My occassional fliratatons with new age music, if you could even call it such, brought me through musicians who today aren’t quite known for that genre even if lasting streams of those influences clearly remain in their subsequent work. And I never quite enjoyed it. Sarah McLachlan’s debut album Touch (1988) surely looked the part with the ornately (and of course slightly eerily) decorated sepia toned cover art. I found myself liking her subsequent albums more, probably owing to their stronger rock and pop leanings, and soon gave away my copy of the album to a friend who appreciated it much more. Another point of contact was probably Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978), which I never got into as much as I know I should have, preferring instead his weightier Discreet Music (1975).
It was thus with some trepidation that I approached Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place, released earlier this year on Asthmatic Kitty, a label not impartial to spiritual(ised) music. The album had all the ethereal and flighty aspects of music that I’ve remained rather guarded about (where is it all headed?), but yet it contained such a strong authorial presence that drew me in, even without a discernable lyrical narrative. The difference for Barwick is that focusing on the experiential has not hindered her from producing works of great force and direction, with tracks like “Prizewinning” challenging the “nothing ever happens” stereotype of new age music by first subjecting her own glowing vocals to the discipline of a rigid looping bassline and later setting it free with the gloriously triumphant call of a marching band. – Dan.
mp3: Julianna Barwick – Prizewinning
The Magic Place is available on Asthmatic Kitty.
Television’s “Marquee Moon” is an epic of a song, bringing together such muscle and grace in its ten-minute form. Compositionally it builds majestically as the guitar solos weave their interlocking lines. Yet, more than the solos, it is the duelling guitars from Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd that make the song the achievement it is. The tight interplay between the two guitarists foreshadow the democratic relationship of other guitar duos – Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien – who share the work between lead and rhythm, between melody and mood. Moving between the propulsive rhythms of the verses and the freer wanderings of the solos, Verlaine and Lloyd trade lines that bait, hide, and seek, impressing me even as someone who isn’t particularly interested in guitar solos. “Marquee Moon” is a ten-minute song, but makes me wish it was twenty. – Song-Ming.
mp3: Television – Marquee Moon
Song-Ming Ang makes art about music.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Sonicbrat – Bed Of Forty Winks
Sonicbrat is the enduring moniker of sound artist Darren Ng, whose work is characterised by an intricate tapestry of field recordings and found sounds, strung together by subtly processed acoustic instrumentation with a classical bent. Gentle, stirring and complex, Ng’s music is the sort that invites itself into and comfortably inhabits one’s imagination. His latest release, Hana, is his musing on the life of a flowering plant and is available as a free download on the Totokoko label. – Dan.
To download all 36 songs in one file click here. MAP is published on the 15th of every month, featuring a showcase of music handpicked by bloggers from all over the world.