Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pinknruby - Garden & The Vast Astonishment

Oh my god. In the music of Pinknruby, I have found true, surrealist beauty. It is one of my favorite new finds, and I am positive you will love it too.

Pinknruby, a duo comprising Slovenian Michaela Repina and Brit Paul Bradbury, began working together in 1998, intending to write dance music with strong melodies. The ensuing garage, drum'n'bass and chill-out tracks generated some interest. Early in 2002, Pinknruby decided to try something entirely different. Carrying folk guitar backgrounds, Repina and Bradbury opted to return to simple acoustic melodies. Their preceding tenure in dance music, however, led to acoustic songs with a dance approach, which led to the use of loops, etc. Their music, warm, acoustic, and performed using guitars and vocals by both members, combines folk with elements from the Mediterranean and eastern Europe. When performing, the musical pair likes to dress colorfully in accordance with the occassion, which adds to the appeal of their shows. Pinknruby's lyrics, in Slovenian, usually present short stories or philosophical comments.

Pinknruby attracted the attention of French underground label, Prikosnovénie in 2002 and released their debut album, The Vast Astonishment with them in 2003. Since then, they have released two more critically acclaimed albums, Garden (2005) and Queen Kale (2008).

2005; 10 tracks

Garden is Pinknruby's second album, and my favorite. Mihaela Repina's soft, high Slovenian-singing voice combines with the purring of a cat in seamless intimacy. I have grown a deep love for this album, which provides a great collection of musical genres and styles - pure acoustic folk to jazzy, up-beat tracks, often accompanied by a violin. Mihaela Repina's voice is utterly gorgeous, reminiscent of Kate Bush and perhaps even Liz Frasier.

"Mihaela Repina and Paul Bradbury make light, mysterious and mostly acoustic music that draws from Eastern European folk and Brazilian samba, with a dash of jazz. Both sing in Slovenian, she in a dusky voice that recalls Lou Rhodes from Lamb, he in a light tenor that reminds one of Ben Watt. The music dances on the edge of being too precious and twee, one song features a cat purring. But the harmonies are solid, the instrumentation inventive, harps, psaltery and cello are added to mix, and Repina's alto is truly bewitching. On such tracks as 'Nader Margh' and 'White Lady Mirror', her dark voice and the soothing, glimmering instrumentation create an indescribable world of dark and light."

Download + Track 1

2003; 11 tracks

The Vast Astonishment is Pinknruby's debut album (with Prikosnovénie).

((I like it but will provide more thoughts after more listens.))


Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter - Reckless Burning

2002; 9 tracks

Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter is Jesse Sykes, a Seattle-based singer-songwriter, and Phil Wandscher on guitar.

Reckless Burning is an exquisite mix of acoustic ballads, and country-like tunes. It is really the most beautiful thing I've heard in so long, her voice... I cannot recommend this album enough, to anyone.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jack or Jive - Kenka

2004; 14 tracks

This is the cover artwork of the re-issue from 2004, which contains 5 bonus tracks. The original was released in 1997, with 9 tracks and
this artwork.

Jack or Jive is a Japanese duo consisting of husband and wife Chako and Matoro Hattori. I had never heard of them before until yesterday, in fact. I found a picture of them somewhere and thought it might be a good idea to try out their music. It turns out that the two have created quite an amount of albums, so I chose one at random. Kenka, the one I chose, was a gem of raw ethereality and dark ambience.

"Mellow piano based music with some strange Liz Frazer type vocals, with a few samples and percussion thrown in, creating an eerie soundscape where dark ambient and neo-classical meet."

The band's site offers a view on the album from the opposite side of the globe:

"When the earthquake struck Hanshin region, Hiroshima has also shaken.
The spooky quake lingered deep inside my body.
But the day started as if nothing has happened.
Along my way to the school in the car, I heard that many was crushed to death
in their houses by the earth quake early in the morning.

I was surprised that somebody died in that quake.
In afternoon in the lunch room,I heard teacher talking agitatedly that
"About 50 people has been killed".I watched the news on hurry.
What I saw there was a Kobe city completely destroyed.
I thought this is a catastrophe. But it was only the beginning of the tragedy.

There is some sort of the music that tries to make you cry with eerie sound and
weepy lyrics. Most of them doesn't have any soul in them.
The face of the creator cannot be found in that sort of music.
I rather see the foppish grin of the arrogant creator. They make me puke.

A person like me, wandering in Hiroshima maybe should not say this,
but I had some bad feeling because the theme was the theme.
But JACK OR JIVE made it, I felt their presence in the album.

"Kenka" hurts.
"Kenka" is painful.

It feels like being shaken off icily.

When the earth quake struck, I was glad that it was not on Hiroshima.
I feel ashamed of it. I was also glad that JACK OR JIVE were safe.
I am ashamed of myself that I can't think about the earth quake more than that.

Behind the "Kenka", I see JACK OR JIVE and somehow beautiful city of Kobe.

-written by Hideaki Yoshimura"

Download / Order

Sunday, March 27, 2011

World's End Girlfriend - Ending Story

2000; 10 tracks

Ending Story is the first album by
World's End Girlfriend (ワールズ・エンド・ガールフレンド), the solo project of Japanese electronic artist Katsuhiko Maeda. Mixing different genres and creating sad, lonely songs is his specialty.


Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique

1999; 5 tracks
Riccardo Muti / The Philadelphia Orchestra

Hector Berlioz was French composer of the early Romantic period, and a conductor most well known for his contributions to the modern orchestra. I've heard his name thrown around for quite a while but never looked deeply into his plethora of musical output... Hearing The Symphonie Fantastique for the first time two nights ago made me so fantastically excited about exploring more of this fiery Frenchman's work.

"The Symphonie Fantastique was initially composed in 1830 and first performed in December of the same year under the direction of Habeneck. Berlioz however revised the work extensively during his trip to Italy in 1831-2 and in subsequent years and did not publish it until 1845. The work as we now know it is thus substantially different from the original of 1830, which can no longer be reconstructed in full detail.

The Symphonie Fantastique has always been the work with which Berlioz’s name is most closely associated. The composition of this revolutionary masterpiece marked a breakthrough in the composer’s career, at once the culmination of his years of apprenticeship, and the starting point of his mature work as a symphonic composer. The impact that Beethoven had on Berlioz is evident in the work, but no less evident is Berlioz’s originality in opening up new paths that Beethoven had not explored, and the sound world of Berlioz is entirely his own."

Understanding The Symphonie Fantastique comes with understanding the story behind it:

"When he was twenty-four years old, Berlioz fell in love with a theater actress named Harriet Smithson. He sent her countless love letters, but she never wrote him back. Feeling that his love for her has been completely misunderstood, his pain and suffering then turned into musical motivation, which led to the creation of Symphonie Fantastique. With a length of roughly sixty minutes (depending on the conductor's pace, of course), this programmatic composition is more of a semi-autobiography. It tells the story of an artist who cannot resist the urge to think of a young woman he has fallen in love with. Slowly, the image of the woman starts to haunt him. Even when he's in the countryside, her appearance still lingers in his head. This leads to fear and paranoia as he becomes convinced that he's deceiving her in some way. With an overdose of opium, the man dreams that he is being executed for murdering her. Smithson was not there when this work premiered, but she eventually had a chance to meet Berlioz himself. They married, but this turned to me anything but a happy ending. The marriage became a disaster, and they divorced eleven years later. Smithson would die several years before the French composer did.

The symphony itself is pure brilliance: it's filled with wild orchestral color and wicked imagery (in the second half). With so much expression in terms of both story and music, this would become a milestone in the history of classical music. It, as well as a few other works by other composers, would take every single orchestra straight into the Romantic era."


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Arturo Márquez - El danzón según Márquez

2002; 8 tracks
Eduardo García Barrios / Orquesta Mexicana de las Artes

Arturo Márquez is a mexican composer known for his series of symphonic danzones, a traditional genre of music and dance that originated in Cuba and is now a staple of mexican culture. This is incredibly beautiful music, with a very distinct personality and harmonic language. The orchestration is nothing short of superb, and the Danzon No. 2 is easily one of the finest Mexican orchestral pieces ever written. Anyone who enjoys Latin-American music like Ginastera or Villa-Lobos, or Mexican music like Moncayo and Revueltas, will adore this."

@ andruini: You asked me what an American thought of this. Well, I fucking loved it. The Danzon According to Marquez has such a jazzy freedom to it that I find lacking in so much classical music today, and it suits my ear a little better when I'm not in the mood for Brahms or Liszt. These works by Márquez have such lyrical beauty (just listen to the luscious harp-infused "Pasión según San Juán de Letrán") that the melodies could easily stand alone - though I much prefer them with the latin rhythms that accompany each piece. The Orquesta Mexicana de las Artes (of course, it MUST be Mexican) produces such incredible interpretations of Márquez that I can't imagine any other recording. This is such a brilliant representation of Mexican music in general, and I desperately want to discover anything similar.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Blut aus Nord - 777 Sect(s)

2011; 6 tracks

These 6 tracks by French black metal band
Blut aus Nord have the chaotic feel of Deathspell Omega's latest with the plodding & obvious help of a drum machine, striking of Justin Broadrick. This album is very enjoyable to listen to... once. The instrumentation and overall "evil" atmosphere is not quite what it was in Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars, which is one of my favorite black metal albums ever. 777 Sect(s) is still a worthwhile listen, (the 2nd and 6th tracks are pretty fantastic), so go ahead and find out what it's all about.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sun and the Moon - The Great Escape

1999; 15 tracks

The Sun and the Moon was started by Mark Burgess, the frontman of The Chameleons. The Great Escape is a marvelous conglomeration of new and old - of Script of the Bridge-era Chameleons, and of music completely new to the world. Mark's amazing voice lingers above music that sounds of post-punk at times, but also a burgeoning jazzy style that I literally can't find the words to describe. The lyrics to "Death of the Imagination" bring me to a certain Doctor Who episode, one that I really love:

I bathe in the glare
Of a thousand explosions
With child-like fascination
And time the impact
That ends my existence
With the rhythm of my heartbeat
I taste the sweetness
Of mystical moments
Re-living and savouring
Every sensation
As gravity grips me
In giddy rotation
In my concrete overcoat
A prisoner of reason am I

Music like this deserves to be heard by every citizen of earth, then reflected upon for centuries to come. I am just glad I didn't go my whole life not hearing this...

the great escape

Lungfish - Love is Love

2003; 10 tracks

lungfish is a band whose extensive (very appropriately so) array of releases never ceases to mystify me. love is love is the band's second to last album, and one of the most assuredly consistent of them all. tracks like "fearfully and wonderfully," which is tied only with "wailing like dragons" as my favorite piece of lungfish godliness, opens with the most glowing of chords that unfailingly lift my spirits up high. this album holds a luminescence not matched by many other albums. here are a few lyrics that i simply adore, especially when sung by daniel higgs:

holy holy christ beast
christ beast bear your message
about a godform that’s formless
and forming in your baby, in your mind
with wings like rainbow oars of fire
inscribing signs across the water
gently, gently upon the water
signs becoming what they signify

i'm reading john irving's the world according to garp right now, and have been listening to love is love along the way. one sentence in the absurdly enjoyable novel that truly arrested me was this: "garp's throat ached at her trust, and at his love for her." i know exactly how that feels, for my throat to just swell up and feel overflowed with tears, or some indiscernable substance that is only associated with the most painful of emotions. that is how this album makes me feel - overwhelmed with pity, with grief, and.... maybe even with love.

download / purchase

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nazxul - Totem

1995; 11 tracks

An incredible black metal debut from a very under-appreciated black metal band, named after one of Tolkien's beasts.

Nazxul is a black metal band from Australia. Since its inception, this band has been shrouded in secrecy. Their releases are few and far between, with Totem being their only full-length offering to date.

Nazxul's musical style reminds of early Emperor taken to a new level of extreme aggression. Their musical style incporates intricate guitar and keyboard melodies with thrashier, more aggressive sections and distorted, evil vocals. The vocals are of particular interest, a seemingly endless array of sinister whispers and inhuman growling.

Well-suited for such an obscure project, Nazxul's lyrics touch on occult and mystical themes. The album's title track is a good example of their lyrical vision:

The seal of wonder
The mark in blood
The one true symbol
Of everlasting fear

They will find it, they will fear it
The mighty mark
In bloody merciless madness

Thy mark, my mark
The winds will speak, when the storms die

Throughout the album, Morelli and Mitchell create some truly memorable riffs and melodies, with bassist Adrian Henderson fortifying their efforts with a solid backbone. Henderson also provides tasteful, intelligent keyboards that add another dimension to the album. Backovic's vocals seem to know no bounds, assaulting the listener from every angle.

While the entire album is powerful and consistent, 'I Awaken (Amongst Them)' and 'Distance Begins' strike me as being particularly ferocious and powerful examples of Nazxul's musical vision. The album closes with a long interlude consisting of a recording of a thunderstorm, but Nazxul treats their fans to a new recording of 'Hymn of a Dying Moon' from their demo before dissolving back into the shadows. Totem comes heavily recommended to fans of intelligent, complex black metal bands such as Abigor and Lunar Aurora, although most fans of extreme metal will find something to enjoy here." - Implications.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bodychoke - Five Prostitutes

1996; 14 tracks

Bodychoke is the brainchild of Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor (of Sutcliffe Jügend and Power Electronics), and was active in the UK from 1993-1999. They released three very good albums in that time, the second of which being Five Prostitutes, and another one in 2004.

Five Prostitutes is an incredibly disturbing look into the mind of an infamous serial killer - Jack the Ripper. Bodychoke uses a very methodic and diverse array of sounds to create this thriller of an album, all circulating around the murders of five women. This, and their other albums (which I will be exploring very soon), represent a "dark and intriguing version of rock, with thick bass and thin drums, guitars that make noises and hum and drone and feedback, cello of all things (!!), and two singers who run the gamut from whispering to yelling and even sing and harmonize."

It also came with a curiously sick dedication:

"This album is dedicated to all those who, in the pursuit of pleasure, have suffered imprisonment or execution."

I was surprised to hear very Slint-like melodies almost alongside the sudden dissonance of harsh noise. The vocals in "Anal" and some other track reminded me very much of the throaty, brutal voice of Michael Gira, which was a very pleasant realization. "Cripple" is a particularly disturbing song, serving as a sort of anthem to the complete domination, murder, and mutilation of women. Be prepared to be disturbed, Five Prostitutes is an incredible and utterly haunting album.

I can't wait to see you crawling away

Buono! - Discography

2008; 12 tracks

Part 1
Part 2

2009; 12 tracks


2010; 12 tracks


Buono! is a J-pop group under Hello! Project, a collective of all-female Japanese pop recording artists. Buono! (meaning Tasty!) is Momoko Tsugunaga and Miyabi Natsuyaki from Berryz工房, and Airi Suzuki from °C-ute. Here are the three albums they have released to date, my personal favorites being the two latest ones.

Ad Hominem - Climax of Hatred

2005; 10 tracks

Ad Hominem is a French black metal band created by Kaiser Wodhanz, who does all the instruments. His approach to black metal is much like death metal in content - packed full of non-stop anger and power, the drums a prominent part of nearly every track. There isn't much attention to the "atmosphere," as the main focus seems to be the content of hatred (hence the title?) I wouldn't call this a strictly NSBM release, to be honest. Their lyrics deal more with anti-religion and just hatred in general:

Looking forward to another existence
from ashes will rise a new essence
No religion. nor lowest lambs
Only cold plain and devastated landscapes

I am filled with admiration.

This is one of the most hateful and aggressive albums I've ever heard, definitely on par with the two released by M8L8TH.


Monday, March 21, 2011

dredg - Leitmotif

2001; 10 tracks

dredg have been one of my all-time favorite bands for a while, but this is mainly due to their second album, El Cielo. Now that I think about it, Leitmotif, their first full-length album, is much more experimental and raw in sound. Check here for some very interesting takes on the various concepts of Leitmotif.

"Leitmotif is based on a story written by the bassist Drew Roulette in which a man with a spiritual disease looks at different cultures around the world in search of a cure. The story is included with the album, but it would probably not be too difficult to find it online. The album is generally considered to be progressive alternative, a fitting label. The instrumentation is very simple - one of the things I really enjoy about the album. Any of these songs would be easy to learn and preform, and most of them stick to generic rock instruments. Yet, the sometimes Eastern or jazz-influenced music is engaging, catchy, and dynamic. Occasionally we see other instruments making their way in, including a cello, synthesizer, and theremin."

"'We decided to call this release Leitmotif because we wrote our music based upon the adventures of a wise man who traveled around the world to become a pure soul.' These travels are outlined within the liner notes of the album. The story focuses on a man visited by a spirit who tells him he has a moral disease and must travel the world on a quest for higher spirituality. If he succeeds, he will evolve; if he fails, he will die. Ultimately, the character learns to put faith in the religion found in the spiritual awakening of humankind, rather than buy into the religion of commerce and greed. The result of Leitmotif's explorative, experimental union of music and text is a mystical sound odyssey."

We live like penguins in the desert. Why can't we live like tribes?

Javier Navarrete - Pan's Labyrinth Soundtrack

2006; 21 tracks

This is a very shadowy, very Spanish soundtrack. It has the perfect balance of mystery and purity.
Javier Navarrete is a Spanish-born composer of film music, and even composed the music to another del Toro film (The Devil's Backbone).

Directed by the infamously dark director Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth, or El Laberinto del Fauno, is the story of an innocent young girl, Ofelia, who lives a hard life during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Taken away to live with her mother and cruel stepfather in the war-torn countryside of Spain, Ofelia is swept up in a fantastical journey. The ancient Princess Moanna resides inside her, and with the help of a magical Faun and his fairy friends, Ofelia is meant to return Moanna to her original state. As Ofelia's pregant mother grows more sick, and Ofelia tries desperately to comply with the Faun's needs, the film grows increasingly disheartening. The moment when Ofelia speaks to her brother in her mother's stomach was when the tears came to my eyes, and this soundtrack carries the tragic story along in infinite gentleness.

In the liner notes, Mr. del Toro describes how the film itself is a bedtime story and how it required a lullaby to carry the tale from start to finish. Javier Navarrete created this score surrounding a simple lullaby, one you will hear many times sung in the film. It is a very lovely melody, and even during the darkest parts of the film you can hear the indistinct notes falling above the destruction, and realize how the film could very well be just a bedtime story. This is an incredible soundtrack for an incredible movie, and I'm sure that everyone who listens to it will instantly fall in love.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brad Mehldau Trio - New York-Barcelona Crossing, Vols. 1 & 2

1993; 2 discs
Brad Mehldau / Mario Rossy / Perico Sambeat / Jordi Rossy

Brad Mehldau is a very talented jazz pianist who founded his own trio, the
Brad Mehldau Trio. In these two CDs the trio joined the Spanish altoist Perico Sambeat. The quartet confidently stretches out in a variety of tempos and feels, captured live at the Jamboree Club in Barcelona in 1993.

This is a very nice compilation of soft jazz, with the prominence of the piano and alto sax. The two form an immutably equal companionship, and it's interesting to hear them glide along together in improvised harmony.

Vol. 1
Vol. 2

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs

2002; 5 tracks

This is for you, Phonsie :3 I want to share this album with you so bad, I know you would love it so much. I only wish I could have shown it to you sooner.

Playthroughs is the first full-length album by ambient/electronic musician
Keith Fullerton Whitman. He had already been well known as idm/breakcore artist Hrvatski, but he must have decided to show off his more expressive, or ambient side. These 5 tracks contain some of the most blissful electronic music you will ever hear, and an unparalleled sense of both structure and freedom. The scientific pulsations, the ebbs and flows of the rhythms - it all conjures up images of fractals, ever building upon each other. It is the sound of cells forming and bonding, of DNA and the very basest of life's composition. Nothing could ever compare to this monolith of a first album.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Sigur Rós - Takk...

2005; 10 tracks

This album is one of the reasons I am alive. The tracks "Gong" and "Gong Endir" are my absolute favorites. They have released a few nice things, but I personally love this
Sigur Rós album the most.

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic ambient group, but with guitars and various instruments their sound is highly experimental. On Takk, you will hear much gentler tracks and even some acoustic too. The high-pitched and unusual vocals may take some getting used to, but all in all... there really isn't much to dislike about them. This is such a shimmering, magical album - please try this and tell me what you think, if you haven't heard this before.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I haven't been in the mood to post any new music here lately. I don't know if I ever will again. I like trying out new things and sharing them with everyone but I am so terrible at writing nice words about what I hear. I know it's not the most important thing, and I could easily get by with writing no thoughts at all, but I sincerely want to. I realize some of my reviews are longer than others, and better written, and more thought out, and it is saddening to see how many I have just left with a few meaningless sentences about my fickle feelings. I take such a long time to construct my sentences, and in my speech I am even worse - the time draws out as I choose the only the words that, to me, are most fitting. I experiment with word order and take care to make every sentence interesting and slightly different... it is so tiring to accomplish this. As you can see, I give up all too often and proceed in a more monotonous tone. I'm sure this is not very important at all.

Just listened to Boris' New Album, and can easily say I very much enjoyed it. It incoporated many moods that I have never heard from Boris (though I can't say I've heard a lot from them), and it was a pleasant surprise. It appears that they have two more albums coming out next month, so those will be eagerly awaited... I also listened to Venetian Snares' album Rossz Csillag Allat Született for the first time in quite a while. I am always struck by how well the two go together, modern classical and breakcore. I think I like "Második Galamb" and "Hajnal" the most. I also re-discovered my love for Sweet Trip (their song "Milk" is breathtaking) and Little Dragon, two dissimilar bands that I will always associate with each other because I found out about them both from the same person. Sooo, yeah. That's what's happening in the music side of my life.

I'm in the middle of watching and reading and downloading so many things, I wonder if I will ever have time to properly enjoy them all. I am out of the school for the next 3 weeks, so I hope I will focus on these things and not fooling around/sleeping in until the afternoon (although I do love doing that). I often stay up late, and I like doing so, but as I've grown older there seems to be no point to it anymore. I neither accomplish nor neglect anything. It is quiet, and peaceful, but I feel a slight pressure to just go to bed and let the night pass. But the night is a beautiful thing, and I shouldn't take it for granted.

On Saturday I went to the mall with my mom and my sister. I bought some things for the first time in a long time. Whenever I go to the mall with what little money I have I am reluctant to buy anything, as I know I will regret it later. There are times, though, when I have a very small amount and will buy anything just to go home with the satisfaction of a bag or two full of some odd trinket or other. Anyway, I had some extra money from teaching piano lessons and I used some of it to buy a fairly cheap French dictionary and an introductional book to the Japanese language. I often think in French (rarely correctly) and sometimes I like looking up a certain word or phrase. My interest in learning fluent Japanese is minimal, but I do want to know more about it. It's such an ancient, (complex?) language - much like French. It's something I will have to work really hard at in order to get better. I'd like to visit those places someday.

I have been playing piano more than ever these days. I'm working on mostly stuff for these stupid competitions my teacher has me do (and has been having me do for most of my time with her). I'm not generally a competitive person, and I am the least competitive in piano. I love piano and play it and practice it because it is what I am the most passionate about in life, above all else. I don't practice to be the best, I practice to get better and be more true to what I feel the composer's desires were. It is very tough work, and I often get so frustrated I have to leave and come back later. I am ambitious in little else besides piano - I am eager to move forward, to conquer the hardest pieces, to overcome the most painful difficulties. So much of my life revolves around the playing of that instrument, however exhausting it is, and I have so much to owe to it. When I feel at my absolute lowest, there is nowhere else I can go but to my piano. I am not running to an emotion, or a feeling, or a long dead composer - I yearn for the physical feel of my piano, and the room that it is in, that room in which no one but myself ever goes. I feel safe there, even if I don't feel ready to play a piece. It is a sort of home for me. I hope when I go to university I don't lose this affection for the piano, as I will have to be away from my own, the one I've practiced on for years, longer than I ever have...

Recently I have uncovered a new love - the work of
João Ruas. He is a young Brazilian artist who works in many mediums with varied subject matter. I have noticed a consistent detail in all of his works - can you see it? I love the fuzzy dreaminess of his art, the edges of the lines (and reality?) as nebulous as ever, the coarse vagueness being it's central strength. It reminds me a little of the November day my grandfather died, and the silent ride home as it snowed softly. I listened to Korouva then, and Popol Vuh. That entire day was a cold, slow shock.

"How can I be strong when I do not know my own mind?
I am lost."

"That's not true," corrects my shadow. "You are not lost. It's just that your own thoughts are being kept from you, or hidden away. But the mind is strong. It survives, even without thought. Even with every thing taken away, it holds a seed - your self. You must believe in your own powers."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tesa - HeartBeatsFromTheSky

2008; 6 tracks

I'm often surprised at how few people (that I talk to, anyway) know about
Tesa. They are a Latvian post-metal band who create really atmospheric music. This is an incredibly emotional album full of passionate moments, like Ef, but with a malevolent undercurrent, and intimate guitar passages woven in. Those are something you should never take for granted.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Le Scrawl - Q

1994; 23 tracks

Le Scrawl is German group of avant-garde musicians founded in 1989 that plays a variety of musical styles. Q is the band's 2nd CD and is full of extremely short tracks (the longest of which being 1:28). One might argue that it goes by so fast that it's difficult to say something really substantial about it, but it still has a lot to offer. Ska, grindcore, noise - very likeable.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jesu / Battle of Mice Split

2008; 4 tracks

First two tracks are
Jesu, second two are Battle of Mice. I like the Jesu side a little better...


Cocteau Twins - Pur

"Pur" is the final track on Four-Calendar Café, a highly underrated album.

This is most definitely my favorite
Cocteau Twins song, of all time. It reminds me so much of my mother... and motherhood in general. I hope I can be a good mother some day. I hope I can find a friend that was once a part of me.

I'm glad you are a girl
I'm pleased to know you
I like you for you
I'm happy you're growing up

Reach and you won't lose me
Destroy the objective
But still survive
You are angry and that's okay

Forgetful or pretending
Tired, ill or angry or cold
More assured of what to do
But I do care for you

Reach and you won't lose me
Destroy the objective but still survive
You are angry and that's okay
You are angry and that's okay

I am not afraid of your anger
What do you need? What do you want?
I love you and I know that you can figure it out

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

きだしゅんすけ (Shunsuke Kida) - Demon's Souls OST

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Loitsu - Suohengen Sija

2006; 4 tracks

Loitsu (The Spell) is a Finnish neofolk project started by R. Kurkijávri. The project is highly nature-based, the music very intimate with earth. I'm not exactly sure if Suohengen Sija is an album or demo, but it contains the first three tracks of the demo Aamujen Auer and a bonus track.

"Loitsu is a painting, where shamanistic lonely grim and shimmering brightness of the northern lights are combined with the ecstasy of sounds that acoustic instruments are creating. Mysticism of nature and it's wonderful ambiences play together with the beauty of guitars, piano, violin, flute and depths of a shaman drum."


Monday, March 7, 2011

Helium - The Magic City

1997; 14 tracks

Helium hit indie paydirt with '95s blustery feedback-drenched The Dirt Of Luck – a sonic corruption bewitched by subversively fragile sentiments, Boston-based Timony resolved her post-teen uncertainties and decided to trade in the droning cacophonies of yesterday for a cosmic experiment.

Brilliantly derived from Baroque, Gaelic folk, and neo-Classical styles, The Magic City takes a surrealistic journey forward (the artful 'Aging Astronauts' and the astral 'Leon's Space Song') and backward (the harpsichord-laden 'Medieval People' and the shadowy 'Ancient Cryme') in time."

Mary Timony (guitar, vocals, keyboards) ((whom I adore)) shares her thoughts on the band's 2nd and last full-length album:

"The sentiments were angrier on The Dirt Of Luck’s songs. They were more aggressive and agitated, but there were some nicer songs on that record. Since the production was lo-fi, they came out sounding more distorted and noise-oriented. I think the themes were more urban and about inner turmoil and gender gaps. Now I feel the themes on the first album were overdone and so 'over' now. There are so many cheesy women musicians around because of the whole Alanis Morissette fake feminism thing. I got tired of it. I had huge writer’s block and couldn’t produce new music for a while. But then I realized the music I like is soothing and has balance. I didn’t want to use my music as just a tool. That’s why The Magic City is quieter and more mellow. I decided I wanted to make music and not deal with the bullshit anymore."

As fantastic as The Dirt of Luck is, The Magic City showcases not as much of a "softer" side to Helium but a more... reflective one. It is amazing to listen to.

Will we go on until the end?
I know it's coming, but I just don't know when.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

浜崎あゆみ (Ayumi Hamasaki) - A Complete: All Singles

2008; 3 discs

This greatest hits collaboration is the celebration of Ayumi Hamasaki's tenth anniversary with the
Avex Trax record label. A Complete: All Singles is a collection of all the singles Hamasaki has released since 1998.

I'm relatively new to the entire genre of j-pop, or at least the work of solo j-pop artists, but most fans will recognize 浜崎あゆみ as a leader of j-pop music. Ayumi is an award-winning Japanese singer and former actress, as well as an international fashion icon. Her music is synth-y and full of life. I really, really enjoy this style of pop - sophisticated, fun, worthwhile. I listened to the entire 3 CDs and immediately wanted to listen again. I guess it's not for everyone, but I was after good j-pop and I definitely found it in the music of Ayumi Hamasaki.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brainbombs - Genius and Brutality... Taste and Power

1994; 9 tracks

This is the second album of Swedish noise/punk rock band
Brainbombs. It's one of the most disturbing and brutal albums ever, but I am so mesmerized by it. I tend to like extremes. Everything in middle just doesn't cut it. Genius and Brutality..., if you play it loud, is so abrasive it hurts... but I really like that. Even if you're not really into necrophilia I swear this album fucking kills.

You have blood on your body
Blood on your mind
Blood in your dreams
Screams in your dreams
And a leg sticking out under your bed

You can't remember
You can't forget
Sweat from your skin
When you put the needle in
And a leg sticking out under your bed

Five in the morning
You're staring at the wall
Insects coming out
Angels crawling over your floor
And a leg sticking out under your bed

You have blood on your body
Blood on your mind
Blood in your dreams
Screams in your dreams
And a leg sticking out under your bed

You can't remember
You can't forget
Sweat from your skin
When you put the needle in
And a leg sticking out under your bed

Throbbing, minimal, repetitive face punches.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dmitri Shostakovich - 15 Symphonies + 15 String Quartets

Recorded: 1965-1975
Released: 2006; 11 discs
Kirill Kondrashin / Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Russian State Choral Choir

"This is visceral stuff (e.g., nos 4, 8 and 11), so far removed from the polished interpretations of the more recent 'sophisticated' recorded cycles by various Western orchestras and their conductors, like Haitink, Jansons, and Jarvi. Even Rostropovich suffers, if only along the fringes, from too much sophistication. All offer their own qualities - but not that primeval, gut-wrenching, uniquely Russian sound, not European, but perhaps from somewhere on the Asian steppes.

Shostakovich composed with the sound of the Russian orchestras of his day - and here you get that sound. It is raw, with the woodwinds, brass and percussion, prominent, not always steady, sometimes ugly, most often hitting you where it really counts.

Here you have a collection of one of the most brilliant symphonists of the Twentieth Century, unadulterated, and disturbing. Play it loud."

This boxset features Shostakovich's Symphonies 1-15, October (Symphonic poem, Op. 131), The Sun Shines on Our Motherland (Cantata, Op. 90), The Execution of Stepan Razin (Poem, Op. 119), and the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2, Op. 129 in C-sharp minor.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6
Disc 7
Disc 8
Disc 9
Disc 10
Disc 11

1998; 6 discs
Fitzwilliam String Quartet

I have posted the first 13 quartets done by the Borodin Quartet some time in the past, but these recordings have a grim totality about them, particularly the 8th and 15th Quartet. String Quartets, formed originally by the great Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, can be just as immensely powerful as unbearably intimate. This medium often holds some of the strongest music of a composer, i.e. those of Bartók, Haydn, and, of course, Shostakovich.

"The Fitzwilliam Quartet is English by birth but shows a lot of Russian soul in these works, which were recorded in consultation with the composer. Their technique is flawless, their immersion in the music total, their interaction with one another and with the music spontaneous and intense. Priced competitively with the Borodin Quartet, they do not have any added attraction to match the Piano Quintet in that set, but this close-up stereo recording is significantly better. Highlights of the set include the relaxed, folk-flavored No. 1; the tense, autobiographical No. 8, which recalls the terrors of World War II, quotes a lot of Shostakovich's earlier works, and mourns for the "victims of fascism and war"; the contrasts of quiet beauty and fierce intensity in No. 10; and the bold structure of No. 15, Shostakovich's last quartet, in which he looks at death - steadily and without blinking."

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6

Hauschka - Ferndorf

2008; 12 tracks

hauschka aka volker bertelmann weaves together an ethereal soundscape homage to his childhood in ferndorf, a provincial german mountain town. hauschka explores the notion of ‘prepared piano’ where he utilizes varied impedimenta, like bits of leather and metal placed in between the strings and on its dampers and hammers to achieve a tinkering, clicking, glitchy texture beneath the beautiful harmonies and arching strings. glassian, repetitive, electronic-tinged, minimalism appears to be the trend in postmodern classical. in line with this sound spectrum, haushka succeeds in streamlining his composition to its essence which affects and intrigues, both remembering fondly and looking forward."

ferndorf is one of the most serene illustrations of modern classical beauty. it's so so gorgeous, like a sunny day by the beach. think red balloons, bicycles, the inside of a clock... ou les nuages. that's one of my favorite french words, nuages... clouds. i also love aussi, monde, autre, pomme, pamplemousse, and... souvenir. i'm really attracted to the charm of some words :'3

also, prepared piano is a really interesting thing to explore. if you have a piano (preferably a grand, of any size), try it! but be careful... don't use tiny pieces, like coins or buttons, as they can fall under and then you'll never see them again. i like placing paper on the strings and sometimes even chains, and then playing random notes and bits of pieces. the piano is more dynamic than you think.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dmitri Shostakovich - Piano Concertos & Rodion Shchedrin - Piano Concerto No. 2

2004; 10 tracks
Andrew Litton / Glasgow BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Marc-André Hamelin, pianist

Here are some interesting notes about the composer that I agree with (for the most part):

Dmitri Shostakovich was the last of the great composers who could be called both traditionalist and modern, and the first of the Russian composers who emerged because of, rather than despite, the Soviet regime. Unlike his compatriots Prokofiev and Stravinsky, both educated in Tsarist Russia, Shostakovich worked entirely under the influence of the communist government, and he struggled all his career with his genuine wish to create art for the state and the state's inability to accept any art it did not understand."

And on the second piano concerto:

"Shostakovich wrote his second Piano Concerto in 1957 as a birthday gift for his 19-year-old son Maxim, a pianist. The piece is full of a light-hearted energy that may owe as much to the composer's relief at the demise of Stalin as to his cheerful wishes for his son.

Both the first and third Allegro movements have a similar structure, each contrasting bright, jaunty tunes against a sort of military tattoo complete with snare drum. The first movement contains fiery lines as well, in an ominous theme of octaves marching up and down the keyboard, and at the broad, dramatic moment when the full orchestra triumphantly roars the main melody.

The second movement, Andante, could easily be mistaken for a composition by Rachmaninoff in its soulful sound. Only strings, piano, and a single horn are heard exchanging tender, lyrical lines, the right hand piano part singing a plangent tune above slow arpeggios in the left. There are no fireworks, only the sort of longing melody one associates with Russian composers of an earlier, more romantic era.

The piano immediately segues into another quick-stepping movement with the second Allegro, this one quite rollicking in tone. There are several sections of rippling scales and arpeggios which, according to Shostakovich, were actually quotes from the well-known finger exercises of Hanon; including them in the concerto, the composer said, was the only way he could force his son to practice them!"

I am a huge fan of Shostakovich's two Piano Concertos, the second of which being perhaps the most marvelous piece of music in the world of sound. The first is much less straightforward than the second, and as such I have found it a little hard to become totally engaged in... it is entirely wonderful, still. I hope I can play these some day :) Aside from the two concertos, this release also features the Piano Concerto No. 2 by none too well known Soviet composer Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin. It sounds much like the music of Shostakovich, if not a little less spastic.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frédéric Chopin - Nocturne Op. 9, No. 1 in B-flat Minor

Today is the 201st birthday of Polish/French pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin. In honor of this occasion, I present to you one of his greatest pieces - the first Nocturne.

A Nocturne is a "night-piece," a piece evocative of the musings and mystery the night so often presents to it's wanderers. The form is generally viewed as being originated by the Irish composer John Field, but Frédéric Chopin and his 21 Nocturnes are more commonly recognized for their depth and grandeur. They all evoke different emotions and produce varied effects, but there is a definite divide in the pieces between the more fully realized and the less substantial.

This is my favorite Nocturne of them all, and it is perhaps my very favorite Chopin piece as well. There is a darkness here I cannot fathom, with a glitteringly menacing middle section that never fails to take my breath away. I did learn it on the piano, but cannot play it near as well as this man, Garrick Ohlsson. I'll admit I hadn't heard of him before hearing this recording, but it seems to be the interpretation nearest to my heart, and I cannot stop listening to it. 1:29 is my favorite part :')

Popular Posts