Instant Replay: 042
Halloween is just around the corner, and whether your vibe is fun, elegant, or spooky, we have you covered with our favorite music this month! Hop in and enjoy some tunes that are just right for October.
Ensemble Musique Oblique, Laurence Cabel — Caplet: Conte Fantastique
Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death might hit a little too close to home these days given its pandemic theme, or maybe the past couple years have made it all the more frightening. André Caplet — best known as Debussy’s orchestrator — turns the classic story into a chilling chamber piece, complete with the Red Death knocking at the door. Listen to it late on Halloween night, and try not to have too many nightmares!
Masked Wolf — Astronaut in the Ocean
My kids have been listening to Australian rapper Masked Wolf non-stop the last few months — mainly the last track on his Astronomical album. I think they discovered that track — "Astronaut in the Ocean" — first on a Kidz Bop compilation, but they assure me they won't repeat the "s-word" heard a few times in the original. Don't tell mommy I let them listen to the real one, ok?
The Puppini Sisters — Spooky
This one is always on my Halloween playlists! I love the recording by Classics IV, but when I heard this arrangement, I was sold — such a catchy bass line, and I love how the Puppini Sisters jazzed it up. If you enjoy this arrangement, be sure to check out their versions of "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Wuthering Heights".
Skylark Vocal Ensemble — Vaughan Williams: Three Shakespeare Songs: No. 2, The Cloud-Capp'd Towers
One of my favorite discoveries over the years, thanks to the singular Chris Voss, is the discography of the Skylark Vocal Ensemble. I became addicted to the local ensemble’s 2018 performance of a work by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and their 2020 release, Once Upon a Time, proved to be the gem I had hoped for. Since it’s October, I offer a selection by the most October of composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Check out this nod to Shakespeare, especially if you’re meditating under an auburn cloud-capped sunset.
Big Thief — Red Moon
It’s that time of year again when the moon sometimes glows orange as it rises, and this song by Big Thief can’t help but come to my mind. Big Thief’s lead-vocalist Adrianne Lenker is an incredible lyricist, and here she offers up the simplicity and beauty of nature as an answer life’s difficult and existential moments.
Dropkick Murphys — Ten Times More
Woody Guthrie has a new album out, or rather the Dropkick Murphys have brought some of his unknown lyrics to life in collaboration with the Guthrie estate. It sounds like everything you'd expect from the guys whose gritty, catchy music is indispensable at Fenway Park, but the lyrics, with Guthrie's worker-focused idealism, somehow make tracks like Ten Times More a table-thumping anthem of optimism. The album has some more poignant tracks as well, but this is the one that sticks with me the most.
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood — Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C, 3. Gavotte I-II
A piece I've listened to WAY too often is the pair of Gavottes in Bach's 1st Orchestral Suite. It's one of those examples of Bach's ability to transform even the most modest settings into truly transcendent music. The content in the Trio section is particularly astonishing. He sets a pair of nesting/diving/dueling oboes against a bass line that variously expands and contracts the overall texture in a wonderfully dynamic way. Meanwhile, a "trumpet" fanfare played by violins and violas floats in and out, seemingly out-of-phase. The guy more or less sneezed genius.
Dan Laurin, Anna Paradiso, Mats Olofsson — Telemann: Recorder Sonata in C, I. Adagio - Allegro - Adagio - Allegro
Dan Laurin is a master recorder player and you cannot go wrong with any of his recordings, including this newest one. My car doesn't have a top to put down, but if it did, I'd crank up the volume on this new album and share the music with everyone I'd drive past as I went leaf-peeping this month.
The Oh Hellos — Danse Macabre
This might be my favorite version of Saint-Saëns's Danse Macabre of all time. It's spooky in a fun vintage way, like grainy animated skeletons should be dancing around to the beat whenever it plays. Put it on your Halloween playlist and turn it up loud.
Listen to our full playlist for October: