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Monday, March 30, 2009

New Music Monday, March 30, 2009

One little editorial comment before I mention the new music I like this week... I started this blog about a month ago (Feb 28, 2009) and I just want to thank each of you who poke your heads in periodically and read for even a few moments. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and it's wonderful to find various points of connection with all the different circles of people I know. Thanks for reading. Many special thanks to those who have passed on opinions, comments, pointers, feedback, or even a casual "loved your blog" in an email. These all make my day. Thanks.

Now on to music...

I'm going to throw you a curveball. I landed on an artist - who is actually a modern composer - this weekend who I am very intrigued by. His name is Arvo Pärt and he is Estonian and let's be honest, I'm not 100% where that is (somewhere among the "stans" in the former USSR I'm sure)....

I subscribe to Paste Magazine, which is absolutely fantastic and it reviews all manner of music, books, video games, film and culture. I curled up with my new issue on the couch this Saturday after a nice long bike ride, and read the music reviews.

When it got to my new BFF Arvo, it said,
  • Pärt continues his sacred investigations with homegrown choir and orchestra...
  • Pärt’s music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion…
  • His later works imbued minimalism with religious fervor…
  • Pärt’s gaze penetrates the crease between earth and the heavens…
Clearly, this is not your average fresh-outta-Nashville-overproduced-Christian music. It sounded like it could be beautiful.

So I hunted around on the web and found this on last.fm:
Pärt is often identified with the school of minimalism and more specifically, that of “holy minimalism” or “sacred minimalism”. He is considered a pioneer of this style, along with contemporaries Henryk Gorecki and John Tavener.
Um, I have no idea what "sacred minimalism" is, but I wanted to find out.

So I went to these websites. The music really resonated with me:
Do not be daunted by it initially - yes, it's choral music, sort of classical and all that. Stop scrunching your nose!

Pärt has said that his music "is similar to light going through a prism: the music may have a slightly different meaning for each listener, thus creating a spectrum of musical experience, similar to the rainbow of light."

This is not "cleaning-your-house" music or something to have on in the background while you file stuff on your desk... this is music intended to be listened to through good headphones in a comfortable chair. It has so many layers and textures and harmonies and threads... I ordered a CD rather than a download because I want to make sure to get the liner notes and understand as much as I can about what is being played and sung. His latest album has five compositions about the Book of John, and he often dedicates music (requiems, mostly) to those killed through political injustice.

On a lighter note... here are some other artists I like the sound of - the free sample CDs from Paste have songs of theirs on them.
  • Kate York
  • Loney Dear (I love the Swedish music scene right now - Jens Lekman is a favorite)
  • Jeremy Messersmith
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
  • Okkervil River
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • Rosie Thomas
All for now. Have a good Spring Break, you lucky dogs who get one!


  1. ah, nice! i am a fan of most of these. not all, mainly because i'm not sure who they are. and good call on Estonia. it borders Russia on the Finland (i think) side.

  2. kelly--i stumbled across your blog and am loving it! if you don't already know her stuff, you might check out kate rusby, an irish singer/songwriter. it's music to which one might drink tea. --lauren (cano) amaro

  3. Kel, come on...I've been to Estonia :)
    And I wrote about it in my Lithy blog...North Eastern European block countries...SO GREAT!
    Good find Kelly...

  4. thank you Lauren for the rec on Kate Rusby. I'll check her out. As for Irish singer/songwriters, I'm QUITE fond of Guggenheim Grotto. Always looking for other good ones.

    And Madeline, I could never forget you went to Eastern Europe - our funny Skype convo was unforgettable.