Greatest Hits

the_band

Though I already posted The Band a couple of months ago, I thought it appropriate to use it again for this sort of article about music. As a follower of my blog, you have probably noticed that musicians keep on popping up in my pictures time and again. So, of course, music plays an important role in my life. I also played in several bands – but apart from creating my own music, I always liked to recommend good music to my friends – and later even worked as a music critic.

Therefore I took stock of the music I bought this year and noticed that I discovered some amazing artists, like Ophelia Hambartsumian, the queen of Armenian folk song, Iranian singer songwriter Mohsen Namjoo, as well as Safet Isović, Bosnian performer of Sevdalinka music.

I also found some notable albums, like Berge Turabian‘s interpretations of Charles Aznavour songs in Armenian, Şevval Sam‘s journey into the world of Tango and Cem Adrian‘s experiments with piano ballads. And not to forget the return of Suede and My Bloody Valentine.

But for me, two albums really stood out this year and would like to introduce them to you in more detail:

A Hawk And A Hacksaw: You Have Already Gone To The Other World 

you have already gone…(cover)

I follow the works of New Mexican duo A Hawk And A Hacksaw for some time now, and I really love their fusion of music traditions from Eastern Europe. But with You Have Already Gone To The Other World Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost have literary gone to other musical realms. Of course, there still is a lot of folk here, but the album presents itself more as a unique concept that derives from Sergei Parajanov‘s film Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors, which inspired the whole album. As the plot takes the movie away from Soviet Cinema realism to a metaphysical world of witchcraft, the music takes Ukrainian, Romanian and Hungarian melodies on violin and accordion to sinister drones and bells that end up in a disorder of wild drums and dulcimer. And so, its cinematic quality makes the album stand out.

When I first listen to You Have Already Gone To The Other World I was instantly sucked into to music. I saw pictures in my head that, piece by piece, became a story. As I hadn‘t seen Parajanov‘s film at this point, I bought the DVD and was astonished that the pictures in my head came close to the movie. I also had the chance to see some of the director‘s other works, as well as visiting the Parajanov Museum in Yerevan and therefore noticed what a great artist he was, who tried to realise his own vision.

And with You Have Already Gone To The Other World A Hawk And A Hacksaw realised their own vision of music….

…and I am already curious where they will take it with their next album.

The album was released on L.M. Dupli-cation.

John Harle: Art Music 

Art Music Cover

The only thing I know about John Harle is this album. I discovered it because it features Marc Almond as a guest vocalists. I‘ve been following the works of Almond since I discovered Soft Cell when I was still very young. He not only made some brilliant albums, but also opened my mind other musical traditions from French chansons, to experimental music. So, of course, I was curious to listen to John Harle‘s album.

Interestingly, there is a parallel to A Hawk And A Hacksaw‘s latest offering: Art Music was inspired by non-musical works of art as well – in this case paintings by Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, John O‘Connor and John Craxton.

The music itself is not easy to place. In its entirety you would probably file it under modern classical music, but there also is a lot of jazz, pop and even industrial music and these combinations make the album special: Berlin Tango, sounds like a string quartet and big band playing at the same time, and the result sounds like an echo of 1930‘s Berlin forcing itself into the present. Innocent stands out due to its sinister and rumbling soundscapes that invoke the dark imagination of Bacon. Naturally, the Hockney section is also worth mentioning, where Marc Almond proves that he can also sing to classical music.

But as different as the five sections may be, they manage to form a perfect whole.

Art Music was released on Sospiro Records.

Please also visit John Harle‘s web site here.