Tuesday, June 30, 2015

086/100 - Fifty Shades of Grey Classical Album

I am annoyed. Today I picked up the Classical Music tie-in to “Fifty Shades of Grey” for 50p. It is a magical selection of known and not-so-well known (to me) orchestral and choral tracks - it has, for example, the Flower Duet that was famously co-opted by British Airways. Debussy, Verdi, Pachelbel, and Chopin all feature. It is wonderfully sequenced.

That’s why I am annoyed: this wonderful compilation is intrinsically linked to something contemptible. I know I can withstand the associations but I doubt others will, which makes me mad: such beauty brought low by poor fiction.

Why only 100 words?

Monday, June 29, 2015

085/100 - “Crooked we stand" by 18 Seconds

I've spoken of my love for instrumental rock music before, there is something inside me that finds solace in the noisy bluster of dynamics and structure.

18 Seconds’ form of instrumental rock music, as presented on his latest album "Crooked we stand", takes in a number of influences: post-rock and shoegazing dream pop both come readily to mind, as do instrumental bands like El Ten Eleven … but what makes “Crooked we stand" stand out is care that has been poured into it. The passion is evident from when the first note begins until the last is but a memory.

Why only 100 words?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

084/100 - "Age of Anxiety" by Rodney Cromwell

Sometimes an album just clicks. You put it on and after a few seconds you know it feels right. That was my initial reaction when I put on "Age of Anxiety" by Rodney Cromwell for the first time.

Cromwell's quirky, indie-synth Casio-pop expression could as easily be from a long, lost album from the early 80s as it is from a brand new, bleeding edge recording on Happy Robots. Vibrant and engaging, these timeless electric daydreams have a beguiling quality which, in concert with their upbeat rhythms, make for the perfect Monday-morning accompaniment for the work commute.

Why only 100 words?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

083/100 - "Bones" by Son Lux

The latest album from Son Lux - "Bones" - is their first as a trio: working with Ian Chang on drums and Rafiq Bhatia on guitar, Ryan Lott, the man behind Son Lux, has created new soundscapes that take his vivid, technicolor take on vocal-infused electronica to the next level.

"Bones" is a wall-of-sound unlike any other ... except Son Lux, of course. Lott, Chang & Bhatia have managed to maintain the uniqueness of Son Lux’s sound whilst simultaneously expanding its reach: it feels wider, broader, fresher, a true progression from previous album but with trusted familiarity; I can't get enough.

Why only 100 words?

Friday, June 26, 2015

082/100 - "Selective Sync Conflict" by Taggart & Andre LaFosse

Andre LaFosse is one of my favourite guitarists so when I heard of his latest project, in collaboration with Taggart aka award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist Ross Garren, I was intrigued. 

"Selective Sync Conflict" features the combined talents of Garren and LaFosse as expressed in quirky ambient sounds, future jazz, abstract downtempo glitchiness, emotive melodies and the odd bluesy guitar flourish. 

This is a truly imaginative release that rewards the attentive listener with some remarkable sonic sculptures: tracks that are expressive, vibrant and varied; I found "Selective Sync Conflict" to be most gratifying, a pleasure from start to finish.

Why only 100 words?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

081/100 - LateNightTales - The Cinematic Orchestra

I've spoken before about the Late Night Tales compilation series and whilst I've come to realise that they aren't all for me, the Cinematic Orchestra’s mix from 2010 presses all my buttons!

Jazz, soul, and electronica are all really well represented on this mix. Hearing Terry Callier, Shuggie Otis, Thom Yorke, Björk and Imogen Heap in the same mix is phenomenal but then throw in Steve Reich, Sébastien Tellier and the mighty Cinematic Orchestra themselves and you have one awesome mix.

What I love with these compilations is their sequencing, as a listener you get a near perfect listening experience.

Why only 100 words?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

080/100 - "William Barber" by Spheruleus and Friends

"William Barber" by Spheruleus and Friends, released on Hibernate references an old, scratchy wax cylinder recording and celebrates the spirit of creative thought and expression found there.

Isnaj Dui, Antonymes, Fraser McGowan (Caught in the Wake Forever), Christoph Berg (Field Rotation) and Hibernate boss Jonathan Lees join Spheruleus on his journey to capture something of that old Headmaster's spirit and, in doing so, they create a wonderfully melancholic selection of ambience that gives a nod and a wink to modern classical expression.

“William Barber" is an electroacoustic delight, an engaging celebration that gives new meaning to the phrase “found sound”.

Why only 100 words?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

079/100 - "A Beautiful Mind" soundtrack by James Horner

I was saddened to hear of the passing of James Horner, the composer whose music has underpinned many of my favourite films, including The Wrath of Khan.

One particular favourite is Horner's soundtrack to "A Beautiful Mind". It is a genuine pleasure: an orchestral masterpiece with some deliciously abstract vocal arangements and a focus on atmosphere. I picked it up on CD years ago in a bargain bin somewhere local. I recognised Horner’s name and gave it a punt. I was not disappointed.

Horner has left his mark on the world. His creativity will touch lives for years to come.

Why only 100 words?

Monday, June 22, 2015

078/100 - "The Common Silence" by Lee Chapman

"The Common Silence" by Lee Chapman cements the reputation of Eilean Rec. as a purveyor of the most excellent ambient soundscapes.

Chapman has excelled himself with this vibrant, engaging and well rounded release. His ability to combine tranquil field recordings with equally sublime electronics is a delight that brings the height of summer to the listener ... regardless of the season they themselves are listening in. He also does mysterious very well, feeding the mind of the listener as well as their ears.

Chapman is a skilled sound-sculptor and, with ease, demonstrates that there is nothing common about this release.

Why only 100 words?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

077/100 - "Be Life" by Anne Garner on Hannes Kretzer's Unperceived Records

"Be Life" by Anne Garner on Hannes Kretzer's Unperceived Records is an extraordinary release: think Julee Cruise from Twin Peaks and you'll get an idea of Garner's dreamy vocals. Pair her exceptional delivery with some delightfully downtempo electronics, music that is gently infused with a modern classical aesthetic, and you'll get the gist.

I still mourn the loss of Trish Keenan from Broadcast, it pains me to listen to their music - such talent gone way too soon. Anne Garner's truly exquisite music, whilst in no way as quirky, does something positive to fill the void left by Keenan's untimely passing.

Why only 100 words?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

076/100 - "Ancient Ocean" by Scott Lawlor and The Gateless Gate

I am in a fortunate position: I get to release music that I want to hear. Case in point is the recent collaboration between Scott Lawlor, and one half of The Gateless Gate, Allister Thompson; I consider the album they created - "Ancient Ocean" - to be an outstanding entry in the canon of both my netlabel and ambient music as a whole.

"Ancient Ocean" is deeply atmospheric and wildly progressive. Both parties shine: Lawlor's drones form an expressive backdrop for Thompson to let go on his guitar. As a fan of ambient and progressive music, this is a dream come true

Why only 100 words?

Friday, June 19, 2015

075/100 - "Analysis" by Craün

"Analysis" by Craün from Hush Hush is an interesting proposition: seven artefacts of approximately three to four minutes each that explore the ambient genre. Each artefact is different with some tracks darker that others but all of them have one impressive attribute: their conciseness. Each artefact says so much in the time allotted: waves of synths interplay with the subtle sound of field recordings to convey a sense of the immediate.

And when "Analysis" moves from drone to the more soulful ambient techno on Artefact 5.0 the expression remains the same: a consistent sense of now ... and I like that.

Why only 100 words?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

074/100 - "Silent Shout" by The Knife

The Knife are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them. Personally, I love them.

With "Silent Shout", their fourth album, the Swedish siblings Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer have distilled their powerfully evocative expression and created something wonderfully unique. Their electronic soundscapes and otherworldly vocals make for an engaging experience. Dreijer Andersson's vocals, in particular, are as dissonant as they are delightful, they work exceptionally well as a counterpart to the duo's vibrant, engaging electronica.

"Silent Shout" is a shot of adrenaline that you take aurally, a rather addictive pick me up for a very grey day.

Why only 100 words?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

073/100 - "Jurassic Park" by John Williams

I have featured the music of John Williams previously but it seems apt to make mention to his soundtrack to "Jurassic Park". As "Jurassic World" pounds the box office it is fitting to revisit the truly icon score to the original film.

Williams has a way with motifs that ensure they are catchy yet never overplayed, his theme for Jurassic Park is no exception: glorious and poignant, it is the antithesis of the Star Wars theme's bombast but no less effective. It is majestic, like the triumphant entry of Royalty albeit the Royalty it heralds is Mother Nature herself.


Why only 100 words?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

072/100 - "Church with no magic" by PVT

"Church with no magic" by experimental rock band PVT is a compelling listen. Their mix of synths, guitars, electronic manipulation, rock percussion and vocals reminiscent of the 80s 4AD sound makes for an entertaining commute into Glasgow.

It is hard to think this album is five years old already: it has a timeless quality that makes it feel so now but with a fascinating aesthetic that could have been from thirty years ago - it is the kind of music Tyler would have listened to in Douglas Coupland's "Shampoo Planet".

PVT’s noise is the sound of the colour of the sun.

Why only 100 words?

Monday, June 15, 2015

071/100 - "Branches never remember" by Adrian Lane

Adrian Lane has an idiosyncratically unique sound, one that is hauntingly beautiful, utterly intriguing and very much his own. Lane uses stringed instruments in such a way that you, the listener, are left wondering "what is that instrument?"

His latest album - "Branches never remember" - on Preserved Sound is a prime example of his particular brand of expressive folky brilliance: the sounds he presents are beautiful and intriguing, as stated before: they are beguiling in the way that gets under the skin but also atmospheric, cinematic and totally engaging. This is folk-infused, imaginative modern classical music at its very best.

Why only 100 words?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

070/100 - “Crux” by Emmalee Crane

“Crux” by Emmalee Crane was not the first album of her’s that I picked up: I fell in love with her particular sound through her second album, “Formantine”. However, after picking up this album and her third - “Crowd of Reeds” - I decided to go back and explore her debut. It is a stoater!

I’ve spoken before about how her ambient sound conjures up visions of the sea and makes the perfect accompaniment for Lovecraft’s writing. “Crux” is no exception, it has a majestic atmosphere about it that I love.

Crane has a unique sound that must be treasured and encouraged.

Why only 100 words?


Saturday, June 13, 2015

069/100 - "Constance" by southpacific

One of the first instrumental rock albums that I ever owned was the 2000 release "Constance" by Canadian band, southpacific. I was given it by a dear friend who knew I'd love it.

It is all I love about instrumental rock: walls of fuzzy guitar-filled sound, an emphasis on dynamics and a dreamy atmosphere; the influence of shoegaze is evident here albeit without the barely audible vocals of more notable bands of that genre.

For a fifteen year old recording, “Constance” still holds true. It hasn’t aged and still sounds as fresh as it did all those years ago.

Why only 100 words?

Friday, June 12, 2015

068/100 - "Hunting High and Low" by A-HA

My album for today is dedicated to my dear wife, Olwyn, on her birthday. Her first album (mine too) was "Hunting High and Low" by Norwegian heart throbs, A-HA. It is a remarkable synth pop recording that stands the test of time insofar as it is, in my opinion, beyond dating - it has a timeless quality that ensures it never sounds old.

Yes, it is 30 years old ... and it is a product of its time and place ... but it is what is for me: an extravagant, vivacious slice of pure joy.

I guess you never forget your first.

Why only 100 words?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

067/100 - "Magic Chairs" by Efterklang

"Magic Chairs" by Efterklang is one of those hauntingly beautiful albums that stays with you long after the album has finished. Efterklang’s combination of dreamy electronics, post-rock and orchestral instrumentation is inspired, it creates wonderful soundscapes over which vocalist Casper Clausen can sing so intently.

I find this album, Efterklang's first on 4AD, to be a real joy. I loved their first two albums on The Leaf Label - “Tripper” and “Parades” - but this one really stuck out to me and stuck with me … it's the kind of positive record that brightens any day with its gentle yet engaging ambience.

Why only 100 words?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

066/100 - "It's still a secret" by El Ten Eleven

I’ll readily admit to be rather taken with "It's still a secret" from El Ten Eleven, the instrumental rock duo from Los Angeles.

Their particular brand of upbeat, inventive instrumental post-rock is an utter delight for a warm Summer's day in central Scotland. Big fuzzy bass lines intersect with layers of sweeping syncopated guitar and driving yet intricate percussion to create something truly beautiful and catchy.

What I find remarkable is the sound this duo can achieve... they sound more alive than some full bands and their tightness as a unit is exemplary. It does make for compelling listening.

Why only 100 words?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

065/100 - Fleet Foxes

The self-titled debut album from Fleet Foxes never disappoints. Its combination of dreamy vocal harmonies, jangly guitar and pounding folky rhythms really hits the mark when I put it on my hifi.

I'm not a huge folk fan but this album just works for me, it was one of the albums that defined my late noughties, an album that my whole family get. Tracks like “White Winter Hymnal” and “Meadowlarks” are simply stunning ... they are exemplary tracks from a remarkable album, one that I have no doubt will last the test of time and be upheld as a classic.

Why only 100 words?

Monday, June 08, 2015

064/100 - “Teen Dream” by Beach House

I bought “Teen Dream” by Beach House after hearing the cut “Norway”, an intriguing track that prominently features a wonky synth motif that can drive you to distraction, if you let it, along with some utterly divine vocal harmonies and a really unique character. The track encouraged me to investigate further and I am so glad I did.

I find Beach House’s chilled “dreampop” sound to be a late night delight, music to relax with at the end of a busy day. “Teen Dream” has a sufficient concentration of imagination, vocal harmonies, synths and energetic percussion to complete any day.

Why only 100 words?

Sunday, June 07, 2015

063/100 - "Violator" by Depeche Mode

"Violator" by Depeche Mode is a classic album. It was one of the first synth albums that I got into. There is an energy to the recording that I connected with, an energy that sparked my imagination: I longed to have some that I could dedicate "Enjoy the Silence" to ... thirty years later I am glad I do.

What I love most about this album is its longevity. It is a tenacious recording that defies dating and will live on long after its peers are forgotten. Each track stands on its own and that is the mark of a classic.

Why only 100 words?

Saturday, June 06, 2015

062/100 - "A New Horizon" by Allister Thompson

I am proud to call Allister Thompson a friend. I love his ambient project, The Gateless Gate, and have developed a real fondness for his solo album "A New Horizon" that he released recently under his own name.

It is an interesting concept: psychedelic folk music with an emphasis on vocals that is underpinned by earthy field recordings. Initially I thought the field recordings were too loud but somehow the wall of sound presented on each track has really grown on me. I think this is due to Thompson’s delivery: he has a voice that just works on this album.


Why only 100 words?

Friday, June 05, 2015

061/100 - "Mr Beast" by Mogwai

"Mr Beast" by Mogwai is one of my favourite post-rock albums. I am blown away each and every time it comes on. From the opening piano motif of "Auto Rock" to the dying embers of feedback from "We're no here", it is one exhilarating roller coaster of an album.

I doubt I am the only one who got into Mogwai as a result of hearing this album after borrowing it from my local public library. Tracks like "Glasgow Mega-Snake" really grabbed my attention with its dynamic interplay and ferociousness. They have yet to disappoint all these years later.

Why only 100 words?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

060/100 - "Souvlaki" by Slowdive

I'll readily admit to being new to shoegaze. It's a style of music that I missed in the late 80s / early 90s when I was obsessed with thrash metal and latterly alt.rock. I am delighted to say I'm onboard now!

"Souvlaki" by Slowdive was my entry point into this wonderfully sonic, delightfully aural genre. It is an album that somehow combines the aesthetics of ambient soundscaping, dreamy pop and full-on frantic guitar all at the same time. This is music to get lost in, truly immersive music, it is a personl regret that I didn't get into it sooner.

Why only 100 words?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

059/100 - "Ruebke" by Islands of Light

"Ruebke" by Islands of Light is a mystery to me ... I have no idea how it is on my iPod Classic but I am glad it is there.

It is an album filled with wonder ... the kind of wonder that can only be created with a piano and an ear for atmospheric ambience: delightfully delicate soundscapes that emphasise melody, pieces where substance wins out over style; that's not to say Islands of Light don't have style, they do, it is simply understated like the music they create.

I love serendipity and I get pleasure in finding sublime treasures like “Ruebke”.


It turns out I picked up this album based on Brian Housman's recommendation. Thanks Brian!

Why only 100 words?


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

058/100 - "Splendid Labyrinths" by Max Corbacho

A glorious swathe of ambient synths greet the listener when they put on the latest release from Max Corbacho. "Splendid Labyrinths" is a wonderful series of self-contained soundscapes with tracks ranging from five to sixteen minutes in length.

For some a labyrinth is synonymous with a maze but there is a subtle difference: with a labyrinth the emphasis is on the journey through whereas with a maze it is all about escape from. The tracks presented here are journeys in their own right, splendid journeys of discovery where we travel with Corbacho through landscapes he has made with sound.

Why only 100 words?


Monday, June 01, 2015

057/100 - Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin IV is one of my all-time favourite albums. From the opening of "Black Dog" until the ending of "When the levee breaks", it encapsulates the dynamic nature of rock music.

I find it impossible not to be moved by this album: time slows as I pretend to be Jimmy Page with his Gibson, emulating the riffage of "Rock and Roll". Nothing comes close to the oomph of that track! Or when "Stairway to Heaven" comes on and time simply stops as I take time to soak it up.

Led Zeppelin IV is a masterclass in exuberant expression.

Why only 100 words?


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