 33 - "Holst's The Planets" by Concertgebouworkest, Amsterdam & Neville Marriner
Olly bought me this LP in late November, 2013. She picked it up in East Kilbride for 50p, knowing it was one of my fave Classical pieces.
Holst's "The Planets" is an exceptional piece of atmospheric music ... it moves from the raucous and moving ... to the gentle and pastoral.
It is possibly the best 50p my Olly has spent on me and I cherish it.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
I have "Abort" by Tribe on LP, CD AND cassette ... oh and I have it on MP3 too. It is a fascinating album from 1991 that both Olly and I really enjoy.
I picked the LP up for £3 from the Oxfam in Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow late last year when I started collecting records again. I couldn't quite believe my luck when I spotted it.
As for whether vinyl is best ... I guess that's down to personal choice ... but it works for me.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Stevie Wonder is my Elvis. He is a creative genius who never stops giving through his music. I am particularly taken with the five LPs he recorded in the early to mid 70s.
"Songs in the Key of Life" is simply breathtaking ... it is future soul that must have sounded other-worldly when it was released because, quite simply, it sounds other-worldly today.
I think it is the only album I have that has been preserved into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress ... they called it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
I picked up the LP and accompanying EP on vinyl at a record fair in Glasgow for £7. I then was given a copy by my colleague and friend Carol. I gave this copy away to a fellow vinyl-loving colleague.
It doesn't get much better than this ... and while I intend on getting the other four LPs from Wonder's truly great period ... this will remain my favourite.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
I love The Beatles.
It's as simple as that. I love them. I discovered them later in life ... sometime after 2000 when I picked up their "1" CD in a charityshop in Gourock (near the awesome Flava coffeeshop).
Late last year I got given some records by my dear friend and colleague Carol. She had cleared her loft and wanted me to have her hubby's record collection. I was instantly drawn to The Beatles LPs ... of which Abbey Road was my fave (it was a toss-up with the White Album).
I love this record ... it puts a smile on my face each and every time I play it. It is utter genius.
I also love this record because it came from Carol. She's an awesome lass and I have many fond memories of working with her. I was grateful that she thought of me rather than putting the LPs on eBay or something.
Monday, April 07, 2014
I love progressive music. I use this term because I believe it encompasses more than just 'prog rock'. Progressive music includes the Kraut Rock, Berlin-school Electronic music, and even Tropicália as well as the psychedelic soulful sounds of Santana's "Abraxas".
"Abraxas" is air-guitar heaven. It mixes Latin rhythms with bluesy, soulful guitar to makes something so very special. I have had this album on CD for nearly 20 years ... it was a gift from a friend who is no longer in my life ... but only recently picked it up on vinyl.
It was on my list of most wanted albums. I never thought I'd find it when I went hunting in Edinburgh with my friend Robert ... but I was delighted when I found it for £5 in 'Unknown Pleasures' on the Royal Mile.
Saturday, April 05, 2014
I was given this copy of "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield by my ex-colleague and dear friend Laura van Weegan. Just like Shaun Blezard, Laura sent me through a parcel of seven LPs ... music therapy to get me back on my feet.
I love "Tubular Bells" to be able to associate it with such warmth, generosity of spirit and kindness blows me away. It is a remarkable piece of music ... and probably my first introduction to the world of progressive music when I heard it many, many years ago.
It still sounds fresh to this day ... well, maybe not 'fresh' but 'timeless'.
Friday, April 04, 2014
I love Leonard Rosenman's soundtrack to "The Lord of the Rings". It is deeply emotive and rather dissonant in places. I can trace back my love of orchestral and 'out there' music to this album.
I had it as a teenager on vinyl. Sadly I can't find said copy nowadays ... but back in the late 80s it was a treasured piece of music from an equally treasured film.
I bought it on CD with Christmas money after I decided to cancel my Rdio subscription. It was in my Rdio collection and one of about a half-dozen albums that I genuinely missed. I don't think I paid more than a few pounds for it on Amazon ... it was from a charity seller, if my memory holds true.
I still want it on vinyl but can wait.