From The Piles

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You don’t have to be a musician, music journalist, or just a music fan to have piles of music stack for your work or just listening pleasure. Vinyl LP’s, CD’s, some almost abandoned formats like cassettes or 78’s, playlists neatly put in order or files in different formats. Piles of files.

Somehow, these piles just keep on growing, no matter how much listening you undertake. At some point, you just give up on some music without hearing even a snippet. It could be lack of time, for whatever reason, fatigue, or a simple realization that the current overabundance of music just makes it impossible to hear everything.

But then, on the other hand, there is that never-ending curiosity that keeps you going in search of that irreplaceable music gem that begs to be heard. Or just some good music in the sea of stuff that is just average at its best. Or at least that is what it sounds to you.

There’s also that other kind of pile where you keep the music that you cherish, like, or has piqued your curiosity just enough to make you give it another listen. And those tend to grow too, making it even harder to decide which pile to go for at any given moment.

Somehow, for professionals and big fans, it is usually the unknown that takes precedence. Something that you can either trash in any shape or form or neatly place on one of those ‘cherished’ piles that you plan to shuffle through later. Perhaps.

As somebody who has the blessing (and the curse) to get an amazing quantity of material, too big even for a person with a voracious need for new music, those new, unexplored piles never get smaller. Unless you sprint through them with blazing speed and the ability to hear the essence in 30 seconds max, sometimes even less.

Still, the year-ending holiday season is the time when it seems that the music industry is at a standstill (pandemic or no pandemic) when you get a chance to take a listen to those mysterious piles of unknown music. And you do get a chance to pick up something that you will listen to for more than a brief second. Or something that will end up on those ‘other’ piles. Yet again, in presenting them you have to limit yourself. As an old friend put it, time is like an LP - it plays at a constant speed, and in the beginning, it seems to be very slow, as it approaches the end of the side, it seems to be constantly gaining speed. And there’s never too much of it…so here are three picks.

Let’s start with a single (track, video, whatever). Lakes from Watford England fall into that too broad and too general category of ‘indie-rockers.’ In essence, though, Matt Shaw are more gentle souls that rely on softly picked acoustic guitars and vocals and their old-times winter-themed video somehow covers that chilling feel that permeates the whole of 2020. They do nicely add that ‘rocking’ feels towards the end, as some form of hope that things will get better. Somehow. 

As you may have expected, and EP is next. James Basdanis concentrates on instrumental music that crosses borders on the three tracks that form ‘Diddycoy.’ Basdanis here relies on both of his heritages, east, and west, blending Grant Green guitar stylings with some psychedelic sustain and feedback and playing Balkan musical themes. All you need to enjoy this one is a well-stuffed Nargila.

An album for the end of this initial outing, that is in key with the currently predominating somber mood. Or melancholic, maybe. Or both, most probably. It is Icelandic composer/pianist Gabriel Olafsson and his album “Absent Minded”. Actually, Olafsson has done a ‘Piano Works’ deconstruction of the album, as well as “Absent Minded Reworks,” with other artists interpreting the same material. Frankly, all three are worth seeking out, particularly if you are in a need of some refreshing, imaginative modern classical/ambient music to get you through the spells of solitude that seem to be piling up themselves. 

Until the next time.