Follow by Email

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spaces --- Josh Savage




The only frustrating aspect of Josh Savage's output is that there is not more of it. As a songwriter he is judicious and sparing in his choices and lush in his effects.  He is just as careful about what he releases, and this concern for quality means that the output is, so far, low. I suspect that this young artist will be around for quite some time though, and that eventually the oeuvre will be large and respectable.

At the moment we have the new EP, Spaces, which consists of five tracks dealing with four songs, only three of which are unreleased --- Your Lips (which was proceeded by a truly lovely video), Lost in Paris and Horoscope. There are also a rerelease of Mountains in Hurricanes from Josh's preceding EP, and a live version of Your Lips.

Spaces is a bit harder edged than Mountains in Hurricanes, and more confident about adding new elements to the arrangements. There are no false steps and quite a few moments when the music does something unexpected in very pleading ways. For my taste, Lost in Paris is the standout track, conveying complexity and melancholy with seeming simplicity.

Josh has great control of his voice, and as a lyricist grows and grows. I look forward to watching him on his journey.

5/5 Stars. A must buy.


joshsavagemusic.com

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hilliat Fields --- The Waiting

The output of some musicians is impossible to assign to genre, and I admit a predilection for such music. The Waiting more than satisfies this predilection, and does so with sumptuous beauty, exemplary craft and the utmost attention to detail.

Where to begin? The Waiting is sonically adventurous and structurally audacious, creating cathedral spaces whose explorations have a sacramental aspect. While as a whole the songs are genuine parts of a larger gestalt, each is also a world in itself. From the repeated and varied piano figure in the first and eponymous track, to the carefully deployed percussive elements and the voice like washes of pads, the music is about what all very good to great music should be about --- elements without individual meaning melded to create meaning. And like good poetry, this music is also about leaving space for the listeners and what they bring. It is infinitely suggestive.

The music is technically intriguing. On a first listen it would seem that there are many parts coming together. In truth, a few simple parts are thoughtfully contrived to create something that is complex and beautiful without being at all busy. This is not only admirable but, in my opinion, a hallmark of art with a capital A. In The Waiting sounds meet and meld, creating complex harmonies and chromatic sprays. Hilliat Fields takes the time to let each piece develop fully.

To end where I began: The Waiting is a beautiful work that can sit alongside the best serious music of the last 100 years, be it by Ligetti, Stockhausen or Rorem. 5/5 Stars. Available at all major digital retailers. Select songs by Hilliat Fields can be heard on .Sound Cloud.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fabricstate --- Hannah Peel

Fabricstate, a four song EP by Hannah Peel released 24 February, has the musical, lyrical and conceptual weight of a much longer work. While Peel has tended to work through smaller musical gestures, and doesn't eschew them here, the songs on Fabricstate are large enough to be called majestic.

Starting relatively quietly with Silk Road, the EP creates a mood that is introspective, universal, hopeful and "large". The fat, confident synth line on the last, and title track of the EP is a good marker for the way this cycle of songs builds. The lyrics are sharp and evocative. The sonic palette diverse, yet integrated and controlled, confidently mixing acoustic and electronic elements, and the arrangements absolutely elegant. As a singer, Peel manages to please while also amazing the listener.

If you already own the Peel album and Ep's,  add this one to your collection. If you have yet to have had the pleasure of encountering this artist, start with Fabricstate and work your way back. I have no doubt that we will be given the delightful opportunity to work forward through new work by Hannah Peel.

4.5/5 Stars.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Maggie and Martin --- Union

If you only have a few dollars (pounds, euros) and you want to give yourself a fulsome treat, spend them on Union by Maggie and Martin.

After a few listens I was in adjectival overdrive --- sumptuous, elegant, haunting, wise, earthy, ethereal, subtle, direct --- the songs are very easy to like but hard to characterize. Anchored by Maggie's pleasantly worn and amazingly evocative voice, the songs are timeless. While there are nods to numerous genres and influences, Maggie and Martin create and occupy their own musical universe. That is a difficult trick to manage, and that they do so effortlessly is amazing. They end by sounding only like themself. Congratulations.

My first exposure to Maggie and Martin was through polari, an online magazine of culture seen through a queer lense. Polari has commissioned various artists to cover songs by renowned LBGT artists. In this case, I was intrigued by the duo's highly original reading of Pet Shop Boys You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk; stripped of gloss and it's mid tempo euro disco veneer, the PSB song is revealed as a grainy and very moving dissection of a relationship gone static and stale. On Union, Maggie and Martin give Roxy Music's More Than This a similar treatment, making it say new things and making it their own.

Standout tracks are the bravura opening track, Night of a Thousand Stars, Union and Wu at Heart. But really, all the songs are outstanding.

Press on the group seems spotty and their online presence is low. I hope that this means that Maggie and Martin are busy working on new material. I would certainly stand on line to hear it.

5/5 Stars.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reviews

If you know of an artist who would benefit from a bit of exposure, or if you are such yourself, I'm always happy for suggestions. I only dwell on the positive, so if I don't like material I don't write about it (which doesn't mean that everything I might say will be positive).

I love music, and I love discovering and sharing. Don't be shy. Throw your homework onto the fire.

Peter
clinepe@aol.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Josh Savage

 Mountains in Hurricanes

This is a very good debut by a song writer of great, great potential.  

The title track is, by far, the best of the three songs included here, showcasing what seem to be key strengths for this artist --- intelligent lyrics, clear, strong arrangements, structural intelligence, and a warm voice that pleases on many levels with its suppleness and precision.  

Where there are missteps, they are forgivable and interesting, save in the case of the remix of the title track. The best one can say of the remix is that it is unnecessary, as it adds nothing of interest to the original version.

That said of the remix, it would be interesting to see what this artist might do with some elements of electronica a la early Beth Orton.

I recommend Hurricanes and Mountains with 4/5 stars.  It will be well worth your time, and well worth the minimal expense.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

John Foxx/Hannah Peel/ and your music submissions

I've been working on a major piece about John Foxx and his work over the past 8 years. Please stay tuned. I hope to have it up by Thursday.

Also, Hannah Peel's new EP will be out in less than 10 days time. I will post a shorty the day it comes out, then a more nuanced take when I've had a very good listen. It will, I'm sure, merit both.

In the meantime, enjoy posts about Tenek, LoneLady, Kevin Dunn, Anna Calvi and Apt.

And if you'd like your music reviewed (or at least listened to), please let me know.