Posts Tagged ‘Echoes Blog’

Guitar Splendor in Echoes Top 25

February 26, 2014

Erik Wøllo and Mark McGuire bring guitars back to Echoes Top 25

TimelinesCDcoverErik Wøllo’s February CD of the MonthTimelines,  leads Echoes Top 25It’s a brilliant recording of layered guitar dreamscapes.  Following close behind is our soon-to-be March CD of the Month, Mark McGuire’s Progressive Rock epic, Along the Way.  You’ll be hearing more about this album soon.  No fewer than seven vocal albums populate the top ten slots including Priscilla Ahn’s This is Where We Are; Warpaint‘s self-titled album; Linnea Olsson’s cello songs, Ah!; the return of Aurah with  Summon the Sky; Gem Club’s hazy In Roses and Simon Emmerson’s Fresh Handmade Sound reinvention of The Beatles on A Hard Day’s Night Treatment.  That last one, sadly, is not actually out yet.  The rebroadcast of Pure Bathing Culture’s live set boosted their return to the top 25.  See the complete list below.


  1. Erik WolloTimelines (Projekt Records) iTUnes
  2. Priscilla AhnThis is Where We Are (SQE Music) iTUnes
  3. Linnea OlssonAh! (Universal UK) iTUnes
  4. Mark McGuireAlong the Way (Dead Oceans) iTUnes
  5. Fresh Handmade Collective – Fresh Handmade Sound: A Hard Day’s Night Treatment (Lush)
  6. KrusseldorfFractal World (Krusseldorf) iTUnes
  7. AurahSummon the Sky (Very Music) iTUnes
  8. WarpaintWarpaint (Rough Trade Us) iTUnes
  9. Gem ClubIn Roses (Hardly Art) iTUnes
  10. Pure Bathing CultureMoon Tide (Partisan Records) iTUnes
  11. Lost in the TreesPast Life (ANTI Records) iTUnes
  12. Blow Up HollywoodBlue Sky Blond (Blow Up Hollywood) iTUnes
  13. All India RadioFall Remixes (All India Radio) iTUnes
  14. LarkenlyreMusic of the Extraordinary Voyages (Cynelic Gast Music) iTUnes
  15. Kristin HoffmannThe Human Compass (Starr Records) iTUnes
  16. Olivier LibauxUncovered Queens of the Stone Age (Music For Music Lovers) iTUnes
  17. DarksidePsychic (Matador Records) iTunes
  18. Tonight SkyTonight Sky (Tonight Sky) iTunes
  19. Juliette CommagereHuman (Aeronaut Records) iTunes
  20. Muriel AndersonNightlight Daylight (Muriel Anderson)
  21. David Helpling & Jon JenkinsFound (Spotted Peccary) iTunes
  22. BluetechSpacehop Chronicles Vol. 1 (Native State Records) iTunes
  23. James HoodCeremony (Edible Sounds) iTunes
  24. Banco de GaiaMaya (Disco Gecko Recordings) iTunes
  25. Divine MatrixHydrosphere (AD Music) iTunes

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

TimelinesCDcoverJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Erik Wøllo’s Timelines is our February CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.


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Andreas Vollenweider Announces New CD: AIR

February 26, 2009

After an absence of a couple of years, Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider has announced his return with a new CD call Air. Not much info yet on release dates. But Andreas has a very charming video up on his site.

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Andreas Vollenweider at Echoes

Here’s the press release:

We are very exited to present to you AIR, a very special new album with a very special history; it came as a surprise, even for Andreas himself! For 2008/9 he had planned to take time off to focus on other projects than music.

Andreas: “I actually was going to make room for my passion for storytelling and I was already in the midst of an intense writing process, when suddenly an unbridled desire to play music was rising. So I ended up writing during the day and at night I went to my studio, to completely lose myself in the playing, for hours, very much the same way as in the very beginning, no strategy, no concrete purpose, no plan. After some time it became very obvious; something wanted to come out and I should follow its ‘calling’. I love the line ‘man makes plans for the amusement of the gods…’, how true this many times is ;-)”.

Andreas began to call his friends and invited them for a spontaneous gathering in his studio… and in less than two weeks AIR was recorded.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: David Darling’s Ambient Cello

February 25, 2009

Cellist David Darling, the avatar of ambient chamber music returns with Prayer for Compassion, Echoes March CD of the Month.

You can hear an audio version of this blog with music.

Prayer For Compassion David Darling is the Lord of Largo, the Maestro of Melancholy. Classically trained and jazz converted, he played cello with the Paul Winter Consort in the 1970s including the landmark Icarus album. Since then, He’s released several albums on the ECM, Narada, and the Hearts of Space labels and in the process, has become a leading exponent of ambient chamber music. His new album, Prayer for Compassion, continues his mastery of melancholy.

It’s a soulful, heartrending sound that Darling gets from his cello and it has attracted people like film director Wim Wenders to his music. ECM svengali Manfred Eicher fell in love with his sound and invited Darling to record his debut CD on the label, Journal October.
Journal October

David Darling: So I get to Stuttgart, Germany and he says okay, do anything you want and so I started playing goon-goon-bat-che-goon-gon, set the gon-gon-bah, and he walked out of the studio and said well, “I’m not so interested in that, scheise, you know,” but he said this mantra which has been with me all my life, he said, “I want you to go as deep as you can go.”

Darling has been diving deep for years, although if you see him in concert, he’ll still whip out his improvised blues howls. But it’s in the zone of pensive mood pieces, playing electric and acoustic cello that he has made his mark. His new CD, Prayer for Compassion, is born from Darling’s spiritual faith, his battle with drug and alcohol addiction and his world view. You might think David Darling is a morose, brooding musician, but that’s not the case at all.

David Darling: When it comes right down to playing the cello, my fingers seemingly will not go to major, I like some other modality. But you know I feel extremely exalted and happy in that minor place, to me it’s not sad.

David Darling’s Prayer for Compassion is a bath of textures and deep moods, with Darling’s cello arrangements accompanied by some key guests and environmental recordings from Mickey Houlihan. It’s the Echoes CD of the Month for March and I’ll be featuring it on next Monday’s show.   Watch for a full review in the Echoes Picks page.

If you want to taste some of Prayer for Compassion, you can liten to an audio version of this blog.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: Nordic Ambiences

December 9, 2008

Björk and Abba aren’t the only exports from Iceland and Sweden.

(You can hear an audio version of this Blog, with music.)

As we close out 2008 and head into the chill of winter, I bring you two albums from Nordic territories to chill you even more. Scandinavian countries are putting out contemporary music at a pace that far outstrips their populations. We all know about Björk, and ECM jazzers like Jan Garbarek, but that’s just the tip of the Nordic iceberg. It must have something to do with those frigid long winter nights. Two recent albums explore shades of ambience in music of contemplative moods and expansive themes.

                                                        Born in 1969 Fordlandia Jóhann Jóhannsson is another one of those Icelandic musicians like Sigur Ros and Hilmar Orn Hilmarrson who are besotted by the contemplative themes of classical composers  Arvo Pärt and Henryk Gorecki.   Jóhannsson fuses these modes in a more electric setting on his album, Fordlandia.

The name Fordlandia isn’t the Icelandic exoticism you might expect. Fordlandia was a failed puritanical utopia that Henry Ford built in Brazil’s Amazon Forest in the 1920s. At the time he composed it, Jóhannsson  probably didn’t realize it might now also play as the contemporary soundtrack for a doomed car manufacturer.

A deeply textural album, Jóhannsson’s Fordlandia mixes dark classical woodwinds, string quartets and orchestras, pipe organ and subtle electronics in a roiling dissonance mixed with waves of surf-like chords that carry you through the ambiences.

Mossebo Another Johan, this one Johan Agebjörn, creates a more electronically based ambient chamber music out of Sweden. His album, Mossebo,  is named for the house where he recorded the album. There’s even a picture of it with snow-covered eaves. There’s nothing folksy or home-brewed about Agebjörn’s music, however. He often begins with simple sources like the vocal loop on “Dulciter Somni,” and then expands it into an electro-gothic chant. 

Agebjörn’s Mossebo home

Agebjörn’s Mossebo home

Mossebo emerges out of contemplative states and darker moods but often pushes toward affirmation, like the piano-driven theme of “Shoreline.” Even when he writes a train song, it’s not like American train songs, full of rustic yearning and blues. On “Siberian Train,” his locomotive is on the rails to oblivion.

Whatever they’re drinking in Scandinavian countries, I want more of it. Jóhann Jóhannsson and Johan Agebjörn are the sound just beneath the tip of the Nordic Iceberg.

WXPN in Philadelphia will be running an audio rendition of this blog, with music, Wednesday, 12/10/08 around 9:30 AM or you can hear it now

This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

John  Diliberto ((( echoes )))

John Diliberto’s Top Ten Songs for 2008: Alu to Gnarls Barkley

December 4, 2008

When WXPN, our Philadelphia Echoes affiliate, asked me to submit my Top Ten Albums and songs list, Program Director Bruce Warren said “send us your top ten albums and songs (if you have songs).” I knew what he meant by that parenthetical on a couple of levels.

On Echoes, we usually don’t play songs, right? Instrumental pieces are usually called compositions. Songs are something you hear on pop radio and have singers. And even if they were songs, we don’t think of the music here in a “song” sort of way. They’re more like parts of albums, atmospheres, moods and sonic architecture.

But we do actually play songs on Echoes. In the last year, you’ve heard tunes by Goldfrapp, Alu, M83, All India Radio and many more. So I approached this list like my Top Ten CDs for 2008. I didn’t limit it to Echoes materiel only, but they’ve all been in heavy rotation on my iPod.

Topping my list is Alu, someone not well known outside the Echoesphere, but she should be. Her album, Lobotomy Sessions is the Never Forever (Kate Bush) of the 21st Century, and this song in particular, “Circus Cosmos,” haunted me for months with its refrain:

You are the photograph that I’ve never seen
You are my phantom, the fountain of dreams.
I’ve been living in a mortuary, my whole life long.

There’s more imagery in that one chorus than most musicians conjure for an entire CD and it’s delivered by Alu’s keening soprano with such aching and despair that I know there’s more behind this tune than Alu let on.

Digitonal’s “93 Years On” is equally haunting. A masterpiece of ambient chamber music, Andy Dobson’s tortured clarinet solo, reputedly performed in a drunken haze over a lost girlfriend, is a blistering, pained cry of luxurious anguish set in an electronic cocoon.

Beck has one of the non-Echoes pieces here. But “Chemtrails” has one of those Pachelbel-style hooks that could go on forever. He did a great version of it with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at the Bowl in September that stayed in my head thereafter.

“The Legend of the Last of the Outlaw Truckers A.K.A. the Ballad Of Sheriff Shorty” by The Dandy Warhols is worthy of its over-long title. It’s a hyped-up mix of Country-Jitterbug-New Orleans Voodoo psychedelia. Courtney Taylor-Taylor rips it up in this hipster-talking ode to speed and trucking. I can’t get it out of my head. Check out this great video and it will be embedded in your head as well.

The electronica band Goldfrapp took a pastoral, nearly acoustic turn on their Seventh Tree album. I loved “Little Bird” for its wistful tone that ends in a psychedelic crescendo that reminded me of Magical Mystery era Beatles. Alison Goldfrapp’s voice is the kind you want to sleep with.

My youngest teenaged daughter, Grace hipped me to MGMT and  “Time to Pretend.”  It’s a tongue in cheek parody of the rock lifestyle with a surprisingly poignant undertone, delivered with driving synthesizers.

Lights Out Asia‘s “Radars Over the Ghosts of Chernobyl” is about as epic as they get, starting with Gothic chords and Latin voices that sound like an oblivion mass before slowly emerging into surging guitars, hell bound rhythms and Chris Schafer’s anguished vocal.

Mariee Sioux is a partly Native American singer who uses Native themes and imagery in her music. Her song “Buried in Teeth” is part children’s song and part lament with a fragile voice that breaks over her finger-style guitar playing with some nice Native flute by Gentle Thunder.

Another catch from my daughter is Gnarls Barkley.  Every time she’d throw a mix CD in the car and I asked her what that track was, it would be something by this electro-soul duo.  Their album, The Odd Couple is brilliant and “Surprise,” with its mix of chorus harmonies redolent of The Association coupled with surf grooves doesn’t stop.

Finally Sumner McKane’s “After the Fireworks we walked to the Rope Swing,” is the least song-like of anything here, but the epic, almost operatic electric orchestration always sends a buzz up my spine and the guitar solo is sublime.

You can see the list along with other host and staff picks at WXPN
or just go right here:

John Diliberto’s Top 10 SONGS




  Alu Circus Cosmos/Lobotomy Sessions


  Digitonal 93 Years On/Save Your Light for Darker Days
  Beck Chemtrails/Modern Guilt
  Dandy Warhols The Legend of the Last of the Outlaw Truckers/Earth to Dandy Warhols

  Goldfrapp Little Bird/Seventh Tree
  MGMT Time To Pretend/Oracular Spectacular
  Lights Out Asia Radars Over the Ghosts of Chernobyl/Eyes Like Brontide
  Gnarls Barkeley Surprise/The Odd Couple
  Mariee Sioux Buried In Teeth/Faces in the Rocks

  Sumner McKane After the Fireworks We Walked to the Ropeswing/What A Great Place to Be

Copyright 2008 Pennsylvania Public Radio Associates,
































Echo Location: A Synthesist turns Singer-Dean De Benedictis

December 3, 2008

Electronic explorer Dean De Benedictis finds Ambient music in his voice

(You can hear an audio version of this blog, with music.)

Dean De Benedictis @ Echoes

Dean De Benedictis @ Echoes

If you’re a fan of 80s and 90s TV crime dramas, you might recognize the theme from Matlock, the crime series starring Andy Griffith. It’s written by Dick de Benedictis, who also scored sexagenarian TV series like Perry Mason Returns and Diagnosis Murder. Dick De Benedictis had a son named Dean, and he’s followed in his father’s musical footsteps, but, the music is different.

Dean De Benedictis did write some source music for his father’s shows. He could turn around a country tune for a bar scene or a heavy metal tune for club on a moments notice. But Dean De Benedictis is an electronic musician at heart. Surface, Vol. 10 He was inspired by rap and break-dance music in the 1980s and then got turned on to Tangerine Dream. His first album, released as Surface 10 in 1996, was pretty much an homage to German space music via Steve Roach and his Empetus-period.

Dean De Benedictis has alternated recording as Surface 10 and under his own name over the last decade, but whether playing techno tribal music or full-on electronica, he was always plugged in. Recently, however, Dean has been shutting down synthesizers and opening up his mouth. He isn’t singing pop tunes. He’s creating ambient music for the voice that he calls “A cambient.”

Dean De Benedictis: A Cambient? A Cambient is going to be what this type of music is referred to if that phrase catches. The intention was to just kind of create a name for this type of music since there is none and it is basically combining the word acappella and ambient. So it is almost kind of hokey in a sense.

Dean De Benedictis's A Cambient Variations

Dean De Benedictis

All of the music in Dean’s album, A Cambient Variations, begins with his voice. It’s follows in a tradition of David Hykes, Joan La Barbara, and Björk, not to mention beatbox vocalists. You can hear him imitating the sound of percussion or a string bass occasionally, but usually, he’s creating an electronic landscape with his voice.

Dean De Benedictis: I specifically imitate electronic music in a sense. I imitate the limitless possibilities of tonal ranges that we have at our disposal as electronic musicians.

Dean De Benedictis says he’s still going to make electronic music, but for now, he can’t keep from singing. His album is called A Cambient Variations. We’ll be featuring an interview with Dean De Benedictis on Tuesday December 9. This has been an Echo Location, soundings   for new music.  

(You can also hear an audio version of this blog, with music from A Cambient Variations.)

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes Top 25 for November: Bombay Dub Tops

December 1, 2008

World music fusions bookend the Echoes Top 25 for November as electronic artists and acoustic revisionists dominate the list.  Bombay Dub Orchestra, our November CD of the Month, tops the list, (read a full review)  followed closely by the independent release from Vic Hennegan, Aqua Vista his homage to space music.  You can find out more about that CD in Hennegan’s Echo Location.   Fernwood’s global Americana chamber music came in high based on their wonderful live performance for Thanksgiving.   You can hear and read more about them in an Echo Location.   Expect to hear more about John Gregorius, whose #5 CD will be number one in December as our Echoes CD of the Month (read review and Echo Location).   Sumner McKane remains strong as does General Fuzz.  Check out the Echoes Blog for profiles, music and Echo Locations on many of these artists.




1. Bombay Dub Orchestra 3 Cities Six Degrees Records
2. Vic Hennegan Aqua Vista Alien Tribe Records
3. Fernwood Almeria Self Released
4. Anja Lechner and Vasillis Tsabropoulos Melos ECM Records

5. John Gregorius Heaven and Earth Spotted Peccary
6. Sumner McKane What A Great Place to Be Don’t Hit Your Sister Records
7. Solas For Love and Laughter Compass Records
8. Ronn McFarlane Indigo Road Dorian
9. General Fuzz Soulful Filling Self Released
10. Peter Kater & Dominic Miller In a Dream Point of Light Records
11. Sundad The Journey Continues Sundad Records
12. The Glimmer Room Home Without the Journey Neu Harmony and A-Frame Media

13. Jeff Pearce Rainshadow Sky Jeff Pearce Music
14. Saul Stokes Villa Galaxia Binary/Stokesmusic
15. Johann Johannsson Fordlandia 4AD/Touch

16. Jenny Scheinman Crossing the Field Koch/Cryptogramophone/Tzadik
17. Digitonal Save Your Light for Darker Days Just Music
18. Jesse Cook Frontiers Koch Records
19. Alu Lobotomy Sessions Alu Music
20. Spirits in Ambience Sahara Aurora Blue

21. Karda Estra The Last of the Libertine  Cyclops Records
22. Goddamn Electric Bill Topics for Gossip 99x/10
23. The Imagined Village The Imagined Village Real World
24. Doug Smith Guitar Parts Solid Air Records
25. Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze Sira ObliqSound
Sumner McKane‘s
What A Great Place to Be
was the
Echoes CD of the Month for October 2008
Read the Review!

Echo Location: John Gregorius “Heaven and Earth”

November 25, 2008

Heaven & Earth On his latest album, Heaven and EarthJohn Gregorius finds a meeting ground between Windham Hill fingerstyle guitar and ambient music.  

listen-icons-16x162 (You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.)

Progressive rock was known for it’s synthesizer and organ orchestrations and furious electric guitar runs, but a lot of musicians were attracted to a more pastoral side of that sound heard in the acoustic guitars of Mike Oldfield in Tubular Bells and Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips from Genesis. One of those musicians was John Gregorius. He’s a rock refugee who has played in a bunch of Southern California bands, but he went for a different approach on his debut, Heaven and Earth. It’s a sound that mixes ambient textures, world music touches and finger-style guitar.

No matter how elaborate his arrangements might be, the songs on Heaven and Earth begin on acoustic guitar.  Gregorius cites Genesis, but you can also hear the influence of Windham Hill guitarists like Will Ackerman and Michael Hedges in his playing.  He has a few purely solo tracks on the disc, like “Sackcloth to Ashes,” just to show the coordinates of ground zero.  Here’s a video of a solo version of “Heaven and Earth”

If this was just another acoustic solo guitar album, it would’ve been pleasant listening, but Heaven and Earth rises above when Gregorius’s acoustic tunes are set in ambient landscapes. A song like “Mercy” is based on finger-style guitar, but the lead is taken by a country-tinged electric over a Brian Eno-style soundscape that could’ve come off his Apollo album.

John Gregorius is a musician of eclectic tastes, but with a unified vision. You can tell he’s listening to acoustic players, but also has his fingers in rock and ambient music. A track called “Secret to Light” sets plaintive acoustic guitar in an atmosphere of growling, shoegazer rock textures and rolling drums played with mallets that come straight off the launch pad of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”

Folk, country, blues and world music are incorporated into John Gregorius’ playing. On “Pearls of Great Price,” he creates a meeting of Ambient Americana and Indian music, with udu drum and a guitar lead that sits between languid country blues and Indian raga.

John Gregorius’s new album, Heaven and Earth is out on Spotted Peccary records. It’s our Echoes CD of the Month for December. It will be featured on Monday’s Echoes broadcast. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.                      listen-icons-16x161 (You can hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.)

John Dilibert0 ((( echoes )))

Brian Eno on This I Believe

November 21, 2008

Brian Eno Essay to air on NPR’s This I Believe

From NPR Promo:

This week, This I Believe features an essay by British musician and record producer Brian Eno. He says singing together in a group is good for the mind,body, spirit and community. “I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, it encourages a taste for cooperation with others.” Eno’s essay will air on Weekend Edition Sunday on November 23.

This I Believe essays air weekly on NPR, rotating among All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Sunday and Tell Me More.

This I Believe is based on a radio series of the same name hosted by legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s. You can broadcast the fascinating story of the original series in the free documentary “The History of This I Believe.” This one-hour, newscast compatible program contains essay excerpts from Harry Truman, Margaret Mead, William O. Douglas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and other prominent figures of the day.

Check you local station for airtimes.

There’s nothing on the This I Believe site yet.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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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