Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pick of Music Listened to in 2015

Music is arguably the greatest human achievement. Even animals can
appreciate our music, unlike most other things we make. Every day I
listen to music from my ever-growing collection, and sample new stuff
via streaming services and the radio. Vocals can be distracting when I'm
working on something tricky, learning new stuff or reading, so in recent
years I've been getting more into instrumental music: classical,
post-rock, soundtrack, contemporary and light jazz. My selections
reflect this trend.

1. New Releases in 2015

Here are my favourite new releases from last year, roughly ranked
starting with what I've enjoyed the most.

* "Elements" by Ludovico Einaudi
Another masterpiece of contemporary classical music. Still too early to
say where it fits into his canon, but an instant buy.

* "The Chopin Project" by Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott
Some of Chopin's best known pieces rearranged by this contemporary
Icelandic composer, and performed along with a renowned German-Japanese
classical pianist.

* "Currents" by Tame Impala
Latest album of psych grooves by this West Australian band. One of the
rare cases where my current tastes intersect with Triple J listeners.

* "Taranta Project" by Ludovico Einaudi
This folk/classical crossover collaboration grew out of Einaudi's recent
curation of the annual Italian folk music festival called "La Notte
della Taranta". World music with a Southern Italian accent. Einaudi has
had a busy year.

* "Courting the Squall" by Guy Garvey
Debut solo album from the frontman on UK alternative rock stalwarts,
Elbow. A bit more intimate than his main band's usual work.

* "The 12th Room" by Ezio Bosso
Reworkings and new pieces from this minimalist classical and soundtrack

* "Risveglio" by Alessandro Cortini
Pleasing industrial/electronic sounds from this Nine Inch Nails

* "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World" by The Decemberists
Another collection of folky pop songs from this seasoned US band.

* "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" by Florence + the Machine
Third album from Florence Welch and band. I really liked their debut,
"Lung" from 2009, so subsequent releases have come with high
expectations to meet. May need a few more listens.

2. Back Cataloguing (Pre-2015 Releases)

Here's a selection of other artists whose back catalogue I've listened
to and enjoyed in 2015.

* Ólafur Arnalds
* Max Richter
* Nils Frahm
* Brian Eno
* Harold Budd

I'm always keen to listen to new sounds, so let me know if there's
anything else I should check out.