Writing Music Monday: Visions of Utopia by Zephanie Oblivion

Visions of Utopia coverHere’s what you want if you need some driving, tuneful, upbeat power pop without any voices or lyrics while you write.

It’s not actually something I play when I’m writing much, but I do put it on loud when walking, sometimes, when I’m thinking but need background music of a certain tone. And, while a bit repetitive in a GarageBand-y way, Zephanie Oblivion never lets it get irritating or boring. There’s a… baseline of repitition, but it’s always going somewhere, exploring something, and is lightyears better than what I chance to hear on various radios when I’m out and about.

At present, so far as I can discern, Visions of Utopia is only available through Jamendo, but you’ll want to go to Oblivion’s blog post for the album and download the cover art there, it’s much, much better than the cover on Jamendo.

[As an aside, this is the Writing Music Monday post that puts us over one day’s worth of music, 24 hours and 36 minutes according to Clementine. Woo. Hoo.]

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Visions of Utopia by Zephanie Oblivion is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

1980s Paranoia

The ’80s were awesome. After the grimy soulless despair of the 1970s, the ’80s were a cultural second wind for America.

But, as with anything, there were countercurrents.

For instance, there was a lot of paranoia in 1980s pop music. A lot.

Some of it was blatant, like one-hit-wonder Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me”:

Some only a little less so, taking an outside point of view, as in Hall & Oates’s “Private Eyes”:

Then we get into the creepy “I’m a stalker” songs, like “Every Breath You Take” from Police:

Or Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation”:

Sometimes the paranoia wasn’t in the song, but in the video, as with Yes’s “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”:

Sometimes the paranoia was Aussie flavored, as when Men At Work kept asking “Who Can It Be Now?”:

Other times, it was New Wave, like Animotion’s “Obsession”:

Heck, even “I love you just the way you are” Billy Joel got into the act, putting us all under “Pressure”:

All of that, and I didn’t even go into the nuclear war paranoia.

And yet, even so, the ’80s were awesome. I mean, how many of the above songs are bad, or even bland? I rest my case.

Writing Music Monday: Wake Up by Jahzzar

[cover] Jahzzar - Wake Up I love, and sometimes miss, ’80s music of a specific kind — the pure synth of Miami Vice, Brad Fidel’s soundtracks like The Terminator, Fletch, Beverly Hills Cop and so many others. Synth unpolluted by “dark”ness, expansive, exploratory, often joyful.

The directions that synthesized music has gone since then mostly leave me cold. (Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception being a notable exception.)

But this composer, Jahzzar (real name: Javier Suarez), gets it. He’s an Argentinian a Spaniard, and puts out lots and lots of music under the very liberal CC BY-SA license for other people to use as soundtracks to whatever they see fit. And he’s good. He’s very very good.

Proof: “Wake Up“, his tribute to ’80s synth, is nearly perfect, without copying anything. It gets the style without aping anyone in particular. I’m not always in the mood for it, but when I am, this hits that sweet spot and I can put it on repeat and let it go for hours and hours.

Jahzzar’s main site is BetterWithMusic, and you can find all his work at Jamendo, much of it at Free Music Archive, SoundCloud, and elsewhere.

UPDATE: Corrected Jahzzar’s nationality. Don’t quite know how I got him in the wrong hemisphere.

Writing Music Monday: Below Zero by JM Galié

For this first Writing Music Monday, I bring you the album “Below Zero” by Argentinian musician JM Galié, (CC BY-NC-ND). (Alternate download link, if Jamendo doesn’t work for some reason.)

I’m mostly averse to techno and other modern variants, but I like 1980s style synth when I’m in the mood, and this seems, to my ear, closer to that. All of Galié’s albums are good and worth downloading, but this one is the one I go back to the most. No vocals, no sudden crashes, perfect background music for when you’re writing.