#Writing #MusicMonday: Celestia by Jaime Heras

celestiaThis album should have been posted on 18 July 2016.

“Music for watching the skies” the download page says, and if you’re of my generation, at least, that is correct. Celestia by Jaime Heras is more Vangelis-inspired, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos-type music, and very well done, as is all of Heras’s work.

The sense of wonder and discovery is palpable, and the album makes a wonderful companion for the earlier one I shared, Siderea.

Download Celestia by Jaime Heras free from the Internet Archive.


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Celestia/span> by Jaime Heras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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#Writing #MusicMonday: Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

coverThis both is and is not the first work by Chris Zabriskie I have shared with you for Writing Music Monday.

Zabriskie was one half of lo-fi is sci-fi, whose first album (of demos) I shared for Lyrical April. But this is his first solo work I’ve gotten to, despite all his work being Attribution-only.

Among the less obnoxious post-modernist literary types — you know, the ones who actually have something to say, rather than just posturing and expecting everybody to praise their superiority merely because they know how to sneer at everything — there is the idea that a novel, especially if it is experimental in any way, must teach you how to read it (or how to interpret it) in its opening pages.

So, for example, Catch-22 has, in its first few chapters, the story of The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice, which very neatly encapsulates the madness of war, its effect on the minds of warriors, the utterly insane and useless ways authorities respond to those effects, and how soldiers not in authority must go along with the insanity in order to get anything at all, but not so much that they lose their own minds in the process. The one chapter is almost a blueprint of the entire novel, and prepares the reader for the madness that lies ahead.

This idea can certainly be carried over to film, where it is considered good screenwriting to have the first ten pages (and thus, first ten minutes) of the script be a sort of a primer for the audience for the rest of the film. The diner conversation in Reservoir Dogs is, metaphorically, an introduction to who each of the characters actually is, even though at least one isn’t revealed till the climax in fact. The opening of The Shawshank Redemption puts you in the position of every character in the movie except for Andy Dufresne, not knowing whether he’s cold-blooded or merely aloof, so that once you learn that he’s actually the most honest man in the story, you also have the heartbreak of realizing that by the time you learn it for certain, you realize he’s been corrupted (to an extent) as well.

This notion of a work of art teaching you how to appreciate it, within itself, very definitely applies to Zabriskie’s Cylinders. The first track is light, and almost sounds like someone just noodling around on the piano. And yet, every track that follows builds upon it, building up and out, priming and preparing the listener for what is to come, to the point that when “Cylinder Six” plays, it’s a viscerally thrilling experience, even though considered on its own, it’s hardly a romantic sweep, nor a crescendo of any kind. But taken in context of the rest of the album, it has the goose-bump feel of sudden revelation and release. And each track that follows just keeps building further.

The Free Music Archive page compares this album to Philip Glass and John Cage. I don’t care for the Cage comparison, but the Glass one is apt (and I’ll be using Glass as a reference point again next week). I don’t personally care for Glass’s work, or the part of it that I know, but the influence is definitely there, and what Zabriskie does with it is very much, very much to my liking. It takes some listening and getting used to, if you don’t go on sonic explorations very much. But the result is well worth the time you invest in listening.

Download Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie free from the Free Music Archive, or get it for one dollar (or as much more as you care to pay) from BandCamp.



Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under an Attribution License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://chriszabriskie.com/licensing.

#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.


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

#Writing #MusicMonday: Invent the Universe by Stellardrone

Cover“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

— Carl Sagan

And once again I bring you Stellardrone, the Lithuanian synth composer and musician whose Vangelis-inspired work puts him into my heavy writing rotation.

As with all of his other work, this album works both as pure background music, or as inducement to a reverie of exploring the cosmos. Virtually all of Stellardrone’s releases make explicit reference to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and this one is no different, with the above quote turning up at the most enthralling possible moment in the opening track. The rest of the album could easily back Sagan’s exploration of the universe in his “spaceship of the imagination”.

At this point, he’s only got two albums left that I’ve not shared, so I sincerely hope he puts out some new work soon!

Download Invent the Universe free from the Internet Archive, or get it from Bandcamp and send some well-deserved money Stellardrone’s way.


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Invent the Universe by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#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.


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

#Writing #MusicMonday: Life by Gregoire Lourme

CoverAfter making ten long albums of Free Culture soundtrack music in a very short period of time — only a couple of years — Gregoire Lourme released this, currently his latest, an extended meditation on Life.

And it feels like it might be a masterpiece.

It’s fifty-seven minutes, and by gum I wish it was longer. It’s a symphony, a celebration, an exuberant cry of joy to the universe. The Vangelis influence is quite clear, but so is, at times, that of Hans Zimmer. And yet, taking those influences, and likely others with whom I am unfamiliar, he creates something wholly new, and wondrous.

It is inspiration, in audio form.

Heck, I’m tempted to joke that I’m giving up Writing Music Mondays, because this can’t be topped.

Or maybe not to joke.

It is Just So Damned Good!

Download Life by Grégoire Lourme from the Internet Archive.


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Life by Gregroire Lourme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Siderea by Jaime Heras

SidereaCoverSqTaking a break from jazz, we get a second album from Jaime Heras (the first was the excellent Life in Bitville in 2013), and I confess to feeling a bit of regret.

Siderea is a wonderful piece of Vangelis– and Tangerine Dream–influenced synth work, the kind of music that used to denote The Future and Life In Space.

Though only three tracks, the album clocks in at just over forty-eight minutes, so it’s more like an electronic symphony than anything else. And a very satisfying one, at that.

As to the regret, I had not realized until just recently that Jaime Heras has stopped making music. He’s still alive and kicking, but apparently got too little return on his investment of time in making his usually-excellent works. And I feel a bit bad for not pushing his work more. Not that my promotion would have made much difference to his livelihood (or any difference at all, really), but since I only featured the one album while he was still producing new work, it feels like I might have done more.

(My only excuses are that he didn’t release under Free Culture licenses, which I focused on those exclusively last year, and that one of his albums didn’t click with me, for reasons mostly unrelated to the music. Well, those two plus I try to cast as wide a net as possible and share as many different artists as possible. But I still could have shared more.)

But back to Siderea. It’s a wonderful piece of work, and I might say it was perfect, but I don’t, for the sole reason that Life In Bitville was just that tiny little bit better. But it is a totally satisfying listening experience, top to bottom. The kind that you might be glad to have the FLAC files, so that you can make an actual CD of it.

Download Siderea free from the Internet Archive.


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Siderea by Jaime Heras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.