Category Archives: instrumental

Monumental

Last night I went to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor collaborate with a dance company at the Edinburgh International Festival. I love the band and have wanted to see them live for a long time, there’s is the kind of music that moves you. The dancers stood on blocks and threw themselves around – rapidly, beautifully, uncomfortably. It was the kind of moment that makes you so grateful people defy instincts of convention and make art. It made me feel alive.

If you are anywhere near Edinburgh today I can’t recommend seeing it highly enough. Otherwise Godspeed.

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LISTEN UP! MOGWAI’s RAVE TAPES

Rave Tapes A recent conversation:

My friend: I always thought Mogwai were a rubbish indie band.

Me: No they’re not.

My friend: I know. I’ve been listening to them. They’re really good.

Me: Yes. Yes they are. They’re new album Rave Tapes is awesome.

Both: Nod heads with quiet satisfaction.

Stream it here, as a pointer ‘Replelish’s’ spoken word sampling and eerie melody are spine-tingling.

 

 

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF

ElephantMicah1High

Elephant Micah aka Joe O’Connell is an artist I was hugely excited to discover.  The multi-instrumentalist from Indiana writes and sings proper songs, the type that make you catch your breath, cry or smile wryly to yourself. Considerately and poetically penned and – although experimental in parts – they possess an old fashioned gravity.

As a musical entity Elephant Micah spans over a decade, from the debut LP Low Energy Dance Music in 2002 to the latest endeavour Globe Rush Progressions. Here Joe talks about an intriguing influence, notorious acid house pioneers The KLF and their classic album Chill Out, recorded live in 1989.

Elephant Micah

Elephant Micah Plays…KLF ‘Chill Out’

I was doing some free-form internet searching on “ambient music.”  I wanted to know what albums people consider to be part of the “ambient” canon.  A citation of the KLF caught my attention.  Is this the same 1990s pop group that set fire to a million pounds sterling?  My focus shifted entirely to the KLF—their ideas, their antics, and their music.  The group’s story continues to hold my attention.

Chill Out belongs to a tradition of club music for relaxation and repose, styled in contrast with dance music itself.  The KLF designates the sheep as Chill Out totem animal.  Sheep occupy the album cover, resting at pasture, and the early moments of the album audio, bleating in a call-and-response with their human shepherd.  In addition to appreciating this album as a work of sound collage (mixed live from mostly pre-recorded sources), I take interest in it as a kind of “techno pastoral”—an idealization of the countryside by electronic musicians.

Check it out the album here:

You can listen to Joe’s most recent Elephant Micah release ‘Globe Rush Progressions’ below, ‘Marie’s Hair’, ‘Ever Greener’ and the jingle bell tinkling ‘Jesus Christ’ are my personal highlights.

I’m also a huge fan of this collaboration with Hiss Golden Messenger

…and this track from 2012 release Louder Than Thou. If that’s not enough to make you buy the entire backcatalogue more fool you.

One for the Week…The Besnard Lakes

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Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

The Besnard Lakes new album Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO came out  this week on the Jagjaguwar label, keepers of an roster including the excellent Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Sharon Van Etten. The space related title might reflect the album’s atmospheric soundscapes, ever so delicately woven.

Here’s what I know…

The Montreal born soft-rock act was first formed in 2003 by husband and wife duo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas who later fused with now longtime bandmates Kevin Laing and Richard White. Their fourth album it was recorded in Breakglass studios, Montreal and features several accomplished musicians.

Top Tracks…

All eight tracks hold something distinctively their own. At almost seven minutes long – an duration average of the album – ’46 Satires’ might not be the most obvious choice for an opener, however it’s entrancing  undulating melodies spin round an ethereal vocal. ‘The Specter’ has echoes of dusky eighties melodies, while ‘At Midnight’ builds into cleverly effective penetrating vocals. First single ‘People of the Sticks’ is the most commercially friendly choice, while closer ‘Alam0gordo’ leans towards a darker sonic instrumentation that proves oddly captivating. 

Listen When…

Your world is one of unrushed daydreaming.

Also…

The band play Stereo in Glasgow on 24th May, as part of their European tour. Teeny venue = likely to be a great show.

Check out the band’s website for more.

 

Cool Things I Found

oldman45

I still love this song as much as I did ten years ago.

Prog-rock from Singapore: Anechois

When I’m in study mode I listen to only instrumental music, I exhausted Mogwai and Godspeed pretty quickly so I tweeted asking for suggestions. A kind sir passed on Anechois whose EP, A Shadow of a Sound, has been nice to listen to, there’s a little bit of funk in it to. Check it out for yourself…

The MOMA blog

I have an insane love for both New York and art galleries, although I don’t go to either often enough. Once I took a week off work to go to Edinburgh Art College and study pastels on a large scale. My teacher tended to sigh at me and ask me why I always made things so difficult for myself, sitting at a really weird angle, trying to paint through glass or holding my pastels funny. I liked massive abstract things, so he told me to look up Richard Dieberkorn, an American artist influenced by German Expressionism. I still have the piece of sugar paper he wrote the suggestion down on in 2B pencil.

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Richard Diebenkorn Sketch

This week I ended up on the MOMA blog, which has a whole exhibition on German Expressionism. Random but I’ve very much enjoyed flicking through the works and thought you might like it too.

One For The Week: Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond: Dresses
Loch Lomond: Dresses

Loch Lomond are an ensemble I’ve featured before, they hail from Portland, Oregon and are makers of a unique breed of chamber folk. Their latest LP, the illustrious Dresses, is one I whole heartedly encourage you to cherish.

You Need To Know…

A dark and slick progression from Little Me Will Start a Storm the new album is an extension of their touring White Dresses EP, recorded for the band’s UK label Chemikal Underground and the band recently toured Europe. It’s rare and beautiful, haunting and mellifluous, the type of music which will spin inside your head, in only a good way. The enigmatic Ritchie Gray fronts most of tracks with an evocative vocal, often bound with choral backing, lilting harmonies and well strung together melodies.

LL-2013

Top Tracks…

Gems from the original EP include ‘Kicking with Your Feet’ and fondly written closer ‘Black Dresses’, wonderful songs which don’t tire themselves out. On the new side of things the choral ‘The Wedding’ builds in substantial vocal curves and orchestral strings, there’s  wanderlust in ‘Virgin Mountain’, which spins in capturing melodies and ‘Spray Painted Drums’ brings an offbeat optimism.

Two echoing instrumentals ‘1000 Drums’ and ‘1000 Lakes’ punctuate the record with a considered, peaceful reflection.

Listen When…

You aren’t on the verge of tears but ready for some deep thinking, considering the world and listening to beautiful, unusual music.

Rating

✪✪✪✪

Radio Silence

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Hey there music fans! Over the last month things have been so busy that everything I have been meaning to post has just ended up in as sporadic notes on my computer, instead of here for you all to read it.

It’s one of the great thing about being a blogger: you don’t have deadlines, there’s no recompense due if you don’t file something on time or the word count’s over – the downside being it’s too easy to put things on the back burner, the longer you leave it the easier it is to let things pile up.

Enough of my prattle – here are some things to get your ears wholly stuck in to.

Eliza and The Bear

There are certain festival’s whose line up I will always have a good rummage through, as they are sure to possess great up and coming talent. Brighton’s The Great Escape is one, where I discovered folkish ruffians Eliza and The Bear. Listen to the single Brother’s Boat below, which you can also download as a freebie.

 

Cloud Boat 

On the subject of boats here’s a second one I plucked from The Great Escape’s sea is electronic duo Cloud Boat, this track I Left For a Reason (It Escapes Me Now) is certainly bewitching stuff.

 

Biffy Clyro 

The band’s new double album Opposites is a collection of standout rock rooted tracks that are a happy progression from the pop friendly Only Revolutions – more a move back to the band’s glory days. Surefire hit ‘Biblical’ will leave you wanting more, while the bluesy ‘Trumpet or Tap’ and the eighties tune melancholic ‘The Fog’ are highlights. All round there’s a compelling narrative and the trio’s drumming and guitar riffs alone make it a winner. Succumb now.

 

Joy Formidable 

Wolf’s Law is the title track from the Welsh act’s recently released second album and it’s incredibly purty. Overall catch the whole record, out on Atlantic, for upbeat beginnings, a gorgeous vocal from frontlady Ritzy Brian and scattered, emotional strings.

Songs for Your Soul

As we hurtle towards the end of the year I’ve been getting returning to listen to things I really loved over the last twelve months. It’s not quite a best of list as I find it hard to narrow things down that far, rather just a rundown of great songs…Merry Christmas Eve!

 Scottish & Sublime

Meursault – Dull Spark/Flittin’

These tracks are both from Neil Pennycook’s alternative folk band Meursault’s stunning 2012 album Something For the Weakened. Amongst a number of accolades it’s received it just topped the Scottish BAMS, an award set up by the great Peenko blog and voted for by Scottish bloggers including me, you can read the full list of winners here.

 

Lament For a Teenage Millionaire

 

Adam StaffordVanishing Tanks/Russian Glass 

Both of the these tracks from Falkirk musician Adam Stafford’s spilt single, released on independent label Gerry Loves Records are so well crafted I’ve listened to them many times.

 

Human Don’t Be Angry –  1985 

I bought Malcolm Middleton’s first Human Don’t Be Angry album on CD in Inverness, because it was playing in the shop and even though I had it on download it sounded too good not to own. Stunning instrumental guitar…

 

Three Blind Wolves – Sound of The Storm 

Having first seen Glasgow four piece Three Blind Wolves live in May, I then listened to their joyous, country rooted album ‘Sound of the Storm’ on repeat for many weeks after.

Dream A Little Dream Pop For Me

Tennis – It All Feels The Same 

Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley released ‘Young and Old’ in February, blissful sugar pop to make you happy.

Beach House – Myth

The first track which was released from the band’s album Bloom, it’s a beauty.

New American Idols

Sharon Van Etten – Leonard

An album which is amongst the best releases of the year (and has indeed appeared near the top of many tastemaker album lists) US singer-songwriter Van Etten’s Tramp is sublime. This is the video for ‘Leonard’…get to listening!

Loch LomondWhite Dresses

The most poignant and unusual kind of chamber folk from the Oregon ensemble Loch Lomond, this is the title track from a European EP produced exclusively for Chemikal Underground. It’s a tearjerker.

 

Father John MistyHollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

For ex Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tilman his 2012 album ‘Fear Fun’ is likely to define the point where people had begun to listen to his solo work. This is the first track I heard from it…

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa

Watch this video and I’d defy you not fall in love with Damien Jurado’s latest record.

 Magical Music

The Dirty Three – Towards The Low Sun

Australian prog-instrumental rock trio The Dirty Three just seem to get better and more distinctive, their quivering instruments conjuring a rugged, turbulent landscape.

 

The Tallest Man  on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

If you like properly old fashioned song writing, this release from Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson is just plain good.

 

Francois Atlas & The Mountains – Gold Mountain (Slow Club Cover)

Two excellent bands, one reworked song.

Discovered Discoveries

For non regular readers Play a Song For Me is mostly about asking musicians and people involved in music for their suggestions on something which is great, new or rare. Of all the great submissions I’ve had this year there were a couple which really stuck out for me, I hope if you haven’t heard them already please click on the link!

John Knox Sex Club: Submitted by The Last Battle

Six track ‘album’ Raise Ravens came out from the Glasgow folk-rockers in September, check it out….

Tommy Johnson: Submitted by Adam Stafford 

Blues legend Tommy Johnson, whose songs are timeless.

Miss Irenie Rose: Submitted by Rachel Sermanni 

A young, supremely talented Scottish singer

If You Listen To Something This Week…Make it Festive

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If there is one thing it easy to love, it’s the festive season. I’ve been listening to Christmas songs since November, the kind that fill you with a want for snow, to be curled up by a roaring fire eating a mince pie, jingling some bells or wearing a Christmas jumper. Scottish artists seem to move towards the more gloomy and contemptuous at this time of year, it’s oddly more acceptable to be honest about how you hate someone/thing if it has a festive tinkle. Cue a round of up new discoveries, old classics and a playlist for your listening pleasure…

Olive Grove Records – Christmas Sampler

The Scottish label’s charity EP, which features the hymnal ‘As a Child I Awoke’ from Jo Mango, a loveable cover of the Muppets ‘One More Sleep Til Christmas’ courtesy of Randolph’s Leap and the first original festive songs from the The Son(s) – you’ll see what I mean about contemptuous – ‘Christmas Song’ and State Broadcasters‘ ‘Wounded Waxing.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Dawn McCarthy – Christmas Eve Will Kill You

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s (aka Will Oldham’s) first Christmas song with long time collaborator Dawn McCarthy, despite it’s troubling title it’s filled with nostalgia and sentiment. It’s also the first Everly Brothers cover from the duo, who are releasing a whole set entitled What the Brothers Sang next year.

Which also reminds me…this song of theirs ‘Dreams’ might not technically be a Christmas number but it’s a classic.

William Bell – Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday 

A timeless and highly underplayed track from soul legend William Bell, this is one of the best Christmas songs you’ll ever listen to.

The Killers – Feel it in My Bones 

The latest of their annual Christmas singles it sounds similar to what you may have heard before…I like it anyway. Featuring Las Vegas based singer Ryan Pardey as Bad Santa the video is an absolute eighties throwback, cue dry ice and a weird Santa cackle…

MogwaiChristmas Song

This came out a long while ago, but I only just heard it. Like most of Mogwai’s material it’s an extraordinarily beautiful instrumental which you can sink right in to.

Check out NPR Music’s Jingle Jams for much more, below you’ll find a playlist featuring most of the above plus some old and out and out favourites. Embed it, share it, play it at a party – Merry Christmas!