June 27, 2009

The Cinematic Orchestra – Emotions Made Music


Cinematic Orchestra is not an orchestra in the traditional sense. Its music, consisting of electronic and acoustic sounds, is a combination of synthesizers, piano, saxophone, trumpet and guitar, with the mixes of Jason Swinscoe, a DJ and visual artist. Swinscoe, who leads this ensemble, has created different melodies influenced by jazz improvisation in electronic backgrounds. Sometimes, chamber music instruments complement the arrangements.

The voices of singers such as Lou Rhodes, Patrick Watson, or Fontella Bass are the accompaniment of sweet and melancholic ballads which have been played in TV Shows and Movies because of the moving effects of its lyrics. To build a Home -a particularly stunning song - is an example of how emotions can be explored in a song with just a touching piano tune and emotional and intimate vocal passages.

To build a Home (2007)
Breathe (2007)

June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - Rest In Peace

thrillerera132 I still find yesterday's news unbelievable. I have no words to describe the big gap that Michael Jackson’s death has left in the pop world and in the heart of many people, including me. With the web flooded with information about him, in this post I just want to briefly describe how much his music means to me.

One of the first album I’ve ever bought was Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, when I was 8 or 9 years old. After that, I started to collect his LP’s, one after another, spending whole days listening to his music and even recording my own “best of” compilations. I was particularly proud of having found a rare vinyl where he sings with the Jacksons’ 5, after many many days searching through the city.

I remember myself trying to dance like him, as thousands of people did at the time, singing his songs, learning his lyrics (despite I didn’t speak English very well), watching Moowalker over and over again and dreaming with going to any of his concerts, which was unfortunately not possible.

The following song, while not one of his best known, is one of my favorites. I really LOVE this song.

Liberian Girl (1987)

Damn, I'm trying to choose a second video but I'm realizing that I have specific memories related to a many of his songs, and that's making the selection very difficult! (Sigh) Ok.

Earth Song (1995)

There's an echo right now in the whole world. I join my voice to it... Rest in peace. We'll miss you.

June 23, 2009

The Most Recorded Song Ever: Summertime

summertime Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high

Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry

The song of a mother who is lulling her baby asleep, is the most recorded song ever, with a little bit more than 1000 different covers. The main aria of ‘Porgy and Bess’, an opera composed by George Gershwin, has an ironically hopeful lyric, in contrast with the melody, which has a sad tone.

This work of Gershwin, called ‘The American opera’, is an avant-garde composition, given its atmosphere (a miserable suburb of black people, of Charleston, North Carolina),  the inclusion of black singers in the cast and its jazz and blues influences.

1. Original Version

The following version is performed by the soprano Kathleen Battle, and it’s the original version created by Gershwin in 1935.

Kathleen Battle (1935)
2. Angelique Kidjo's Version

The following a capella version is sung by the Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo. It includes  nature sounds and a women's choir who made the perfect background with vocal percussion sounds. Even though Kidjo sings in Swahili, this heartbreaking tune  preserves that effect of helplessness of the original song.

Anjelique Kidjo (2003)
3. Giora Feidman's Version

Giora Feidman, an Argentinean Jewish saxophonist and clarinetist, made this instrumental version of Summertime with the Russian virtuoso violinist Maksim Vengérov. The sound of klezmer gives to this piece a touch of strength, with the typical sound of this folk music style.

Giora Feidman
4. Janis Joplin's Version

This version is maybe the most unrecognizable of all. The freestyle of Janis Joplin in this recording makes it a different song in and by itself. Only when you listen to the lyrics with attention, you are able to discover in the husky voice of Janis, the touching words that Ira Gerswhin wrote to his brother.

Janis Joplin
5. Billie Holiday's Version

Finally, the Billie Holiday's cover. This version can be considered the most jazzy of the covers in this post. The accompaniment, which includes brass and clarinets in the 50’s swing style, and the melancholic style of Holiday, are the perfect complement to this song. For me, it sounds like the real poor mother who sings in a sort of English slang a hopeful song to her baby.

Billie Holiday (1936)

June 22, 2009

Junoon – And Sufi Rock Was Born...

junoonistan_bw17 If you live anywhere near Pakistan, you certainly know Junoon. Maybe you have one of their albums, as they produced in 1998 and 1999 the best selling album in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Needless to say, they are one of the most important rock bands in Asia.

As pioneers of the rock movement in Pakistan, Junoon made a clever fusion of rock, influenced by Led Zeppelin, with traditional Pakistan folk music and raga inspired melodies.

When they started back in 1990, rock music from Pakistan was practically non existent. They had to open this new way, and it was not at all easy. For years, they struggled to find an audience. It was not until 1997 that their hit Sayonne got to the number 1 spot in the top South Asian charts, staying there for over 2 months.

Sayonee (1996)

Saeen (1995)

June 17, 2009

Daara J – A Rapper Boomerang

'The School of life' is the meaning in Wolof of Daara J's name, a Senegalese rap group. Through English, French and Spanish, they sing tunes in the Tassou style, a native musical form which recites the daily life and the opinions of the Senegalese people. This style is very similar to rap.

The band's name somehow reflects their commitment against the political issues of its land, such as the fight with the corruption in the elections of 2000. This rap doesn´t speak about bling-bling or hot girls. It is a very catchy style that clearly presents Africa as the place where the rhythm was born.


The previous theme, a song featuring the Malian singer Rokia Traoré, is a reference to boomerangs, those objects that you throw and they come back to you. Like a boomerang, hip hop music, whose origins are black, returns in its African version to its roots.


June 16, 2009

Lunascape - Tears From The Moon

lunascape The ethereal voice of Kyoko enters the tridimensional space with the same subtlety that the nocturnal wind crosses the moonlight. The trip hop band Lunascape, which has released three albums over a decade, started in 1998, when Kyoko joined Walter Hilhosrt, after her participation as the lead vocalist of the also famous band Hooverphonic.

The sound of Lunascape is an hybrid between magic and electronic music. It’s a world of fairies and blue butterflies made of light. Rather than trying to describe it, let’s listen to it.

Lane Navachi (2001)

Tears From The Moon (2005)

June 14, 2009

Gondwana – Good Vibes From Chile

gondwana1_web The most important Chilean reggae band, Gondwana started back in 1987. Their success was not effortless. They played for almost 5 years in schools, universities and small events, before they could launch their first album, titled Gondwana, in 1992. From that moment on, however, their music has been a commercial success, and more than one thousand live concerts are part of their history.

Felicidad (2002)

Armonía de amor (1998)

June 13, 2009

Susheela Raman - International Tamil

Music is not always the reflect of the land where we are born. Susheela Raman is an example of this fact, and a proof of how sound can be multicultural depending on the multiple influences that a musician receives during his life.

The music of Susheela Raman shows all of her cultural background, as a Tamil descendant who was born in England: the sounds of pop music, mixed with the Carnatic music, a kind of Tamil music that emphasizes the singing with the melodic accompaniment of violin and the rythm of mridamgham.

Maya (2001)

Susheela, who grew up in England  and Australia, listening to classical music from the South of India, came back to the her parents' country in 1995 and lived there for two years. There she improved her vocal style, which had a lot of Western influences because of her participation in a rock and a funk band when she was young. 

Her sound, which adapts some of the Tamil elements to jazz and pop has a really sensual and delicate texture, with some references to the environment where she grew up. She said in this regard:

(...) my music is more shaped by growing up in Australia, going to the beach, the vibrations of the ocean... the spatial dimensions are different (of other indian musicians) and that means my music is different."
Mamavatu (2001)

June 12, 2009

Foula - Voodoo Jazz

1237196765523 We are proud to announce the addition of a new fun widget to Sound Energy Flux, the Flux Radio Play Button on the right. Just push play and enjoy all the music of the blog in random order! Thanks to SimplePie and YouTube for making this possible!

Special occasions require special music. Enter Foula, a group which, according to Wikipedia, was the first in Haiti to make a successful fusion of Jazz and Voodoo music.

The YouTube description of the following video says a lot more than I could possibly say about this group… it is extremely difficult to find information about Foula online.

One of the best groups from the "Mouvman Rasin" (Roots Movement) music scene in Haiti. Foula called their music "Vodou Jazz". The members of the group were: Jean-Raymond Giglio (percussion), Gaston "Bonga" Jean-Baptiste (percussion), "Rasin" (percussion), Wilfred "Tido" Levaud (guitar & lead vocals), Yves "Chico" Boyers (bass) and Thurgot Theodat (sax & percussion).
This music video was shot on location in LaPlenn, Haiti, the song "Sove", is a Rara (traditional processional/carnival from Haiti).


Neg Kap Pote (1990)

June 10, 2009

Thomas Mapfumo - Revolutionary Struggle

Mapfumo_Thomas ‘Chimurenga’ is the Shona word for ‘struggle’. This was the word picked by Thomas Mapfumo, to call his music style, a fusion of Zimbabwean traditional music and rock, where the guitar is played as if it was a mbira, a very popular instrument in Southern Africa.

‘Struggle’ is a word that represents what Thomas Mapfumo has done during his life. As a political activist, his music has revolutionary lyrics, asking for the human rights and social justice. He was prosecuted by the government, his music banned, and he was detained for three months as a political prisoner in 1979.  He made, however, many friends there, prisoners and guards alike, as his music and personality were loved and admired by everyone.


Mapfumo didn’t sing many love songs, as he commented: "All you need if you wanna get into the bedroom... You've got a wife. You do it. You don't have to sing a song about it."

Pfumuvhu Parizevha

June 7, 2009

5 Terrifying Horror Movie Soundtracks

Soundtracks are the best complement to a movie, aiding in the creation of the psychological effect that the director wants. Sometimes they are so good that become as famous as the movie itself. In horror movies, music has a fundamental role, as it increases the sensation of uncertainty of the plot. Let’s listen to five of the most terrifying soundtracks I’ve ever heard, in no particular order.

1. Suspiria

Suspiria is a horror film masterpiece, characterized by its art direction with saturated colors and innovative photography. Dario Argento, its director, asked the members of the italian band The goblins to compose and play the music for this movie. They composed a heavy album full of rock sounds in synthesizers and guitars. The following track features frightening breathing sound effects.

Sighs - The Goblins – Suspiria (1977)
2. Tetsuo

Tetsuo, the story of the transformation of two men in iron, is an example of the horror film movement in Japan. With cyberpunk aesthetics, it's one of the first movies on this trend. Its soundtrack is an industrial work with a sound completely generated by electronic means. It features a vibrant and frenetic dub of metallic sound effects with a synthesizer track. This music is the perfect theme for the technological nightmare this movie is.

Magnetron - Chu Ishikawa - Tetsuo (1989)
3. The orphanage

The story of a mother who does everything to save her son from a strange force that inhabits the same house where she grew up, is the plot of The Orphanage, a Spanish movie directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. The music of this film was composed by Fernando Velásquez, who made a fantastic soundtrack played by a symphonic string ensemble. The following song is the background music of one of the crucial parts of the movie.

Sola en casa - Fernando Velásquez - The orphanage (2007)
4. Halloween

The director of Halloween, John Carpenter, made by himself the soundtrack of this movie to reduce costs. As it turned out, it became one of Hollywood's most famous soundtracks ever. The music that accompanies the crimes of Michael Myers, is a simple piano tune in 5/4 meter, which Carpenter showed to an unimpressed Fox executive. The simple progression of notes played in piano and synthesizers in a cyclic way is an effective example of how music makes a movie complete.

Main Title - John Carpenter - Halloween (1978)
5. Rosemary's baby

Rosemary's baby, the movie of Roman Polanski is not creepy enough to scare us today. But the ending theme Lullaby, sung by Mia Farrow, the main character, is delicately terrifying. Although most of the score is a bunch of jazzy and chaotic melodies that made the perfect accompaniment to the pace of the film, this tune, with its simple key, is maybe more disturbing than the whole movie.

Lullaby - Krysztof Komeda - Rosemary's Baby (1968)

June 3, 2009

Fanfare Ciocarlia – The Skylark of Brass

fanfare-ciocarlia The richness of Roman music has been acknowledged in this blog in previous posts. The sense of membership of Gipsy people, their fight against discrimination, and their strong voices have been some of the discussed topics. But one of the most typical features of this music is the role of the brass bands, as a musical support. Fanfare Ciocarlia, a Romanian band is an example of this feature. Formed by twelve vigorous gipsies who play their music by randomly adding fast melodic solos, with instrument such as trumpet or clarinet. Fanfare Ciocarlia includes instruments like tubas, saxophones, percussions, clarinets and trumpets.

Its name is composed of two words which mean 'brass band' and 'skylark', respectively. The fusion of Carpathian Mountains' folk and some tunes of Turkish and Austrian brass bands, has the bucolic spirit of the village's small bands, which learn this songs by memorizing them and playing them in family parties.

Manea Cu Voca (2001)

Nicoleta (1998)

June 2, 2009

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Classical Guitars On Fire

rodrigo-y-gabriela Although they started as a thrash metal band, Rodrigo y Gabriela found their true language in the sound of classical guitar, through a fusion of rock, folk, and Latin music which, as they explain, is not easy to define.

This Mexican guitar duo is mainly acclaimed outside of their country, from where they parted while searching for new sonorities and a wider public. Success was waiting for them in Ireland, where their fast and rhythmic playing style felt like home.

Ixtapa (2006)

The previous song, Ixtapa, is named after a beautiful Mexican town. Being Led Zeppelin fans, they describe this song as “our very own Stairway to Heaven!”. The wild Hungarian violin that joins the guitars in the middle of the piece, is the perfect complement.

Rodrigo y Gabriela were picked by MTV as their Artist of the Week. For this special occasion, they recorded a couple of videos, the following is one of them. Tamacun is the name of an eccentric Mexican who lives in Ixtapa. He is known for handling crocodiles to show them off to tourists, while teaching kids to respect nature.

Tamacun (2006)

June 1, 2009

Tiki Taane – Aotearoa Sounds


Salmonella, a well known dub band in New Zealand, was led by Tiki Taane, a musician, DJ, producer and sound engineer. However, Taane, who was born in the Maori tribe of Ngati Maniamoto, wanted to start a new project, despite the fact that his band was one of the most successful of NZ. His album Present, Past and Future expresses in its tracks the feeling of being from Aotearoa, the New Zealand of Maori people.

The first single, Tangaroa (which means 'God of the sea'), shows the strength of the Haka Dance, an antique Maori tradition that was usually performed before a battle. This song is one of the first where Taane openly shows his roots. The sounds of percussion and chants, create not only a song, but a mystical experience to the listener.

Tangaroa (2007)
Dub Soldier (2007)