Alex Urwicz is a classically trained pianist and composer based out of Paris. In 2020, he co-created a label called WUCA Records that specializes in classical and neoclassical music, on which he released his debut EP, Couleurs, earlier this year. In addition to that, Alex has worked a composer, arranger, and producer on films, documentaries and advertising for the past 5 years. He clearly knows a thing or two about making music.
Couleurs consists of four tracks inspired by colors. Ardoise, for example, is the French word for a bluish shade of gray. It is the first song in the EP and also my favorite. You could say this of the four tracks but Ardoise is particularly soaked in sweet nostalgia that will transport you to your childhood or another time that you remember with fondness. It reminded me of the stunning soundtrack of the great movieAmélie (I should write about Yann Tiersen at some point). The bottom line is that Alex Urwicz is a talented composer that you should follow if you like sweet piano-based melodies. You won’t regret it.
For a long time, London-based multi-instrumentalist Jack Beech has been producing music for other artists, but after contracting COVID-19 in January this year, Jack felt the need to create his own music and started writing an EP. That record, called Noctilucent, is available to stream everywhere already and consists of four delicate ambient tracks of different textures. One of them is the eponymous track that we’re adding to our mixtapes today.
The word noctilucent means something that glows or shines at night, and that’s what Jack tried to convey with this song and the whole EP album. Even our darkest times can result in something bright that gives us purpose. An atmospheric ambient song with a beautiful piano melody at its core, Noctilucent takes us on a haunting journey through the most gorgeous landscapes of our imagination. Please do give it a listen because you are not going to regret it.
For most people, buying a house is an important achievement that requires plenty of sacrifices. For Michigan-based artist Mark Swanson, that meant selling all of his instruments (he had been playing music for years). Well, all but his keyboard, which he tried to sell as well but could not find a decent offer for it. A few years later, when Mark felt the itch to play music again, he had to use the only instrument he still had: the keyboard, which not only explains how The Aquaerials started but also his sound. Influenced by artists who should be familiar to regular readers such as Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, and Sigur Rós; Mark creates minimalist neoclassical compositions that are simple yet beautiful.
Insomniac’s Respite, the latest single from The Aquaerials, is an instrumental piano piece that was inspired by sleeplessness and a general feeling of anxiety. However, being an instrumental piece, each listener can interpret it in a different way. Composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mark himself in his home studio, Insomniac’s Respite is a delicate track that is as serene as a lullaby. If you want to relax, this is the perfect track for you. Enjoy.
Andrew Land is a British multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer who was classically trained through his youth and then studied contemporary music on his own. This has resulted in a style of music that combines elements of both approaches, neoclassical music with traces of ambient and electronic sounds. It is not surprising then that one of his main influences is Oláfur Arnalds, who regular visitors should be familiar with. This year, Andrew is releasing his debut album, Relevant Matters, and he has given us some appetizers with a few singles and even an EP: (Making Good) Defects, all recorded and produced by the artist in his home studio in the Midlands, UK.
This EP contains three gorgeous tracks, including two versions of Defects: a stripped down version that you can listen to in the video below, and the regular, more atmospheric version, which you can find in the mixtapes mentioned after the video clip. Both versions are stunning and well worth your time. The track (s) got a cinematic vibe that evokes a feeling of peace and tranquillity. I fell in love with it and, hopefully, you will too.
Gilead may mean, among other things, “hill of testimony” and that is the meaning The Broken Cradle had in mind when he decided to use it as the name of his latest EP. It is supposed to tell the journey of our respective roads to Gilead in our search for happiness and purpose. The EP is a neoclassical and ambient album that starts with the aptly titled Road to Gilead, a piano-centered track with atmospheric pads that create a mesmerizing soundscape. Listening to the multiple textures in the song feels like scratching an itch and not wanting to stop.
The Broken Cradle is the solo work of Eric McLean, a musician from North Carolina with over 20 years of experience. With influences such as Brian Eno and Olafur Arnalds, it is not surprising that his music could fit so well in an album from any of those renowned artists. He is that good.
La Strada Per I Vecchi Sogni, which I think means The Road To Old Dreams, is my favorite track off Somewhere Else, the new album from one of the best post-rock acts out there: The Absolute End Of The World. As seems to be the norm within the genre, TAEOTW is a solo act and, as the name of this song suggests, the person behind it, musician Luca Maugeri, is from Italy. He started out in 2011 and has a knack for creating beautiful compositions that can transport you anywhere. He also records, produces and distributes his music himself.
La Strada Per I Vecchi Sogni is a euphoric yet melancholic soundscape that feels like drifting through the air over the Mediterranean Sea. The song seems simple and effortlessly even though actually it is not. I truly think that one of the hardest things to do is to make the complicated seem straightforward and that is what separates virtuosos from truly special composers. This song proves that Luca Maugeri, The Absolute End Of The World, is one of them. Enjoy.
You may remember Diarmuid J Kennedy from when he was featured here back in September. If that’s the case, you will be happy to hear that he’s back with another beautiful piece called Chase A Loss. This time, he partnered with fellow Irish musician Sinead Hayes, aka sølstrek, who plays the mesmerizing violin part on this piece. A match made in heaven.
This stunning track feels to me like the soundtrack to a beautiful old movie. Call me crazy but I think it got a similar vibe to the Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso, composed by the late legend Ennio Morricone. At the very least, it could be your soundtrack to a perfectly fine Sunday evening. Sit bax, relax, and enjoy!
Dave Mathers is a classically trained pianist and composer from Scotland who loves all kinds of jazz music. He has been playing piano for 20 years (since he was 8) but still thinks he has much to learn, which is the right attitude to have. He started to release music last year under the moniker Fradama while working as a piano tutor for a music school in his country, and doubled his efforts this year in order to take advantage of the 2020 situation. Amongst his latest releases, I particularly liked his beautiful piano piece Promenade Sunset, which is a short but captivating track as relaxing as a walk in an actual seafront promenade.
Fradama hopes to get better known with time if he keeps releasing more music. Promenade Sunset demonstrates that he is talented enough to achieve his goals. All he needs is a little bit of luck. Give him a chance below.
Finnish multi-instrumentalist and composer, Kepa Lehtinen, is a renowned artist in his homeland, after being involved with the scores and soundtracks of multiple award-winning films and TV shows from Finland. In addition to that work, he has released three EP albums: Playing Theremin (2018), Helsinki In November (2019) and It Is Ok To Be Sad And Dark (2020). The latter EP consists of six tracks of what is considered classical electronic music, mostly because of the use of a Theremin (if you don’t know much about this peculiar instrument, I highly recommend watching this video) in some of the tracks. However, my favorite song from that EP, Simple, is just a straightforward piano piece with an enchanting melody. Sometimes, simplicity is all we need.
ThePianoPlayer is a musical project from Italian pianist and composer Enzo Orefice. As ThePianoPlayer, he uses his creativity to experiment with ambient and neo-classical music, but without ending up with abstract pieces. All his pieces are elegantly beautiful yet easily accessible.
Take, for example, one of his releases from 2020, the stunning Secrets. A beautiful song that reminded me of the work Ólafur Arnalds did for the show Broadchurch. Whether you are having a pretty active Sunday or a lazy one, I can’t think of better ways to end it than by listening to this breathtaking piece. Enjoy!