POTW (2019/37): Dreamy Cinematic and Ambient

This week’s playlist of the week, Dreamy Cinematic and Ambient, is just what the doctor ordered after a monster-shaped week. It was my first week in a new temporary day-job, trying to learn the ropes. I was not feeling well, and plumbers were replacing the central heating system in the house where I was staying. (Following their work, there is now a working shower as well, which is my favourite part of last week!)

I’ve taken the job because my income as a musician falls woefully short of paying even my basic bills currently. Let me be very clear: I am not giving up making music (I couldn’t if I tried). But it will do wonders for my stress levels to know that I am earning enough to cover my bills.

Our playlist this week is a collection of pieces curated by Andy Salvanos (he of the Chapman Stick). It is one of the most relaxing sets of music I’ve played in a while. It will take best part of a day to play it, so expect to feel really chilled by the end. (That’s always assuming you haven’t dropped off in the meantime). This playlist would actually work quite well for sleeping music. I managed to stay awake all the way through this time, though!

Stand-out tracks

The talent represented in this playlist is phenomenal. Max Richter, Hans Zimmer, Pat Metheny, Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm… Just to mention a few of the best known artists – and the list goes on.

The stand-out tracks for me included Salt of the Sound’s Deep Peace, and Armstrong’s The Noetic Quality. Deep Peace is unusual tracks for this list as it features a female vocal, whereas most tracks are instrumentals. The Noetic Quality is a gentle percussive track with ringing marimba and xylophone over synth washes. It has a repeated theme that slowly morphs into forms that are different, yet the same. Two other tracks that grabbed my attention were Maneli Jamal’s Floating and Kirsten Agresta Copely’s Onde. Floating is a beautifully recorded, layered, echoing guitar piece, and Onde is a lovely harp piece with Celtic vibes. Both fit their names very well.

Dreamy, Cinematic and Ambient playlist, curated by Andy Salvanos

Duration: 6h 38min, 106 songs

Rating: U – nothing to be scared of.

Ideal for: Focussed study, destressing, and/or quiet evenings in.

POTW (2019/31): Daydreaming 2

With the Daydreaming 2 playlist, its curator, Carlo Rogall, has assembled a lovely collection of pieces. This is the first time I’ve featured one of his playlists, and not a moment too soon. (It’s a bit of an oversight, actually.)

Stressed, Moi? I make chillout!

From the opening bars of the first track, I could feel the stresses of the last few days melting away. Stresses? Thanks for asking! I’ve been pushing hard towards finishing as many of my open projects as possible. I need to reclaim my computer’s over-stuffed hard drive for a large project starting in September. The deadline is approaching way too quickly for my comfort and the push to complete projects is generating even more data!

The projects I’m trying to close out are some remixes and reworkings of other peoples’ songs. These have taken longer than expected, and a few other important things have needed my attention along the way. (I made my Patreon site and moved my website to a new host.) I’ll let you know when the music is going to be coming out. (It is looking like the EP will be late October, but I’m hoping the other remix will release sooner).

Enough about me. Back to Daydreaming!

This week’s curator is Carlo Rogall. He’s a DJ, producer & drummer from Germany, who, as Spaceschneider, makes electronic music focussing around downtempo, psychedelic, dub & deephouse. His tracks often have acoustic elements and influences from world music and jazz, and he frequently collaborates with other artists. Dephinite, Erkan Baran and Mniei being examples. In fact, he and Dephinite own the Rogalist Records label together. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may recognise this label name, as I featured two playlists by their manager, last year.

As you might expect from Spaceschneider, there’s a large dose of relaxing and downtempo electronica in the playlist. But it is also filled with a mixture of other independent music, including experimental, classical and world-music-influenced styles, . Most of the time the playlist flows, but there are occasionally slightly abrupt changes in direction. A good example would be the jump from Lauge’s peaceful composition Fairbanks to Ugochill’s Familiar, with its rocky solo guitar. Normal service is resumed quickly, dropping the pace down to Andy Salvanos’s acoustic piece Under the Piano two tracks later. The pace switches are probably entirely intentional, to keep it a daydreaming playlist, and not a sleep-dreaming one.

Too much to take in

There are many great tracks on this list, but I’ll mention just a few that stood out. Mbr/Ajisai by Ametsub is, a hybrid of African and Eastern meditative sounds with a downtempo beat and soft, layered vocals. Guaava by Germind is a slow, floaty synth piece that fades in and out, which suits the daydreaming theme particularly well. This Charming Violin is a remix by TPOT of Kick Bong’s track. It’s all mournful violin playing and operatic wailing over a bouncy electronic backdrop. It sounds way better than I described it! Last one: Entheogenic’s A Language Older than Words is beautifully produced prog-tronica journeying through a Floydian-but-Eastern landscape.

There’s too much to take in properly in one sitting, but this is the sort of playlist you’ll want to return to. (I’ll happily admit I already have).

Duration: 12h 10min, 159 songs.

Rating: PG (I can’t quite give this one a U, there’s one track with the dreaded ‘explicit’ label. I can’t vouch for any non-English lyrics, either.)

Ideal for: Background music, evening winding-down. Some tracks are a bit slow for work music, but as the intensity of tracks varies, this playlist isn’t likely to send you to sleep at the office. Beware of daydreaming, though! If you do nod off, earlier nights and more coffee may be needed!

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.