Showing posts from January, 2018

Spindle Ensemble – Bea (Adderwell Music)

Debut album by the instrumental quartet from Bristol lead by Daniel Inzani on (mostly) piano with Caelia Lunniss on violin - Harriet Riley on tuned percussion (marimba and vibraphone) - Jo Silverston on cello.

There’s a classical feel from much of the album but with very much a small c and there’s a very appealing lightness of touch to the compositions and arrangements.

Like a hint of Ryuichi Sakamoto in the swoops and swoons of the strings on album opener ‘Moonbow’.

The sprightly tango shapes of ‘Panic among the dragonflies’ with appropriate accordion backing.

The enchanted combination of Celtic harp with marimba and cello/violin in oriental mood on ‘Sleepcloud’.

The shimmering ambient bleed quality of the tuned percussion is a constant and beautiful feature of the sound palette.

The rhythms and melodies nod to influences from jazz folk and various world musics but in a completely convincing and committed way.

It all makes for a coherent and most endearing coll…

Brona McVittie – We are the wildlife

Beautiful album of pastoral folk sounds with a kosmische sense of adventure from the County Down native.

Opener ‘When the angels wake you’ introduces some key elements – a traditional sounding harp melody and an electronic bed full of drift and intrigue.

McVittie’s voice has a wonderful lilt to it and one of the delights of the album is how this traditional singing style interacts with the electronic and ambient details of the soundscape.

‘And the glamour fell on her’ for example features a reverbed cello pizzicato pattern with space echo steel guitar floating around it. The vocal part is made up of longer held notes layered which have the effect of emphasising the density of the backdrop. The whole thing is quite reminiscient of the cosmic meditations of Colleen.

‘Broken like the morning’ has a chamber pop feel with cheer up flute against sombre cello while sprightly harp arpeggios fill in the background.

These unexpected shifts in texture are a constant progressive…

Playlist 476 - Jan 30 2018

It’s been a little while since we had a dance set on the show. We had a good mini set in the middle this week.

Charlotte Gainsbourg hooking up with SebastiAn to wonderful French disco effect.
De Lux with the great sunbaked LA disco full of nagging synth lines.
And SlowPlaceLikeHome with some lovely ambient electronica from the Atlantic north west (Donegal).

Also another beautiful cut from the new Spindle Ensemble album. Light as air.
The Sea & Cake giving vent to wonderful breezy jazz pop.
Jon Brion from the Lady Bird OST making gorgeous quixotic music for pictures involving woodwind.

And Django Django making music to make people who don’t know how to dance dance.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 476
Tues Jan 30 2018
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on …

De Lux – Keyboards cause we’re black and white (Innovative Leisure)

Another winning slice of baked sunshine soul from the LA duo.

Once again the bouncy and deceptively friendly backbeat camouflages serious intent much like Talking Heads once did with ‘Once in a lifetime’.

In this case both the need to disco and the internal struggle showcased in the highly entertaining video.

I especially love the whining one note synth line which remains consistent and true as things clatter all around it.

A great way to start the year.

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest (Because Music)

File this in the 2017 “ones that got away” pile.

A brilliant insistent minor key of an album which takes on the vast shadow of Serge and comes through with something authentic and individual and (for anyone with any interest in Serge) very poignant.

The production by SebastiAn (with help from Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo of Daft Punk) is crucially sympathetic to Gainsbourg’s voice which is by no means a powerful instrument. Where it is most effective is in its hush its intimacy and this is how the production locates it. Plus lyrically there is the inspired decision to address not just the loss of her father but also her half sister Kate (after whom one of the songs is named).

The songs are shared between French and English (wisely most of the choruses are in English with the verses in French) as a nod to her joint heritage.

Overall there is the sense of an update of Jean Claude Vannier’s Serge productions (Melody Nelson in particular) wit…

Playlist 475 - Jan 23 2018

A lash of new music again this week.

Lake Ruth, lush baroque pop tones.
Brona McVittie, pastoral folk music with a kosmische filter.
Jim Ghedi, sprightly enervating folk instrumentals.
Chloe March, sumptuous dream pop.
Benjamin Schoos & Dent May, gorgeous orch pop.

Plus an aching memory from Michael Nyman from 1988 (pic), soundtrack music for the ages.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 475
Tues Jan 23 2018
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at
*listen back to this show here

Percolator – Crab supernova (playing Quarter Block Party, Cork Feb 2-4)
Lake Ruth – Julia’s call
Tandem Felix – Nothing I do will ever be good enough (playing Quarter Block Party, Cork, Feb 2-4)
The Go-Betweens – The Clarke sisters
Brona McVitt…

Playlist 474 - Jan 16 2018

A couple more great cuts from the Best of 2017 annals this week (check around the blog for more on that).

This is the Kit who are in Ireland this week – Cork tonight, Dublin tomorrow – another great psych pop dance tune.

Mick Harvey with the brilliant guest vocal turn of Andrea Schroeder giving Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t’aime’ a German twist. It’s magnificent.

Then Ennio Morricone from the new live album recorded on recent European tour. Bliss.

Django Django back with new music and it’s a cracker ahead of new album.

Plus Charlotte Gainsbourg (one that got away from my Best of 2017 lists but it's never too late). Dreamy, heartbreaking, sublime downtempo dance music. Take it how you like.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 474
Tues Jan 16 2018
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)

Best of 2017 - Part 3: Pop/Soul/Indie


Bedouine – Back to you (from the album Bedouine, Spacebomb)
Another wonderful nugget recorded at Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb hub in Richmond Virginia.

The origin though is the voice and songs of Azniv Korkejian born in Syria to Armenian parents but resident in the US for some years.

Her voice is an intoxicating thing. Hushed. Softly spoken. Insistent. Containing something of a Carole King about it. Or even a Karen Carpenter maybe. Another time anyway.

When there was strength in subtlety and soul was in the nuance as much as the decibels.

And the dream of an arrangement behind the perfect match.

Gently enervating brass and woodwind.

Uplifting top note strings.

Beautiful pitter patter bass.

A genius falsetto backing vocal that catches me every time.

She also has a way with a lyric Ms Korkejian.

California city parks
They talk in exclamation m…

Playlist 473 - Jan 9 2018

Happy New Year to all of you and opening 2018 with a few tasty cuts from last year which you’ll find more on in the Best of 2017 posts on the blog.

Laetita Sadier Source Ensemble is one of those. A lovely groovy kosmische informed by Brazil.
The Clientele is another. Cosmic folk rock with a yearn and a robust jangle to it.
Manu Louis is one. Wonky and very groovy dance music.
Michael Nau. Gorgeous blissed out psych pop.

Plus new music from The Go! Team. Morse code for the dancefloor.
The Altered Hours. Lovely psych drones.
Tune-Yards. A playground chant meets eco themed pop music.

And Spindle Ensemble. Beautiful light touch classical tones from Bristol.

More on these pages.

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 473
Tues Jan 9 2018
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at www.ucc.i…

Best of 2017 - Part 2: Psych Pop/Prog/Dance/Jazz


Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Undying love for humanity (from the album Find me finding you, Drag City)
Wonderful Brazilian twist on Laetitia’s signature kosmische.

It’s hard to pick out any one element but I must say the vocals are a particular joy.

Not just the lead which is as clear and pure as the best Stereolab.

But the inspired backing ba da das which drive the playout.

Still sounds fresh as a daisy almost a year after release.

Michael Nau – I root (Full Time Hobby)
Sublime hazy memories of love from Maryland in the US...

... as if Harry Nilsson turned his mind to happier fuzzier times.

There’s very little detail to list here – a one and a half note guitar figure, a snare roll, a ride cymbal, a dream of a voice – but really the story is more to do with the atmosphere.

Languid is a word.

Sleepy maybe.

Intimate for sure.

Whichever …