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Robin Grey: Gently Experimental Nu-Folk
Robin Grey writes beautifully ironic, poetic-based tracks for the story-lover in all of us. His voice and attitude harkens back to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, with masterful lyrics and deadpan delivery. Strangers With Shoes is colored with acoustic guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, piano, double bass, organ, percussion toys and any other instruments he can fit into his little London studio. As one reviewer stated, "Grey is one of those wonderful talents that could recite the phone directory on record and you'd still be enthralled".
Daniel Berkman: 21st Century Ambient African Kora
A wonderfully laid-back album, Calabashmoon blends Daniel Berkman's gorgeous kora playing with subtle beats and other little touches of vocals from regional performers for an overall feeling of sunny, world-influenced goodness. Berkman is known for his innovations to this 21-stringed instrument. In this collection of crafty and poignant pieces, he expertly weaves together a tapestry of sounds that gives the listener a sort of relaxed acoustic portrait of modern West Africa, from whence it comes. Be sure to check out the excellent title track, "Mystery Box House."
Sergio Azzolini & Vito Paternoster play Mozart and Haydn
Can a cello and bassoon form a duo? Three different composers thought so. W.A. Mozart composed a beautiful sonata for cello and bassoon, F. Danzi transcribed some of the most beautiful Mozart melodies, and F.J. Haydn composed two duets for cello/bassoon. Italian bassoonist Sergio Azzolini and Italian cellist Vito Paternoster demonstrate how these pieces continue to enchant, delight and amuse listeners today.
METAL / INDUSTRIAL / HARD ROCK
The Wretch: Painful Ambient Industrial Noise
Fantastically dark and elegantly industrial, Cyst by The Wretch is a surprisingly nuanced album that favors dynamic variation over mindlessly repeated loops. It's a hybrid of noisecore and drum 'n' bass, but with really smart rhythms and a noise-ambient wash that lends a huge amount of atmosphere and depth. The juxtaposition of totally glitched out, ever-changing beats with the eerie ghost calls and dystopian waveforms in the background works really well. The opening track "Turned" and "Do You" are great. "This is Terror" is beautifully brutal, and don't miss "Feel The Burning."
AMBIENT / NEW AGE
Tilopa: Healing Magic of the Japanese Zenflute
Pared down and austere, Tilopa's album, By The Way, sounds like serenity itself. The Japanese zen flute (kyotaku) is occasionally accompanied by monastic sounding vocals, and the overall effect is very subdued and meditative. "Red Fullmoon" is a particular standout on this album, a track that makes evident why this type of music was once favored by sects of wandering Buddhist monks. Most of the pieces on this album have that same type of traditional Zen sound, but there are a few more modern pieces here too, such as "Amigos De Viaje," which features acoustic guitar as accompaniment to the kyotaku.