Posts Tagged ‘classical’

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

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Transmissions: Echoes Living Room Concerts V19

November 11, 2013

INCOMING MESSAGE:

TRANSMISSIONS: THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19
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LRC19-360pxTRANSMISSIONS is a collection of live Echoes performances that shows Echoes moving into the future in our 25th year.  It’s a merging of electronic, new acoustic, dream pop and ambient chamber music.  This is the center of Echoes. In Transmissions, you’ll hear the atmosphere laden songs of Azure Ray, Julia Holter, Still Corners and Una.

There are haunting singer-songwriters with Hem and SHEL, and virtuoso guitarists Jesse Cook and Kaki King.  Ambient chamber music is heard in the illuminating performances of Ólafur Arnalds, Ludovico Einaudi and Helen Jane Long.  Electronica plugs in with  the sound of Tycho and Ulrich Schnauss and space music orbits with Ian Boddy, Radio Massacre International and Vic Hennegan.

Tycho's Scott Hansen on EchoesTYCHO launches the album with one of his best known tracks, “A Walking” from his 2011 CD, Dive. He brought a bassist and drummer into Echoes to realize the slightly off-centered and buoyant groove of this track which has Tycho’s Scott Hansen playing synths and guitar.

Ulrich Schnauss on Echoes

Ulrich Schnauss on Echoes

Tycho is a cousin in musical ways to ULRICH SCHNAUSS.  This is Ulrich’s second appearance on an Echoes CD and he surprises us with this complete makeover of “A Long Way to Fall,” the title piece to his latest album, which was an Echoes CD of the Month.  I actually pulled this segment out of a 28 minute continuous set he performed as he reconfigured the melancholy themes of this song, rendering it almost completely new.

Azure Ray on Echoes

Azure Ray on Echoes

We’ve been loving the new wave of Dream Pop artists on the show and several of them came through this year.  AZURE RAY, the duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor were as entrancing live as they are on their CDs.  These mavens of melancholy can bring you to tears and they do with this darkly hued, electronically throbbing song, “Scattered Like Leaves” from their EP, As Above So Below.   I love the Moog bass accent on it.

Tessa Murray & Greg Hughes of Still Corners on Echoes

Tessa Murray & Greg Hughes of Still Corners on Echoes

STILL CORNERS has a lighter, more exuberant touch with singer Tessa Murray voicing the romantic theme of guitarist Greg Hughes.  “Fireflies” in particular, from their album Strange Pleasures, is a buoyant track even though Tessa has never seen fireflies.

Una on Echoes

Una on Echoes

UNA are an LA trio that brings a bit more of a jazz and trip-hop sound to their music.  They were scheduled to perform in my living room, but on a 95 degree summer day, the air conditioning failed an hour before their arrival.  We scrambled to my girlfriend’s house where the band assembled their turntables, effects and Wurlitzer electric piano to play songs from their The Laughing Man EP.  They played a beautiful version of “We Are the Lonely” with Jennifer Nice’s coolly arch  vocal and  Eddie Barajas’ live turntable samples and manipulations.

Julia Holter on Echoes

Julia Holter on Echoes

JULIA HOLTER is a singer-songwriter with ambient moods and an avant-gardists heart.  Her albums, including Ekstasis and the recent Loud City Song, feature heavily layered vocals, so we thought she’d come in with backing tracks.  But Holter decided to do it all live with herself on keyboards, a cellist and drummer. The wistful themes of “In the Same Room” were beautifully served by this approach. She created a version as melodically beguiling as the album track, but different, live and present.

On the acoustic singer-songwriter side, we have two bands that follow the unconventional path.

Hem on Echoes

Hem on Echoes

HEM is a band from New York who almost broke up under the weight of one member’s drug addiction.  But pianist and composer Don Messé got clean and wrote several beautiful, heartbreaking songs for their album, Departure and Farewell.  It started as a swansong but became something bigger.  We took their performance of the title track for Transmissions with that amazing vocal from Sally Ellyson.

Shel: Eva, Hannah, Sarah and Liza on Echoes

Shel: Eva, Hannah, Sarah and Liza on Echoes

While the member of Hem are hovering around the 40 year old mark, the members of SHEL hover around 20.  They are four sisters from Colorado, Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook and they play violin, piano, mandolin and percussion and also have beautiful, sisterly harmonies when they sing.  “Paint My Life” from their debut album is full of melancholic, youthful reflections but also has a sense of whimsy.

Two great guitarists appear on this CD, Jesse Cook and Kaki King.  Both have been on previous Echoes collections.

Jesse Cook on Echoes

Jesse Cook on Echoes

JESSE COOK came stripped down this time, just him and another guitarist as they played music from across Cook’s career.  But we really wanted to hear him play music from his latest album, The Blue Guitar Sessions and “Broken Moon” is one of them.

KAKI KING has been on Echoes many times, and every time, it’s different.  On the heels of her album, Glow, she came in with her acoustic guitar and koto guitar and proceeded to show why she’s one of the most highly regarded finger-style guitarists of our time.

Kaki King on Echoes

Kaki King on Echoes



Ambient chamber music, that meeting ground of classical and ambient electronics, has been an important part of Echoes for years. In fact, we coined the term.  We have two of the leading figures in the genre, Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi and Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds.

Ludovico Einaudi on Echoes.

Ludovico Einaudi on Echoes.

LUDOVICO EINAUDI is the more traditional of the two, coming from a traditional classical background.  His music is marked by its soaring melodicism.   He’s been on four previous Echoes CDs, but this is the best example of his work, playing with a small chamber ensemble he performed music from his CD of the Month, In a Time Lapse.  This performance of the title piece is a trance-like excursion of minimalist modalities.

Ólafur Arnalds on Echoes

Ólafur Arnalds on Echoes

ÓLAFUR ARNALDS is much younger by half, than Einaudi and his music is more deeply embedded in an ambient sound.  His 2013 album, For Now I Am Winter was an Echoes CD of the Month, but perhaps ironically, this track, “Near Light”, originally appeared on his Living Room Songs album.  He composed a song every day, played it in his living room and uploaded it to the web.  Recording with just a piano, electronics, violin and cello, it’s a work of pensive moods suspended in space.  It was recorded at The Oven Studio in New York, which is owned by Alicia Keys and he played her Yamaha grand piano.

English composer HELEN JANE LONG isn’t quite ambient chamber music since she doesn’t employ electronics, but she composes in that mode with serenely sculpted melodies that sound like that came from an earlier, more elegant time.  She brought a string quartet into Echoes to play music from her albums and we picked this beautiful rendition of “To Dust” originally from her Embers album.  She recently rerecorded tracks from her Porcelain album at Air Studios in London.  The Music Centre where this was recorded isn’t Air, but it still sounds pretty good.

Transmissions may have the most space music selections of any previous CD.

Radio Massacre International At Echoes

Radio Massacre International At Echoes

RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL is the only performance on this disc recorded in the actual Echoes Living Room.  Duncan Goddard, Steve Dinsdale and Gary Houghton gathered, literally on the floor, surrounded by synthesizers, computers, effects pedals and cables and spun out this rendition of an older track called , “Organ Harvest” the title piece to a long out-of-print album.  Note the Pink Floyd “Echoes” homage at the end from Houghton’s guitar. Their latest album is The Clouds of Titan.

Ian Boddy on Echoes

Ian Boddy on Echoes

IAN BODDY has been on a few previous Echoes CDs, but only once before as a solo artist.  He stepped into Echoes’ black booth and surrounded himself in a cockpit of synthesizers to play this piece “Open Door” from his album, Liverdelphia, which, coincidentally was also a live recording.  Ian actually cut two takes of this piece.  He played a beautiful lead line on the first version, but he intentionally buried it in his mix.  Since it was a two track, direct to stereo recording, I asked him to do a second take with the lead more prominent, which he reluctantly consented to do.  I like it.  It’s a classic space music track, replete with Mellotron vocal choirs.

Vic Hennegan on Echoes.

Vic Hennegan on Echoes.

Finally, VIC HENNEGAN.  The only reason he’s the last track is because “Desert Vortex”is the longest, clocking in at over 9 minutes.  Vic has not only a great sense of sequencing and sound design, but he also has a talent for musical structure as he builds this track to a momentous climax.  This piece was originally supposed to be on a compilation album, but that never happened, so this is the only version of this “Desert Vortex.”

Transmissions is dedicated to Ravi Shankar 1920-2012

As we move through our 25th year, I can’ think of a better way to launch than with Transmissions.
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John Diliberto (((echoes)))

LRC19-250pxPick up you copy of Transmissions in the Echoes Store.  Current members of the Echoes CD of the Month Club will be getting Transmissions with their next CD.  You can join them in getting a great CD every month by signing up for the Echoes CD of the Month InnocentsClub.  New members will get Moby’s Innocents album, our November CD of the Month and a BONUS CD of Bombay Dub Orchestra’s Tales from the Grand Bazaar.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.  You can do it all right here.

TalesEchoes On LineNow 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.

Interview: Rachel Zeffira

October 28, 2013

Hear an interview with Rachel Zeffira tonight on Echoes

Rachel Zeffira Live on EchoesRachel Zeffira is a former operatic soprano who now vocalizes in caressing whispers. She makes an enchanting and haunting dream pop, telling tales of suicide and lost love, placing it all in a chamber music setting. She doesn’t like to reveal the meanings of the songs on her album, CD of the Month The Deserters, but she does, on Echoes.

Highlights:

On her hushed singing style:  I’m singing in a completely opposite way to what I did in opera.  I couldn’t be doing things more differently and I was quite loud as an opera singer.

Rachel Zefirra - The Deserters

Rachel Zefirra – The Deserters

On her honesty: It’s so embarrassing telling you all these lies.  I mean, you’re, you’re not gonna believe a thing that I tell you after.

One the lie that got her group, Cat’s Eyes, into the Vatican Church:  I wrote to the Vatican and I said we were a visiting choir.

Something true about “Letters from Tokyo”: And then they got detectives onto it and stuff and eventually they found that the mom had, had jumped off a cruise ship and died.

Something more true:   If I can’t be honest in my music then I’m really screwed, so this album had to be honest.

Hear Rachel Zeffira’s full interview tonight on Echoes.

Read a review of Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters and hear several tracks.

Below, watch Rachel Zeffira’s video for The Deserters.

Rachel Zeffira’s group Cat’s Eyes, at the Vatican:

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Find your local Echoes station or streaming options here.

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!

Ludovico Einaudi Live on Echoes

August 13, 2013

Hear Ludovico Einaudi live on Echoes tonight.

Acclaimed Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi comes to Echoes with his electro-acoustic ensemble and plays the sometimes haunting, sometimes exuberant themes of his latest album, In A Time Lapse.

Below, watch Ludovico Einaudi’s live performance of “Divenire” from his 2008 CD, Divenire.

Read a review of Ludovico Einaudi’s In A Time Lapse, Echoes March CD of the Month

“For In a Time Lapse Ludovico Einaudi has pulled out all the stops, synthesizing a 21st century classicism that is all-embracing in its musical influences, and all-enveloping in its emotional sweep.”

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Find your local Echoes station or streaming options here.

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!

Echoes Podcast: Rachel Zeffira’s Dissembling & Suicides

August 2, 2013

Hear the Echoes Podcast of our interview with Rachel Zeffira.

Rachel Zeffira Live on EchoesRachel Zeffira is a former operatic soprano who now vocalizes in caressing whispers. She makes an enchanting and haunting dream pop, telling tales of suicide and lost love, placing it all in a chamber music setting. She doesn’t like to reveal the meanings of the songs on her album, CD of the Month The Deserters, but she does, on Echoes.

Highlights:

On her hushed singing style:  I’m singing in a completely opposite way to what I did in opera.  I couldn’t be doing things more differently and I was quite loud as an opera singer.

Rachel Zefirra - The Deserters

Rachel Zefirra – The Deserters

On her honesty: It’s so embarrassing telling you all these lies.  I mean, you’re, you’re not gonna believe a thing that I tell you after.

One the lie that got her group, Cat’s Eyes, into the Vatican Church:  I wrote to the Vatican and I said we were a visiting choir.

Something true about “Letters from Tokyo”: And then they got detectives onto it and eventually they found that the mom had jumped off a cruise ship and died.

Something more true:   If I can’t be honest in my music then I’m really screwed, so this album had to be honest.

Hear Rachel Zeffira’s Interview in the Echoes Podcast.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Read a review of Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters and hear several tracks.

Below, watch Rachel Zeffira’s video for The Deserters.

Rachel Zeffira’s group Cat’s Eyes, at the Vatican:

Choose either a one time $1000 or on-going $84 Monthly Payment

WavesRachel Zeffira’s The Deserters was an Echoes CD of the month. This month’s pick is Melorman’s WavesSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club. With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club and see what you’ve been missing.

Support 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!

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

Interview: Rachel Zeffira

July 30, 2013

Hear an interview with Rachel Zeffira tonight on Echoes

Rachel Zeffira Live on EchoesRachel Zeffira is a former operatic soprano who now vocalizes in caressing whispers. She makes an enchanting and haunting dream pop, telling tales of suicide and lost love, placing it all in a chamber music setting. She doesn’t like to reveal the meanings of the songs on her album, CD of the Month The Deserters, but she does, on Echoes.

Highlights:

On her hushed singing style:  I’m singing in a completely opposite way to what I did in opera.  I couldn’t be doing things more differently and I was quite loud as an opera singer.

Rachel Zefirra - The Deserters

Rachel Zefirra – The Deserters

On her honesty: It’s so embarrassing telling you all these lies.  I mean, you’re, you’re not gonna believe a thing that I tell you after.

One the lie that got her group, Cat’s Eyes, into the Vatican Church:  I wrote to the Vatican and I said we were a visiting choir.

Something true about “Letters from Tokyo”: And then they got detectives onto it and stuff and eventually they found that the mom had, had jumped off a cruise ship and died.

Something more true:   If I can’t be honest in my music then I’m really screwed, so this album had to be honest.

Hear Rachel Zeffira’s full interview tonight on Echoes.

Read a review of Rachel Zeffira’s The Deserters and hear several tracks.

Below, watch Rachel Zeffira’s video for The Deserters.

Rachel Zeffira’s group Cat’s Eyes, at the Vatican:

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Find your local Echoes station or streaming options here.

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!

Piano Guys Pop-Classical YouTube Explosion

January 18, 2013

Hear the Piano Guys Echoes Interview

newalbumThe world of classical cross-over music is scattered with novelty acts that created a buzz and then faded away.  One of the latest is a band called The Piano Guys.  They are YouTube phenomenons with superstar viewing stats for their many elaborate videos.  They’re music goes beyond simple instrumentation in favor of extensive over-dubbing, electronic effects and even playing inside the piano, something you don’t hear in most classical pop artists.

Talking to The Piano Guys is like being in a room with 5th graders on a sugar rush.  Right now that energy just bounces  off the walls of the studio, but usually, they’d take it and do thinks like lifting a piano with a helicopter and plopping it down on top of a desert cliff. ”

The Piano Guys Echoes Concert

The Piano Guys Echoes Concert

“We have our own piano movers because, because it’s such a important thing for us,” bursts Steven Sharp Nelson. “And we actually move the pianos ourselves a few videos, just us.  We’ve moved it by chopper, by crane, by boat, by train.”

Steven Sharp Nelson is the cellist of The Piano Guys.  Sitting with his instrument in New York’s Dubway Studios, the fresh scrubbed impish musician says The Piano Guys are as much about the stunt settings as the music.

“To be honest, The Piano Guys at their purist is our YouTube Channel,” he admits.  “It’s about the music but also about the visuals.  It’s the feeling you get when you watch these performances and we’re often in crazy places.  We’ve got a piano on a train.  We’ve got it on a thousand foot cliff, out in the forest.  I’m jumping out of a plane with a cello strapped to me you know.”

These settings can be goofy and corny, like their Star Wars parody, “Cello Wars.”  “We did “Cello Wars,” enthuses Nelson, “which was five Star Wars tunes by the amazing John Williams stacked on top of each other with two cloned electric cellists battling each other with light sabre bows.”

But they can also be very moving. On a cliff at Red Rocks they visualized their soulful and ecstatic recording of Coldplay’s “Paradise” featuring singer Alex Boye.

The Piano Guys aren’t just pianists.  The music is played by Jon Schmidt who is a pianist and Steven Sharp Nelson, who isn’t.  He plays cellos, sometimes a bunch of them like on “When Michael Met Mozart.”

“Jon, Al [van der Beek] and I were in the studio and we experimented with all the sounds you could get out of an electric cello and ended up being a 100 cello tracks,” says Nelson.

But it’s not even just the musicians.  When The Piano Guys walk in for the interview, there are five not two, with Nelson and Schmidt joined by videographers Tel Stewart and Paul Anderson and engineer Al van der Beek.  They are all part of a Piano Guys multi-media collective that began as a commercial.

“Before we all got started as the five of us,” explains Schmidt, “Paul Anderson pulled me aside and you know, he said let’s film a video for my Piano Guy channel, which he was using to push his piano store.  And we did an original tune.  ….And it didn’t do so well. We quickly found that you know, if we wanted to breakout, we had to include cover tunes.”

Jon Schmidt teamed up with Steven Sharp Nelson and they began interjecting pop songs with classical motifs playing pieces by pure pop acts like Christina Perri, One Republic and One Direction.

“A lot of people think okay, so they’re making classical cool by infusing pop into it,” says Nelson.  “And for us, a lot of it is that gratification of the compositional process and infusing classical in pop.  like okay, we threw a classical piece, like when we were doing David Guetta’s “Titanium,” okay.  We get to the chorus and it’s a DJ chorus.  It’s just got a back beat.  It’s just all about the beat, right?  But then we thought well let’s throw a melody on top of this and all of the sudden it felt like Faure’s “Pavanne” worked so well on the top of it.

The Piano Guys have become something of a YouTube sensation with their imaginative videos.  The numbers of viewers who subscribe to their channel seem to go up by the minute. When I walked into Dubway Studios in Manhattan, their subscriber stats were at 1,045,558.  At the end of the interview, Paul Anderson goes on his iPhone.

“Our subscribers is at 1,045,808,” crows Anderson.

“Oh, so you went up about 250 since 12 o’clock,” I say.

“About 250 an hour,” he says.

“So let’s keep talking,” laughs Nelson.  “We get about an average of 4,500 new subscribers a day, about 500 new Facebook followers a day, roughly, and then about 700,000-800,000 new video views a day is I think where we’re at.

“That’s almost a million, holy!” exclaims Schmidt.

Hear the complete interview in the Echoes Podcast.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineAmbient ZoneSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.  With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like The Ambient Zone – Just Music Café Volume 4  and Hammock’s Departure Songs coming to you each month.  Sign up now and you’ll also get February’s CD of the Month, Ulrich Schnauss’ A Long Way to Fall.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

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.

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Mike Oldfield Mentor David Bedford Heads for Star’s End

October 5, 2011

Composer, keyboardist and Mike Oldfield Collaborator David Bedford Passes

I was sad to hear of the passing of David Bedford, the English composer who had a deep engagement with progressive rock in the early 1970s.  It actually started a little earlier in Kevin Ayers and The Whole World, a rollicking post-psychedelic, pre-progressive rock, musically insane band that also included a very young Mike Oldfield.  Oldfield went on to compose his magnum opus, Tubular Bells and Bedford went along, arranging The Orchestral Tubular Bells.

At a time when Virgin Records was exploring music’s outer reaches, they signed Bedford as a solo artist and his first work for the label was the expansive and explosive orchestral work, Star’s End, one of two sources for the name of the radio show Star’s End.  (The other is the original source, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy). This was at a time when, if you wanted a symphonic sound, you weren’t going to get it with a synthesizer, but needed an actual orchestra.  The album included Mike Oldfield on electric guitar.  He would guest on more of Bedford’s recordings including his impressionistic reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1975 followed by The Odyssey and Instructions For Angels.

The Odyssey really captured my imagination.  It was an electronic keyboard foray that also included Mike Ratledge from The Soft Machine.  I remember including it in my Top Ten that year in the Philadelphia Drummer.  In fact, it may have been #1.   Bedford albums were always in heavy rotation on WXPN’s Diaspar show and I continued to play him on Echoes occasionally.

 I was able to interview Bedford in the mid-1980s for Totally Wired.  He lived in a modest row home in the outskirts of London and had only one keyboard in his den where he composed.  He had that English ability to be self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating at the same time, although his humility usually won out.  He was already in his late 40s and had the look of a man much older.

He has continued to compose and perform, working in films and arranging for the likes of Elvis Costello and Roy Harper.  He continued composing up until the end, moving between electronic and orchestral worlds, pop and classical and wherever else he wanted to land.

David Bedford was an artist between worlds, born into the classical tradition but constantly leaving those constraints behind.  He was as likely to play free jazz with the late-Lol Coxhill as wax avant-garde with 80 voices and 27 plastic twirlers on “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College.”   He could write lyrical tone poems to angels and sci-fi epics for Rigel 9.   Now he’s traveled to one of the mythical lands he loved to employ for musical inspiration.

Like too many artists from his generation, including Bert Jansch who passed today, David Bedofrd died from lung cancer, likely due to smoking.  He was 74.

Although Mike Oldfield was the star, David Bedford  shined the light.

There’s a very good obituary in the Guardian.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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Ludovico Einaudi-New Age Fodder or Classical Elegance

November 20, 2008

Ludovico Einaudi is in the midst of a short US tour. Echoes and WFUV will be presenting him in concert in New York City on Tuesday November 25th.  (Concert Info)

Divenire He just played Los Angeles in Largo at the Coronet Theater and two reviews from that show point up the dichotomies in Einaudi’s music. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Josef Woodard, a fine jazz journalist, had trouble wrapping himself around Einaudi’s heroic cadences, minor key ruminations and haunting melodic trances. He went so far as to cast out the dreaded “New Age” tag, critical code for “lite-weight shit.”  He added a final insult:

Classical music fans might wonder whether Einaudi’s popularity could lead new listeners in the direction of the real thing

You’d think that Woodard, a veteran of the fusion wars, would recall that critics used that same invective: maybe fans of fusion would be led to “real” jazz.

Phil Gallo,  writing about the same concert for Variety,  had a different perspective, dialing directly into the charm of Einaudi’s sound. He asserts that:

His points of reference are not all that different than those of Radiohead or Sigur Ros. This is ultimately pop music he is performing and at times his chord changes and timbral decisions echo the work of Christopher O’Riley, the classical pianist who has tackled the work of Radiohead, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake from a solo piano perspective.

Ludovico Einaudi in Echoes Living Room Concert

Gallo pointed out the minimalist connections and Einaudi’s ability to “tell a story”  while also extolling Einaudi’s cinematic expanse, something which Woodard uses it as a criticism. I think ultimately, Woodard is looking for something in the music that isn’t there.  I do hear where Woodard is coming from, but that’s like asking Charles Lloyd or Keith Jarrett to rock out.   He wants flights of improvisation and technical expertise, but Einaudi is more concerned with form, mood, and melodic invention.

When I sat with Einaudi for an listen-icons-16x16Echoes Living Room Concert,  I barely missed the strings and electronics that make recordings like Divenire so captivating. Even on his own, he unfolds a magical world as stories are revealed and scenery shifts. I hear in his playing echoes of Michael Nyman’s The Piano score and George Winston at his best.  If you haven’t checked out this musician, here’s an Echo Location featuring his music.

Ludovico Einaudi has a few more U.S. concerts.  He’s be playing two dates in Boston November 22 and 23 and one presented by Echoes and WFUV in New York at The Concert Hall on November 25. (Concert Info)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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