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Tag: music

Jóhann Jóhannsson RIP

Monday, 12 February, 2018 0 Comments

The Icelandic musician and producer Jóhann Jóhannsson was found dead in Berlin on Friday. He was 49. Jóhann Jóhannsson blended music (electronic with classical) memorably and he was nominated for an Oscar for his soundtrack to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 film, Sicario. He also worked with Villeneuve on the science fiction film Arrival.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the music of Jóhann Jóhannsson, try Orphée, which is based on Ovid’s interpretation of the Orpheus myth. The grandeur of the opening track, “Flight from the City”, hinted at post-classical greatness to come. Alas, it was not to be. RIP.


Sting warned us about Google

Friday, 26 January, 2018 0 Comments

If you’re using an Android phone, Google may be tracking every move you make:

“The Alphabet subsidiary’s location-hungry tentacles are quietly lurking behind some of the most innovative features of its Android mobile operating system. Once those tentacles latch on, phones using Android begin silently transmitting data back to the servers of Google, including everything from GPS coordinates to nearby wifi networks, barometric pressure, and even a guess at the phone-holder’s current activity. Although the product behind those transmissions is opt-in, for Android users it can be hard to avoid and even harder to understand.”

So writes David Yanofsky in Quartz. And, as Sting sang during the last century:

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Back now to David Yanofsky:

“As a result, Google holds more extensive data on Android users than some ever realize. That data can be used by the company to sell targeted advertising. It can also be used to track into stores those consumers who saw ads on their phone or computer urging them to visit. This also means governments and courts can request the detailed data on an individual’s whereabouts.”

Back now to Sting:

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you

David Yanofsky again:

“While you’ve probably never heard of it, ‘Location History’ is a longtime Google product with origins in the now-defunct Google Latitude. (Launched in 2009, that app allowed users to constantly broadcast their location to friends.) Today, Location History is used to power features like traffic predictions and restaurant recommendations. While it is not enabled on an Android phone by default — or even suggested to be turned on when setting up a new phone — activating Location History is subtly baked into setup for apps like Google Maps, Photos, the Google Assistant, and the primary Google app. In testing multiple phones, Quartz found that none of those apps use the same language to describe what happens when Location History is enabled, and none explicitly indicate that activation will allow every Google app, not just the one seeking permission, to access Location History data.

Sting was way ahead of his time:

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Note: Every Breath You Take appeared on the 1983 Police album Synchronicity. Written by Sting, the single was the biggest US and UK hit of 1983, topping the UK singles chart for four weeks and the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks. And it remains a winner. In October last year, the song was featured at the end of Season 2 of the Netflix thriller Stranger Things and it also appears on the Sony Music soundtrack of songs used in both Seasons 1 and 2.


Úlfur Úlfur ain’t cryin’ no “Wolf!” up Iceland way

Saturday, 20 January, 2018 0 Comments

Icelandic rap is a thing. And Úlfur Úlfur are among the biggest names on the Icelandic rap scene. Úlfur Úlfur translates as “Wolf Wolf” and, like the Canis lupus they are named after, Arnar Freyr and Helgi Sæmundu are howlingly fierce and furry. They are also very funny and their only concession to the dominant lingua franca of rap is liberal use of “motherfuck”. The entire combination means full houses for their gigs in Iceland and millions of plays across every music medium.

Tarantúlur is a song about the white trash Icelandic dream of cars, dudes, babes, hot dogs and drag racing. This is as far from the craft beer-swilling mobs of Reykjavik with their PC cult of Björk one can get.


Dolores O’Riordan (1971 – 2018)

Tuesday, 16 January, 2018 0 Comments

The last time I saw the late Dolores O’Riordan was on Friday, 6 June 2003 in the Olympiastadion in Munich. Her group, The Cranberries, were the support band for The Rolling Stones during their LICKS tour.

Can there be a more thankless music job than supporting the Stones? The masses flock to their concerts for the thrill of escaping the present for the past and it was the task of The Cranberries that warm June evening to “warm up” the crowd with a 45-minute set of songs, some of which were intended for a 2004 follow-up to the band’s fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, issued in 2001. Little did we know that the material would never be released. In September 2003, The Cranberries went into hiatus and they didn’t enter a recording studio again until 2011. Now, some seven years later, aged 46, Dolores O’Riordan is dead. RIP.

Dolores O'Riordan


Colm and Tadhg and Turlough

Sunday, 17 December, 2017 0 Comments

Back at the beginning of this month, the Irish uilleann pipes were honoured as an important and unique cultural heritage symbol by UNESCO, the controversial UN organization that was founded in 1945. The move was a “valuable recognition of the skills, imagination, creativity and importance of those who make, restore and play na píobaí uilleann,” said President Michael D. Higgins. One of those who plays them increasingly well is a young lad from County Carlow, Colm Broderick, and here he’s accompanied on the organ by Tadhg Griffen as they play O’Carolan’s Concerto, which was composed by the 18th century harper, Turlough O’Carolan.


Master and Commander Boccherini: 5

Friday, 15 December, 2017 0 Comments

And so we come to the end of our week of interpretations of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid, which became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. So far, we’ve had the original from the film, a family performance, a violin/viola duet and an orchestral version.

Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid was written around 1780 by Luigi Boccherini and he scored it for two violins, a viola and two cellos. It’s exuberant music and depicts the night life of Madrid near an 18th-century military outpost. Drums can be heard and various nocturnal sounds, including cats calling and church bells ringing, are woven into the piece. Boccherini was quoted as having said: “The piece is absolutely useless, even ridiculous, outside Spain, because the audience cannot hope to understand its significance, nor the performers to play it as it should be played.” Given that, it’s only appropriate we end with the Master and Commander segment being played by el dúo Bagatela, featuring Javier Abraldes on guitar and Plamen Velev on cello. ¡Olé!

“The newly-minted captain admits the irony between the gold on his shoulders and the lack of gold in his pockets. The newly-minted captain is told to let nothing stop him but to do nothing that would risk his ship or his crew.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander


Master and Commander Boccherini: 4

Thursday, 14 December, 2017 0 Comments

Jaesik Lim studied music at Hanyang University, one of the leading private research institutions in South Korea, and then moved to Madrid to continue his studies, saying: “I didn’t want to fly to Italy like everyone else does. I wanted something different.” Furthermore: “Both Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras are from Spain, so I thought this country must be special,” he told the Korea JoongAng Daily. There was a phase of culture shock, however, when he discovered that most Spaniards spoke Spanish instead of English. Still, he didn’t shirk the challenge of survival so he set up a stall at a flea market “for earrings and women’s underwear.”

Perseverance pays. Here, the maestro conducts the Master and Commander segment of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid performed by the Orquesta de Cámara y Grupo Vocal Millennium in Madrid’s Teatro Monumental.

“‘Are you very much attached to money?’ asked Stephen. ‘I love it passionately,’ said Jack, with truth ringing clear in his voice. ‘I have always been poor, and I long to be rich.'” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, we end our series on the Master and Commander Boccherini with an interpretation by el dúo Bagatela from Galicia.


Morrissey Spent the Day in Bed

Sunday, 19 November, 2017 0 Comments

Morrissey began the Twitter phase of his career two months ago. On 18 September, at 10.39 pm, he tweeted “Spent the Day in Bed.” Spent the Day in Bed is also the title of the first single from his new album Low In High School. In recent years, Moz has taken to saying things that people don’t want to hear and he’s not for turning now.

“Spent the day in bed
Very happy I did, yes
I spent the day in bed
As the workers stay enslaved
I spent the day in bed
I’m not my type, but
I love my bed
And I recommend that you

Stop watching the news!
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own.”


Kick started

Friday, 3 November, 2017 0 Comments

Congratulations to Hoodman Blind on exceeding their Kickstarter funding goal for the recording, mixing and mastering the band’s debut EP. Drive on!

Hoodman Blind


Peadar O’Loughlin, RIP

Tuesday, 24 October, 2017 1 Comment

Born in the parish of Kilmaley in County Clare on 6 November 1929, Peadar O’Loughlin was a traditional musician’s musician. He happily shared his tunes with a younger generation, typified by Ronan Browne and Maeve Donnelly, eager to learn a style that was sparsely ornamented but powerfully rhythmic, and his playing, on fiddle, flute and pipes, reflected a gentle, generous personality that will be very much missed.


Ybor City

Sunday, 8 October, 2017 0 Comments

Those initial consonants, y and b, make Ybor sound fictional, even science fictional, and there is a created history behind this American city’s origins, but the place is real and Jason Isbell name-checks it in Traveling Alone:

“I quit talking to myself
And listening to the radio a long, long time ago
Damn near strangled by my appetite
In Ybor City on a Friday night
Couldn’t even stand upright
So high, the street girls wouldn’t take my pay
She said come see me on a better day, she just danced away.”

Note: Ybor City is a historic neighbourhood in Tampa, Florida, northeast of downtown. It was founded in the 1880s by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and other cigar manufacturers and became home to thousands of immigrants, mainly from Cuba, Spain and Italy. Today, the residents are mostly creative migrants from Miami, Atlanta and New York.