mardi 30 décembre 2008


Sea, Sand and Sky (2008)

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"

Albert Einstein

Roger Eno - Voices (1985)

Slow, deep, meditative, sensitive, playing with silence, impressionist... Such key-words usually help us to define ambient music at his best. And Voices is ambient music at his best... One should try however to find what makes this album so special and moving, so beautiful and so unique... Perhaps it is this melodic turn so obvious in the way Roger Eno plays piano. Perhaps also it is the unique art of Daniel Lanois, who is behind the mixing board and produces this album. Or should we consider the specific way of Brian Eno to treat anything, sound, light, time, space, even the music of his brother ? Brian is credited for the treatments on this beautiful album: deep reverbs, unexpected harmonizations, creative ways to open unexpected listening spaces... Let's add that Michael Brook was actively involved into the remastering of this album for the CD re-release (in 1990).

However, don't be mislead. Voices invites you to listen to an original voice, Roger Eno's voice, playing in a creative way with the rules and the principles of a new musical genre, ambient music.

Since 1985, this music did not loose its magic, its power, its originality...

Close your eyes, and enjoy the trip !

link: mp3 / 320 
password: olduvai


"Hold fast to your dreams, 
for without them,
 life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly"

Langston Hughes

Gavin Bryars, Arturs Maskats, Valentin Silvestrov - On Photography (2005)

Gavin Bryars is one of my all time favorite composers, and I would take at least one of his records if I was to live in a desert island.. He followed a unique path through the most interesting territories of the new musics map, through the most creative record companies (ECM, Point Music, Obscure and EG, Sub Rosa...), among the most interesting musicians of our time (Brian Eno, Balanescu Quartet, Hilliard Ensemble, Tom Waits, Bill Frisell, Julian Lloyd Weber, Charlie Haden, Tony Oxley, Derek Bailey...). One of the starting points of this unique journey is the famous instrumental suite The Sinking of the Titanic, whose first version was released in 1975, as the first release on Obscure, the label founded by Brian Eno.

On Photography is a splendid album of vocal music, performed by the Latvian Radio Choir. Gavin Bryars' compositions were written in 1983 for Robert Wilson's operatic project, The CIVIL WarS. Unfortunately, this endeavour collapsed, and Bryars' parts remained unreleased until he built up a new artistic project in 1994, On Photography, blending various inspiration sources such as American writer Susan Sontag, Pope Leo XIII (who wrote a poem Ars Photographica) and Jules Verne (who met Leo XIII in 1884). 

While preparing live performances of these pieces with the Latvian Radio Choir in Riga, Gavin Bryars attended by chance rehearsal sessions, while the Choir was working on pieces by Latvian composer Arturs Maskats and by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. He was so moved by what he heard that he decided to include their pieces in this splendid CD, released on his own label, GB Direct.

On Photography is a pure gem of choral music, with rich harmonic climates, a deep sound and a serene and meditative atmosphere. 

It is a true masterpiece that could be compared to the best productions of ECM New Musics (Arvo Pärt, or Valentin Silvestrov's Silent Songs, Bagatellen und Serenaden, Leggiero & Pesante, Requiem for Larissa, Symphony for Larissa and Metamusik & Postludium albums).

If you like this CD, please buy Gavin Bryars and the Latvian Radio Choir's most recent work: Glorious Hill, Cadman Requiem (2008).

link: mp3 / 320
password: olduvai

Michael Stearns - Chronos (1985)

Michael Stearns is one of the most interesting composers of the Californian electronic scene, with Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Iasos and a few others. In the 80s , they invented a new style of electronic music, exploring different spaces from those of the so-called "Berlin School":  sea and desert, alternative ways of life and new spiritualities, these musicians were the forerunners and the most inspired musicians of the new age movement, when it was still a quest and not yet a commercial market for muzak.

Chronos is the soundtrack of the IMAX film by Ron Fricke (one of the the creators of Koyaanisqatsi). One could define it as an electronic symphony (a single track of 41:30, with seven movements): few musicians can reach such a degree of expressiveness, of strength and power, of space and crescendos with synthesizers. Michael Stearns used a Serge Modular System, as well as Oberheim, Emu and Yamaha synthesizers, blending analogic and digital textures in a true symphonic way. Constance Demby added her impressive "Space Bass" sound, while a human choir added a lyrical touch to the composition. Slow and meditative or carried away by the hectic tempos of Western megapoles, Chronos is a unique sonic journey through the paths of time and memory, of origins and progress:  this soundtrack will inspire you many visions even if you don't watch the movie...

link : mp3 / 320
password: olduvai


Sand, Sea and Sky (2008)

"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved 
by skeptical or cynics 
whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. 

We need men who can dream of things 
that never were"

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

dimanche 21 décembre 2008

Ketil Bjornstad and David Darling - The River (1997)

This is a splendid ECM album recorded as a side project, during the sessions of The Sea, the quartet album of Ketil Bjornstad (with Terje Rypdal, Jon Christensen and David Darling).

In the 12 tracks of this album, we can listen to a very inspired dialogue of Bjornstad's piano and Darling's unique cello sound. One of the starting point of these sessions was William Byrd's and Orlando's Gibbon's melodic invention, translated into a modern idiom. Improvisation and unexpected creative moments offered the materials for the other tracks.

Chamber music, experiments in harmonic ambient music, exploration of all the creative possibilities between two gifted musicians, research in the blending of sounds and climates...

The River is an emblematic recording (among hundred of others) of what ECM is about... Intimate, deep, conceptual and emotional at the same time, crossing all the borders, creating its own place, its own identity at the crossroads of so many roads...

Ambient music at its best, music to swim through, if you love to dive into deep sound...

Link / mp3 320
password: olduvai

Tangerine Dream - Live at the Reims Cathedral (13 December 1974)

The Reims Cathedral concert is among the most famous, the most exceptional concerts ever played by Tangerine Dream. The location was unique, the scandal was huge, the rumor followed Tangerine Dream for years...

German cosmic music met one of the most famous French cathedrals. Electronic meditations, pop culture, uncontrolled young audience, drugs... It was too much, and special religious ceremonies were performed after the concert, to restaure the cathedral's sanctity.

This high quality recording from a radio broadcast was remastered by 3N and is volume 30 of the Tangerine Dream Tree series (92 volumes), a team project realized by fans for fans, offering the best live recordings of Tangerine Dream since its early beginnings, with great audio mastering and splendid artwork. Let's add that Tangerine Dream gave its agreement to this project, just asking the live recordings to be shared for free. 

This concert at the Reims Cathedral is so great... Peter Baumann, Chris Franke and Edgar Froese played two long parts, where improvisation and experimentation were at the forefront. Mellotron's flute and string parts, Moog sequences, EMS synthies effect, organs, electric piano, various delays and electronic treatments: no computers were involved, just three musicians interacting in real time, creating cosmic and floating climates, where neo-classical melodies meet avant-garde bruitages.

The Reims Cathedral concert allows us to listen to Tangerine Dream at the Phaedra and Rubycon era. Playing live, outside the security of studios, with all the risks linked with analogic equipment, with improvisation, with a real audience in a mythical place... It was a big challenge...

This concert has a vintage sound, I love it... This is cosmic and electronic music with a unique human touch... I am sure you will enjoy it...

link / mp3
password: olduvai

Bruce Kaphan - Slider - Ambient Excursions for Pedal Steel Guitar (2001)

If you are fond of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois team work on Apollo, if you enjoy Bill Nelson's collaborations with Harold Budd or Ry Cooder's sound, then, you will love this debut record by Bruce Kaphan.  Pedal Steel guitar added to Apollo its unique touch of spacy country music. Bruce Kaphan has a wide range of experiences as a pedal steel guitarist, from  American Music Club to REM, Chris Isaak, John Lee Hooker and David Byrne. He is also very creative in the movie industry, and one could quote his recent soundtracks for Masked & Anonymous, No Easy Way and Crank Calls.

Slider - Ambient excursions for pedal steel guitar is a pure ambient gem, offering floating and liquid climates, where country music meets Indian raga and pure atmospheric music, with deep reverbs and intriguing harmonic climates. 

The sound, the feeling, the atmosphere are unique, and this record is blending the roots of American music with the outer space.

Slider got the following comment from the Rolling Stones magazine: "Kaphan makes Zen music for dustbowl airports, bewitching instrumentals, sweet dreams of light and flight in which Kaphan's licks ring like prayer bells across an open Texas plain".

Sweet dreams of light and flight... yes, it is a fair description of this album...

link / mp3
password: olduvai

mardi 16 décembre 2008

Russell Mills & Undark - Pearl & Umbra (1999)

Russell Mills should be a familiar name to all the ambient music fans, since he designed the artwork of many Brian Eno's and David Sylvian's recordings, among many other artists. Russell Mills also created many installations and designed stage set up for Harold Budd and David Sylvian's concerts, among others.  His paintings and his sound installations are displayed in art galleries all around the world.

Russell Mills is also a musician and a sound sculptor, and he released several beautiful CDs, mixing ambient soundscapes and post-rock climates in a very creative way.

Pearl & Umbra is a rare and impressive recording, involving 34 musicians. The gotha of the new musics scene is contributing to this album: Eraldo Bernocchi, Michael Brook, Harold Budd, Sussan Deyhim, Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Peter Gabriel, Robin Guthrie, Bill Laswell, Paul Schutze, David Sylvian, Ian Walton and Hector Zazou, to name but a few...


link / mp3
password: olduvai

lundi 15 décembre 2008

Blue and green

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of emotions"

Pablo Picasso

Suns of Arqa - Cradle (1994)

I discovered one or two years ago Suns of Arqa, a  unique and creative world music team, founded by Michael Wadada. Suns of Arqa is an open band concept, some 200 musicians from across the globe passed through its ranks   mixing musical cultures, technologies, spiritual inspirations and composition patterns in an open and innovative way...

Cradle is a possible introduction to this musical universe, where Indian raga meets reggae, where ambient dub meets electronics, where tablas meet synthesizers, where tribal roots meet classical traditions. Well, it is true world music, and not only a unique world's musics... 

Indian shenhai, flute, violin and keyboards are involved into Cradle, a  serene and meditative album, opening new listening spaces between trance and ambient music...

It is ethno-ambient at its best...

link / mp3
password: olduvai 

Iasos - Angelic Music (1978)

Iasos is born in 1947 in Greece, but his family moved to the USA in 1951. He is one of the most intriguing and innovative composers linked with the developement of the new age musical trend in California. Actually, he is one of its forerunners, since from 1967, he started to imagine a new kind of music, "paradise music". He was then a student at Cornell University, and he graduated in anthropology in 1968.

Angelic Music was released in 1978 as a tape. I bought it in the early 80's and it was at the top of my personal playlist for a long time. One can be interested or not in Iasos spiritual and new age discourse and concepts. I was not... But the music was really innovative and inventive, there was such a unique way to manipulate acoustic and electronic sounds, to play with tape recorders speed, with reverse playing of tapes, with various reverb and echoes treatment... 

Iasos' music is very floating and ethereal, it is wide and deep as the sky... Listening to it is a unique experience...

Angelic Music offers two long tracks, "The Angels of Comfort" and "Angel Play". 

The CD release added a new dimension to this already multi-dimensional music...

If you like this music, you should support Iasos and buy Elixir (number 2 in my Iasos playlist).

Realms of Light and Essence of Spring could be your next steps to reach the new dimensions explored by this unique musician... 

Relax, forget anything else, and enjoy the music !

link / mp3
password: olduvai

Many thanks...

... for your kind comments and your patience... It is nice to meet so many music lovers, fond of non-commercial music, of ambient, electronic and avant-garde musics...

It is fun also to realize that some of my musical tastes are shared in Japan or in Brazil, in Canada or in China, in New Zealand or in Hawai, and by so many fellows in Europa and North America and in so many other places... 

I apologize, once again, for the random updates of this blog...  Please, visit my garden whenever you want, if you are lucky, perhaps you will find some new and unexpected musical flowers...

Last but not least, excuse my English... This is not my primary language... and I do... my best..

Kind regards to all


samedi 6 décembre 2008

Jon Hopkins - Opalescent (2003)

I discovered only recently Jon Hopkins and I did not expect how much I would be impressed by his music. 

Opalescent is the work of a 21 years old British musician. He is said to play piano since the age of  5, and at the age of 12, to study piano and composition at the Royal College of Music, where he won, among other awards, the Concerto prize... Just amazing !

Opalescent is a splendid album of chill out and ambient music, where electronic soundscapes meet very inspired guitar lines and a subtle way to program irresistible grooves on drum machines.

Sincerely, I don't know how I could compare Jon Hopkins to any other musician. His style is unique. There is such an originality in the global sound, in the feeling, in the mixing, in the concept... 

Let me try to suggest something... Manuel Gottsching (Ash Ra) meeting Brian Eno and Hector Zazou ? Yes, it could work... Opalescent is a clear allusion to "Opal", the name of the record company of Brian Eno... 

I definitely love this record, and it is very refreshing to see that a 21 years old guy can bring such a freshness and an innovation to the Chillout scene...

There is an incredible feeling in this album... 

If you enjoy Opalescent, please, buy Jon Hopkins second record: Contact Note

Here is a mp3 demo version of Opalescent
password: olduvai

Wim Mertens - After Virtue (1987)

Wim Mertens belongs to the bunch of my all time favorite musicians ... This Belgian composer (b. 1953), after studying social sciences at the University of Leuven, discovered American repetitive composers, such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich. From 1978, he worked as a producer for the Belgian TV and from 1982 he started an amazing career of musician, composing musics for theatrical plays and for movies (for example Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect and Louis Delluc's La femme de nulle part).

His first album was released in 1982 (For Amusement Only - The Sound of Pinball Machines).

His whole discography, until 2007, includes 71 CDs !!! 

Wim Mertens wrote many pieces of chamber music for small ensembles or solo instruments, he also recorded many albums as a solo artist, playing piano, sometimes with vocals.

Defining Wim Mertens' music is not easy. I would say it blends minimalism and classicism in a very intimate and poetical way, with a personal lyrical touch... This music is serene and dynamic at the same time, melodies are at the forefront, there is a unique feeling... Wim Mertens' music is intemporal, at the crossroads of classical traditions and of the exploration of new patterns and atmospheres...

As an introduction to his musical universe, please listen to After Virtue, and try to buy some of Wim Mertens' 70 other recordings ;-)

 link: mp3 / 320
password: olduvai

mercredi 3 décembre 2008

Yes, this blog has a future...

It is the answer...

But, please, be patient...

Next posts next week-end