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Release Radar Reviews

Release Radar Review #1

Have you ever listened to Spotify’s Release Radar playlist? This algorithm-generated playlist can cause problems when your listening habits vary as widely as mine! In this first Release Radar Review, I check out what Spotify has generated from my listening habits, and listen out for interesting transitions between songs.

What Kinda Music – Tom Misch, Yussef Dayes

What Kinda Music? Yes, I want to know the answer to that too. I have never heard of Tom Misch, but he seems quite big.

This is an edgy chill track, or a chill edgy one: I can’t decide which. The drum being gradually tuned up at the beginning is a nice touch of humour. The drums are pretty prominent. The echoey vocals are reminiscent of Olafur Arnalds, especially with the strings at the end.

Bad Kids to the Back

Snarky Puppy were at the Royal Albert Hall?! Why did nobody tell me!? They did a show there back in July 2019, and you can buy the live album here. I don’t know if the Snark will be releasing more of their set (this is the only song from the gig on Spotify), but I shall be buying this musical nirvana. There’s the expected funk, which is fantastic. Two barnstorming solos – a Hammond solo that had the flavour of Cory Henry – what a legend! – and then Larnell Lewis fires a machine gun at his drums. Or something.

Passionfruit

Next – the opening of Bach’s Matthew Passion. I am sad to say I have never sang either of the Passions. This is presumably not because there has been a dramatic drop in frequency of performance since my birth.

I only started singing solo Messiah gigs in the last couple of years, so I will have to keep my ears peeled for Passions to sing.

Rachmaninov – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Now, this sounds nice – an unknown choral piece by the… wait, this suddenly sounds very familiar, but usually orchestral…

Well, I wasn’t expecting a choral version of Rach’s second piano concerto. It works quite well. 

Side note: for ages I thought ‘Harry Christophers’ was the name of a group: “Would you puh-lease welcome….. THEEeeeEEE HARRYYYYY CHRISTOPHEEERRRS!!”. 

Kinna Grannis

Next, a lovely acoustic number from Kina Grannis, whose beautiful clear voice is so pleasant to listen to.

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Thomas Bartlett

Ooh, more of these guys! More weird folky goodness! Sounds like two expert musicians found a warehouse, stuck a microphone in it and mucked around for a while. I can imagine them just doing this sort of thing for hours and a passerby happened to walk past and recorded this on their phone.

Your Love

This one started and I thought immediately of Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. It was fun when I first discovered this great concept done so well, but lately I don’t know the originals Still great style! And what a voice that Cortnie Frazier has!

Baby Jazz Shark

Oh, European Jazz Trio, what happened to you? Your Japanesque album of 2018 became one of my favourite jazz albums, and now this?

I’m joking, really – this is a great piece of jazz, just with a fun little hook.

Childhood/ Land of the Young

I must admit, I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s attractive, and definitely has a sense of style, even if it’s impossible to label.

A. R. Rahman 

Aha, another A. R. Rahman song. I must have binged on his music in the past. The Oracle starts very melancholy, then the mood lifts with a cheerful melody and orchestral instruments, all with a tonic pedal. I think I’ll have a Gin & Tonic Pedal. 99 Songs is a new film scored and produced (two very different skills!) by Rahman.

Berlioz – Cellini

And then Bombast Berlioz (but only in comparison). His opera Benvenuto Cellini is not one I know at all, and this overture is an enjoyable introduction. Cellini was a famous goldsmith and sculptor, I learn from a quick google, and lived from 1500 to 1571 in Florence. Of course he lived in Firenze, birthplace of Il Rinascimento Italiano! I look forward to seeing the full work at some point.

Chopin-Godowsky!

As if Chopin’s études needed more notes. I have long desired to play ‘Mr. God’s’ Bach cello suite transcriptions (“very freely transcribed and adapted for piano”), but I would prefer to learn the original Chopin works before tackling these amazing monsters. The original cello suites would be a great thing to learn too, but as that would be on my fourth instrument, and the Gods in Olympus recently turned down my second application to add more hours to the day, achieving that goal may be decades hence.

To be continued…

When I started working on this Release Radar Review, I meant only to write about the pieces which interested me. Then I found myself writing about every single piece, a process which took a little while!

Here is the full playlist: