Playlists for September 2017

Scott Cole is a versatile composer whose prior releases have spanned ambient, acoustic and world fusion styles of music. On his latest album, titled Beyond Earth – Bowed Dronescapes, Cole creates droning atmospheric passages among six compositions utilizing NS Design Electric-Upright bass, 4-string bass, French and German grip bows, and sound processing.

Lena Natalia is a Chicago-based pianist and composer with four albums to her credit, including her latest and arguably most stunning work to date, titled Almost Home. One among relatively few women working in the classical minimalist genre, Lena takes her already perfected sound to another uncharted level. Applying processed effects to her piano while incorporating other minimal layers and textures throughout, the result is a style of music that might be described as a kind of classical noir. Comprised of twelve stunning compositions spanning forty-eight minutes, the album seemingly plays out like a soundtrack to an indie film, collectively echoing the hallmarks of both notable ambient and classical minimalist composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Ólafur Arnalds, Johan Johansson, Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

Ban Brothers are an Indian fusion musical duo consisting of real-life brothers Gautam Banerjee and Swagata “Ban” Banerjee. Recorded, mixed and engineered in various locations in India, their fourth album, titled All About Love, beautifully unfolds like a Bollywood movie soundtrack in which Eastern and Western, and retro and modern musical elements colorfully collide. Comprised of nine compositions spanning approximately forty-three minutes, the brothers are joined by an outstanding team of guest artists, including Vanil Veigas who lends keyboard programming to a couple of tracks and likewise provides additional arrangements alongside the notable Ricky Kej. Showcasing male and female vocals that alternately take the lead on each track, Hindi lyrics are delivered by guest singers Prajoth D’Sa, Supriya Joshi and Debasish Shome. Other musicians variably play instruments such as acoustic, bass and rhythmic guitar, bamboo flute, dholak, drums, keyboards, mandolin, percussion, saxophone, saz, table, violins and whistle.

rightIrish Mist is the tenth album from Seattle-based pianist and composer Richard Dillon, as well as the follow-up to his likewise recent solo piano release, Land of Nod. Rich in both ancient myth and tradition, the Emerald Isle has long been a source of fascination for many people and common inspiration among composers, painters and poets. Dedicated to Dillon’s mother, who recently passed away at the age of ninety-eight, the album elegantly showcases fifteen gentle compositions, which are imbued with a touch of nostalgia and often possess a subtle Celtic feel.

Keith Richie is a Texas-based electronic music composer with a diverse and ever-growing catalog of releases. Notably inspired by artists such as Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and John Carpenter, Richie’s albums stylistically range from Berlin-school, to film score, to ambient and chill-out, with each release based upon a central theme that conveys a soundtrack-type listening experience. Comprised of ten compositions spanning fifty-seven minutes, For the Willow Wept (Sunrise Edition), was inspired by a particularly difficult time in Richie’s life. Effectively conveying this theme, the music is deeply emotive and often permeated by a haunting melancholy throughout, with shimmers of sunlight and glimmers of hope sprinkled along its course. Incorporating both vintage and modern synthesizer sounds, Richie even brings in subtle acoustic elements, which lend an organic warmth to these melodic electronic soundscapes

Playlists for August 2017

Chronotope Project is the recording alias of Oregonian ambient/electronic music composer and cellist Jeffrey Ericson Allen. His seventh recording, titled Ovum, is likewise his third release on the prestigious Spotted Peccary Music label, following his excellent Passages and Dawn Treader albums. Comprised of seven compositions spanning fifty-one minutes of organic-electronic bliss, Allen creates deeply immersive, lushly ambient soundscapes that juxtapose synthetic tones and textures with natural instruments such as cello, flute and Irish whistle. Most notably, as with Chronotope Project’s previous albums, the Haken Continuum Fingerboard is frequently featured as a solo instrument where it often takes precedence as a key signature element. Conveyed by visually captivating artwork intended to represent a primordial state of being, each composition audibly illustrates a subtle emergence from either an earthly seed or cosmic source, which gradually unfolds into a continuously evolving and metamorphosing journey.

Tsode is the recording alias of Jesús Valenzuela, an electronic music composer from Córdoba, Spain. Having been thoroughly delighted by his previous album, Yggdrasil, I immediately sensed even greater things were in store upon receiving his follow-up, titled Brainstorming. Comprised of eleven compositions spanning fifty-eight minutes, the album unfolds like a wildly fascinating sonic adventure, which seemingly traverses an otherworldly landscape located in another mythical dimension. Alternating between chill-trance anthems and epic ambient soundscapes that often incorporate soaring electric guitars and ethnic/world samples, Brainstorming frequently recalls the likes of Schiller, Asura, Enigma and even Mike Oldfield (particularly his 1990’s-era The Songs of Distant Earth and Voyager albums).

Charles Denler is a Colorado-based pianist and composer with numerous film and television scores and thousands of concert performances to his credit. The follow-up to his widely-acclaimed Moment of Dawn album, One Drop Became An Ocean is a sublimely elegant collection of fourteen compositions spanning thirty-six minutes, which were recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Described as “a water suite for piano and chamber orchestra”, the album was inspired by Denler having spent most of his life living near water, and effectively conveys the scenic beauty of rivers, springs, fountains, oceans and rain with a seemingly poetic tone.

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