Groove Tunes

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Max Richter - Infra

This is another favourite of mine. Max Richter is a German-born British composer who has worked with a broad range of artists such as Roni Size (on the In The Mode album), Future Sound Of London, he produced Vashti Bunyan's Lookaftering album, and has had his music featured in various tv programmes and films, such as Stranger Than Fiction and Shutter Island.

So while you have probably heard his music before, you might not know it.

Infra is his latest, and fifth, solo album. It starts of with morse code (I'm not sure what it says though) and some old radio sounds before a beautiful slow piece of music fades in and blossoms. This track reminds me slightly of Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogway.

The second song continues with the radio noise, weaving a theme that continues throughout the album. Richter is keen on this fragmented style and is not the first time he has used such a technique. This song comes in with some piano but doesn't really go further than that. That said, it is a great track and actually doesn't need much else, sometimes less is more.

In fact, some of the piano on this album is just incredible. There seems to be quite an obvious influence of Philip Glass and I have to say that Max plays and writes every bit as well as Glass. There is so much beauty in his playing.

The tracks vary so much on this album but somehow stay on theme with the rest of the album. There are tracks that are not much more than hints at melody with noise and radios tuning in the background and then there are full on orchestral delights. For example, Journey 2 is one of the noise/slight melody tracks but it is followed by Infra 4, one of the most concise and well written tracks on the album, orchestral and completely emotional.

I don't know what you would tag Infra as, perhaps classical, neo-classical. I don't really care because it is just well written, emotion evoking, colourful, and mainly extremely good. I loved it the first time that I listened and, although you may not think you like classical music, you should give this album a try, while I wouldn't say this is 'entry level' at all, it could be a very good album to get in to this genre of music.

In my opinion, this is the best song on the album. It really reminds me of Philip Glass with the repeating theme played throughout but growing and growing until it explodes in to the climax. It blows me away every time.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Debashish Bhattacharya and Bob Brozman - Mahima

As a student of sitar I listen to a lot of Indian classical music so, for me, coming across Mahima wasn't too surprising. What was surprising, however, was the content of the album. I had heard of Bob Brozman many times and had always been slightly intrigued by him; a slide guitar musician who has collaborated with many artists from around the world in a variety of different styles.

The first thing to say about Mahima is that it is one crazy album. I mean crazy in the sense that I have heard nothing else like it and that it is so full of influences that it is just astonishing that it comes together.

Of course, there is a bit of a blues sound to all of this, as it would probably be impossible for a song to contain slide guitar and not sound bluesy, but it goes further than that, the riffs of the non-slide guitars do little runs and arpeggios that are very reminiscent of standard blues. But then they, and the rhythms, have so many influences. There is a definite nod to gypsy music and folk music, I would imagine that these two styles are closely linked and they go hand in hand on this album.

It starts of with tablas and a slightly unusual riff that hints at the diverse influences used on the rest of the album. Then the stunningly beautiful vocals of Debashish Bhattacharya come in with Bob complimenting her lines with some simple slide action. Her vocals are pitch perfect and she has a very strong voice, using typical Indian style in the melodies and singing in what I presume is Hindi. Then we have a nice little slide guitar solo and then a tabla breakdown before it all comes back in with Debashish leading everyone along back the main theme of the song. Towards the end we hear Debashish's vocals layered with multiple versions and some other singers while the rest of the music fades out to leave her (and her backing) to sing that beautiful line just one more time.

The second song starts with a lead line from Bob which is almost Spanish sounding. There are no vocals on this but there is a definite hint of flamenco and other Latin styles, in fact it is packed full of Latin influence.

The next song comes back to the Indian influences but still remains quite bluesy, as the title suggests, Tagore Street Blues.

The rest of the album continues with its wide range of sounds and styles, somehow sounding consistent all the way through. There are sounds of North Africa, Cuba, Spain, deep south USA, and of course India. But this would be simplifying the sound of this album and probably doesn't do it justice.

I would recommend that you get hold of this album and see for yourself. I can't imagine you being disappointed. The album has something for almost everyone, with quite amazing guitar work, impressive and diverse drumming and percussion, stunning vocals, and influences from all over the world incorporated in to a strong and weirdly consistent album.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Brad Mehldau Trio - Day is Done

Day Is Done takes its name from the Nick Drake song of the same name which hints at the nature of this album. It is an album of cover versions (although not entirely, there are a few original songs) but all played as jazz. Jazzy Nick Drake I hear you ask. I know, it sounds strange and hard to imagine but somehow it works, probably a lot better than you would expect it to. The title track is upbeat and fairly lengthy, weaving the melody from the original vocal line in and out throughout the song, using it as a theme to keep coming back to and to improvise around.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Alela Diane - The Pirate's Gospel

What can I say about this album? This has to be the best album that I've heard in years. Yes, it really is that good, and I can't praise it enough. I had never heard of Alela Diane before and just listened to this album on a whim and I'm very glad that I did so. It is a folk album but somehow it is so much more than that and puts must things tagged in this genre to shame.

The album starts with Alela's characteristic finger picking on the guitar and then her voice comes in after a couple of bars. Oh that voice. She has a bit of a southern (I think?) twang to her voice, which I'm not normally keen on, which adds something to her songs. It almost portrays some kind of honesty, humility, integrity. And she has such an amazing voice. Every line she sings is powerful, deep and full of character. The backing vocals in the chorus complement her lines well. And that is pretty much all there is to the album, Alela and her angelic voice and her guitar, and some backing vocals.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Djinn - The Middle East Side

I'm not sure if this is the same artist that releases the ambient albums by the same name as this isn't ambient at all. The album is a tour in to contemporary middle eastern music. The production is top notch and the tracks are energetic, dynamic and extremely original. While being totally middle eastern in sound, it also captures something else, something western and modern at the same time. If you are interested in middle eastern music but don't know where to start, this album could be an good but unlikely place to start. You just want to dance, in one form or another (can you belly dance?) when you listen to this, which can't be a bad thing. 

Meef Chaloin's sounds on SoundCloud

I couldn't make a blog about music and not promote my own could I?!
Most of the tracks are for free download so please pass by, have a listen and let me know what you think.
Click Here For Meef Chaloin's SoundCloud Page


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