Schubert – Impromptu No.1 in C Minor (played by Jandó)

March 12, 2010 2 comments

During my gap year I had a girlfriend who was (and still is) extremely talented at just about anything she gets her hands on. Musically, not only a harpist and a singer but also a pianist, she rattled off this impromptu by Schubert one day when I was at her house.

I was gobsmacked. Firstly what a piece. Secondly, my egotistical side couldn’t handle the thought that she could play such a challenging piece. It might not sound very difficult, but the fingering and musicianship required to bring out the melody at some points are so tough. Plus it is 9 minutes long. I wanted to be better than her at the piano – it was what I was going to study at uni for goodness sake! She was off to study Modern Languages and she still plays ridiculously difficult piano pieces.

So I spent my first year at uni practicing it, taking it to my wacky piano teacher (in this video you can actually see the music to this piece. Just noticed…) who would help me get it up to scratch. I realised I’m just not as good as her. She probably learnt it in a week whereas it took me about 6 months.

…But I did it! I played it well enough to get a 1st in the exam and I was overjoyed. I rung her up to tell her that I could play it, but by this point our level of contact had become pretty much non- existent due to reasons that were completely my fault, and she essentially wasn’t bothered. Not that she knows how hard I spent practicing the piece and why I learnt it. Maybe she’d have been more interested if I told her.

This piece is so self-contained. So final. An epic piece which has extremely happy and extremely dark bits. A film I can compare it to is Love Exposure – a 4 and a half hour epic which goes through every genre. Meticulously done, everyone has to see it.

It’s the climax onto an Ab major chord at 5:05/06 which I love (but not played very well on this recording – it should sing out a lot more). All of Schubert’s passion poured into that chord which is repeated at 5:15/16. The build-up is amazing with the left hand repeating some fierce chords from 4:58. I also love the key and dynamic change from 5:24- 5:30; a big contrast to the previous heavy section.

Andrew Bird – Oh No

March 10, 2010 2 comments

Introduced to me by band member Tim, music is a must during our ritual bouts of Scrabble.

The game wasn’t memorable as I lost. In fact I’ve only beaten him twice in our competitive word-exchanging history, so this isn’t worth commenting on, but the beauty of Andrew Bird‘s Noble Beast album has more to tell.

Consistent in delicate performance and musicianship, and without the cringe, this album makes me tingle. Bird has a very reassuring voice, a voice which for me gives the impression that any musical arrogance is at a minimum and instead he lives to tell wonderful stories and play wonderful music.

It was a tough call to choose between his songs Oh No and Effigy, so I’ll talk about them both. Especially as what it is I like about them is actually the same thing:

It is the preceding orchestral introductions, containing these lush, pensive-like harmonies which then suddenly contrast with the second introduction (both tracks have two introductions) which is what I love. In Oh No, whistling begins at 00:19 secs which makes me feel like I’m being hugged by a reassuring stranger in a park. Fitting, as the former introduction sounds like a visual of a park – children playing, the sun beaming, you see?

And In Effigy, a righteously melancholic guitar line is heard at 00:48 secs. I remember first hearing it on the speakers and I just couldn’t concentrate during our game; I had to listen to it more and find out where it was going. Before this, which begins the track is a wonderful string section which alongside the guitar melody, has a tinge of medieval pastiche to it. Like the introduction to ‘Oh No’, it’s a swirling, looping melody which really can go anywhere, which is why I like how he has chosen in both songs to create a significant timbral contrast. Excitingly understated songwriting.

Oh No

Effigy

Balkan Beat Box – BBBeat

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my favourite songs that I heard last year thanks to Spotify’s recommendations, it instantly won me over and every track on the Nu Med is gold. Balkan Beat Box comprises of a previous Gogol Bordello member and a member of Firewater, so it’s a bit of a world music super-group.

Imagine this song coming on in a club; it has so much rhythm, groove, and so many wonderful styles from all continents that it really is a feast of aural and moving delight. The track begins with these four knocking sounds which is then followed by some nicely edited percussion hits. It’s just the beginning of a buildup to the main clarinet melody at 53 secs.

I would LOVE to see everyone dancing to this melody in an R&B / Hip-Hop club, it’d be such a fresh change to have such happy, less promiscuous, less aggressive music pumped through those massive systems. *I’m not saying all R&B and Hip-Hop songs are aggressive and promiscuous, but are many this happy?*

But the best bit has to be when the clarinet melody returns at 3:18/3:19 for it’s final time. At the very end (3:35) it so wonderfully harmonised by another clarinet which then tails off every now and then to do it’s own solo and blemishes.

BBB are playing one London show on 14th April at Dingwalls. I’m going, anyone want to come!?

Balkan Beat Box – BBBeat by masstsnk

The Latter Day Saints – Coming On Dirty

February 10, 2010 1 comment

Hailing from the surprisingly un-rock n’ roll area of Romford, Essex (UK) this 3-piece mega-force of testosterone know how to make some massive tunes.

I came across The Latter Day Saints after following them from when they were called Herbie about 6 years ago. Always under the radar, the lack of justice strikes again as this technically and musically talented trio are still scrambling for recognition, with an unlucky history of managers being blacklisted, bankrupt and heavy drug users: they seem to be fighting wave after wave.

But despite all this, there are people who do eventually get to hear of this group and of course like it. One of them being Tom Robinson who played them on his Introducing Show a few times (just after Ten Bears who I wrote about on an earlier post). But another is Pedro Ferreira who produced The Darkness’ ‘Permission to Land’, Stereophonics, and even Colour of Fire who I also mentioned in a previous post. He has volunteered to take on their latest demos and help bring them to the masses.

‘Coming on Dirty’ is one of those tracks, starting with an epic guitar riff, at 00:18 secs, we then hear Tom Scully’s brilliant voice easily sitting on top of the track, sounding like a cross between Sterophonics’ Kelly Jones and Manic Street Preachers’ James Bradfield but with an added tinge of grungy rasp. However, it’s when the track reaches the chorus’ (first heard at 00:54) that we reach its climax – it’s just so huge! Aided by some beefy production, this track is a fine example that this band is a sitting duck of an opportunity for any manager or label. What the hell are you waiting for?

The Latter Day Saints – Coming On Dirty by masstsnk

Heaven’s basement – Executioner’s Day

February 9, 2010 1 comment

Wow, I’m finally back…after a week of touring, rehearsing in Wales, Manchester and having my computer broken which resulted in me losing all my music.

But I return armed with a bang thanks to Heaven’s Basement. Previously called Hurricane Party and then Roadstar, I ended up doing work experience in the shop the guitarist worked in in Romford (PMT – Professional Music Technology) which apparently is where Radiohead swears on buying their equipment from. It was whilst I was here that Johnny Rocker gave me Hurricane Party’s EP. I loved it and ended up keeping an eye on them ever since.

After two name changes and countless band member sackings, the band finally seem set in stone with a new, heavier, more ‘stadium rock’ sound which I’m well up for. ‘Can’t Let Go’ enters with an almighty blast at 00: 07 secs. WHAT A RIFF. How can anyone deny the sheer balls of this track? It’s the only track (apart from Muse’s Knights of Cydonia) that I feel will literally rock your socks off.

And so it is the aforementioned intro and also the entry of a ridiculously manly solo at 3:12/13 secs which I love best. The solo’s chord change at 3:25 secs works so well, it takes the track up to 11.

\m/ ROCK OUT \m/

Heaven’s Basement – Executioner’s Day by masstsnk

Carlos Jean – Mira Pa Dentro

February 1, 2010 2 comments

I came across this unknown Spanish number after watching Dot The I (to make sure that I complete watching every film with Gael Garcia Bernal in it) and it was surprisingly really good. I’ve never watched a film with so many twists at the end.

I say unknown Spanish number because the composer, Carlos Jean, is pretty much unknown. All I could find out was that his moment of fame came from making the music for an Intel Core 2 Duo Microprocessor advert.

Essentially, a really pumped dance song with a really cool piano line. It’s full of typical Latin energy but the heavy production gives it a modern feel. Even though the chorus is the coolest part due to it being ridiculously catchy, I really love the mini breakdown from 1:28 – 1:36. It really emphasises the rhythms of the track when it comes back.

Carlos Jean – Mira Pa Dentro by masstsnk

Haydn – The Creation (PART ONE, The First Day – Introduction: The Representation of Chaos)

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

This extract is the final minute of the 6-minute long introduction to Haydn’s ‘The Creation’.

A masterpiece which we studied at uni, I specifically chose to focus on this introduction, specifically the many different ways ‘chaos’ is depicted and how chaos shouldn’t always be referred to in a negative way. The word can also mean something which is obsolete, which is exactly how it’s defined in Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ as it represents the beginning of God’s work in creating the universe.

I like this final minute for no reason related to the previous paragraph. I think it is just beautiful. The sustained strings at the beginning are so ambiguous, and so is the oboe melody which follows (which sounds strangely like a motif from Wagner’s ‘The Ring’). At 00:35 seconds is an utterly haunting descending harmonic minor melody on the flute. And the closing dramatic, repeated minor chords starting from 00:58 seconds are so final, so hollow.

Haydn – The Creation (PART ONE, The First Day – Introduction: The Representation of Chaos) by masstsnk