January 31, 2012
Altin Village & Mine will shortly (at the time of writing) be releasing The Kenya Sessions as a vinyl album, but they will be doing so about a year after its original CD and MP3 release on Pingipung, which gives me a welcome excuse to cover a recording that managed to pass me by on its initial foray. Sven Kacirek is a drummer/ tuned-percussionist and composer with a conservatory training, and a CV full of experimental and avant-garde collaborations. His working practice on this album is one that invokes a variety of discourses and debates around ‘world’ music and its appropriation, which must inevitably have a bearing on …
January 26, 2012
Our statements have meanings only inasmuch as they indicate distinctions or differences. Words, and other meaningful gestures, draw lines around pieces of our conceptual universe, and say ‘x means y because it doesn’t mean z’. A piece of music that sounds very similar to another, has a very similar meaning; in the context of a unified style, when lots of pieces of music sound the same, they really don’t mean anything much. They are generic. But there’s a danger of flinging the baby out with the bathwater if we reject every piece of idiomatic art on that basis: generic conventions can be manipulated to profoundly meaningful effect as well. It behoves listeners to be alert to difference, and those without an understanding of a particular style …
January 24, 2012
There’s more than a nod to dreampop and shoegaze in this music, but Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo are clearly too in love with the raw and ragged sound of a distorted electric guitar to tame it to the extent that might imply. Some of Wish You Were A Pony is downright heavy! This is pop music, but not lowest-common-denominator, mass-market pop; it’s pop because it’s all about simple, accessible melodies, infectious, danceable rhythms, lush, inviting soundscapes, and, well… fun.
January 23, 2012
My last Monday Musing was on the topic of music scenes; this time it’s on a closely related theme. Just as there are social networks of musical production and consumption (a confusing multitude of inter-related networks), so there are networks of cultural practice that contextualise our listening. It’s apparent to anyone who takes an interest that certain sounds are associated with particular demographics. Take a random sampling of ten people who listen primarily to new-folk, another ten who listen mainly to hip-hop, and another ten who mostly listen to post-hardcore, and as much as we might want to pretend that it’s all about …
January 19, 2012
All music has an atmosphere. I’d go so far as to say it’s a central aspect of all musical meaning, although it’s obviously not the only meaningful element in music. Words, melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres and so on, all have their particular capacities, but the atmosphere of a piece of music falls somewhere in the cracks between all these things. There’s a sense in which that elusive quantity, musical meaning, is the same thing as mood or atmosphere, in as much as meanings are in the experience of listening, and music that addresses itself directly to atmosphere is cutting straight to the chase in some respect.
January 11, 2012
Textural rock music, crafted in painstaking sonic detail, utilising intricate and unusual rhythmic structures, has become a ‘thing’ in recent years; but it has generally been a thing in which vocals, while not necessarily altogether absent, take a back seat to the other elements. Not so with trillian: these songs are really songs, in the fullest sense, with well considered chord sequences, lyrics that seem to actually be about something, and melodies that provide each track with its central narrative. The vocal is an equal partner, rather than the dominant element, and for some reason that’s a relative rarity: bands tend to emphasise either their song craft or their arrangements.