Seventh music presentation session for the blind and visually handicapped took place 26. 9. 2018 as usual in the presentation room of Czech agency SONS (Czech Blind United) in Prague. I was really honored for very positive feedback from the first six sessions, therefore I prepared a playlist based on visitors’ preferences and also added some pieces to expand their musical horizons. You can find the background of this story in an article about the first session here.
List of songs and their final scores based on votes:
Congratulations to Nick Hakim, Snarky Puppy and The Black Queen
|01 – Greta Van Fleet – Highway Tune||5.5|
|02 – Toundra – Tuareg||8|
|03 – Zeal & Ardor – Come On Down||6|
|04 – Snarky Puppy – Shofukan||13.5|
|05 – Nick Hakim – I Don’t Know||15.5|
|06 – Perturbator – Vantablack||6.5|
|07 – Mr Jukes – Magic||1.5|
|08 – Emma Ruth Rundle – Dead Set Eyes||10|
|09 – Mac Ayres – Lonely||1|
|10 – The Black Queen – The Death Cannot Touch You||13.5|
|11 – The Beautifuls – Too Loud||5|
|12 – Michael Oakley – Rabbit In The Headlights||2|
|13 – Sonia Stein – Foolish||5.5|
During the first six sessions I have used number of songs which I truly love, therefore it is getting more challenging to come up with great songs. Luckily there are many that I come up based on listeners’ feedback or from my current journalism or personal experiences, which I share in between songs. My guests surprise me each time with their preferences, which pushes me to extremes. I usually concentrate on prog rock or ambient jazz, but in this session they got everything from extreme metal next to avant-garde electronics or lounge jazzy pop.
This package was building up for a while as we had a long break during a summer. Since the last meeting in late February, I was changing my job and than investing a lot into another corporate marketing position during a summer, which wasn’t the right choice either. There wasn’t simply enough opportunities. As this was ideally my last experience with corporate marketing, I will make sure, these sessions will happen more often. Good motivation was the biggest number of guests so far.
It has become a tradition I am starting a playlist with something energetic. It sets the mood, get’s everybody’s attention and it also helps the ambient pieces later on stand out. American hard rock youngsters Greta Van Fleet are a fresh force on today’s rock scene. Their surprisingly very mature attitude kills old men’s comments about dying rock music. They might bring everybody’s attention at first by a vocalist who sounds as a young copy of Robert Plant but they surely provide more than that.
Spanish post rockers Toundra fit very well into local long term tradition of playing fascinating instrumental tracks. To be truly honest, I didn’t build a relationship with their first four albums, but their fifth album Vortex blew my mind. Chosen track Tuareg is a more than eight-minutes-dark-ride, but it’s worth it. I always wanted to include avant-garde metal band Zeal & Ardor for a while, but it always felt “too much”. As my guests push for extremes, I wanted to give them one solid example. These guys mix extreme avant-garde metal with gospel and I believe this combination is worth sharing.
To be honest, I can’t remember how I got my hands on Snarky Puppy, but their amazing mix of progressive rock, jazz and big band fun reached me at the right time. I was just in the mood to get the hell out of the city one day and willingly get lost in the nature and find my way back again. Suddenly I found myself running and jumping as a fairy on a sunny day between lakes on the edge of Ostrava, and finding my way back home through hardly accessible bushes. It was a great pick, as I got a message the next day from one of the guests, saying he is addicted to their overall discography.
Nick Hakim is one of my many recent discoveries within alternative jazz soul-RnB. It all goes to Spotify which just leads me to amazing new places. Often I just let go and just enjoy the ride. It is not always a win-win, but when it happens, it’s brilliant. I found this sort of music extremely helpful and relaxing in corporate open space, when you very much enjoy sudden dozen minutes in a different world. Nick Hakim’s track I Don’t Know was released as a part of the compilation Gilles Peterson Presents: Brownswood Bubblers Eleven and won the first place with class.
Practically every time before a session starts, we can hear banging in the next room. Whether it is from a reconstruction or a restaurant’s kitchen, it luckily never ruined the meeting. But just in case, I always kept this dark electronic track as a back-up. It was not needed so far, so it was about time I play it. As I love presenting extremes, French electronic innovator Perturbator was a natural choice. He is a quite big rebel on the metal festivals, where people either love him, or can’t digest the shock. In my case, it has quite unique effect. It seems as a perfect soundtrack for my darkest nightmares. On the other hand, when I listen to it, I feel safe and comfortable to dive into the mood and rather learn from dark ideas coming up. I offered the same strategy to the listeners and I guess it worked.
Mr. Jukes was just another cool discovery through Spotify. No more comments needed.
After the break
To be fair, I also discovered “dark” singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle through Spotify based on my preferences for Chelsea Wolfe and Russian Circles. It was around time she released brilliant album Marked for Death, which was under heavy rotation with me for weeks. As soon I got my press download of her latest album On Dark Horses, I started to respect her even more. It took me a while to get into those tracks, but the journey proved she matures with every album. I was really glad, my sister arrived in the middle of the track to finally see these presentation sessions. When the track Dead Set Eyes finished, I offered the guests my assistance, if they wanted to visit Emma’s show on 19th of October in Prague. Two gentlemen were very interested to go. At the same time, we are checking with her management, if Emma would be able to come on that day for our next session, which is planned on the same day as her show. I am fully aware she has plenty of friends to see in Prague, but the idea of her coming to say few words, maybe even play one track on an acoustic guitar and then go all together to her show sounds amazing. Fingers crossed.
British artist Mac Ayres was actually the first from my recent wave of discoveries within alternative jazz soul-RnB on Spotify. As soon I heard his track Lonely for the first time, I was flying two meters above my chair. It might have been the sweetest track for my die hard rock’n’roll ears, but it’s simply brilliant. I was addicted to his debut record Drive Slow for months and this process keeps going with his latest album Something To Feel. On the other hand, the results unfortunately didn’t reflect that. Luckily his shows are constantly sold out. Good luck Mac.
The Black Queen is a band I wanted to play since the first session, but for some reasons, I kept it on the side for later. During this summer I invested a lot into an attractive job. By the mid-September my both corporate marketing work, as well as my private relationship ended. For the worse, it happened within days. As I said to my guests, which always remind me with their bravery, death might touch you multiple times, but it’s up to you to build another layer of defense after each life shock. Lyrics are even clearer: “I know hell’s where you’ve been, but death can’t touch you anymore.”
The Beautifuls is a Czech rockabilly band, which just recently acquired my good friend as a singer and this track just kicks ass. He is already active for some time in another Czech band Dirty Rudolph and his Inglorious Rock’n’Roll Mates, which features even more of my friends and they specialize on swing covers including tracks from Adele or even Black Sabbath. It’s something you really want to have on you wedding or funeral. I love to share great music and I will try to include more of the local talents next time as well.
Michael Oakley is a Scottish artist who stands out within current retro synth pop wave. He has an incredible ability to bring the coolest aspects from the eighties and get you addicted. I keep a single video track on my Sony Walkman next to dozen albums, which usually rotate quite fast. Whenever I need a track which will get me in the mood before/after work or simply make you rule the moment, it was always Rabbit In The Headlights. As this was also the first time Wi-Fi betrayed us, I took out, as a hero of some eighties movie, my Walkman and played it from there.
Sonia Stein was another fresh discovery and the perfect contrast to early heavy rock tracks. I have chosen her not only because of the recent success of Sade, Melanie De Biasio or Markéta Irglová in the previous sessions. I might not have even build relationship to her other tracks yet, but her version of Foolish just blew my mind.
It’s actually crazy to imagine, during the whole session, there was a small girl present. One of the guests brought with him his little daughter and she was drawing the whole time. It’s quite unique to see she drew this under the influence of Zeal & Ardor or Mac Ayres.
Next session is planned for 19th of October.