Tag Archives: Rene Aubry

The Best of 2013–The Music

28 Dec



After a bit of a break, this year I’m going to make a best of list–this time I’m focusing on music, later we’ll get to music and books (and more!)  To be clear, this is the best music that I encountered in 2013, not all the music was made or released this year.   In fact some years most of the music that really hit my world was from other eras.  So here we go:

1.  Mother Mother, The Sticks:  I already reviewed this album, but since then I have returned to it again and again.  Something about its post-apocalyptic melancholy really puts its hooks in me.  Buy it now!

2:  Cast Album, A New Brain:  As this soundtrack is at least 15 years old how does it sound so fresh?  If you listen to this album, half the songs will embed themselves into your brain until you have to listen to them again.   Also, the story here is so forward thinking–a gay couple that isn’t tortured, the struggle of making good art–it’s all here.  Plus it’s a hoot.

3:   Ben  Harper, By My Side:  This best-of album just shows how damn cool Ben Harper is.   His laid-back vibe echoes a sort of music that hasn’t been around for decades.   Take this along for your next slow ride.

4:  Rebecca Karijord, We Become Ourselves:  Again I already reviewed this one, but if music was therapy this is what it would sound like.

5:  Vienna Teng, Aims:  Off-beat, up-beat, intelligent.   It’s almost impossible to have these three traits exist at once in any piece of art.   Vienna Teng makes it look easy.

6:  Rene Aubry, Steppe:  This year I found Rene Aubry becoming my studying/reading music.   Honestly I should put all his albums on here, but this one sticks in my head the most.  Relaxing, atmospheric music that takes shape just beyond the consciousness.

7:  Bach for Relaxation and Meditation:  I found this album on spotify–most albums like this do not call to me, but this one shows Bach in such a strong light that you could bring this on and dream in cathedral stained glass.

8:   Caravan, In the Land of Grey and Pink:  I went through a progressive phase earlier this year–this is the album that stuck.   Caravan is so charming here, and while taking up the good sides of prog, there’s playfulness without the pretension.  “Golf Girl” will just pop into my head as I’m walking around the city.

9.   Adam Guettel, Myths and Hymns:  This album is everything that art music should be, a huge scope, intimate moments, inventiveness galore.   This album is a storytelling epic, and well worth many listens.

10.  Galt MacDermott, The Human Comedy:  Of course I already knew Hair, but Galt’s kooky genius just spills out over all he touches.  He takes some getting used to, but I can honestly say there’s nobody like him.  The Human Comedy has the most going for it out of all his post Hair works.   Dozens of 1-2 minute songs rushing one after another, touching nearly every pre-rock music style, moving from touching to hilarious back to touching again in a lickety-split.   I ended up making a playlist of the best of the music on this, but the whole thing is well worth the experience.

11.  The Soundtrack to All That Jazz:  There’s nothing like this movie, and the re-imaginings of old classic songs (Bye Bye Love, Who’s Sorry Now, You’re Gonna Miss Me When You’re Gone) are mushed together to make an entirely new story.

Songs that mattered:  While these artists didn’t have albums that sucked me in, these songs were heavily played.   Some of these songs I already knew, but they gained importance this year.  You might call this my honorable mention list.

Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven” (it grew on me), Lady Gaga “Applause,”  “We Beseech Thee” from Godspell, “Magic to Do” from Pippen, Don Henley “The Boys of Summer,” Billy Joel “Laura,”  Miriam Mikeba “Pata Pata,” Drake & Rihanna “Take Care,” Bob Dylan “Duquesne Whistle,”  Ellie Goulding, “Lights” Joan Armatrading, “Me, Myself, and I”  A Flock Of Seagulls, “(I Ran) So Far Away, Visage “Fade to Grey”

Well that’s it!  I’m sure I forgot many other things and I’ll hit myself in the head later, but I’ve got to stop this list before 2014 comes!  Happy New Year and Happy Listening!

Albums Worth Listening to: Rene Aubry, Steppe

12 Oct




Rene Aubry is a soundtrack composer that I’ve found very interesting lately.   Soundtrack composer isn’t the best description for him, for he also writes music for puppet shows and modern dance as well as other projects.  However, he’s too accessible to be called art music, and he’s certainly trying to do more than be a modern classical composer.   There’s a lot of composers I don’t like–because their music is always hung on the hook of another work, and while I think it’s perfectly adequate for that purpose, it’s not very interesting to listen to without the movie/dance/whatever that goes along with it.

Aubry manages to get beyond that so that his albums are complete works in themselves.   Steppe comes of as a theme album focusing on horses–even though it’s called steppe–which gives it a grasslandsy vibe.   He has an interesting combination of synthesized and organic instrumentation which gives an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of feel, while still being melodic.   Each song is 5 minutes or less, and he plays heavily with counterpoint layering theme after theme on top of each other, setting up a horsehoof rhythm in all the songs but a couple of slower numbers.   Since quite a few of the songs fade in and fade out, we’re left with an impression of different things passing us by, ideas running, walking, gliding like dream horses.   He also uses the sounds of waves, running water, a whip, whispers, banjo, piano, mandolin, accordion, guitar and nearly every other instrument imaginable.

These soundscapes are luxurious and exotic, each bringing you to a new imaginary place–the effect is very much like Air with less singing, a fantasia of slow still places.    More interesting than ambient, less flaky than new age, less structured than classical–Aubry find a nice balance for a relaxing soundtrack.