Monday, 24 January 2011

Musical (Re)discoveries

I've just been reviewing my iTunes catalogue, and have discovered that in 2010 I added 127 albums to my collection; 1,227 songs by 56 different artists. Some of these were albums that I already owned on vinyl, and that I either re-bought digitally or (thanks to a wonderful birthday present of a USB turntable) converted from vinyl. That way I was able to listen again to music from Brand X, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Steve Hackett, Stephen Stills, Yes & Neil Young.

There were also albums that I'd never got round to buying when I was younger, by Be Bop Deluxe, Blind Faith, David Bowie, Kate Bush, John Coltrane, Jethro Tull, Marillion, Radiohead, Rush, Tom Waits & Wally: music that I'd listened to then and re-discovered - after 35 years or more in some cases.

Then there was the music that I discovered for the first time: some of it old, some of it new. Music by Anathema, Astra, Big Big Train, Dee Expus, Deluge Grander, Ephemeral Sun, Gazpacho, IQ, Jaga Jazzist, Kaipa, Karmakanic, Kinetic Element, The Lens, Mostly Autumn, National Health, Martin Orford, Phideaux, The Reasoning, Simon Says, Spock's Beard, Roine Stolt, Thieves' Kitchen, Tinyfish, Unitopia, Vienna Circle & Willowglass. It has been a joy to listen to these new (to me) artists, to discover that Progressive music is alive and well in the new millennium - and seemingly doing very well in Scandinavia!

The turn of a year is a time for taking stock, and at this time of year the music press publish their polls of 'The Best' of the last year. So, if you're interested, what have been my favourite albums of 2010? Well, in no particular order other than alphabetic by group, my Top 10 would have to be:
Aeon Zen: The Face of the Unknown
Anathema: We're Here Because We're Here
Hasse Froberg & Musical Companion: Future Past
Gazpacho: Missa Atropos
Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier
Kaipa: In the Wake of Evolution
Pat Metheney: Orchestrion
Spock's Beard: X
Tinyfish: The Big Red Spark
Unitopia: Artificial
If these are just names to you, why not give them a listen on Spotify or last fm? What I like about music is that it can so often take you wonderfully by surprise, and it has great power to lift you to thoughts and emotions that were hitherto unattainable. It is a wonderful gift, and when stewarded well can reveal beauty and insight that no other medium can.

I hope that 2011 will be another year of discovery, and rediscovery, for us all.