Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)

Rarely does an album come along as highly regarded and as steeped in mystique as "Ys". A regular feature on favourite album lists of music lovers the world over, I am yet again making up for lost time with this angelic and, quite frankly very hot, harpist, composer and all round genius.

Ys is named after the mythical city of the same name supposedly built on the coast of Brittany, France, and later swallowed by the ocean. That is not where the magic and mystique ends for Joanna as her lyrics are rich and full of ponderings on history, anatomy and an imagination clearly bursting with ideas.

Joanna claims her harp technique to be heavily inspired by West-African Kora playing and the clever uses of tempo and different rhythms render the need for any traditional rhythm instruments unnecessary. She cleverly builds into passages of great emotion, using the technical, interlocking 4/3 patterns to compliment her voice and melodies beautifully. A perfect example of this is the middle section of "Sawdust & Diamonds".

Her control of tempo and rhythm is what I believe to hold the songs together and make them a far 'easier' listening experience than one might expect, however this does not mean they overshadow her songwriting and ability to write stunning melodies. Coupled with a string arrangement that subtly dances across the five tracks, it all combines together very, very nicely.

To concentrate on individual songs would be difficult on an album which is best appreciated in full. While they stand alone wonderfully, I'd find it difficult to preach one as better and, individual favourites can be kept close to heart. For the record, I'm still undecided.

Joanna Newsom - "Sawdust & Diamonds"

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Jeniferever - Alvik

Came across these guys after listening to Caesura and coincidentally, they are another awesome band from Schweeeeeden. Nice vid too.

Jeniferever - Alvik