#Writing #Music Monday: Christmas by Dee Yan-Key

CoverDee Yan-Key is a German composer and musician who is incredibly prolific. He began posting albums to Jamendo at the tail end of 2012, and from then to now has released ninety-six separate EPs and full-length albums. He’s a one-man show, working purely through synthesizers as far as I can tell. And while the synths at times sound less than professional grade, his music is never boring.

I chose this album for a few reasons, despite it breaking my year-long streak of Free Culture music right before the finish line for 2015.

First, Christmas music isn’t Christmas music without some jazz in the mix, and there is vanishingly little Christmas jazz in the Creative Commons, at least that I have found so far. This album has moments that are undoubtedly jazzy, though it’s never going to make anybody’s all-time greatest list.

Second, it’s nearly an hour, and perfect for putting on in the background for gatherings or get-togethers. One shouldn’t have to be shuffling playlists every few minutes during the holidays.

Third, having listened to it several times, I think that Dee Yan-Key has a lot of potential, so getting his work out a little more can hurt nothing in helping him to reach it.

If last week’s share had a bit of the coldness of snowy winter to it, this week’s has some of the warmth of the fireside and an over-eager puppy excited at all the new things and new people happening around it.

Download Christmas free from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
Christmas by Dee Yan-Key is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Leaving Paradise by Kammerer

Cover[Note: I am flailing with NaNoWriMo right now, so I may not have time to rant about it, but I no longer think anybody—musician or user—should have anything at all to do with Jamendo. With their new redesign — the second in three years — they have also begun a policy of lying to their users. Outright lying. They deserve to go out of business, and the artists who use the site should flee to other services, including BandCamp, the Internet Archive, and self-hosting using the free and open source CASH Music software. So while this album was originally posted on Jamendo, I won’t link there.]

More calming, relaxed “chillout” music from Swedish composer Kammerer (or however it is properly spelled; there are at least three variations on the A). This is an earlier work, and meant to be summertime, poolside background music.

Not much to say about it, except that it’s quite good, as is most of Kammerer’s work; that it’s Attribution-only licensed, meaning you can do what you like with the music, including using it in a Youtube video without asking permission from anybody so long as you give attribution, and that it makes excellent background music for writing.

Kammerer himself says:

Some simple summerchillloungegroovestuff for the sunny ppl.

Download Leaving Paradise by Kammerer from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
Leaving Paradise by Kammerer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Orbital Nights by Chill Carrier

CoverChill Carrier is a German artist I’ve not featured here before, perhaps in part because I’ve only downloaded two of his albums and so he hasn’t turned up in my random explorations of my music library too much.

After giving Orbital Nights a few close listens, as well as using it as background a few times, I realized I need to rectify that and explore his work more.

Here’s what he says about it:

Orbital Nights is my hommage to the cult show “Space Night” which has shown views from earth from the orbiting space shuttles mixed with a great electronic soundtrack fitting perfectly to that dreamy scenery. I was influenced myself by that television show pretty much back in the late 90s and still love to watch them on DVD nowadays.

It’s repetitious in the way that “chillout” tends to be, but complex and layered enough that it never bothered me. One or two of the tracks are little more than sonic wallpaper, but others go beyond that, and none grates on the nerves or pulls you out of whatever you’re thinking about once you’ve got the music going.

Download Orbital Nights by Chill Carrier free from the Internet Archive.

Or, you can purchase it from BandCamp for £3, or about $4.50 (at the exchange rate at the time of this writing) and get it in a wider variety of formats, including lossless FLAC.

Creative Commons License
Orbital Nights by Chill Carrier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Sir Agent Chill by K4MMERER

[cover] Kammerer - Sir Agent ChillK4mmerer (aka Kämmerer) is a Swedish composer who has been putting work into the Creative Commons since 2008, and is still going strong.

The cover, and some of the track titles, might be a touch misleading. Sir Agent Chill isn’t really James Bond-style music. The tag attached to this post that seems most apt to me is “chillout”. It’s very calming, soothing synth work, but melodic and tuneful as well, rather than just sonic wallpaper.

And there’s a lot of it. Fifteen tracks, giving you just over an hour of continuous music to write to.

Download Sir Agent Chill by K4mmerer free from Jamendo, or from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License
Sir Agent Chill by K4MMERER is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: It’s Better To Burn Out Than To Fade Away by Re-Drum

CoverGoing a bit outside my comfort zone here, and possibly for the rest of the month.

Re-Drum is a French musician/d.j. who focuses a lot on the variation of techno called “house” (a distinction which escapes me). This album is the one I’ve listened to enough to be familiar with, and it’s not generally the sort of thing I like. Very repetitious and loop-y, mixing in spoken word in ways that most days I’d generally find distracting than writing-trance inducing.

But I’ve listened to this one enough that it doesn’t rub me wrong as background music, if I’m in the right mood.

That’s the thing though — it’s not easy to love this one. And it is easy to be irritated by it.

So, as stated, this one is outside of my usual comfort zone.

The only commentary by the artist I can find regarding this particular album is “This is a collection of really deep tracks”. So, unusually, he let’s the music speak entirely for itself.

About the artist himself (real name Léo Urriolabeitia):

After being heavily influenced by 70′s music, Zappa and Minimalism he decided to imagine a place to share sample based music with an experimental edge. That was the connection of past and future music, something that hasn’t been found on the web yet. While still DJing in Toulouse, Re-Drum is now more focused on Live performances and various Audiovisual experiments/Short Movies/Animations.

Download It’s Better To Burn Out Than To Fade Away free from Jamendo.

(You can also get the album under a more restrictive, non-Free Culture CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 License, from Bandcamp.)

Creative Commons License
It’s Better To Burn Out Than To Fade Away by Re-Drum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Epicentre by Adam Certamen Bownik

Epicentre CoverHere’s a second appearance by Polish composer Adam Bownik, and this one is just as welcome as his first was.

A thing I have been pondering a little bit lately is how truly, truly awful many 1980s movie synth scores were. Leave aside Tangerine Dream, Brad Fiedel, and Vangelis, and you get into some very mixed results. Synthesizers were so badly used and abused at the time that bands would release albums with “no synthesizers used” stickers (often a blatant lie) because people hated them so much.

I don’t have the musical or audio background to give any kind of definitive reason, but two scores in particular went through my head when I was thinking this over most recently: The Princess Bride and Ladyhawke.

(I’ll bring this around to today’s album and artist, just bear with me.)

The score for The Princess Bride is objectively pretty awful, sounding very much like it was done by one man on a cheap synthesizer trying to pretend to sound like an entire orchestra, and failing. And yet, somehow it works for the film. My theory is that, whether composer Mark Knopfler intended it or not, it works for the viewer because it’s the kind of thing the grandson being told the story would be able to do with the stuff in his room. (That makes the opening shot of the 1980s Nintendo game and music a stroke of genius, setting the audience up for the rest of the score of the film.)

Andrew Powell’s score for Ladyhawke, on the other hand, is in itself a mixed bag. Focusing only on the parts that use synth, the dreamier, magic-related portions of it work amazingly well even today. But when it shifts into a jaunty “theme”, it grates on the ears completely. For one thing, given the rather somber story told, it’s way too happy-sounding. But, for another, it sounds like it’s trying to do things other instruments would do better, or more smoothly.

As any fan of 1980s Hong Kong cinema can tell you, using synth just because it’s cheaper lead to lots of very cheap-sounding film scores. But those composers who embraced the new technology and tried to do new things with it, things only possible with synth, the invented new and amazing things never possible to human musicians before. Again, see the works of Fiedel, Vangelis, and Tangerine Dream for prime examples.

And that brings me back to Adam Bownik. I’m not going to claim he’s a genius on the level of those three, but he uses synth to try things only possible to synth. He’s not trying to sound like anything else — except, possibly, to sound like he created these wonderful tracks in the 1980s himself. But they’re original to him, even as he manages not to sound of his own time.

Which is quite a trick, if you think about it.

He says of this album:

One of the most dynamic albums in my discography. Inspired by natural forces of our planet Earth.

Download Epicentre free from Jamendo.

Epicentre by Adam Certamen Bownik released under a Free Art License (FAL) 1.3, also known as a Libre Art License (LAL).

This license is compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution–Share-Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

#Writing #Music Monday: Rooftop Considerations by K4MMERER

Rooftop Considerations CoverI’m telling you right now: download the whole album, but then make a playlist that drops the second track from it for when you’re writing.

Unless you’re writing a murder scene.

You’ll understand why when you hear it.

K4MMERER (AKA Kämmerer) is a Swedish composer of electronic music who (like the past couple of artists shared here) has been around Creative Commons music for years, and been more than slightly prolific.

Rooftop Considerations (2012) is his seventeenth release, and an interesting blend of techno, early-style synth, and trance. It is contemplative without becoming newage dreck at any point. It hits a mood, then plays around with that mood in a surprising array of variations. The dark undertones (and overtones) make this a good choice for writing something with foreboding, dread, or regret, but probably not for romantic comedy.

If you want the whole album in a single track, give “The Peaceful Distance” a listen.

Rooftop Considerations is free to download from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Rooftop Considerations by K4MMERER is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.