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Category Archives: Relaxed

Scratch, crackle and pop

It’s dark, raining and overall thoroughly miserable outside. I, however, am stowed away in my warm flat, looking out on the gloominess with a feeling of serene comfort. What perfectly accompanies my mood?

rainy-nature-night-up-net-174687

If I ever needed a song to bring me out of a cold temperament and place me into a warm slumber, then this is it. If you have yet to experience Miles Davis in your life, then shame on you! Rouge is arguably my favourite jazz tune ever. Taken from one of the best jazz albums ever, Birth Of The Cool. The twisting, opening brass lines, the glorious production and the perfectly understated solos make this a desert island disc.

And so to the next legend, a certain Mr. Charlie Parker with Marmaduke. Though we are treated to a blaring melody to begin with, the arrangement softens as it goes on and finds its way to those cockles.

With a clearly apt title, Bill Evan’s arrangement of Here’s That Rainy Day is delicate yet forceful,  the exertion of the playing upon the keys distinctly clear. Sink back and stay there.

Finishing with a modern piece by an almighty force on the current British jazz scene, Troyka’s Crawler is dark, minimalist, and very bloody creepy. It could literally be a black, stormy night.

If you are not able to hear the rain at night, I take pity on you. But, you can just listen to these tracks instead and imagine my inner peace. Enjoy!

 

 

The weird, the dissonant, and the blissful

WOW, IT’S BEEN A REALLY LONG TIME SINCE I’VE  POSTED ON MY BLOG. I’m ashamed of myself, I must say. I’ve let down my legions of readers sorely…………Auntie Noreen and whatchamacallit who filled my car up at a Canadian gas station in 2010, I apologise profusely.

Any road, let’s talk about one of the best compilations ever made, for which I have the Welsh brothers Price to thank for introducing to me. The Sounds of Monsterism Island is completely erratic, loopy but incredibly good,  assembled by (or for) Monsterism toy maker and DJ Pete Fowler through the label Forever Heavenly.

monsterism

You’ll be hard pushed to find a mix of tracks that bring together psychedelic folk, fuzzy compressed riffs, shimmering funk and soft freak outs in a cohesive manner. Martin Denny’s Sake Rock sets the tone rather aptly, an exceedingly pleasurable plodder of a tune that cannot help but make you smile.

From the opening bass slide, to the staccato horns and tasteful wah wah guitar solo, Black Rite by Mandingo has aged gracefully as a catchy, percussive funk number. Check out the horns riff from 2.42.

Their one and only hit, The Witch by The Rattles has everything – energy, tone, creepy strings, hysterical laughing and that intro guitar riff.

Sickly sweet beyond belief, Cotton Candy Sandman (Sandman’s Coming) by Harpers Bizarre is exactly what you would step out to on the most disgustingly happy, stereotypical summer’s day you can imagine. However, it is beautifully constructed and the melodies are second to none. Hats off.

And finally, the piece de resistance, East of Eden’s Jig-A-Jig. The bass line! The ratcheting up of pace and drum beat at 0.53! The violin! Why am I liking traditional music all of a sudden! If you do anything today, then listen to this song once through. It is worth it for the break down at 2.44 alone.

There is so much more to quaff from The Sounds of Monsterism Island, truly a compilation that has to be listened to from start to finish. If you obtain a copy, you will not regret it. Enjoy!

The beauty of music all around you

The pub and the television – two of the greatest inventions of all time? Perhaps. Aside from the obvious drinking and watching capabilities they respectively possess, they also usually provide a wealth of music I have yet to hear, filling me with glee and childish excitement.

akronfamily

First up is the glorious track Everyone Is Guilty by Akron/Family, the opening track from their 2009 album Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free.

I chanced upon this track at my local watering hole, The Lamb, not too long ago, and have constantly had the album on the burner ever since. The band’s music is mainly rooted in harmonized math folk, but there is so much more to explore throughout the album. This track has it all however – the brilliant, jarring funk riff which opens proceedings; the contrasting vocal lines that skit between tuneful yelling and soothing harmonies; the heavy breakdown with Rolling Stones-esque ‘woo wooos’. I love this track and I owe it all to my thirst for delicious porter.

And as for my other example? Breaking Bad is the show which I have to thank for introducing me to Vince Guaraldi.

vince

I am going to rashly assume that most people have watched Breaking Bad and therefore will have heard this tune, but that can only be a good thing. Taken from the album From All Sides, recorded with guitarist Bola Sete, Ginza Samba has a piano melody which will not leave your brain at any point in the near future. Extremely tidy and tasteful playing combined with a feeling of pure bliss marks this track out, with the rest of the album providing similar joys.

As if we needed any more excuses to go to the pub or sit in front of the box………enjoy!

Evaporate the remaining ethanol

I’m not a fan of being hungover. There is something horribly wasteful about starting your weekend feeling like you want to crawl into a hibernation nest of duvets and bottled water, keeping contact with the outside world to an absolute minimum.

Help me out here pal.

Help me out here pal.

So what can help to ease the self loathing and anxious liver?

A firm favourite of mine, Erik Satie’s Gnoissiennes – 1. Lent is perfect minimalist music, each note of the dark melody played with maximum effect. It never fails to relax me.

The last track on Mr. Scruff’s Big Chill Classics compilation album, Serene by Nobukazu Takemura features a soothing xylophone run at 1.48 and hypnotic vocal harmonies from 2.43. A real slow burner.

Is There Any Way Out Of This Dream? by Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle is lifted from the soundtrack for One From The Heart. A moody jazz number, it is a clear case of the ability Waits possesses to write such music at will.

If See You Later by Dave Mackay and Vicky Hamilton does not make you melt into your seat like a character from Raiders of the Lost Ark, then you should probably get a check up. It does not get much smoother.

Finally, arguably the most placid and relaxing composition of all time, Second Movement (Adante) from Piano Concerto No 21 in C K467 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is simply beautiful. If you need pure serenity in music, then look no further.

2 Foot Yard – Borrowed Arms

This is perfect Sunday morning music, especially when one is nursing a mild but niggling hangover.

2FootYard
 

With a minimalist folky sound, this trio provides beautiful vocals and plucky instrumentation through a stripped down production. The title track gracefully sways, offering interesting vocal harmonies during the chorus, a sliding jazz bass and surprisingly beefy drums.

For me, the album as a whole has its hits and misses. Tracks such as Plane Song and Hold My Own meander along with no real purpose, but fortunately other songs sufficiently make up for the filler. Such highlights include Chapter IV and Drizzle, a sparse yet rhythmically intriguing tune that descends into a wild, jazzy groove at 1.36, before returning to the droning violins and ethereal vocals. The gaps at 3.13 and 3.21 are particularly nice!