Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

13 APRIL, 2009

Monday Music Muse: Anathallo

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What a flugelhor has to do with the existential quest of twentysomethings.

We’ve had our eye on Anathallo ever since their fantastic Coachella 2007 performance. Their brand of chamber indie-pop is simply unlike anything else out there — vocals that blend the lightness of youth with the intensity of life and lyrics that speak to the troubled enlightenment of the quintessential twentysomething, all wrapped in superb multi-instrumentalist percussion.

This year, we were delighted to find Anathallo equally fantastic at SXSW — be your own judge with this free copy of The River.

Taken from Greek, anathallo means “bloom again” — a fitting allegory for the band, which was conceived in 2000 only to live through several line-up changes over the next six years, until it was finally reborn in 2006 as the current 7-member neo-orchestra.

Anathallo‘s latest album, Canopy Glow, is a captivating cascade of vocal harmonies, chamber magic, and lyrical sensibility that makes you want to go out and just live. It’s part Vampire Weekend, part Kings of Convenience, part Fleet Foxes, part something else entirely.


So give Canopy Glow a listen — if for no other reason, then just because it’s not every day you hear a trombone, a flugelhor AND an autoharp in an indie band.

08 APRIL, 2009

Bicycle Built for 2,000

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Why 2,088 people are singing Stanley Kubrick’s praises for $0.06 each.

Here’s a blast from the Brain Pickings past — remember Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? What about data artist extraordinaire Aaron Koblin? After his brilliant Sheep Market project, Koblin is back with another fantastic crowdsourced art effort.

Bicycle Built for 2,000 is an audio-visual collage of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Mechanical Turk. Each person is asked to listen to a tiny sound clip, then imitate what they heard, without any knowledge of the full context of the clip. The voices are stitched together to sing “Daisy Bell” — a symbolic choice, as this is the first example of musical speech synthesis in history. (It also happens to be the song HAL is singing at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

You can click on each note to view the waveform of its various iterations and hear how different people “sang” it.

Participants came from 71 different countries. Each singer was paid $0.06 — not quite the Broadway gig, but we find it utterly MoMA-worthy, so it more than pays in street cred.

06 APRIL, 2009

Monday Music Muse: The Botticellis

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Why SoCal and Sweden are closer than you think, or how to take the speed lane to SXSW glory.

With harmonies that give Fleet Foxes a run for their money, vocals reminiscent of The Magnetic Fields, and cinematic beats that channel Scandinavian favorites like Sambassadeur, indie popsters The Botticellis took the speed lane to our (disappointingly short) best-of-SXSW-2009 list. 

Their sun-drenched sound and dreamy guitars come, unsurprisingly, from Southern California. And while a clear nostalgic connection with surf culture oozes from their music, deep lyrical sensibility and unique analog production make The Botticellis a delightfully unclassifiable force of their own.

Their debut album, Old Home Movies, is every bit as excellent as their eponymous SXSW track, which you can snag for free right here.

You can also spot The Botticellis (and a ton more free downloads) on Daytrotter, easily the best up-and-coming music site around, and one we’ve been enamored with for a long, long, long, long time.