Monday, November 29, 2010
Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky Soloists, Orchestra, and Chorus
This satirical opera shows a young (22, in fact) Shostakovich at, perhaps, his most unhinged. The Nose was completed in 1928 and premiered in 1930. The opera is set in St. Petersburg. Based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, its absurd plot revolves around the exploits of a pompous government official and his nose. After a visit to the barber, the nose absconds from the man's face and takes on a life of its own; the pretentious bureaucrat is reduced to desperation, frantically searching the city for his lost appendage. Although primarily a comic opera, The Nose touches on the struggle between the individual and society (here portrayed by a cast of over 80 characters), and is one of the most remarkable pieces Shostakovich ever wrote (at least to me).
Shostakovich began work on The Nose soon after the stupendous success of his First Symphony, which was written as his graduation piece at the Leningrad Conservatory and first heard in May 1926, before the composer turned 20 years old. His First Symphony, as we all know, is certainly one of the greatest looks into the composer's core personality, but The Nose broadens this perspective even further. The opera is full of alarming and incongruous but entirely convincing musical turns; virtually the only predictable thing about it is its lack of predictability. Shostakovich was undoubtedly drawn to Gogol's story for its satirical aspects, as many of Shostakovich's pieces could easily be viewed as satirial, mocking, and even subliminally rebellious.
This modern opera masterpiece is highly intense and passionate, a great listen for any fans of the more chaotic realms of music.
There is so much to say about these mindblowing and hardly well known pieces by the Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke and frankly I am not the one to say any of it. If you want to learn more about each one, I've found a few nice reviews while looking at individual recordings.
Symphony No. 1; 4 tracks
Leif Segerstam / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Symphony No. 2, St. Florian; 8 tracks
Anders Aby / Mikaeli Chamber Choir
Leif Segerstam / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Symphony No. 3; 4 tracks
Eri Klas / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Symphony No. 7; 3 tracks
Tadaaki Otaka / BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Symphony No. 4; 7 tracks
Stefan Parkman / Academy Chamber Choir of Uppsala
Okka Kamu / Stockholm Sinfonietta
Symphony No. 5 (Concerto Grosso No. 4); 4 tracks
Neeme Järvi / Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Symphony No. 6; 4 tracks
Tadaaki Otaka / BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Symphony No. 8; 5 tracks
Lü Jia / Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Symphony No. 0; 4 tracks
Symphony No. 9; 3 tracks
Owain Arwel Hughes / Cape Philharmonic Orchestra
Btw: The 9th Symphony, the composer's last work, is one of the most powerful and moving pieces of music I've heard in a long time. Schnittke’s ultimate symphony – actually his very last work – is a “Ninth” in a most unusual sense: Put down with a shaky left hand by an artist who had survived four strokes and was laterally debilitated, it is an impressive triumph of spiritual energy over physical constraints.
Monta is Tobias Kuhn, a singer-songwriter from Germany. Where Circles Begin is a very lovely album, one that I will not forget. His pleasant, acoustic sound reminds me of both Sondre Lerche and Boduf Songs, but it's actually a great deal prettier. "I'm Sorry" is my favorite song.
This is a fun and interesting EP from the popular electronic/techno group Le Le, consisted of Dutch artists P. Fabergé (of De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig), Piet Parra (the man who designed the cover of this and other Le Le albums, is also a fairly well-known designer/illustrator) and Rimeroni Vumani. It may not be as fully realized as their album Flage but the variety of European funk/techno styles is still present and as entertaining as ever. Woohoo for LE LE *heart*
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I consider this, Dornenreich's 4th full-length album, the band's atmopheric/neofolk masterpiece. It is not "folk" in the way In Luft Geritzt is, nor is it black metal in the sense that Nicht um zu Sterben most definitely is. Dornenreich's sound has transformed and built upon itself yet again in a very exquisite manner, creating a breathlessly atmospheric album that is not confined to any one genre of music.
From the very beginning of the first track, "Von der Quelle," a mood is set for the entire 5 tracks that very truly adheres to the magnificent cover artwork. Interchanging neofolk acoustic melodies and artful black metal riffs create a landscape of misty Austrian hillsides and the foggy heights of mountains, not to mention the piercing voice of Eviga hissing and whispering and screaming and chanting all through the haze. Each track explores further the extent of this band's talent, which truly knows no bounds. The closer, "Zu Träumen Wecke Sich, Wer Kann," is probably my favorite Dornenreich track. It is one of their most beautiful, surely, but the atmosphere is so incredibly dark and so bitterly ethereal that it has made me cry (lame? maybe).
In Eviga's own words, "music is proof for the invisible world, the spiritual world. Air is invisible, but music can move the individual on a very sensual level. It’s also very important because the arrangement of time within music is really the language and being of the human soul which is travelling within music, and artistic expression in general, but especially within music" (source here). Despite being a fantastic band, Dornenreich proves itself time and time again that they really -get- music and understand the various effects it has on the listeners, creators, and those just passing through... This intimacy with the instruments and pure notes in the air is a very appealing aspect of Dornenreich's music, one that touches me deeply. Eviga's voice is wonderfully dynamic and intense, as if he is the only man in the world, singing from the depths of his soul.
To truly experience Dornenreich, I implore you to give Hexenwind a listen.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
或る旅人の日記 (Aru ru tabibito no nikki)
Total running time: 22 min.
A man and his pig encounter many strange sights on this beautiful and surreal
Monday, November 22, 2010
Latest album from the Dutch hip-hop group De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig. The entire sound of this album is a world beyond that of their previous albums. It is much more sophisticated and altogether a fucking amazing release.
THE BEST ALBUM OF 2010 - IT IS CONFIRMED!
By me.. Allie.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Vladimir Sirenko / National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine
"Silvestrov's Requiem for Larissa is a poignant tribute to the memory of his late wife, a bitterly-wrought mourning piece that transcends his individual grief to strike a universal chord. Its seven movements are played without pause, utilizing a large chorus and orchestra, piano, and a synthesizer. Its text is the traditional, though fragmented, Latin Requiem, along with an excerpt from a grim poem, 'The Dream,' by the Ukranian poet Taras Shevchenko.
This last constitutes the haunting fourth movement, the sung words, a 'farewell to earth,' set to a slow pianissimo folklike melody that stays in the memory. The next movement, the Agnus Dei, includes extended Mozartian solos for violin, its postlude a moving depiction of unearthly peace. The final two movements are a reprised variation of what has come before, from the hieratic opening drenched in sorrow to a Tuba mirum that rages against the dying of the light. The last sounds we hear are the gentle rustlings of the wind, as Nature washes away grief. Silvestrov's sound world is unique, as is this modern masterpiece" - someone
"While Silvestrov's inspiration is the Latin mass for the dead so widely set in the classical tradition, this is no typical requiem. There's a 'Requiem eternam' and a 'Lacrimosa', but only a few isolated words are selected from the traditional text. There is no 'Dies irae', and no wonder, as who wants to think about one's departed loved one being judged? The work is generally symmetrical. The opening and closing portions of the work are typical of Silvestrov's late orchestral music, with that special lush yet grim lake of sound. At one moment in each of these two framing portions, however, we are treated to a beautiful bit where strings playing harmonics dialogue with flutes.
The middle section, however, will be for many listeners the emotional heart of the world. Here Silvestrov leaves behind the Latin mass and includes a setting of Taras Shevchenko's poem saying goodbye to the world." - Christopher Culver
Requiem for Larissa, for mixed choir & chorus, is a genuinely moving piece of modern classical music... I cannot express how beautiful this is.
I've always overlooked Ween due to horrible short-sightedness and stubbornness; this was a mistake. You need to listen to this album with a completely open mind, don't expect it to be perfect and don't expect it to be awful - just listen to it. Personally, I thought it would be juvenile typical 90's alt, but what I got was a stroke of brilliant semi-conceptual music with no distinct genre and moments of absolute beauty. There's some silly stuff on here too but it just works. "Pink Eye (On My Leg)" is my idea of a wonderful song :3
Lungfish presents another chapter in the thinking man's modern rock. On this album, Lungfish continues a pattern of isolating crypto-philosophical songs with minimalist free-rock instrumentals. The resultant mood is somber and cathartic, focused and pointed, intellectual and freeing. Lungfish suggests simplicity as a gateway to melody, and poetry as a vehicle for intelligent observation. Single-mindedly, Lungfish combats obsession ("If love is all you hope to find / Love will ruin your mind") and chaotically they call for greater control ("Bridges crossing, bridges crossing land / Subterranean rivers seeping through the sand: Oppress yourself") over a deconstructed and unornamented rock groove. In essence, this is most likely my favorite Lungfish album aside from Feral Hymns :')
Ears and mouth and eyes and nose
Big and small, short and tall
Light and dark, rise and fall
(Tick Tock, Tick Tock)
Although each Lungfish album speaks volumes of dark, powerful poetry on its own, this very album, Sound in Time, their fifth, might be the most diverse and enjoyable album I've yet heard. It is an extension of the sounds heard on their earlier albums, but it also seems like a transition into the deeper waters of their discography... i.e. Indivisible, Necrophones, and Love is Love. I wish there was more I could say.
"Solid State" is such an epic track. I am using that word correctly and appropriately.
Malicorne is a French folk/medieval group founded in 1973. Malicorne IV, their 5th studio release, is a beautiful "electric folk" album that needs many listens - one will not absorb every aspect of the music in a single listen (or even, perhaps, in many). There are so many different instruments and melodies and voices and sensations that can occur in these 40 minutes that it is by far one of the most interesting albums I've ever listened to. "Le Jardinier Du Couvent," a mesmerizing track, reminds me a lot of Debussy's "La Fille aux cheveux de lin." If you've never heard that, just know that it's innocent beauty set to music and given wings.
Boduf Songs is Mat Sweet from Southampton (UK). There is Something Hanging Above You shows a very minimalist side to the musician, although I haven't exactly heard much else from him. I fell in love right away with this album's enchanting, sad atmosphere consisting of, primarily, his voice and his guitar. I love the touching piano parts as well, but "Left Behind Like a Piece of Shit" is my favorite track.
Austrian atmospheric black metal band Dornenreich might still be my favorite group of all time. I prefer their earlier works in the vein of Durch Den Traum and Her Von Welken Nächten (a truly haunting album), but In Luft Geritzt, translated as "Carved in Air," is nothing short of a masterpiece. Abandoning their black metal roots, Dornenreich strips down to something of a bare minimal, but in no way "less," overall sound.
In Luft Geritzt is a neofolk album that wonderfully effuses all of that which every other neofolk album lacks. A raging, intense energy. It is present in Eviga's voice, Inve's mournful violin, and the frantic guitar's sheets of sound. With every track a new door is opened. The lyrics are especially evocative, as all of Dornenreich's are.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
"...'La Maison Rose' ('the pink house') refers to the actual house where Emmanuelle was born and grew up.
Emmanuelle studied ballet from an early age, before she started to study harp. After 2 years in the French Basque province, at the age 17 she discovered a new musical world in Paris, presented by some hurdy-gurdy artists (like the contemporary/traditional folk artist Christian Gour’han who also had worked with G.Yacoub (Malicorne) and the medieval folk artist René Zosso, which inspired her interest for the hurdy-gurdy.
It is a unique album that shows how a series of experiences and backgrounds can lead musically, to inspiration and stimulation (just what the house came to signify for Emmanuelle Parrenin, personally)." - Psychedelicfolk
Just wanted to provide a little introduction to her as a person before you listen to this!
This album, by Emmanuelle Parrenin, is stunning. It is a soft folk masterpiece that incorporates the avant-garde with the ethereal voice of Parrenin, strange and wonderful instruments with the atmosphere of small French villages and sunlit mountainsides. I just got this and I know it will be a favorite of mine.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
In rememberance of a very special man who died 6 years ago today... here are some pieces of music that were played at his funeral, in the order they were played.
1. John Tavener - The Protecting Veil
2. Coil - The Dreamer is Still Asleep
3. Jane Siberry - The Valley
4. Are You Being Served? Theme (Original)
5. Lal Waterson & Oliver Knight - At First She Starts
6. Coil - Batwings (A Limnal Hymn)
7. Johnny Cash - We'll Meet Again
8. Henry Mancini - Arabesque
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Svarte Greiner is Erik K. Skodvin, half of the Norwegian electronic group Deaf Center. This is his first of two albums. It really is the perfect album for a winter's night. The soft, blustery soundscapes are really unique and beautiful. I'll be listening to this more and more over the coming months. I'm about to go to sleep now.
Fantasmes Parastasie is an absolutely gorgeous ambient album, one of my top three if not the top one ever. Each song is a fuzzy infusion of brilliant, effusive light. There is a growing anticipation throughout the album that just builds up beautifully as the night grows deeper and darker...
"Auditory Spirits" makes my soul fly away
God fucking damn. This album. It is beyond words. The Twilight Sad is a post-rock/indie group from Scotland, and this is their debut album. I've never really heard any Scottish music before, let alone Scottish vocals.. it was a bit of a shock at first, but this music is so saturated with beauty I fell instantly in love. It transcends the tag of 'post-rock.'
Monday, November 8, 2010
This is the German singer Nico's third album and definitely my favorite one. Her voice is genuinely beautiful and exquisite, although it never ceases to scare me. As soon as the first track began I knew I would love this album.
Nico - Vocals, harmonium, harpsichord
John Cale (Velvet Underground)- Keyboards, viola, bass, guitar, vocal, arrangements
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This boxset was released a few months ago, comprised of 14 DVDs featuring various Coil live performances, scans of the discs and their inserts, scans of Balance's funeral, 100 exclusive Coil postcards, and many other interesting items... Here is a link to the scans of the postcards and inserts. Enjoy!
Please do not neglect to notice that the boxset is still up for sale here.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This is the third and latest album from the gypsy punk group Blackbird Raum, and it is fucking awesome as hell. I could listen to it forever. It is pretty folky punkish, I don't know where the "gypsy" part came from exactly... I was reminded of The Klezmatics at a few points. I really can't say which is my favorite track, each one is fascinating and beautiful.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Maurizio Pollini, pianist
Maurizio Pollini is one of my 4 favorite pianists in the world (the other three are naturally Zimerman, Michelangeli and Berezovsky). His interpretations of Chopin, as shown in these 19 Nocturnes, is literally unprecedented. His style is robust, tender, and absolutely 100% perfect. While listening to his playing of Chopin's most beautiful solo piano pieces, I never have to question why he made this or this choice regarding the sound - he plays Chopin so flawlessly and elegantly that no amount of "affectation" is needed. He plays not for the audience, but for form - true form, that of the Romanticists and of the true Chopin-admirer. Nocturne Op. 27, No. 1 is my favorite of them all, it is a scene of murder and moonlight and the whisking away to heaven's gates after death. Only Pollini can pull this off so well. I highly, highly recommend this recording.
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist
Ah, Ashkenazy. He is wonderfully technical and precise, but I've always sensed a rather off-putting lack of emotion in his interpretations. Perhaps I have just never cared for him... but in any case, you would be hard pressed to find a finer recording of the Études than this. These are marvelously mechanical (not in such a negative way), truly exemplifying the wondrous abilities of a fine-tuned piano and a master of technique. Chopin himself was a pianist of great talent, and these virtuosic pieces (pieces intended for private study but are so beautiful that they are played in concert halls) showcase every important technique a student must learn to master the piano. That is why these are so often taught to students of the piano, they are "Studies" (Études) of important techniques. As a student of piano, I can say that these pieces are tremendously difficult, requiring the skill of a very mature pianist. Oh my god I'm rambling now. Listen to this and tell me if Étude Op. 25, No. 12 in C minor, the very last track, doesn't absolutely fucking blow your mind.
Alice Sara Ott, pianist
The Waltzes of Chopin are utterly timeless, and indeed essential to the understanding of his works as a whole and, in a way, Romanticism itself. I don't believe Ott plays unremarkably, but she takes too many liberties with Chopin's work (the "Grande Valse Brilliante" makes me so mad, but whatever). This doesn't detract from the lovely energy she exudes in these pieces, however. Ott's version of the Waltzes are very enjoyable to listen to, very lustrous and full of life.
Krystian Zimerman, pianist / Polish Festival Orchestra
God, I love these. Chopin should have written more for orchestra. Zimerman is amazing as always. <3
DJ Pica Pica Pica, or DJ 光光光, is the solo moniker of Yamantaka Eye, of the popular Japanese noise rock group Boredoms. This album is a collage of schizophrenic sounds from every genre of every country in every world. It would seem that this album is a recipe for chaos, but the effect is overall very catchy and awe-inspiring. It's hard to describe something like this eloquently (not that I'm very good at doing that in the first place), so I'll just say this: try it!
Monday, November 1, 2010
"Eleven tracks are present on Indivisible, and five of them are instrumentals. In artwork and mood, this is very much Lungfish's 'black' album. An emotional release is frozen in the active grieving anger that is Indivisible. Sonic Youth-like, distorted but trebly guitar sounds united with a rock-and-brooding rhythm section. Lungfish's art-rock catharsis is marked by dissonance or simplicity for a melody and sparseness or heavy hurtling from drums and warm bass." - Insound
This album is indeed brooding. Someone once told me that, in the case of Lungfish, Feral Hymns was the only album I'd ever have to listen to and I'd be set. I love love love that album, but I only recently realized how foolish it was for me to not try any other albums. I've been listening to this album for the past few days and can say it is quickly becoming almost level with Feral Hymns. I included that description (^) in order to describe the sound, for it is very true, but there is something even -more- to Indivisible. It is very brooding and dark, rhythmic though not unmelodic, slow and plodding at times, and even at the faster parts it is never more than walking-pace. These 11 tracks are highly meditative, as I have come to realize is quite common in all of Lungfish. They are energetic but at the same time laid-back. Repetitive but never old, it is custom for them to play one riff throughout the duration of a track. There is something liberating about this technique of Lungfish's that is unprecedented in the world of indie rock (or whatever you'd like to call this). This album was fantastic and I am never again going to listen to one album from a band and assume the rest isn't as good... and even if it's true, why not try >.>
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