zondag 15 juli 2018

AM Waves. Young Gun Silver Fox

Young Gun Silver Fox is de samenwerking tussen de Britse muzikant Andy Platts (mogelijk bekend als voorman van de Britse band Mamas Gun) en de Amerikaanse muzikant en producer Shawn Lee (met name bekend als producer van onder andere Jeff Buckley en Lana Del Rey of als de maker van muziek bij games en films).
Als Young Gun Silver Fox keren ze in een tijdmachine terug naar de jaren 70 en maken ze daar soulvolle softrock, die direct associaties zal oproepen met de muziek van onder andere Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina en America.
Het zijn de namen die bij mij als eerste opkwamen bij beluistering van AM Waves, maar inmiddels hoor ik minstens net zoveel van de Bee Gees, The Eagles, Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan en zeker ook Hall & Oates.
Het is muziek waar ik in het verleden niet zo gek op was, waardoor het genre ondervertegenwoordigd is in mijn platenkast, maar met name de laatste jaren kan ik de zwoele en zonnige klanken uit de softrock wel waarderen, zeker als ik even niets hoef of moet.
Het gemis in de platenkast wordt volledig opgevangen door het album van Young Gun Silver Fox (dat hetzelfde kunstje overigens al eerder liet horen op haar debuut West End Coast), dat klinkt als een verzamelaar van de beste songs van alle bovengenoemde bands, duo’s en muzikanten.
Muziekliefhebbers met een allergie voor zoete en gepolijste klanken moeten hier niet eens aan beginnen, want de muziek die Andy Platts en Shawn Lee als Young Gun Silver Fox maken is suikerzoet en zo glad als een net gevangen aal. Het is aan de andere kant muziek die de zon laat schijnen en die je in een keer meevoert naar het California uit de jaren 70.
In muzikaal opzicht zit het allemaal geweldig in elkaar, waarbij de klanken die de temperatuur minstens een paar graden doen stijgen worden gecombineerd met flink wat muzikale hoogstandjes en een flinke dosis galm.
Hierop mogen de heren hun vocale kunstje doen en ook op dit vlak leveren Andy Platts en Shawn Lee een topprestatie. De zang doet af en toe denken aan die van Don Henley, maar herinnert ook nadrukkelijk aan Steely Dan en kan ook nog eens met falsetstemmen richting The Doobie Brothers of de Bee Gees schieten.
AM Waves had probleemloos in de jaren 70 gemaakt kunnen zijn, wat betekent dat de Brit en de Amerikaan een knap staaltje retro hebben afgeleverd. Hiermee doe je Young Gun Silver Fox ook flink tekort, want wanneer AM Waves in de jaren 70 was verschenen had de plaat absoluut met de besten meegekund. Young Gun Silver Fox komt immers met een geweldige serie songs op de proppen en het zijn songs waaraan ik na een keer horen verslaafd was.
Grote kans dat ik uiteindelijk toch de oeuvres van alle hierboven genoemde artiesten ga uitpluizen, maar voorlopig heb ik genoeg aan het geweldige AM Waves van Young Gun Silver Fox.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt AM Waves hier beluisteren en kopen:


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


zaterdag 14 juli 2018

Kairos, 7 June 2018 by .No on Concertzender

Once a month or just about once a month, Wo. listens to .No's radioshow broadcasted on Concertzender. The music is nearly always an adventure for Wo.'s ears and stimulates him to write down the ideas, feelings, associations, etc., etc., that come to him while listening. There's hardly ever a delay between the one and the other. So as such his pieces are not a review of the show nor the music. There is no room for contemplation. The only stop is when a piece of music has stopped before he had the time to finish his thoughts or to check whether his on the spot musings are actually correct, whether his ears were not deceived. There's only one downside, if you do not like to read his musings: he publishes them. There used to be a knob on your TV..... So here you go with June's Kairos.

The familiar notes and voice starts the show. Slow strings permeate the familiarity to take over within seconds. A more complex counter melody comes through and takes over as well. Somehow it is as if I'm listening partly to music coming from underneath the water for something like 50%. Sounds that are muted, unclear. A voice? An instrument? I can't tell what is happening underneath the violins for certain. Mysterious like Iceland is, or so I'm told.

Far more clear strings and a bell take over. Am I listening to something by Laurie Anderson I like? That is a novelty. The bell is very Pärt of course (I know thanks to Kairos). The melody is sad yet strong. As someone who has lost but never given up. Ready to take on the world, if need be. The repetition of the composition is its strength and weakness. It is stopped right in time as far as I'm concerned.

To be replaced by mystery and weirdness. As if the piano man is searching for a well-known melody. It is within his grasp but he can't find it. Like the proverbial word at the tip of the tongue that does not want to come out.

Tavener's exploration is quickly replaced by more strings and moodiness. 'Gnomic Variations' by George Crumb. I am listening to #10 and can't remember to have heard one before. This better be good, because I have a feeling I will get to hear more variations in the near future. This one is over 10 minutes long. a church bell starts ringing out. It is a few moments before I realise it is the church on the other side of the tracks and not a part of a gnomic variation. The strings disappear and are replaced by atmospherics, so soft, the church bell coming through the open window at the back of the house takes over all. Is it a choir coming through the atmospherics? I can't tell. The violins return. I start noticing that this composition holds an inner beauty. One that may even be meant for me. So let me open up truly for a few minutes ...(Closing my eyes) ... Crumb sure knows how to play out a mood musically. There are hints at well-known Christmas carols without one coming through. I even seem to hear a mantle-piece clock strike the hour, without any resonance. Just dry sound. Yes, I can live with this music, totally. Just one question, .No. I'm listening for over 11 minutes and where's .... and there is the piano. Literally when I typed "listening". Answer given, but to name someone with such a small role in the whole?

No, I'm fooled. The piano isn't Ursula Kneiths, it is Matteo Myderwyk. So the question still stands, .No! The mood is continued between 'Gnomic Variation 10' and 'Tuzla'. I couldn't tell where the one went over into the other. 'Tuzla' must be a huge composition as this Kairos present four separate fragments in about 15 minutes. 'Tuzla', a town in Bosnia - Herzegovina if I remember correctly that played a role in the Dutchbat drama in 1995, is a subdued yet dramatic piece for orchestra and sporadic piano. Myderwyk presents himself more as composer here than as a piano player. The Excelsior Recordings label, famous for indie rock acts like Johan, Tim Knol, Daryll Ann, etc., comes up with something completely different here. And yes, it must be a special week. First the tranquillity of Jenny Van West captured me and now I'm finding my way through 'Tuzla'. Perhaps it is because my stereo broke down and I'm devoid of my (indie) rock lps and cds? Who will say. A child's piano is played, bringing me back from my revelry. With this mix of fragments .No has created his own 'Tuzla' it seems. Now that is revolutionary: a remix of a classical piece without resorting to beats. Chapeau, .No.

The motto of this month's show puts another thought into my mind. Has .No mixed the gnomic with Tuzla? As the final 'Tuzla' is not a fragment but a clear piano piece as I know Matteo Myderwyk? Just a thought, I'm not going to check.

The next composition is by Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Witzie who celebrate the passing of a year with this music. There are worse reasons to create, so why not? A darker piano takes over. A piano as can be found in slow rock ballads. A song like 'Troy' comes into my mind and 'Big Log', but also a song that keeps escaping me that actually has a similarity in melody. Even a part of a melody comes to me. An instrumental or at least an instrumental part, slow, sonorous and with me for something like 40 years I'd say. And I just can't get past that one point, as it brings me back to the start of the fragment in my head each time. Where's the variation I need? In short, again I like what I'm hearing. (Yes, finally, Bowie, 'Warszawa'. There is no singing!)

I recall writing on Yom & Wang Li before. That was not a total joy. To my surprise I'm hearing a Paul Simon like folk guitar. So I had to recap. The short drone morphing from the "year feast" was it.

The guitar belongs to Peter Clijssen and his dialect sung song 'Bij De Rook Van Het Vuur'. Somehow I see a head drawn from lush sea clay, baked and hardened by wind and rain. As hard to crack nuts and other heads with. The melody is beautiful, the voice full of character. The accordion fills in a little space in the background, lending the song even more authenticity.

A droning sound morphs into the sound of a train passing by. The Kairos has a few coincidences as well. It is as if the proverbial wind in my thoughts on Clijssen are released through the music of Richard Bolhuis. A drone with all sorts of atmospherics around it continues, become ever more threatening. A sound as if giant waves are slowly coming towards the coast. The 58 extra meters of sea level coming towards our sub sea level country all at once.

Other music is coming to the rescue. The drone is there with us for a while, only slowly fading out, before Peter Broderick's piano notes take over. The melody is totally right for this Kairos. Again slightly sad, slightly melancholic with hint of a smile in the way some notes are held back for the faintest of moments. At the same time it is like there is something more than just the piano. It must be in the resonance of the strings captured in the room.

A droning sound returns. I have to pay attention as the Li's work is over before I can type. See, there's a melody coming in. A fragmented one. I can't even recognise Low Roar's '13' for what it truly is. A piano returns. Again slow, melancholic and present. Is it a part of the 'Silent Transformation'? According to the information provided below, the answer is yes. A short fragment follows as well.

The show ends somewhat more exotic with two compositions by the Haïdouti Orkestrar. A real change. A clear sounding trumpet takes the centre stage. Totally different from all what came by in this show before. The droning sound in the background is fitting though. It could be a church choir rehearsing on a long drawn note as well as eastern meditation. The cymbals and drone are straight from Pink Floyd. Listen to the drones before the dissonant lick in 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' comes in for the first time to understand what I mean. When the orkestrar starts playing a whole world of familiarities opens itself. Starting with De Kift, but also Greek Rebetika, gypsy music and who knows what not. The sadness drips from this music, yet is extremely danceable. A surprising feature on Kairos, but certainly a welcome one.


You can listen to this Kairos here:


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


00:06  Högni. Dragdu Mig. Album ‘Two Trains’. Erased Tapes Records eratp103.
01:58  Lauri Anderson. Gongs & Bells sing. Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet. Album ‘Landfall‘. Nonesuch Records 7559-79338-9.
04:03  John Tavener. The Last Sleep of the Virgin, for string quartet & handbells. Chiligirian Quartet. Album ‘John Tavener: The Last Sleep of the Virgin; The Hidden Treasure’. Virgin Classics VC5 45023 2. 
04:47  George Crumb. Gnomic Variations – Variation 10. Ursula Kneiths, piano. Album ‘George Crumb, A Little Suite for Christmas – Gnomic Variations’. Pianovox PIA 502-2.
15:32  Matteo Myderwyk. Tuzla (fragment). Album ‘To Move’. Excelsior Recordings. 
18:32  Matteo Myderwyk. Tuzla (fragment). Album ‘To Move’. Excelsior Recordings.
23:22  Matteo Myderwyk. Tuzla (fragment). Album ‘To Move’. Excelsior Recordings.
28:21  Matteo Myderwyk. Tuzla. Album ‘To Move’. Excelsior Recordings. 
30:18  Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Bryanbaum Witzie. We played some open chords and rejoiced for the earth had circled the sun yet another year. Album ‘A Winged Victory for the Sullen’. Erased Tape Records ERATP032CD.
36:17  Yom & Wang Li. Silent transformation – epilogue. Album ‘Green Apocalypse’. Buda Musique 860220
36:49  Peter Clijssen. Bij de rook van het vuur. Anna & Peter Clijssen. Album ‘Vagantenkost’. Self-released. 
40:31  Richard Bolhuis. Halo. House of Cosy Cushions. Album ‘Underground Bliss‘. Outcast Cats.
44:22  Peter Broderick. Our Future in Wedlock. Album ‘All Together Again’. Erased Tapes Records ERATP 104.
47:08  Yom & Wang Li. Silent transformation – epilogue (fragment). Album ‘Green Apocalypse’. Buda Musique 860220
47:32  Ryan Karazija. 13. Low Roar. Album ‘Once in a long, long while’. Nevado Records 823674059620.
48:05  Yom & Wang Li. Silent transformation – epilogue (fragment). Album ‘Green Apocalypse’. Buda Musique 860220
52:19  Yom & Wang Li. Silent transformation – epilogue. Album ‘Green Apocalypse’. Buda Musique 860220
52:48  Haïdouti Orkestar. Mouwwal. Album ‘Doğu’. Tchekchouka.
55:20  Haïdouti Orkestar. Ya Ayn Moulayiitayn. Album ‘Doğu’. Tchekchouka.

vrijdag 13 juli 2018

If You Want This To Mean Something. No Ninja Am I

As this EP is out for a few days already, it is high time to write a few words on it. Just a few weeks back I received an e-mail announcing No Ninja Am I's new EP.

The recording was more or less a coincidence it seemed. There was a studio, a microphone and time. Before Sander van Munster realised it, he had four songs recorded. Many people may wish to have such coincidences in their lives.

The result, If You Want This To Mean Something, is a speck on the face of time and space, yet of a seemingly perfect beauty. Just a man and his guitar. What you hear, is all there is. This could have been the most intimate performance possible, one in a living room. Where the artist plays in front of a small, but devout audience, following each note and turn in the melodies.

The songs on this EP are all of such a delicate nature. As delicate as an old 78 RPM record. Songs like 'Saviour Blues' and especially 'Sister Of The Moon' are so delicate that it is easy to imagine them breaking at a too wild a touch.

What is harder, is how to place If You Want This To Mean Something in the whole of No Ninja Am I. There's the live band, the more electronic side and now a purely acoustic solo set. I've decided not to bother with thoughts like these and cast them aside. This EP is nothing but a gift to mankind. The title of the EP is completely correct. "If you want this to mean something, this could mean everything to you", Sander van Munster sings in the title song. It is this what is on offer, absolute musical beauty. Time for you to unwrap this present, dear reader.


You can listen to and buy If You Want This To Mean Something here:


donderdag 12 juli 2018

Motel Bouquet. Caitlin Canty

Caitlin Canty maakte in 2015 een jaarlijstjesplaat met het werkelijk prachtige Reckless Skyline.
De in Proctor, Vermont, geboren singer-songwriter timmerde op dat moment al een tijd aan de weg en zocht haar geluk achtereenvolgens in Williamstown, Massachusetts, en New York City, voordat ze een jaar of vijf geleden haar spullen inpakte en uiteindelijk terecht kwam in Nashville, Tennessee.
In Nashville liep ze singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault tegen het lijf liep en wist ze hem te strikken als producer voor de plaat die ze al zo lang wilde maken.
Een stevige crowdfunding campagne was nodig om haar favoriete muzikanten te kunnen betalen, maar het resultaat was er naar. Reckless Skyline liet een fraaie mix van country, folk, rock en blues horen, met werkelijk fantastisch gitaarspel, mooie en indringende vocalen en een heerlijk broeierige productie als meest in het oor springende componenten.
Caitlin Canty staat nog altijd op eigen benen, waardoor ook aan haar nieuwe plaat Motel Bouquet weer een crowdfunding campagne vooraf ging. Voor Motel Bouquet nam Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) plaats achter de knoppen en ook dit keer kon Caitlin Canty een beroep doen op een aantal prima muzikanten. Omdat de middelen uiteraard niet onbeperkt waren, moest ook dit keer worden beknibbeld op de dure studiotijd, waardoor de plaat in slechts drie dagen werd opgenomen.
Het is absoluut niet ten koste gegaan van de kwaliteit van de plaat, want net als Reckless Skyline klinkt ook Motel Bouquet werkelijk fantastisch. De nieuwe plaat ligt in het verlengde van zijn voorganger en maakt indruk met prima songs, fraai gitaarwerk, mooie bijdragen van banjo, pedal steel en met name viool, een wederom wat broeierige productie en natuurlijk de prachtige stem van Caitlin Canty, die ook dit keer indruk maakt met even mooie als emotievolle vocalen.
Vergeleken met Reckless Skyline is het geluid wel een stuk ingetogener en hoor ik af en toe wel raakvlakken met de platen van Kathleen Edwards, wiens tijdelijke vertrek uit de muziek helaas al vier jaar duurt, en wanneer het tempo verder omlaag gaat zelfs met de muziek van Gillian Welch. De songs op Motel Bouquet werden voornamelijk ‘on the road’ geschreven en zitten vol mooie persoonlijke verhalen en kleurrijke observaties uit een fascinerend land.
De uitgebreide tour die volgde op het succes van Reckless Skyline leverde niet alleen mooie verhalen op, maar heeft er ook voor gezorgd dat Caitlin Canty als songwriter en als zangeres is gegroeid. Waar de muzikante uit Nashville drie jaar geleden nog werd geschaard onder de grote beloften, is Motel Bouquet een plaat waarmee ze de concurrentie met de beteren in het genre aan kan.
De nieuwe plaat van Caitlin Canty is een opvallend intense plaat vol songs die alleen maar aan kracht aan schoonheid winnen. Het moet genoeg zijn voor de definitieve doorbraak van dit enorme talent.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Motel Bouquet hier beluisteren en kopen:


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:


woensdag 11 juli 2018

Happiness To Burn. Jenny Van West

There's a time and place for everything. Today is such a time that I truly enjoy Happiness To Burn. I'm a bit tired, a faint sore in my legs' muscles from a hiking weekend, energy not too high. Everything on Jenny Van West's album falls right into place.

On Happiness To Burn the pace is relaxed, slow and nothing much intense. The result is somehow a perfect match. Where in the past weeks when I was listening to the album I sat it aside about half way, today it is so fine and good.

Is it a coincidence that Shane Alexander has produced this album? Yes, as I had found that out before I got his recent e-mail and had already decided to give the album a new try. His co-career as producer pays off nicely, as just like Shelby Figueroa's 'Highwire', Alexander manages to create the right mood to come up with a delicate album that puts Jenny Van West right in the centre of her music. That seems like only logical, but is not. Often, the singer(/songwriter) becomes a part in the producer's grander scheme of things, with all sorts of action deflecting from the source. Not on this album.

Promo photo: Jeff Van West
Happiness To Burn starts with a 40s, 50s jazzy tune, also the title song. Which does set the novice Jenny Van West listener, like I was, on the wrong foot. After such an opening song I definitely did not expect a soft country-rocker like 'Live In A New Way' nor a beautiful singer-songwriter ballad like 'Never Alone'. In short Happiness To Burn takes many a turn. Soft drumming and almost neutral bass playing leaves all the room for an acoustic guitar or two to support the pedal steel that steels the show, bar Ms. Van West who, as I already wrote, is the centerpiece of this album. Everything about 'Never alone' is so modest, yet rock solid. Nothing takes anything away from a beautiful song like this.

Jenny Van West has a soft voice that somehow does not have to force itself in any way. She sings with ease, in a very clear way. She reminds me of several U.S. singers, but I'll refrain from comparisons here. She is a force in her own soft and modest way.

With Happiness To Burn Jenny Van West releases her second full album after 2015's 'Something Real' and the EP Honey And Hive' (2016). For all purposes this is beautiful album to release. It ought to find many ears to land in and never to leave again. It found me at the right moment and will most likely never leave again. With its diversity ranging from the Andrew Sisters jazzy outings to modern singer-songwriters folk, roots rock and ballads many genres are, successfully, provided for. Each genre and style doing just fine as presented back-to-back on this selection of songs. Happiness To Burn indeed.


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about: