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 (2019/8): 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 (2019/5): 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.

Ghettoblaster

Playlist of the Week (2018/40)

POTW-2018-40-NickTempest 600x900

Our POTW this Monday, Relax Soul, comes from Mirko Consoli, otherwise known as the singer Nick Tempest.

Nick’s from Sicily, Italy, and takes the second half of his stage name from the lead singer of the 80s rock group “Europe”. (Incidentally, that singer’s name, Joey Tempest, is also a pseudonym – he’s really Rolf Larsson). 

Nick says his love of music stems from his childhood, when he was particularly struck by Power Metal and West Coast AOR, which he loves for their sense of melodic power. But  these are not the only genres that he says have made an impact on his own musical direction – he also cites Celtic and Italian influences, particularly the popular Italian singer-songwriter Amedeo Minghi

Nick’s self taught on the guitar and keyboard and can sing in six different European languages. His music is pop; the best description I can manage is that it’s a kind of cross between 80s-inspired Euro-synthpop and that easy-listening – almost crooning – style of classical music. Kind of Julio Iglesias crossed with Pet Shop Boys with a bit of light opera thrown in, very loosely speaking. I can certainly hear Minghi’s influence on his style, having checked out a selection of his music for the purposes of writing this article.

Back to the playlist: it’s a collection of soundtrack, filmscore-esque and instrumental music, with the aim of being relaxing to listen to. (Obviously – the clue is in the title.)  Piano features quite often and Nick’s included a generous sprinkling of lesser-known artists in the mix, too. The overall result of his work putting this together is a great playlist for listening to when you have tasks that you need to really focus on without being distracted by lyrics. Equally, it makes a great late-night playlist for de-stressing before sleep.

 

Ghettoblaster

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.