One tune that really excited me
Have you ever attended a concert and afterwards could not fight the feeling that the supporting artist completely outshone the main act of the evening? I admit, that is quite rare and yet exactly that happened to me when I first saw the Australian indie outfit Husky some years back. It must have been something about the serene and melodic atmosphere with a folky catch that these lads were capable of creating, which fully took me by surprise. Their latest single release Cut Myself Loose reconnects to that experience for me and is a piece which I simply could not get enough off lately. Piano chords that flow like waves over a steady rhythmic fundament meet up with singer Husky Gawenda’s fine vocal craft and create the same buzzing sense of tranquility that made me fall for these guys in the first place. Never surpassing its harmonious enclosures, this gem evolves a beautiful musical drift. A signature Husky song, if you ask me. If this is what we can expect of the new record arriving in June, then I am more than excited. Tune in to a live version of the song below.
One wonderful (re)discovery
It might just be the current exceptional circumstances of being forced to spend as much time as possible in the confinements of my home, but these days I kind of got prompted to dive back into the years which really got me hooked on some contemporary folk artists. I know, the British singer-songwriter Laura Marling is by now far from an insider’s tip. Yet I cannot but highlight how fascinated I still am by her sophomore record I Speak Because I Can from 2010. Equipped with a husky velvety voice and building up a lyrical universe which mingles a first person’s reflections on art, love, heartache and on a woman’s place in the world, these songs made me realise how much I still appreciate to listen to a record from the first track to the last. And what a good one this is. Take Devil’s Spoke for instance, which begins with a sombre organ introduction and then kicks of with some folky and ultimately catching acoustic guitar riffs, framed by an enraged young voice, which perfectly captures the morbid and existential subject of the song. There are equally thunderous and memorable pieces such as Rambling Man or even the second to last Darkness Descends, the latter of which evolves a dazzling progression from a delicate acoustic ballad to a haunting tune about facing your own inner ghosts. Up to this point I am not sure if it’s Laura Marling‘s quality of taking philosophically inspired themes and pour them into original folk pieces, or the fact that I have yet been able to follow her on every step of her artistic progress up to now. But I really don’t have to narrow it down, as long as the music’s good, am I right?
One thing that really annoyed me
Okay, please do not get me wrong on this. I have loved and consumed both album releases of The Whitest Boy Alive at the time of their release and long afterwards. Then, after encountering Serious, their first new song in several years, it not only took me by surprise but filled me up with general excitement that a band I had completely lost sight of, would resurface on my radar again. And yet, I cannot bring myself to deliver words of praise for the piece. I don’t know, have I just lost the ability to appreciate the funky-giddy atmosphere these lads are able of designing? A jittery guitar intro that sounds like straight of a jazz sample beginner’s toolbox, followed by tiring melodies and random jangling instrumentals – this piece simply does not live up to past treasures that Burning or Dead End were to me back in the day. After about half of the song, when a jazzy improvisation kicks in, the experience reaches its low point for me and I realise that this is driving me mad with exhaustion. While I still have the hope of reconnecting to these guys again in the near future, lyrics as the following most likely will not do the trick: Do you want me to be with you? Or should I leave now? I don’t know, The Whitest Boy Alive, do you? And should I?
One thing that really surprised me
Does it still count as a surprise when an artist continuously expands his level of ingenious musicianship? Well, I guess for me it does when an artist like Nick Murphy goes total ambient piano music, drastically moving away from the intoxicating, restless soul-searching poured out in last year’s Run Fast Sleep Naked. In Music for Silence all that clamour gives way to piano-drenched meditations, which present themselves as studies in profound silence and in a way recall the likes of other composers in this field such as Martin Kohlstedt, Ólafur Arnalds or Niklas Paschburg. I am not going to lie, it does take its time to dive into the compositions, but once you have, the effect is just wonderfully soothing. At most times sombre and melancholic, the subdued key-arrangements – which partly feel like improvisations – seem to take you by the hand and lead you into dreamy spaces of carefreeness and peace. These realms are hard to leave behind, once the pieces have exercised their strong hold on you. And that effect has its origins deep in the creative genesis itself, as expressed by the composer: “These recordings healed me and I wanted to share them in the hope some of that healing might pass on to a listener. Everything is so dense these days Its important to take some spiritual rest when you can.”
Just a random thought
For all the dire consequences that artists and the creative industry are facing right now in the past weeks under Corona, the crisis has brought about the interesting phenomenon of musicians streaming private concerts from their homes, often under the hashtag of #togetherathome. Benjamin Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie, amongst many others, is doing a terrific job here, interacting with his fans, sharing songs and stories night after night – and no doubt offering a sense of solace during these strange times. He has also released a new song with a title that without any detour tells what it is about, living a Life In Quarantine. As sombre and downbeat as the current situation presents itself, this one bluntly addresses the recent circumstances. “No one is going anywhere soon”, the tune concludes fittingly and we all have to agree with that right now, sadly. While I appreciate outputs like this – bleak as they may be – or the multitude of artists performing “concerts” in their homes, I can only hope that this is not what the experience of music is going to be like in the near future. If you ask me, nothing will ever replace the feeling of actually seeing your favourite artist(s) live on stage, along with other likely-minded people. For the time being, let’s hope that things will look much brighter soon.
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