2012: A (somewhat delayed) year through music

One of the things I said I wanted to do in 2011 year was to listen to some new and different styles of music, and I thought it might be nice to share some of the fantastic tunes I discovered in 2012!

I made this list at the end of 2012, then was a bit overwhelmed by it’s depth – but I’ve got over it and here it is – my favourite tunes from… 2012.

I have intensely eclectic music tastes that change by the month, as can be witnessed on last.fm, and over the last year I’ve developed my taste for “Mashups”. For those to whom that means very little, a mashup is perhaps a little like a Medley – usually two or more songs being mixed together to produce a combination of more than one original thing. Usually this is done by a skilled “producer” – someone who takes the studio-released mixes of the song from the CD, and then reworks the songs together with audio editing software.

A good example of the genre at it’s best, this year might be this Mashup-Germany – I Did It My Way (Frank Sinatra / Simple Plan / Aerosmith + More)

One of the nice things about Mashup’s is that whilst sometimes they’re used to join similar songs together, it’s also a way of portraying a well known song in a different style – giving it new life to a different audience.

Skyrim is a popular video game with a varied and diverse, specifically composed, symphonic soundtrack. It’s got a great theme, but obviously symphonic music is hardly suitable for a club, and some attempts to make it clubworthy are quite enjoyable:

The Skyrim theme also been remixed with that of the Pirates of the Caribbean Series in a completely different, orchestral style, producing this Epic of Epics.

But it’d be wrong to assume that Mashups were all about contemporary music – Hughes de Courson’s Il Duello is a marvellous of Vivaldi and Irish Folk.

Whilst sometimes Mashups can be about taking a contemporary pop song, and making it actually enjoyable by playing in an electro-swing style as with The Puppini Sisters’ Crazy in Love (The Real Tuesday Weld REMIX):

Some musicians have really embodied the mashup style and done the full circle – Gotye did his own mashup of  random people on Youtube playing his own hit track Somebody That I Used To Know:

Pop/Dance

This year definitely had a Pop/Dance lean to it and another track, Avicii’s Levels become another popular song to combine with various things:

To make it into a frenetic Irish folk style with The Irish House Party.

For retro-giggles (with the Mario theme-tune)

To make it into more of a club track (With the Knocks)

With PSY and Skrillex to produce a hard-electro track “Level Style”

But I’ve also enjoyed other hard dance tracks – such as this Nick Thayer remix of Tonight Only – Go

Dubstep

Another style I’ve really started to get into this year has been pop-influenced Dubstep (sometimes referred to as “Brostep”). This is a style is very misunderstood, by those who don’t enjoy it – probably in the same way that the Sex Pistols must have been. If you’re not familiar with this, this is well worth a watch:

Something that probably was kicked off by this ca7 mashup of Skrillex vs Adele, which in my opinion, is probably better than the two original tracks:

Via a Kayaking video, I was introduced to Coyote Kisses’s wonder ‘Glitchstep’ style of Acid Wolfpack which is a fantastically awesome banging Glitchstep track.

I really like multi-layered tracks and Ben Moon is a 15 year old, super talented orchestral dubstep producer who had created several wonderful tunes recently. Sadly, in the New Year, Ben announced a hiatus from his music to focus on his studies. Sad news, but fair play and best of luck to him!

The Turning Point:

The Neoteric Empire:

Folk

But I always enjoy seeking out folk-mashups and King of the Fairies is a traditional folk tune that I vividly remember my parents playing, what better way to keep it alive than with Voltage’s Dubstep version? (Actually I think it could have been done better – the wubs shouldn’t just come right at the end).

(Someone also did improvise some electric violin over the top of it if you’re interested.)

But that wasn’t the only folk-dubstep track from this year, there was also this cracker from ap3haus.

Whilst barely scratching traditional definitions of folk, it stretches the definition no less than the previous tracks and Amanda Palmers’ Ukelele Anthem is really a tremendous song… about Ukelele’s.

House

Whilst I’ve been introduced to these more traditional house/bass tracks (Mosca – Bax (Numbers – NMBRS16))

I’ve also been introduced to the world of Swinghouse -a fusion of Swing and House music.

If you thought Ragtime could never Rock, then you never heard Scott Joplin’s Maple Rag set with a house beat:

This live act was fun to watch:

But there were also some banging tracks like this one from Chiloux (Diggy doo, I luv U (Original mix)) that I learnt about:

If they’ve all sounded a bit too hous-ish/in-your-face-electronic, then this set from Boost Music/Jimmy Day/Justin Langlands/Mike Potter may be just the remedy:

Rap

One of my favourite rap/metal songs was Jay-Z’s collaboration with Linkin Park and so what could be better than a remix that adds Eminem, 50 cent and other collaborators to that Numb/Encore track?

The Real Slim Shady this may not be, but this remix of 2pac vs Thomas the Tank Engine is probably one of the best Rap mashups I’ve heard:

Dan Bull, the legendary geek rapper’s touching song “Dream Girl” shows that actually, love songs can be conveyed in the form of a rap:

Chillout

Sometimes, you don’t want to party, you want to relax, and the Govinda remix of Thievery Corporation’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram is quite awesome:

If you wanted something downtempo, but a little less new age-y, then Monetrik’s On A Clear Day is great.

Back in the day I used to listen to Chiptunes (well, well after their day, but still some years ago!) and towards the end of the genre, I found some more intricate tracks taking advantage of the advances in tracker technology.

Estrayk & Evelred / Hive of guitars or “hive.mod” as I knew it for years, is a classic example of this – a funky upbeat chillout tracker.

Lounge and Smooth Jazz

I really like smooth jazz and some lounge jazz tracks and The Rippingtons’ track “She Likes to Watch” is quite brilliant:

Equally, Ronny Jordan – The Jackal is one of those tracks you just have to listen to to understand why people like it:

Scott Bradlee is probably one of the best contemporary pianists I’ve heard improvise on a range of popular tracks in a rather unique style in his Mashups By Candlelight:

Lastly, no listing of these style of tracks would be complete without a reference to Scott Bradlee and friend’s collaboration – “Friday – Niia Swings the Rebecca Black Songbook

Videos

I’m a massive fan of Emily Bristow’s track “Raindrop”. Sometimes listening to it with a great rainy backdrop can make it even better.

Symphony of Science is a great project – remixing and autotuning great science communicators with remarkable respect and intricacy to produce magical pieces of music. Our Biggest Challenge is no different.

If you’re familiar from Manchester, then you’ll be aware of a suburb called Didsbury… and you’ll love this local song – I think I’m in Didsbury

When you troll Comedians on Youtube… well, you should be careful, you might get patronised… or worse, turned into an catchy song: Thank You Hater! – by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay

Friends

A number of my friend’s make music and I was priviledged to help Dan Bull with his Facebook Rap / Sharing is Caring campaign – with this cracking video:

Also, a friend of mine, Joe Henthorn released this annoyingly catchy filk song all about StreetFighter: You Had Me at Hadouken!


If you read this far, well done! If you listened to every track to this point… well I don’t believe you did… but you probably have a really great taste in music now!

Thanks for stopping by!

How did my plans for 2012 work out?

I made some plans at the start of 2012 for the year ahead and whilst I managed to somewhat take the edge of this post by posting a “final quarter review” 3/4’s of the way through the year, a few things have changed since then.

Since then, I’ve done more blogging than ever, I’ve wanted to do more public speaking but not done so, I’ve listened to more music and my room has often been the tidiest I’ve known it in years.

I’ve bought almost everything on the internet, except foodstuffs, making things I don’t enjoy (shopping) less stressful.

In terms of eating healthier, by following my diet, I dropped from about 13 stone to 11 and a 1/2 stone.

Co-incidentally, or not, my general fitness has also increased – a highlight for me being a rapid, 5 Munro, winter walk round the Ben Lawers Horseshoe in Scotland, and also the surprise that I can apparently do pull ups!

2013 will bring new things, but that’s fodder for a different blog post methinks!

2012: A year in photos

This year, across 4 different Cameras, I’ve taken just over 20,000 photos.

That’s a lot of photos, and I thought it might be nice to share some of my favourite photos of 2012.

Borrodale from Catbells
Borrodale from Catbells
Approaching a summit, near Ben Lawers, Scotland
Approaching a summit, near Ben Lawers, Scotland
Winter Hiking, near Ben Lawers, Scotland
Winter Hiking, near Ben Lawers, Scotland
Approaching An Stuc, Scotland
Approaching An Stuc, Scotland
Climbing Eagle Crag, Lake District
Climbing Eagle Crag, Lake District
Borrodale, from Eagle Crag, Lake District
Borrodale, from Eagle Crag, Lake District
Ominus screen glare
Ominus screen glare
The Aurora, Northern Sweden
The Aurora, Northern Sweden
Abiskojaure, Northern Sweden
Abiskojaure, Northern Sweden
Reindeer, Northern Sweden
Reindeer, Northern Sweden
Sunset near Allejaurestugorna, Northern Sweden
Sunset near Allejaurestugorna, Northern Sweden
En-route from Unna Allakas, Northern Sweden
En-route from Unna Allakas, Northern Sweden
A puppy explores, near Brod, Kosovo
A puppy explores, near Brod, Kosovo
In the mountrains, Near Brod, Kosovo
In the mountrains, Near Brod, Kosovo
EMFCamp - first UK hacker camp, UK
EMFCamp - first UK hacker camp, UK
A family in Marrakech, Morocco
A family in Marrakech, Morocco
Toubkal basecamp by moonlight, Morocco
Toubkal basecamp by moonlight, Morocco
A Lizard, Morocco
A Lizard, Morocco
Koutoubia Mosque, Morocco
Koutoubia Mosque, Morocco
Looking out over a flooded Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia
Looking out over a flooded Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia
Observing the world, Bidian nam Bian, Glen Coe, Scotland
Observing the world, Bidian nam Bian, Glen Coe, Scotland
Stob Coire Sgreamhach, from The Lost Valley, Glen Coe, Scotland
Stob Coire Sgreamhach, from The Lost Valley, Glen Coe, Scotland
The Baltic Sea, Estonia
The Baltic Sea, Estonia
Crib Goch, a route up Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales
Crib Goch, a route up Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales

Taken on a camera phone, the following photo proves that it’s the subject, not an expensive camera, which makes the picture.

UK's most scenic train journey - from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
UK's most scenic train journey - from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
Looking out through the cloud, Glyders, Snowdonia, Wales
Looking out through the cloud, Glyders, Snowdonia, Wales
Grange and Derwent Water, Borrodale, from Catbells, Lake District, UK
Grange and Derwent Water, Borrodale, from Catbells, Lake District, UK
Helvellyn and Castycam, Lake District, UK
Helvellyn and Castycam, Lake District, UK
Silhouetted against the sky
Silhouetted against the sky
Grasmere,, Lake District, UK
Grasmere,, Lake District, UK

New Year plans: 2012 final quarter review.

At the end of 2011, I made some vague plans for 2012. Not resolutions. Nothing grandiose. But things that would probably be good ideas.

  • Do more offbeat, adventurous, unexpected, unusual things.
  • More travel. It largely doesn’t matter where, just more of it.
  • Find some new ways to take myself out of my depth

Ok. I’m doing that quite well. It can get difficult to find a way to escape the comfort zone, but I’m doing it.

  • Work out boring things in my life, and work out strange new ways to liven them up.
  • Example: work out a way to make shopping for boring things, fun

Yeah, I’m not sure there is a way to do this. Internet, can help. If only we had Zappos for clothes in the UK.

  • Do more pirate party politics
  • Stand in May council elections
  • Do more education-specific work
  • Develop public speaking skills

I’ve done the first few of those things, but I think I’ll be doing less of the politics. Right now it’s not what I want to do.

Education stuff. That’s a good question, but probably not going to be solved right now.

I do need to improve my public speaking skills, probably by finding something I want to talk about and talking about it, repeatedly. Practice practice practice!

  • Find some new things to parody and satirise.

I’ve not done any of this recently. Probably a good thing, I’d have probably got myself in trouble/created unwanted drama, if I’d properly done some ideas

  • Take small steps in lifestyle healthier directions
  • Perhaps start swimming again?
  • Learn to cook more adventurously

Boom. Doing this.

  • Blog more

Did this. I’ve blogged at least once a month, usually many times a month. In February I think I even tried to do a post a day. I actually have about 60 draft posts in various states of half-completion, blog posts are certainly a lot more frequent than they previously have been.

  • Maintain old friendships and keep in contact with old friends and family.

I think I’m doing ok at this, but if you think otherwise, give me a shout and let’s meet up. :)

  • Listen to some new styles of music

I’m getting into swinghouse, downtempo/chillout and smooth jazz as well as everything else I listen to.

  • Work out some more inspiring and interesting goals, because these ones are pretty much just “try to do more of the same”.

I thought up some. I need to think up or select some more at least.

Plans for 2012

At some point, I may get a chance to look back on 2011, weigh it up, work out whether it was largely good or bad. That sounds like a lot of hard work. It’s almost like a history essay.

Instead, I’m going to think about my plans for 2012; not “New Year’s Resolutions” just some vague goals on my own.

  • Do more offbeat, adventurous, unexpected, unusual things.
    • More travel. It largely doesn’t matter where, just more of it.
    • Find some new ways to take myself out of my depth
  • Work out boring things in my life, and work out strange new ways to liven them up.
    • Example: work out a way to make shopping for boring things, fun
  • Do more pirate party politics
      • Stand in May council elections
      • Do more education-specific work
      • Develop public speaking skills
  • Find some new things to parody and satirise.
  • Take small steps in lifestyle healthier directions
    • Perhaps start swimming again?
    • Learn to cook more adventurously
  • Blog more
  • Maintain old friendships and keep in contact with old friends and family.
  • Listen to some new styles of music
  • Work out some more inspiring and interesting goals, because these ones are pretty much just “try to do mo reof the same”.