#Writing #MusicMonday: De Luces y de Sombras by Jose Travieso

JoseTravieso-DeLucesYDeSombrasfrontAfter noting two weeks ago that I share very little classical music, I’m now flooding you with it, with a second album of solo classical piano in less than a month.

But it’s really good. Maybe not Bach good, but still good.

I’ve only shared one work by Jose Travieso before, the classical-mixed-with-avant garde album No More Faith (and because I’m still on strike against Jamendo, you can get it directly from the Internet Archive, too), an album I still think of very fondly, despite not having it in my listening rotation for some time.

This album, though, as I said, is pure solo piano, and doesn’t have any of the experiments with noise that No More Faith did.

De Luces y de Sombras (which translates to “From Light and Shadows”) is a gentle, contemplative piece that starts in silence and only slowly grows in your awareness.

The first movement, “Memories from the Beginning of Time”, quite literally starts in silence, and slowly sneaks up on you. This is not a track to play to drown out background noise until the crescendo at the very end.

The third piece, “The Gap”, is one of the ones I mean when I call the album contemplative. It has a distinct direction, but it ebbs and flows and ponders around even as it continues to its destination.

The final piece, which translates to “Broken Wings? Well walk!”, is a perfect capstone to the album, wistful and uplifting at the same time.

It is a short album, around thirty-four minutes, but it is exquisite.

Download De Luces Y De Sombras by Jose Travieso free from the Internet Archive, or get it directly from Travieso’s official site.

Creative Commons License
De Luces y de Sombras by Jose Travieso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: The Open Goldberg Variations performed by Kimiko Ishizaka

Kimiko Ishizaka - J.S. Bach- -Open- Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (Piano) - OGV-CD2-0It might seem a bit odd that I’ve not shared much in the way of classical music for Music Mondays.

It isn’t that I don’t like classical, because I do. Not to the depth and extent that I love jazz, I grant you, but my appreciation of Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff is boundless, and I also generally love Mahler and Beethoven, and others. I need to be in a receptive mood for it, which is not every day, but there is plenty of music I’ve shared for which I am much more rarely in the mood.

No, there have been two basic problems that have hindered my sharing much in the way of great classical works.

First, part of my mission with Music Mondays is to seek out the new and unknown, to share things with you that you all but certainly would not have encountered otherwise. That’s not a hard and fast rule, mind, but it’s the way that I lean when I search out music to share here.

Second, while virtually all music thought of as “classical” is in the public domain, recordings of it are definitely not. Even when Creative Commons artists take on classical pieces, they largely release them under unfree licenses, with Non-Commercial and/or No Derivatives restrictions. Which, to me, is passing strange, but that’s how it tends to be.

There are, however, a few exceptions to that rule.

Meet Kimiko Ishizaka, classical pianist. In 2012 she ran a successful crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to fund the recording and release of her performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Goldberg Variations, with the full recording being released directly to the public domain through the use of the Creative Commons Zero license.

This project became The Open Goldberg Variations, and if you’ve never invested the time or money needed in exploring classical music, it’s a very good starting point. If you’re already a fan, listen to the recording anyhow. I’m not an expert in classical piano, not at all, yet it strikes me as an excellent recording and personal interpretation of one of the standard sets of works.

Download The Open Goldberg Variations free from the Internet Archive, or pay what you like (including nothing) to get it through BandCamp, and reward Ishizaka for her work and her dedication to freeing this music for everybody.

CC0 license

The Open Goldberg Variations performed by Kimiko Ishizaka is licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal license dedicating it to the public domain, no rights reserved.

#Writing #MusicMonday: El Ultimo Peldano by Jaime Heras

UltimoPeldanoCoverContinuing my revisitation with the works of the now-retired Jaime Heras, I bring you El Último Peldaño.

As Heras explains, there are three original tracks, and the rest are remixes and reworkings of his early works, including pieces from the first WMM album of his I shared, Life in Bitville, which remains a personal favorite of mine.

This album, while having several pieces from Bitville, isn’t purely electronica. It wanders much farther afield than that. And while it has less thematic unity, the wandering also gives it a much wider scope.

You can read his own take on how the album came to be on the Archive page (scroll past the Spanish version to get the English), but in summary, Heras was asked to compose a few short pieces for a radio program called “El Ultimo Peldaño”, did so, then decided that they were strong enough to go longer than 20 or 30 seconds. So he extended those. In addition, the radio show used a lot of his older music, which he found gratifying but, like any artist anywhere, he began to feel they could be improved. So he did remixes and upgrades on those.

Thus, this new hour and nine minutes of quite excellent music.

Download El Último Peldaño free from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
El Último Peldaño by Jaime Heras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: The Black Hole by lo-fi is sci-fi

cover-blackholeWelcome to Lyrical April 2016. This year, as with last, I’m not only sharing music with vocals that you might like to write to, but deliberately sharing Free Culture music with, for the most part, easy-to-discern lyrics, so that you have four more albums’ worth of lyrics to quote in your books, if any of them catch your fancy. This year, it’s very Free Culture, with only one of the three albums carrying a Share Alike restriction. That’s right, three of the four albums, including today’s, only requires attribution for you to create any kind of derivative work!

This is also an album, and frankly a group, that I personally have saved from vanishing from the internet. That is not an exaggeration.

lo-fi is sci-fi was a duo comprised of Chris Zabriskie and Marc With A C that put out four excellent albums from 2006 to 2008, and appear to have kept planning more projects through at least 2012, though nothing appears to have come of that. They had all four albums available on BandCamp, as well as a website for the project, and all of that is now gone. Vanished. I have no idea what happened, but the two appear to have parted ways for personal reasons, and pulled their collaborative work from availability.

I don’t care what the reasons were for ending the project, that’s not my business. What I do care about is that four brilliant albums, albums with Free Culture licenses, were pulled from public availability. One of the main reasons for Free Culture licensing, so far as I am concerned, is to enable works of art to achieve longevity even without popularity or institutional support. A digital release is not something you’ll find used, hanging around old book or CD shops. If it’s not posted somewhere, preferably to a stable place like the Internet Archive, it’s gone. (Insert rant about Jamendo being hideously unreliable and dishonest here.)

Wait, you’re thinking, if these albums vanished, how in hell did Fleming preserve them? And no, the answer is not, alas, that I snagged the lossless FLAC files from BandCamp while they were available. I only discovered lo-fi is sci-fi after their disappearance. How?

Well, the memory-holing of the band’s work was slightly incomplete. Their albums were posted to the Free Music Archive. And at least some effort seems to have been made to pull them from there, but it didn’t take. If you try to find the band’s page, or the album pages, you get kicked to FMA’s main page.

But. If you pull up individual track pages, or search the band name , you can download the MP3s one by one.

And so I did that.

Also, thanks to the Archive’s Wayback Machine, I was able to view the band’s site as it existed in 2013, verify that I got all tracks to all albums, and get copies of all four album covers.

But that’s all background, and you likely don’t care. What about the actual music?

To start with, when I first ran across them, I heard one song that I loved, found the band name, and almost immediately realized I was going to like most everything they did.


I’m 90% certain that the band’s name is a reference to an album by one of my personal favorite bands, Dramarama, whose last album cut before breaking up (and later re-forming) was hi-fi sci-fi.

And as I’ve been exploring their body of work, that reference is appropriate. They don’t sound much like Dramarama, but they have the same pop cultural, metatextual sensibilities. There are a lot of science-fiction themed tunes, including “The Stars Are Closer Than You” on today’s album, as well as “You’re Assuming the Gravity Wouldn’t Crush You Instantly” on their last one, among others.

As to pop culture, consider that the band’s songs include “Joss Whedon”, “I’m On A Talk Show”, and “The Script You Wrote is Terrible”.

The Black Hole is their first album. And it is as good as any of their others, excepting possibly their last. Possibly.

The recordings manage a complexity of effect despite being produced with relative simplicity. Consider the first track, “You’ve Got The Body + I’ve Got The Brains”. It sounds like a practice session for a Broadway show tune done, at first, with just a piano for backing. It grows more complex as it goes on, but it’s still done relatively simply.

It is entirely satisfying and stands up brilliantly to repeat listens.

And the entire album is like that. It just works, each song, and as a whole.

Download The Black Hole by lo-fi is sci-fi free from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
The Black Hole by lo-fi is sci-fi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Keep On Groovin’ by Federico Palmolella

CoverFederico Palmolella is another Argentinian jazz man I just recently discovered, and this album is something special.

Here’s why it was made:

Keep on Groovin´ was made in [memory] of Ezequiel Iturrieta, one of my best friends who [passed] away [recently], and was the principal inspiration of it. The meaning of Keep on Groovin´is the friendship, love and respect for all, and a motive for continuing.

It sounds like it should be a somber affair, but it’s not. It’s fairly mellow, but much more upbeat than last week’s share from the Agustin Strizzi Group. Celebratory, even.

And, like last week’s album, it has a distinctively 1970s feel to it.

In fact, it was only listening to this a week ago that I realized something. I am sometimes curious why I am so open to a kind of music that, on the face of it, I should hate. This type of jazz/funk/fusion really runs counter to my tastes in a lot of ways, and the more outre examples of the genre leave me cold. Yet I can listen to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew with little pain (it is, after all, Miles), and I keep finding albums like this, and last week’s from the Agustin Strizzi Group, that I like in spite of them getting pretty weird for a guy like me.

And the reason, I think, is Sesame Street. I watched it as a little kid in the late ’70s, and they often did little bits with jazz/funk/fusion, such as the following:

So, if you like that, you’ll probably like this.

And again, if you did not care for last week’s album, this one is far less melancholy and more upbeat.

Download Keep On Groovin’ free from the Internet Archive

Creative Commons License
Keep On Groovin’ by Federico Palmolella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Will by Agustin Strizzi Group

Will coverAgustin Strizzi is an Argentinian jazz drummer and composer who, like many jazz men, pursues multiple projects at any given time. I first discovered him through his work in the trio Gepel, shared here almost two years ago.

Will has, for me, a very ’70s feel to it. There’s a lot of jazz flute used in it (a sign of death for many, apparently, though I think it can be done well, as it is here). It detours into tinkering and “off” sounds here and there, which will be off-putting for many listeners, but in my opinion it is kept to a minimum. The musicians explore freely, but don’t actually stray so far away from the central tune that they lose it. Of course, with this sort of thing, that’s totally a subjective call.

It also has a very down feel to it, most clearly expressed in the track “Tristeza (Sadness)”, but not confined to it. There are other colors and moods throughout, but the sadness pervades the project.

Strizzi says of it:

This record [is] about my musical willingness. Searching through my most deeply paths…curiously, where I’m not alone.

It’s a bit weird, experimental and well off the mainstream track. But it’s also very professional and well done.

Download Will free from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
Will by Agustin Strizz Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Holidium by Torley

HolidiumWell, we’ve all been through Turkey Day, and the Turkey coma, and Black Friday — I did my traditional “hide from the world and mutter dark misanthropic things under my breath”-a-thon — and here we are, running up to Christmas. It might not be December quite yet, but who ever let that stop them from being jolly?

Torley Wong has been making music, off and on, for close to fifteen years. (Or possibly longer.)

Today’s album, Holidium, was released on Christmas Eve of 2008, was one of several instances of him departing from his usual style of techno. This is pure solo piano work, all of it original, but in a festive, holiday, winter solstice mood.

Wong has a musicality and complex melodic sense that are almost unequaled in the Creative Commons space. His techno work is amazing, and his solo piano explorations are not much less so.

While you will not find traditional, familiar melodies here, you will definitely hear a few echoes of them.

If you’re familiar with Wong’s earlier melodies, you’ll also hear him slyly quoting himself. The only one I’ve been able to pin down for sure is a motif from his tehcno piece “The Smile In Her Eyes” which pops up more than once in this album, most obviously at the end of “Snowflake Child”.

But that’s beside the point, really. This is excellent background music for the holidays, both joyful and contemplative, without any saccharine or oversimplification. You won’t be humming these tunes endlessly, no earworms here, but you may find yourself returning to them again and again. At least, I do.

Download Holidium free from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
Holidium by Torley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.