So I acquired four different albums over the christmas period. I think I’ve gotten round to rating all of them on http://www.rateyourmusic.com, which is a pretty awesome site (thanks :)).
Cibo Matto – Stereotype A
Their first album topped my 2005 purchases. It was bizare – bending a lot of “pop” rules and tropes to create an achingly beautiful and mysterious sound. Their second album takes a giant step towards the mainstream, as they demonstrate a mastery of the classic easy-listening and light jazz sounds. Consequently this album is vastly more accessible than their first. It has an elegant sound with just enough weirdness and subtlty to remain cool.
David Bryne – Look Into The Eyeball
During the middle of the year I borrowed Rei Momo from Ivan, and found that it was clever but difficult to get into. This album, like Cibo Matto’s second, takes enough of a step into the mainstream to actually be instantly nice to listen to. The sound is heavily Latin influenced, but carries on the thoughtful lyrics that made the Talking Heads such good listening. Overall, I’d say this album demonstrates a mature and measured approach to a latin/western blend, and is well worth the $15 or so I paid.
Freshlyground – Normvula
Summarised neatly by my Ma as being “Norah Jones meets Africa”. This is essentially a light vocal jazz album heavily influenced by african rhythms. Only a couple of tracks really stand out, but for all that enough variety that you can easily pick one track from another. There’s also nothing you can’t listen to on the album, which I’ve found rare (even Viva! La Woman has one track I dislike). That puts this album solidly ahead of either Norah Jones or Donovan Frankenreiter in my book.
Anthony Head – Music for Elevators
I bought this album based on rabid Buffy fandom; and based on the “customers also purchased” box on Amazon.Com, I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. It turns out that the title is the album shows a sensitive touch, it’s slightly self-deprecating while signposting the general ambience of the album. This album broadly fits into the same ambient range of Normvula: it’s mellow and reflective. It also uses unusual sounds and tempos; just enough so that you can’t really confuse it with mainstream pop, but not enough that you need to re-adjust your listening style. Like Viva! La Woman it’s an album which really rewards close attention: there’s a lot of subtlty in the sound. The lyrics are also nicely offbeat (one of the things i really liked about Permission to Land was a track which used the word “extracurricular”, and Head’s album has many similarly incongruous words and concepts).