The more I listen to music that captures my imagination the more I find myself connecting to works that paint a sonic landscape. Music as painting, sound(s) as color—more than simply a musical composition. Not so much a fixed place or a figurative work imbued with a strong sense of realism. It is about levels of abstraction—sometimes dissonant, yet universal. It’s hard to describe, actually. I will have to work on this idea more and expand on it perhaps another time. At any rate, many of this week’s tracks resonate in this way. It is not about burying or subjugating the melody with musical chaos. Not at all. Sometimes the simplest of melodies (hummable or whistleable tunes) can be so full of color, of other worldliness, and openness, that it transcends its surface simplicity altogether. Of course, where it goes, ultimately, is for all of us as listeners to explore and experience.
Enjoy this week’s music (see tracks below) and don’t forget that you can listen to all of the music from the last episode, “Sounds in the Clouds” from the comfort of your browser (click here). This week’s artwork, “wood sounds” was created by yours truly.
Thanks for listening!
“Wait For It” by New York Electric Piano
It has been a little while since I have featured a track off Black Hole in One the latest release by Pat Daugherty and New York Electric Piano. This track, like many on the album, features an excellent (and positive) funk-groove that is so infectious. A real power trio. Every time I listen to this album I am struck by how musically and rhythmically tight, yet free, the trio is to explore and expand on the central theme/groove. Excellent.
“Save The Date” by New York Electric Piano
One good turn deserves another—a second New York Electric Piano track. Like the previous track, this one also features an infectious groove. A trio in-sync and nailing it.
“Più Uguale (More Equal)” by Deux Ex Machina
Like the Thumbscrew release noted above, not featuring more from this Cuneiform release is a gross oversight on my part. The driving, grooving, and syncopated guitar work mixed with signature changes, c’mon, this is classic prog and fantastic. No doubt a heavy/prog air fills this track (the whole album, really) and it totally works. Excellent musicians, solid vocals make this fun and musically intoxicating. Give it a listen.
“55 (6)” by Wayne Horvitz Trio
From the Wayne Horvitz Trio band camp site:
Today’s download is entitled 55 (6), which is, in fact, a working title - sort of.
This is a rough mix, close to finished, of a project started a few years back, entitled “Snowghost” (at least for now). Essentially Brett Allen, who has a studio named Snowghost, in Whitefish Montana, offered me some free studio time in exchange for a performance for a house concert of sorts.
I talked Geoff Harper and Eric Eagle into joining me, and we spent 4 or 5 days recording a lot of tracks, mostly sketches. The original music called “55 (6)” was part of a series of pieces I wrote for string trio, all very brief, as part of my “55: Music and Concrete” project. 55musicanddance.wordpress.com.
Here we take this simple motif and put it in a different sort of trio: bass, drums and piano. Almost all the tracks from these recordings include piano along with live piano processing, and in some cases overdubs.
Eric Eagle and I have been working ever since, in fits and starts, to finish the project, and all the tracks are in various states of limbo, waiting for some free time in both of our schedules.
As I wrap up a year of 52 downloads, this one points to the future instead of the past, and as always I hope you enjoy the music.
“So Hard It Hurts/Touching” by Nels Cline
Another new track from the recent Nels Cline release on Blue Note, Lovers. Several tracks featured this week, at least to my ear, explore sound as color. This track (and the track that follows, see below) do just that. Nels is exploring what it means to created mood music, today, and this track paints a very quiet and sensitive mood. Give it (and the whole album) a listen.
“The Bond” by Nels Cline
Like the previous track from Lovers, this one has a bit more of an anchored melody, but still explores another place, atmosphere, and mood—one of the goals of this new album from Nels.
“Glass Eyes” by Radiohead
Radiohead at their quiet and reflective best…
No link to offer to the studio release of this song, but here is a real nice live version recorded in Lyon, France this year (2016).
There is also fantastic intimate and illuminating interview with Radiohead guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, via NPR’s All Songs +1. NPR’s Bob Boilen asks Jonny about Radiohead’s recording process. The interveiw shines a nice light on how the music happens in very nice detail—well worth a listen. Bob Boilen describes the music Radiohead makes on A Moon Shaped Pool as “rooms you want to live in.” Jonny agrees. Fantastic description.
“Nakami” by Bent Knee
This is a very fine album. Full stop. In fact, I have featured just about every track on this album, a rare occurence it turns out, and for good reason. Say So the album from which this track was taken has so many high notes, musically, and is such a wonderful mix of unpredictable, unexpected musical moments and shifts that it just feels so fresh everytime I play a track. “Nakami” is a more mellow and understated track compared to others from this album, but variety really is the spice of life when it comes to Bent Knee and Say So.
“Trouble” by Cage the Elephant
I found out about this band from an interview featured in Premier Guitar magazine. The way this track floats and musically, melodically, slides atop a trip-pop backbone, caught (and held) my ear. The retro-guitar and vocals complimant each other well. Fun. Give it a listen. It has a nice summer feel about it.
“Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd
I have been in a very “pink” place these past days and weeks, “Pink Floyd” that is. I cannot remember the last time I played/listened to this track. I know it has been quite a while. My more recent dive into the Floyd catalog has been with more of ear for David Gilmour’s guitar work. What a unique sound and style he has. This track, this album, pre-dates Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon, and you can hear traces of melody lines in “Atom Heart Mother” that will later become central motifs to Echoes and even parts of Dark Side of the Moon.
Here is a really fine more recent documentary focusing on David Gilmour. “Wider Horizons” was made in 2015. Recommend it.
“An Echo, A Stain” by Bjork
With the release of Bjork’s Vespertine in 2001 I was exposed to a musical marriage of voice and electronics—synthetic sounds and micro-beats accompanying her angelic voice—that forever altered my sense of what could be achieved synthetically. In short order, my “acoustic predisposition”—my steadfast belief that synthetic music was not “organic” or “natural” (whatever that really meant)—was shaken and ultimately, broken. Thank goodness! In the years that followed, and in particular since doing the weekly radio show, my palette has continued to evolve and change to include more and more synthetic sounds and it has been one of the most enjoyable byproducts of doing the show.
Here is a great quote from Bjork about the microbeats:
I use micro-beats, a lot of whispery vocals, which I think sound amazing when they’re downloaded because of the secrecy of the medium. The only acoustic instruments I would use would be those that sound good after they’ve been downloaded, so the harp, the music box, celeste and clavichord. They’re plucky sounds. […] And the strings […] ended up being more panoramic textures in the background. It’s all about being in a little house, on your own. […] The strings would be like white mountains outside.
“Dani” by Briana Marela
Learned about Briana Marela on the excellent syndicated radio show, Echoes. This track is from her latest album,
All Around Us released on August of 2015. Briana’s layered vocals are both gorgeous and plaintive. You can learn more about Briana on this short podcast interview from Echoes.
The “official video” for the song:
There is also an interview on the Olympia Noise Co. site (who are the folks that created the incredible Patterning app for creating rhythm/drum tracks and music more on the iPad. Read the interview, here.
“Zebra” by Beach House
This track is from Beach House’s 2010 release Teen Dream. This track is one of many Beach House tunes that are just so damn catchy while also being somewhat other-worldly. Just a perfect mix of “feet on the ground and head in the stars” music that I keep coming back to their catalog for what only they provide in their unique and direct other-worldly-way. they have two current releases, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars that are also well worth a listen.
“Gone Clear” by William Tyler
Some years back I discovered the Aquarium Drunkard website, an interesting and provocative music and culture site. Terrestrial radio folks might be familiar with their show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35. I am not a subscriber, but I discovered recently that they are doing a podcast and I have made an effort to listen to it with some frequency. Recommend it. On a recent episode they featured a really interesting interview with guitarist/composer William Tyler. Prior to the podcast I was not familiar with Tyler’s music. After the podcast…well, I am now way more familiar, why? The interview was excellent and engaging. The discussion covered so much ground in such a short span of time—from Tyler’s musical roots, on being informed and influenced by country music but not being boxed in by its history and styles. His travel experience and even politics were touched on. Tyler is a musical experimenter and definitely not afraid to challenge genres and styles. He may be from the south, but his music is beyond the south. His latest, Modern Country is delightful. I have listened to all of the current album and have been dipping into his older works and I am enjoying what I am listening to. Finally, if you enjoy hearing musicians talk about their life and their music, give any of these recent podcasts featuring William Tyler a listen: