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Archive for January, 2007

Imogen Heap
“Hide and Seek”

A stroke of brilliance–That’s what this track is. Without any traditional percussive elements, it creatively injects a sense of vocal percussion by staggering the harmonies on the upbeats of chord transitions. This combined with literary imagery in the lyrics, gives this song a great feeling of depth, fluidity and purpose.
There are some digital elements to the voices in the harmony, especially in dynamic changes. It helps push the melody forward, and proclaims a sense of urgency. All the combined voices help it rise and fall with purpose and ease. There are aspects of this song that remind me of the music composed by Benoit Jutras for Quidam.

From the Album: Speak for Yourself

Rodrigo Y Gabriela

Rodrigo and Gabriela are accomplished musicians hailing from Mexico. They started out as thrash metal musicians, but traded in their electric guitars for acoustics. They traveled together and landed in Dublin where their technical virtuosity was a hit.
“Tamacun” is the first track on their self-titled album and is exactly what you would expect from impassioned musicians. The tempo of this track is par for the course on this album — these two are all about speed. Rodrigo normally concentrates on the fast-moving melodic lines, while Gabriela lays down nicely-put percussive beats and rhythm. Youtube has a video of Tamacun as performed by these two. Watch it while you can.

From the Album: Rodrigo Y Gabriela

Don Ross
“Berkeley Springs”

“Berkeley Springs” is one of Don Ross’ more reflective pieces. He is a fingerstyle virtuoso and has won the prestigious National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship — twice. Like many great performers, he can make it look easy.
He’s been playing over 30 years and this piece sums up the masterful skill with which he composes. Don’t let this track fool you. A first-hand experience is needed to understand the love Don has for his music. He performs with passion and grace.

Many people are often curious what tunings Don uses. For this song it is FACFCF. Give it a try.

From the Album: Passion Session

Regina Spektor

Regina is contagious. She’s smart and musically creative. Regina’s influences include composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Chopin, as well as artists like Queen, The Beatles, and Ella Fitzgerald. Her music is sometimes filled with wonderful phrases full of arpeggios, and certainly light-hearted other times.

“Grey’s Anatomy” will be featuring another one of her songs, “Fidelity”, tomorrow Night on ABC. She deserves the recognition.

From the Album: Soviet Kitsch

Cirque Du Soleil – Benoit Jutras

This is breaking a rule but this song needs to be here, regardless of age.

Earlier I mentioned how Imogen Heap’s “Us” reminded me of Benoit Jutras’ music, and now I am posting one of his finer creations.
I also chose this piece, from “Quidam”, because it gave me the most options for future posts. This song reminds me of many things. Normally when I think about circus music, I think 3/4 time (think: waltz), but this song is a slight departure from that. It is, however, still very much circus-like. This piece reminds me of Italy, and especially of Nino Rota. You may or may not recognize the name, but you should remember what he composed–The music for “The Godfather”.

Sit back, relax, and take in “Innocence”. Listen for the children jumping rope in the background. I know because I have seen Quidam live.

From the Album: Quidam

Lhasa – The High Tide

“La Marée Haute”

This is a very natural progression from the previous post. This starts off with a clarinet and bass clarinet trading jabs. It rather quickly progresses into this wonderful mix of instrumentation. Listen for the xylophone and for the soft-mallet bass drum notes in this. Notice the high-pitched piano notes, soft snare rolls, and an occasional cymbal crash. Try to envision the water as you listen. I’m no expert in the French chanson style, but I do know this is quality work. I will certainly provide an update if she releases another album.

From the Album: The Living Road

Peter Gabriel
“Washing of the Water”

Yesterday, the high tide–Today, it’s about the “Washing of the Water”. This song is incredibly metaphorical, and has a great deal of depth (pardon the pun). I’m also posting this song for people who love and lived in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. For some, the waters took it all away. As the song says, may the waters also “Bring [you] something that will take [the] pain away.”

From the Album: Us

Eisley – Just like what?

“Just like we do”

They’ve been called “dreamy indie pop purveyors”. For me, they took over where sixpence none the richer left off. It may not be entirely fair to compare them to sixpence, but I’m tranquilized by the harmonies and melodies in much the same way I was with sixpence. By the way, these aren’t just kids–They’ve opened for Coldplay. Eisley has some amazing music in their portfolio. Give them a look and listen.

From the Album: Room Noises

Emiliana Torrini
“Today has been ok”

Icelandic. Organic. Exotic. Atmospheric. Acoustic. Melancholic. These are all words that aptly describe Emiliana’s music. This is a song made for closing-credits. It is also one of those songs perfect for personal reflection.

Soft, carefully-chosen piano chords along with xylophone cues and a non-intrusive bass line create a very soft foundation onto which she weaves a carefully-planned, soothing melody. Listen before you go to bed tonight, and you will sleep like a baby.

From the Album: Fisherman’s Woman

Michelle Featherstone
“Coffee & Cigarettes”

Warning: This is an intense break-up song about quitting.

I don’t see this current musical path changing anytime soon. I’m suffering from a small bout of melancholy. Does the song make us melancholy or do we pick the song because we are melancholy? Whatever it is, I’ll make the most of it. I appreciate music more lately if it has a prominent rhythm piano part, gospel influences and an acoustic feel. There’s something very poignant and penetrating about this sort of musical style. It also helps if it is very lyrically bewitching–like this one.

From the Album: One Tree Hill, Vol. 2

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