What’s New in Music !

So many updates, so little time. I am writing this in breakneck speed while I m trying to uncover a new band from Russia as well as a gifted siren who sent me an email. I shall post them in this site soon . But first thing’s first. The wind has taken us to the Scottish skies . There are new releases waiting foe our ears to swallow-hahahaha I like this imagery.

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Celtic Metal from the Russian Federation:Fferyllt

I didn’t know what to say. This band blew the rooftops with their explosive brand of music-A union of Celtic and Metal music. There is nothing more refreshing than to have someone shake down the house once in a while. What can I say? They look better than most metal bands though…and sound much ,much better. Take a look at this edited video I found in YouTube:

Official band site:http://www.fferyllt.net/

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Siren of Songs from British Columbia:Oona McOuat

I have heard of Oona McOuat long before I got a mail from her but I didnt know how to get in touch. Like all wonderful musicians I listen to, she lives in British Columbia. Her music is a combination of soft tunes drenched in soulful saxophones, traditional instruments and lounge sophistication that makes just lose yourself to the music after a hard day’s work. Her music is evocative and her voice is part ethereal and part earthly rooted both in folk and jazz. I love her refreshing approach to this kind of genre because she really brings something new to it. Like bringing a new set of recipes on a get together party . I hear a bit of Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Loreena McKennitt in her . But of course the music is uniquely Oona McOuat.

You can listen to her songs here:

http://www.myspace.com/oonamcouat

Her new album Honey and Holy Water is now available. You can learn more at her official website: http://www.oonamcouat.com/

I will be posting more updates about her soon.

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Sleepthief’s Justin Elswick Talks About Labyrinthine Heart, The New Album.

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(Labyrinthine Heart’s Album Cover)justin

The music is distinctive, strangely familiar and overall beautiful. You could be riding on the seat of your car and this guy beside you plays a Sleepthief album and then you’d go “Hey… that music, who is that artist?” American composer Justin Elswick, the man behind Sleepthief uses his influences and collaboration with other artists to create a lush, pulsing electronic landscape that is out of this world and yet so personal that it speaks to your subconscious.

His latest offering Labyrinthine Heart features eight vocalists who contribute their own unique voices to create a wonderful album worth a listen again and again. If you are a fan of Enya, Delerium or Irish electronic duo Dagda, then you will snatch a copy of Sleepthief’s album. Apart from beautiful melodies, the production is also superb and artfully crafted . Let me add that the album cover is really excellent.

Justin took sometime off to answer this interview patiently.

Pictures courtesy of  http://www.myspace.com/sleepthief

Complete preview of the new album available at : http://www.sleepthiefmusic.com

I was watching your 4-part You Tube interview. It’s amazing by the way. Who made that?

– Thank you! That was recorded by a friend of mine who is a cameraman.

The World Gone Crazy is an awesome video, directed by Eric Hueber. What’s the extent of your involvement in the video shoot?

– For the WORLD GONE CRAZY video, Eric came up with the general concept, and I loved it. I gave some feedback on the overall storyline, but the vision was Eric’s. I was the producer of the video and did most of the logistical set up with location, actors, etc. However, with some of my other videos like TENUOUS and THE CHAUFFEUR, I was more involved with creating the storyline and even directing along with Eric.

Why did you choose Sleepthief instead of Justin Elswick?

-I knew that music would involve other singers and so I did not feel it fair just to use my own name. Because it is a project, I wanted to come up with a name that resonated with people–something mysterious and memorable.

Tell us about the music gears that you use in the studio?

– I program on Logic. I also use many different plug ins from Spectrasonics, VSL, Rob Papen, Arturia, Native Instruments and others.

Do you have a work schedule when working on an album?

-Not usually when I start. I just begin writing and hoping that I can create a selection of songs that will work for an album. However, as I begin to get close to finishing, the label has deadlines that must be met in order to release the album on time.

You are surrounded by wonderful artist from The Dawnseeker up to the latest album Labyrinthine Heart. What’s your memorable experience working with them?

-I feel so fortunate to be working with some of the best singer/songwriters in the business. I think that finishing the songs with the vocals in place is always a great feeling. Each of the singers brings their own personality and energy to the recording, so it is always exhilarating and memorable. Also, there are always funny moments when recording where we just all joke around.

You started as a music critic. That’s when you started to know and made friends with musicians around. Some of them already worked in your albums right?

-I did start as a music reviewer for the website www.musicaldiscoveries.com
As I began to think about making my own album, I decided to contact some of the singers that I had reviewed (like Jody Quine, Harland and Caroline Lavelle).

Do you think that this experience also pushed you to be a bit critical with what you do?

-Definitely! I am very picky when it comes to overall sound and feeling. If the recording doesn’t sound exactly right to me, I will keep working on it.

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Were there quirks about writing reviews and interviewing musicians?

-Not particularly. I only approached those singers whose music I liked–haha.

What gives you the push to compose tunes? When does the muse arrive?

-It really depends. There are times when it feels like a song just flows naturally and easily out of my mind and heart.  Other times, it is like polishing a stone–tons of repetitive work. Of course, it is always easier when the song comes quickly from inside. But sometimes that extra labor of just sitting down and fighting with a song yields positive results. There is something to be said about forcing yourself to be disciplined and work. I will say that sometimes a book I read or a movie I see or a person in my life provides strong inspiration for the music. In those cases, the songs can come forth quite quickly.

Your sound tunes people this this ‘other plane’- the spiritual plane. Tell me about the role of spirituality in your life and music.

-Religion and God have played a very strong role throughout my life. I was born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I still go to church and I have had wonderful personal spiritual experiences in my life that have been great blessings to me. I find serenity in prayer and reading scripture. And life has been a proof to me that God exists and loves us. I love nature as well and being outside in the mountains or forests is very inspiring to me. Also, I have a great love of religious music including hymns and masses. Faith and belief in something greater than ourselves is at the root of most religions and I think that touching that deeper part of the soul is very important in making my music. I would say that my music comes from some of my deepest feeling, so because my faith in God is also deeply rooted, it must connect with the music I make.

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Your music is also very personal. It is something that relates to emotions. Any thought about this?

-As I mentioned, I will not write a song unless there is something that is prompting me on an emotional level to write. For example, SKIMMING STONES was written when I was feeling very alone and full of sorrow. I realized that a different times in our lives, we question why we are even here and why we feel so disconnected to people and even God. I wanted to write a song about that feeling and about how, even when we feel utterly alone, we still long for a connection to other people and to the greater power in the universe.

(Skimming Stones feat. Kirsty Hawkshaw courtesy of Sleepthief’s Official You Tube site).

You also love classical composers like Schubert and Beethoven. Yet how do you make it catchy deceptively simple and accessible to pop ears?

-I love classical music. In particular, I enjoy symphonies and also choral pieces. I suppose that those influences combine with my love of pop music, so there is a but of an amalgamation of those different styles in my music.

Do you really think that Sleepthief is the future sound of the past? And why?

-I actually came up with that catchphrase because I think my music draws from music styles and ideas from other times and places, but is set in a “electronic” more modern style. So it is both past and future coming together.

I know you’ve mentioned it on your You Tube interview but for the benefit of others, can you give us a background of the concept behind Labyrinthine Heart?

-As a concept, I wrote the music for the track as I was thinking about how many of us are guarded with our hearts. So, we create complexities in order to protect ourselves from being hurt. Deep down, we all hope that someone can basically unravel all of our personal idiosyncracies and flaws and love us at the most basic level. LABYRINTHINE HEART basically refers to a heart that is maze-like with many twist and turns and how each of us hopes that one person will be able to make it through the maze and find the true center of who we are.

You spoil your listeners with wonderful haunting female vocals. What made you realize that you want this kind of voice in your recordings and not the pop sounding ordinary kind?

-For me, a voice must evoke emotion and interest. So many pop singers are very predictable and “studied.” I like original and distinctive voices that pull you in to the story. A beautiful female voice cannot be beat!

Thanks to you, It makes me want to check out their (the guest vocalists) individual recordings. Though I am already familiar with Caroline Lavelle’s wonderful solo works and she’s here right? It must be wonderful working with her.

-Each of the guest singers has worked on other songs and music. Caroline is a lovely person, and I have been a fan of her music since 1995. It has been a real dream come true to be able to work with her. She is so talented and kind.

You are also a practicing lawyer. Some musicians who get into the business sometimes find themselves going into a different path-you know the attraction of fame and fortune. Do you think being able to juggle between two worlds has given you the sanity you needed?

-Yes. Practicing law helps the rational side of the brain, while music focuses on the creative side. Plus, having a steady job is important because the music industry makes it so hard to make money these days!

It’s also amazing you can do these things (being a lawyer / musician/producer and so much more). A lot of people would want to be in your shoes-or head!

-Thank you. I appreciate that. However, I think I am just a regular guy who got lucky. I’ve worked hard, but I also know that I have been blessed too.

You mentioned that Watermark by Enya (on tape) was the album you bought that totally changed your musical perspective. What is it about that album that spoke to you?

-It was a combination of the voice, the music, the harmonies. I remember putting the tape in and listening for the first time. I literally was glued to my seat. I felt overwhelmed emotionally by the music like I had never been before. It was like finding a really beautiful dream that suddenly comes to life when you never dared to hope it could be real. That album was like “coming home” to me.

Tell us how was the experience studying in Ireland like? Have you met cool folks over there?

-It was one of the best experiences of my life. I LOVE the Irish people. Their music, personalities, culture…the landscape and architecture is beyond inspiring. It feels like a second home to me, and I try to get back every few years. I have several good friends there.

You will be working with Enya’s younger sister Bridin Brennan ( I know this will alert a lot of ears!). How did this come to be?

– Yes, I have been speaking with Bridin’s manager, Shane for some time. Originally, I contacted him when we were working on the SIRENES compilation album and I wanted to include one of her songs. I actually met up with him in 2007 in Ireland. He is a wonderful guy. I just need to work out the details with him and Bridin, but I really hope it comes about as I think she is an amazing singer. I wrote a song a few years ago that is about the area in Ireland around Mount Errigal. It is called “Errigal Passage.” Interestingly enough, the Brennan family are from that area and the place I wrote the song about is only 10 minutes from where they all grew up.

What’s your opinion about touring?

– Would love to do it! It all comes down to expense, though as a live show would be quite expensive for me to put on the way I’d want it. I still plan on doing it though.

How do you view success?

-I think success is relative. If you are grateful for the people who have found the music and appreciate their support, I think you are successful. It is not about numbers of fans, or money necessarily. For me, I feel amazingly successful because the music has touched people throughout the world and they have shared their feelings with me about how the music has affected them. I am so proud of that and very humbled that some people have felt a connection with my music.

How do you deal with criticisms?

-I think that legitimate criticism is fine. With music, it is such a subjective thing that it is hard to say one person’s view is more important than another’s. I am not bothered by criticism in general if it is a fair opinion. I think criticism can be frustrating when someone has not really listened to the music. For example, one critic said that the songs on The Dawnseeker were “all the same.” To me that is demonstrably false, because each song has a different tempo, different singer, different instruments and different mood. When I read that review, I just thought “well he hasn’t really listened.” But criticism is inevitable for any artist who puts their work out in the public domain, so you just have to realize that and focus on the positive.

If you were on a street and you see somebody looking at you,  what would be the first thing to cross your mind?

-Is my zipper on my pants down? haha

Any particular brand of piano you’d like to play?

-I love playing different pianos because they all have their own special sound.

Any message to you new converts?

-Just that I am so thankful to anyone who has been listening or is just new to the music. I make the music in hopes that it will become part of peoples’ lives in a good way and I never take the fans for granted. They make it all possible.

Labyrinthine Heart is now available at:

Amazon
amazon.com/Labyrinthine-Heart-Sleepthief/dp/B002HWUU9K

Barnes & Noble
music.barnesandnoble.com/Labyrinthine-Heart/Sleepthief/e/754863210228

iTunes
itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?i=328224813&id=328224794&s=143441

last fm
last.fm/music/Sleepthief/Labyrinthine+Heart

Julie Fowlis Admiration Day

I don’t really want to turn this site into  Julie Fawlis admiration page. But today I have been listening to “Mar A Tha Mo Chridhe” and this Scottish  vocalist and multi-instrumental lady has been making waves.  She’s awesome.  You should hear her. So I found these random pics from the net and decided to out them here. Just to smile while listening to her gorgeous voice.

Check out her officicial  MySpace page.

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Looking Back:Connie Dover’s Somebody

TPM101I first discovered American singer Connie Dover when I got a copy of CD Review in the early 90s.This line caught me and I knew I have to find her recordings:

 

“Just occasionally, a voice arrives on the folk scene that is so pure, so beautiful, so magical, that it tells you: this is how to sing a song. Such a voice has Connie Dover.”
The Scotsman (Scotland’s National Newspaper)

 

  Connie posseses one of the rarest voice in the folk music industry. I find it totally beautiful. The title track  Somebody evokes longing, driven by acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies. The Baron of Brackley has that old Fairport Convention feel to it. Other tracks are mid-tempo, divided into lively and traditional airs.Cantus is one some that’s actually based on a Gregorian chant but translated into 3 parts: Latin, English and Gaelic. Connie indeed has a knack for doing tireless research and singing in multi-language.O’er The Hills and Far Away is a paean for unrequited love set on a lively sway with a Scottish feel. Shenandoah is sung acappela with her voice dubbed several times to create harmony vocals. Rosemary’s Sister is about the perils of war. So far this collection pays tribute to the journeys of different people coming from Ireland and Scotland, and then settling into early America, bringing with them songs that’s as old as a thousand years.

 

For detailed information,please visit her official websiteconniecowgirl

Also visit Amazon.com to purchase the album.

Christiane Cargill:The Fairy from Orange County

  If you have been searching in the Internet for a female vocalist with Chopin’s piano talent then you might have landed on Christiane Cargill’s Celtic cafe. She’s from Orange County California whose lineage are of Irish and Scottish. In Metamorphosis, she pays tribute to her heritage but at the same time added her own modern twist.

 

  She studied Classical music at an early age but found her first love in song writing.All of the songs in Metamorphosis are piano based. If you love the way Tori Amos tinkers with the keys, but with the haunting touch of Nightnoise , then you’d buy this album. If you love the vocals of Evanescence‘s Amy Lee (but way better) then yes! this is for you. There is a sunny side in her renderings that make you really dream of green fields.

 

  Check her full song ‘Green Fields of France’  featured on  Celtic Folk Podcast  hosted by Al Mann. You can also visit her official site  for news as well as tour dates. Who knows,she might be playing in your area soon.  And oh she’s in  MySpace.

Instrumentation
Christiane Cargill – vocals and piano

Additional Instrumentation:
Carter Dewberry – cello
Rebecca Kleinmann – flute
Bob Malone – accordian
Paul McIntire – violin
Christo Pellani – drums and percussion

Listen to samples and track list here

Máire,the debut album of Moya Brennan

  Today I want to review Moya Brennan’s Maire…her first solo album out of 200px-MoyaBrennan_MaireClannad. Released in 1992, the album celebrates the Irish tradition in a fresh approach. Abundance of percussion,  electric guitars and vocal layerings embellish this release under Atlantic Records.

 

 I just love the way Moya sings each slow tracks as if she is whispering. There is nuance and at the same time up front delivery. Tracks like “Cé Leis” and “Jealous Heart” promise heart hearting beauty. While “Atlantic Shore” is update,rock driven; well suited to the age of Grunge without being ‘Rock and Roll”.

  Musicians are :

Producer: Calwn Malcolm and Donal Lunny.vbrennan3

Heard of Heather Dale lately?

HeatherDale-BlueSuedeSmile-220w-72dpi  Heather Dale is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and a member of  Society for Creative Anachronismhistorical re-enactment events.Touring has been one of her chief focus this year. She has released a number of albums infused with influences from Celtic,jazz,folk rock and blues.In one new track Dream of Rhonabwy(The Gabriel Hounds ,2008),Heather combined elements of Celtic traditional style,folk acoustic guitars and jazz creating a lively yet relaxing mood.If you love the vocals of Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan,if you love the acoustic jazz of Bela Fleck then you’d love Heather Dale.

Instruments:

Voice, Piano, Bodhran Drum, Tin & Low Whistles, Recorders, Mountain Dulcimer, Hammered Dulcimer, Harp, Bowed Psaltery, Percussion

For more Information,visit her official site.