First off is the fabulous Bjork with her new album Volta :: I have to say its awesome. Truly avant garde... experimental and yet surprisingly accessible. Well for me it is. The music is amazing with production credits including Timbaland and Mark Bell >> pushing the envelope with crazy beats and soundscapes. What really impressed me was the use of brass instruments. The brass sound is warm and welcoming with a sense of the familiar in a sea of discontented dissonance. Truly headphone music... with so much going on in each track... including a tune "played" on the horns of ships. Bjork's voice fascinates me. It is so earthy and raw... with such elemental power and sensitivity. Loving this album.
Another innovative piece of sound sculpture is the Mercury nominated Maps with We can create :: This is an electronica album that reminds me of shoegazing post-rock with quirky "indie" vocals. The term "euphoric" has been used in reviews and I think its apt. The sound is bigger... larger... more immersive than the normal downtempo electronica I listen to. The opening track :: So Low, So High :: is so uplifting... reminding me of thin places in the expansive Scottish countryside [if that makes any sense?!?]... its not religious and yet it feels like an expression of worship. I feel this album will be with me for a long time to come.
On a different path altogether is this fab compilation of "chilled" tracks from Antonio Vivaldi. It includes tracks from The Four Seasons along with other works.
I'm not a big classical music fan and am quite critical of the genre... or at least the modern industry that has grown around some wonderful pieces of music. Take Vivaldi for example... everyone knows the four seasons and, as a result, that's what is always played. Discussed this with my dad recently - where is the progression if all you play is the classics. Imagine popular music where the majority of tracks were covers... OK, maybe a bad example... Imagine electronica where the majority of tracks played by wildly talented musicians were covers from Play. Its a nonsensical thought and yet it happens everyday in the classical genre.
Anyway... rant over... this is a good compilation that brings together a range of Vivaldi's work and showcases the composer from a chilled perspective. Nice to listen to as you walk through the crowds at rush hour.
That said... I'm a big fan of James Galway - he is an amazing musician who is nicely showcased in the compilation :: wings of song :: sure it has all the "favourites" like ave maria and gymnopedie no.3... but it also contains some gems from composers such as Rodrigo, Saint-Saens and Wagner. The gem in the crown, however, is John Denver's Annie's Song which is the song Olly walked down the isle to... 10 years ago... and a song I will never forget.
There are only 2 types of music... good and bad... and for me... these are some fab albums. Check them out.
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