Strings

Evangelista – Hello, Voyager

LP, Constellation (2008) Style: Experimental Songwriter, Punk Blues, Chamber Punk, Noise Rock, Vibe: Visceral, Brooding, Angsty, Cathartic, Ominous, Sleazy, Dark, Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Intense, Deconstructed, Disturbing, Rebellious, Raw Musical Qualities: Noisy, Dynamic, Heavy, Dissonant, Spoken Word, Distorted Vocals

Kahil El’Zabar’s America the Beautiful

Vibe: Anthemic, Communal, Uplifting, Colorful, Celebratory, Spiritual, Mournful, Healing, Bittersweet

Musical Qualities: Improvisation, Thematic, Percussive, Acoustic, Lush, Instrumental

Instrumentation: Percussion, Drums, Trumpet, Keyboard, Piano, Cello, Upright Bass, Violin, Baritone Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute, String Quartet

Style: Spiritual Jazz

The Art Ensemble of Chicago – We Are On the Edge

Style: Modern Creative, Chamber Jazz, Experimental Big Band, Great Black Music, Avant-Garde Classical

Vibe: Communal, Triumphant, Suspenseful, History, Eclectic, Colorful, Intricate, Ritualistic, Patient, Open, Complex, Theatric

Musical Qualities: Poly-Free Improvisation, Dynamic, Collective, Progressive Structures, Technical, Orchestral, Percussive, Reductionism, Suite, Polyphonic

Instrumentation: Trumpets, Upright Bass, Spoken Word, Operatic Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Saxophone, Cello, Violin, Viola

Damon & Naomi – Within These Walls

Style: Chamber Folk, Slowcore, Dream Country

Vibe: Flowing, Lethargic, Peaceful, Dreamy, Melancholy, Elegant, Airy, Romantic, Bittersweet, Contemplative, Intertwined, Intimate, Mellow, Sentimental, Smooth, Soothing, Twangy

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Lush, Slow, Soft, Simple, Chamber Arrangements, Melodic

Portishead – Roseland NYC Live

Style: Trip-Hop

Vibe: Noir, Brooding, Sensual, Passionate, Melancholy, Angsty, Sombre, Mysterious, Cinematic, Anxious, Sad, Dark

Musical Qualities: Orchestral, Live, Lush, Dense, Rhythmic, Sampling

Leonard Cohen – New Skin for the Old Ceremony

Style: Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Folk

Vibe: Poetic, Bittersweet, Conversational, Sexual, Dry Humor, Brooding, Melancholy, Longing, Tender, Introspective, Breakup

Musical Qualities: Lush, Lyrical, Groovy, Dynamic

Instrumentation: Electric Bass, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Backup Vocalists, Trombone, Jaw Harp, Woodwinds, Strings, Banjo, Mandolin, Trumpet, Drums, Percussion, Keyboards

Beth Orton – Sugar Season

Session musicians include Brian Blade, Eyvind Kang, Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, Marc Ribot, Rob Burger, etc.

Style: Chamber Folk, British Folk-Rock, Singer-Songwriter, Folk-Pop

Vibe: Autumnal, Bittersweet, Melancholy, Moody, Rootsy, Warm, Mellow

Musical Qualities: Lyrical, Lush, Melodic, Soft

Sam Prekop – Sam Prekop

Featuring Jim O’Rourke, Josh Abrams, Rob Mazurek, Chad Taylor, John McEntire, Julie Pomerleau, & Archer Prewitt

Style: Chamber Pop, Jazz Pop, Lounge Music

Influences: Bossa Nova, Math Rock, Post-Rock

Vibe: Gentle, Breezy, Intricate, Summer, Intertwined, Mellow, Bright, Smooth

Musical Qualities: Lush, Soft, Polished, Melodic

Curtis Mayfield – Sweet Exorcist

Style: Chicago Soul, Funk, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Conscious, Groovy, Warm, Triumphant, Romantic

Musical Qualities: Lush, Rhythmic, Melodic

Eiko Ishibashi – Imitation of Life

Style: Chamber Pop, Prog-Pop, Jazz Pop, Singer-Songwriter

Vibe: Lush, Warm, Sunny, Sci-Fi, Playful, Philosophical, Surreal, Energetic, Imaginative

Musical Qualities: Progressive, Dense, Catchy, Complex, Melodic, Dense, Technical, Rhythmic

Instrumentation: Piano, Vibraphone, Drums, Flute, Rhodes, Electric & Acoustic Bass, Saxophone, Clarinet, Violin, Cello , Synthesizers, Steel Drum, French Horn

Hiss Golden Messenger – Poor Moon

Style: Americana, Country Soul, Singer/Songwriter, Folk Rock

Vibe: Warm, Introspective, Existential, Rustic, Mystical, Reflective, Uplifting, Christian

Musical Qualities: Lush, Melodic, Lyrical

Spellling – The Turning Wheel

Style: Progressive Pop, Baroque Pop

Vibe: Epic, Surreal, Haunting, Ethereal, Passionate, Dramatic, Dreamy, Romantic (LP1), Triumphant, Fantasy, Uplifting (LP1), Grandiose, Theatric, Brooding (LP2), Spacey (LP2)

Musical Qualities: Dense, Orchestral, Progressive, Polyphonic, Polished, Melodic, Rhythmic

Circuit Des Yeux – -io

Style: Neoclassical Darkwave, Symphonic Rock, Singer-Songwriter

Moods/Vibe: Cathartic, Brooding, Sombre, Mystical, Epic, Ominous, Motorik, Spiritual, Cinematic, Powerful, Mourning, Funereal

Musical Qualities: Orchestral, Driving, Lush, Dense

Archie Shepp – Attica Blues

Style: Soul-Jazz, Avant-Garde Big Band, Vocal Jazz

Vibe: Conscious, Communal, Political, Passionate, Poetic, Groovy, Lush

Musical Qualities: Suite, Orchestral, Improvisation, Rhythmic, Spoken Word

Jerry David Decicca – Understanding Land

Style: Americana, Singer/Songwriter, Folk

Vibe: Peaceful, Rustic, Deadpan, Mellow, Lethargic, Nature, Warm, Morning

Musical Qualities: Acoustic, Slow, Vocal Harmonies, Lush, Simple

Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Lap Steel & Pedal Steel Guitars, Strings, Upright Bass, Vibraphone, Tabla, Bongos

Ryley Walker – Course in Fable

Style: Progressive Songwriter, Jazz-Rock, Prog-Folk, Post-Rock

Vibe: Spring, Introspective, Warm, Intertwoven, Bright, Colorful, Carefree, Reflective, Personal

Musical Qualities: Lush, Progressive, Odd Time Signatures, Intricate, Dynamic, Polished, Improvisation, Lyrical, Riffs, Orchestral Arrangements

Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen

Style: Psychedelic Soul, Baroque Pop

Vibe: Elegant, Ethereal, Smooth, Romantic, Warm, Retro, Dramatic, Cosmic

Musical Qualities: Groovy, Lush, Orchestral, Melodic, Polished

Tom Rapp – Sunforest

Style: Folk-Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Folk, Progressive Folk

Vibe: Uplifting, Contemplative, Breezy, Bright, Sunny, Warm, Soft

Musical Attributes: Lush, Polished, Acoustic, Lyrical, Session Players

Land of Kush – Sand Enigma

Style: Avant-Garde Big Band, Arabic/Egyptian Folk, Psychedelic Jazz

Vibe: Intense, Sombre, Cathartic, Psychedelic, Complex, Ritualistic, Communal

Musical Qualities: Dense, Progressive, Dissonant, Acoustic, Percussive

Instrumentation: Santur, Upright Bass, Piano, Saxophones, Vocals, Percussion, Drums, Clarinet, Flute, Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello), Keyboards, Synthesizer, lap Steel Guitar, Electronics, Harp

Hiss Golden Messenger – Haw

Style: Country-Soul, Americana, Singer/Songwriter

Vibe: Passionate, Rootsy, Rural, Spiritual, Triumphant, Uplifting, Warm, Contemplative, Introspective

Tortoise – TNT

Style: Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Influences: Dub, Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, Lounge, Minimalism, Jazz, Electronic
Vibe: Contemplative, Eclectic, Focused, Futuristic, Impressionistic, Lush, Meditative, Peaceful, Soothing
Musical Attributes: Atmospheric, Complex, Digital Production, Percussive, Polyphonic, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Loops, Headphone Album, Rhythmic, Pulse, Instrumental, Progressive, Polished

Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness

Style: Chamber Pop, Art Pop
Vibe: Lush, Ethereal, Imaginative, Sensual, Storytelling, Surreal, Intricate, Airy, Dreamy
Instrumentation: Vocals, Keyboards (Piano, Harpsichord, etc), Upright Bass, Strings, Drums, Saxophone

Stereolab – Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night

Style: Progressive Pop, Space Age Pop

Influences: Kosmische Musik, Bossa Nova, French Pop, Lounge

Vibe: Spacey, Lush, Retro-Futuristic, Catchy, Groovy, Motorik, Nocturnal, Uplifting

Musical Attributes: Melodic, Headphone Album, Odd Time Signatures, Studio-as-an-Instrument, Progressive, Lyrical

Lyrics: Philosophical, Political, Communist, Bi-Lingual (English and French)

Instrumentation: Synthesizers, Vibraphone, Drums, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Brass, Strings, Keys (Organ, Clavinet, Harpsichord, Wurlitzer)

Human Behavior – Kedumim

Religious allegory, profane thoughts, and lustful confessions intertwine on Human Behavior’s third LP; Kedimum is a brooding suite of psychological chamber folk that introspects into a conflicted mind, struggling to reconcile matters of indoctrinated faith, natural human desires, and internalized guilt. Primary songwriter Andres Parada is joined by a sympathetic cast of vocalists to create a vivid sonic drama complete with choral vocals and spoken word passages to complement his haunting narrations. The intricate and shadowy arrangements blend distorted electronic beats with a wide array of acoustic instrumentation, including banjo, clarinet, accordian, acoustic guitar, violin, ehru, and cello.

Third Ear Band – Alchemy

Style: Free Folk, Chamber Music, Progressive Folk

Vibe: Ritualistic, Hypnotic, Earthy, Tribal, Nature, Meditative, Medieval, Exploratory

Musical Attributes: Acoustic, Improvisation, Instrumental, Minimalistic

Instrumentation: Oboe, Violin, Viola, Recorder, Percussion (Tabla, Drums, Chimes), Cello

Univers Zéro – Univers Zero

Style: Chamber Rock, Avant-Prog, Rock In Oppositon

Vibe: Anxious, Angular, Mysterious, Ominous, Dark, Dystopian

Musical Attributes: Instrumental, Complex, Dissonant

Instrumentation: Bassoon , Violin, Viola, Cello, Harmonium, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Drums

Pearls Before Swine – Balaklava

Released in 1968 on ESP-Disk Format: LP Style: Chamber Folk, Psych Folk Vibe: Peaceful, Mellow, Psychedelic Themes: War, Nature, Love Instrumentation: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Strings, Flute, Banjo, Keyboards, Bass, French Horn

Yo La Tengo – Fade [Deluxe Edition]

Released in 2013 on Matador Records Format: LP + 7″ The bonus 7″ features covers of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” and Times New Viking’s “Move to California”

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

Released in 2005 on Asthmatic Kitty Records Format: LPx2 Listen: Purchase: https://asthmatickitty.com/merch/illinois/  

Human Behavior – Bethpage

The apocalyptic chamber-folk of Bethpage soundtracks multiple chapters of cryptic storytelling, mixing one’s darkest thoughts with religious imagery and allegory through banjo sing-alongs and haunting spoken word passages. The heavy climaxes are whirlwinds of bombastic drums, driving bass, fiddle, clarinet, and banjo that often recall the communal chamber-punk of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. While many tracks feel seeped in shadow and darkness, a heavenly light occasionally floods in through some truly serene and beautiful passages.

Tarentel – The Order of Things

The Order of Things takes you on a strange journey, starting off with a long ambient song built around field recordings, light acoustic guitar and some weird drones in the background. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of experimental post-rock, drone, or music that doesn’t like to be easily categorized.?

Love – Forever Changes

Originally released in 1967 on Elektra 2012 Rhino Pressing, cut from original analogue masters Format: LP

Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP

“Side A is cut at 45rpm and features “Moya”, a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. “BBF3” on Side B clocks in at 18 minutes, and was the band’s most lyrical, multi-movement music to date — more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker’s poem — verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden)”

David Axelrod – Songs of Innocence

Groovy soul instrumentals decorated with sweeping orchestral arrangements, jazz soloing, and psychedelic guitars, all inspired by William Blake’s writings.

Ryley Walker – Primrose Green

Jazzy Folk-Rock with dynamic songwriting, passionate vocals, and acoustic shredding accompanied by fluid drums, watery vibraphones, distorted keys and groovy upright bass. FFO Astral Weeks, Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, and Tim Buckley

Björk – Vulnicura

Style: Art Pop, Trip-Hop, Experimental Electronic

Vibe: Breakup, Passionate, Heartfelt, Personal, Intense, Futuristic

Musical Qualities: Orchestral, Glitchy, Lush, Digital Beats

[Click for full review]