Q1 2020 – Let the music play

You’d think I’d be hammering out the blogs given all the time I/we have on our hands these days. It’s a product of these times that I find myself tired a lot despite not travelling anywhere. I’ve always been a home lover but adjusting to it 24 hours a day has been more challenging that I imagined. Still, I’m into the groove now and am happy to start sharing some gorgeous albums from early in 2020.

It’s taken until the last month to get back immersed back into the ambient world. The first quarter of 2020 has seen many excellent releases to soothe the soul. In no particular order:

Jonas MunkMinimum Resistance

MotionfieldAlways There

Mercury KXFlow (Compilation)

The Daydream Club – Piano Project // Duets

Slow Dancing Society & ZakeMirrored

Federico Mosconi – Il Tempo Della Nostra Estate

Black TaffyOpal Wand

MogwaiZeroZeroZero OST

GhostpoetI Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep

Jonas Munk is responsible for so much of the music I love as he records as Manual and Billow Observatory. If you are a fan of either monikers, then you know what you are getting with this release. To me, it is simple, this is an album so distant and so beautiful, it’s mesmerising. There is certainly nothing hurried about Minimum Resistance.

Almost without fail I’ve played this daily during the lockdown. If, like me, you’ve struggled to settle during these times, this is an album to sit back and disappear into. I love it when I find an album that combines total ambience and euphoria. Highly recommended.

Motionfield’s Always There has a curiously frenetic (it’s all relative) start with ‘Always There Part 1’. The remaining 10 ‘parts’ wash by in a haze.

Mercury KX released the compilation album ‘FLOW’celebrating the label’s third anniversary. There are new tracks by my favourites such as Federico Albanese of The Blue Hour fame. The main sell however, is Nils Frahms’ reworking of Ólafur Arnalds’ For Now I Am Winter. It’s wonderful, as is much of the rest of Flow.

The Daydream Club – Piano Project // Duets is pretty much as the titled suggests.  ‘Plinky plonk’ as my wife once described it. Piano Project // Duets is the sixth album release by The Daydream Club and it is a decade since their debut album Overgrown. It’s duets by pianists. It works.

The Slow Dancing Society (& Zake) release Mirrored showcases both ambient techno (there’s a pulse somewhere in the distance) initially, then slowly drifting off into drones for the remainder of the album. Like Jonas Munk, an album to disappear into and relax the mind and body.

Federico Mosconi is a new name to me. I took a punt as his name appeared in my Spotify ‘Release Radar’. Really glad I did as it is gorgeous. Waves of ambience. Can’t get enough of Il Tempo Della Nostra Estate.

Black Taffy (Donovan Jones) released Opal Wand just last week. He was once a member of post-rock band This Will Destroy You explaining how I first came across his work. This album is more electronic than the others in this list and presents a blend of melody and darkness.

Mogwai are my favourite band, hands down. I’ve grown older as they have, and they always deliver an album that speaks to me at the right time in my life. Their soundtracks have been immense: Zidane, Les Revenants and the epic Atomic, clearly show that. ZeroZeroZero is another expansive soundtrack. Due to these times, it has only been released digitally to date. Can’t wait for the vinyl.

Lastly, the big surprise for me was Ghostpoet. I’d ignorantly dismissed Ghostpoet as I assumed it wasn’t for my ageing bones. I was wrong. I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is a very musical album, clever lyrics and enough repetition to stick in the mind; ‘Selfie away, make sure you use all the filters’. My daily walk has been soundtrack by this album a lot. The biggest musical surprise for me this year.

So, it’s not been the best start to the year but, as always, the music lives on.