LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Sultry Soul, Japanese Koto, Scottish Lasses, Imagined Cinema Tunes

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ROCK
The Raindoggs: Beat-Heavy, Darkened Mix of R&B and Soul
"One Armed Bandits" is a multifaceted album, each song having a distinctly different influence and flavor. There are wide variations, from funky to ethereal to highly danceable to dirge-like. Even with this wide palette, the group never loses its cohesive, identifiable sound -- wah-wah guitars, saucy horns, liberal use of electronics and samples, and sultry vocals. Influences for The Raindoggs include Tom Waits, Snoop Dogg, The Heavy, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Lounge Lizards, and Amy Winehouse.

WORLD
Yumi Kurosawa: Melodic and Mixed World Tunes on Japanese Koto
Yumi Kurosawa was born and raised in Japan and began to study Koto when she was three. Her album, "Beginning of a Journey", offers an East-meets-West music experience. Not familiar with Koto? The traditional Japanese instrument is a kind of dulcimer, a board laced with plucked strings tuned with pyramidal blocks, set at intervals under each string, that give the curving surface the look of a mountainscape diorama. Other features on this recording include a violin ensemble, cello, trombone and computer sounds.

CLASSICAL / FOLK
Susan Rode Morris: Early Music Delivered with a Voluptuous Voice and Intensely Focused Delivery
"Among the Lasses, songs of Robert Burns (1759-1796)" is the second in the trio collection of the beloved songs of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns. Soprano Susan Rode Morris and harpsichordist Phebe Craig offer a look at one way Burns heard his songs played, creating their own bass lines and arrangements based on their knowledge of 18th century music. Burns was not a composer, but a great collector of his national music. He took existing songs that were only partly remembered and rewrote the verses to "mend them". He set his poetry to his favorite fiddle or bagpipe tunes.

AMBIENT / NEW AGE / ELECTRONIC
Ray Carl Daye: Atmospheric Ambient/Electronic Music
"Rapid Ear Movement", the second Magnatune release by Ray Carl Daye, is a diverse collection of electronic/ambient instrumentals full of emotion and creativity. The compositions range from the energetic, sequence-driven minimalism of "Endless Departure" and "Dervish Moon" to the radiant, melodic riff of "Aqua Lit". Other notable tracks are the sentimental, gentle meditation of "Quiet Remergence"; the glittering soundtrack-inspired "Elusian Spring" and cinematic atmosphere of "The Illuminated Earth". In all, "Rapid Ear Movement" presents fourteen short soundtracks for an imagined cinema.