POTW (2019/12): The Four Seasons

This week’s Playlist of the Week is another one of those playlists that ‘does what it says on the label’. That is to say, that Dmitry Golubovsky has compiled a selection of tunes about weather and the seasons, which kicks off with three of his own minimal electronica pieces, which, if I’m not mistaken, are all variations on a theme.

Genre wise, the playlist leans mainly towards classical, neo-classical and gentle electronica instrumentals (as you might expect from an artist who produces this sort of music himself) but there are exceptions, including a few songs with lyrics. It’s the kind of playlist you could easily listen to in your office or while reading a book without the music distracting too much of your attention.

POTW (2019/11): Deep Indie

This week, our Playlist of the Week is ‘Deep Indie’, curated by Ezequiel Cagnoli. Ezequiel is a systems analyst by day, and a musician by night (as well as being a husband and a dad). Previously the singer and rhythm guitarist of “Ninos Vimos”, he quit the band to focus exclusively on his solo project as there wasn’t enough time for both. In 2018 he released his first single, Schadenfreude and at the end of the year a four song EP, No Se Puede Vivir de la Idee de Vivir, which translates as ‘You cannot live off just the idea of living’. Another, instrumental EP is in the works.

Ezequiel’s playlist Deep Indie is a pleasant collection of songs with an independent, rootsy and sensitive flavour. That is not to say that all of them are by independent artists, though: there are some world-renowned bands in this playlist, such as Radiohead, Beck and Bon Iver. But regardless of who made them and whether a label was involved, these songs feel like the artist wasn’t being told what to produce in order to be ‘commercial’. There is a broad range of ‘indie-ness’ (or otherwise) represented, from artists followed by only a dozen or so people, right up to the aforementioned mega-stars with millions of fans. The emphasis is more towards guitars than electronic sounds and it’s worth noting too that while most of the songs are in English, there is a sprinkling of tracks in Spanish or German.

I’ve been impressed by the detailed attention that has been paid to making this playlist flow. Sometimes the way that the tracks fit together is almost uncanny, such as the transition from Kodaline’s All I Want into Beck’s Lost Cause. Providing that Spotify doesn’t throw an advert inbetween, of course, which is what happened when I went back to do a double-check of what I just heard.

POTW (2019/10): Lo-fi Triphop / Chill / Dubstep

This week, we have this gem of a Trip-hop playlist by Leg Puppy for your listening pleasure. Leg Puppy are a subversive British punktronica band with a lot to say about current western culture, including smartphones, selfies and the closure of smaller music venues. (That last one might just be a UK thing?)

Leg Puppy’s superpower is nailing exactly what is wrong with the world, and not holding back from telling us how it is, whilst injecting the message with a shot of raw humour. Being rather direct, they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but, as Left Bank Mag have said, they are ‘fascinatingly entrancing’. This gift of lifting the covers on Pandora’s empty box and giving us a run down on what went wrong perhaps explains their love of the triphop genre, itself often a healthy source of social commentary. Some of Leg Puppy’s electronic tracks do lean in towards the triphop genre and probably my favourite of these, Black Light, is included here. Silence 23, their recent collaboration with Ceiling Demons, is reminiscent of some of the more menacing sounding tracks that Massive Attack and Tricky have produced over the years.

This playlist avoids the most obvious triphop choices, often picking edgier tracks that fit their own band’s sound and songs from obscurer artists. (There are exceptions: Massive Attack’s gorgeous collaboration with Hope Sandoval, The Spoils, made the cut). There’s a distinctly dystopian flavour pervading much of the selection and, as its name suggests, it has been spiked with some dub and chill, which vary the mood, helping to avoid it getting overly heavy.

Rating: PG (Some tracks are labelled ‘explicit’).

POTW (2019/9): Get Happy!

Get Happy from the playlister Hits4U is our 9th Playlist of the Week this year. I’ve selected this one because it is full of uptempo tunes, it is intended to be cheerful, and that’s exactly what we all need at this time of the year when Spring is trying to arrive but Winter’s not quite disappeared yet.

It’s a rather eclectic selection of tunes, this one, with a few tracks that are nothing short of quirky (for example Juan Maria Solare’s fun Es Geht Noch, is juxtaposed with Andy Garrett’s metal jaunt Afterthought).

The playlist is, unusually, almost entirely comprised of independent musicians’ work; indeed some of the artists may be familiar to you as they have appeared in other playlists that I’ve featured.

I’m not convinced it manages to stay cheerful the entire time, as some of the tracks stray into more melancholy territory, such as Jackie Marie’s haunting Won’t Settle for Less but those are in the minority and it’s a fun listen. Particular highlights for me were Simon Irvine and Jayber C’s collaboration Accord, Munro’s Let It Go and Moonbeam by Robert Maitland.

POTW (2019/8): Classic Electronic Music

This week’s selection for Playlist of the Week is ‘Classic Electronic Music’ by Spotify user ‘lodolf’. It focusses in on the more melodic and cinematic side of electronica, which has roots in classical and orchestral music. In fact, some of the pieces included are actually classical orchestral music being played on synths, e.g. Synclassica’s renditions of Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi and so on. Another notable piece is Arvo Pärt’s moving minimal work, Spiegel im Spiegel.

There is a lot to like here. This is a well thought out playlist of instrumental music, with selected pieces of electronica from the 1970s onwards. There were a few surprises – I didn’t expect to hear ABBA’s Arrival or, for that matter, any Bowie. (Benny Andersson of ABBA also snook in again with his cinematic Skallgång.)

That insistence on shying away from the obvious is one of the playlist’s major assets – it includes a generous smattering of emerging artists, examples being Easily Embarrassed, Bassic, Animobo, Firechild, Didymos, and the list goes on. This led me to discover at least a handful of artists who weren’t even near my radar, let alone on it.

If I’m going to be really picky, this playlist focusses a bit too heavily on certain artists, albeit with some heavy hitters fitting that category, such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. That has not taken away from this playlist being a thoroughly enjoyable listen, however, as the ‘over-represented’ artists are all fantastic.

POTW (2019/7): Anima 27 by RE Junesworth

This week’s Playlist Of The Week is RE Junesworth’s lovely Anima 27: Surreal / Cosmic / Lo Fi / Synth / Psychedelic / Atmospheric / Ambient which they describe as, “a selection of electronic music with industrial influences, downtempo and lo fi, and some ambient tracks for calm breaks”. With it being instrumental, it’s the kind of playlist you can put on and leave playing in the background, allowing you to dig into work that requires some fairly deep concentration. And at over 8 hours long, you’re not going to need to worry about what to play next in the middle of a tricky task. Tracks range from those from better-known artists like Alan Gogoll, Lemongrass, Seneca B and Shpongle, to some hidden gems from some underground acts.

Although they would sit well in this playlist, it doesn’t include any Flungundi tracks at the time of writing. Flugundi is the home of RE Junesworth’s own artistic endeavours, which are well worth checking out.

And, if you enjoy this playlist and would like to explore further, there are actually a whole load of other Anima playlists from the same curator, with emphasis on different genres each time, but staying within the realms of chillout music.

POTW (2019/6): Electronica by Independent Female Artists

This week’s POTW is another compiled by Line Munch-Petersen (ENILSounds). In this playlist, she features tunes by female electronic artists who are unsigned or with independent record labels.

The music ranges from ambient through to electro-country with various shades of electronica, pop and rock in between. Some of the tracks have a darker feel to them, like Brexistentialism and The Elders Secret and some have clubby vibes, e.g. Corazon de Lluvia and There’s a Place for You. There are a lot of tracks on this playlist from artists I’d never heard before, so it’s a really good one for new music discovery, too. And if I’m not mistaken there’s a European flavour pervading the list, Brexistentialism included.

Rating: PG – it has a song or two flagged ‘explicit’, but is mostly ‘clean’.

POTW (2019/5): Yoga Chill by Michelle Qureshi

This week’s playlist of the week is Yoga Chill, from Michelle Qureshi, and brings together a selection of beautiful pieces in the chill out, new age, ambient and acoustic genres. You don’t need to be doing yoga to enjoy this playlist – it makes great background music for reading, studying or other non-physical activities, which is great if you’re an unbendy couch-potato like me.

Michelle Qureshi is an acoustic artist in her own right, writing and recording almost classical style new age and ambient pieces, often guitar based. She has several tracks in the playlist, so you can get a feel for her style. (She’s also included a couple of tracks by Andy Salvanos, who I’ve mentioned before in the blog.) Michelle brings a great deal of feeling to everything I’ve heard her do, and pieces like Never Odd Or Even can leave you floating off into some imaginary sunset, so I think you’ll really enjoy listening.

POTW (2019/4): Anything New

This week’s Playlist of the Week is more conventional – lots and lots of new music, collated by Trent Herzman, who is an indie artist himself, from Oceanside in California. If you’ve not heard Trent’s work before, check out the first couple of tracks for a sample, he has a great voice, a 60s psychedelic vibe and you can really hear the Californian influence.

Trent’s playlist Anything New is a collection of recent songs by independent artists. It’s not exclusive to any particular genre, but rock is well represented. It’s a nice quality collection – great recordings and production, strong melodies and lyrical content.

POTW (2019/3): Audiobooks and More!

And now for something completely different! I’ve featured a lot of music playlists in this feature so far, but this is the first time I think I’ve come across an audiobook playlist in my meanderings. This particular playlist also includes other spoken recordings. There are some classics on here, so it’s worth checking out to see if there is anything in this collection that you’ve always fancied reading or watching an adaptation of.