Music Listening: Vinyl - Tour de France - Kraftwerk

I have a couple of recent vinyl pickups which I will be posting here over the next couple of weeks. The first one up is the album Tour de France from Kraftwerk. This is a 2009 reissue of the album and I received this as a birthday present. If you do not know who Kraftwek are, they are an electronic music group from Germany who has been around since the 1970's. They are early pioneers of techno and the Berlin techno scene. Their music is sometimes quintessentially identified as "robot" music since the beats and rhythms are very mechanical. The group is also known for their live performances and visuals. 

This album follows in their standard music profile so if you know that you like or dislike Kraftwerk then you will know what you are getting here. The opening tracks on side A, Tour De France Étape, are probably the best tracks on the album. They are a relaxing, almost downtempo collection of synthetic textures. 

The album also features a really nice 20 page artbook, which is a collection of typographic images. It is a nice touch for those out there who are collectors of that sort of stuff. 

Great album and certainly a good evening listening type of album to put on while reading or relaxing. 

Music Listening: CD - From Sleep - Max Richter

I picked this album up from the library a couple of months ago. Most people know Max Richter's name probably from his song "On the Nature of Daylight". Richter is in all respects a contemporary composer of "classical" music. I put the word classical in quotes because while the music does use orchestral instruments the compositions are really anything but classical. Almost all of Richter's albums could be called concept albums and the music in some instances features elementals of ambient or electronic/synthesizer components. It is all very subtly done though and at first glance most of the music could be thought of as a traditional orchestral arrangement. 

The latest album from Richter follows in much of his previous work, in being a conceptual album. From Sleep is the shortened version of a larger composition which is approximately eight hours long. The music was/is designed to be listened to while one is sleeping and is said to guide you through the sleep process. This album itself is only about an hour long, but it features thematic elements of that larger eight hour composition. 

From a listening perspective, it is a nearly perfect ambient or background music piece. One could easily listen to this before going to bed, while reading or while just trying to wind down after a long day. You aren't going to hear anything here that is on the radio, but this is quite a good album overall for listening. 

Music Listening: AAC - Backstar - David Bowie:

The most recent music purchase i picked up over the past week is David Bowie's latest (and last) album titled Blackstar. As most of you probably know by now, David Bowie passed away this past week from an 18 month battle with cancer. There isn't really anything here that I can add to that conversation that hasn't already been said. 

I had this album on my radar for a couple of weeks leading up to its release. David's passing only solidified my purchase and I am certainly glad that i did pick this album up. I don't own any other Bowie albums, but I have always appreciated his songs. This album is very much crafted as a whole piece, a true album. I don't really think there are many radio hits that come off of this album, and perhaps Bowie is not looking for radio hits at this point, but when you sit down and listen to this album from start to finish it really does present a fantastic piece of work and one that is poignant against David's death. 

It is impossible to look at this separate from his death, but the music here stands on its own. There is a beautiful blend of avant-garde jazz and even some elements of electronic music mixed in with the signature Bowie vocal. This is the perfect sort of album that you can both sit-down and listen to, but also put on as a quiet background sound while you want to relax. In fact I find that the impact of the music here is most aptly felt when the album is played quietly. 

This is something I picked up just as a digital download, but also an album I want to now follow up and pickup on vinyl. There is some great music here.