This set, recorded at Air Studios by the band’s label, is Bon Iver stripped to the bare essentials: two voices (Justin Vernon and his collaborator Sean Carey) and two grand pianos. The result is 25-minutes of beautiful, fragile and gentle renditions of songs that have previously featured on Bon Iver’s albums and EPs. I found it absolutely captivating. I hope you do too.
For those with an eye on the detail, here’s the set list:
1. Hinnom, TX
3. I Can’t Make You Love Me
This could well be the late-night album you’ve always dreamed of. It’s a collaboration between the composer Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie (from Sparklehorse). It’s entirely instrumental, consisting primarily of drone like strings, and it slips between neo-classical, ambient and post-rock spaces like honey. It’s like a balm for everything that hurts.
If ever music demanded that time-worn cliché of turning the lights down low and lighting the candles – then this is it. It’s beautiful, haunting and incredibly evocative. But you need to turn those lights down…
Classic jazz. The term makes me shiver. There are a few recordings that don’t – Kind of Blue and pretty much anything by Coltrane. But for me, the best of them all and one that deserves that you leave any preconceptions about jazz (nice) at the door is a live recording of a concert that the performer didn’t even want to play. And yet, when he did, something miraculous happened.
Keith Jarrett arrived in Cologne tired and exhausted and suffering from chronic back pain to play a solo piano concert at the city’s main opera house. When he arrived he found that the piano wasn’t the concert grand he expected but a substandard, ill-tuned baby grand meant only for rehearsals. There was no substitute. Initially he refused to play but 1,400 people were coming to see him perform only a few hours after his arrival. It was too late to cancel. So, at 11.30pm (an unusually late hour because the only time the house could give him was after that evening’s regular opera performance) he took to the stage. And, against all reasonable expectations, created a masterpiece.
His concert, broken down into four sections on the album and performed in two acts, was almost entirely improvised. Improvisational jazz can be a thing of squirm-inducing horror – self-indulgent noodling and interminable scales that go on for hour after mind-breaking hour. But not here. This was almost revolutionary improvisation at the time (1975) – quiet, lyrical spontaneity with breathtaking harmonic invention. His whoops and sighs which accompany his extraordinary playing only add to the sheer brilliance of the recording. It is an extraordinary record and one of the few concerts I dearly wish I could have experienced firsthand.
Here is Act I:
It is well worth seeking out your own copy to hear the concert in its entirety. Jazz will never seem quite the same again…
After I started this blog and called it the memory house, I did a google search of the name (as one does) just to see what else popped up. Of course many, many things did. But I had no idea that a masterpiece in necoclassical music was there to be found.
It’s a beautiful piece. And, whilst I thought of changing the name and have no pretensions to my blog having any kind of link with such a work, it’s such a poignant and evocative piece that I thought what better inspiration could there be…
A new look for the blog and a time to revisit one of my favourite albums. Go Live by Jonsi (lead singer of Sigur Ros). A gorgeous live album recorded during his acclaimed tour in 2010 in a sumptuous package (CD and DVD).
It’s a triumphant record and well worth seeking out. Below is the track Tornado, one of my favourites…
As a follow up to Corduroy Road (see previous blog entry) here is another album by the brilliant Keith Kenniff (aka Goldmund and here recording under the moniker of Helios.) I’m posting this because it’s a fantastic album for the winter months and I think it’s perfect for snuggling up to when the snow is falling and you feel in need of a bit o warming – a hot toddy/cup of tea/chocolate hob nob/someone or something warm to hold and this little beauty – perfect. Enjoy