Thursday, February 24, 2011

Philip Glass: Solo Piano (1989)

Justify Full
Surely, Philip Glass is one of the best and prolific modern composers. One of the works I particularly like is the 1989 release "Solo Piano". Characteristic elements of this record are the repetitive structures which results in a very accessible piece of piano music. It consists of three individual works which were written in different contexts and times but still blend perfectly into each other. The first part Metamorphosis consists of 5 pieces that was written in 1988 taking their name from a play based on Kafka's short story. Mad Rush was written for the occasion of the Dalai Lama's first public speech in New York in 1981 and the last piece Wichita Vortex Sutra was a result of a collaboration with friend and poet Allen Ginsberg. It is difficult to pick a favorite one but "Metamorphosis Four" and "Mad Rush" stand out for me.
Glass also interprets his own works which is is not so common for classical music composers and some say he is not the best interpreter (of his own music) which I certainly disagree but I also found another interesting interpretation of "Solo Piano" by Branka Parlic (see the clips below). If you wish to dig deeper into Glass I also recommend the Glass Box and The Hours Soundtrack.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Enchained Souls: Tears of Silence (2006)

South America again: Enchained Souls is an amazing Gothic Metal discovery from Bahía Blanca, Argentina. Adorned with the "usual" growls and soprano vocals but compared to the genre average with a more atmospheric, delicate and sombre sound. The result is a fairly unique rendering of this genre. "Tears of Silence" was the first demo of the band released and the songs are in Spanish and English. I have to admit that I was not too fond of rock music with Spanish lyrics before but for sure Enchained Souls is one reason why my perception changed.

One feature I like particularly about Enchained Souls is the usage of a harpsichord which amplifies the atmosphere. Favourites of this record include the stunning beautiful "Innocence", "Torturandome con tus Recuerdos" with the mentioned harpsichord, "My Own Requiem" and "Moon Tears". If you like the band as well you should also check the first official release "Silentium Æternus". Here, in Europe unfortunately the band is a little bit far away but they had already concerts in Argentina with bands like Anathema, Tristania or Theatre of Tragedy. Currently, the state of the band at metal archives does not look too promising as it appears that some members left the band. Anyway, I certainly wish the band all the best. Cheers!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

My charts for 2010

Heading towards mid February it is time to evaluate 2010: I feel that the importance of "record charts" is diminishing compared to lets say 20 years ago because music choices are more personal and styles and offers exploded. Nevertheless, if you look around the web there is plenty of them but I actually never cared about creating one so far myself. For instance, I like the lists over at BNR Metal a lot as they compare personal charts with votes ones. A short evaluation within foobar2000 showed me that I added 583 releases in 2010 (eps and lps) and these are my findings for the best of each month for 2010. Many of the entries are released in 2010 but As the release year does not matter for me there are also new highlights with a different release year:

January Badi Assad - Solo (1994) World Music, Jazz
February Magaly Solier - Warmi (2009) World Music
March Crookram - Through Windows (2010) Electronic Music
April Various Artists - Futuro Flamenco Vol. 2 (2003) World Music
May Comfort Fit - Forget And Remember LP (2005) Electronic Music
June Vacation :)
July Ghosthill - Embrace Of A Chasm (2010) Metal
August ReVamp - ReVamp (2010) Metal
September Dizzy Mizz Lizzy - Dizzy Mizz Lizzy & Rotator (2010) Alternative
October Evig Natt - Darkland (2010) Metal
November Hossein Alizadeh, Madjid Khaladj, Homa Niknam - Parandeha - Birds (2002) World Music
December Claudia Acuña - Wind From The South (1999) Jazz

So, from the music point of view 2010 has been a year of great discoveries for me - maybe you discovered something here, too!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Magaly Solier: Warmi (2009)

I first heard of Magaly Solier when she won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film festival in 2009 for "La teta asustada" (which is an excellent movie by the way). Like in her previous movie "Madeinusa" she had short sequences where she sang in her very unique and impressive style. Luckily, she also decided to publish with Warmi a really uniquie and beautiful piece of music. There are severaly things that make this record particularly special: The songs are sung for the most in Quechua (a native language of Peru and the Andes) and all the songs are written by herself. I have not been much of a fan of pan flutes and south american folk groups (playing in city centers) but Magaly Solier has changed my perception about Andean music strongly.

The songs accompanied by guitar, charango, quenas and violins have an exotic mood with Solier’s voice adding a very natural feeling. Lyrically, the songs deviate from standard folk music: One of my favorites from Warmi (meaning Woman in Quechua) "Ripu Ripusajmi" is a protest song that tells the story of a girl escaping from the physical abuse of her father. If you do not understand the language (like me) it gives you a pretty happy mood contrasting the actual dark lyrical theme. The record left my with a very intense impression changing my impression of Andean folk music but unfortunately Warmi is not commercialy available outside of Peru.
If you want to explore further this kind of music I recommend this blog which is dedicated solely to South American folk music.