30 June 2014

Eclectic bytes in electronic bits

I write because it’s a way for me not to forget past memories (don't you like that double negative instead of writing "to remember"?! I guess I'm a typical Frenchman who can't get enough of his "bleak chic"), to enjoy my own pictures (instead of leaving them stored in the darkness of an offline or online drive, never or rarely to be exposed again), perhaps also to practice my own writing style and try to incorporate what I have read, watched, heard or seen. In addition, it makes me ponder, reflect on my own life, on what truly matters. I must be reading my own stuff close to thirty times before and after it’s published, most often to correct the quirks and typos I notice but also to simply (try to) enjoy my own piece (being satisfied enough only once in a while).

Sebastian in Melbourne, Australia

Music plays an equally important role in my life. I sometimes wish I had had the patience to become better at playing the piano or to learn the guitar or the violin (yes, I know, it’s never too late – I just don’t have enough of one life, if anyone has one to spare, email me and we’ll initiate the transfer). In the meantime, I listen to the music produced by others, storing what particularly resonates with me or simply what I don’t tire of listening to frequently in monthly playlists – this is for me to be able to go back in time and to recall what I was listening to during a particular month, so it perhaps more easily triggers memories of what happened or rather how I felt back then. A little bit like some associate smell with specific locations or memories. This makes me think of the concept of the “memory palace” I recently read about but I’m digressing (as usual).

So this post is about sharing that playlist of eclectic sound bytes with you (or part of it at least), mixing insights about the tunes or the artists and partly explaining in unstructured ways how they resonate with me (although it’s just about “feeling good” for some of those songs). Some songs manage to remain in my playlist of the next month, most however do not. Let’s see how things evolve. Perhaps you’ll find some interesting things or even unknown gems in what I share with you, although they’re not necessarily all recent releases – enjoy at your own pace. Thank you to those who led me to discover some of what I’m sharing today – they’ll recognise themselves and I’m grateful to them.

It’s a funny – and often painful – coincidence to at times pay more attention to lyrics of songs I have been listening to for a while and realise how I can suddenly relate to them, memories and personal experiences popping back to consciousness. As I look back at this month’s playlist, I feel almost psychologically betrayed by the blatantly obvious recurring themes of past mistakes, melancholy and shortcomings – even if, ironically, listening multiple times to those songs this past month made me shake my... head in rhythm.

So what’s on this playlist, at least some of the songs in it?

Buzzcut Season by Lorde, a 17-year old New Zealander (arg, that makes me feel old, even if I’m only 21 myself). Her real name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor (try to pronounce that in one mouthful) and she came to fame in particular after getting a first song to be downloaded 60,000 times for free on an online audio distribution platform. On Buzzcut Season, I am attracted to the singer’s woman-child voice and the heady chorus repeating every other line of this sweet piano-dotted melody.

♫ I will never go home again
♫ I live in a hologram with you

Stolen Dance by Milky Chance, a German duo who also started off by distributing their music on their own. The singer’s husky voice fits particularly well on that modern-reggae melancholic tune talking about drug addiction.

♫ I want you by my side
♫ So I never feel alone again

Unforgivable by Armin van Buuren featuring Jaren. Okay so that one is not new, and it’s trance music so it’s probably not the best example of well-crafted music – but, well, I like the repetitive nature of the tune. Perhaps it’s less surprising for me to like it when I read that van Buuren, a Dutch, was inspired by French electronic music composer Jean-Michel Jarre whose music is a bit dated but that I still listen to occasionally.

♫ Leaving me the way you did was just so unforgivable
♫ While you hold her in your arms
♫ Are you pretending she's me?
♫ And just how long will you go on
♫ Before you realise you know she's the one
♫ But you're gonna lose her anyway?

Love Spent by Madonna. Hmm, I guess I don’t have to present that up-and-coming singer. It’s the kind of song that I’d listen to for its rhythm for a while and then I’d get annoyed listening to it too much (and I can’t stop laughing at the silly lyrics: “Frankly if my name was Benjamin, We wouldn't be in the mess we're in”, but I guess it rhymes so we’re good). Love/hate relationship, I suppose.

♫ I guess if I was your treasury
♫ You’d have found the time to treasure me
♫ How come you can’t see
♫ All that you need
♫ Was right here with me

Bad Blood by Bastille, a British band who released their first album last year, in which this single released a year before is included. It reminds me a bit of Coldplay, and most of their tunes have earwormed their way into my head, thanks to an effective use of booming choruses and a thrilling, energising use of string and drum instruments.

♫ All this bad blood here, won't you let it dry?
♫ It's been cold for years, won't you let it lie?

Fleur de saison by Emilie Simon, a French singer. I love this clever digitally-enhanced video clip and the singer’s sensual voice on top of her electronic music, even if it’s already eight years old.

♫ Dès les premières lueurs
♫ Oh je sombre
♫ Mais j'ai perdu la raison
♫ Et le temps peut bien s'arrêter
♫ Peut bien me confisquer
♫ Toute notion de saison

Happy listening and more than time for me to go to bed.