Signals – Marconi Union

Marconi Union will probably forever be known as the guys that produced the album that was found to create a 65% reduction in anxiety, and a 35% reduction in physiological resting rates, aka the most relaxing album ever.

Given that reputation, I was surprised to find that I was not just enjoying, but really getting into their latest release, Signals.

The style is closer to modern jazz than ambient. Driven by rhythm (and not the subs that you would normally expect) it almost feels like the kind of release you would expect on Gondwana. Despite its moody energy, the album is also great for relaxation.

Bonus album: here is Weightless, the album I described up top. I challenge you to put this on and not fall asleep.

Whities 029 – Lord of the Isles

It is so hard to do spoken word over music without it sounding forced. For me, producers who dabble in the genre tend to turn out tunes that disappoint (recent examples include Wayward and Tom Demac). So it is always a bit of surprise when I come across one that I love.

Maybe it is because I am a sucker for an accent, but I can’t get enough of this all-Scottish partnership: producer Lord of the Isles, and poet Ellen Renton.

The highlight is Inheritance, but the EP delivers a beautiful ambient soundscape throughout.

This is Just Some Songs – This American Life

In a change from my usual programming, here is a podcast episode about music (and the power of the mixtape).

To paraphrase the narrator:

I don’t want to sound too grand, but there is a power of mixtapes when you put them together a certain way– the power of music, even. Or at least the power that we believe it has. That it can confess devotion on our behalf, even in the form of an exploded puzzle. Even the most casual mixtape– or playlist these days– that you make for a friend, you’re saying, this is what I like. Or a lot of times, this is what I’m feeling right now. In a way, you’re saying, this is who I am.

Songs gathered together like that are a kind of parlance, a language. The words are someone else’s, but they’re also our own. So that’s what’s coming up on today’s episode, kind of a mixtape of its own, because we have a crush on you, and because the particular songs in this show tell you a surprising amount about the people listening to them. We can’t wait to play them for you.

Apple podcasts link

Google podcasts link

Website link

Wairunga – Fat Freddy’s Drop

This one caught me off guard. Wairunga is a sumptuous 1 hour live album that has come out of nowhere. Better yet, it is accompanied by a film of the recording, which takes you right there to their secret little concert.

The album is named after the location that the tracks were recorded. It is a little town on the New Zealand’s East coast that appears to have one road, but is a regular retreat for the band. For this recording they set up shop on a grass tennis court, and got to work. As they play, the weather starts to come in around them – they plough on and it feels like the elements of Wairunga leave their mark on the recording. It feels right that they credit it in the name.

This is utter alchemy from everyone’s favourite Kiwi seven-piece.

Jungle Drum (Jai Paul Remix) – Emiliana Torrini

Whipping you back to 2010 for Jai Paul’s edit of Emiliana Torrini’s Jungle Drum. He takes the original and blesses it with his warm electronic goodness.

I have written about Jai Paul before, so let’s focus on Emiliana. She is a Icelandic singer-songwriter who specialises on wistful folk. If you are a fan of Bjork or Laura Marling then she is definitely worth checking out. You can pick up the same melancholic fisherman’s wife thread running through their work. Me & Armini is my pick, and is the third of her six albums.

Gomez – Bring it On

All the way back to the 1998 Mercury Music Prize winner for this Sunday’s listen. Gomez are a 5-piece band hailing from Southport (the North West’s eleventh most populous settlement in the North West for those of you who were wondering). Their music sits somewhere between blues, indie and rock. Anyway, it’s a classic, and if you don’t know, then at least check out tracks #1 and #2. Classics.