Master and Everyone

Master and Everyone

Master and Everyone by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy was released back in 2003 and has long been a part of my desert island picks of essential records. It’s seen a lot of use over the years and for good reason, the unmistakable croon of Will Oldham has never managed to get old to my ears. The music here is bittersweet lyrically and takes a calm approach sonically as it grazes a number of folk music genres and rarely escalates above a whisper.

There are a lot of Will Oldham fans out there, his music spans years and years of different projects and prolific output so everyone seems to have their own personal favorites within his discography. For me, Master And Everyone has always stood out to me as an understated masterpiece, a record I could easily recommend anyone in need of something laid back and contemplative to check out if they have not come across it already.

Vinyl Copies have been out of print for quite some time as far as I know but can be found used here and there and available for purchase digitally on bandcamp here.

Jeff Parker

Slight Freedom

Last year was slow for me in the music discovery department. It was an atypical year in many ways so I didn’t end up putting as much time into seeking out new music as I usually do. I found myself gravitating to a lot of ambient music last year, or quieter music at least . Among my favorites in this department was a beautiful record of solo jazz guitar by Jeff Parker called Slight Freedom. While most people know Jeff’s work with the band Tortoise, he has a few releases under his own name and with others but this is his first truly solo record as far as I know.

While the album is only four tracks long, totaling about 37 minutes of music, the album as a whole holds a warmth and weight that I can’t get enough of. The music is immediate and elemental and was recorded in real-time with a minimal set of tools at hand without overdubs, an approach that allowed for an intimate listening experience that I really admire. It gave the album a sense of timelessness and still today after treating myself to a vinyl copy I have been putting it on quite a bit lately.

If you listened to 50ft Radio Vol. 15, then you heard one of the cuts off this album because I started off the mix with the track Super Rich Kids which is Jeff’s loose take on a Frank Ocean song (though you wouldn’t know it after listening). I love his subtle use of field recordings and audio loops which pull everything together to create a gentle landscape of sound.

If your looking for a peaceful album to give your day a few moments of calm you really can’t go wrong with Jeff Parker’s Slight Freedom. Digitally it is available for sale on iTunes and worth every penny. If you would like a vinyl copy, which is a beautiful sounding pressing on heavyweight vinyl, and read more about the release you can do that here on the label page for the release.

Glen / Molina

It was Triumph We Once Proposed…

I, like so many others, discovered Glen Hasard after seeing Once and while I do enjoy his music quite a bit I have not stuck with his releases through the years. When I heard he was planing to release an EP of Jason Molina songs I was skeptical. Cover albums, especially those in the guise of a tribute, usually miss their mark and simply leave me wanting to put on the original recordings. Heres looking at you Seth Avett and your well intentioned Elliott Smith Covers, though to be fair, it’s not often you hear someone cover an Elliott Smith song well. So yes, it’s rare to find a cover or tribute album that I actually come back to for repeat listens.

I pre-ordered a copy of ‘It was Triumph We Once Proposed…’ hoping I wouldn’t end up disapointed and thankfully I was anything but. He did a fantastic job capturing the essence of what made these songs great to begin with and managed to do this without over embeleshing the music. It is a worthy tribute in my book. Jason Molina had a wider reaching influence than I feel many fully realize and it’s nice to see his music live on and get shared with a new audience.

While it seems they have sold out on his personal site, I know there are still vinyl copies out there and of course it is available digitally through all the usual channels. Any fans of blues, alt-country, or singer songwriter music should jump on this without hesitation.

Desert Sound Colony

The Way I Began

I have been snatching up way to many great records lately, this year has seen a lot more great releases than I had expected, its been hard to keep up with all of the stellar music making its way up from the underground.

One of many recent favorites is this EP from Scissor & Thread, ‘The Way I Began’ which is, as far as I can tell, the debut from Desert Sound Colony. It’s a relaxed and subtly danceable collection of songs softly sung and glued together with head nodding rhythms. The music is reminiscent of the dreamy landscapes of Darkside and other electronic artists charting new territory in subtle electronic music. I can’t wait to hear more from Desert Sound Colony as time goes on, as it stands there is not much to go on as far as the history of the artist but well let that slide this time and let the music speak for istelf.

Available here (US) or here (Europe) on vinyl. Digital version also available through that first link which is his band camp page. Artists homepage here.

Transistor Radio

Transistor Radio

There are a handful of records in my collection that somehow never get old, ones that manage to feel welcome even after years of listening. One of those old standards in my book is M. Wards Transistor Radio, which I put on for the first time in a while last night. This record and the one that followed, Post-War, marked a turning point for M.Ward as he slowly gained a bigger following which reached a tipping point as he started to release music as ‘She & Him’ with Zooey Deschanel.

Transistor Radio is still my favorite album from Ward because of it’s eclectic mix of folk/singer songwriter ideas and experiments in sound/recording. It has a bit of a distant, otherworldly quality about it at times as it swings gently along. It is an easy recommendation and would fit nicely into any collection. It was released on Merge Records in 2005 but can be found on most modern streaming services or on vinyl through a bit of digging around online or at your local record shops.

Mountain Man

Mountain Man

One of my favorite summer albums for calm yet hot southern summer days is Made The Harbor by Mountain Man. It quickly snuck into my favorites back when it was released in 2010 and is still a go to record for catching a moment of rest during a busy day or adding a touch of solitude to an already calm summer night. Recorded with a minimal, lo-fi approach the folk influenced music found here sways calmly through vocal harmonies and catchy melodies that linger in your mind long after listening. More information on the release can be found here on the Partisan Records shop page.

Captiva

Captiva

Finding good ambient music seems to be getting harder. Not because there is any shortage of it, but because it’s hard to find interesting new takes on the genera. While I don’t need music to constantly break new ground I do like it when I come across something refreshing  enough to go beyond my expectations going in. That said, this new release by Stephen Vitello and Taylor Deupree is really hitting the spot.

I have always had a soft spot for field recordings and Captiva is full of them. Recorded while in residence at a beautiful looking guesthouse/studio in Florida you will hear sounds of birds, water, shells and other samples from the ocean fall intimately together with guitar, piano and synthesizers. The music found here is not something that will grab ahold of your attention and stick in your head. It’s more suggestive and leads your mind through various moods and landscapes as it evolves.

I find it perfect for stolen moments of meditative time at home or while at work during a stressful day. While this release is available digitally they only pressed 300 copies of the double 10” vinyl so if your interested don’t wait to pick up a copy of your own. A great addition to any collection and one I am sure to be putting on for a long time to come.

Release page on 12k with more information.

Spaces

Spaces

Unless you have been under a rock I am sure most all of you know Nils Frahm by now. A modern composer who’s compositions center around the piano but often drift into modern experimentation using synthesizers and creative playing styles that lead to some truly beautiful music. In his most recent release, long delayed on vinyl, he has released a set of live recordings as a means to closer connect his audience to the versions of his music heard at his live performances.

It’s interesting to see how a modern classical performer allows his music and compositions to evolve while he explored ways to perform them live as opposed to their original forms aided more by home recording techniques. These live recordings offer a look into the intuition and creativity he has as a performer and I love every minute of it. I could see this record easily becoming a long standing favorite over time and suggest you grab a copy of your own before they run out.

Break

Breakspiracy Theories Vol. 1

Malcom Kipe may not be a widely known name these days but in the heyday of the now defunct Merck records he released a couple of fantastic albums I consider to be classics in the realm of instrumental hip-hop. At the time, Merck was releasing music way ahead of the curve right along a handful of other small labels at the forefront of pushing electronic music forward in new directions. A few names off the top of my head that you may recognize who got their start in the Merck camp are Tycho, Helios, and MachineDrum. Merck may be gone but are certainly not forgotten to those who know the part they played in the evolution of electronic music.

Give Breakspiracy Theories a spin if you are in the mood for good old head nodding boom bap influenced hip-hop beats, some of my favorites from that era, right up there with the likes of perfuse 73, Daybre, Madvillain and others. Considering this was released back in 2004 I think it has held its ground well and can easily recommend it. The vinyl version was released in two volumes, which you can still find through Discogs, for reasonable prices but it’s also on iTunes and streaming services for those of you who have not yet been bitten by the vinyl bug.

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