One of the joys of doing this, is the opportunity to bring unknown music to the fore. Well this is another perfect example of that. But first a question: do you think a band consisting of cello, upright bass, clarinets, drums and vocals can a) rock, b) sound like nothing you have ever heard before, or c) is something special?
Well, to me the right answer is d) all of the above. This outfit looks too crazy to work, but in reality this kicks major ass. Unique in many ways, yet rocks your socks off easily. The use of the German language does not distract at all (for me understanding that is easy, but that will not apply to everyone). It is a pity German is also the only language in which they correspond in booklet and website, but I am guessing that market is big enough for them to exist viably.
So if you like your music with a twist (think a mixture of progressive rock / metal / alternative / classical) and are not afraid to listen to songs you do not understand the lyrics of, but enjoy groove, melody and just powerful music, this might also be a great discovery for you. Go check it out! (I put a video from this album here a while ago).
Okay, this one I did not see coming. I did a review on the previous album from Rich Batsford, Valentine Court, which I still remember for the boldness of creating a solo piano album (as in piano being the sole thing you hear). On this new effort however, Rich hooked up a microphone and added his vocals. Not only lead, but also phenomenal harmonies. After reading he once was a member of a Beach Boys tribute band, I knew where those were coming from…
Another cool thing are the small rhythmic variations in the songs. Quite sure many drummers would really hate to play along to those. Yet they are not important in the way that they dominate. It is more of a small arrangement aspect to spice the songs up. Talking of songs, prepare to be blown away with the total package. I would go as far as to suggest that if Rich recruited a band (in Coldplay style) he would have hit appeal. Top X-factor material for sure.
Because if anything, this album is a joy from beginning to end. His vocals have great charm and, coupled with his impeccable piano playing, create moods that I cannot resist. In fact I think anyone with even the littlest interest in music will fall in love with this. It may be a mindfulmess (yeah, took me a while to figure out), but that mind sure creates beautiful things. BUY!
PS: To Rich, album 1: piano, album 2: piano and vocals, if album 3 needs guitars, give me a call
This album is a real labour of love from the Aland islands in Finland with the Finnish national instrument the Kantele having the major role. Musician Stäni Steinbock (a regular contributor to the Music Thoughts group) not only recorded 23 of his songs, but produced, mixed and did the artwork as well. So he is quite a busy guy!
The music on this album is pretty hard to categorize for me. Besides the kantele we hear slide guitar, cello, violin, keyboards, clarinet, occasional drums and various other less common instruments. So perhaps qualifying it as a mixture of folk and classical music comes close.
With this information up front, it will probably not come as a surprise that this is a very mellow album. For my regular taste that is. But that is not saying this cannot be enjoyed. Better yet, some songs and melodies are very beautiful. The Sun Cat for example is a very uplifting song with a simple and effective melody. Stäni sent me a little story to go with every song, but even without that, the mainly instrumental music has a way of getting your imagination fired quickly. And that is added value!
So maybe not for everyone, I still want to encourage you to check this out if you have a broad taste in music or can easily delve into all things folk or classical.
Recently I was invited to visit a concert (thanks René) from this 7 women strong band in a theatre nearby. I was only happy to oblige as I heard of Reincarnatus before, but was not yet familiar with the music.
The show proved very good; the lovely ladies wearing a lot of black leather, handling lots of (medieval) instruments and combining music and lyrics from that time frame with modern day drums, guitars, bass and keyboards. Leading lady Renate also amused the crowd with her great sense of humour and informative background stories. The way she handles the hurdy gurdy is reminiscent of one Edward Van Halen… And several ladies proved to be multi talented, constantly switching instruments and lead vocals. So of course I bought this album to listen to at home. And ladies, thanks for signing it!
The album did not disappoint at all, better yet, it impressed me even more as especially the guitars were more dominant in the mix then they were in the live sound.
Describing their sound is tough though. Because of the many medieval instruments it sometimes sounds like folk or classical (film) music, impressive (duo or triple) singing, sometimes combined with Gregorian chants and pop vocals, a lot of fiddle, and all held together by a rock combo of drums, bass and guitar. Also the use of many old languages adds to the picture. Some parts keep sending the shivers down your spine.
So I can only applaud the ladies for the courage to assemble this and serve it to the public. I hope they gather a big audience with it and recommend you go see them when they are in your neighbourhood. For now that is mainly mainland Europe, but who knows…
On to something completely different now. As you may have noticed following these pages, I have a pretty eclectic taste for music. So it may come to little surprise when I tell you this is a CD from a guy who recorded 11 tracks, just playing nylon wounded classical guitars. It was given to me by my father in law, as he knows I do not shy away from picking up new vibes (and play a little in this style as well)
And as I again think it is a brave and bold move to perform an entire CD by yourself, you still have to be able to convince your audience as well. Roger de Bree does that.
The songs are from writers like Luis Milan, Francesco da Milano, Scarlatti or Bach. For anyone into finger picking and stuff, this is a nice listen and an inspiration to pick up on your chops again.
Of course this is an album best enjoyed in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Not for every day of the week maybe, but worthwhile for all those moments you want to chill.
Alas I can´t tell you details about availability. When I receive more info on that, I will post it in the comments.
And now for something completely different! I got this from a fellow Thoughster who asked me to review it.
This is an instrumental, all piano album. Yeah you understand me right, piano only!
I must admit I think it is extremely brave for someone to release an album like this. This must feel very naked for a musician.
So what about the music? There is no doubt in my mind that Rich is a very talented individual with a lot of strong ideas. I am confident that anyone who likes and understands piano, will recognize his skills. In the about 43 minutes the disk lasts he is able to show that. He plays steady, yet is able to express himself with variations in volume, song tempo´s, etcetera, and to project his intentions through his songs.
That said, I have a few suggestions also:
I think he could try some ideas with very little notes. A little Satie like. I would be very curious to find out if he can work with silence. In this collection I feel he is at times too present with his playing. And I do not mean the way silence is used in Just Sitting .
More really slow tempo´s and sometimes fast could also help to variate more.
On the production side I sometimes felt the sound could use a little more room to make the piano sound bigger.
But overall, my congratulations to Rich, great work.
Personal play tips: Lyndall, Namaste, Jewel.
Recently my father in law mentioned he bought an album based on a song he heard on the radio. He thought I would like it as well so played me the disk. It turned out to be a classical piece by Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man. Subtitle ” a mass for peace” . The subtitle gives it away I guess. It is a mass, but nog in a strict sense. Songs include a Kyrie, a Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Benedictus as well as several other pieces of music. Used Languages in the singing are Latin, French, Arabic, English, etc..
He asked me if I would be so kind as to translate the story behind it. I did and thought it was a worthwhile cause. There can never be to much peace in this world, or?
The first minute of the music did not do much for me, some marching drums? Right, heard it before…. He just smiled and said ” wait for the Sanctus”. And I must confess: that hit me hard. What a great use of harmonics, what a tension. Absolutely stunning and very inspirational.
Despite the rest of the album not being as instant as the Sanctus, I think this is a truly beautiful album with a great message. Highly recommended, even if you´re not religious. Just to make sure, this is a classical piece of work, so no guitar solo´s or hard hitting drums. But worthwhile for any serious music lover. The singing sometimes reminded me of Carl Orff´s Carmina Burana, but all in all, this work has it´s own character. Give it a try!
Personal Playtip: Sanctus, Hymn before Action, Agnus Dei