It is usually around this time of year that I begin listening to a lot of “winter music.”  I guess this kind of music takes a lot of different forms (from black metal to dark folk); however, in this blog post I’m going to concentrate on giving some links to what has been loosely termed “neoclassical” and postrock.  I think these bands make great music for winter work, play, and writing.  I don’t mean that in the sense that they’re great for work (i.e. they fade into the background); rather, I mean they are great for working – inspiring and pushing the writing process beyond where it might have been before.  Anyhow, here’s a sampling:

1.  Message to BearsDepartures : This is the music of 24 year old Oxford, UK native Jerome Alexander.  The music is acoustic with a very light smattering of electronic thrown in.  This album sounds like folk. . . but the arrangements are larger – more cinematic, and defy a lot of description.  A great release from Dead Pilot Records.

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2.  Mósslonnrós – The Last Inch of Snow to Fall : You can download this lovely album here.  While this one isn’t necessarily neoclassical, it’s certainly very good.  Quiet blips, bleeps, and showers of white noise interweave with piano to create a great soundtrack for tundras.  Mósslonnrós is the alter ego of Eurasia, a 20 something Japanese electronic musician currently signed with Portugal-based MiMi Records.

Last Inch of Snow to Fall

3.  zxyzxyC.A.B. : zxyzxy is the solo project of 20 something Seattle musician Greg Pappas.  All of the music recorded under the name zxyzxy is available for full download in multiple formats (including FLAC) at his website.  This album – though not his most recent – is a fantastic album for winter walks – but allow the walks to be long as each song clocks in around 15 mintues.  Though this track isn’t on C.A.B., you might get an idea about the music. . . .

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4.  Balmorhea All is Wild, All is Silent : This Austin, TX based folk/neoclassical outfit produces some really, really beautiful music.  Signed to Western Vinyl, this 2009 release has a lot more going on than some of the bands earlier efforts (like 2007’s eponymous release and 2008’s Rivers Arms).  If you’re into lovely acoustics, haunting violin, and ethereality in your faux classical then you should check this album out.

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This one is my fave from the album (give it at least 2 mintues):

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5.  Chapelier Fou613 : This is the best album I’ve heard in a couple of months.  This 26 year old Metz, France native is a precocious fiddle player. . . and a decent electronic musician to boot.  Overall this album does something that very few albums can do: it contains classical compositions set to electronic accompaniment in such a way that isn’t hackneyed or overly intentional.  His first two albums were lovely attempts at IDM/ambient music with classical influences.  This album inverts that arrangement by calling attention to the strings.  A true accomplishment.  If you’re into Olafur Arnalds you’ll definitely love this album!

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