Looking through my recent ‘likes’ I see several pieces worthy of a mention in these pages. So it’s time for another playlist, methinks. But how do you choose the order of the tunes? Are there any rules? Or does it just come down to personal preference? And what happens if you get them horribly out of order?
Having put together a 7-part playlist the Crotchety Synapses considered this ordering problem for some time. Our initial strategy was to save the best to last but other people’s ears might not have the time or the patience to listen through to the end. We wouldn’t want them to miss the tastiest fruit on the table. Then again, if we put the best bits first each subsequent track will be a slight disappointment and it wouldn’t take long for our listeners to catch on to the descending scale.
Soon, though, we realised that all this pondering and analysis is futile. No two listeners are likely to agree on the right order for any collection. The best we can do is to put the ones we’d most like you to hear at the beginning and hope our audience listens long enough to hear what pleases them most. So here it is, both on YouTube and on Spotify. If you don’t like the order just click on ‘shuffle’ but I can’t guarantee it will be what you would have chosen.
Jim Griffin is an Irish prog/post-rock musician. Our New World Will Bathe In Ancient Light is a track from his new album, The Signal. It rocks along contentedly at the intersection of post-rock and universal appeal and it gets us off to a bright and promising start.
Billy Currie is best known as the keyboard player in Ultravox but he has had a moderately successful solo career since that band split in 1986. Overshadowed is from his 12th solo album, The Brushwork Oblast, which is on streaming platforms now and will be available from Burning Shed on 18th December. This particular track is an atmospheric piano solo with viola accompaniment and synthesiser backing track. It takes us on a quiet ramble, wending its way through green trees, pausing beside babbling streams and breathing in the fresh country air of the former USSR.
Texarkana is a cover of an R.E.M. track. The version by the Australian band, Quivers, strips it down, gives it a fresh sparkle and moves it into soothing country/pop territory.
Quivers make cathartic guitar pop that jangles and shimmers somewhere between 1980s Australia and 1990s America.From their bandcamp page.
And then, suddenly, we find ourselves in New York, strolling through a sunny Central Park with the jazz pianist Jihee Heo. Ms. Heo was born in South Korea but now calls the Big Apple her home. Oh, New York is a tribute to her adopted home city and she is clearly very comfortable there. There is no sense of the hustle and bustle of a big city, just the relaxed feeling that we belong here.
“ Jihee Heo done for me that rare and beautiful thing I value and cherish most about incredible music, She has inspired me.” -Kirk WhalumThe Jihee Heo website
Those first four tracks from this week’s playlist are all by artists new to the Crotchety Ears; the remaining three will be a little more familiar to readers of this blog.
We start the second half with some Afrobeat and world music from Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté. Lampedusa is an island in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Tunisia. Judging by the track of the same name from the Toumani & Sidiki album of 2014 it is a peaceful place. The father and son duo play a simple kora duet more reminiscent of a south sea paradise than their native African shores – plucked strings rippling like waves on a beach of silver sand.
Next, we get on the Big Big Train to continue our travels. This time it sounds as though we have arrived in Merrie Olde England where we find the lovely Theodora In Green and Gold. Here, mediaeval harmonies decorate a pastoral prog rock song as elegant courtiers glide over verdant lawns in Henry’s royal gardens.
But the peasants are restless. The satirical pamphlet distributed by the GoGo Penguin publishing house has stirred up a Protest. There’s TV coverage Live From Studio 2 and it looks as if things might get ugly. The bass player pummels his instrument in anger, the drummer whips up the crowd and the pianist’s oratory is compelling. Fortunately, though, the Speaker of the House knows how to restore order.