Dhafer Youssef & Wolfgang Muthspiel – Glow (2009)

Of Tunesian origin, Dhafer Youssef lives in Germany and has released some nine albums. His influences are definitely his home country’s musical heritage. However, his albums are strongly influenced by jazz and fusion. Youssef’s voice – his mail instrument -is angelic. It has an astronomical range and different sounds (no, he’s no Al Jarreau).  Besides being a gifted singer, he also plays the oud, an arabic lute.  This album Glow is a collaboration with guitar player Wolgang Muthspiel of Austrian origin, who I first noticed playing with Marc Johnson.

This album is a modest album in the sense that it is not about muscle music. The tracks are not over dramatic, everything is kept intimate, subdued, mostly acoustic. When electronics are used, it’s been done very tasteful.

Aimee Mann – Magnolia (OST) (1999)

Imagine going to the movies, not knowing what movie is playing and then being confronted with Magnolia of more than three hours. In fact, it being so long I only realised this after watching it. One of the key ‘selling points’ is the music by Aimee Mann and Jon Brion. Aimee Mann’s low, nasal and somewhat flat (not as-in off key) supports the melancholy in the movie. it’s a very sad sad movie with very sad sad people. The opener One sets the mood for the entire soundtrack. Deathly eases in, but builds up to a very strong climax. Wise Up is yet another strong song. The Superramp tracks are OK, but are a bit misplaced imho.

Memories of Machine – Warm Winter (2011)

Tim Bowness has a new collaboration. Because of the popularity of Porcupine Tree, No-Man has difficulty to continue to exist (to my kowledge they are not disbanned). Still, Steven Wilson makes a guest appearance along with many others (eg Fripp),

Tim Bowness’ voice always stands out, always recognizable. It still refers to his work with No-Man, but is distinct enough to add significantly to his repertoire.

Muse – Black Holes and Revelations (2006)

I have the tendency to ignore massively popular bands. That is, until they’ve established themselves for a number of years. Then I’ll give them a try. Sometimes they convince me immediately, such as Muse. Solid rock with a touch of theatre. Some might call it prog rock, but no. They like their synths though, sometimes quite pompous. Severely distorted and synthesized rock guitar. Luckily they don’t take themselves not too seriously, otherwise they wouldn’t have recorded Knights of Sydonia.

What surprises me that this band is massively popular in the UK. Well, music’s wonders still works, I guess.