POTW (2019/26): Long Afternoons

I’m shocked! We’re already half way through this year’s playlists. It doesn’t seem all that long ago I was writing the first few entries. Michelle Qureshi joins us again as this week’s curator, with her fantastic relaxation playlist, Long Afternoons. (You can check out her Yoga Chill playlist here.)

Almost as soon as the opening track by Stars of the Lid began, I could feel a wave of sleep catching up with me. Now I am typing this yawning my head off, about 20 minutes in. (My excuse: it’s late and it has been a busy day).

I would recommend this playlist for siestas or late night pre-sleep listening, or to accompany slow food with slow music. It would also work well in a spa or massage setting if that’s your thing.

[Pauses for sleep before resuming writing…]

With the aid of tea and toast smothered with marmalade I managed to keep awake and listening for about another hour. After that I resurfaced several times with the playlist still going next to my pillow. As a relaxation playlist it definitely works.

One stand-out track for me before I got too drowsy was the melancholically beautiful collaboration Renewal between Al Jewer, Andy Mitran and Michelle Qureshi. There was also Max Richter’s Dream 8 (Late and Soon) which was beautiful and irritating in equal measure; I couldn’t decide which side I was going to fall on. The last track that I remember noticing before I drifted away was Tiempo from Lionel Scardino, a solemnly evocative piano based piece with atmospheric synths and beats.

Duration: 3h 53min, 33 tracks.

Rating: U (suitable for all listeners).

POTW (2019/22): Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects

This week’s playlist of the week is Instrumental imaginaries and Atmospheric Architects. It’s a wonderfully varied relaxing playlist that journeys across genres and is all instrumental, as the title indicates. It takes in classic rock, disco, funk, classical, folk, psychedelic, epic and ambient styles – amongst others! A constant is the high quality of the tracks selected and how they conjure up images in your imagination. Artists featured range from household names like Jamiroquai and Jean-Michel Jarre to the relatively obscure and label-free.

Mat Champney of The Mighty Fallen is the curator; he also curated another recent POTW: Silent River. (There’s a little about the band in that article, and you can also hear one of their tracks in this playlist).

I found this particular playlist rather immersive. It’s one you might prefer to actively listen to, without attempting to concentrate on something else at the same time. (It works quite well for that, too, though.) I did find myself just disappearing into the music at times and floating off somewhere remote in my mind.

Duration: 3h 56min ; 57 songs

Rating: U, fit for all listeners. Whilst I wouldn’t expect that to change, this being a relaxing instrumental playlist and all, if you are at all concerned about explicit content, put the filter on. Then you won’t need to worry about dubious lyrics appearing while eg your mum is within earshot!

POTW (2019/19): Making Waves

This week’s playlist of the week is Making Waves, courtesy of Skyline Tigers, a fab singer, songwriter and producer who also features in the playlist. Making Waves has been on my schedule of playlists to review for quite a while – I must have first heard it late last year.

A moody, grey sea and a grey-blue sky. Waves are crashing towards you, one of the Farne Islands is in the distance behind the last wave.

POTW is a few days late this week as I got ‘kidnapped’ to some beautiful places on the Northumbria coast by some lovely people from my church for the Bank Holiday weekend. I returned to a backlog of stuff-to-do, some of it related to taking excessive numbers of photos while away. (Also see my post on Overwhelm – I still haven’t got anywhere near being through everything I was trying to do that week!). Yeah, I know, excuses, excuses. Will try to do better next week.

Anyway, the playlist has been my companion today for a serious clear-up of my kitchen (it needed it, believe you me). The tone is chilled, but not the sleepy kind, as there are driving beats at times, and there are songs peppered throughout, which provide more focus. There are 80s overtones at times, but not overdone. A couple of favourite tracks from today’s listen: Skyway Meadows from Nicky Havey, a drum and bass piece that’s gentle for the genre, and Skyline Tigers’ own track Home (Wane of Summer Remix). Or her track Moonlight Sea, which has hip hop tendencies, eastern overtones and almost demands you start dancing around in time to it. (Or is that just me? The comments section is there for a reason…)

Do please show Skyline Tigers lots of love as she’s been going through a rough time lately with a major illness and is now recovering. She was still supporting other indie artists while she was in the thick of it, which is pretty hardcore in my book. Major respect!

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.

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 (2019/7): 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 (2019/5): 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.

Playlist of the Week (2018/39)

Playlist of the Week (2018/39): Andy Salvanos's gorgeous Dreaming Instrumental collection.

This week, our POTW is Dreaming Instrumental, compiled by Andy Salvanos. Andy is a highly talented musician, as evidenced by his beautiful tracks Solace and Peace, which feature on the playlist. Born in Sweden with Greek-Russian-Irish heritage, and growing up in the US, Salvanos spent a decade in Los Angeles as a session bassist, before settling in Glenalta, Australia. He is now a highly respected solo performer at events such as The Adelaide International Guitar Festival and The National Folk Festival. Here’s an example of his work:

The instrument behind these sounds is a 10 string Chapman Stick (also available as a 12 string variety) . Unlike the better-known 12 string guitar, all the strings are played separately, not in pairs, so Andy’s fingers can get pretty busy as he creates his hypnotic tunes.

I’ve come across the Chapman Stick before – when Nick Beggs* was playing with Iona, this was his weapon of choice for the bass-lines – so I have always thought of it as a bass instrument. But apparently Nick was only playing half the strings on the Iona pieces: presumably because he wasn’t performing solo.  Andy’s self-composed solo pieces make full use of all the strings, so that he is effectively playing the equivalent of a bass and a treble guitar simultaneously. (For an equivalent solo piece from Nick, see here.)

Back to the playlist, before I get completely carried away discussing UK celtic prog rock!  It’s an absolute beauty: full of dreamy, evocative instrumentals that you can pretty much float around the world on, as you journey into different lands through ethnic beats and instruments and the cinematic feel of this collection of tunes that keep coming back to solo guitar (or stick).

 

*Iona fans will appreciate this Youtube clip I found of Nick playing Chapman Stick for a Magenta recording.

Playlist of the Week (2018/22)

This week’s POTW is Elegant Electronic Music, compiled by Roz RK, aka Resonanz Kreis. In this playlist, RK has pulled together a great collection of tracks from across the world of electronica, encompassing genres as diverse as chillhop, EBM, ambient, synthwave and plenty of tracks that I couldn’t quite assign to a particular genre*.   Some of the tracks make for more challenging listening, but overall this is a good playlist to put on whilst you get on with a few hours of work, as it feels rather like a film soundtrack.

Roz is an electronic artist based in Northern Italy and Resonanz Kreis is a solo project that has been going for about 20 years, but is a relatively recent discovery for me, via the loose network of independent musicians in contact on social media. Resonanz Kreis’s best work has an uncluttered simplicity with hints of classic electronica from such artists as Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre and Enigma. I’d especially recommend My Silence if you like tracks by Enigma, or T.F.L.D. if you like a slightly more experimental sound, like this one by the Flying Lizards.

 

*Disclaimer: I’m pretty rubbish with genres: the electronica scene is always coming up with new genre names and their meanings shift over time. If I tried to keep up 100%, I’d not have any time left for making music!

Playlist of the Week (2018/15)

This week’s POTW, The 100 – Electronic is another from the Atom Collector Records stable, and exclusively features independent electronic artists, some of whom you will have already heard in previous weeks’ POTWs, if you’ve been following the series so far. There is a broad range of genres within the list, even though it is restricted to ‘electronic’ music.

Support such as this is invaluable for getting my music heard by new audiences, and the same will go for the other artists who feature: we all really appreciate a helping hand. At the time of writing, this playlist is still a way off the 100 tracks planned, so do go back to listen again if you like what you hear: providing it doesn’t reach 100 in the meantime, there will be more tracks for you to discover later.