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Old 06-15-2010, 09:25 PM   #31 (permalink)
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20. Boris Kovač & LaDaABa Orchest—Ballads at the End of Time (2003)

On the reverse side of the coin from Love of Life is this album by Serbian composer and bandleader Boris Kovač. Returning home after years spent living abroad in various parts of Europe during the civil war, he formed La Danza Apocalyptica Balcanica (LaDaABa) Orchest and wrote this album "to exorcise the madness of war". If ever there was an album you'd expect to be weighty and depressing it's this one, but surprisingly it really isn't. There are some shadowy valleys here but mostly it's warmth and sunlight.

The style of music is pretty unique, yet somehow also as pleasantly familiar as an old winter coat. It's fairly jazzy, with a very noticeable presence of tango and a whiff of classical, but hovering over everything is a sensibility that I would describe as distinctly Balkan. It has that great minor-key yet upbeat thing going on that makes a lot of music I've heard from this region seem so very bittersweet. And though this is essentially instrumental music, when voices do occasionally make themselves known, they merge so seamlessly with the other instruments that the whole thing feels like one big organic mass.

As I've mentioned in my previous reviews, different people will react to the end of the world differently. Some with anger or despair, many with aggressive denial. What this album seems to be saying though, is maybe there's another way to look at things: Maybe you can face reality as it is—acknowledging the horror and tragedy—but also, at the same time, recognizing that this universe is still a place of wonder and of beauty.

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Old 06-16-2010, 01:45 AM   #32 (permalink)
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I think this is quickly becoming one of my favorite lists.
I really dug what you showed us. Your right, it sounds very Balkan and Eastern European. Wow. This could definitely grow on me a lot.
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:28 AM   #33 (permalink)
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It's fairly jazzy, with a very noticeable presence of tango and a whiff of classical, but hovering over everything is a sensibility that I would describe as distinctly Balkan. It has that great minor-key yet upbeat thing going on that makes a lot of music I've heard from this region seem so very bittersweet.
He he, good ear. That's exactly what it's like here - bitter-sweetness and tragicomedy.
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:16 AM   #34 (permalink)
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He he, good ear. That's exactly what it's like here - bitter-sweetness and tragicomedy.
Heh. Thanks! I'm glad I didn't sound like too much of a ignoramus talking about a place I've never been to.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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Old 06-16-2010, 06:03 AM   #35 (permalink)
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I think this is quickly becoming one of my favorite lists.
I really dug what you showed us. Your right, it sounds very Balkan and Eastern European. Wow. This could definitely grow on me a lot.
Thanks.

This reminds me, as much as I like the album I review above, it's the only thing I own by him. I really need to check out more.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:40 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Heh. Thanks! I'm glad I didn't sound like too much of a ignoramus talking about a place I've never been to.
No, no. It's always refreshing to see things from some other perspective.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:34 PM   #37 (permalink)
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19. Cornelius—Point (2001)

One thing you owe it to yourself to do in these dark, stark, terminal times is to go for a nice walk in the woods. Listen to the birds. Inhale the smell of the leaves. Absorb all of the tiniest details. Just enjoy Earth's flora and fauna while it's still around to be enjoyed. On your way home, in your blissful state of nature-induced contemplation, give a listen to Point.

There really is something about this album that's evocative of a peaceful day in the forest. Birdcalls and burbling streams intertwine with soothing, yet often somewhat funky music. In some other context a lot of this stuff would come off as cheesy but Keigo Oyamada, the sole creator of Cornelius' lush musical landscapes, manages to make it work. A lot it comes down to his attention to detail. It's readily apparent listening to his music that he's a guy truly in love with the minutia of sound. Everything is recorded and mixed just so: tight electronic percussion perfectly complimenting precise guitar strumming, beautifully harmonizing vocals bleeding into swirls of guitar noise. Even the album itself hangs together well as a whole, and that's including all of its more dissonant moments in with the consonant ones. Somehow the entire thing winds up leaving you with this peaceful, beautiful feeling.

The song I'm posting below, "Bird Watching at Inner Forest", is an excellent example of Oyamada's attention to detail. Just listen to the way a recording of birds randomly chirping quickly metamorphosizes into a melodic loop that becomes the backbone of the entire song. Listen to how tight the interplay is between the strumming of his guitar and those constantly changing drum patterns. And most amazingly listen to how, at about the 3:30 mark, he actually manages to use the sound of fluttering wings in place of a drum fill.

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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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Old 06-17-2010, 06:48 PM   #38 (permalink)
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I have Fantasma and I absolutely adore it. One of the funnest, most eclectic albums I have. You're right, it's great music to walk to and it just has a way of putting the listener in a better mood. I have no idea why I haven't checked some of his other works.
That song definitely convinced me to though. I love how the bird chirping was used almost as a percussive instrument during the verse.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:53 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I have Fantasma and I absolutely adore it. One of the funnest, most eclectic albums I have. You're right, it's great music to walk to and it just has a way of putting the listener in a better mood. I have no idea why I haven't checked some of his other works.
That song definitely convinced me to though. I love how the bird chirping was almost used as a percussive instrument during the verse.
Fantasma is a great album too. I think you'll find Point kind of stylistic departure from it though, it's much more mellow and has more of a singular style than Fantasma has. Both are great albums though, as is Sensuous.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

Time & Place

25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


last.fm
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:06 PM   #40 (permalink)
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18. Harry Nilsson—The Point! (1971)

Hey look, this album has almost the exact same title as the last one I reviewed! Mere coincidence? Or am I in fact sneaky enough to have grouped these two albums together in my list intentionally? I'll leave that for you to decide.

What we have here is an outrageously good pop album ostensibly written for children but which is certainly equally appealing to adults. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a concept album that tells the story of a round-headed boy born in a town of people who all have pointy heads; and for the record, yes, Nilsson did once confirm in an interview that he came up with the premise while on acid. Not surprisingly my introduction to it was during early childhood, and no doubt it was one of the first records I actually owned. I loved it as a kid but as I grew older I kind of forgot about it, until one day in my mid-20s I heard it playing in a coffee shop. It's a testament to how well-written it is that shortly thereafter I re-acquired it and promptly fell in love with it all over again.

Nilsson was one of those amazing people who make songwriting and performing sound so easy. His voice was beautifully melodic without ever for a second sounding like he was trying hard at all. His songs—in general from what I know but specifically on this album—always sound spontaneous, like he just picked up an instrument and started playing, though they are in fact often elaborately orchestrated. On top of that, the whole thing hangs together supremely as an album both sonically and in terms of the story, which is quite well crafted itself. And most impressively, even though this fable is a tale of exile and isolation, it is incredibly uplifting, lighthearted and beautiful.

Tough days ahead? The end of the world weighing too heavily on your mind? Give this album a listen. I promise it will make you smile.

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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

Time & Place

25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


last.fm
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