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Tag Archives: modern classical

This is The Effective Disconnect – Brian McBride’s latest album released not even a month ago. McBride is one part of the respected ambient duo Stars of the Lid, who have quite a few truly masterful albums under their belt.

It feels like listening to And Their Refinement of the Decline for the first time. A resonating and inward album. In all actuality, it feels each element that comprises the material is working in perfect concert with each other in harmony.

The album sifts through the traditional elements found throughout ambient-based music: delicate pads, gently exposed piano pieces fading in and out of a loose, easy going musical structure topped off with absolutely gorgeous violin work.

The three part “Toil Theme” series is a wonderfully crafted set of tracks and probably my personal favorite out of the album. Each song works in perfect harmony that provides its listener with a fantastic array of choice pads and instrumentation.

At parts, it can be quite cold. I wouldn’t necessarily declare it to be a “sad” album but I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of the more melancholy records I’ve had the pleasure of listening to recently. Bottom line is that The Effective Disconnect is an astounding contribution to the genre.

For more information, check out:

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Kranky Records

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PQ is Maarten Vandewalle and Samir Bekaert from Belgium. Their debut album entitled You’ll Never Find Us Here was released this year on the UK-based label Expanding Records. The album draws from a good deal of inspirations and genres, mainly focusing on idm and ambient, though to a much lesser degree than one would normally think when referring to those styles of music.

This album makes good use of the guitar, but texturally, there’s not too much going on, a fact that sits quite well with this author. Sparse rhythms and easy going melodies come and go while minimal effects dance hazily across the record’s background. Muted effects make up a decent-sized portion of the album’s soundscape, much similar to Xela‘s excellent early 2007 album For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights, except this favor’s more guitar as its primary method of musical “cultivation”, as I like to put it.

The beginning of the album sees the occasional whispered beeps and bloops typically seen in the idm style of music, however the track mainly sways calmly into more of the ambient side of things, lightly speaking. The whole album isn’t really IDM, even though it fancies some elements taken from that genre; likewise, it also isn’t very ambient, even though, indeed, it features elements sported from that genre as well.

The album opens with A Taste of Diminished Expectation, which gradually turns out to be an hazily lulling experience that serves to give you a very general idea of what the rest of the album will be about. The second track is where the guitar is introduced, playing a wonderfully content set of notes until its conclusion.

A short, melancholic piano piece is played prior to entering the album’s 4th track, dubbed “Jocelyn”. Crisp, light-hearted effects are introduced in the midst of other instrumentation, serving as the musical tour-de-force that is only exemplified further throughout the rest of the record. The next track features a small child singing to a guitar-based background, which becomes a charmingly elegant song that fits in cozily with the rest of the album.

“Will You Still Be There?”  sports sparsely used samples consisting of small children having fun at distant, muted playground equipment while the romantic guitar play work introduces itself again by kicking out an acoustic melody of sorts accompanied by a thin ambient atmosphere.

The album ends with a reworked version of “Somebody Should Repeat My Summer”, a decidedly bassy remix with some of the more elegant effects seen previously mixed in. I think it was a very classy way to end the record (which is just shy of an hour in duration).

Most of the tracks here feature romantic acoustic guitar work as the album’s driving force peppered in combination with other effects. The guitar adds quite a bit of fresh air into the album, but the real beauty is realized in the warmth and cohesiveness of the record. Indeed, perhaps its single greatest quality is in its gracefulness. Highly recommended.

For more information, check out:

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This album is available to purchase:

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Bleep

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Nuage is an album by French composer Sylvain Chauveau, which represents scores for two films from Sébastien Betbeder. It was released shortly after the album “S” in late 2007 on Type Records. Type is known for releasing works by such artists like Deaf Center, Xela, Grouper, Helios, and City Center. All excellent.

This record is a classic, with every track but one having some involvement with either a violin, electric guitar, viola, or a piano. The piano is the predominant instrument throughout the album, often in combination with a violin weaving monumentally haunting sounds together with an anxious sense of melancholy. The end result is as moving as it is memorable.

Others have noted that the only song not to incorporate a classical instrument is “Fly Like a Horse”, and as a result, it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the record. However, this alone is nowhere near enough to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

By themselves, songs like Marianne, L’Oreée du Bois, Le Tunnel, Clara et Simon, and An Old Friend alone would make a great piece of work. But coupled with the rest of the album’s beautiful and somewhat romantic tracks, we instead have an outstanding collection of modern classical vocal-less narratives that carry onward quite consistently until their nearly too-short of an ending.

Headphone music.

For more information, check out:

Last.fm

Discogs

– Type Records release page.

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I’ve already posted about this album. However, suffice it to say that that write-up was done at a time when I had no idea where this blog would be going months later. The goal has always been to write about music that effects me (us, now that we have more writers) deeply, compelling me to write about it and promote and share it with other people so that they might find it enjoyable. And, if they are so inclined, to actually purchase the album.

However, some of these albums that I’ve written about haven’t gotten the attention it deserves, Night Falls by Hecq was one of them. Released in mid-2008 on Hymen Records (sublabel of Ant Zen), Night Falls is a brilliantly composed piece of work that has no boundaries.

People like to talk about how to think out the box and how this concept relates to music (et al) and specifically albums that have stood the test of time, who have a place in the coveted musical hall of fame. With Night Falls, there is no box to think out of. It is a roving, boundless, and deserted landscape painted with hues of dark blues and grays further characterized by an aurally nomadic experience: going from one place to another, the destination unknown.

There is a huge, huge sense of isolationism that I’ve really grown to appreciate pretty highly. It is precisely this multi-dimensional sense of isolationism that few albums in the genre have attained to a degree that you can’t help but notice. This is a phenomenally monumental work that asks that you simply exhale and consume the cinematic elements that are so concentrated within – chock full of bitter cold ripples of musical elements (specifically, orchestral) signal a retreat to a safe place that only has one inhabitant: you.

The album art hints at this a bit, and obviously, the record’s title as well; the former of which is deceptively simple: the record’s artwork is just a black cover with informational text. But inside is a journey from the hyperactive, schizophrenic world to one that sinks to low levels of escapism in comfortable resignation. Almost like falling backwards into your sofa couch after a particularly long day.

This is why I feel that Night Falls is one of the best albums ever written. Sit back, put on some good headphones, and listen to this all the way through.

For more information, check out the following resources:

Last.fm

Discogs

Hymen Records

Order this album physically at Discogs.

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Piano Solos Volume 2 is a work by the classically trained composer Dustin o’Halloran released in 2006 on Bella Union. As its title implies, this a record with the piano as its only instrument. The shining star for this album lies with Opus 23, a calming and mellow piece.

In fact, all of these tracks are fairly relaxed, with maybe the exception being Opus 28, which has a mildly (I use that term very, very loosely) frantic feel to it; a sense of urgency that just about penetrates the record’s wholly relaxed approach.

Opus 26 is definitely the most melancholic track, an almost too-short three minutes of a varying degree of isolationism.

The album is about fifty minutes in duration and perfect for any rainy day. If you like this, be sure to check out The Early Piano Works by Erik Satie, which comes as a two CD set of very lovely music in a similar vein to this album.

For more information, check out:

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Every once in awhile, I come across a record that instantly pulls me in; one that blatantly stands out from its competition, a record so luring and tasteful, it demands that one listens until its completion. In recent memory, only a handful have captured my undivided attention. This album is one of truly remarkable quality; an exercise in finesse and craftsmanship. This is Luigi Rubino’s A Theme for the Moon from Italy, released on the French label Prikosnovenie.

Achingly delicate melancholic music with piano as its primary instrument, with occasional opera-like female vocals and usage of the cello and violin. Highly recommended.

Luigi Rubino; composer-pianist, started playing and studying piano and liturgical organ when he was 10, with both Italian and foreign teachers. Today he dedicates himself to original composition and loves 20th century classical music (Debussy, Poulenc).

If you enjoy this, be sure to check out Danny Norbury’s Light in August as well as Erik Satie and Debussy.

For more information:

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Equilibrium Music

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Danny Norbury is from the UK who makes “modern classical” music. Wonderful use of cellos and violins. It actually reminded me of Clint Mansell’s score for the 2006 The Fountain directed by Darren Aronofsky. Searching on Youtube, I find that I’m not the only individual who made this connection …

Album of the year material. Truly remarkable.

It sports piano pieces similar to what you would find in acts like Library Tapes (an act Mr. Norbury has contributed to in the past, incidentally). Listening to this album solidifies my belief that the piano, the cello, and the violin are some of the most richest instruments the human race has invented. Full of concentrated emotion, all intricately weaved together to make a quilt of refuge in audio-form. A modern classical masterpiece.

If you enjoy this, you might try Hildur Guðnadóttir.

For more information:

Last.fm

Discogs

MySpace

Support the artist, buy this at:

Boomkat

Download.

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