POTW (2019/18): Instrumental Chill Out Gems

This week, our Playlist of the Week is Jon Magnusson’s Instrumental Chill Out Gems.

I’ve featured some of Jon Magnusson’s playlists in the past, as he is the artist who started the ‘Monster Thread’ movement which started with The Monster Thread playlist and developed into a platform for indie artists to support each other, collaborate and share knowledge of the industry so we can all benefit from each other’s experience. (For more about Jon, read post on The Monster Thread).

This is another playlist that does what it says. Instrumental Chill Out Gems starts out with Chet Atkins’s Maybelle, a folky guitar piece with a hill-billy ragtime flavour, then moves into modern classical piano territory with Yiruma’s River Flows in You, before featuring independent artists like Tommy Berre, Kip LaVie and some of Jon Magnusson’s own guitar-based pieces.

This collection of pieces frequently features solo acoustic guitars and pianos, and would be perfect for waiting rooms or reading, as it is very calm, without being particularly sleep-inducing. (It’s probably still too calm for playing behind the wheel, though). There are also laid back rock pieces, jazz, downtempo electronica and ambient tracks, plus an occasional foray into epic orchestral music.

Duration: 87 songs, 5h 10min. (Subject to change, of course).

Rating: PG. I would have rated this as U, were it not for the inclusion of Alessandros Kilias’s piece ‘My Idea’, which has some spoken samples from the film The Indestructible Man, including the threat ‘I’m going to kill you’, which I imagine may not be suitable for very small children.


I’ve just had a really manic week, one where I’m trying to Do. All. The. Things. Including watching a training conference video that advised against trying to Do. All. The. Things.

The week started off fairly calmly, actually. I decided to take a bit of time out to finish a knitting project that will be a gift. It needed finishing before the weekend, when I will get to see my friend. Whilst I worked up a couple of the pieces, I ‘multi-tasked’ and binge watched a chunk of an X files boxset that has been waiting patiently for my attention for ages. It felt like I was on holiday for a day or so. For the rest of the knit, I caught up on podcasts and watched a couple of days worth of a training conference for indie musicians that happens to be running this week. But I’m not a fast knitter, and I could really have done with finishing it in half the time. I had other stuff on my list for this week.

I hadn’t originally been going to join the conference, the ‘Profitable Musician Summit’ because I didn’t think I could spare the time, but so far it’s thrown up a load of Really Useful Things that either
A – I already knew about and still need to set up, or
B – I didn’t know about, could benefit from, and need to add to the To Do List.

It’s been so useful watching the seminars so far that I may well watch more of the conference, providing I can squeeze it in. Why? Because I need either to start earning enough money from the music to pay the bills – which is still a long way off – or to make music alongside another job which will eat up most of my time and energy. I’ve been holding off for now, but the clock is ticking. Either way, the business side needs to be really dialled down, so that it will not intrude on creative time, but will help sustain making a living. But it takes significant time investment to learn and set up any new systems. Catch 22.

At the same time as all this has been going on, this week I’ve been finishing off figuring out how to use Patreon, one of the things in category A that I already knew about but hadn’t set up yet. As I start to prepare to go live with that, I’m well aware that it is going to take a chunk of my time to do it well, and I’ve been wondering what I am going to need to drop to make way for it. The advice in the conference was to ‘drop activities that are not working for you’. Hmmm.

As I write, the knitting is all done, and I just need to sew on the buttons, which I haven’t yet bought. They say knitting is good for the soul, or something like that, and I think I agree. The clear correlation between putting the work in and getting knitting out has been refreshing. And, although this week has been crazy, getting the needles out has given me some space to step back and think about how to face the overwhelm and try to overcome the hurdles between the status quo and music being a sustainable full time job.

POTW (2019/17): Indie Greats Twirl

Indie Greats Twirl by New Element Music is this week’s Playlist of the Week. It’s a few days later than normal… Easter was a bit crazy for me, and then I took a few days off to knit a present for a friend. Something I haven’t done in a very long time! When I say I took the time off, that’s a very loose description, as I’ve been following an online conference at the same time about business skills for indie musicians. There really haven’t been enough hours this week.

Anyway, back to the playlist. It’s a pleasant collection of independent music, with an upbeat, poppy, daytime sensibility. It’s really easy listening, without being easy-listening music, if you get my drift – it’s not demanding to listen to, but isn’t loungey, as it’s light and energetic.

I covered one of New Element Music’s playlists a couple of weeks back, so if you’d like to know more about the playlist curator, Manu Salamanca, have a look at my post on Electronic Kaleidoscope Lounge. I will just underline that Manu has a talent for putting together a great collection of songs that work together.

Duration: 41 songs / 2h 31min at the time of writing.

Rating: PG – one or two songs are flagged explicit – set the filter (via the Spotify app on a mobile device) if this will bother you or you want to play this in front of your kids!

POTW (2019/16): Nighttime Ambient Textures

Our Playlist of the Week (#POTW) this week is Nighttime Ambient Textures from Matt C White, a guitar-wielding, drumming, piano-tinkling multi-instrumentalist from North Carolina, now living in New York.

The range of creative projects Matt is involved with is impressive, from graphic design and photography through to multiple musical identities, to assisting running the Sonder House record label. Matt’s musical range spans hard rock (in his bands Dead Seconds and Grandpa Jack), tranquil piano instrumentals (under the moniker Blue Fold), ambient electronica and classical guitar (as Realizer) and bluesy folk (under his own name). Several of those projects – I think you can guess which ones – can be heard on this exquisite playlist full of gentle ambient textures, acoustic sounds and calm electronica.

The full name of this playlist is Nighttime Ambient Textures (Reading, Sleeping, Driving). Now, I’d thoroughly recommend listening to this while reading or for falling asleep to, but under no circumstances would I play this in a moving car! Within a few bars, I could feel my eyelids starting to droop. This is beautiful, slow music for doing slow things – or not doing anything at all, but not for anything that requires 100% alertness. Pray, meditate, write, craft or just doze off, but please don’t play this if you’re behind the wheel or operating any other kind of hazardous machinery!

Rating: U – suitable for all listeners.

POTW (2019/15): Electronic Kaleidoscope Lounge

This week’s Playlist of the Week is one I’ve been meaning to cover for ages, but somehow didn’t get round to. (I had to triple-check I hadn’t already written about it and still can’t quite believe I hadn’t already made it a POTW, it’s that good.)

The playlist in question is Electronic Kaleidoscope Lounge, from New Element Music, aka Manu Salamanca, an independent musician originally from France, who has also trained in Cuba. Manu works as a professional drummer and percussionist, but since 2017 he has been releasing classically influenced electronica under the name of New Element Music and gathering a steadily growing audience for this project. You can hear a couple of his tracks, The Crossing and Duo Apart in this list.

If I had to use one word to describe this playlist, it would be ‘cool’: it’s full of quirky, jazzy electronica with a club vibe. It’s reasonably uptempo, and the tracks tend to be rhythmically strong, but the playlist could still be used as a background to working or in a waiting room, because of its chilled-out loungy flavour. The ‘kaleidoscope’ in the title seems to be a reference to how the playlist gathers together music with influences from anywhere and everywhere in the world. It’s also almost exclusively comprised of tracks from independent musicians.

There’s really not a great deal more to say about this list, apart from pointing out Manu Salamanca’s great taste in the track selection, how well it flows and how current it sounds. This one really is a must-listen, so I’ll shut up now and let you get on with it!

NB: One or two tracks in this list are labelled ‘explicit’. To avoid these, you can set your Spotify account preferences via a mobile device. (You can’t set this on the desktop app, but contrary to the published advice from Spotify, my experience is that the setting applies to your account when you use other devices after it’s set on the mobile app).

POTW (2019/14): Silent River

This Monday, I’ve selected Silent River for our Playlist of the Week. Mat, the curator, is a member of the band The Mighty Fallen, from Chelmsford in Essex. Several songs are included on the playlist from their 2017 album Artificial Ignorance.

The Mighty Fallen’s music sits somewhere in the rock spectrum, and you can hear that it has been informed by greats like Genesis and Dire Straits. About themselves, The Mighty Fallen say, “We are a band thrown together by blood and friendship unable to contain urges of progressive psychedelic songs for the masses and the unique.”
Watch out for them on the festival scene this summer – I happen to know they are booked for Wild Festival, Revesby, Lincs this coming May bank holiday weekend.

As you might expect, Silent River is a collection of songs with a watery theme running through it. Dive in and let it flood your ears! (Cheesy puns all intended).