Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TravelMarx Music Recommendations– Music to Think By

Englaborn Fordlandia
This past weekend, I went out looking for some new music and discovered a couple of new (to me) artists: Jóhann Jóhannsson (Icelandic) and Max Richter (British, German-born). Often this music is described as post-X or experimental-X with X being a variety of genres. I’m not sure about music labels, but I will say that you will not find this music on the radio.

The first CD I’ll mention is Jóhannsson’s Englabörn (preview the tracks) – the name of an Icelandic play it was written for. The title means “angels”. The music features quartet, piano, glockenspiel, percussion, and organ. The second CD is Jóhannsson’s Fordlândia (preview the tracks) – inspired partly by the story of the rubber plantation, Fordlândia, that Henry Ford established in the Amazon jungle in the 1920s. The music on both CDs is part thoughtful, part wistful, part hypnotic. It’s spacious if that makes sense in terms of music.

The third CD is Richter’s The Blue Notebooks (preview the tracks) – inspired by Kafka’s Blue Ocatvo Notebooks. Interspersed in music are short literary readings by Tilda Swinton. On Richter’s site, the music is described as “somewhere between a certain dream sense of wonder / awe and a heavy melancholia.” It’s interesting why The Blue Notebooks and Englabörn seem to be what I’m craving musically: a desire for wordless music that is slow-moving, and sad (though sadness is in the mind of the beholder I guess).

On a side note, these two purchases also represent the first digital purchases I ever have made. I don’t like the fact that I don’t get any decent liner notes or album imagery (at least from Amazon where I purchased the music), but, getting the music quickly is nice and the fact that I only have to worry about digital storage and not physical storage of the CD is a bit of a relief.

Second side note: Fordlandia can be purchased in the AAC (designed to be the successor to mp3) format at 192kbp at 4AD.
Blue Notebooks

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