• [My Gang] Joanna Newsom - Easy : Reco of the Week 9 March 2010

    Mar 9 2010, 19h29 por Babs_05

    Track: Easy
    Artist: Joanna Newsom
    Album: Have One on Me (1 Mar 10)
    Tags: , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload

    If you made your mind up about Joanna Newsom on the release of her first album, The Milk-Eyed Mender, and decided against, you won't be reading this. If, on the other hand, you kept an open mind, particularly after Ys, then, hello. And me, too.

    Ys didn't charm me on first listen. If anything, I listened to form an opinion, made my snap decision - nah - and moved on. It wasn't till a little while later that I found I couldn't get one of the melodies out of my head and, almost against my will, I went back to have a closer listen. I still can't say it's one of my favourite albums but it is one of the most perplexing. Technically, there isn't much that I like about it, except that she plays a harp, the music is clever and the melodies pretty. I was still turned off by her apparent arrogance, her "untrainable" voice, her affected manner. And she seemed to be trying too hard with the overly wordy lyrics.

    My reco this week is the first track, Easy, from her new album, Have One on Me. This is how she opens the door to her new world. It's like the Alice in Wonderland of albums; the beauty is otherworldly. Her voice, damaged by her old style of singing, doesn't catch or squeak like it used to. Now, though still challenging, she's more polished, mature and easier on the ear.

    That sounds damning - it's not. Her voice has moved closer to Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell than anyone else. She sings not from the diaphragm so much as around the chest and throat and very occasionally up through her nose. The pitch and register are still high though thankfully, she doesn't strangle any sounds, which for me would render her unlistenable. She does, however, experiment with how much air she permits, and where. For instance, No Provenance gets quite breathy at times, constricting the air at others, sounding almost traditional Chinese.

    Refined and restrained, she has kept the naif quality she had before of the untrained mediaeval folk singer. It's a little sharp and not the kind of voice that I am usually drawn to. There is also the knowledge her once-free voice is now being forced to be contained, and you can hear it, chomping at the bits, wanting to break free. The effort she exerts to control her power adds a new dimension and you feel sad for her that she even has to; another delicate layer to the others, like millefeuille.

    There is no official video for this track yet. I decided to pick the one with lyrics simply because I enjoyed reading them as I listened.

    She says Have One on Me is “earth and dirt, very grounded”. The 18 songs come in at just over two hours, covering three CDs. Some of the songs are as long as they were on Ys, though most are a minute or two shorter. The harp isn't as prominent or as intricate as it was before, allowing other instruments to come to the fore, and there's a better balance between lyrics and music. The range is varied but in keeping with each other, so the wonderfully moving Esme isn't lost among the newer songs. There is a live version of this track in YouTube, from 2007 which is more baroque in its delivery. The album version is as soft as a lullaby.

    I urge you to sit comfortably, or better still, lie down, before you put the new album on. It's so beautiful, you will sigh, melt then collapse in a heap. Then for the next two hours, you won't move. You won't want to.

    Her love of baroque, colour and detail continues in the cover art for the album - a disorderly jumble with each item deliberately placed.

    We have barely completed the first quarter of the year and already there are a fair number of outstanding, unique albums to listen to and digest, but now I've stumbled down the rabbit hole, I'm kind of reluctant to leave. It's her masterpiece.

    Further reading:
    The Times, 20 Feb 10, The conversation: Joanna Newsom
    The Guardian, 27 Jan 10, Joanna Newsom announces triple album

    Babs My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives

    Disclaimer: Mines

    Admin: Stats as of today: listeners of this track - 19,437
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 52,173
    Position in Last 7 Days: 1 / 9,973
    Position in Last 6 Months: 84 / 67

    Date Added: February 22, 2010
    Views: 6,106, Ratings: 24, Comments: 13, Favourited: 46 times

    Stats after 7 days: listeners of this track - 23,179
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 68,778
    Position in Last 7 Days: 1 / 7,742
    Position in Last 6 Months: 84 / 67

    Views: 9,061, Ratings: 30, Comments: 15, Favourited: 57 times

    349 Unique Visitors
    465 Page Views

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  • [My Gang] Griselda Sanderson - Irime (Ice Warrior) : Reco of the Week 17 Mar 09

    Mar 17 2009, 23h59 por Babs_05

    Track: Irime (Ice Warrior) (full track)
    Artist: Griselda Sanderson
    Album: Harpaphonics (Jan 2009)
    Tags: , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    I'd love it if Griselda Sanderson were this year's Basquiat Strings, the Mercury Award nominated mix of classical strings, jazz and world via Transylvania. Gris Sanderson's Harpaphonics is equally as innovative and possibly goes one better with the introduction of the nyckelharpa.

    Here's a nyckelharpa (click to see larger pic):

    The modern chromatic nyckelharpa has 16 strings: 3 melody strings, one drone string, and 12 sympathetic vibration (or resonance) strings. It has about 37 wooden keys arranged to slide under the strings. Each key has a tangent that reaches up and stops (frets) a string to make a particular note. The player uses a short bow with the right hand, and pushes on the keys with the left. It has a 3 octave range (from the same low "G" as a fiddle's 4th string) and sounds something like a fiddle, only with lots more resonance. Earlier forms of the nyckelharpa had fewer keys, fewer (or no) sympathetic strings, and fewer melody strings, but often made more use of drone strings.

    The Sunday Times said, "With its ornate curves and multiple strings and keys, the Swedish nyckelharpa makes Jimmy Page's double-necked guitar look like a ukulele."

    Listening to Gris Sanderson's Similar Artist radio, I heard Shooglenifty. I think Basquiat Strings and Shooglenifty are the closest I can call similar artists, but even they're not quite right. Gris's music is on another level. Ornate and intricate, delicate yet earthy, witty with cheeky little asides that raise a smile, the music traverses not just the world but time itself, incorporating details from the past as well as the present.

    The track I chose for this week is 'Irime', largely because there is a video available in YouTube where you can see how Gris plays the nyckelharpa. I could copy and paste entire essays describing how complex it is but it's better to see. I'll add some links at the end of this journal as usual, in case anyone wants to know more. The video features Fumiaki Tanaka (choreography) with Gris on nyckelharpa, Alex Roth on guitar, Russell Harris on zarb. Powerful Sam Yeboah of Unity Train plays the djembe and Josh Stopford is on bass guitar. The video comes free with the album, donations from physical sales of which go to Sam's Project Okurase in Ghana.

    Griselda Sanderson, Louis Derick Bingham, Sam Yeboah

    There isn't a typical track on the album. The music draws on influences from Scotland, West Africa and Transylvania, amongst others. Gorgeous Treadlightly March features sheep baaing (which just has to be the best found sound), one of my favourites is In Thunder with its emotional rain. Spring Storm has a tune by Steve Cooney which is modern but in the traditional Irish style of a slip-polka. It features Max Moya Wright (of Ojos de Brujo) on Cajon with james dumbelton on bodhran and Riaan Vosloo on bass. Erdély Reels has a Transylvanian tune. See the official site (below) for more information on both the Harpaphonics Ensemble and Gris herself.

    Early music and modern music dovetail as they do on Dead Can Dance albums. The folk elements are recognisably folk but with clever twists. Thoughtful and intelligent throughout, it is proper music to be absorbed by. It doesn't target any particular age group; I can easily imagine pieces being used in films or other media. One of my sensational albums of 2009 (new journal coming soon).

    Babs My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives

    Official Site
    What is a Nyckelharpa?
    The Nyckelharpa, Anders Rosén, September 2000
    Different types of nyckelharpa
    Wikipedia - Nyckelharpa
    YouTube: Bach on Nyckelharpa

    Admin - Stats as of today: listeners of this track - 6
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 11
    Position in Last 7 Days: n/a
    Position in Last 6 Months: 1 / 1

    Date Added: 31 January 2008
    Views: 477, Ratings: 2, Responses: 0, Comments: 1, Favorited: 3 times

    Stats after 8 days: listeners of this track - 6
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 11
    Position in Last 7 Days: n/a
    Position in Last 6 Months: 1 / 1

    Date Added: 31 January 2008
    Views: 488, Ratings: 2, Responses: 0, Comments: 1, Favorited: 3 times

    466 Unique Visitors
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  • Synchronizing iPod metadata and iTunes library

    Mar 17 2009, 9h19 por agquarx

    Do you know any free solution for synchronizing metadata gathered in iPod with main iTunes library? I mean back to iTunes library, overwriting old values. Metadata like number of plays, last skipped etc. I can't find anything on, all the programs seem to be shareware or commercial in nature...I need to do it, so I won't lose my work on polishing metadata while I'm using iPod in case it's damaged and I have to reload the music from main iTunes library. I need a free solution because I am unemployed in result of the world economical crisis and have no additional money to spend on software. Sticks and Stones
  • Podcasts (most podcasts are in English)

    Fev 13 2009, 15h48 por agquarx

    I listen to a lot of podcasts. They are a main media type I listen to right after music, lately, I even skip audiobooks sometimes in favour of vigilante audio fiction. Sometimes it's so *fresh*, sometimes so naive, but you can see that the author is trying, listening to comments of listeners, in other words the interactive aspect of it all is a lot of fun. My fauvorite podcast of all time is The Dawn and Drew Show :-) They are something like Beavis and Butthead, only they serve pure delight for my ear pussies, the voice of Dawn Miceli is fabulous, she should work in audio media industry. They sound so professional most of the time, though they are certainly completely outschooled and many times high on various substances ;-). Is there a group for the lovers of podcasts? *Gosh*, I just noticed I joined one a while ago, I guess it's not very active... What are your fauvorities among podcasts? Or maybe you think the whole podcast revolution is overrated? Please do comment! :-)
  • Multiple replacements of my iPod

    Jan 29 2009, 18h36 por agquarx

    Today I loaded my iPod "Astarte" for the third time, anew. I got a new hardware from Apple, after a failure (it was protected under guaranty). First, two times the sound from the left channel stopped (my headphones were OK, I tested also with an other pair), nobody knew what exactly happened to it, they (Apple) had to replace the whole damn unit. Then, it died on me without warning, probably problems with battery, although it was fully charged. It was just lying on the table and when I picked it up, bam, it failed to wake up! I wonder if these are famous problems I heard that happen with 160GB units - they (Apple) seem to solve every problem by replacing the iPod with a new one, I wonder what I will do when the guarantee expires in a year from now and something happens to it? Buy a new one? Is this a new policy for Apple? Not very environment friendly if you ask me... Nor not very user friendly too - am I supposed to use the unit for one year only? What do you people think?Only When I Sleep
  • Zapach Tamaryszku

    Jan 21 2009, 21h30 por agquarx

    Opublikowałam kolejny wpis w blogu, dotyczy mojej religii i hobby. Nie zawiera chomików. Zawiera porno i to dużo. Oto link:
  • Fariborz Lachini releases two new solo piano albums

    Out 8 2008, 5h50 por pegaht

    Iranian/Canadian (film) composer, Fariborz Lachini, releases 8 contemporary classical pieces under Requiem album and 15 other pieces with lighter melodies (considerred new age by some) under the fourth in Golden Autumn series, Golden Autumn 4 .

    Almost all of Fariborz Lachini's compositions have a melancholic tone and are inspired by events concerning his homeland and the world. His deep peaceful melodies are said to be able to communicate with listeners without a need of words, or any instrumentation other than piano and are considered minimal as such. Although this kind of minimalism is very different than what Philip Glass, Ludovico Einaudi or others tagged as minimalists offer. (I wonder if there is a good definition what minimalist is)

    His style imitates no particular composers or even specific classical eras, but some of his fans call him "piano poet of 21st century" and compare his work to those of master composers of classical era like Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, ...

    We leave this up to your judgment and invite you to have listen on or his official website