#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.

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#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.


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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: Are You Still There? by Jazoo

CoverI first discovered Jazoo last summer, and shared their latest (and arguably best) album last fall, including it on my best of the year list and declaring it one of the greatest jazz albums available in the Creative Commons, period.

So if this is a step down, it’s akin to stepping down from top-form Miles Davis to top-form Cannonball Adderley.

Which is to say that this album is also really, really damned good.

There’s a lot more singing and vocals in general here than there was on Back From Reality. But apart from that, and a very different pacing to the album as a whole (there is a purposeful and very effective blank space in the middle, which fits perfectly into the mood being set), it is recognizably of a piece with the more recent masterpiece.

And, fair warning, one track — “DesART Sun” — features the deliciously-voiced female vocalist being distractingly and overtly sexual. You may want to leave that one track off your writing playlist (even though it’s incredibly good).

Something that seems to have been happening recently, not through any conscious design on my part, is that Writing Music Monday albums have been pairing up and grouping to pleasing effect (at least to me). This week and next week are another example of this happening. The final track on this album, “Hard Break”, definitely leaves the listener wanting more. It feels like the album just stops rather than ends, and it seems purposeful.

As you will learn next week, it segues beautifully into the next album I’m going to share. But for that, you must wait.

Download Are You Still There? free from the Internet Archive.


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Are You Still There? by Jazoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 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.

Why?

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.


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

#Writing #MusicMonday: piano jazz by Andre zimmerman

CoverThis week, a bit more jazz, but different.

A Frenchman named Andre Zimmermann released this Attribution-only short album in 2013, and that is the sum total I know about it or the artist, other than what I hear when I play it.

And what is it that I do hear?

Something… different. When I first listened to the first track, “Duetto à Saint Ange,” I thought that maybe the album was mislabelled. It sounded more classical than jazz to my ear. And as the too-short album goes on, that classical mastery remains. Zimmermann is, I think clearly, a classically trained pianist.

Yet he marries that classicism to jazzy riffs gorgeously, and with something I can only call control.

It’s beautiful, utterly delightful to my ear. The utter mastery of technique married to the playful fun of jazzy exploration wins me over completely every time I listen to it, and I wish he would release more, under any license.

(Note: An Andre Zimmermann appears to have at least two albums available on iTunes, Expo 1: Jazz Conception and Expo 2: Jazz replique, and the clips I can hear on Rippletunes sound, to me, like the same musician, but with no actual info on either artist, I can’t verify this. And since I refuse to use iTunes, in part because of the licensing, I can’t listen to more than clips anyhow. But if you like this, you might want to check out the other albums.)

Download piano jazz by Andre zimmermann free from the Internet Archive.


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piano jazz by Andre Zimmermann is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 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.