Cliff Notes

A lot of good music for this issue, and the best part…..most of it is free.

Original Soundtrack: “Solaris”

“Solaris” is one of the more mystifying and intriguing science fiction movies of all time, surpassing even “2001, A Space Odyssey”. The 1972 original and the 2002 remake received mixed reviews which was understandable; The book’s author stated that he “wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that…cannot be reduced to human concepts”. The soundtrack to the remake was interesting but the original is another story. The music revolved around variations on Bach’s “Chorale Prelude in F-Minor”, but it was the electronic soundscapes that grab your attention. The Russian composer Eduard Artemiev used the massive ANS synthesizer (described as being as large as a refrigerator) to achieve what can only be described as a remarkable musical achievement. And to add to the mystique, the only prototype was destroyed shortly after the recording was completed. Here is a link to Aquarium Drunkard for a taste of the Bach portion of the soundtrack, and a link to a video on the photo-optic ANS synthesizer at Synthtopia

Tom Waits: “San Diego Folk Festival 1974”

As you have probably already surmised, I’m a Tom Waits fan… particularly his early stuff. I’ve found some interesting concert downloads over the years, but one of the best is from an appearance at the San Diego Folk Festival in 1974 (his hometown). The download is at And while you’re at it check out the other Waits downloads on the site. The 1975 KQRS-FM broadcast is worth a listen. Here’s the link.

Mazzy Star: “Seasons of Your Day” and Goldfrapp: “Tales of Us”

I have no idea who coined the term “dream pop”; probably a psychology major. Wikipedia says it “relies on sonic textures as much as melody”. Personally I don’t like music that is passive, which may also explain why most of the genre’s most notable bands (1980 to 2000) are all but forgotten. Been to a Kitchens of Distinction concert lately? Having said all that, I will confess to liking Mazzy Star (their 1993 album featured the classic “Fade Into You”; here’s a YouTube link). Unfortunately it’s been 17 years since their last album so “Seasons of Your Day” was much anticipated. It doesn’t disappoint, in fact it is one of those rare albums that gets better with repeated listening. Here is a video link to “California” from the album. Goldfrapp’s “Tales of Us” fits the “dream pop” mold, but may surprise casual fans who are more familiar with the group’s forays into trip-hop, electro-glam, synthpop, etc. The music is haunting (Halloween analogy) and almost cinematic in its orchestrations. It’s an album that requires a few listening trips, but it is worth the drive. Here’s a video link to “Annabel” from the album (the song starts about 3 minutes into the video).

There are a bunch of free sampler albums available now at Here’s the list and links:

“Nettwerk Fall Music Sampler 2013”. It includes songs by Lily Kershaw, Ladytron, Boy and Savoir Adore. link

“Mexican Summer: Five Years”. Includes tracks from Ariel Pink, The Fresh & Onlys and Happy Jawbone Family Band. link

“2013 Relapse Records-Fall Sampler”. A mix of Death Metal, Alternative Rock and Alternative Metal (whatever that is); featuring Ulcerate, Baroness, Primitive Man, Weekend Nachos, Coffins and lots more. It’s a more varied than you might think. link

“Partisan Records Summer/Fall Sampler 2013”. Alternative rock with Deer Tick, Eagulls, Heartless Bastards, The Dismemberment Plan, etc. link

“Now Hear This-The Winners of the 12th Independent Music Awards”. There’s everything from Americana, Bluegrass, Alternative Rock, Contemporary Classical, New Age, Blues, to Christian. Something for everyone. link

“Green Hill-One Hour of Spa Music”. no comment. link

and finally a mention that Seraphic Fire’s “Ave Maria” (reviewed here last time) was recently highlighted by emusic as a “recommended” classical music selection for the month.