Spellbinding Music is a blog which curates contemporary, modern classical, world, jazz and folk music…and everything in between. With so much good music being released nowadays, it is impossible to keep track of everything. Mainstream media outlets don’t always give contemporary music the exposure it deserves with the result that a lot of first-rate contemporary music often finds itself “drowned in a sea of irrelevance” to quote American author and critic Neil Postman.
Established e-commerce and music streaming platforms also persist with rigid categories and vertical classification systems whose automated recommendations based on statistical data are at odds with contemporary musicians’ artistic vision.
Focusing mainly on independent releases, Spellbinding Music operates as a human-generated recommendation engine and instinctively follows two simple threads: it seeks genre-bending and spine-tingling music.
Treading outside well-worn paths is often necessary to devise new music. Spellbinding Music is naturally drawn towards acts that tend to blur the lines between established “genres”.
Musicians like to think laterally, and so does Spellbinding Music. Discrete posts on the blog will serendipitously carry away listeners from Yann Tiersen to Fox Capture Plan, from Oum to The Gloaming, from Oded Tzur to Julien Marchal, from Lubomyr Melnyk to Arve Henriksen or from Erik Satie to Eithne Ní Uallacháin.
The creative instincts of a growing number of artists are often guided by the instruments they play – ancient, modern, acoustic and electronic – and how they play them, thus transcending genres too and breaking new ground.
Spellbinding Music listens out for ambitious instrumental or orchestral combinations:
Anouar Brahem’s oud; Leyla McCalla’s cello; Joanna Newsom’s harp; Christine Ott’s Ondes Martenot; Gustavo Santaolalla’s charango, Portico Quartet’s hang drum, Rhiannon Gidden’s replica 19th century banjo etc. Or the piano, a much loved instrument on this blog. There are so many modern classical pianists active today, yet, all manage to put their own individual stamp on a unique sound.
Such hybrid fusions and experiments tend to stimulate boundless creativity and visionary inventiveness.
Listen to Ensemble Ériu blending concertina with marimba, classically-trained Max Richter or multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens adding new colours to their orchestral palette with electronics, Catrin Finch’s harp playing alongside Seckou Keita’s kora, a mediaeval choir collaborating with a contemporary trumpet player or Jon Hassell introducing Fourth World Music in the 1980s.
When bands and musicians cross boundaries or venture into novel vocal or instrumental territories, magic often happens. This is the moment when a tune or a song will move us in such a way that it will stop us in our tracks, send shivers up our spine or give us goose bumps.
When music becomes spellbinding.
My only metronome is the skin of my arms, it is whether you give me the shivers or not… Ariane Mnouchkine – (Le Monde – May 3rd 2014)
Spellbinding Music is designed, researched, written and edited by Guillaume Janssen.
Please support the artists and musicians mentioned on Spellbinding Music by purchasing their music directly from their official websites, from their respective Bandcamp page or from Amazon.
[Revised and updated May 2018]