WALKING IN THE RAIN (Mixtape)

Enjoy this mixtape with some of the best and most melancholic folk songs released so far in 2019. I tried to compose the ideal soundtrack for a walk in the rain, at sunset. Eight songs, thirty minutes of musical beauty and delicacy.




If you liked this mixtape, I recommend to have a look to THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 and to follow the playlist THE INDIE FOLK RADAR.


Best New Music: “Drake” by Benny Lackner Trio

Speaking about the skills and talent of German-born pianist Benny Lackner, someone once said that he doesn’t have to be afraid of any comparisons to composers like Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau, and that “he has found his place in the upper league of Jazz Piano Trios“. Of course, this looks like an important and bold statement, which in any case reinforces an objective reality: the music composed by Lackner and played by the pianist with his bandmates is absolutely profound and engaging.

I can’t judge today whether the comparison between Lackner and the two above mentioned masters of “Jazz Trio” is correct or not. What I can say, for sure, is that the direction undertaken by Lackner to reach the top seems the right one one. Jarreth and Mehldau (who’s been one of Lackner’s mentors, by the way) have contributed to the development of this genre of Jazz with a depth and a resonance that perhaps is still unsurpassed; Lackner’s musical production, in any case, can be definitely considered within the most precious and exciting things we heard in the last few years.

Born in Berlin to an american father and a german mother, Benny Lackner, moved to California at the age of 13, where he studied Jazz with his mentor Brad Mehldau.

Drake is the new album from the Benny Lackner Trio, and since the first time I started listening to it there has been one special thing which amazed me more everything else, and this is the adoption of an extremely essential musical language, at times minimal, which is incredibly far from those mere demonstrations of technique and virtuosity that too often we hear in modern Jazz. In this sense, Lackner has found a extremely personal code for breaking the rules of standard Piano Trio music. The modernity and innovation of Lackner ‘s style, to some extent, are the characteristics that bring him closer to the giants of Jazz that were mentioned before.

“Drake” is Benny Lackner Trio’s 6th album

Drake offers to the listeners a very elegant, sober, and extremely delicate collection of Jazz music blended with contemporary electronic elements. The piano is at the centre of every composition, but we would make a great mistake by relegating the two supporting musicians (bassist Jerome Regard and drummer Matthieu Chazarenc) to the role of pure accompaniment. The two are in fact the architects of those rarefied and magical atmospheres that we find in all the tracks of the LP.

Benny Lackner Trio consists of Benny Lackner (piano and effects), Matthieu Chazarenc (drums) and Jerome Regard (bass and effects)

The rhythms in Drake are moderately slow. All the chords, and sometimes the single notes, seem to arrive after a profound phase of reflection on the harmonic and melodic effect they will produce on the song. There is little sense of spontaneousness, and we don’t feel either the immediacy of the typical Jazz improvisation process, which is however compensated by a persistent attention to maintaining a constant sonic balance throughout the pieces.

The result is a music that, at least from an objective point of view, should appear cold, almost mathematical, but that actually evokes continuous streams of emotions. That’s the magic and uniqueness of Lackner’s music, which, in the end, is absolutely enjoyable to listen to.


My overall rating for the LP is 8/10. This is one of the best Jazz albums among those I’ve listened so far in 2019. It’s not easy to indicate which are my favourite pieces because it’s the overall level of quality of the LP which makes the difference. Anyway, there are a bunch of songs which evoked the strongest emotions: Tears, It’s Gonna Happen, Yorke and the opening track I Told You so.



Drake is available on iTunes and it can be streamed also from Spotify. The album is now featured in The JAZZ MUSIC Radar, which is the playlist collecting the best Jazz songs released since the beginning of the year.


THE BEST FOLK OF 2019 (Episode 1)

Since the beginning of 2019, we could enjoy a good number of valid and interesting folk music albums and we are already able to point out which are the best records of the year (up to now). The first episode of this chart refers to the first quarter of 2019 and it features five different albums spanning from indie to traditional Scottish folk. Enjoy this article and stay tuned for future updates!



#5) “Tomb”, by Angelo De Augustine

Indie Folk

Sometimes you meet with artists, or records, that manage to transmit you strong emotions independently from the specific music they play. Tomb, which is the latest LP released by American singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine, represents one of these cases. The LP is third of a discography which includes his self-released debut album, 2011’s Spirals of Silence, and his previous 2017’s LP named Swim Inside the Moon.

Tomb develops over a profound and universal statement: we grow up following some dreams that, at same point in our life, may be erased because of external factors. There are two ways to cope whit that: we give up or we try to emerge from the darkness of our disillusions, elaborating the loss and trying to come out stronger than before.

Listening to the music of Angelo De Augustine is like enjoying the recitation of a poem, and in this sense his work is actually in between these two different forms of art.

The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with additional details on the record and also a few videos to see.



#4) “Those Who Roam”, by Claire Hastings

Traditional Scottish Folk

The biography of young Scottish folksinger and songwriter Claire Hastings says that despite already at primary school her teachers noticed how good was her voice, she didn’t pursue music until she arrived at the University. In a few years, however, she managed to compensate for all the time lost and, impressively, she was named “BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year” even before releasing her debut album (Between River and Railway). This year Hastings has released her second LP, named Those Who Roam, and we may enjoy once again the talent of one of the most promising figures of contemporary folk.

The element that stands out the most in this record is for sure the beautiful voice of the singer, while the musical part is not always at the same level. Those Who Roam is like a nice walk in a flowery park, under the sun. A sun that, however, still can’t make you feel warm, it’s only a slight sensation that you have on the skin.

Those Who Roam is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and a couple of songs to enjoy.



#3) “Ode to a Friend” by Old Sea Brigade

INDIE FOLK


After releasing a number of intriguing and appreciated short publications, American singer-songwriter Ben Cramer, who plays under the moniker of Old Sea Brigade, eventually released his debut full-length record, named Ode to a Friend. Despite arriving after four previous EPs, the songs of the new album are all unpublished and the new material shows the capacity that has been developed by Cramer – in just a few years – in defining a style that is quite unique and personal, moving with ease among folk, Americana and ambient soundscapes.

Ode to a Friend is an album that’s absolutely poetic and fascinating, something which has the capacity to take us away from the chaos, but which also requires extremely quiet environments in order to be fully appreciated. And if most of the tracks of the LP are still built on Cramer’s finger-picked guitar and echo effects, for the first time we enjoy in his songs also a wider palette of sounds which includes notes from a distant piano or gentle layers of synths.

Ode to a Friend is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other information.



#2) “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro”, by Rome

DARK FOLK

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is the latest release from Luxembourg’s folk master Jérôme Reuter, who operates under the name of Rome. This is the most recent entry in a very large discography which features more than 10 LPs and many other EPs, all of them devoted to telling fascinating stories which interconnect ancient wars with the struggles of modern times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is an album that manages to be at the same time profound, conceptual but still absolutely enjoyable to listen to. From a musical point of view, the album doesn’t deviate substantially from the dark folk that has been offered in all the previous releases from Reuter, with the exception of an increased presence – in the new album – of “martial” elements. The LP starts with a sequence of impressive and absolutely brilliant songs, gifted by some of the most beautiful melodies we heard in recent times.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with videos and other details.



Best Folk Album of 2019 (so far)

“Crushing”, by Julia Jacklin

INDIE FOLK / INDIE POP

Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer and songwriter based in Sydney, and she has released in late February 2019 her second LP, Crushing, which follows her 2016’s impressive debut studio album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. Similarly to what happened on the occasion of her first record, the first thing which impresses of Crushing is the remarkable emotional intensity of the songs. These are reflections and flashes made by the artist on her life and her past experiences, translated into music with a naturalness and a sense of urgency and immediacy that cannot leave us indifferent.

From a musical point of view, the songs of Crushing stay right on the border that separates indie pop from folk. The instrumentation, in particular, is that typical of folk music: the tracks develop mainly on Julia’s voice and guitar, with a simple rhythmic session made by repeated notes of bass and slow beats on the drums. Rarely we hear a piano. The simplicity of the arrangement, however, is compensated by warm and beautiful sounds of all the instruments, which in the end enhance the sense of intimacy of the tracks.

Crushing is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. The album was included in this blog’s Best New Music category and here you can read the review of the LP that I wrote for the blog, with more information and also a couple of singles to enjoy.



All the best indie folk songs that were released since the beginning of the year are collected in the Playlist called The INDIE FOLK Radar, which features all the artists included in this chart bat also other remarkable songs from artists like Sun Kil Moon, Meat Puppets, Mandoline Orange, and many others. Listen to it and follow it: the playlist is periodically updated with new tracks.


The FOLK METAL Radar (Episode #1/2019)

I believe that the combination of heavy metal with folk and epic music is one of the most successful of the last thirty years. These two genres seem to have been born to be blended together and one reinforces the other. Unfortunately, however, all successful discoveries attract hordes of bands without ideas and creativity that seek to emerge by just following trends and fashions, without adding anything new to the genre that they play.

For this reason, I think it’s important to isolate those bands that really manage to produce something interesting and valid. In the case of folk metal music, I’m convinced that this means being able to produce songs that are folk and metal, which is something different from playing folk music with heavy metal instruments, or heavy metal with some folk melody inside.

In the first episode of my new digest dedicated to folk metal I’m presenting five albums that I consider the most relevant among those published since the beginning of 2019. You’ll find here both well-established formation but also some interesting underground stuff. As far as geography is concerned, we have one band from Noway (Týr), one from Italy (Furor Gallico), one from Denmark (Vanir), one from Romania (Dirty Shirts), and a multi-national collaborative project (Ahl Sina).

Enjoy this first episode of the folk metal radar, and stay tuned for future updates.



“Hel”, by Týr


Without any doubt, one of the most awaited events by all folk metal enthusiasts was the publication of the new album by Týr, the legendary band from the Faroe Islands. The LP, called Hel, interrupts in fact a gap of six years from their previous publication, which is also the longest time between two albums that they ever experienced to date.

Once released, Hel confirmed to be a very good record. In this respect, all the years that were spent waiting for the new album have been rewarded by the release of one of the most engaging and solid folk metal records of the recent times.

Those who have been following the band throughout their long career were probably expecting something even more brilliant, an album that could shine in the night like the “Northern Star” that the band was aiming in one of their most famous songs. But when a band is as good as Týr, it manages to excite even when it doesn’t reach the highest peaks of its production.


I’ve published a dedicated review of Týr‘s new album, you can read it from here.




“Troops of Pain”, by Ahl Sina


In the early days of the year, I had the opportunity to listen to an odd album called Troops of Pain, played by a curious band named Ahl Sina. After some study, I learned that Troops of Pain was conceived almost ten years ago, but only in recent times, the members of the band found themselves in the right condition to record and release the material. Ahl Sina, in true honesty, should be treated more as a collaborative project rather than a proper band, if only because their members never met and they assembled the songs by putting together pieces that were recorded in separate countries.

It’s not the first time that I come across to such kind of projects and usually the results depend very much on the basic idea that generated the collaboration, in particular on how strong and cohesive is the originating concept, because this shall compensate for the loss of naturalness that’s naturally caused by the absence of a direct and immediate relationship between the musicians. In the case of Ahl Sina, the unifying element was the idea to mix together the elements of traditional middle eastern music with the sounds of progressive metal and to use the music to tell about ancient, fascinating and timeless stories. Nothing particularly new, to tell the truth, and in fact, the album in its essence looks like one of many other entries in the widely explored genre of Oriental Extreme Metal. But there were two things that caught my attention and made me reconsider my first (negative) reaction about the LP.

First: in the album there are actually a few particularly nice and catchy songs (the best one, for me, is called Miracle Demise); when we listen to these tracks we manage to forget, at least for a brief span of time, the inaccuracies and defects that today affect Ahl Sina’s music: from the fairly approximate musical production which generated the muffled sounds we hear in the album, to the songwriting (practically there isn’t any harmonic development in the songs of the LP: all the instruments, and also the voice, seem to follow the same melodic lines).

Secondly, beyond the stylistic considerations, I perceive in this debut LP a genuineness of intents and a passion for oriental music and folk legends that effectively impregnate all the songs of the album. Therefore, despite Troops of Pain is definitely far from being the album which can shake and revolt the world of folk metal, there is still something good and curious in this music, something which makes this project worthy of a mention, and also of our encouragement for the future.



“Dark of the Ages”, by Furor Gallico


I am extremely pleased to mention in this article the new release from an Italian band that has already collected some notoriety in the international folk metal scene. The band is called Furor Gallico, they come from Lombardia, in the Northern part of my beautiful peninsula, and they have already turned ten years of activity.

Dusk of the Ages is Furor Gallico’s third and newest LP. The album offers a new collection of nice melodic songs that are inspired by the stories and the sounds of the Celtic tradition. One of the key characteristics of this album is definitely the duality: two voices (one growling and one angelic), two languages (some songs are in Italian, others in English), two types of sound (moments of melodic death metal are opposed to atmospheric sections with acoustic arrangements). All of these contrasting elements guarantee an internal dynamic for the songs that keep the record alive from the beginning to the end, although the musical offer remains somehow restricted within the same track that has already been travelled by many other bands.

A special note of merit goes to the acoustic sections, which in my opinion give the most exciting moments of the album. Who knows what would happen if these guys will decide one day to switch to 100% acoustic music.



“Allfather”, by Vanir


Danish band Vanir is not a newcomer in the international folk metal scene, as witnessed by the fact that as the band is turning the ten years of career they have already released their fifth studio album, called Allfather. Despite a certain prolificity in publications, however, these musicians from Roskilde have not yet achieved a celebrity and a success comparable to the commitment they have always shown in the production of new material.

Will Allfather be the record capable of projecting the band higher up in the ladder of success? Honestly, I’m not sure. The metal formula that this band proposes, in fact, seems too much a hybrid of different things that is likely to leave quite dissatisfied both those who seek epic and catchy songs and those who instead adore more complex and articulated musical structures. Vanir’s new record, in this respect, is quite in the middle between these two characteristics of folk/Viking metal, without being effective in either of them.

In summary, Allfather is an album with lots of good ideas and which highlights the dedication and the passion of the band when playing their music. At the same time, if I still recommend it for the diehard fans of Viking metal, the LP won’t remain among the things that have impressed me the most in this first part of the year.



“Letchology”, by Dirty Shirt


When we speak about the combination of metal with world music or folk music, typically we have in mind those cases where metal is influenced by Celtic, Nordic or Middle Eastern traditions. Every so often, however, we come across formations that are coming from areas of the World that are quite distant from the usual ones and, in these case, we may enjoy more curious variations of the “metal folk” recipe.

Last year we were impressed by Alien Weaponry, a young band from New Zealand which debuted with a formidable collection of groove songs marked by the sounds and the hymns of the Maori tradition. This year we could appreciate an album from Romania which is offering to the fans of this kind of mixtures a nice and funny version of metal that’s impregnated with the sounds and the melodies from Eastern Europe’s tradition. The band is called Dirty Shirt, and their most recent record is Letchology.

My approach towards folk metal is based on the idea that we shall always try to distinguish between the aspects of originality and curiosity, which are those which impress at first, and the absolute value of the music. In this respect, the initial reaction that I had with Letchology was that of a funny, curious, eccentric album, but not particularly significant from the point of view of the “metal” content. This is mainly because the band’s style is characterized by evident ease of accessibility and also the adoption of riffs and progressions that – if we except the ethnic flavours – don’t bring so much innovation to the culture of groove music.

After a few more listenings the situation has improved and, progressively, I recognized that behind such light-hearted and irreverent facade it’s possible to appreciate the effort of these guys in making each song of the album quite different from the others, and I could discern also a number of interesting ideas that remain valid even beyond the initial appearance of easy-listening metal.



I’m collecting the best folk metal songs of the year in a special playlist, called The FOLK METAL Radar. It’s now featuring a bunch of tracks but it’s going to grow with time.


Quick Review: “New Moon” by Superlynx

Sometimes it’s surprising to see how we can obtain something new and intriguing by just altering a few proportions within a recipe that’s so well consolidated and standardised like the psychedelic stoner doom. In the case of the Norwegian band called Superlynx, it was sufficient to insert a singsong female voice and to increase slightly the amount of the stoner component, to get a result that’s as delicate as it’s dreamy and fascinating.

New Moon is the second full-length from the band, and it arrives three years after their debut LP LVX. Considering that this trio was formed in 2013, we understand that this band likes taking enough time to write, refine, and improve their songs before going into the recording studio. With very good results.


I really liked this album, and I’m actually getting more and more into this music as I keep on listening to it. New Moon manages to tell about darkness and our everyday difficulties but always with a light and poetic touch. From a musical point of view, in fact, the slowness and the heaviness of doom are softened by the introduction of angelic voice and also by the psychedelic and stoner inserts.

Thematically, “New Moon” is mainly dealing with processing challenging times. But as much as the album is about darkness it is also about conquering the difficulties, and a new beginning. Getting through the darkness and holding on to what is good in this world.

From Superlynx’s Bandcamp page

This music is brilliant, and I belieive that there is still a lot of growth potential in this trio. My overall rating for the LP is 7.5/10. My favourite songs of New Moon are Breath, Hex and The Groove.



New Moon is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Songs from the LP are now featured in the playlist The PSYCHEDELIC AND STONER DOOM Radar, which collects the best song released since the beginning of the year.


Quick Review: “Hel” by Týr

In the course of the last twenty years, Faroese band Týr have gained the status of “masters of folk metal”, and many lovers of this genre of music include some of the band’s LPs among the best folk metal albums that were ever released. Even myself, who don’t belong to the family of the most diehard fans of folk metal, I’ve literally consumed some of their historical releases, especially the couple of albums that were published at the turn of the last decade (2009’s By the Light of the Northern Star and 2011’s The Lay of Thrym).

Despite the physiological ups and downs that characterize the discography of every band, especially those who’ve been playing for so long, there are – and there will always be – some special characteristics in the music of Týr that make their records so unique and enjoyable. These include the capacity to generate tangible feelings of bravery and courage, together with a “desire to fighting” that we can leverage also for our everyday battles.


Týr’s newest album, called Hel, interrupts a gap of six years from their previous LP, which is also the longest distance between two albums in their discography. That’s why all the fans of the band became immediately excited when the news of a new record started to circulate on the media.

One of the reasons for the time which passed after the previous record is that in the last years the band underwent through many important changes in the line-up, including the departure of one of the historical members of the formation. After 17 years spent with the band, in 2018 guitarist Terji Skibenæs announced his intention to quit. And because there were also a few replacements for the drummer’s seat, the result is that the new line-up of the band is for 50% different from the one which recorded the two masterpieces that I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

After so many years, it’s not easy to quantify how much a certain change of style is due to the changes in the band’s line-up rather than to a natural evolution in their musical sensibility. The fact, however, is that Týr’s new album, although still exciting and engaging, seems to have lost part of the immediacy and the facility to engage the listener which we appreciated in the band’s best works.


I consider Hel as a very good record, there is no doubt about it, and Týr confirms their status as one of the most important and valuable bands in the domain of folk and Viking metal. In this respect, all the years that were spent waiting for the new album have been rewarded by the release of one of the most engaging and solid folk metal records of the recent times. Those who have been following the band throughout their long career were probably expecting something even more brilliant, an album that could shine in the night like the “Northern Star” that the band was aiming in one of their most famous songs. But when a band is as good as Týr, it manages to excite even when it doesn’t reach the highest peaks of its production.

My overall rating for Hel is 7/10. Among the best songs of the album I can definitely mention Garmr, Far From the Worries of the World, and the two singles which anticipated the LP: Sunset Shore and Ragnars Kvæði.



Týr’s new album can be streamed from Spotify, and it’s now featured in The FOLK METAL radar, which is the playlist that collects the best songs released in 2019. Follow it, and check it periodically because it’s going to grow with time.


The ELECTROACOUSTIC Radar (Episode #1/2019)

When I deal with electroacoustic music, the main challenge for me is always to navigate into the hundreds of artists that populate the successful “mood-based” playlist that you can find on Spotify or other platforms and select those few who are really worthy of our time and attention.

This new series of articles, called The ELECTROACOUSTIC Radar, has really the objective to present a carefully selected group of artists who have distinguished themselves for having published something really special and exciting.

This first episode introduces five albums that were released between the beginning of 2019 and the middle of March. From a geographical point of view, we have one composer from Ireland (Gareth Quinn Redmond), one from Canada (Nathan Shubert), one from France (Watine), and two from the U.S.A. (Aukai and Philip G Anderson).

Enjoy these albums and don’t forget to visit the blog periodically for new updates.



“Céim• eanna”, by Gareth Quinn Redmond


There are albums and songs that do not offer pleasant melodies or intriguing and articulate harmonies to hear, but which still manage to capture the attention of the listener for some other special feature. The recent record released by Gareth Quinn Redmond, called Céim • eanna, looks to me as one of these kind of albums. The five tracks of the LP are all characterized by extreme minimalism: the songs are mostly built from a central core of a few notes, usually played on a prepared piano, which is repeated without interruptions from the beginning to the end of each piece, until they become transcendental, almost mystical. Alongside these repeated sequences of notes, we have other environmental sounds or delicate effects that complete the atmosphere.

The result is music that is at the same time hypnotic and extremely relaxing. The Irish composer calls his style as “Environmental Music”, explaining that his goal is “to help the listeners engage with their surrounding environment, allowing them to recognise the multitude of individual pulses that comprise the world. Fundamental to the concept of Environmental Music is that instead of offering a form of escapism, this music is designed to create an intimate bond between the listener and his everyday life“. I don’t know how far this goal is attainable in our daily routines, in my case it has succeeded only partially. What’s certain, however, is that Céim • eanna is a collection of very particular songs, different from what we usually listen to, and definitely worthy of our attention. Ideally without too many expectations.



“Wilderness”, by Philip G Anderson


Wilderness, by American multi-instrumentalist Philip G Anderson, is one of those albums that create beautiful and poignant atmospheres that you can listen as a background during your daily routines or while taking some rest after a busy day. Once you launch the LP on your stereo, you will start enjoying dreamy soundscapes enriched by delicate notes played by piano, violin and cello.

There is no real difference among the various tracks of the LP and therefore you will basically enjoy a placid and nice sequence of ambient-like pieces filled with soft drones and elegant touches of acoustic instruments. The mood is generally serene, with the exception of a few moments where the atmospheres become a little darker and melancholic. That’s not the kind of LP that require a depth of analysis or particular concentration, it’s rather an enjoyable half an hour of nice and fairly accessible contemplative music.



“Reminiscence” by Aukai


Aukai is the acoustic ambient project founded by American composer and instrumentalist Markus Sieber. Aukai’s new LP is called Reminiscence, and it’s one of these albums that may have the effect capturing your attention and making you feel completely absorbed by the music.

In the short duration of 24 minutes, Aukai’s new LP offers a remarkable collection of cinematic and atmospheric moments. The tones are generally melancholic and there is a sense of persistent sadness that really reproduces the idea of distant memories, sudden emotions that we feel at the thought of a person, or an experience, or a special place.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the LP, you can check it from here.



“When You Take Off Your Shoes”, by Nathan Shubert


The musical recipe developed by the Canadian musician Nathan Shubert is relatively simple but certainly effective. We have sketches of melancholic melodies or simple loops of notes played on a prepared piano, a background layer consisting of field recordings and other noises, and, more sporadically, delicate touches of strings and clarinet. Basically, it’s the typical structure of every modern electroacoustic song. Despite that, however, the album When You Take Off Your Shoes still manages to stand out from the mass of singles, EPs and LPs that are released on every week.

Shubert’s new LP may be the perfect background for many different moments of your day: it will never require all of your attention but it will provide you with an elegant and absolutely enjoyable atmosphere.

There is on the blog a dedicated review of the album, you can find there additional information on this excellent record.



“Geometries Sous-Coutanées”, by Watine


I’m concluding this digest with one of the most particular records that I’ve enjoyed in the last few weeks.

Too often, when we think about electro-acoustic music, we have in mind serene and ambient-like compositions made for relaxing or contemplation. An album like Geometries Sous-Coutanées by French artist Catherine Watine clearly demonstrates the desire to go in a completely different direction. Forget to enjoy easy-listening melodies or dreamy and melancholic soundscapes: here the music has been composed through the identification of a group of sonic “fragments” which are manipulated, elaborated, and combined together in order to arouse an effective reshuffling of your own feelings and sensations.

If I can use a metaphor, it’s like when you start rummaging through an old box that you took out from the attic. There is an initial phase of confusion when you start picking up and putting on the floor all the different objects that were in the box. But soon after you start getting back all the forgotten memories that were associated with the things that are once again in front of you. I had a similar experience with this LP, with the difference that the objects here are fragments of piano melodies, sketches of electronic rhythms, other instruments like flutes and oboes that appear from time to time, lots of tape recordings, verses, choruses, spoken rhymes, and drones that fill the silence with sounds that are sometimes serene, sometimes haunting.



The artists introduced in this article are all contributing to The ELECTROACOUSTIC Radar, the playlist that collects the best electroacoustic songs released in 2019. My recommendation is to listen and follow the playlist because it’s going to grow with time, as soon as new good albums are released.

Some of the songs mentioned in this episode of the radar were also featured in THE WEIGHT WE CARRY, which is the third episode of a series of mixtapes that uses contemplative music to accompany a poem.


Quick Review: “Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso” by Neoyka

Listening to the new album released from a well-established formation is generally something nice to do: thanks to their qualities, these kinds of bands have already emerged from the mass of mediocre publications and therefore we can expect to listen to something interesting and enjoyable. But when there is a new band that arrives and impresses for originality and value, the pleasure is really incomparable with anything else. Especially because the idea of discovering good underground formations is definitely more exciting than writing a couple of paragraphs for the fifteenth disc published by a well-known group, for which there are hundreds of reviews already available on the web.

In recent times I had the pleasure to discover an interesting band arriving from Chile, called Neoyka. And it was love at first sight. I was truly excited to enjoy a fresh and lively approach to stoner music, something which emanates since the first riffs all the passion and the efforts that were spent by the band in the recording studio. These guys come from a city called “La Serena”, which stands for “A Serene City”, and perhaps it’s not a coincidence that their intriguing version of stoner rock produces such a feeling of positivity and universal energy.


Neoyka’s new album is named Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso and it follows their debut LP, named Vol. I, which was released in late December 2013. With respect to their first release, the band has now incorporated a keyboardist/synth player as a permanent member, and this gives a hint about how the group is progressively incorporating psychedelic and progressive sounds into their sound. Their latest publication, in fact, oscillates between what we could define a rather conventional stoner rock, with reminiscences from groups such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu, and a variant of that psycho-stoner that’s played today by bands like All Them Witches.

The collection of songs that we find in their new record moves with good naturalness between these two versions of stoner, and in both cases, we can appreciate a remarkable quality of songwriting together with warm and engaging sounds.


This is an album which will be appreciated by all lovers of stoner rock and stoner metal. There is no real innovation in the music of Neoyka, but they know what they do, and they do it very well. I’m going to track them with more attention from now on, there is really good potential in this band.

My overall rating for the album is 6.5/10. My favourite songs are 70 Rockas, which is a straight and simple stoner track in the style of Kyuss, Nuestra Marcha, which starts slow but then evolves into a catchy and quite original song, and the dreamy and fuzzy suite which concludes the LP, named Introspection.



Vol II: El Desborde y El Ocaso is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify. Neoyka are now featured in DUST AND SAND, the playlist with the best of modern stoner. Check it out, listen to it and follow it, because it’s periodically updated with new songs.


Quick Review: “Vatan” by Samavayo

Even though I’m used to listening to industrial quantities of new music every week, there always comes the time when I come across to a record released by what I think to be a new band, but then, as soon as I check on google, it turns out that the formation is active for a long time. And when the music played by the band is as interesting as what I found in the new album by Samavayo, the pleasure of having finally filled a gap in your musical knowledge is combined with the regret of not having followed the musical growth of the band, which means not having enjoyed in full what they did in the past. In any case: better late than never.

Samavayo is a trio of German rockers based in Berlin. The band is active since 2000 and with their newest LP, called Vatan, they have published to date six full-length records. When approaches them for the first time (as I did) it’s fairly unlikely to guess that they come from the heart of Europe. The style played by Samavayo, in fact, is absolutely impregnated with the flavours of desert stoner and alternative metal, two kinds of music that usually accompany the production of American bands. Regardless of their Country of origin, however, what really impresses of Satamayo is that they play a kind of music that’s absolutely enjoyable and exciting to hear.


Vatan offers a sequence of truly amazing tracks that you will start to appreciate from the very first listening. From a musical point of view, their sound is basically what you would get by injecting heavy doses of fuzz and stoner into the music of Tool. This comparison is anything but risky, given the fact that really many passages that we hear in Vatan are clearly inspired from the songs of the legendary band from California, starting from the very first notes that we hear in Vatan‘s opening track Prevarication Nation.


The resemblance with Tool is more than just a hint, and this is at the same time a positive aspect of Vatan but also, in hindsight, the major limit of this record. It’s not by chance, thus, that most of the tracks that impressed me the most are those where the stoner and psychedelic influences become more strong, like for example in the title track, or the closing song Children of Kobane.

My final rating is a convinced 7/10. Favourite songs: Prevarication Nation, Sirens, the title-track Vatan, and Children of Kobane.



Samavayo’s new album is avilable on Bandcamp, and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


The WORLD MUSIC Radar (Episode #1/2019)

My personal statistics say that in the case of World Music it’s not so common to find records that are really worthy of attention, compared to other genres of music. But when we manage to come across a valid and meaningful album, we are usually in front of an extraordinary work of art, gifted by impressive quality and intensity. This is the reason why the list of records that I’m presenting in this article is particularly important.

In the following I’m presenting four albums of World Music that I selected among all those released in the firsts part of the year, specifically between the beginning of 2019 and the middle of March. Four artists, four different ways to intepret world music, but the same deep research for the maximum quality of the musical expression.

Enjoy this digest and don’t forget to come back periodically to check for updates.



“Bosque Magico – Tu Tiempo”, by Bosque Magico

In music, as well as in many other art forms, the fusion of different styles and cultures often produces the most surprising and spectacular results. This is certainly the case of Bosque Magico, the new project founded by German guitarist Ralf Siedhoff together with the Ukrainian oboist Mykyta Sierov. Two languages, approximately 2000 km of separation, but the two artists managed to meet on the musical level.

The music of Bosque Magico is absolutely elegant, delicate, varied and exciting. The presence of the oboe is certainly the most particular element: we are used to listening to this instrument in the context of classical rather than world music. The songs of the album range between quite different genres and styles: we have in fact influences from Indian music, flamenco, pop and jazz. For recording the LP, Siedhoof and Sierov were also supported by a group of skilled musicians: percussionists Karthik Mani (from India) and Ernesto Martinez (from Spain), drummer Magnus Dauner (from Germany), flamenco guitarist Manuel Delgado and his daughter Carmela on and bandoneon.

In short: this is a record that contains many innovative elements and it also presents multiple cultural elements fused together in an excellent manner. Not to be missed!



“Reminiscence”, by Aukai

Among the most interesting releases we had in the first weeks of the year there is an album that although originally included in the category of electro-acoustic records, it still features so many components of world music that it’s absolutely possible to mention it here. This is called Reminiscence, and it’s the new album produced by Aukai, which is the acoustic ambient project founded by American composer and instrumentalist Markus Sieber.

Reminiscence has the capacity to capture the listener’s attention with the elegance and the gentleness of its songs, which are relaxing but also engaging and moving. This album is ideal for every moment when you don’t want anything else than enjoying beautiful instrumental music, and let your mind travel.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the LP, you can read it from here.



“Elephantine”, by Maurice Louca

Another album that has caught my attention in the last months is Elephantine, the newest LP released by Egyptian musician and composer Maurice Louca, who is known also for being a member (and co-founder) of a number of formations such as Bikya, Alif and Dwarves. Elephantine was introduced by Louca as his most ambitious project to date, and in effect the LP sees him guiding a 12-piece ensemble.

The disk seems to be the result of two different compositional processes. On the one hand, we have a series of experimental songs mostly relying on the improvisational skills of the musicians. These songs are on the border between world music and pure experimentation and, to be truly honest, these are not among my favourites tracks the album. Then, there are other “classical” world music songs which are still based on the elaboration of an initial sequence of notes, but where the improvisation is kept more controlled and the development of the piece is made through the progressive introduction of different instruments. In these cases, in my opinion, the album reaches the highest, and impressive, levels of quality level. The opening track of the album, named The Leper, is representative of this second kind of songs, and it’s also one of the best pieces of the whole LP.



“Black Blank”, by Laurent Assoulen

Today, we’re very much used to listen to musical hybrids, and that between Jazz and World music is actually one of the most common ones. Nevertheless, when we enjoy a new album which manages to make us travel so naturally between different genres of music, it’s always a very nice and exciting experience.

Laurent Assoulen is a talented French pianist, but what impresses of his work is not much his technique, but rather the fact that he’s a great lover of fascinating melodies, ethnic sounds and popular tunes. And what he does with his ensemble is basically to share with us these beautiful themes by transforming them into catchy but still intriguing and poetic Jazz songs.

Assoulen’s new album, called Black Blank, features a number of pieces that reflect the modern canons of contemporary Jazz, but there are also many other songs where the pianist ventures into the field of World music, mixing the typical dynamics of Jazz with deeply suggestive ethnic sounds and melodies.

I’ve published a short review of the LP, you can read it from here.



If you liked this selection of albums, you will love THE VOYAGER, the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify with the best of World Music. Almost five hours of the most exciting and fascinating music from all over the world.


Quick Review: “Black Blank” by Laurent Assoulen

The first time I had the pleasure to listen to the music played by French pianist Laurent Assoulen, the thing that impressed me the most was not his technique or virtuosity, but rather his clear passion for fascinating melodies, ethnic sounds and popular tunes. What he does in most of his compositions is basically to start from a beautiful and catchy motif, and then manipulate and elaborate into an intriguing Jazz piece.


Assoulen’s new album, named Black Blank, can be divided into two main groups of songs. On the one hand, we have a number of pieces that reflect the modern canons of contemporary Jazz, still with a special emphasis on melody and catchiness. These songs are all extremely sweet, serene and seem perfect to accompany many moments of our days. Someone could lack something in terms of harmonic complexity and improvisation, but this is balanced an accentuated weight of the melodic component.


The second group of songs is the one where Assoulen ventures into the field of World music, mixing the typical dynamics of Jazz with deeply suggestive ethnic sounds and melodies. These two categories of songs alternate along the LP, making the listening experience extremely dynamic and lively.


I’m giving this album a rating of 6/10. Black Blank is the perfect LP for all those moments in which we want to enjoy elegant and fascinating melodies, and leaving our mind free to travel into distant regions of the world.

My favourite songs of the LP are: Every Day is a New Life, Col Chic, Far Away and Waking up in Africa.



Black Blank can be streamed from Spotify, and a couple of songs from the LP are now featured on two of the playlists that are curated by the blog: The Voyager (special selections in World Music) and The JAZZ MUSIC Radar (the best jazz songs of 2019). Enjoy, and follow them!


Best New Music: “Hyperion” by Gesaffelstein

If there is something that no longer surprises me is to acknowledge how many talented artists periodically emerge from within the French electronic scene. Even if we consider only the last twentyfive years, we can mention a remarkable number of influential figures such as Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air),  Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (Justice), Nicolas Fromageau e Anthony Gonzalez (M83), Ludovic Navarre (St. Germain), Martin Picandet (Martin Solveig), and Benoit Carré (Skygge). These artists have developed their own peculiar styles and techniques, but all of them share the same capacity to combine originality of approach with style and, of course, enjoyability.

One of the figures that in the recent times has gained an increased attention as both producer and songwriter is Mike Lévy, an artist who is best known with his stage name of Gesaffelstein. Levy has already accredited himself as one of the most intriguing figures of contemporary electronic music, well beyond France, as witnessed by the fact that in the time-span of just a few years he has already accumulated a considerable number of collaborations with artists of the caliber of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and The Weeknd.

French electronic producer and songwritre Mike Lévy, best known as Gesaffelstein, a made-up word meant as a reference to both the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) and Albert Einstein.
The first releases from Gesaffelstein date back to 2008 but his first LP (“Aleph”) arrived in 2013. So far, he has published two LPs and 9 EPs.

On March 2019, Gesaffelstein has released the album named Hyperion, which formally is the second studio LP of his discography after his 2013’s debut called Aleph. As said, during this time Lévy certainly had the opportunity to confront himself with many different artists and experiences and, in fact, the new album comes out in a moment in which the artist has undoubtedly gained greater popularity and awarenes. And what we hear from his newest release is absolutely impressive.

“Hyperion” is the second studio album by Gesaffelstein, released on 8 March 2019. The album is produced by Columbia Records and it includes collaborations with The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Haim, The Hacker and Electric Youth.

There are really many things that I appreciated in Hyperion. The first one is the solid research that the artist has done on the sonic aspect of his music. That’s particularly evident in the instrumental tracks of the album, where we can enjoy beautiful but also very particular ranges of sounds. As a matter of fact, the possibility of customizing and shaping both sounds and atmospheres is really one of the peculiarities of electronic music, something that should be sought and exercised by every artist. Conversely, many modern artists seem to be happy to just rely on those palettes of sounds that have already been defined and affirmed by others, making their albums to be often indistinguishable.


Another thing that I liked is the temper, the character of this music. For most of the tracks Hyperion basically offers a fairly accessible and synth-based version of techno music. Below the surface, however, there is always a dark and relatively haunting feeling that you get from the music. It’s like a fil-rouge that characterizes the album: this is more evident in the most synth-wave oriented songs like Reset and Ever Now but, in different measures, it’s present almost everywhere.


Last, but not least, we can really enjoy a lot of different ideas in the LP. The ten tracks Hyperion of are basically divided into two main categories: a group of structured “songs”, which typically see the presence of a vocalist, and another group of instrumental pieces, typically shorter and more immediate, which develop around a single musical element and elaborate on it both rhythmically and musically.

Gesaffelstein’s new record is definitely one of the best electronic albums we could enjoy so far in 2019, My rating for the LP is 8/10 and there are really many good songs that I can recommend, including Blast Off, Reset, Vortex and the long. poignant and exciting instrumental track Humanity Gone, which closes the record.



Hyperion is available for streaming on Spotify and it’s now featured also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, the growing playlist which contains a selection of the best electronic songs that have been released in 2019.


Quick Review: “The Last Rain” by Cân Bardd

When an artist or a band decides to mix together different styles and influences, the result usually depends on two main factors: first, it’s necessary that the various components are well-balanced and there is not one that prevails excessively on the other; then, it’s desirable that such a combination of ingredients produces a music that’s original as it’s enjoyable and nice to hear. The Last Rain, which is the new album released by Cân Bardd, aims at blending together atmospheric black metal with folk music. And the goal is achieved with excellent results on all fronts: fluidity, balance and originality.


To make things even more amazing, we shall consider that Cân Bardd is basically a one-man-band project created by Malo Civelli, from Switzerland, and that The Last Rain is just his second LP after last year’s debut LP Nature Stays Silent. Everything suggests here that we’re in front of another creative genius of black atmospheric music and, in this respect, it’s fairly curious that this album arrives just a few weeks after we enjoyed Emin Guliyev‘s new Violet Cold LP. Civelli and Guliyev evidently share the same tastes for atmospheric and evocative music, but also a similar approach to composition and recording.

As said, Marco Civelli plays all the main instruments that we hear in his songs: guitars, bass, vocals and keyboards. Keyboards and orchestration, in particular, seem to play a fairly important role in Civelli’s music and it’s not by chance that he’s also the keyboardist of another Swiss folk metal act called Kaatarakt, which has released to date a couple of nice EPs. As we could expect, atmospheric and folk components have a prominent role in The Last Rain. In the album, there are really many long sections, and even one entire song (Fog of War), without the presence of a proper metal section. This stylistic choice creates a situation in which the artist draws fascinating and evocative musical landscapes that slowly become darker, and incrementally loaded with underlying energy and tension until the heaviest sections eventually arrive and shock the listener with dramatic power and the intrinsic sadness of black metal progressions. This process takes place with remarkable naturalness, and the softer and heavier moments alternate in an absolutely brilliant way. As a matter of fact, The Last Rain demonstrates a maturity of songwriting and also a musical sensibility that many bands reach only after decades of extensive playing, if they get it at all.

The Last Rain is an excellent new entry in that category of albums which manage to combine elegance with desperation, delicacy with heaviness, originality with enjoyability. And it’s also a work that allows us to appreciate the qualities of a promising musician, one who has managed to achieve an impressive level of maturity in the time-span of just a few years.

My overall rating for the LP is 7/10. My favourite song of the album is Celestial Horizon.


The Last Rain is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


THE WEIGHT WE CARRY (Poetry in Music, Episode 3)

Inspired by a couple of particularly exciting pieces that I had the opportunity to enjoy in the recent weeks, I felt like taking up my old project called POETRY IN MUSIC, which is based on the idea to elaborate in music one composition from a modern writer or poet. I started the project in 2017 with two initial episodes, the first one featuring the verses of Dylan Thomas’ villanelle “Do not go gentle into that good night“, recited by the poet himself, the second one featuring the poignant and touching verses of “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe.

The mixtape that I’m presenting today, which may be considered as the third chapter of the serie, features the beautiful poem called “Song“, by American poet and writer Allen Ginsberg. The music includes some of the most beautiful contemplative and modern classical songs that were releaed in the last few months by artists such as Nils Frahm, Nathan Shubert and Gareth Quinn Redmond.

Enjoy the mixtape and you can follow Ginsberg’s poem by scrolling down just after the widget.






“Song”, by Allen Ginsberg (1954)

The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction
the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.
Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
constructs
a miracle,
in imagination
anguishes
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life

is love,
but we carry the weight
wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.
No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love-

be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:
the weight is too heavy
–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.
The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–
yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

Quick Review: “When You Take Off Your Shoes”, by Nathan Shubert

The musical recipe developed by the Canadian musician Nathan Shubert is relatively simple but certainly effective. We have sketches of melancholic melodies or simple loops of notes played on a prepared piano, a background layer consisting of field recordings and other noises, and, more sporadically, delicate touches of strings and clarinet. Basically, it’s the typical structure of every modern electroacoustic song. Despite that, however, the album When You Take Off Your Shoes still manages to stand out from the mass of singles, EPs and LPs that are released on every week.

“When You Take Off Your Shoes “, album trailer

There are many different aspects that I enjoyed of this record. The first thing that impressed me has been the overall sense of delicacy and moderation that distinguishes the music composed by Shubert. There are no moments of particular tension or exciting progressions. On the contrary, the music of When You Take Off Your Shoes is always discrete, somehow peaceful, but at the same time without never becoming excessively flat or monotonous. Another good feature of the LP is that it’s possible to appreciate quite a relevant diversity among the various pieces of the album, which gives a certain dynamism to the listening experience.

From a thematic point of view, the compositions of this LP aim to represent the relationship between the universal sound of an instrument such as the piano, and the contemporary environment that surrounds it. This is the conceptual meaning of the field recordingsm, the subtle noises and the samples that we find in most of the pieces. These, to be honest, are balanced so well that they are never excessive or too much distracting.


Stylistically, Shubert’s music is clearly inspired by authors such as Nils Frahm and Chilly Gonzales, but still maintaining its own uniqueness.

My overall rating for this album is 6.5/10. This may be the perfect background for many different moments of your day: it will never require all of your attention but it will provide you with an elegant and absolutely enjoyable atmosphere.

Among the favourite songs I can mention the title track When You Take Off Your Shoes, but also A Beacon A Pulse and the delicate Lappeenranta.


The album is available on Bandcamp and it can be streamed also from Spotify.


Songs from Subert’s new album are now featured in many of the playlists I’m curating on Spotify: you can find them in The ELECTROACOUSTIC Radar (best of electro-acoustic music in 2019) but also in SOUNDSCAPES (best of Ambient music) and TRANQUILLITY (the 100 best modern classical, ambient and electroacoustic songs of the last few years). Enjoy!