Originally released in 2003 on Thrill Jockey Records 2017 pressing Format: LP
On his latest, producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Bibio blends serene folk pop, lush instrumentation, pastoral guitar instrumentals, nature field recordings, Walt Whitman-esque lyrics and beat-oriented grooves into the perfectly crafted springtime album. Ribbons feels like daydreaming in a garden or out in the woods under a tree or by a trickling stream.
Warm, mellow Scottish folk with lyrics that border spiritual, philosophical, and fantasy themes. The arrangements are a bit stripped down from their lush psychedelia of previous releases, but still feature a good amount of sitar, organ, Irish harp, and violin to add some color to the vocals and acoustic guitar-centric songwriting.
Progressive Cool Jazz with thematic structural development, and ECM-Style reverbed production. Recommended track: Ark La Tex
Released in 1971 on Harvest Records Format: LP
Released in 2004 on Domino Records Format: LPx2
Ryley Walker’s virtuosic fingerpicking and intricate folk-rock songwriting vibe heavily with a backing band of Chicagoan jazz musicians, including upright bass, drums, Rhodes and electric guitar. The first LP of this release is a studio album of jazzy folk rock songs for fans of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Tim Buckley’s Happy Sad, while the Bonus Lp of this “Deep Cuts edition” is a 40 min live improvisation on one of the album cuts that probably beats anything on the studio LP. It’s rad to be able hear both the concise, song-centric studio side and the loose jammy side of this exciting artist in the same release.
Originally released in 1977 on Clocktower Records Later pressing
Releases in 1983 on Takoma Records Format: LP
Originally released in 1999 on Temporary Residence 2016 expanded edition
Released in 1971 on Reprise Records Format: LP White label promo copy
Doug McComb’s first album as Brokeback is imbued with pastoral Impressionism, experimentalism, and a sense of Zen contentment. The record is mostly centered around his Bass VI, a short-scale bass with six strings that is trebly enough to function in both guitar and bass roles. This versatile instrument is usually wet with chorus and reverb that sculpt a fluid, aquatic tone to complement the slow, tranquil melodies. Outside of some solo pieces Doug is joined by a variety of accompaniment including lap steel guitar, synth, upright bass, Rhodes, vocals from Mary Hansen, and light percussion provided by producer/Tortoise bandmate John McEntire. This is a record that can be appreciated from a passive impressionistic standpoint, as well as under the microscopic attention of an engaged ear. (Follow link for full review)
Recommended for fans of Tortoise or Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti Western soundtracks
Released in 1970 on Transatlantic Format: LP Original UK pressing
A far cry from the sparse folk usually recorded by Will Oldham, “Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties” finds his intimate voice and warbly acoustic guitar enveloped by the cosmic drones, blooming synths, airy flutes, and hypnotic tape loops of Chicago new age trio, Bitchin Bajas. The lyrics are essentially fortune cookie mantras and, while there’s a chance they’re tongue-in-cheek, it’s difficult not to smile and feel a brightening of the spirit when hearing uplifting phrases like “Your hard work is about to pay off, keep on keepin’ on” or “you and your whole family are well” get repeated over and over. This collaboration is a soothing, heartwarming listen and a refreshing change-of-pace from Oldham’s tendency towards melancholy and solemn lyrical content.
Released in 1969 on Elektra Records
On Towards Language, Norweigan trumpeter Arve Henriksen creates a blend of meditative and suspenseful ambient-jazz, demonstrating a more soothing side to his playing than his noisier output with electro-acoustic improvisers Supersilent.
Originally released in 1974 2018 Earth Records Pressing Digitally Remastered Format: LP
Originally released in 1969 on Columbia Records 1977 Pressing
An ethereal and somewhat haunting ambient-folk collaboration between guitarist/singer Meg Baird (Espers, Heron Oblivion), and harpist Mary Lattimore, who’s recorded with Fursaxa, Steve Gunn, and others in addition to her hypnotic solo work.
Highly Recommended for fans of Natural Snow Buildings, Laraaji, and 60’s British & Scottish Folk music
Eric Chenaux’s gentle falsetto is the most constant, tangible element on an album characterized by a permanent state of flux. The guitars are warbly and unsteady with their fluctuating tones, volume, and pitch. Yet, despite their experimental nature, they never sound abrasive and, together with some mellow Wurlitzer, create a soft, pillowy environment for Chenaux’s romantic crooning about the nature of love, the moon, and warm nights.
Originally released in 2002 on Secretly Canadian 2014 deluxe reissue Format: LPx2 (full album on first LP and demos on … More
Enveloping blankets of piano and synthesizers that are mostly beautifully soothing, but occasionally venture down shadowy alleyways full of eerie suspense.
Released in 2015 on People Teeth Format: LP
Information: Released in 1978 on PVC Records Format: LP
Information: Released in 2002 on Constellation Records
British singer-songwriter John Martyn fuses folk, jazz, and psychedelic experimentation to create an album that is both eclectic and cohesive, tied together by his flowing voice and virtuosic acoustic guitar fingerpicking.
FFO Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Ryley Walker
Julie Byrne’s gentle new-age folk is so light and airy it’s easy to miss its depth, but repeated listening shows that it’s strength lies in its weightlessness. Her soothing voice and delicate fingerpicking are enveloped in warm string arrangements, all tied together by soft reverb and pristine production that makes for an inviting, peaceful listen every time.
Makes me feel like I’m sitting alone at a party, gazing across a dark, smoky room; an outsider looking in. Chill beats, hushed atmospheres, melancholy melodies.
Album Information: This album was self-released on CD in 1997 This pressing was released by Constellation Records in 2013 Format: … More
Album Information: Released in 2012 on XL Recordings Format: LPx2
Pastoral psychfolk from guitar master Ben Chasney. Here his serene acoustic fingerpicking is occasionally accompanied by harmonium drones and trippy guitar overdubs, but overall the album is extremely sparse and meditative.
Album Information: Released in 1978 on ECM Records Recorded November 1977 at Talent Studio, Oslo Engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug … More
Performed on acoustic guitar and an early delay pedal, Christopher Idylls is a soothing, reflective way to ease into the morning. It fits somewhere between ambient, new age, and American primitive guitar.
Released in 2017 on Temporary Residence Records Format: LPx2
Guitar-genius Mdou Moctar visits Portland, Oregon from his home country of Niger to record a hypnotic solo album of desert folk sung in Tamasheq. Most songs consist of intricate fingerstyle acoustic guitar with occasional electric guitar overdubs to accent the melodies.
Blue Afternoon continues the flowing jazz-folk of Tim’s previous release (Happy Sad) while starting to detour into the avant-garde atmospheres that would manifest more fully on his next two albums, Lorca and Starsailor. The songs and lyrics refuse to be boxed into one category as “joyful” or “lonely” or “sad” and instead reflect the intangible multi-dimensionality of feeling.
An introspective, instrumental journey of pastoral fingerstyle guitar, occasionally joined by piano, synth and horn arrangements
Album Information: Released in 1969 by Island Records Recorded between June 1968 and June 1969 at Sound Techniques in London, … More