samedi 27 septembre 2008

Herbert Distel - La Stazione (1990)

This is truly an amazing and beautiful CD, released on the Hat Hut "Now series" label, that reminds me of Brian Eno's On land or of some urban soundscapes of Blade Runner. 

The basic materials of these two long tracks (26:31 and 19:24) are field recordings in the Central Station in Milan (Italy): noises, voices, announcements, etc. These materials are processed electronically (delays, reverbs, harmonizers...), organized in loops, mixed and superimposed in such a way that the result is an ambient and hypnotic symphony, where concrete sounds and announcement voices are metamorphosed into strange tonal and rythmical patterns.

These two compositions were premiered at the Kunstmuseum in Berne on March 2, 1990, and were played on a broadcast of Radio DRS2, on May 16, 1990.

I quote some words of Heinz Reber in the booklet: "The work is an enigma. As well as the only empty space, the short rest, the quiet, the silence before the powerful, dignified beat, before the low sound. One (still) throws a nostalgic glance at the sensuous nature from an immovable observation point, referring to the analogous noise in that station hall. The individual sequences dissociate: sound becomes a tonal material - scarcely a hint, fine. In fact, meanings get lost in this aimless place".

Deep and strange atmospheric music, painting unexpected soundscapes and blending sounds and noises, La Stazione will change the way you will walk through a railway station hall...

link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

Sea and Sky

Sea and sky (2007)

"Once, while St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, he was asked: "What would you do if you were suddenly to learn that you were to die at sunset today ?" He replied: "I would finish hoeing my garden..."

Jan Garbarek - Visible World (1996)

Jan Garbarek is obviously one of the artists who contributed to define ECM sound and unique aesthetics. His discography is a part of the history of European jazz and new music and it follows a free and creative path, between solo and band projects, and through many adventurous collaborations, with the Hilliard Ensemble or with Keith Jarrett to name but a few...

Visible World is a splendid CD and it is impossible to categorize it... Jazz and ambient, contemporary and world music, avant-garde and tradition... 

Jan Garbarek plays soprano and tenor saxophones on all the pieces, indeed, but also electronic keyboard and additional percussion on some and Meraaker clarinet one one. He is accompanied by other ECM stars, such as Marilyn Mazur (percussion, drums, shakers), Manu Katché (drums), Eberhard Weber and his unique bass sound, Rainer Brüninghaus (piano), Trilok Gurtu (tabla and spiral), Mari Boine (vocal on one track).

This music blends grooves and atmospheres, it is lyrical and intimate at the same times, it is very inspired and produced with a lot of subtlety (Manfred Eicher, who else ?, produced this album).

Inspired by traditions of the Chiricahua Apache traditions, commissioned for movies soundtracks, ballets or music videos, the 15 tracks of Visible World explore new islands in the archipelago of new instrumental musics... 

It is the perfect soundtrack for all your inner movies...

link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

vendredi 26 septembre 2008

Jon Hassell / I Magazzini - Sulla Strada (1982/1995)

This rare album is a soundtrack composed by Jon Hassell for a theatrical play written by Federico Tiezzi from texts by Jack Kerouac, and performed at La Biennale in Venice, at the Teatro Malibran on May 28th 1982. The CD was released by "Materiali Sonori" in 1995.

In the booklet, Jon Hassell comments upon his musical project: "The style of music which I call "Fourth World" is a continual exploration of ways in which exotic musics from the tribal cultures of the Southern Hemisphere might be fused with the technological possibilities of the Western world (primitive future). It is an attempt to create music which dissolves the dichotomy between the structural and the sensual (classical and popular in western terms). 

The music for Sulla Strada is partially inspired by cerimonial music of the Beti and Bemileke of Cameroon. This is blended with other compositional and less geographically-specific elements in an attent to create a kind of musical scenery which is not entirely "primitive", not entirely "future", but some place impossible to locate either chronogically or geographically. (...)

The aim is to create a dense, ritualized sound atmosphere in which the stage action might take place and be formed within, in the same way that the density of water can be said to form the movements of a swimmer".

Jon Hassell (trumpet, synth, tapes) is accompanied by Nana Vasconcelos (udu drum), Michael Brook (guitar and mix),  Miguel Frasconi (percussion). 

Italian voices can be heard sometimes, but the nine tracks of this album offer beautiful and hypnotical climates, where loops, percussions and synthesizers create the dense and ritualized atmosphere Jon Hassell mentions in his comments...

A rare album by one of the most important musician and composer of the ambient planet...

link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

Bang on a can - Music for Airports / Brian Eno (1998)

Brian Eno's Music for Airports (1978) played a very important part in the concept and development of ambient music. One could say that ambient music is not a music to be listened to, but a music to be heard, as a subliminal background creating a soundscape for various places or buildings. Supermarkets and elevators are usually places where a poor music is played, one calls it muzak. Brian Eno's idea was to conceive a sophisticated musical soundscape instead of this anonymous FM music, and he chose airports as the best places where such a music could be heard and understood, creating an unusual and quiet sonic background among all the noises and announcements of a airport terminal.

Music for Airports is a masterpiece, with its subtle piano tracks, its complex electronic treatments, its choral parts, and its slow and organic development.

In 1998, Point Music, a label directed by Philip Glass, released this amazing interpretation of Music for Airports by Bang on a Can: Robert Black (bass), Lisa Moore (piano, keyboards), Evan Ziporyn (clarinet, bass clarinet), Maya Beiser (cello), Steven Schick (percussion), a choir of female voices and additional musicians playing pipa, flute, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, cello, mandolin and mandocello.

This chamber music ensemble plays Eno's compositions with fidelity and creativity at the same times. The acoustic instruments create a rich harmonic soundscape and add a very original touch to the original recording. 

This peaceful, quiet and slow music is very evocative and poetic: the cover version is as beautiful as the original...

link: mp3 / 320
pass: olduvai

dimanche 21 septembre 2008

The tempo of this blog

I will not update this blog every day, but as regulary as possible. 

I chose a selective and eclectic approach, quality over quantity, musics that do not float on the main stream of the music business...

Each artist presented in my blog played an important part in my life and inspired me dreams, feelings, thoughts and memories.

I would be happy if some of the visitors of my blog could discover unknow musicians...

I hope the itinerary drawn by this blog makes sense for someone else than for myself...
Comments, as always, are welcome and appreciated ;-)

I wish you a pleasant flight ! 


Web (2007)

"The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place: 
from the sky, from the earth, 
from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, 
from a spider's web"

Pablo Picasso

The Edge with Michael Brook - Captive (OST) (1986)

This is a beautiful collaboration between U2 guitarist and Michael Brook, with Sinead O'Connor singing on track. This soundtrack is closer to Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois ambient work than to U2: the links between these two universes are obviously Michael Brook and his infinite guitar sound which will be used by the Edge.

Ambient and atmospheric music, this soundtrack of Captive, the Don Boyd's movie, is composed of 10 atmospheric tracks, where guitars, keyboards, percussions (Larry Mullen on drums) create a haunting climate...

Link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

samedi 20 septembre 2008

Harold Budd - The Pavilion of Dreams (1978)

Harold Budd is an American composer (b. 1936) who played (and still plays)  a very important part in the minimalist and ambient scene, either as a solo artist or through his collaborations with musicians such as Brian Eno, Zeitgeist, Hector Zazou, Andy Patridge, John Foxx, Daniel Lentz, Ruben Gardia, Cocteau Twins, Robin Guthrie.

The Pavilion of Dreams was released in the famous series Obscure Records, where Brian Eno produced still unknown composers such as Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman. It was Harold Budd's second album, and it revealed him to a wider international audience.

Ambient and impressionist music, intimate chamber music, quiet melodies in the vein of Satie and Debussy, The Pavilion of Dreams offers "an extended cycle of works begun in 1972". Harold Budd (electric piano) is accompanied by a small ensemble of musicians (harp, celeste, marimbas, percussion, vibes and vibraphone, chorus). Among them, Lynda Richardson (mezzo soprano), Marion Brown (Alto sapophone), Michael Nyman (marimba) and Gavin Bryars (glockenspiel, voice, celeste). 

Quiet music for an hectic age, The Pavilion of Dreams explores the poetics of slowness. Mysteriously ambient, lightly melancholic, deep as an horizon, these compositions opened new perspectives in the trend of ambient musics, and they could be considered as a foreword to Ambient 2 / The Plateaux of Mirror, composed in 1980 with Brian Eno.

link / mp3 320

password: olduvai

Hector Zazou - Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses (1991)

Hector Zazou died in Paris on September 8th. He was 60 years old.

On October 6, his last record will be released by Crammed Discs: In the House of Mirrors, featuring musicians from India and Uzbekistan (Toir Kuziyev, Milind Raikar, Ronu Majumdar, Manish Pingle), and Western guests such as Nils Petter Molvaer, Diego Amador, Carlos Nunez, Zoltan Lantos  and Bill Rieflin (former drummer of R.E.M.).

Zazou is now beyond the mirror...

As a tribute to this so creative French musician and producer, we could listen to this 1991 album, Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses (it won a Victoires de la musique award in 1992). Traditional songs from Corsica are surrounded by a instrumental tapestry featuring among others Steve Shehan (percussions), Richard Horowitz (ney), Manu Dibango (sax), Jon Hassell (trumpet), Ryuichi Sakamoto (piano), Christian Lechevretel (trumpet), Pierre Chaze (guitars), Renaud Pion (sax soprano), Lightwave (electronics), John Cale (piano), Shaymal Maltra (tablas)...

It is a splendid album where traditions from the past meet the new musical technologies...

Sacred music, lyrical inspiration, and delicate electronic soundscapes are the main features of this album: it will never be outdated...

Zazou, we will not forget you !

links / mp3 320
password: olduvai

dimanche 7 septembre 2008

Next update in a few days....

I will be out of town for the few next days...
So the next update should be next week-end !
In the meantime, enjoy this musical garden, take a seat, and listen to some sonic flowers...


samedi 6 septembre 2008

Before the night

Before the night (2007)

"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary"

Aaron Rose

Brian Eno - I Dormienti (1999)

"This music was made for an installation of sculptures by Mimmo Paladino at the Undercroft of the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London. Collectively the sculptures - about 30 reclining terracotta figures with about 20 attendant terracotta crocodiles - form a work called "I DORMIENTI" - "The Sleepers".

The elements of the music were distributed over 10 CDs (such that each CD carried just one layer of the music), and then played on 10 CD players positioned around the space. The CDs are of different lengths, and carry different numbers of tracks (some of which are silent tracks). Each player was set to "random shuffle" so that the exact overlay of elements at any given moment would not be predictable. The total playing time of such a piece (i.e. the time before it precisely repeats) is effectively infinite".

Random, infinite, overlay, non predictable, installation, space, repeats: perfect key words for describing this deep and mysterious ambient music, surrounding sleeping bodies who remind me the petrified corpses of Pompei inhabitants, when the Vesuvius volcano destroyed the city.

Beautiful atmospheric music, to be played and listened to in infinite mode...

Link: mp3 / 320
password: olduvai

vendredi 5 septembre 2008

Golden World

Golden World (2007)

"Form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness"

Heart Sutra

Maria Callas - Lyric and Coloratura Arias

I do not define Ambient music through technical and instrumental criteria or through precise musical features. Ambient music relies, for me, on a specific way to listen to music, where the listener, the place and the time of the listening are as important as the music... Ambient music opens windows, creates spaces, paints backgrounds, rises memories, creates thoughts and feelings... It is like an Encounter of the Third Type, between a listener and a musical emotion, between the mood of the listener and the mood of the music... It is just a miracle, something to be experienced, an intimate experience... 

So Opera is for me part of the most inspired and moving ambient music... 

What I love in this vintage recording of Maria Callas is the magy of a voice singing and singing again,  of a voice inspiring so many feelings and dreams each time it is heard... There is such an energy, such a creativity, so much strength and expressiveness in these songs that they make me shiver... 

Maria Callas, I love you... 

Link: mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

Piano One - Private Music (1985/1990)

Joachim Kuhn, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Eddie Jobson and Eric Watson : where else could we find so creative and so different pianists than on this Piano One release by Private Music, creating in the '80s and early '90s new territories for instrumental music.. ? Jazz, progressive rock, neo classical...  this music just goes beyond the usual borders... We have just solo piano music here, but piano is played with such an elegance and a subtlety, recording and production are so perfect, that it is just a musical and audiophile paradise... 

In these last years of the last century, some innovative record companies were trying to invent new musics for new audiences... In the ocean of so often disappointing New Age music, Private Music is like a treasure island where one can still find pure musical gems...

Enjoy ! 

Link : mp3 / 320

password: olduvai

mardi 2 septembre 2008


"Variety is the spice of life"

Unknown Zen cook

Hellen Merrill & Ron Carter - Duets (1989)

Music to be listened to after midnight, at home, when quiet sounds and voices are the colors of darkness..

This is a splendid album by two giants of jazz music, who chose the format of a duo instead of the big bands, quartets and trios they are accustomed to play with.

Hellen Merill's voice is unique, sensual and deep, evocative and nostalgic. Ron Carter's acoustic bass is the perfect accentuation of Hellen's a capella songs...

The two of them revisit standards such as "A child is born", "Autumn leaves", "My funny Valentine", and they chose a minimalist and intimate approach, where silence plays its own music  between the words...

I rediscovered this album yesterday and I love its unique atmosphere, its poetry, its delicate swing and mood.

Hellen Merrill is one of my favorite jazz singers...

Link: mp3 / 320
pass: olduvai

lundi 1 septembre 2008

Peter Baumann - Trance Harmonic Nights (1979)

The name of Peter Baumann appeared already in this blog, since he was the founder of Private Music, a New York based record company specialized in new music in the eighties and early nineties.

Peter Baumann was also a member of Tangerine Dream, in the seventies, and he played a key-part in the musical odyssey of this German band, exploring the infinite possibilities of synthesizers for sound design and new composition patterns.

Peter Baumann left Tangerine Dream in 1977 and devoted himself to various production projects and to a solo career. Trance Harmonic Nights is his second solo album (the first one, Romance 76, was released in... 1976).

Trance Harmonic Nights is a beautiful album, and shows Peter Baumann's skills as a composer and a sound designer. Instead of the long cosmic and improvised tracks of Tangerine Dream's early recordings, Trance Harmonic Nights offer shorter tracks, structured around sequences, with melodic lines and spectacular sound effects. The music is at the same time impressive and intimate, with a romantic and a poetical touch. 

Peter Baumann used a synthesizer prototype, built by American company EMU. This Projekt Elektronik modular synthesizer offered a digital multichannel sequencer, which was one of the most advanced piece of equipment at that time. Peter Baumann used it for all the sequences of this album. 

Romantic German music for vintage synthesizers and avant-garde rythms, Trans Harmonic Nights is still a very pleasant album today....

link: mp3 /320

password: olduvai