Spellbinding Music is an independent blog based in Ireland curating contemporary, modern classical, ambient, roots, electronic, jazz and folk music…and everything in between since 2012.

Categorising music by “genres” has always been problematic and has become more or less meaningless in today’s musical landscape. Strict adherence to a specific genre in the 2020s now sounds predictable and formulaic.

1990s fusion – whereby a musician or a group fluent in a certain tradition would perform with another musician or group from a distinct tradition and try to find a common ground – was a first attempt at breaking down barriers.

Cue the 2000s with the emergence of file sharing, MySpace as a social network for musicians, YouTube and Spotify. In other words, any musician born from the late 1980s onwards has more or less enjoyed universal access to music in their formative years and no longer approaches or understands genres as separate categories.

A lot of the contemporary music featured on this blog has a wonderful creative flow that just requires the time and attention it deserves to be appreciated.

Photo credit:  © Nikolaj Lund used with permission.
The musician is Danish accordion player Bjarke Mogensen.

The problem with believing in genre categorisation is music becomes conceptualised as a ‘thing’ which houses ideas, an object existing within parameters of finitude. Our way, the way, is to see music as a vessel for the manifestation and nourishment of spirit and life energy” Shabaka Hutchings

Yet, established e-commerce and music streaming platforms still persist with rigid categories and vertical classification systems. Even a content management system like WordPress (on which this blog is hosted) forces categorisations to facilitate navigation. As a result, jazz, folk, modern classical, ambient, electronic etc. are used here as vague signposts, but always pointing towards a new, exciting and spine-tingling hybrid music.

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

Don’t know where to start with Spellbinding Music? Here’s a Top Twelve selected from the first ten years of the blog:

  • Birds on a Wire: Ramages

    Birds on a Wire: Ramages

    Sur la place où tout est tranquilleUne fille s’est mise à chanter On the square, where everything is quietA girl has started singing Jacques Brel Franco-American singer songwriter Rosemary Standley and Brazilian-born singer and cellist Dominique Pinto (aka Dom La Nena) released their enchanting self-titled…

  • Nadah El Shazly: Ahwar

    Nadah El Shazly: Ahwar

    Based in Cairo, Nadah El Shazly is a young multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer and electronic musician who debuted her singing career fronting a punk rock cover band. She has since collaborated with Egyptian artist Mohamed Shafiq as the Shorba Duo and started making a name for…

  • Murcof x Vanessa Wagner: Statea

    Murcof x Vanessa Wagner: Statea

    From Rennes in Brittany, Vanessa Wagner is a classically trained pianist who has recorded the piano repertoire of Franz Shubert, Robert Shuman, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin, Maurice Ravel among others as well as the music of contemporary French composer Pascal Dusapin. Born in…

  • Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvær: Nordub

    Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvær: Nordub

    Initiated in the summer of 2015 and featuring master musicians whose paths had never crossed before, Nordub is a mesmerising fusion project. Intersecting the steady Jamaican reggae and dub beats of Sly & Robbie with the Nordic electro jazz of trumpet player Nils Petter Molvær,…

  • Eithne Ní Uallacháin: Bilingua

    Eithne Ní Uallacháin: Bilingua

    Recorded more than 15 years ago but only released at the end of 2014 on the Gael Linn record label, “Bilingua” is an exquisite treasury of old verses and new songs performed by Irish traditional musician Eithne Ní Uallacháin (1957 – 1999), one of the true enchanting…

  • Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra: When the World was One

    Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra: When the World was One

    Recorded during the same session as the last two tracks of Matthew Halsall’s previous album Fletcher Moss Park (2012), When the World was One (June 2014) introduces seven new compositions featuring the Manchester-based composer, producer and DJ himself on trumpet and his “Gondwana Orchestra” –…

Please support the artists and musicians mentioned on Spellbinding Music by purchasing their music directly from their official websites or
from their respective Bandcamp pages.

[Revised and updated January 2024]