#Writing #MusicMonday: noaccordion by noaccordion

Cover [Yes, I crapped out on posting yesterday. But I’ve got albums selected to the middle of next month, at least, and easily can go beyond that, I just have to write them up and prepare the posts. And it’s clearly much better when I do that well ahead of time.]

Though she has been making music for a long time, and releasing as “noaccordion” since 2010, I only chanced across Onah Indigo’s work quite recently.

She seems to be a restless soul, ranging across genres and styles at whim, almost like Miles Davis, needint to finish one thing, then do something completely different, then do something completely different from that.

This first, eponymous, EP has a mix of sounds that’s hard to describe, but if you cross the French grunge girl band UNKNW with Le Tigre, that captures some of it. Toss in a dash of the Raveonettes, too, while you’re at it.

And that’s part of why I’m having a hard time describing this EP. Each song is different. They’re all obviously by the same artist, but they’re all completely distinct.

And they’re all worth listening to, at the very, very least.

Download noaccordion free from the Internet Archive or from Soundcloud.

Creative Commons License
noaccordion by noaccordion is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: E-world by zero-project

e-world_front_coverChanging gears from the brutal techno of the last two weeks, this week I’m bringing you, once again, Greek composer Zero-Project.

I confess I have a weakness for a certain type of Creative Commons album: I really like it when the album is an attempt to evoke an entire world, each track a different facet of the mindspace, in one way or another. I particularly enjoy it when it is a forward-looking world. Previously shared examples include the recent cyberpunk by bod and the much less recent Life in Bitville by Jaime Heras (among many others).

You can tell just from the title that E-world (actually, E-world: The Ultimate Edition) fits that prejudice of mine quite nicely.

It is an exploration, a world, and a collection of aspirations all in one, and delightfully optimistic. (One of the vocals sampled is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, on an early track.) (Of course, another vocal sampled repeatedly is Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast, so it’s not all puppies and rainbows.)

It is a complete — and, happily, lengthy — experience. More friendly and relaxing than the techno of the past few weeks, so if nothing else, a pleasant change of pace.

Download E-world: The Ultimate Edition free from Zero-Project’s own site, or give the artist five bucks and get lossless quality downloads.

Creative Commons License
E-world: The Ultimate Edition by Zero-Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 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: Tiempos Pasados by J.Blasco

CoverJ.Blasco is another prolific Creative Commons musician, but he’s still active. (Really active — his last release was within the past three weeks.)

Yet, while he’s been active for a long time, I only recently listened to any of his work. And he’s good. He is so good, I’m giving you a new-age-y, smooth-jazz-y album and assuring you that, no, really, it’s worthwhile.

Oh, sure, it’s background music. But it’s superior background music, it has thought and wit and style behind it, instead of endlessly repeating loops.

The one track you may want to alter or remove is the penultimate one, “Sinfonia nº 2 J.Blasco”. It’s a lovely piece, IMO, but the ending is very odd, and abrupt. I’m reasonably sure that it was done purposely, but it is a bit jarring. But that’s only about thirty seconds on a track of six and a half minutes, and an album of over forty-seven minutes. Easily fixed/changed/ignored, and well worth everything else that comes with it, even so.

If you give yourself over to the mood of this album, I doubt you’ll regret it. It’s dreamy, moody, and very much worth writing to. Happy writing!

Download Tiempos Pasados by J.Blasco from Jamendo, or from the Internet Archive.

Tiempos Pasados by J.Blasco is released under a Free Art License 1.3 (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: Echoes by Stellardrone

Echoes CoverI’ve only posted one album by Stellardrone, and that was more than a year ago. This is not a comment on his quality, but rather on my dependence on mood. Stellardrone is very good, but I’m very often not in the mood for his sort of sonic wallpaper.

Well, I’m back in the mood, it would seem, and since he hasn’t released a new full album since the last one I linked, I went one back.

Stellardrone released Echoes in 2012, and it’s an interesting bridge between his older works and 2013’s Light Years. The older works tend to be less melodic, more of a drone (per his name), and that’s the part of his musical sensibility that I just don’t care for. But with this album (and more so in the more recent one) he began experimenting with build ups and releases that sound more melodic to me, and if not, certainly shift the listener’s mood more successfully than the more neutral sounds he was creating before.

You can download Echoes by Stellardrone from Bandcamp in almost any audio format you want, as well as send money his way (or for free). You can also get it from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Echoes by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Light Years by Stellardrone

Light Years coverThis is one direction that ’80s synthesizer music should have gone. I have almost no patience for techno, let alone “house”, “industrial”, or (shudder) dubstep. But this? This works for me, at least as appropriate sonic wallpaper.

Light Years is the latest album put out by Stellardrone, and it’s fully worth downloading and putting into your writing playlist.

Here’s what Stellardrone has to say about himself:

Stellardrone is a pseudonym of [an] amateur composer (Edgaras, b.1987, Lithuania, Vilnius) who started creating music in 2007. Using only computer software (Reason, Ableton, Audacity) and virtual synthesizers. He is mostly interested in ambient/electronic/space music. Releasing all albums for free and promotes free sharing of digital copies. His main inspirations are Kelly Bailey (computer game composer), Aaron Marshall (emerging film composer), Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Altus, Vangelis and Aphex Twin’s selected ambient works.

All he had to say was “Vangelis”. 🙂

(You can also download the album from Jamendo, but if you go through BandCamp, you can actually throw some money Stellardrone’s way.)

Creative Commons License
Light Years by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.