Friday, 20 December 2013

Merry Christmas From Musical-Things

In the spirit of Christmas we wanted to share a real Christmas gem with you today to celebrate the season! So as you settle down with a glass of mulled wine and some minced pies, why not listen to this little yuletide medley put together by the amazing RCM pianist OLIVR!



WISHING YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS FROM TEAM MUSICAL-THINGS!
 
 
P.s. If you love OLIVR as much as we do, follow him @OLIVERRPOOLE

Friday, 16 August 2013

Prom 41 - A Very Russian Affair


On Tuesday 13th August 2013, we were lucky enough to have stalls seats to the evening’s BBC Prom 41 at London’s acoustically epic Royal Albert Hall.

Photo Credit: BBC Proms Team
The Prom was a fantastic Russian affair played by the fantastically talented London Symphony Orchestra. Native Russian, Valery Gergiev was the conductor of choice for the evening and what a perfect choice he was. Never have we witnessed a conductor with such amazing freeness and fluidity, especially in his hand movements. With hands that at times seemed to literally ripple like water, Gergiev’s gift worked perfectly in extracting the exact sounds that he desired from the orchestra. Coupled with his tuned in relationship with the orchestra, it was refreshing to experience how effectively this unique conducting style worked, and even more delightful to hear.

Fitting with the superb choice of orchestra and conductor was a programme to match, with the finest selection of Russian composition on show. Here are just a few of our highlights from the concert:

Piano Concerto no. 2 - Alexander Glazunov
We will eternally be jealous of the piano soloist of this piece, Daniil Trifonov who, at just 22, faultlessly transported us through the concerto with skill and maturity way more advanced than his age. A perfect fit with the Gergiev, between them and the orchestra, they presented an interpretation of the work with the highest emotional and expressive strength. After endless rounds of applause, Trifonov treated the audience with a ‘little’ impromptu that literally blew our minds!

The Rider on the White Horse – Sofia Gubaidulina
This piece was such a delight to hear with its full and unconventional ensemble making it just as enjoyable to watch. The percussion was a fresh and fantastic sound which, when combined with the beautiful Royal Albert Hall organ, played in such a fantastically ugly way with apocalyptic note clusters, was an experience to be treasured. The allusions to the end of the world could definitely be heard in the antithetical deathly rumbles and heavenly bells. An truly excellent piece, which served as an exciting contrast to the more traditional pieces of the programme.

Pictures at an Exhibition­ – Modest Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel)
Every picture of the exhibition was totally definable to perfection. My Proms Plus Family guide with brief descriptions of each movement was made redundant as the LSO aurally painted each image with intense vivacity for the audience. Having spent most of the day at the Royal College of Music’s Igniting Sparks workshop for kids based on the piece, the excitement and anticipation had been building up throughout the day. Being the last piece in the concert was worth the wait, and I'm sure that none of the workshop children who made it to the performance were disappointed - we certainly weren't! Exhilarating to the extreme, when the momentous conclusion of the piece arrived, depicting the gates of Kiev, and the regal possession came to an end, we (and probably most of the audience) were ready to hear it all over again. Horns blaring and cymbals clashing, the Royal Albert Hall was the perfect location to host such a fantastic ending to the night!

Have you been to the Proms this year? Or maybe you’ve been listening or watching it at home? Tell us your highlights by comment in the box below!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Festival Tickets - Are You Really Getting Value For Money?

At Musical-Things, we love to get your brains ticking by sharing stimulating articles with you on all sorts of musical topics. So this Friday, in lieu of our usual New Music Friday post, we wanted to share with you an intriguing study by Mike from NerdWallet that will get you wondering whether those tickets you managed to nab for the hottest summer festivals were value for money or simply more money that they were worth. Read on...


Study: Dance Fans save $310.93 on a ticket to Lollapalooza

The big American music festivals set you back as much as $200, $300 or sometimes even $400. Is that a fair price?

In a recent article, NerdWallet answered that question for dance-music fans. If you’re into artists like Major Lazer, Azealia Banks, Hot Chip and more, are you getting you’re money’s worth?
For some festivals, the answer is yes, especially at Lollapalooza, where electronica fans get a $545.93 value – $310.93 more than what you pay for a three-day pass.

For more detail on NerdWallet’s analysis, check out the full study on their website.

What we think.

The fact that all the featured festivals are US-based does not rule out the same being the case for those taking place in UK. So next time, before you join that never-ending digital queue for the latest festival tickets, why not do a bit of research and see if it is really as good a deal as it seems...

Do you think that you are getting your money's worth when purchasing festival tickets? Share your experiences and let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 19 July 2013

New Music Friday - 'Catch A Fire'

This week’s New Music Friday is a bit different – it’s new music in old music. Last weekend we popped along to Royal Festival Hall at London’s Southbank Centre for ‘Catch a Fire’, a re-imagining of Bob Marley and the Wailers amazing album of the same name. Read on…

Bio.


This sensational new orchestral interpretation of Bob Marley and the Wailers' groundbreaking and iconic album features Jazz Jamaica All Stars, the Urban Soul Orchestra, special guest Brinsley Forde (Aswad) and a 240-voice Voicelab choir.

Originally released in 1973, Catch A Fire announced the arrival of Jamaica's first global superstar, and this melodic, dynamic and heart-lifting musical tribute makes the flames burn even brighter.

Toured in 2012 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence, the show was a sell-out at Southbank Centre last October. The show is co-produced by Dune Music in association with Tomorrow's Warriors.
Photo and words credit - Southbank Centre

What we think.

‘Catch a Fire’ effortlessly reignited our love of reggae and of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh music. Jason Yarde’s stimulating arrangements completely captured the listeners' mind whilst keeping the essence of the songs present and strong. The vocals were faultless, Forde was the perfect person to take centre stage with his sweet, rustic tone and fantastic reggae delivery.

Favourite moments:

Catch a Fire – musically, it was the arrangement of this song that really blew our mind. The second song in their first set, it really set the tone for the rest of the show. Our favourite moment of the song (and a definite contender for favourite of the show) had to be when the piece literally caught on fire! Starting in the strings section of the Urban Soul Orchestra, a flurry of free improvisation took over, one player at a time, until the musical fire had spread to the whole ensemble. With the bass and drums keeping the original rhythm and bass melody and everyone else going crazy on top, the sound was truly amazing! This is the perfect example of Yarde’s creativity in integrating the name of the piece in the music, adding a new element, which perfectly fit in with the essence of the song.

Stir it up – With one of the most easily recognisable intros of Bob’s music, there was no doubt in the audience’s mind when the skank guitar came in. But nothing could beat the moment when the bass, or in this case the double bass, came in with that famous riff – the audience literally went crazy. Gary Crosby on the electric double bass was a total legend as he lyrically took us through all of the fantastic reggae bass riffs we've come to know so well. If you have never heard reggae bass played on a double bass (as we hadn't done until the show) then it is really a must! The resonance and extra dimension that the double bass brings to the melodies is a sound like no other and completely cemented our bass line obsession even more.

Overall, it was such a pleasure to be able to enjoy great music in a great venue and by amazing musicians. The contrast between ‘Catch a Fire’ and the concerts on the Southbank’s usual programme made it all the more fun. It almost felt like we'd broken in and were having a massive party, of course with dancing mandatory! Here’s hoping that it will be back again next year, so that more people can experience the magic that is ‘Catch a Fire.’



Did you make it down to the Southbank on Saturday? What do you think of this interpretation of Bob's music? Let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 12 July 2013

New Music Friday! - Ciaran McCarthy

Welcome to the weekend! The weather forecasters are predicting that a heatwave is coming soon, so we thought that it was our duty to provide you with some appropriate music, well in advance, for when it arrives. This week's offering is courtesy of a very talented producer from Ireland - here's introducing Ciaran McCarthy. Read on...

Bio.



Ciaran McCarthy aka Suburban Dream is Irish producer from Kildare who has been releasing material since 2008. In that time he has garnered support Mixmaster Morris, Kid Loco, Nick Warren and radio stations such as Kiss FM, Chill London, Soma and Chilltrax. H ee has also been lucky enough to remix for Kid Loco. Kid Loco's latest release "Trip Hop Classics Vol 2" will feature a previous release of Ciaran's called "Wandering Around."

Suburban Dream Recordings was founded by Ciaran in late 2007, aiming to focus on quality chilled electronic music, from downtempo and ambient to more electro-acoustic sounds. Bucking the trends, Ciaran proclaims that the label "ignores current fads, sticking to making music that is honest, heartfelt and motivated only by love." This latest release is from Ciaran himself under the name he shares with the label, Suburban Dream. The project has released a number of singles, receiving support from the likes of Mixmaster Morris, Ben Mynott (Big Chill), Kid Loco and broadcasters like Soma FM and Chilltrax. Suburban Dream releases works through Parklane Recordings, iLabel, Lushgroove, and Bonzai Elemental but also continues to work with his namesake imprint.


What we think.

Ciaran’s music is effortlessly listenable with the right blend of funky rhythms, a strong bass line and cool production capturing the listener’s interest. His current track, ‘Not Who You Said,’ demonstrates the freshness that Ciaran brings to the music scene through his fun manipulation of vocals layered on top of a chilled instrumental with an up-tempo house beat.

Starting of with a strong bass drum beat, Ciaran quickly and quirkily introduces other percussive sounds into the mix. This includes the little vocal ‘yip’ which, appearing with its delay, is a perfect example of Ciaran’s fun take on rhythm. The introduction of the long held synth notes, addictive bass riff and the succeeding repeated 3-note melody make up much of the melodic and harmonic content of the piece, though later the vocals come in creating another dimension which Ciaran produces smoothly and with stereo mixing to match.

‘Not Who You Said’ is headphone, car stereo and club PA music. It is designed to be heard anywhere and in any context. This is what makes it perfect for the summer season. This track and others from Suburban Dream have an effortless coolness to them. This could come from the urban influences that can be heard in the rhythms Ciaran uses, particularly in the drums and percussion where hints of hip hop are definitely present. His use of piano sounds often carry a jazz vibe but the emphasis is definitely on the improvisational nature and the freedom that it invokes in its more structured environment. His beats are overly catchy and it is difficult to avoid nodding along even in sections when it doesn’t seem obvious or natural to do so.

Ciaran’s success comes largely from his retention of a fundamental fact of popular music – music is meant to be enjoyed. Ciaran ensures that the listener fully enjoys his musical offering by creating something that is so catchy that it’s difficult not too find yourself submitting to the repeat button. Chill out music with a hip hop twist, Ciaran’s music is addictive and Suburban Dream is definitely an addition that everyone needs to add to their collection. Check out ‘Not Who You Said’ below...



‘Not Who You Said’ is out on 16th July. More music and info on Ciaran can be found on his website, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and don't forget to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Are you feeling the summer music vibes? What device will you be listening to Ciaran on? Let us know by commenting below.

Friday, 5 July 2013

New Music Friday! - Guest Post: Classical Music For You

We have got an extra special treat for you this week to mark the first Friday of July! Our feature today is a guest post from classical music blogger Arnaud Wiehe from the fantastic www.classicalmusicforyou.com. He's going to talk about a new CD that takes four hundred year old music, recomposed by a living composer, to create a modern sound world that we can't wait for you to hear - here's Max Richter's recomposed Vivaldi Four Seasons. Read on...
Vivaldi Four Seasons Recomposed Max Richter Daniel Hope

I featured the very popular Vivaldi The Four Seasons in a previous post. Despite the Four Seasons being more than four hundred years old, it is one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever written and most people know it. In this recording it is given a 2012 modern treatment and facelift. The movements and timings are almost identical to the original version, which makes the piece instantly familiar, yet still new at the same time. 

Daniel Hope, the violinist on this recording, is a fellow South African, born in Durban. He plays these pieces with crisp precision, excitement and vision. In short, he is incredible in these pieces.

The following quote by the composer, Max Richter, aptly summarises my feelings about this work. "The piece is pretty radical. I've probably thrown away three quarters of the notes, but I've kept the gestures, shapes, textures and dynamics of Vivaldi"-Max Richter.

In short, I am truly excited by and in awe of this achievement. This piece demands to be heard.

Links to the recording:
 Amazon.com


Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons - Max Richter US Store
Recomposed By Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons - Max Richter, Andre de Ridder & Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin UK Store

If you need any more convincing, then watch this short documentary with comments from the composer and performers.


So what do you think? Do you prefer this interpretation? Let us know by commenting below and don't forget to check out more stimulating posts from Arnaud at www.classicalmusicforyou.com.

Friday, 28 June 2013

New Music Friday! - James Revels

What's better than the prospect of the weekend? New Music Friday taking you into the weekend of course! Our feature today hails from America and has a very special sound that we can't wait for you to hear - here's James Revels. Read on...

Bio.

James Revels III, is a 19 year old composer and audio engineer from Dayton, Ohio. He started composing and mastering audio when he was 16 years old. Sine then, he has composed 6 complete instrumental releases (which are always at 'name your price', including $0, at www.jamesrevelsiii.bandcamp.com). Philosopher's Stone EP, one of the releases on his Bandcamp, is also available on iTunes, Google Play and is 5 star rated on Amazon. He has mastered 3 solo hip hop mixtapes and 1 EP released. He has also mastered 3 of the 4 releases of, Radikal Nation, a diverse hip hop collective that he is a co-founder of.

What we think.

At only 19, James may be young but he has a lot of talent and potential to do big things. His unique way of bending and manipulating sounds make his music totally intriguing to the ear as the listener tries to second-guess the music's direction and make sense of what they hear. He often does the unexpected, leaving the listener puzzled, waiting for something orderly to happen. This is what makes James's music so exciting to listen to - the unknown, spontaneous nature of his music is refreshing to the ear. 

His arrangements are complex but at the heart of it are quirky little melodies, often with oriental/Phrygian mode influences built into the harmony. The computer is James instrument with most, if not all, the sounds digitally created and mirrored in the spirit of James's compositions. 

In his newest composition 'Kaleidoscope,' James aurally captures a kaleidoscopic motion as he moves mystically through the different sounds. A combination of the disorientating stereo mix, harmonic repetition and constant movement, the piece embodies that feeling of fascinated tranquility that comes with peering into a kaleidoscope. The multilayered melodies are the individual patterns in the mirrored tunnel merging from one to another in the constant rotation, provided for the listener by the rhythm. It is so easy to get lost in the soundscape that James creates and, just as kaleidoscopes draw you into another world which is hard to escape, James's composition does the same. 

James ability to manipulate sound is amazing as he create interesting sound zones for listeners to engage in. His music definitely has a cross-genre feel to it; at its heart is electronic instrumental music but there are hints hip-hop, ambient and even pop mixed in to his creations. This is a new kind of instrumental music and one that we cannot get enough of!

We've got a little taster for you below but to hear more of James's creations check out his Bandcamp, YouTube and don't forget to like him on Facebook.


Are you drawn into James's compositional aural-sphere? Let us know by commenting below...

Monday, 24 June 2013

Monday Message: Support Xova and Crohns & Colitis UK Charity

We love to see musicians doing a good deed and helping others, so we could not resist sharing this great cause with you. Xova, a former New Music Friday featured artists last month, have released a new track 'Little Lion' in aid of the Crohns and Colitis UK Charity. For every track purchased,  50% of the proceeds will be donated directly to the charity.

About Crohn's and Colitis UK

Text and image from
Doitforcharity.com
Crohn's and Colitis UK aims to improve life for everyone affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the most common forms being Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Together these conditions affect about 250,000 people in the United Kingdom. The charity brings together people of all ages who have been diagnosed with IBD, their families and the health professionals involved in their care.



Support Xova and Crohn's and Colitis UK by downloading 'Little Lion' on iTunes now.

Friday, 21 June 2013

New Music Friday! - Emmavie

We are really on a roll with the London artists this month! This week's NMF offering is a very talented singer/songwriter with a unique sound you will love. Your weekend begins now! Read on...

Bio.


Emmavie is 22 year old female producer and songwriter from North West London. Creating a blend of Electro RnB, Hip Hop and Soul, she has formulated her own distinct sound. With a mix of musical influences such as The Neptunes, Erykah Badu, Dorian Concept and more, she has formulated a unique blend of Electronic infused R&B/Hip Hop/Soul music just for you...

Having clocked up a number of cameos as a vocalist and a producer on a number of UK and international artists records, Emmavie has recently released a brand new project entitled "L+VEHATER"; an RnB/Soul compilation produced, performed and edited completely by herself.

What we think.

Emmavie’s production is super slick with each sound and effect seamlessly blending in combinations that are nothing but pleasing to the ear. Where the real Emmavie comes out however, is in the manipulations of rhythms, which, in the midst of such smooth production, eagerly attracts the ear in its element of unexpectedness. This effect draws the listener deeper into Emmavie’s sound, making them cautious not to underestimate the sleekness they first perceived. It is really these exciting little pops of action add uniqueness and character to her sound.

One thing that does rival her production skills however, is her voice. Her London twang ever evident, Emmavie’s tone is as smooth as her production with her soulful vocal delivery working amazingly with her UK style diction. The harmonies are flawless and sound even better when she has a bit of fun with them like she does in ‘L+vehater/Fatal Attraction’. Digitally manipulating her vocals, taking it between extreme highs and lows, phasing it in and out of sampled vocals and experimenting with drastic stereo mixes all show Emmavie’s creative quirkiness when it comes to both vocal production and instrumental.

A standout track that demonstrates all of the above is, for us,  ‘Jealous Jealous Jealous.’ The realistic and frank lyrics are delivered in that quirky Emmavie way and are combined with her sweet ballooning harmonies displaying her vocal talents. She mixes the acoustic sounds of the piano and guitar with an electronic backing, blending it all together effortlessly in to an easygoing track. Ending it with a semi-surrealist outro adds a fresh take on the urban genres from which she draws inspiration.

It is truly refreshing and most importantly enjoyable listening to Emmavie’s L+VEHATER. The combination of not knowing what to expect coupled with the certified high standard of production means the listener is both secure and exposed to the musical experience Emmavie offers. ‘Jealous Jealous Jealous’ would make a perfect first single, we can already envisage playing it in the garden or park on a summer’s afternoon (if summer ever comes!) – it would easily be a hit on the radio! Like last weeks NMF feature Stardo Karle, Emmavie’s voice has that international appeal and we for one will be advocating her pending world domination!

So, to prepare you, check out L+VEHATER below and while your there, click the download button so that you can take Emmavie with you wherever you go…



You can find Emmavie on www.emmavie.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud. Are you loving Emmavie's sound as much as we are? Let us know by commenting below and don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

New Music Friday! - rumHoney

As resident Londoner, we are always extra excited when we come across talent in the vicinity. So for the second week running, we present to you a London act to start your weekend of in the best way – here’s rumHoney! Read on…

Bio.

The music of rumHoney is a celebration of their roots. The sound is blues-based on the twin guitar attack of the great rock ‘n roll bands, such as Aerosmith, The Black Crowes, and The Rolling Stones – the same bands they grew up listening to and treasuring as rumHoney younglings. After some years working together rumHoney have developed their own sound and direction and have financed and produced their own music with no external assistance or influence.

What we think.

rumHoney are an eclectic mixing pot of coolness. Not your ordinary rock band, rumHoney has a soulful vibe that is hard to ignore. The vocals have a fantastic texture with hints of multiple genres coming through in each song – think Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger with a dose of blues, soul and country. The lead singer is clearly gifted in his versatility, applying just the right tone and feelings to each of the songs on their album East to West.

 Instrumentally, rumHoney are totally reflective of their name. Sweet and smooth, like honey with rich natural harmonies and melodies, with a kick of accentuated rhythms in the percussion, guitars and bass – like a dose of a good shot of rum. Their sound is organic and natural (the rumHoney allusion is impossible to escape), void of digital manipulation and capturing all of the best aspects of live, recorded music. The stereo mix is just right, with the instrumental taking just a slight priority over the vocals but not in an overpowering way. This effect merely showcases each riff and lick for its own value, with the voice happy to blend in without getting lost in the sounds.

 ‘All Over You’ captures this dynamic perfectly, as the guitars and bass take the lead with its addictive melodies. The ascending chromatic 3-note lick played in harmony by the guitar and bass, adds an extra element of cool to this bluesy track. With the low-key percussion, this track is definitely about the guitar/bass relationship and as the guitar solo comes in half way through (and hints of country guitar come and go), it is hard not to find yourself drawn into the aural atmosphere.

rumHoney may hail from London but they are so much bigger than the city. In fact, you could easily mistake them for being from the US, down south where there is no shortage of strong music genres making up their aural heritage. But this is what makes rumHoney so unique. By effortlessly bringing this eclectic vibe to the UK music scene, rumHoney are doing their own thing, going against the grain and bringing good music back with a vengeance. We love it!

Let us now transport you into the rumHoney world with a little taster (excuse the pun!) of their music. Here’s ‘She so fine’. Enjoy!



If you like rumHoney and much as we do, check them out on their website and at MuzicNotez.com. Don't forget to share your thoughts on their music below!

Friday, 7 June 2013

New Music Friday! - Stardo Karle

The weather is great, it's the end of the week and better yet it's New Music Friday! This week's treat is courtesy of the sassy Stardo Karle. Read on...

Bio.


Stardo Karle is a UK recording artist establishing herself in the music industry. Over the years, she has researched and been inspired by the evolution of music types from the 1950s to the present day.

Stardo has been singing professionally since the age of 18 and now with her education complete and colourful, she is set to make her mark in the UK and worldwide. Her eclectic urban and Indie style infused with Reggae, Funk, and acoustic soul has made her a trendy chef of the genre, sound and style.
As a young girl, Stardo described church as a concert she attended every week, and wanted to be up there singing and performing too. Her desire was shared with three other talented girls in her Sunday school, and at the age of 13 she was in a girl group called Four Seasons. Stardo represented the summer season because of her birth date, loud sound and vibrant style. Her father’s disco and funk jazz collection has and will always be a great inspiration. From a young age, she was exposed to the sounds and performance energies of James Brown, George Benson, Mary Jane girls, and Soulive. These artists are of a few that have influenced Stardo's musical niche.

Stardo is always experimenting with her sound and could never be filtered into one genre. She aspires to make a landmark in the music industry by pioneering a genre found through an eclectic mix of research, creativity and soul searching. She has been seen an scoped by many press and social media such as FLAVA TV, Live Magazine, The National Youth Theatre, SoundClick, Spiff TV, UK Unsigned, NBT Media, NotSignedTV and many more.

What we think.

With her versatile voice and cool vibes, Stardo Karle is definitely one to watch. 'Monsters' has a very different vibe to a lot of music currently coming out of the UK urban scene; is not regressing to Old School Garage/Grime like a lot of tracks and it hasn't jumped on the Dance music bandwagon either. Stardo is operating on her own agenda, experimenting with genres and styles against the grain of what is popular at present and it is working in her favour by differentiating her from the sea of urban female vocalists who are currently on the scene.

Stardo Karle's vocals are, however, what really makes this a hit. With her versatile tones and sparky lyric delivery, the listener is easily convinced to 'jump on the beat it's live'. Although there are definitely undertones of the US present in the music production, Stardo's vocals and delivery have that distinctly British quality, distinguishing her from her counterparts across the pond. The contemporary hip hop beat complements the track keeping it current despite its old school allusions in the form of the accompanying synths. The held chords take us back to early 90s R&B with tracks like Jade's 'Don't Walk Away' and Dru Hill 'Somebody's Sleeping in my Bed' instantly coming to mind. This track mirrors the smoothness associated with that era with a funkiness which makes this song perfect for any party.

'Monsters' is just one of Stardo's fabulous creations in her unique style. 'Lily' is a must for listening if you are looking for something fresh and funky to tantalise your aural taste buds, 'Congratulations' is another, and there several other notable tracks for your listening pleasure to check out on her YouTube page. But let's start where we began by having a listen of the unavoidably catchy 'Monsters'



You can download 'Monsters' for free here or by visiting Stardo Karle's SoundCloud page. Don't forget to follow her on Twitter and Facebook for updates on new music and performances. 

We are loving Stardo Karle but what do you think? Will you be playing this at your next summer BBQ? Let us know in the box below!

Friday, 31 May 2013

New Music Friday! - Michael E

It's our favourite day of the week again at Musical-Things - New Music Friday! Today, we are going to let our featured artist Michael E help us to transport you into the weekend by soothing away the stresses of the week. Read on...

Bio



As a child, Sheffield native, Michael E struggled with the classical music he was taught to play on the piano. At the time it simply did not resonate with him. It was only in the early 70’s with the Motown era that music began to speak to him in a more profound way. He joined various cover bands and toured the Euro/American Navy and Air force bases in Germany, Italy, Spain playing keyboards and percussion.

As a means to support his family and continue his love of music he continued as a solo pianist at home in Sheffield.

He also started composing his own music for solo piano at a time when the age of digital recording had not arrived. When it did, he realised he could complete a full arrangement, playing all the parts enabling him to conjure up wonderful sounds, haunting melodies and explore so many musical landscapes. Michael was well and truly hooked and it was almost like a new beginning for him. In 2006, Michael E was finally in a position to dedicate his life to the pursuit of his musical dream. When the chance came along he grasped it wholeheartedly and has never looked back.

What we think.

We at Musical-Things are very big fans of chill out/lounge/ambient music, so listening to the taster to Michael E’s Little Blue Planet was just a joy. This music is all about the aural atmosphere, effortlessly transporting you away from the physical into Michael E’s sound world. His mix of stimulating but unobtrusive percussion sets the perfect scene for all occasions – from listening on a stressful journey home from work to lounging in the garden on a sunny day with a glass of wine. With names like ‘Summer Song’, ‘Turquoise’ and ‘Breathe in breathe out,’ it is hard to resist being taken in to the titles, which are clearly reflected in the music.

There are beautiful acoustic piano moments in which it is difficult to avoid being drawn into the melody, as the strings seamlessly balloon behind it providing effortless support. These moments contrast well with the more ethnic inspired tracks, where tribal calls and vocals are blended with multi-layered electronic backings with bursts of acoustic instrumentation keeping it fresh and varied. Michael E uses a variety of instrumentation through out the album, from classical and jazz to more unusual natural sounds and ethnic instruments creating an amazing eclectic mix when combined with the electronic elements.

So what is our conclusion? You do not need to be a fan of chill out and ambient music to enjoy the music of Michael E. You cannot fault his precision and careful construction of peaceful harmonic spaces, which would entice even the most conservative listener. In his mix of everyday sound effects, subtle percussion, stereo mixing and production, Michael E has created a soundscape that you will find hard to escape from once you lose yourself in the tranquillity. But this is not uninspiring tranquillity where the listener’s brain becomes unengaged. Michael’s music merely provides the right musical environment to enhance the listener’s mental space and allows every aspect of the music to seep into the listener’s aural crevices.

Have a listen to the taster below and hear for yourself...



For more information on Michael E, check out his Soundcloud, Facebook and Myspace. Michael E’s album Little Blue Planet is available to buy on iTunes now.
Are you soothed by Michael E's music? Let us know by dropping us a line below.

Friday, 24 May 2013

New Music Friday! - Rixa White

Happy Friday all! It's the day of the week we have all been waiting for and which is even sweeter this week due to the extra bank holiday Monday day off. Who doesn't love a long bank holiday weekend? With weather predictions looking much improved and the prospect of four consecutive lie-ins ahead, it is time to start off the long weekend right with New Music Friday. This week's special guest is multi-talented Rixa White. Read on...

Bio.


Rixa White

Rixa White, the former spirited online entrepreneur hid his identity, transformed his destiny, returned to his roots and followed a new path in life through his music. As a self-taught Pianist, Keyboardist, Composer and poet, he was never an alien to music world as he started to play at age 6 and composed his first recitals when he was 14.

In 2010, he created Silentaria Electronic music project which is a reminiscence of musical projects like Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Kitaro, Yanni, Enigma and Era.

Rixa White combines Electronic, Contemporary Instrumental, Ambient and Progressive Rock genres and adds his unusual methodology in sound design and music production to create his unique music entirely in his personal studio with softwares and electronics. His music is mainly instrumental and when there is vocal (human or robot), even female vocals, he generates it from his own processed voice.

Nowadays, if not traveling, you can find him developing new gears and features for his music, composing new melodies for Silentaria or writing a new poem to share with fans and friends.

What we think?

Rixa proves that the art of creating beautiful melodies in music is still alive by effortlessly producing them throughout his music. His style, largely instrumental, seamlessly blends classic electronic sounds such as synthesizers and drum machines with more acoustic elements. Rixa’s pieces, which are each accompanied with a poem (on his YouTube channel), takes the form of contemporary program music with the music representing the narrative of Rixa’s poetry. This makes it particularly powerful both musically and emotionally.

This is particularly the case in ‘Sabine’, where the piano holds the main melody whilst a string countermelody weaves in and out, binding the piece together. The harmony is simple and so is the rhythm, leaving the melody somewhat exposed but totally in its element. As the texture grows, the intensity increases as the additional sound effects add a magic to ‘Sabine’ that reflects the romantic description Rixa himself attributes to the piece.

There is an old school electronic vibe to Rixa’s music; the instrumental quality reminiscent of movie soundtracks from the 80s. But it is this quality of mixing the old with the new that makes Rixa music so interesting to listen to. His music touches people’s souls and with tens of thousands of YouTube listeners attesting to this, we also agree that Rixa make beautiful music.

Here’s an excerpt of ‘Sabine’ for your musical enjoyment…



Sabine and other Silentaria tracks are available to buy on iTunes.

Are you a fan of Rixa White's music? Drop us a comment and share your thoughts.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Mayor's Music Fund Sponsor a Scholar Campaign - Help share music with a child


Most of us have had the opportunity to learn an instrument at school. Not all of us were good at it, some of us didn’t even enjoy it, or didn’t get to play the instrument they really wanted to play. But to many, playing an instrument as a child was a time of pleasure and creativity, unmatched by rival activities or hobbies. For some of those who were good at it, it became more than child’s play; a job or career, a cherished hobby to hold on to through the dramas of life. 

Now imagine being given just a taster of playing, getting the buzz from learning your first few notes, starting to fall in love with creating something special – only for it to be taken away from you. Removed just when the fundamentals of musicianship are beginning to develop; as your talent begins to flourish.

This is the reality for many children in London whose socio-economic circumstances act as a barrier for their musical talent and whose musical potential regretfully lacks the financial backing needed to progress. This injustice, which is seemingly increasing due to cuts in government spending on arts, is not about to change, that is unless more of us who have been fortunate enough to be touched by music help.

The Mayor’s Music Fund are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough to sponsor the music tuition of just one child. If everyone who reads this gave just the price of a music lesson to their campaign, they would be one step closer to reaching their goal and giving that one child the invaluable gift of music. Why not give back some of the enjoyment you had from music to someone otherwise will be unable to? Music is said to be the greatest gift a person can give, so please give generously and share the campaign with everyone you know!


Other ways you can help:

Friday, 17 May 2013

New Music Friday! - Xova


Another installation of New Music Friday for you today. We know the weather hasn't been great recently (at least not in London), but we're hoping the vibes of today's featured band Xova will get you in the mood for the weekend and maybe even bring out the sun!
Read on...

Bio.



X.O.V.A. are multi-racial band, fusing their rock-reggae base with the breadth of the modern world – ska, pop, dubstep, blues, Motown and folk, infused with protest and pain, but also hope.

The band have had headline and festival dates including some prestigious support slots with legendary bands like The Skatellites, and a home town Birmingham Town Hall Xmas gig with ’The Beat’ who they are now working on a collaboration track for release in 2013

2013 see’s them heading off to the USA, as NBC TV New York, flew in to film them in December 2012 to feature them on the Jimmy Lloyd Singer Songrwiters showcase, which started airing April 27th 2013 on NBC and most USA networks. They had UK support slots with The Spin Doctors, and The Selector, and also confirmed their own dates in between. They won a place at the massive ’ISLE of WIGHT Festival’ 2013 as one of the best of 2700 unsigned bands in the UK who entered.

They have also just completed filming a movie based on the infamous NO11 Bus route and the many musical influences that have inspired the band along the route. The film features cameos from the likes of UB40, THE BEAT, WONDERSTUFF, FUZZBOX, MUSICAL YOUTH and many more, this will be released early in 2013 and accompanied by 11 webisodes on the bands website.

The latest release THE SOHO RD SESSIONS, came out on Itunes Late 2012 and has the lead track of “9 LIVES” which is accompanied by a quality video directed by Alex Kyrou [Tim Burton asst], this has helped get the band NATIONAL UK RADIO airplay on BBC 2 [Alex Lester] and BBC6 [Tom Robinson] where Tom commented ’This Is one of the tightest bands I have heard in a very Long time’

Regional Radio’s such as BBC WM INTRODUCING announced them as ’BEING ON THE CUSP OF BREAKING THRU’ in 2013… Q RADIO, SCRATCH Radio, and many others now coming on board to support, including some great press from the likes of ”ECHOES MUSIC MAGAZINE” (The U.Ks Essential Black music monthly) who rave about the band.

Debut album “Synchronise Your Leader’s” is due to released in the Spring/ Summer 2013

What we think?

Xova have a great live sound; listening to their track ‘9 Lives’ it’s almost impossible not imagine hearing it at a gig. Whether it is the great production of the track or just the perfect combination of  live instrument, particularly this digital music era, ‘9 Lives’ screams real music.

The intro launches the listener into myriad of musical surprises, first being their fabulous old school horn section. Decorating the ska rhythms throughout with powerfully funky riffs and licks, brass takes centre stage with gusto – a musical choice we greatly approve of. Not since the days of funk have we been treated to such rhythm!

Another comes in the form of the crisp but soulful vocals that serenade the listener, bringing in an R&B vibe. This along with the band being in perfect sync bring a fresh sound to the well established reggae genre. Fusion has well and truly been achieved in Xova’s careful but playful mix of genres, influences and vibes.

Our conclusion? Xova is a musical melting pot not to be ignored. With their fresh take on old sounds, they are just what the UK music industry need to revamp the humdrum and groove in to the summer, if summer ever comes…In the meantime, why not check out Xova live at one of their upcoming performances? See below for a taste of what you will experience…



See Musical-Events to find out when Xova will be gracing a stage near you...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Monday Message - The Color Run: Help Stand Up to Cancer

In lieu of our usual Song of the Week post, today we wanted to highlight a really worthy cause that we will be supporting and hope that you will be too!


Friend of Musical-Things, Phil Maguire (and friends), will be taking part in the Color Run this year to raise money for the cancer research initiative, Stand Up To Cancer. With 7.6 million people dying from cancer a year*, cancer is an issue that none of us can afford to ignore. Check out the video below for some interesting statistics...



Phil and the girls will be documenting their journey at thecolorrundiary.wordpress.com so why not take a look and give a couple of quid to a worthy caused. Remember, every little helps!

Visit www.justgiving.com/ahuegoodwomen to donate.
*statistics from World Cancer Day website

Friday, 10 May 2013

New Music Friday! - The Koniac Net

Happy Friday!!!! As the weekend is upon us, we thought it only fair to take you into it with some fabulous new music!

Today we introduce to you The Koniac Net a great indie/alternative act hailing from Mumbai, India. Intrigued? Read on...

Bio:

The debut album, One Last Monsoon, was written & performed entirely by songwriter David Abraham, and primarily recorded in his bedroom - an apt environment for an album that plays like a love letter to the Indie & Alternative genres, and the artists/bands that allow these genres to thrive.

The Koniac Net has been compared to artists such as the Stills, Smashing Pumpkins, Toadies, Death Cab For Cutie, Matt Pond PA, Marcy Playground, and even Chris Isaac . The album not only pays tribute to the genres these artists represent, but at the same time breathes new life into the Indie genre. 'One Last Monsoon' is for all intent and purposes a mixed tape for the Indie & Alternative music fan.

Songs from the album have already gained airplay on over 80 radio stations across 27 countries. Upon receiving numerous requests to tour internationally, the Koniac Net transformed from a one-man-project to a 5-piece band in June of 2012.

What we think:

The Koniac Net have perfected good music with their faultless combination of amazing vocals, catchy (but not simplistic) rhythm and easy on the ear harmony. Listening through each track on the album, you cannot help but fall in love with front man David Abraham’s flawless voice as it completes every track with its hypnotic loveliness. The production is perfect with Abraham’s getting the mix between musicality and catchiness just right throughout.

We have to admit, there are no favourites when it comes to this album; each track has its own style, attraction and feel which makes it almost impossible to favour just one. But for a first listen, why not check out 'Maggie (A Song for Brad)', a fun little track which we definitely had on repeat.

This tracks it all about the beat. The rhythm throws you at times but not in a tricky way – the song’s playful nature is too inviting for you to be anything but entertained by it’s rhythmic games. As it seamlessly switches between a regular 4/4 feels and the slowed down jam-like 2/2, it all culminates in a fantastic guitar outro with Abraham’s subtle ‘na-na’s unobtrusively completing the full sound. Plus, what’s not to love about a 3 minute track where the last minute it almost completely instrumental?! Genius!

Check out their amazing video to another album "favourite," (we really cannot just pick one!) 'This Time Around'


Definitely one of our albums of the summer, One Last Monsoon is available to buy on iTunes and Amazon Music now!

What do you think of the Koniac Net? Let us know by commenting below!

Want to be featured in New Music Friday? Send details of your music and a sample of your material to info@musical-things.co.uk.

Monday, 6 May 2013

M-T Song of the Week - Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams - Get Lucky


Happy Bank Holiday all and a special welcome to the Sun who has finally decided to join us in the UK! We have a smasher of a Song of the Week for you today, inspired by our big yellow special guest with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams sending out their musical summer vibes with ‘Get Lucky’.

Now, there seems to be a trend occurring with our Songs of the Week with ‘Get Lucky’ being another toe tapper, head nodding tune that is sure to invade your music player this bank holiday. If you can listen to Niles Rodgers truly infectious disco guitar riff without a single bodily twitch then we commend you!

Centred on a simple four-chord progression that is repeated throughout, ‘Get Lucky’ avoids monotony by entrancing the senses. As the seamless melodic flow lulls the listener into a hypnotic summer dream, the listener cruises through various musical events and summer scenes.

The instrumental, which begins the song and reappears at intervals throughout, is really the foundation of the track. Its central elements being the guitar riff, bass, drum kit and low-key synths, set the casual laid back feel as the slow 4/4 beat is accented by the off-beat guitar strumming.

Pharrell’s featuring vocals, which are almost synonymous with summertime after his string of summer hits in the 00s, deposit a dose of cool to the track with his unique voice and falsetto transporting the listener along the journey to the party.

The party really starts towards the end of the track as we are treated to a brief fix of what Daft Punk are really about – electronics. Reminiscent of their Millennium hit ‘One More Time,’ DP’s digitally distorted vocals officially deliver us to destination dance, as they replace the riff with their signature sound of synths, auto tune and compression before bleeding back into a return to the former easy-going vibe.

Imagine sitting in the garden with a glass of Pimms and your sunnies on, or cruising through the streets of London with the windows down – this song is definitely your accompaniment. Make the most of the sun while it lasts and enjoy below!



Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories is out now! For more info check out their website