Joanna Newsom, American harpist, singer and storyteller, performed her last concert of her European tour in Budapest yesterday. It took place at the building of Budapest beautiful and modern Palace of Arts, in Béla Bartók concert hall. Appropriately for such place, the organization was perfect and the modern-classical grandiosity suitably complemented Newsom’s lofty music. Her performance took more than hour and half and involved songs from all of her three albums. She was typically switching between the wonderful harp (lend by Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra) and grand piano. Ryan Francesconi who already did all the key arrangements for Have One On Me created the live versions of her songs and played various instruments at the concert as well as Neal Morgan who mastered drums, percussion, backing vocals and much more.
Clark, British electronic artist signed to legendary Warp records, released in 00's few stunning albums that defined his own niche on the IDM scene and the hardest and most inventing, Turning Dragon, made it into my top of 2008. After more than year long pause Chris Clark is coming back. While working on new material and playing few, well-selected gigs, he collected quite big repertory which is going to be released in series of MPC mixes. But the main idea behind this were rather rumors of his alleged secret project and secret collaborations, so Clark decided to make these made-up collaborations in form of mix. The first of them was premiered on Tom Ravenscroft’s show on BBC6 few days ago. Clark's first appearance in 2011 contains three new tracks from him (while the last song in the mix is reminiscent of 2009's stirring Totems Flare) along with bunch of tracks from various established artists; from much acclaimed electronic DJ Actress to techno pioneer Neil Landstrumm to more mainstream drum & bass producer Dorian Concept. Phrenic Mix is vigorous, in some moments hard, in others melodic, but it still bears the typical Clark’s signature - his phrenic love for inventive electronic music. What makes it worth listening and enjoying.
Svarte Greiner: Impressive contribution to Ghostly compilation
Svarte Greiner, one of Erik K Skodvin's artistic monikers, contributes to a new compilation of Ghostly International, alternative music oriented label. SMM: Context features new and unheard material from few of musicAddicted's favourites; Peter Broderick, Kyle Bobby Dunn or Rafael Anton Irisarri among them. Here, Svarte Greiner goes more abstract than we’re used to. He maintains the implicit and typical darkness, but the eeriness and terrifying uncertainty are somewhat lighter and less tangible. On his new track, Halves, Greiner explores more mysterious textures that contain wide range of frequencies. In contrast to his older work that was positioned in the lowest spectrum, Halves spreads across greater musical surfaces. It’s weird to speak about vividness in such gloomy composition, but it feels like a living organism that goes through various stadiums of evolution. Halves is more than typical drone, it’s a challenging exploration of vital and inviting darkness. I look forward to hear more from this promising compilation. Also, don’t forget about the new Deaf Center album Owl Splinters, one of the most anticipated releases in 2011. Hear its new track here. (Thanks for tip, Gacougnol.)
Grails, American instrumental rock group, are releasing new album Deep Politics on March 8th via Temporary Residence. With Burning Off Impurities, this Portland-based quartet have recorded one of my favourite albums in 2007. Their mixture of kitschy 50’s westerns aesthetics with vigorous post-rock, nuanced and wide instrumentation involving everything from reverberated guitars to trumpets and their inclinations to Middle-east mysteriousness make their music more than special. I’m sure that these descriptions give impression of chaos and over-pouring, incoherent inspirations, but in reality, it works.
With I Led Three Lives, first track available from Deep Politics, they focus mainly on two of their directions. First is their maximalist approach. Spreading across almost nine minutes, this song is epic pastiche with a dark exposition, numerous evolutions and references to the main motive played by raw guitar as if coming from some D-grade western mixed with horror. And that string-backed idyll is just the beginning; more references and subconscious quotations are on the way. The proof of Grails not meaning all this kitsch seriously is this tongue-in-cheek trailer video for the entire album, Deep Politics. It seems that 2011 is gonna be epic and full of absurd fun for Grails’ fans. (Download the track for free from Brooklyn Vegan).
Clem Leek is a young musician from Kent in Southern England, whose compositions are situated on the edge between contemporary classical music and ambient. After impressive full-length Holly Lane, Leek works on new material that is one of the most anticipated records coming in 2011. While waiting for the new dose of this ambient drug, he published something shorter and older, but still very satisfying.
Home Outside was composed as a background music for a photo exhibition at wesinkships in the summer of 2010 (for illustration, this captivating photo seems to be part of it). The aim of this single track is to capture and comprise the atmosphere of all the 20 pictures shown and transform it into suitably moody sound. Home Outside flows in the space and contains various pulsating drones and field recordings that multiply its inner moisture: steps in puddles, soaked soil, uncertain raindrops. Most distinct is the non-linear violin motive that sounds as if it was taken right from the first improvisational set. Few tones, few vibratos, excitement and release. Leek’s composition is varying and often unpredictable; there is no certain structure that would signal arrival of new motive or the end of it. It’s rather composed as a stream of consciousness that contains all the pictures, all at one and picks just few of their fragments. The former purpose, accompanying the exhibition, requires such erratic nature so Leek “just” follows the implicit needs. All in all, Home Outside should be considered in the context of the exhibition and therefore be perceived as a wonderful and imaginative company and background. Clem Leek once again demonstrates that his music requires time and love but pays back with much more beauty.
Ólafur Arnalds: New song from Another Happy Day soundtrack
Ólafur Arnalds' minimalist approach to contemporary classical music and his inclination to mix indie rock with classicism are a good starts for making a soundtrack. Arnalds put together score for dance performance Dyad 1909 which consisted of few new compositions living along with his older material from stunning debut album Eulogy For Evolution and its EP successor, Variations Of Static. After last year’s …and they have escaped the weight of darkness he returned to the world of scoring, this time for a film. Another Happy Day explores upper-class family dysfunction as is said to “marshal [it with] much sensitivity, rawness, and truth." Lynn’s Theme is an emotive and melancholic piece featuring Arnalds’ typical mourning piano taking a duet with woesome violin. Despite its shortness, Lynn’s Theme contains calm, emotion, thrill and its silent release. As the first savory is promising piece of emotion, I really look forward to hear more of Ólafur Arnalds’ soundtrack.
Keep Shelly In Athens: Chilly haze before the sun goes down
Keep Shelly In Athens are Greek duo who create dreamy synthy tunes that sound both fresh and new, but on the other side, they have those Big moments when you feel that those triumphant harmony has been floating in the air forever. Their sound comprises all the best elements of chillwave, dream pop and somewhat lo-fi lounge that were overly hyped in 2009 and 2010. The first assumption that Keep Shelly In Athens were just riding on the wave of indie popularity, would be quite unjust. They don’t copy but create, they don’t imitate, but try to find their own face.
Their first EP In Love With Dusk brought us Running Out Of You, a single that contains exactly those moments of massive climax augmented from Neneh Cherry’s 7 Seconds to 80’s Moroder-like anthemic chorus; certainly one of the most catchy song of 2010. In late February they come back with new single, Hauntin’ Me, released via Transparent Records, independent label that has almost a patent for choosing the right poppy and dreamy groups. Hauntin’ Me starts somewhat different as you might expect, opened with a cute, balladic acoustic guitar-played melody, amplified and complemented by a relaxed saxophone. Then the vocals arrive, strong, reverberated and satisfiable. The difference and freshness of Hauntin’ Me also comes with braver work with electronics and more focus on darker atmosphere. Not that those sunny melodies are over, but Keep Shelly In Athens come with fuller and deeper sound. Enjoy and pre-order this late-afternoon-early-evening haze via Transparent, or download via Gorilla vs Bear.
As musicAddicted hoped, iamamiwhoami deservedly won the prize for the Innovator of the year at Swedish Grammis Awards. When announcing their winning, it was said “iamamiwhoami won. Google their videos!" So true. Anyway, congratulations to Jonna & company. They brought us the most amusing, impressive and yes, most innovative audio-visual project of 2010. And as we’re bunch of greedy creatures, we certainly want more beauty and amazement in 2011.
UPDATE (20-JAN): According to the original footage (watch it below) found on YouTube, the receiver of the prize came with a typical IAM minimalist envelope with a possibly blank paper saying just “Tack.” The former quote comes from Anders Nunstedt, who tweeted updates for Swedish daily Expressen.
It’s always exciting when you find some artist who is utterly new to the scene and nobody knows him. Listening to his music feels like sharing the secret of its beauty just with the composer. Music that your friends never heard of and all those music-oriented social networks still haven’t noticed seems bit mysterious on the first “sight” and it also evokes feelings of belonging to some confidential elite club, where just the members know the secrets of its value and significance.
When I found Steiner's Untitled song on SoundCloud few days before Christmas, it felt like this. Having listened to it the first time brought two questions to my mind; how did he reach such complex sound of musical satisfaction and how come that such beauty was lying here unnoticed, with no promotional or label coverage.
The probable answer to the first question is that Stijn Hüwels, musician from Belgium who chose Steiner as his pseudonym, took his time and let Untitled live in the space-time on its own. This nearly half an hour long track was gradually composed in the run of three months with the usage of guitar, e-bow and laptop. The airy emotion it catalyzes lays primarily in its non-linear, multi-layered nature. Untitled doesn’t possess any definite melody; it’s built out of never-ending repetition of few tones that come in different order, always somewhat differently. Harmonies float, layers appear and vanish and so when you get into the middle, the arpeggios and well-known tones come again as some friendly and familiar déjà vu. These harmonies float in a tiny space that feels very airy and spacious, as if Untitled could last forever. Whereas many ambient records (e.g. releases from Olan Mill or Kyle Bobby Dunn) bring soundscapes that remind vast spaces, greatness and monumentality, Steiner’s Untitled sounds subtler. The small range of sounds and lower variability do something very opposite: hominess and calm spark from Untitled. There, Steiner’s music sounds like the environment he created it in; subtle, relaxed and well-known calm.
Answer to the second question is still unknown, but I hope that with more time and few more compositions, deserved attention will come. Til the day comes, you can download Untitled from SoundCloud or buy it as a CD-r in handmade package with original polaroid artwork via Bandcamp. These 26 minutes (and months of work) are certainly worth it.
Avishai Cohen is one of the most creative jazz men nowadays and as a bass player, he belongs to the most impressive musicians in modern jazz scene. Along with numerous collaborations with stars such as Kurt Rosenwinkel or Bobby McFerrin, his main part is composing, arranging, playing and performing his own music. Having a knowledge of playing piano, bass guitar and being formally educated in music, his compositions bear marks of classical, trained professionalism, but more importantly, they capture Cohen in his relaxed and cheerful position, being amused by playing music he loves.
Two years from his latest album Aurora, this Israeli-born bass player is releasing new portion of fresh material called Seven Seas, out on 28th February. As an appetizer, he gives the eponymous song for every subscriber to his newsletter for free (get it here). And Seven Seas is amazingly joyful experience. He jumps through those four strings on his double bass elegantly and enthusiastically, while delightful piano (played probably by his long-time collaborator Shai Maestro) powerfully flows around it and Mark Guiliana performs all his percussion/drums tricks. It’s captivating, floating, almost mesmerizing. Seven Seas finds Avishai Cohen in his best form - vigorous, full of drive and performing his cheerful, moving ideas. If the entire albums sounds like its first track, it’s going to be a candidate for a jazz album of 2011.
Mogwai: New catchy & rocking song, San Pedro, for free
It’s still more than a month till new Mogwai album comes to us, but the Scottish quintet gives away second song for free (via Pitchfork). First it was Rano Pano, catchy, witty and absurdly named song that set the expectations very high. The second one is San Pedro (listen and download below) the shortest song from Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will!, one of the most expected albums in 2011. After some baroque mathematical inspiration (that was described earlier), San Pedro reminds the structure of Gregorian Choral. The main motive, simple and easy to remember, comes, shows its beauty and then the same topic comes again, with a different voice. Well, and that’s the entire similarity. Then, it’s typical rocking Mogwai - at their best. It gets thicker, denser, harder, basses are droning, but the main topic stays and comes again & again. These three and half minutes are another good promise for sweaty, rocking stadium ecstasy.
EardrumsPop is a small label founded by four young people living in different European countries, who love intimate, melancholic and smart pop. They’ve been picking not broadly known bands for more than 5 years through the Eardrums, blog oriented mostly at Scandinavian scene, and since the beginning of last year, they are offereing free for download EPs via their label.
Similarly virtual co-operation that connects Eardrums contributors is modus operandi of Early To Bed too. It consists of two musicians, Meagan Day, who write the lyrics and melodies at her home in USA and sends them across the Atlantic to Denmark, where Henry Toft arranges the guitar motives, adds some bass and drums and polishes the song into its final form. Early To Bed is their first EP for EardrumsPop and contains three cute songs. Duo was minimalist in their approach; sweet vocals are backed by simple instrumentation that evokes calm, almost dreaminess. The greatest song here is also the longest one, Till We Arrive. Ukulele backed, Sunday-morning atmosphere, sleepy ballad with stunning, gradated chorus. Early To Bed don’t seem to be connected to any particular weather or time, but playing it for relaxing and enjoying elegant hush is recommended. They play joyously and easily, if it was the most natural activity they could do. And that’s the right way doing quality pop.
Oni Ayhun: Two new, free songs from Olof Dreijer (The Knife)
While Karin Dreijer chose to explore the waters of gothic electronic pop as Fever Ray after The Knife’s groundbreaking Silent Shout, her brother, Olof, delved into avant-garde minimal music. Working under Oni Ayhun artistic name, he puts together three of his bit schizophrenic substances (as also pictured on the official images above): dark, decadent androgynous eroticism, colourful craziness and grotesque back to musical basics. He labels his production with a serial numbers (quite similar to Supersilent, Norwegian free jazz group) and his new, free EP is called OARFREE (listen below).
It consists of two songs. Under Western Eyes is at its 16 minutes never ending pastiche of drones, filtered sounds, rushes and flushes of industrial sounds. It partly reminds the first part of Tomorrow, In a Year (4th best album of 2010), so-called opera that The Knife composed about Charles Darwin for Danish art group. Under Western Eyes is non-linear and demanding piece that requires full attention and openness to experimentalism and abstract imaginary. Nablus is more powerful and aggressive package of industrial noise that basically sounds as a carrying of a big stack of rusty instruments back to junkyard. OARFREE is hard listening, but documents Olof’s broad artistic interests once again. Let’s wait what comes with his forthcoming OAR005 release. Whether an avant-garde noise, minimal techno or some pop? We’ll see.
Deaf Center: First song from upcoming album Owl Splinters
Simply gorgeous. That’s the shortest and most apt characteristic of New Beginning (Tidal Darkness), first track made available from Deaf Center's much awaited second album, Owl Splinters, released via Type Records in February 2011. After Erik K Skodvin's trips into eerie darkness under his Svarte Greiner moniker and Otto Totland's greater evolving of ambiance with Nest, it’s not so much surprising, that New Beginning is darker and gloomier than their debut, Pale Ravine. Their new song begins with terrifying silence and mild rushes that accompany the lowest registers of echoing piano. Where the darkness begins, strings playing one accord in minor harmony pulsate with the piano discovering all the tones around. It’d be unjust to describe all those beautiful shifts of atmosphere in New Beginnings, so just press play and count down the days ‘til Owl Splinters come.
Clem Leek, professional composer of contemporary classical and ambient music, has recently created a mix for Headphone Commute. Leek put together tracks of artists who inspire him and share similar aesthetic ideals and something like generational zeitgeist. Unsurprisingly (and I don’t mean it as a insult), we find here compositions from Max Richter, Danny Norbury or Ólafur Arnalds, whose music comes from the same dreamy, unconscious and classical area as Leek’s. Enjoy this mix for Christmas/New Year time (which is slowly leaving) and don’t forget to pay high attention to Leek’s music. His forthcoming album is one of the biggest expectations for 2011.
popAddicted: Biggest expectations for 2011's music
Esben and The Witch - Violet Cries James Blake - James Blake PJ Harvey - Let England Shake Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will Deaf Center - Owl Splinters Lamb - 5 Marissa Nadler - untitled iamamiwhoami - untitled Clem Leek - untitled Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales
(Listen to these amazing songs & read more about the most expected music below.)