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Orchestral

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Walter Nichols

Here's something fairly different. It's not indie, it's not psych, it's not electronic (except in the most technical sense), hip-hop or beat: it's the compositional music of multi-instrumentalist Walter Nichols. It's fascinating stuff, music that is both obviously deeply technically advanced and that comes at you in forms and lengths and with style that is far from typical radio-ready pop-structured songs, but which also manages to be not overindulgent, tedious or impenetrable. It pulls the fun side of pop and modern music, not shying away from less stereotypically "classial" instruments but instead including things like synths, looping machines and saxophone (and much more), but it ditches the typical "song" rulebook and also pulls from the focus on technical mastery and experimentation and the willingness to use lengthy, complex structures that composed music tends to have. It's a best of both worlds scenario, really.

I can tell when I listen to Nichols' pieces that there's a lot going on here that, as someone with what's obviously much more limited music theory knowledge than the composer, I'm not fully comprehending or being totally aware of, even while I can still point out to particular elements that seem singularly complex or impressive. Yet, as a student of music history and the relationship between the so-called "high" arts and popular art, I know that what Nichols pulls off here is not easy to do at all, this walking easily between the two worlds of technical composition and music that's modern and fun for anyone to listen to. .

As a plain listener, playful and rich are the words that come to mind when listening to Nichols' latest work, the succinctly titled W, which you can hear below in full. Moods are built and played with and never overdone or hammered too hard home, one track is very much a new flavor from the last and yet all work together conceptually and stylistically. It's glimmering and beautiful at times, harsh and nicely grating at others, and in all a real work-out for the brain.

If you want to push your boundaries a bit, or are already the type to be intrigued by music that isn't tailor-made to slide right into your preconceptions of fun, modern music but which still has the ability to find its way into that part of your brain (rules be damned), give Nichols a try with W below. It's well worth a little time to see if it clicks, because if it does, you'll have some quite nutritious new brainfood to get yer noggin' snacking on.

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Gracie and Rachel open for Porcelain Raft + work on debut release

A mountainous piece of shrill piano presses, thick string plucks, and violins that skitter only to soar... “Go” by Gracie and Rachel is simply beautiful. Apparently a song off a forthcoming album of the same name by the Berkeley-raised, Brooklyn-based duo, “Go” awes in its ability to make technical mastery into something moving and potentially transcendent. “It’s okay, it’s okay/To let your heart race, heart race,” goes a silky-voiced lyric, wondrous assurance sliding through. Gracie and Rachel will open for Porcelain Raft this Thursday (6.25) at TT The Bear’s Place Inc. in Cambridge, Massachussetts and will perform at Rockwood Music Hall on Monday, 6.29. In the meantime, listen to “Go,” and watch its ponderous black-and-white music video, below.

We added this song to The Deli's playlist of Best mellow songs by emerging NYC artists - check it out!

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Mother Falcon Does the Big Band Thing with Grace on "Kid"

Mother Falcon is Austin’s premier big numbers band, which you likely already knew, but they’ve just released a new track whose strength comes from its efficiency and its singular elements, rather than from the amount of noise that a big group can make. A lot of the energy in the just-released single “Kid,” in fact, comes from the lone female voice doing the largest portion of the singing, which is all lightness-leaking breathy tones that kick the track off with just a few strummed chords and an egg shaker beat in accompaniment.

This being Mother Falcon, however, layers and instruments are quickly added, tossing in at some point everything from horns to chanting to some really nice background drones that waver from right in pitch to just off to completely dissonant and give the song a lovely off-kilter texture. There are moments where MF does do the Arcade Fire/Broken Social Scene pioneered “all of our giant band playing at once” thing, but the restraint they show as a group throughout the song and even in these moments, and the benefits that each piece in the group adds to the overall song in these cacophonous parts has Mother Falcon resembling those other influential big bands at their thoughtful song-engineering best.

Speaking of seminal 2000s bands, MF also seems to be channeling something that was going on at that time in North American music (and is much murkier these days), which was a sense of just wanting to get together with other weird kids and have a lighthearted, happy time. “Kid” has that same kind-of “temporary refuge from the suburbs,” sunny-day in the park flying kites and drinking stolen vodka in plastic cups with your also-loner friends kind-of feel to it. In this age of endless online outrage clashes and what seems like just a whole damn lot of divisions between people, this is a feeling that’s nice to see it not only expressed in MF’s newest work, but downright nailed.

The track sits here below for you to get your feel-goods from, and you can keep up with the MF at their Facebook here. This is music that’ll help you remember that sometimes it actually does stop raining, which even some of us Texas storm-lovers might need right now, and it precedes the full album release on 8/14.

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The Living Sleep Release Remnants

Remants, the latest album from Cambridge/Boston’s The Living Sleep, is one of the most calming, beautiful collections of sounds I’ve heard all year. The tracks that incorporate viola and cello are the most impressive, reminding me of a more modern, less-stuffy version of chamber music--something you’ll actually want to listen to for more than twenty seconds.

The piano melodies are wonderfully arranged throughout the entire record, each played more delicately and deliberately than the last. When accompanied by the strings (ex: “The Last Serenade”), the result is a soothing composition capable of dissolving even the most stressful of days.

For updates about The Living Sleep, check out their Facebook page.

-Dan McMahon (@dmcmhn)
Photo credit: 
Adem Dayıoğlu

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Deli Premiere: "No Moon" by Doug Wartman

I was always told that the standard release date for music is supposed to be a Tuesday--who came up with that? And why? Anyway, I just saw an article in Rolling Stone today that said the “global standard” will now be Fridays, so this post won’t stand-out so much. In fact--I’d say this is cutting-edge. You heard it here first--The Deli New England is paving the way for Friday release coverage.
On that note,  “No Moon”, the title track (and first single) from Doug Wartman’s new album is--for lack of a more profound phrase--a beautiful piece of music. The guitar work sounds like Nick Drake if he played Explosions in the Sky--definitely a very soothing listen. I was most impressed by the “strings” that are played throughout the piece. I was surprised to learn that the cello-like sound is actually a bowed guitar, which I find very unique. This effect, coupled with well-timed dynamic shifts, adds intensity and a bit of tension to the music as well. Overall, I’d say Wartman is damn good at writing a complex piece of music and I’m excited to hear what the rest of his album sounds like.
The record comes out April 10 via Eye Design Records and will be celebrated at O’Brien’s in Allston, along with guests Ghosts of Sailors at Sea and Sand Reckoner.

For more information, check out Doug's Facebook page. Updates about the release show can be found here.
-Dan McMahon (@dmcmhn)
Album Art: Lynne Wartman

 

 

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