Archive for the ‘CD of the Month’ Category

Carl Weingarten’s Pastoral Trek

June 2, 2014

An Echoes Favorite Evokes Windham Hill, Miles Davis and Ry Cooder in a Pastoral Americana Journey
Hear it tonight on Echoes

life_cover_250I don’t know why I’m surprised that Carl Weingarten has made an album of such sweet simplicity and pastoral bliss. I shouldn’t be. Over the course of more than three decades this musician has taken so many twists and turns in his music that the only surprise would be if he repeated himself. I first heard of him in the early 1980s with the St. Louis progressive rock group Delay Tactics. That was followed by his ambient period reflecting the influence of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. His move to San Francisco brought more acoustic elements into his music as he became a devotee of the dobro, a resonator guitar that he deployed on Redwood Melodies: A Traveler’s CompanionThe Bay Area’s vibrant world music scene also had an impact on albums like Blue Faith.

He brings many of these elements together on Life Under Stars, creating an album that’s like a ride through the countryside, with landscapes changing around every corner. You can smell the fresh air on the opening track, “I Remember Summer,” a wistful trek down a backwoods lane with Robert M. Powell’s yearning pedal steel guitar buoyed by the liquid flow of Michael Manring’s electric bass and some high plains piano from Kit Walker.

The album shifts between these Windham Hill like reveries to more spacey night sky excursions like “A Different Rain” and “Sundial.” The former track harkens back to his 1980s music, built around delays and loops of Weingarten’s electric guitar. Playing mostly solo, he creates a guitar chamber ensemble articulating a perfect, circular balance, like a Zen garden, but without using any Asian modes or instruments. “Sundial” is a free-float of dew-glistened sustained electric guitar suspended over a cycling acoustic guitar motif.

Ever since he picked up the dobro, Americana has been an important part of Weingarten’s sound, and it suffuses Life Under Stars, especially on tracks like “Western Overnight.” Once again Powell’s pedal steel calls down from a prairie heaven, casting a chrome glow over Weingarten’s rustic guitar and dobro.

Western Overnight

Carl Weingarten Live in Echoes Living Room

Carl Weingarten Live in Echoes Living Room

Michael Manring, Weingarten’s longtime associate, is all over the album, lending his deep rubbery bass lines to Weingarten’s compositions. He’s like a wise soul both anchoring and propelling Weingarten’s airy flights. Both musicians have been playing in a trio with trumpeter Jeff Oster over the last few years and you can hear a hint of that in the electric-Miles Davis inflections on “Nightwalk. ” It echoes In A Silent Way, with Celso Alberti’s brush stroked train groove and Troy Arnett’s piano-in-space mood laying the starfield for Oster’s muted trumpet melodies and Weingarten’s electric slide guitar.

Nightwalk

Only “Code Blue,” with its funky groove and Weingarten’s distorted blues guitar licks, sounds out of place. I guess it’s the roadside bar on Weingarten’s travelogue.

Weingarten’s compositions are so beautifully arranged it’s easy to forget that his guitar is the center of the album, sometimes a gentle, acoustic ramble; other times a celestial siren or a wild electric slide. A lot of musicians make albums inspired by nature, cross-country journeys and celestial reflections. Most of them are insipid. Carl Weingarten’s Life Under Stars is sublime. It’s a defining album for this underrated musician.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

life_cover_250Join the Echoes CD of the Month Club. and get Carl Weingarten’s  Life Under Stars, the June CD of the Month. You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time. You can do it all right here.

OR
Pick Up 
TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

LRC19-250pxJoin us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

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Hans Christian’s Hidden Treasures

May 5, 2014

Cellist Hans Christian creates Global Serenity with Hidden Treasures
The Echoes May CD of the Month

Hidden Treasures-225Hans Christian launches his new CD playing cello. It’s the instrument he began with studying classical repertoire and he’s done recordings with it from the purely Renaissance album, Light and Spirit, to pure solo improvisations on Sancta Camisia, and of course, looping cello on Undefended Heart. But it’s when Christian taps into his global voice that he really sings. His isn’t the classical cello of Yo-Yo Ma. With Christian, notes bend in searing arcs, fraying at the edges with resonant sound.

Together We Were

Hans Christian is less a classical musician and more a global musician. It’s something he began on his solo albums, Surrender and Phantoms in the early 1990s and perfected with Rasa, the chanting duo he had throughout the first decade of the 21st century with singer Kim Waters. Christian created lush instrumental fusions behind Waters’ serene voice, alchemy of cello with the sarangi, an Indian bowed instrument, the sitara, a mini-sitar, eastern percussion and lots of electronics.

Hans Christian playing sarangi on Echoes with Rasa.

Hans Christian playing sarangi on Echoes with Rasa.

That’s the touchstone for Christian’s new solo album, Hidden Treasures, although when I say solo, it’s more in the “solo” tradition of Mike Oldfield’s one-man orchestra than a cello recital. Christian’s orchestrations are heavenly ascensions of throbbing rhythms from a mix of percussion loops and insistent bass lines from both electronic sources and bass guitar. He loves to set up dialogs between the instruments, with sarangi and sitara answering each other on “Light Headed” and swooping cello sitting in opposition to nattering sitara on “Tashina’s Fire,” a song written for an ill friend.

Tashina’s Fire

Each track is a different landscape. On “Incessant Heart” a Tibetan chant seems to emerge out of electronica swamp music and he does it without one vocal chant or sample in sight, instead evoking that feeling with deep bass drones. Christian’s cello is given full voice on “Cathedral of Tears,” on which he solos in elegiac sadness over a bed of synthesizer pads and nature effects.

Cathedrals of Tears

With Hidden Treasures, Hans Christian creates yet another enveloping space, a new world that goes beyond the exotic, that takes you from the heart of darkness to the heart of serenity in a 21st century global symphony.

NOTE: Hans Christian’s album with Harry Manx, You Are the Music of My Silence was also a CD of the Month Pick

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Hidden Treasures-225Join the Echoes CD of the Month Club. and get  Hans Christian’s  Hidden Treasures, the May CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR
Pick Up 
TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

LRC19-250pxJoin us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Lyla Foy Mirrors the Sky

April 1, 2014

Foy-MirrorLyla Foy’s Mirrors the Sky Echoes April CD of the Month

Hear it tonight on Echoes.

We first met Lyla Foy in 2013 when she was recording under the guise of Wall. I was seduced by the austere, yet atmospheric songs of her EP Shoestrings, which touched a deep and resonant chord of melancholy and beauty. Now she’s recording under her own name and has released a full-length album on the Sub Pop label. But Lyla Foy’s “Mirrors the Sky” delivers on the promise of Wall.

Lyla Foy manages to be waif-like and sultry at the same time singing in voice of fragility and soul. You can hear that on the first track, “Honeymoon,” a song about love and separation that Foy delivers with mournful longing over a dirge-like groove.

Mostly co-written with Oli Deakin, Foy’s arrangements are minimal, yet full of atmosphere with creaky electronic keyboards and trash can drum machines bathed in reverb. It doesn’t appear she’s used her advance money from Sub Pop to buy more instruments since it sounds like she’s still using an ancient Casio Tone MT200 keyboard for most of her songs. It fits in perfectly with the shuddering, cracked and dusty sounds that shroud her songs as if they emerged out of a long-abandoned home. There are ghosts in this music.

Lyla Foy Artist Photo Photo Credit: Veanne TsuiFoy alternately sings about falling in and out of love. In the former category she reveals the yearning quality of country singer Loretta Lynn on “Honeymoon.” But unlike many Loretta Lynn’s songs, it’s not about heartbreak. That comes on “Easy,” a song of parting, a theme that seems to be in the air for female singers lately. Like Priscilla Ahn’s “Remember How I Broke Your Heart” it’s about the woman packing it in, but unlike the braggadocio and anger of male break-up songs, Foy and Ahn find the truth in the words of Neil Sedaka: breaking up is hard to do.

Many of the songs sound like holdovers from Wall and “No Secrets” was originally recorded as Wall as her first single. Other than some remastering, it sounds little changed with a simple bass riff that alternate its two notes every four bars. Yet, from this simple bare-bones architecture, Lyla Foy finds a well of emotion.

The English born singer, still in her mid-20s, has a rustic Americana sound to some of her songs. “Rumour” is simply strummed guitar waltz riff that could be a backwoods lament as Foy’s voice spins up in almost yodeling arcs in a song of goodbyes, farewells and regrets. Like a lot of her songs, the hooks are subtle, but insistent.

“Impossible” is one of the few songs that might be called buoyant but even that has a bittersweet tone. In an Echoes interview, Foy stated that “I don’t think there’s anything that inspirational about being content and happy, so, I think that’s probably why you get a lot of heartache.”

It’s a beautiful heartache though, one for long nights and quiet contemplations. Lyla Foy’s Mirrors the Sky will have you looking at your own reflections of love and life.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Foy-MirrorJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club. and get  Lyla Foy’s Mirrors the Sky, the April CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR
Pick Up 
TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

LRC19-250pxJoin us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

21st Century Progressive Rock Opus from Mark McGuire

March 3, 2014

Mark McGuire Creates 21st Century Progressive Rock Opus for Echoes CD of the Month

Mark-McGuire-Along-The-WayOld fans of progressive rock and space music might be forgiven if listening to Mark McGuire’s Along the Way takes them back to about 1975, calling up music like Ash Ra Tempel’s Inventions for Electric Guitar, Popol Vuh’s Seligpreisung or Can’s Soon Over Babaluma. McGuire’s heavily layered guitars with delay-driven riffs, burning solos and expansive themes would have fit perfectly in those heady times.

McGuire was in a band called Emeralds, an electronic retro-space music trio who sound like stowaways in Tangerine Dream’s Berlin studio circa 1975. But Along the Way is something different and more personal.  McGuire has hinted at this in a series of little-heard solo recordings like Get Lost and A Young Person’s Guide, but Along the Way is the culmination of these  explorations: it’s a beautifully crafted album that shifts in mood and motion.

The intricate opening suite begins as a new age meditation of acoustic guitar, meandering synthesizer, chimes, and some Asian stringed instrument sounding like a koto or pipa. Those instruments are joined by a delayed electric guitar and before you know it, you’re washed into “Wonderland of Living Things.”  It’s a Mike Oldfield-like confluence of insistent groove, cycling melodies and increasingly insistent delayed guitar riffs.

References abound on the album, like the Popol Vuh-inspired guitar picking on “Arrival Begins the Next Departure” with a trio of guitar lines that spiral up into the ether like vapor trail minarets.  Many of McGuire’s songs are built on looping delay patterns similar to those Manuel Göttsching created on  Inventions for Electric Guitar in 1975. His intricate riffs shift subtly through a song in a minimalist sleight of hand.

PlayingIn the best progressive rock tradition, McGuire has grouped his compositions into a series of suites with titles like “To All Present in the Hall of Learning” and “The Age of Revealing.”  There’s an 11-page densely-packed existential treatise that goes along with the record, and each track of this primarily instrumental album has philosophical concepts to go along with them.  The guitarist has said:

“This story is an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind…the endless unfolding of psychological landscapes, leading to perpetual discoveries and expansions, in a genuinely emergent and infinite world of worlds.”

You may not be thinking of that during the intricate, pastoral weave of “In Search of the Miraculous” or the brain-searing crescendo of “The Instinct,” which forms like the isokinetic structure of a Hoberman sphere, slowly expanding until it explodes in a five minute electric guitar meltdown.

Playing all the instruments himself, including several kinds of guitars, mandolin, synthesizers, percussion, piano and more, McGuire’s opus recalls Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells in its ambitions.  McGuire brings that concept into the 21st century and like that album some 40 years ago, Along the Way left me breathless.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))
Mark-McGuire-Along-The-WayJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Mark McGuire’s Along the Way is our March CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.
OR
Pick Up 
TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

LRC19-250pxJoin us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Hammock From Abyss to Revelation.

January 6, 2014

Oblivion-cvrIn a world of dance beats, rapid fire sequences and songs devolving into little more than hooks, Hammock takes a deeper, darker more textured approach.  They are the Mark Rothko of ambient music with sheets of sound shifting beneath each other like tectonic plates, but with the hint of melody and the feel of spirits rising toward the heavens. Oblivion Hymns lives up to its foreboding name in this extended tone poem to the end of life.

Hammock is operating in a classical dimension. The references to Arvo Pärt are obvious, but you might find their tone more heavily reflected in the “sacred minimalism” of the recently departed English composer, John Tavener. Inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church, Tavener’s music aspired to the heavens through the use of orchestras and choirs.  Hammock’s Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson achieve the same effect with Dali-stretched guitars and whole-note string pads, moving slowly through a shrouded landscape.

Darkness is only a superficial impression of Oblivion Hymns . Within their circumscribed sound world, Hammock creates uplifting, moving themes that are more edge-of-the-world than end-of-the-world.  Children’s choirs are deployed on a couple of tracks, notably on the gentle lament, “Then the Quiet Explosion” and “I Could Hear the Water at the Edge of All Things”

Depature SongsThis is a follow-up to their 2012 opus, Departure Songs.  That was a monumental album, but could become oppressive over the course of its two CD length.  Maybe because of the children’s choir, Oblivion Hymns feels more hopeful, promising transcendence more than demise.

Hammock’s heavily processed guitar sound remains at the center of their music, but when an instrument like the piano turns up on “Holding Your Absence,” with spare, pensive chords it seems to wrap their ambient electric swirl around it, pulling all the elements together.

The cover of Oblivion Hymns is a Rorschach of ink blots by Amy Pleasant, and like the cover, you can read many things into Hammock’s music.  You might find yourself descending into the abyss, or after hearing the concluding vocal hymn, “Tres Domines,” sung by Timothy Showalter, you might see heaven’s gate.  But I keep finding myself rising up, floating through a celestial expanse, which might be the same thing.

With Oblivion Hymns Hammock’s Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson have created a magnificent and important work that will become a reference point for those working in ambient classical and post-rock modalities, and those looking for music that takes us beyond.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Oblivion-cvrJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns is our January   CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR

LRC19-250pxPick Up  TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

12 Echoes CDs of the Month Tonight

December 4, 2013

WE LOOK BACK AT ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH PICKS FROM 2013

November: Moby - Innocents

November: Moby – Innocents

Every month on Echoes we pick out the CD of the Month. It’s the album we think best represents the sound of Echoes and simply, the best album in that sound.  This year has been a great one for CD of the Month  selections, so I thought we’d do an entire show looking back at those albums. We’ll be going from our current December pick, David Helpling & Jon Jenkins’ Found, all the way back to our January pick, The Ambient Zone-Just Music Café Volume 4.

January: The Ambient Zone - Just Music Cafe Volume 4

January: The Ambient Zone – Just Music Cafe Volume 4

They aren’t necessarily the best albums of the year, but they were all the best album of their respective months and I would be surprised if they all weren’t in our year end top 25.  It can be hard picking the albums. The selections are either slim or abundant.  This year fell on the abundant side as we had our best stretch of Echoes CD of the Month picks in a while.  As we head toward the end of the year and best of lists, I thought I’d look back at our twelve picks.  Maybe these are albums you voted for in the Best of Echoes 2013 poll going on right now at echoes.org.

Prepare for the show with reviews and tracks from all the CDs

March: Ludovico Einaudi - In A Time Lapse

March: Ludovico Einaudi – In A Time Lapse

January: The Ambient Zone – Just Music Café Volume 4
February: Ulrich Schnauss – A Long Way to Fall
March: Ludovico Einaudi – In A Time Lapse
April: Òlafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter
May: Rhian Sheehan – Stories from Elsewhere
June: Rachel Zeffira – The Deserters
July: Olivier Libaux – Uncovered Queens of the Stone Age
August: Melorman – Waves
September: Darshan Ambient – Little Things
October: Akara – The World Beyond
November: Moby – Innocents
December: David Helpling & Jon Jenkins – Found

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

GIVE THE GIFT OF THE ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH CLUB

FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and you can put David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found under somebodies Christmas tree.  It’s our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR

LRC19-250pxGIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

David Helpling & Jon Jenkins’ CD of the Month Hat Trick

December 2, 2013

DAVID HELPLING & JON JENKINS DISCOVER THE THIRD RING OF THEIR TRILOGY:
FOUND
THE ECHOES DECEMBER CD OF THE MONTH

FoundHear it featured tonight 12/2, on Echoes.

The next time you watch an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, mute the TV sound and dial up David Helpling and Jon Jenkins’ Found . You won’t need Ned Stark’s honor, Daenerys Stormborn’s dragon’s roars or Ramin Djawadi’s serviceable score to take you on a cinematic trip that will bring you from Westeros to beyond the Wall. Found is the third part of a trilogy, and it’s as grand as any fantasy epic.

Following Treasure and The Crossing, both previous CD of the Month picks, Found marks the end of a six year odyssey for the two veteran musicians, both of whom made their mark as solo artists first.  Helpling is primarily a guitarist and Jenkins a synthesist, but their worlds merge in their 21st century electronic orchestra. Yet, as modern as they sound, the shadows of Patrick O’Hearn’s 1980s recordings are in every corner of this music.  You can hear it right away on “The Opening.”  A surging rhythm, a snaky underlying bass line and a sparse melody made up of layered synthesizers are all hallmarks of Patrick O’Hearn from his influential recordings on Private Music.  David Helpling and Jon Jenkins create a welcome extension of that sound.

David Helpling & Jon Jenkins in Helpling's SoCal studio for Echoes.

David Helpling & Jon Jenkins in Helpling’s SoCal studio for Echoes.

David Helping’s electric guitar is a defining voice for the duo.  He doesn’t take any flashy solos.  Instead, he etches ringing arpeggios and morphing textures.  Even when he whips out some screaming sustained clarion calls on the grand climax of “Lost,” it’s mixed in the distance.

Unlike on their previous albums, Helping and Jenkins head into deep space on one track, the 13-minute “Only Ashes.”  Beat and percussion free, it moves on a slow dirge of space organ pads and long, Robert Fripp-like guitar sustains before slowly breaking orbit and rising into diaphanous space.

Treasure If things weren’t ominous enough, the title track floats on a spare sequencer pattern that is pounded by thunderstruck piano chords signaling imminent demise, reinforced by the angelic, though possibly avenging, voice of Miriam Stockley of Adiemus and AOMusic fame. Helpling and Jenkins stack her wordless cries in a wash of deep reverb that turns her pure soprano into a wraithlike choir that’s almost not recognizable as voice, sounding more like a complex synthesizer patch.

CrossingDavid Helpling and Jon Jenkins’ Found brings an orchestral approach to electronic music, where the orchestra is completely plugged-in, the timbres otherworldly, and the percussion tracks swept in on storms.  It’s a great CD of the Month to end 2013.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

GIVE THE GIFT OF THE ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH CLUB

FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and you can put David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found under somebodies Christmas tree.  It’s our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR

LRC19-250pxGIVE THEM THE GIFT OF TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Moby’s Innocents Echoes CD of the Month.

November 4, 2013

Moby Scores Echoes CD of the Month Hat Trick with Innocents.

Hear Moby’s Innocents Featured Tonight on Echoes.

Innocents-250I don’t know if Moby intended it this way, but Innocents sounds like the conclusion of a trilogy, joining Wait for Me and Destroyed, his two previous albums.  As on those recordings, Moby plays the ambient song-smith, crafting odes of haunting and poignant beauty, making a music that sounds like it’s rooted in an earlier, more rustic time, except it’s electronic. The songs in this trilogy are more personally reflective than those on albums like Play, and Moby has become less reliant on sampling and more engaged in building upon a lineage of songwriters that goes back to Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and Neil Young.

In fact, “Almost Home” would not have sounded out of place on Young’s After the Gold Rush, except of course, for the synthesizer accents and ambient effects.  Damien Jurado sings this lament in a falsetto that echoes Neil Young’s pitch-challenged charm, and Moby’s sonic landscape recalls the lonesome wails of Crazy Horse.

Moby & drum machine wall - Echoes Interview.

Moby & drum machine wall – Echoes Interview.

Jurado is among a cast of singers who appear on Innocents, many of whom wrote their own lyrics.  Cold Specks turns up on two tracks. With a  Norah Jones-like sultriness, she intones late-night reflections on “A Case for Shame.”  Non sequiturs like “Cut off your nose to spite your face, slowly send your palms away,” turned into a searing meditation on existence . Cold Specks gets a dark blues sound on “Tell Me” reinforced by Moby cutting and pasting an insistent refrain and layering her voice in this forlorn, but powerful piece.

Skylar Grey is a singer associated with Eminem and she has the ethereal, smoke-filled voice Moby favors, as evidenced by  previous singers like Kelli Scarr.  Over a slo-mo groove draped in synth pads, and against a gospel loop sample pleading to “look over yonder, the sun done gone,” Grey sings “The Last Day,” a hymn about death an a life lived without being. “You Only just discovered the sun, on the last day,” she sings with resigned regret.  It’s the only song where Moby also uses the found-vocal strategy of Play.

A life unfulfilled is a theme for many of Moby’s songs. You’ll find it in lyrics he wrote for longtime collaborator Inyang Bassey on “Don’t Love Me,” a mid-tempo electro-barrelhouse song about a woman mistreated by a lover.  It’s also in yet another of Moby’s cautionary tales about heroin, “The Perfect Life,” sung with Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips. The album ends with a song as bleak as any Moby has ever written: “The Dogs.”  He sings this one  himself, mourning the turns of life and what sounds like a failed relationship.

Moby could probably play a lot of these songs sitting at an acoustic piano or plucking a guitar, but that’s not his way.  These songs are spun through ghost echoes, shadow delays, draped in synthesizer pads and punctuated with disembodied sounds.  Few can do more than Moby with some simple chords of  synthesizer strings.

Innocents includes the requisite moody Moby instrumentals too. “A Long Time” is one of the few songs that harkens back to his dance roots.  There is a vocal on it, but the words are indecipherable and buried in reverb and delays, making this sound more like an instrumental track that would sit well in the EDM rave of your mind.  He should have segued it into the syncopated groove of “Saints” with Steve Sidelnyk’s march-to-Mordor drums and Inyang Bassey’s anguished shouts.

Wait for Me, Destroyed and Innocents are trilogy of elegies for Moby, looking back on his life and the people he’s lost.  A track on the deluxe edition CD is aptly called, “Everyone Is Gone.” Sadness rarely sounds as beautiful as it does with Moby.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

InnocentsSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.  This month,  CD of the Month Club members will be getting Moby’s  Innocents. 

SPECIAL FOR THIS MONTH
TalesNew and Renewing Echoes CD of the Month Club members will also got Bombay Dub Orchestra’s magnificent new album, Tales from the Grand Bazaar.

Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club and hear what you’ve been missing.
Echoes On Line

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

The Sound of Luminous Beings: AKARA

September 30, 2013

Akara’s The World Beyond
Echoes October CD of the Month

Hear it tonight on Echoes.

WorldsBeyondWith the sound of Chinese cymbals, Akara opens their second album with appropriately-titled “Unlocking the Portal” taking us to The World Beyond.  It’s their second album of music inspired by “the luminous beings,” and it’s not long before those beings make their presence heard in the voice of Femke Weidema, singing in her imaginary language.

As they did on their previous recording, Extradimensional Ethnography, (CD of the Month in November 2011) Akara creates a fantasy ripe for progressive rock fans, Tolkien acolytes and New Age savants.  But those glib descriptions undersell the beautifully orchestrated and arranged sound that Joshua Penman deploys.  There are elements of Philip Glass-style minimalism, Afro Celt Sound System’s electro-globalism and Dead Can Dance’s spiritualism, but Penman’s sound is as distinctive as any of them.

Akara Live

Akara Live

Like the best progressive rock, Penman’s compositions shift  gears and moods, moving from gentle pastoral moments into darker, driving, dystopian atmospheres.  That happens all in one track: “Adoration of Light.”  But unlike a lot of progressive rock, this is 21st century music, full of dubstep beats and world music flourishes.  He seamlessly merges electronic and orchestral sounds, Indian mandolin and concert harp. Penman plunges Mark Kroll’s harpsichord into space echoes before launching it into orbit on “The Royal Antechamber,” as the harpsichord riff morphs into a sequencer groove. Flautist Karmen Suter is featured on most of the album, creating flute choirs on “Resonance” and staccato choreography on “The Sky Dancer” across a deep electronic bass groove.

Femke Weidema in Luminous Regalia

Femke Weidema in Luminous Regalia

Femke Weidema is the heavensent voice that carries the story of Akara.  She’s like a high priestess proclaiming to the congregation one moment, then singing gently, like a like an archetypal agrarian woman spinning yarn in another.  “Evensong” is a baroque aria replete with harpsichord and strings that provides a respite from the driving rhythms to follow.

The World Beyond is an ambitious album that succeeds far beyond its means. I don’t know whether there are worlds beyond, but this recording is a non-stop, out-of-this-world journey.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

WorldsBeyondSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.   CD of the Month Club members will be getting Akara’s The World Beyond.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club and see what you’ve been missing.

Choose either a one time $1000 or on-going $84 Monthly PaymentSupport Echoes by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Think of the great artists you love on Echoes. Think of the informative interviews and exclusive live performances. Then, think of a world without Echoes. You can make sure that never happens by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Echoes is a non-profit 501(c3) organization just like your local public radio station. And all donations are tax deductible. You can support Echoes with a monthly donation that will barely disturb your credit card. 130528_Echoes

Join the Echoes Sound Circle and keep the soundscapes of Echoes flowing!

Darshan Ambient’s Little Things

August 30, 2013

Darshan Ambient’s Little Things – The Echoes CD of the Month for September

Hear it featured Labor Day Evening on Echoes

Little_Things_CoverIn the days before YouTube, iTunes and most other on-line music sources, Darshan Ambient was a minor star at mp3.com, the renowned legal music download site.  He released his music there and garnered nearly 100,000 listens.  That’s not much in terms of YouTube’s multi-million-listen hypes, but it was a lot in the fledgling days of on-line music.

Listening to Darshan Ambient you might not suspect that Michael Allison, the man behind DA, spent years playing edgy R&B with Nona Hendryx and punk with Richard Hell. That’s not an overt influence in Darshan Ambient’s music, and that’s especially true on his new CD, Little Things. But it’s there: in the musicality of his sound, the hook of his melodies, and the gentle tug of grooves that range from Jon Hassell-like rhythmic amalgams to jazz syncopations.

On “UnUsual Thursday,” Darshan Ambient seduces with unmoored ambiences before locking you in with an ambiguously ethnic percussion groove.  Is it Indian? African? Does it matter in the cross-cultural world where digital sound objects are available to anyone? In this digital ethnic world a sarangi lick can open a track like “Slow Drum”. Allison doesn’t play the Indian bowed instrument, but someone did somewhere at some time, and Allison uses that phrase to lead-off his piece, employing the signifiers of Indian music to create an ethnic music from culture that doesn’t exist.

That’s one of the questions posed by Michael Allison on his most mature and sublime album too date.  It features a seamless flow of sounds that are sometimes eastern, sometimes African, sometimes urban.  “The Mystery of Sleep” harkens back to Robert Rich’s techno-tribal moods, as Allison employs spare, picked  electric guitar timbres, cello and lap steel guitar in this slowly throbbing piece.  Rich uses lap steel as well, usually as a snaky Middle Eastern wail, but Darshan Ambient taps its country affinity to take middle eastern grooves into the west on “Shadow Country”, a new twist on Ambient Americana.

Michael Allison is a musical omnivore, so it’s not surprising when references to Miles Davis with a trumpet and tamboura drone turn up on the corner of Darshan’s “52nd St.”   After all, Darshan’s 2011 album, Dream In Blue, was an homage to Miles.   It’s even less surprising when Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” is sound-checked on “Fields.” One might also hear Reich’s “Violin Phase” on “There!” or maybe it could be The Penguin Café Orchestra.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1E6dlbAktA

Little Things is as dark as it is dreamy, as melodically inviting as it is atmospherically enveloping, and it’s Darshan Ambient’s best album to date.

Hear Darshan Ambient’s Little Things featured tonight on Echoes.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Little_Things_CoverSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.   CD of the Month Club members will be getting Darshan Ambient’s Little Things 10 days before its released.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club and see what you’ve been missing.

Choose either a one time $1000 or on-going $84 Monthly PaymentSupport Echoes by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Think of the great artists you love on Echoes. Think of the informative interviews and exclusive live performances. Then, think of a world without Echoes. You can make sure that never happens by becoming a member of the Echoes Sound Circle.

Echoes is a non-profit 501(c3) organization just like your local public radio station. And all donations are tax deductible. You can support Echoes with a monthly donation that will barely disturb your credit card. 130528_Echoes

Join the Echoes Sound Circle and keep the soundscapes of Echoes flowing!


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