Music Monday: September roundup

September is always heavy on the listening, after the deprivation of summer break; my stats cite no fewer than 54 artists played over the last 30 days, the top 5 of them with more than 100 plays apiece. Time alone is good.

Both Omnia and Faun have new albums out, Prayer and Midgard, respectively. Both albums were of the kind that takes a few listens to grow on the listener (instead of ye olde three-hit-singles-and-a-lot-of-filler recipe); the former got to that point faster, but both are worthy additions to the bands’ catalogues. Do listen.

Eivør, on the other hand, is the new artist on the block, who got my usual ‘complete discography straight through’ treatment. I had decided she’s a keeper about halfway through the process; Larva, Room and Slør got repeat runs, and I’m sure she will get a lot more appearances here in future, because she’s just awesome.

1. Eivør (145)
2. Omnia (137)
3. Faun (133)

Turn It Around

labelsWe live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.

When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe. If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.

If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.


Foodie Friday: Cottage Pie with Undercover Veg

undercover-veg-cottage-pie(Serves 2)

400g can chopped tomatoes
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
200g turkey mince
75g frozen peas
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp skimmed milk

1. Heat the oven to 200C, gas 6. Pour the tomatoes and 300ml water into a pan, add the celery and onion and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add the mince and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the peas and Worcestershire sauce. Season and spoon into an ovenproof dish.
3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and carrots in a pan of boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender, then drain. Return to the pan, add the milk and mash until smooth. Season, then spoon on top of the mince. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the topping turns golden brown.

The British Isles: A Musical Tour – Heart of England

Those stuck in an M6 traffic jam on a rainy Friday afternoon may start to wonder what it was about the Heart of England that inspired the likes of Holst, Elgar and Delius. Try exploring the Cotswolds countryside or cathedral cities such as Worcester and Lincoln, however…

Haydn – Symphony No. 92 (‘Oxford’)
Though there is much in Oxford to inspire a composer (not least, the city’s legendary football team), Haydn’s Symphony No. 92, completed in 1789, was actually called ‘Oxford’ because he conducted it when he received his honorary doctorate from the University in the Sheldonian Theatre, July 1791. It was originally written for the French aristocrat, the Comte D’Ogny.

Howells – Gloucester Service
Generations fo choristers have been brought up on Howells’s settings of the canticles, composed for some of the country’s finest choirs and most impressive cathedrals and chapels – the Gloucester Service, written in 1946, is one of the earliest and more familiar. Howells was, in fact, not a particularly religious man and the inspiration came more from settings and the people he associated with them than from religious subject matter. His love of Gloucestershire is further borne out by his ‘In Gloucestershire’ String Quartet of 1923.

Continue reading ‘The British Isles: A Musical Tour – Heart of England’

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn made it just in time


Month at a Glance

September 2016
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