People nowadays don’t buy cars just because they want to get to their destinations. They buy cars depending on their tastes and preferences, or their wants and needs. For instance, while a single guy with a need for speed would want to purchase sports cars, a family man would choose a sedan or an SUV.
But the choices go beyond just the type of vehicle, as many customers would select a vehicle depending on the features included. For instance, the Ford F-150 is available with the so-called Max Recline Seats. These seats can lift the rear half of the bottom up to 3.5 inches as the seat reclines back, thereby allowing drivers to take a far more comfortable nap
For this year, the Toyota revealed the GR Corolla features the GR-Four All-Wheel-Drive system, which interestingly is the carmaker’s first sports AWD system in over two decades. With the twist of a dial, the GR Corolla can tweak its front/rear torque distribution to 60:40, 40:60 or 50:50.
Other carmakers unveiled cars with equally quirky and strange features. Perhaps, the BMW 7 Series has the strangest car feature that any carmaker introduced in 2022. After all, this feature – the panoramic BMW Theatre Screen — transforms the rear cabin of the luxury vehicle into a cinema on the go.
Strangely Huge For A Rear-Seat Screen Display
Vehicle screen displays are nothing new. Ever since digital infotainment systems became a norm in the 2010s, screen displays have become a vital part of them. At first, the screens were small, displaying only the most vital information that the user had accessed.
But as infotainment systems got more complex and complicated, there was a need for screens that could display more information at the same time. Of course, the driver should be able to view what’s on the screen clearly and legibly. Customers loved this innovation, and were clamoring for larger screens.
Thus, in the more recent years, carmakers are upping the game by introducing larger screen and even placing extra displays on the back of the seats to give passengers a viewing pleasure while on the go. For instance, the Cadillac Escalade features a 38-inch curved OLED display while Mercedes-Benz with its 56-inch Hyperscreen infotainment display. But while these screens are massive, they don’t provide a wholesome entertainment for those sitting on the rear.
Meanwhile, rear-seat screens aren’t now and have been in existence since the 1990s, these are usually small displays fastened on seatbacks or removable tablets. BMW, however, strangely veered away from its rivals and created a massive screen display solely for the theatrical benefit of rear passengers. While the cockpit of the newly unveiled 7 Series and i7 still has its own displays for the gauge cluster and infotainment display, the rear cabin has the BMW Theater Screen to enjoy.
RELATED: 2023 BMW i7 Will Feature A Huge Grille And A Movie-Theatre Screen
A Massive Display With 8K Resolution
The BMW Theater Screen is essentially an ultra-wide panorama display that measures 31.13 inches in diagonal. The screen spans a good portion of the car’s width and hangs from the headliner. BMW has the massive screen suspended overhead; folding it flat on the roof when not in use. A sophisticated rotary movement on two articulated rails at the sides effects the deployment of the screen, until it reaches the backrests of the front seats.
Interestingly, the BMW Theater Screen comes with a very high 8k display resolution (about 8000 × 2000 pixels per screen column) for extremely detailed visual experience when watching films or show in ultra HD quality. The screen can play or show contents in 16:9, 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratios using its zoom function. The Theater Screen, however, may crop the content while zoomed, or display thick black bars on the sides, simply because most films and shows aren’t available in 32:9 ratio.
A user can control the screens in various ways. To adjust the tilt of the display, one just has to use the control menu on the in-car entertainment system. The Theater Screen is essentially a touchscreen display that rear-seat viewers can use to adjust the modes, resolution, volume, and more. However, doing the adjustments on the massive from the seats seemed impractical, so BMW also integrated extra touchscreens on the door handles to serve as an additional control panel.
RELATED: These Are The Best Features Of The 2023 BMW 7 Series
My Mode Theater Transforms Cabin To A Cinema
BMW ensures that the rear passengers can get most of the viewing experience with various extras included in the My Mode Theater. For a more articulate viewing, the carmaker integrated a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System for a high-end sound experience.
Amazon Fire TV will provide the content and technology, allowing users to access various streaming services for watching movies and TV episodes and listening to music. The BMW 7 Series and new all-electric i7 sedan are the first vehicles with integrated Amazon Fire TV, which allows them to support content in 4K through their built-in 5G connection.
Once the passengers activate My Mode Theater, the BMW Theater Screen deploys and at the same time, the roller sun-blinds for the side windows, the rear window closes and the ambient lighting in the rear cabin dims. This sequence results in an immersive theatrical viewing experience.
So here they are, crowning this year’s 5:4 Best Albums list, the most imaginative, extraordinary and downright amazing releases of 2022.
15 | Nils Henrik Asheim – Salmenes Bok
Nils Henrik Asheim’s Salmenes Bok is a cycle for choir & organ exploring passages from 21 of the Biblical psalms. These are so arranged to create an overall structure of five sections, each of which concludes with an ‘Alleluia’ for organ solo. Each section taps into the psalms’ considerable emotional contrasts and weight, though Asheim’s approach is very far from familiar word-painting. A good example is the single line exhortation taken from Psalm 27 (“Hide not your face from me”), rendered not with desperation or earnestness but a kind of broken distraction, the words emerging as barely audible but united syllables, one at a time.
The relationship between choir and organ is fluid. At times the instrument seems to act like the deity itself, an active presence by turns engaging with and disinterested in the voices as they seek to praise, lament and beseech. Elsewhere it takes on something of the details and actions in the texts, such as gruff clusters in Psalm 74, describing the power of god, or more overtly in the Alleluia movements where the organ evokes trumpets, tambourines, dancing and cymbals. As always with Asheim, the music is a masterclass in unconventional invention, bringing the psalms alive in an entirely new way, one that vividly reveals powerful, relatable emotional truths in their ancient words. [CD / DL]
14 | Beyoncé – Renaissance
“You know all these songs sound good”, Beyoncé remarks at the start of opening track ‘I’m That Girl’, and she’s not wrong. That’s putting it mildly; in a 20-year solo career where the hype has invariably tended to be more dazzling than the actual music, Renaissance is a long-awaited testimony to what Beyoncé is really capable of. The words take centre stage – except they don’t, not always: throughout, Beyoncé is accompanied by a shifting chorus of herself and others lurking on either side, on the fringes, in the distance. They respond, echo, interject, vocalise, acting not only to expand the lyrics but to ramp up the drama and momentum. This is an integral element in what’s perhaps the most outstanding aspect of Renaissance, Beyoncé’s relentlessly inventive wordplay and linguistic acrobatics (perhaps nowhere better than in ‘Church Girl’) – to the extent that, in some cases, this is so impressive in and of itself that engaging with the words’ actual meaning comes later.
But this would mean little if it wasn’t clothed in equally striking accompaniments, and through its series of mostly segueing tracks this veers from tender lyricism to blunt force swagger. The way seemingly incongruous elements enhance one another is especially impressive, as in album highlight ‘Thique’ where Beyoncé’s sensual delivery is beautifully matched with growling, buzzy electronics, or the stylistic volte face in ‘Pure/Honey’ (redolent of Of Montreal), shifting sideways into an apparently new song some time before its actual bifurcation. Structural fluidity of this kind is endemic to Renaissance, an absurdly irresistible song cycle dripping with bravado, sexuality, tenderness and cheek. [CD / Vinyl / DL]
13 | Get Well Soon – Amen
The year’s most sophisticated, emotionally arresting pop album comes from Konstantin Gropper’s ever reliable Get Well Soon. The band’s name has never been more apposite: Amen engages with the challenges, woes and despondencies of life, appropriately so for an album during the pandemic. That perhaps seems at odds with Gropper’s penchant for bright, effulgent pop, yet there’s absolutely no wallowing allowed here; as a (possibly artificial) voice declares at the start of the album, “This is an intervention”. Amen’s grappling with life starts from within in the humorous opener ‘A Song for Myself’, where Gropper’s dry litany of self-pity is met with a gloriously impatient refrain, “Stop your whining! Stop your bitching!”. It’s a tone of irreverence that seeks to burst any and all bubbles of despair, reinforced in the New Order-inflected floor stomper ‘My Home is My Heart’: “Just be yourself and love yourself, that should do the trick / Except when you’re a prick”.
The love may be tough, but it’s real. ‘I Love Humans’ is a somewhat anthropological tribute to humanity’s hope in spite of their failings – its neutrality broken up with big band stings – while album highlight ‘One For Your Workout’ (faintly evoking Kenny Loggins’ ‘Footloose’) directly challenges self-hate in a kind of modernised take on Samuel Beckett: “Relax, erring and failing’s fine / Just fail your best next time”. Often, Gropper’s delivery, despite the speed of the music, is slow and measured, bringing seriousness and solemnity to the songs, and making ‘Richard, Jeff and Elon’ feel like a valediction. ‘Us vs Evil’ lets out some pent-up anger – “I call BS” – but Amen’s conclusion is emphatically positive, suffusing its message with cheerful optimism. [CD / Vinyl / DL]
12 | Éliane Radigue – Occam XXV
Radigue’s latest Occam excursion takes the form of a 45-minute meditation for organ, performed by Frédéric Blondy. At a first (and maybe a second and third) listen, Occam XXV seems to be all about its pitch core, slowly setting up octave doublings and near-unisons to create sympathetic resonances and slightly discordant shimmerings. Yet what seems to be just as important are the ostensibly peripheral sounds: glimpses of high tracery like far-off birds; hard-to-identify noises that suggest distant thunder; even the accidental appearance of a passing ambulance outside Unity Chapel seems to contribute something valuable to the work’s glacial metamorphosis.
Nonetheless, it’s the central harmonic evolution that proves consistently hypnotic, new tones becoming folded into the homogeneous whole – or, at least, seeming to do so; perhaps we just accept them as part of the texture once they’ve appeared. Radigue harnesses the fundamental idea of tension and release, here rendered like music in freefall, continually teetering back and forth in a floating equilibrium, neither one nor the other yet always both. Especially exciting are periods of separation when the sense of a coherent whole is splintered, becoming clarified into a collection of pulsating strata. As with all Radigue’s music, what one hears in Occam XXV is a mix of actual sound and illusory effects, both of which change completely with each new listen. [CD / DL]
11 | Stefan Węgłowski – PHASE_1_4
“‘PHASE_01’ presents the key elements: a slightly pitched noise band, repetitions of a single piano note (C), and various forms of granular activity. Depending on your perspective, ‘PHASE_02’ is either a continuation of the preceding phase or a second attempt to create music from essentially the same elements, now reordered. The piano begins, soon surrounded by similar noise bands, but the granular material is here expanded, sounding both more corporeal (and more obviously electronic) and, more importantly, with a sense of implied power. […] A cycling pattern of pitches emerges later, rotating and reverberating until everything subsides into granular buzz and soft rumble.
… in ‘PHASE_03’ Węgłowski expands the identity and potential of the work’s elements, most obviously in the way the piano suddenly introduces additional pitches into its slender palette, now hammered out with real force. Energy is increased across the board: the noise becomes channelled into something akin to a wind tunnel, and the granular elements begin to swirl around the stereo field, emitting Geiger counter-like clicks. ‘PHASE_04_EPILOGUE’ offers nothing in the way of a conventional resolution. […] It hangs in space as if for eternity, implacable, unchanging – except for a surge in its bass register that persists for a few minutes – until Węgłowski slowly allows the cushion of air to expand just a little, but enough to slowly absorb everything else.” [reviewed in September]
10 | Saajtak – For the Makers
There’s a stylistic tension at the heart of Saajtak’s first full-length release. Though its ten songs display many of the tropes and trappings of rock, they play out within an altogether more imaginative approach to form, structure and narrative. Album opener ‘Big Exit’ is a case in point, essentially harmonically static while vocalist Alex Koi sings through various episodes that don’t exactly correspond to any conventional notion of a “verse”. The band progresses forward in a halting and jerking series of spasms that only feeds into the heightened emotional mood. This ostensibly incongruous melding of flow and anti-flow recurs in most of the songs. In ‘Concertmate 680’ it’s the other way round, Koi’s voice feeling her way forward while a burbling electronic undercurrent keeps momentum going, while in ‘Oak Heart’ (a duet with tenor David Magumba) the vocals float more freely over gently pulsing murmurations.
Another recurring trait is to subvert the already loosely-defined constructs established earlier on, tilting the songs into even more foreign territory. ‘There’s a Leak in the Shielding’ – featuring a beautifully pristine delivery by Koi, by turns hovering above us or intimately close, practically whispering into our ear – breaks down in its latter half to become a floating collection of pearls and dirt. Final track ‘Mightier Mountains Have Crumbled’ does this even more dramatically, breaking apart its radiant soundworld into something unfathomable. For the Makers is not rock, not even art rock, but music with sufficient ambition of outlook and execution that ‘rock’ ends up being a half-forgotten memory of a place of origin long since left far behind. [CD / Vinyl / DL]
9 | Francisco López – Untitled #400
“The work comprises two movements, the first performed by [Reinier] van Houdt on the stringless piano, the second created by López as a “studio-evolved construction” using the sounds from the first movement. In movement 1, … there’s an interplay between regularity and some combination of irregularity, superimposition and convolution. […] The way this plays out … is fascinating, sounding as if van Houdt were caught in a struggle with the stringless piano, attempting to get the impacts organised again – or even, more intriguingly, as if it were all the product of a machine trying to restore metric sense to its chaotically glitching output.
The much longer … second movement develops the sounds and ideas from the first. Most obviously, the sonic palette is greatly expanded, the sounds of the piano processed so as to create new elements that evoke sustained pitch […]. This leads to an even greater ambiguity of texture, partly because the identity of certain elements isn’t always clear or apparent due to being heard in parallel with others while also undergoing evolution. […] Though capricious and unpredictable, there’s both logic and sense to the twin narratives heard in Untitled #400. As always with López, they’re narratives that are bound up entirely with the nature of the sounds themselves – what they want to do, where they want to go – but which are always coherent, and at their height, stunningly exciting.” [reviewed in November]
8 | Natasha Barrett – Heterotopia
Heterotopia brings together three works of Barrett’s from the last three years, all of them demonstrating her unique gift for constructing intricate soundscapes where notions of real and unreal are both rendered moot. The most gentle of the three is Urban Melt in Park Palais Meran, a work bookended by glimpses of table tennis, between which we move through a series of discrete episodes that serve as windows into various parallel worlds. Here, ostensibly raw real world recordings intimately intermingle with heavily processed sounds, leading to a marvellously liminal kind of (in)tangibility. Growth, a piece created during the pandemic, is a short but potent study in sculpted reality, Barrett becoming like a scientist in a lab formulating new species of solids, liquids and gases. These are then brought together to create aspirated impacts, vaporous wind streams, intense collisions and smeared pitch bands. Somehow there’s even the impression of temperature, with certain sounds appearing to ‘burn’ through textures of crosswinds.
The title work is an amazing, 24-minute odyssey drawing on Foucault’s conception of places that are in some particular way ‘other’. Fittingly, the piece plays out like a field recording made within a dream. Often, it’s like wearing a parabolic microphone, with every tilt or turn of the head resulting in profound shifts in aural perception. The piece testifies to the superb intuitive approach Barrett takes to sound materials, where impossible transitions, unexpected drop- and fade-outs, and a constant evocation of tactile and abstract sound objects all become pseudo-‘natural’ elements within her uniquely immersive hyperreal phantasmagoria. [Vinyl / DL]
7 | Shiva Feshareki – Turning World
“One of the aspects that lifts [Aetherworld] from being just another meditative drone piece are the occasions when the voices become more demonstrative, unleashing a variety of sounds and whooping cries that project an entirely different kind of energy. […] The continual flux of emphasis between the intensity of the singers, the persistent weight of the organ and the electronic sounds penetrating through both makes it a genuinely other-worldly experience, and a fitting tribute to Josquin’s strikingly hypnotic music.
The main work on the disc is Still Point by electronic pioneer Daphne Oram. […] As a mid-20th century work combining a double orchestra … with turntables as a means to manipulate sound in real-time, Still Point is radically innovative. […] the post-Romantic noodling into which the orchestra periodically lapses becomes akin to a protrusion into a modern context of something from history, reinforced by the turntables’ surface noise coating the music with vinyl crackle. […] The two start to merge completely, the music’s Romanticisms sounding even more as if they’re memories resurfacing from a long-last past, given a lush gloss due to their at times filmic character. […] Flawed it may be in some respects, yet Daphne Oram’s Still Point nonetheless remains a staggeringly ingenious experiment in the integration of acoustic and electronic sound sources, and it’s entirely fitting that its greatly belated first performance should be preserved in this excellent recording.” [reviewed in November]
6 | Auteyn – Vigiles
Auteyn is a new project from French composer / performer Benoît Lefèvre, attempting to find “unity in the diversity of his musical experiences”. The astonishing first product of that search is Vigiles, a five-movement work melding acoustic, vocal and electronic elements into a highly allusive, immersive soundworld. The introduction to this is ‘Conduit’, where a dark, heavily reverberant descending 3-note phrase – pregnant, noirish, possibly nightmarish – repeats like a foghorn on some black abyssal plane. Becoming more melodic, each gradual step forward is encrusted with grit and dust, touched by wisps of light, air and friction. This is extended in ‘Effraie’, where percussion strikes, scuffling noise, inscrutable rumble and various forms of hiss form the backdrop to something akin to an arcane act of spellcasting, filling the space with impossible, unfathomable, semi-imaginary shapes. They form a weird floating harmony, within which a dirty bass clarinet dances.
‘Vigiles’ introduces voices, finally providing a literal mouthpiece to the preceding, possibly preparatory actions. What they sing is impossible to make out but, interspersed with string passages, the tone is elevated, glowing with adoration, building to a shining climax. ‘Déserts’ switches attention to an organ, its steady, bright material accompanied by drones and other sympathetic pitch elements in a warm soup that undergoes a lovely rich swell, before dying back into mysterious scratching noise. The work’s conclusion, ‘Fanfare’, appears at first to be an act of simplicity, but its combination of harmonium and brass forms a rich tapestry of movement that, having appeared to end, looms massively, becoming like something ancient moving with majesty and gravitas, surrounded by a stunningly gorgeous corona of sheer coruscating ecstasy. [DL]
5 | Bekah Simms – Bestiaries
The three works featured on Canadian composer Bekah Simms’s second album find her both engaging with and beginning to move away from a clear use of existing musical materials. Foreverworld is an affectionate, somewhat abstract homage to metal music, reimagining and repurposing its attitude and tropes. It’s typified by an air of solemnity with an implied underlying aggression, articulating its energy in a lurching way that needs the backup of a bass drum to make real progress. The conclusion is an unexpectedly lovely blend of ethereal and atmospheric doomjazz.
Bestiary I & II utilises fragmented syllables and gestures from Joanna Newsom’s Ys as the catalyst for a bizarre menagerie. Populated by both real and imaginary creatures, singer Charlotte Mundy navigates her way forward with a never-ending avant-lyricality, while around her the environment continually shakes up and resettles, maintaining stability though with real intensity lurking below the surface. The highlight of the album is from Void, which takes its starting point from “an intentionally error-laden digital analysis” of Rebecca Saunders’ void. A work practically defined by its violent volatility, though disorienting and unsettling there’s always a sense of unity, articulated via a constantly shifting network of individual, sympathetic lines, behaviours and ideas. [CD / Vinyl / DL]
4 | LEYA – Eyeline
“… the tuning of Marilu Donovan’s harp is gloriously off-kilter, sounding not so much out of tune as tuned to an entirely individual system of notes that’s out of step with any known scale or mode. LEYA’s songs therefore occupy a realm outside conventional harmonic spaces. Sometimes tonality is strongly alluded to – opening track ‘DOG’, for example, is underpinned by a series of harp arpeggios that make the ear and the brain fizz at the almost-rightness of its triads – but often it’s simply an irrelevance, Donovan using the instrument as a vehicle for meandering exploration, glittering decoration or ponderous rumination. ‘Glass Jaw’ is arguably the most harmonically direct song, tilting between two chords while Markiewicz’s voice […] slowly progresses through a huge, shimmering halo of triadic light, his words seemingly causing optic ripples to radiate outwards.
[…] The fact that, in general, the range of elements is small and their behaviours are kept simple, plus the relatively short durations of each song (just a few minutes each) perhaps gives the superficial impression of Eyeline as a collection of rudimentary ideas or sketches. Yet they’re nothing of the kind, each one an intense, single-minded, fully-formed miniature act of expression that sits alongside the others like alternate approaches to urgently articulate the same thing, as unfathomable as it is overwhelming.” [reviewed in June]
3 | Congregation of Drones – Twenty Twenty
“An interesting aspect of Twenty Twenty is the relationship between Harris’ violin and Stiles’ electronics. The distinction between [them] is continually blurred and clarified, though it soon becomes clear that regarding the violin as soloistic, and / or the electronics as atmospheric, is a mistake. Both are both, or perhaps it’s truer to say both are neither: if anything characterises the duo’s relationship throughout Twenty Twenty it’s a consistent sense of sympathy and unity, where either component can come to the fore or retreat to the sidelines according to the organic whims of the music. […] That organic quality is what makes the album so engrossing and immersive. It’s the best kind of organic, not merely a music that ‘makes sense’ as it progresses but which allows for complete spontaneity – where, in spite of what’s gone before, we nonetheless have little to no idea what might happen next – yet where everything sounds just right.
The spontaneity and organic nature i’ve talked about combine to create an almost biologically-charged music, continually shifting shape, all the while retaining an ever more coherent and clearly-defined sonic palette. More importantly, though, is the simple fact that Twenty Twenty is absolutely stunning. The first thing i did after listening to it, was listen to it again, and then again. Barely a day has gone by since first contact when i haven’t revisited it to discover more of what’s going on in its amazingly intricate dronescapes, and every time the experience has been different, renewed; it’s as if the album didn’t definitively exist but were being reformed and recomposed on each new listen.” [reviewed in October]
2 | Rebecca Saunders – Skin
“Saunders’ music is typified by many things, one of the most obvious being struggle, effort, the determination to grapple, wrangle, articulate, and perhaps clarify. Fraser’s personification of Molly Bloom’s monologue [in Skin] is absolutely dazzling here, a locus of potential tangibility in the midst of a vast network of loosely but tangibly connected satellites. Surely one of Saunders’ most beautiful works, void is treated here to a low-key but hypnotic performance […]. i’ve noted before about the way the halting demeanour of the music becomes mysteriously continuous, and that’s again the case here, no doubt partly due to the behavioural similarities that permeate the primary ideas in the piece. All of which makes void‘s denouement all the more unsettlingly strange: first pitches become extended – a new element in this soundworld – then almost everything dissolves, leading to a hard-to-grasp final few minutes melding vestiges of that ghostly pulse with gorgeous, faint traces of shimmer. What’s been achieved? Are we anywhere different from where we began? Are such questions null and void?
Similar questions of negation and ‘anti-substance’ proliferate in Unbreathed, performed in this recording by the work’s dedicatees, Quatuor Diotima. […] In contrast to void, but similar to Skin, there’s a constant sense in Unbreathed that each and every action doesn’t just matter but is absolutely vital. The quartet contends around a single pitch, peppering it with swoops, slides, glistenings and tremolos, always – despite, again here, regular halting – giving the impression of a desperate tussling attempt. […]
Three baffling, brilliant, beautiful compositions by one of new music’s most fearlessly, effortlessly radical composers. Few albums can be described as essential, but this is absolutely one of them.” [reviewed in November]
1 | Bára Gísladóttir – VÍDDIR
There’s an experience unique to music festivals, that i’m sure i’ve remarked about in the past, whereby one feels an anxious mixture of disappointment, resignation and regret at not being able to attend every event, confident that one is definitely going to be missing the most outstanding concert of all. For the most part, i’ve been able to shake off that dubious belief over the years, but it’s come back with a vengeance the more time i’ve spent with Bára Gísladóttir’s VÍDDIR. It was performed at this year’s Dark Music Days in Iceland, and though i attended pretty much everything else, i wasn’t able to stick around during a mid-festival hiatus of a few days in order to catch this event. The fact that the performance was recorded and released does at least bring some comfort, but it’s abundantly clear that i missed not only the most remarkable music at the 2022 festival, but perhaps one of the most marvellous live performances i would ever have experienced. Disappointment, resignation, regret: check, check, check.
Putting all that aside, VÍDDIR is an astonishing musical creation. The more time i’ve spent with it, the more uncertain i’ve become about what exactly i’m listening to. Yet equally, the more time i’ve spent with it, the happier i’ve felt about that uncertainty. In my original in-depth exploration of the piece, i remarked about “a tilting between forms of vagueness and clarity, pressure and release, pitch and noise, though the tilting isn’t a simple oscillation but follows an altogether less predictable, more intuitive narrative.” It’s this fundamentally intuitive aspect of the piece which fuels the uncertainty, though even as i write those words they seem implausible due to the fact that VÍDDIR is a carefully structured, composed work – admittedly with lengthy periods of improvisation, yet intricately planned all the same. How it sounds so completely spontaneous is just one of many mysteries at the heart of the piece.
One of the characteristics of VÍDDIR that i like most of all is its willingness to bring together not just opposites but extreme opposites. The opening moments of the work give some indication of what’s to come, the choir of flutes articulating music that sounds like a hyperactive iteration of Jakob Ullmann, combining the solemnity of drone with intense buzzing and vibrating tones that soon transform into desperate screams. The outcome of this collision simultaneously evokes stillness, stability and timelessness as well as restlessness, volatility and a focus on the moment. At any point in the piece, the music is neither one nor the other but both at once, at times resulting in a profound sense of conflicted struggle, such as the close of the first section when the flutes move from a place of radiant beauty into uncomfortable wrangling. Gísladóttir extends this further in the timbral and behavioural palette she uses. Opulent elegance sits alongside earthy ugliness, the two usually interpenetrating each other; again, neither one nor the other, but both.
An area where my perception of VÍDDIR has changed – or, at least, developed – is in the relationship between the improvised sequences performed by Gísladóttir and Skúli Sverrisson on their respective (double and electric) basses, and everything else. It seems to me now that there’s another kind of opposite manifesting here, such that the bass improvisations are internalised, while the flute and percussion articulate a more externalised form of expression. This is partly a timbral consideration: the type of soundworld that Gísladóttir and Sverrisson create together is not merely immersive but almost hermetically-sealed. Listening to them together is like sitting inside a womb, enclosed on all sides in a warm environment subject to erratic swells and reposes, but where its fundamental character is familiar and predictable (even, in some respects, almost cyclical).
VÍDDIR thereby alternates its inscrutable act of expression between internal reflection and external declamation, each – depending on your perspective – potentially continuing where they left off when the other concludes (certainly, the way the flutes continue following the first improvisation section suggests picking up where they left off). Though the former are arguably more tangibly (if only allusively) connected to the worlds of melody and harmony, the latter offer greater openness and clarity due to the range of timbres if nothing else. This is reinforced by the fact that, whereas the bass improvisations bifurcate, Gísladóttir and Sverrisson at times semi-independently going their own way, the flute and percussion sequences are more behaviourally united, lending their music more transparency.
Yet while both the ‘external’ and ‘internal’ musics are often wildly, barely controllably dramatic, they’re nonetheless subject to another impressive aspect of VÍDDIR’s musical attitude, inasmuch as it isn’t always trying to grab our attention. This feeds into the work’s contemplative side, playing out – sometimes for minutes at a time – in a way that’s almost innocuous, seemingly oblivious to notions of ‘performance’ and ‘audience’. That only makes the work’s behaviour and purpose more elusive and intriguing.
Another kind of clarity that should be mentioned is that of the recording itself. The prospect of capturing this live performance must have been a daunting one, featuring spatialised performers in the large reverberant space of Reykjavík’s Hallgrímskirkja. VÍDDIR was conceived for precisely this kind of environment, though recording it in a way that makes clear sonic sense must have been one hell of a challenge. Yet not only is it a success, it manages to go a long way to recreating what it must have been like to have actually been there – and thereby reducing just a little of that lingering disappointment, resignation and regret.
Bára Gísladóttir’s compositional ideas thrive due to their continual blurring of concrete and abstract; we’re forever caught either between the two, or more often, in the midst of both of them simultaneously. VÍDDIR is not only an engrossing large-scale demonstration of this but, more significantly, a hugely bold and ambitious synthesis of her entire musical thinking, one that may prove to be a turning point, or the end of a chapter, time will tell. Whatever it is, or turns out to be, VÍDDIR is a unique, incredible experience, and without any doubt the best album of 2022. [DL]
On her sophomore album Hold the Girl, Rina Sawayama, the breakout British artist known for the mashup style of her 2020 debut—Y2K pop meets nu-metal meets ‘90s R&B—doubles down on her sonic signature. This time, she hones in on the sounds of early 2000s adult contemporary radio, updating them with stadium-sized drum fills and stomping club beats to tell the story of reparenting herself.
From the acrobatic “ay-ee-ay-ee-ay” choruses of “Catch Me in the Air” and “Forgiveness” to the acoustic country-pop sweetness of “Send My Love to John” and high-gloss sheen on piano power ballad closer “To Be Alive,” Hold the Girl creates a world of vintage pop songs for the emotionally literate millennial seeking to recapture the joy of music from a 2000s-era childhood with an adult perspective on the decade’s ills.
This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Rina Sawayama – Catch Me In The Air (Official Visualiser)
If 2021 saw the mainstream revival of pop-punk with albums from artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, then 2022 marked the glossy, glorious return of adult contemporary. That’s exactly the music I remember from my own childhood, sitting driver’s side in the very back bench seat of my mom’s ‘96 Town and Country, the voices of Sheryl Crow, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain belting the chorus again and again, building on it, vocal flourishes swooping out of the overdubs. This was deceptive music, its acoustic guitar and piano-driven pop the basis for strong voices to drive that feeling of venturing into new beginnings (“I’m going to tell everyone to lighten up”), second-guessing your good luck in love (“Baby, isn’t that the way that love’s supposed to be?”), or giving yourself over to it completely (“And for your love, I’d give my last breath”) to the fully saturated brink.
More From ELLE
Like the decade of romantic comedies that preceded it, the adult contemporary genre was home to music that excavated the feelings of women in all their seriousness, leaving melodrama to the straightforward feel-good-chasing Hot 100 pop hits, an ephemeral taste of emotion that lasts as long as a song, but doesn’t linger. Songs spun on adult contemporary radio were all about that leftover residue of feeling: women torn apart and incapable of letting it go—long past the point of anyone else caring—falling in love again with the shadow of the past creeping over their shoulders, or exploring the clarity of feeling that comes after personal disaster. Ultimately, it asks the question: Who am I now that I know I can survive this?
This year’s albums from a new vanguard of pop musicians—Sawayama, Maggie Rogers, and L.A. three-piece MUNA among them—offered similar answers about reclaiming their agency and freedom, using adult contemporary as the base of their sound and building on it with their own array of influences. Sawayama added the arena rock of the ’80s and the neo-futurist visions of early Max Martin; Rogers took the new wave lifeblood of New York and pushed herself into distorted territory ruled by men when she was growing up; MUNA kept the dark pulse of the nightclub from their earlier albums for an electronic and heartfelt effect.
All three acts are on the trajectory from arena-opener to big ticket billing, not merely supporting the likes of Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Kacey Musgraves, but filling those seats themselves in the next few years to come. Their albums are all the product of universe-mandated self-reflection stemming from the beginning of the pandemic, and in reaction to the whims of fame and success.
For Sawayama, that manifested as going back to her childhood and using the popular music of that time (and the country-pop of Shania Twain in particular) to relieve herself of old traumas, creating something she didn’t have growing up as a queer, Asian girl living under Section 28 in the U.K. The best example of that is the rollicking “This Hell,” but the whole resulting album—its power ballad beginning swept into a rave and industrial rock middle act, barreling straight back to stretched out, heartfelt pop—leaves you winded, like leaving a therapy appointment all cried out. “If I can heal someone around me or someone that I don’t know with the songs I write, and I’ve been given an opportunity to do so,” she told ELLE in June, “why wouldn’t I take it?”
For Rogers, weighed down under the intense pressure to deliver her debut and the non-stop years of touring that followed, holing up in Maine at the beginning of the pandemic was a chance to return to the root of her creative process, making music as a mode of being rather than in service to an industry that expected something from her.
The adult contemporary genre was home to music that excavated the feelings of women in all their seriousness
“I think that I came back to songwriting in a way that feels as vulnerable and intimate as it did in high school or college, when I was making songs just for myself,” she told ELLE.com earlier this year.
Surrender, her sophomore album released in July, is a full-throttle offering, pushing everything to the brink of feeling: her voice, untamable on the single-take recording of “Horses”; the production, its stretched contrasts between the slowed down, Vanessa Carleton-esque opener “Overdrive” and new wave frenzy of “Shatter”; and its sentiments, self-possessed on “That’s Where I Am” and unselfconsciously optimistic on the acoustic slow burn “Begging for Rain” and closer “Different Kind of World.”
Rogers made the sort of album she wanted to hear live in a period without shows, but also maybe one that creates a vision of her future as a more centered person, confident in her place in the music industry. “I think that’s so much of what creativity is, right?” she told ELLE.com in July. “You create the world you want to see, and these acts of imagination inevitably become super hopeful.”
This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Maggie Rogers – Horses (Official Video)
For MUNA, their third, self-titled album was the result of a professional shake-up, an unexpected exit from major label RCA at the beginning of 2020 that sent Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson back to the drawing board and wondering what it would sound like to make music as if they were “a huge dyke boy band.”
“I really love the idea of reimagining our childhoods, but casting ourselves as the cultural icons that we wish we could have had,” Gavin, the group’s lead singer, says over Zoom in December.
“It would truly have meant the world to me as a 12-year-old, 13-year-old to see a band like us,” McPherson told ELLE.com back in June.
“The record that we made sounds like an early 2000s record, but it’s a lot more explicitly queer than an early 2000s record would be able to be.”
It led to a certain amount of joyful irony when MUNA dressed up as Lindsay Lohan’s band Pink Slip from the movie Freaky Friday for their tour-ending hometown shows at the end of October. For a person like me who started forming memories and seeking out my own musical interests at the turn of the century, it seemed like the only bands without any cis men in them (and where the members played instruments, unlike pop girl groups like Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child) were fictional, like Pink Slip or Josie and the Pussycats. Doubtlessly, that era was more defeating for McPherson, who is nonbinary. But even Maskin, who recalls going to see the band Heart perform while growing up, says there was something reductive and tokenizing about the way the rock band was talked about at the time. She notices the oversimplifications about MUNA are akin to that too.
“It couldn’t be just like a woman who’s performing rock music, it’s like ‘Heart was like the girl band,’ of that time,” she says. “I feel like there’s always some sort of token girl band … and Heart was so sexualized.”
Naomi McPherson, Katie Gavin, and Josette Maskin of MUNA.
Gavin expresses similar unease about what she internalized about the music industry and her chances of succeeding in it when growing up.
“I was so sure that the keys to the kingdom were held by powerful men, and they were only given to the women that they wanted to fuck,” she says.
Let’s be clear: MUNA are fuckable. But the kinds of people losing their minds over the band’s chemistry on stage are probably not the same kind of people who could make or break artists’ careers in the 2000s based on their desirability to cis male record execs. These days MUNA are under the wing of fellow queer musician Phoebe Bridgers and her label, Saddest Factory, and they’ve made a record of gleaming pop music without forsaking emotional intimacy, the lyrical lived experience of queer existence, or shedding their more adventurous electronic impulses. On their self-titled album released this summer, the wind-in-your-hair rush of “Silk Chiffon,” an ode to letting yourself fall in love with a girl that sounds destined for a 2000s teen rom-com (and ended up in one this year), can sit right alongside the full-throated “What I Want” and the downtempo, country-pop ballad “Kind of Girl.”
This content is imported from youTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
MUNA – Kind Of Girl (Official Video)
“There’s something kind of beautiful about revisiting the sounds of our elders and trying to honor that legacy by struggling to be as full of the versions of ourselves [as possible],” Gavin says. “The record that we made sounds like an early 2000s record, but it’s a lot more explicitly queer than an early 2000s record would be able to be.”
Rina Sawayama, Maggie Rogers, MUNA, and so many other artists who might have felt excluded by the 2000s’ essentialism in gender and sexuality have grown up to make great music this year—music that builds on the adult contemporary tradition of acoustic guitar and piano music that was popular at a time when attitudes were quite different. iLe examined the sociopolitical landscape of the world and her place in it as a Puerto Rican woman on the Cubist self-portrait Nacarile; the U.K.’s Connie Constance dissected the power dynamics of interpersonal relationships as a Black woman on Miss Power; SZA took an acoustic turn on SOS. to get realer than ever about insecurities and unflattering romantic impulses.
Outside of the music world, early aughts nostalgia began to filter into the mainstream this year, with young audiences on TikTok excited about the aesthetics of mini-skirts and low-rise jeans while glossing over how those styles were born in an era that emphasized impossible beauty standards around thinness and whiteness and femininity. Growing up in the 2000s? That decade was pure brain poison. But if we can resist an oversimplification of the past, if we can deconstruct it and build it anew in ways that better serve our adult selves as Rina Sawayama, Maggie Rogers, and MUNA did in 2022, then vintage sound can be fertile soil to plant a garden in.
Cyrena Touros is a critic and reporter who writes about music, culture, and digital society.
Long before Trace Adkins ever sold 10 million albums, he was a new name just trying to get started in Nashville.
His first big hit, “There’s A Girl In Texas,” wasn’t entirely a true story for Adkins, but he did leave the Lone Star State and its honkytonks in 1992 to pursue his music full time:
“In 1992 I moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I’d been living in Dallas, playing honkytonks out there in Texas. Fast forward to 1994, and I’m trying to get a record deal with Capitol Records.
The guy says, ‘Is there a girl in Texas?’ I said, ‘Hell yeah there’s a girl in Texas. There’s a bunch of girls!’ He said, ‘Write me a song about it.’”
And Trace did exactly that, writing the skeleton of what would become his first big hit.
For Trace, the reality of his music pursuit is a little different than the one portrayed in his song. His move to Nashville was largely due to his second wife who wanted to move farther away from his first wife.
She suggested Nashville as a kickstart to Trace, and although their marriage was highly controversial, the rest of his music journey is history.
“There’s a Girl in Texas” peaked at number 20, but it is easily one of his better singles. The song finds the narrator leaving Texas and, in many ways, his old identity behind him, knowing that the only person that might ever know him sincerely is the girl he left in Texas.
The video for the song became a big hit on CMT which helped launch his career into another tier of success.
It’s a good old fashioned, dream chasin’ heartbreaker, and it’s Trace Adkins, so you know it’s a hit even before you hear it. It was songs like this one and “Every Light In The House Is On,” his follow up single, that really helped to establish Trace as a country star in the making.
And the video footage even features a young Trace in his signature cowboy hat and ponytail look.
Of course, this was well before he went off the rails with songs like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Swing.”
For Bollywood, a film industry built on the foundation of great music riding on the airwaves in people’s living rooms, life fell through the cracks due to a bunch of reasons as movies with big stars failed to make a mark. A significant reason that plunged things into darkness was lack of anyone being able to compose and carry a basic tune. How we wished for a usual from the high-pitched Rahat Fateh Ali Khan!
While Kesariya’s earwormy quality at the back of Alia Bhatt-Ranbir Kapoor romance made some splash, the issue went beyond the term ‘love storiyaan’ and stopped at – can this one even remotely manage to stand the test of time? In fact, it’s already out of circulation. While the quality of music brought out by music companies plummeted to a new low with constant horrors delivered by Tanishk Bagchi by remixing old songs in slick packaging, even the established composers lacked fresh ideas. The two songs from Pathaan by Vishal-Sheykhar were an absolute disappointment. But there was some ray of hope from independent artistes, from across the border and one filmmaker who had it all figured out.
Pasoori, Coke Studio Pakistan
“I really hope that this song is able to cross borders, boundaries and binaries,” said musician and writer Ali Sethi in a ‘making video’ accompanying Pasoori, this year’s only song that mattered. Sethi’s hope was heard by the powers that be as the piece received overwhelming love from every corner of the world. A rock solid tune, brilliant lyrics and a sturdy hook from across the border, it spoke of estranged lovers and forces that kept them apart (an interesting metaphor for the two countries who eventually loved it the most). Pasoori, meaning difficult mess, topped the global charts, finding genuine affection and fandom around the world that mouthed its Punjabi lyrics. It was significant in giving Pakistan a massive boost on the pop playing field.
Muskuraahat, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s most underrated masterstroke in Alia Bhatt starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi. Sung by Arijit Singh, Bhansali got him to gently stroke the lowest of the low and highest of the high notes on the spectrum in a ghazalnuma piece in the sorrowful raag Madhuvanti. Lines such as Gham ko bhi itni khushi do, wo muskuraane lage from Bhansali’s go to lyricist AM Turaz were memorable. The piece may not even be a marquee favourite for the crowds, but musically, it was a gorgeous moment from Bhansali.
Jab saiyaan, Gangubai Kathiawadi
The gorgeous harmonium prelude merging into a sarangi piece and a cascading guitar is an attempt by Bhansali to take you back to the old kothas of a world that exists very differently even in his film. But the attempt delivers the lifeblood that’s needed to project his story. Shreya Ghoshal eases into this thumri-esque piece in the joyful Pilu to deliver one of the finest film songs of the year.
Aise kyun, Mismatched
Used in the web series Mismatched, Aise kyun, which was earlier sung by composer Anurag Saikia and Nikhita Gandhi, found a new lease of life the moment playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj touched it. Saikia got her into a studio and had her sing it like a ghazal and voila, the freshness was immersive. The gentle and tender poetry by Raj Shekhar with lines such as Sab kuch kehkar hi sabko bataana, zaruri hai kya, a reminder of that first instance of falling in love, took one into a space where one wanted to dig deeper. A surprise winner this year.
Alaikadal, Ponniyin Selvan 1
From the prelude which is a metered alaap, the scale temperings, the violin interludes, soaring synths, and edgy percussion, the tender melody – a reminder of Tamil music from the ’50s – is sung brilliantly by debutante Anatra Nandy and sticks. An enchanting piece from AR Rahman after a long time that was featured in Mani Ratnam’s popular film of the year.
Ghode pe sawar, Qala
Ghode pe sawar (Qala) is likely to have been a very tough composition to create because composer Amit Trivedi was supposed to place it in the golden era of Hindi film music. Amitabh Bhattacharya and Trivedi keep it on point with this simple, straight piece which tried to attempt an OP Nayyar-meets-SD Burman style. Sung as simply by Sireesha Bhagavatula, the song only makes it here for the beautiful way in which it manages to stick to the brief of the film and manages to be endearing in the same vain.
In this piece what stands out, much more than Trivedi’s tune or how the singers sing it, are Varun Grover’s arresting lyrics and song’s wonderful arrangement. It’s been a while since a fine line such as Bikharne ka mujhko shauq hai zara, sametega mujhko tu bata zara (I have a fondness for breaking apart, Tell me, will you come gather me) made it to a Hindi film. It’s mischievous, charming and profound in the same breath.
The Elephant’s Funeral, Home
It was the death of a pregnant elephant after being fed a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers in Malappuram, Kerala, that left Singapore-based Carnatic vocalist Sushma Soma devastated. As Soma grieved, she decided to turn her lament into The Elephant’s Funeral, a song that borrows from the Tamil tradition of mourning where crying is accompanied by ‘celebratory’ sounding percussion. In the sorrowful Mukhari, she sang the pain of death, her voice cracking as she wailed in one of the finest albums of the year.
Bai ga, Chandramukhi
A compelling Marathi composition from Ajay-Atul, the piece may not have found much attention beyond Marathi-speaking audience, but it’s one of the finest pieces to have been created for a film this year. The beginning of the piece in raag Paraj is a reminder of Kaahe chhed mohe from Devdas, but this one is opposite in execution. It’s intricate, demure and so watertight as a composition just as most of the work from Ajay-Atul usually is. The young Aarya Ambekar’s piercingly beautiful delivery will float in the memory for long
Amid her numerous concerts all over the country and promoting her documentary, singer Sona Mohapatra sang an Odiya love song as an ode to the balance in nature. Mohapatra picked an old tribal Sambalpuri folk and composer Ram Sampath paired it with the guitars and Afro dance sounds. Full marks to Mohapatra for bringing an Odiya folk to the fore amid the humdrum of the usual numbers and the story of Rawjaw, an Odiya festival that’s celebrated by not ploughing the earth for three days that it bleeds, a symbol of fertility.
Sung with an exceedingly vigorous intensity which shall tremble through the windows like a fresh breeze of vibrance, The Phantom Friends return with a wall-breaking experience for many to learn from on Can’t You See.
The Phantom Friends is a Charlotte, USA-based indie synth rock band who formulates those stadium-like soundtracks to jump around with.
”Is about getting through to the people you love or getting through to yourself when you know there are frivolous things in the way of your happiness. It’s about clearing out the negativity in your life and saying the things that are not always easy to say.” ~ The Phantom Friends
Laden with a bone-shaking edge and brimming with a confident aura to surpass all expectations, The Phantom Friends slide in our ears with excellent aplomb and shall help all lost hearts heal up again.
Can’t You See from Charlotte, USA-based indie synth rock band The Phantom Friends is a flourishingly energetic single to wash those self-doubts away with. Performed with a rather incredible velocity and belted out like a classic 90s track, this is a gem to play on repeat when a new door needs to open.
When you realize what you need to do in order to be happy, everything changes.
Tune in on Spotify. See more on the IG music page.
HC orders filing of chargesheet against EDM organisers
PANJIM: The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Friday directed that necessary chargesheet be filed as per the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act against the organisers of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival at Vagator before the concerned Magistrate.
The Court has also asked Member Secretary of Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to commence the process of prosecution of the concerned persons in charge of the festival.
While hearing public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition filed by Ramesh Sinary, the Court gave interim directions. It asked the GSPCB, North Goa Collector and the concerned Deputy Collector, Mapusa Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) and the Anjuna Police to maintain strict vigil at the concerned site to ensure that under no circumstances would music be played on Friday from 3.30 pm to 10 pm at levels above 55 dB(A) Leq and that no music is played after 10 pm.
The Court further asked the GSPCB to ensure that its decibel meter devices to record the ambient noise level at the site shall collect data on real time basis from 3.30 pm to beyond 10 pm and to download such data and print and place it before the Court along with its affidavit on January 3, 2023.
The Court asked the GSPCB and the police to ensure that the EDM event organisers provide a display board to record noise level at the venue, prior to the commencement of the event at 3.30 pm on Friday and if they fail to do so then shut down the event.
The petitioner had contended that EDM is played continuously in open air within a residential area at a decibel level higher than 55 dB(A)Leq, which is in violation of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act and the Air Act, making the organisers liable for prosecution under the penal provisions of these Acts. The GSPCB which was collecting data of the noise levels at the site since starting of the festival on December 28, told the court that from its data the noise levels had crossed the threshold of 55 dB(A)Leq.
Though the three-day event ended on Friday, the Court has asked the EDM organisers to file an affidavit disclosing the names of all its Directors as they stand in the record of the Company as on December 5, 2022 till date and the names of the Directors and persons in charge of the event. The matter has now been posted for next hearing on January 3.
NEW YORK — Sonya Yoncheva, a soprano at the top of her profession, worries about classical music.
“My son, if I ask him, he always says, ‘I want to be like Ronaldo.’ And later, if I ask my girl, she will say, ‘I want to be Lady Gaga and Beyoncé,’” the Bulgarian singer explained ahead of Saturday’s new production premiere of Giordano’s “Fedora” at the Metropolitan Opera. “They really don’t associate with the classical music artists. Times are changing.”
In a bid to shape projects and bolster opera’s audience, Yoncheva is launching her own record label.
A Sony Classical artist since 2013, Yoncheva is releasing “The Courtesan” on her own SY11 Productions label, recorded with conductor Marco Armiliato, tenor Charles Castronovo and Italy’s Orchestra dell’Opera Carlo Felice Genova. It will launch on Amazon on Feb. 9.
In a time of dwindling classical sales and releases, she was able to choose the selections and even the cover photo, matters subject to a collaboration on Sony recordings.
“I never really had the chance to guide my project from first step to the last step,” she said. “They were always a very good team with me, but I never felt free.”
In the first close-to-normal season since the pandemic’s onset, Yoncheva sings a revival of Bellini’s “Norma” at the Met starting Feb. 28, then has role debuts as Maddalena di Coigny in Giordano’s “Andrea Chénier” at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala on May 3 and Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at the Vienna State Opera on June 23.
“She is one of our most important artists,” Met general manager Peter Gelb said. “She’s a wonderful actress and a great singer. She is the kind of the artist that the Met needs more than ever these days as we try to make opera more appealing to a broader audience. It’s extremely challenging because the core opera audience is much smaller than it once was.”
Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on Christmas Day 1981, Yoncheva attended William Christie’s “Jardin des Voix” in 2007 and moved to Switzerland to enroll at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève.
“I wanted to come to the States, but I never managed to have a scholarship,” she said. “At the time, a salary of a normal Bulgarian person was $60 per month, so when you compare this to what has to be paid in a university in the States, it’s just insanely expensive, so for this reason I had to chose Europe. Someone gave me a little envelope with the name of the high school in Geneva, and this person told me ‘You should go there,’ and I said OK.”
In 2010, she became the first woman to win Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition, and she went on to debuts at the Met and Royal Opera (2013), Vienna State Opera (2014), Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and Paris (2017).
Yoncheva starred in Claus Guth’s 2017 Paris production of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” infamously relocated to a space shuttle.
“This was such a nightmare,” she said, laughing, “but many people are still talking about it.”
She has become more discerning with directors.
“Maybe they will have a concept, OK, but I want them to believe in that and to be honest with it and to explain to me why,” she said. “I must believe in it, and sometimes what is happening is that themselves, they don’t believe it and then they do it to provoke.”
David McVicar is directing “Fedora” in his 13th Met production — a future staging of Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda” is planned — in a fairly traditional mounting. Yoncheva made her role debut at La Scala on Oct. 15 in a modern-dress production directed by Mario Martone, and she worried about being heard.
“The stage director decided to leave the whole stage empty. Me and Roberto Alagna, we were struggling the whole night to find the Punto Callas, Punto Caballé, Punto Tebaldi, Punto I don’t know whom,” Yoncheva said, referring to the so-called preferred stage spots of Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé and Renata Tebaldi decades earlier.
“I finished the production and I said ‘Oh, my God! What am I going to do at the Met?’ because the Met is maybe three times bigger than La Scala,” Yoncheva said. “I immediately called David, I said, ‘Please tell me there are some walls.’ And he said yes. He showed me pictures, and I was reassured.”
Her male lead at the Met is tenor Piotr Beczala. They have worked together for a decade.
“Our voices our pretty similar,” Beczala said. “I am coming from the lyric corner and she’s coming from the lyric corner, arriving now for a little more spinto repertory.”
While the Met dropped plans to present Yoncheva in John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles” and “Madama Butterfly,” she has committed to a new production of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball)” and revivals of Tchaikovsky’s “Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades)” and Cherubini’s “Medea” in Italian.
She lives outside Geneva with her husband, conductor Domingo Hindoyan, whom she met in school. They are kept busy by 8-year-old son Mateo and 3-year-old daughter Sofia, with the entire family traveling to New York for her extended stay.
Yoncheva’s daughter looks at her career somewhat differently than the opera audience.
“I ask her what daddy does and she starts to conduct,” Yoncheva said. “And then I ask her what mommy does, and she says, ‘Oh, mommy, she’s Elsa from ‘Frozen’’ — because I’m dressed like a princess and I sing.”
I can’t believe 2022 is about to be behind us. Man, that year flew fast. Well, we ended with one of the biggest hauls we have ever had here at 2 Loud 2 Old Music. There are 38 albums purchased or gifted this month alone!! That is insane. Several of these purchases will be part of the new Review Series coming in 2023 after the Scorpions are done of course. Thanks for stopping by each and every day, week or month and I hope you all had a wonderful year. And I hope next year is even better for you. Let’s get started on a review of the December 2022 Vinyl & Cds…
First up is another Kiss record. I bought the 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Box Set but that doesn’t come with a vinyl. The 3-LP Deluxe Edition has such a pretty blue color vinyl, I had to have it as well. I didn’t make it in time for last months post as it should have but at least I have it now…
Then I picked up the new 4 CD Deluxe Edition 20th Anniversary Box Set of Robbie William’s debut solo album ‘Life Thru A Lens’. It has a remastered album, 2 bonus discs of rarities and a live show…Just perfect!!
There was a deluxe edition released of Halestorm’s latest album, ‘Back from the Dead’, which has 18 tracks…that is a lot!!
Then it is on to some Needtobreathe releases. First is the Insiders’ Club Only release of the Best of The Insiders, Vol. 1. They first sent out the CD which is below. The album will come out in March and they will send me it at that time…I like rare, limited edition releases…
Then came a vinyl I have been waiting 22 months to get. I pre-ordered it in January 2021 and the show was going to be March 2021 with the vinyl to come out later for that show. With delay after delay after delay, the album arrived at the end of November 2022 (after I had completed the November Purchases post). Needtobreathe kept us informed the whole time and gave us a postcard and a patch as a gift for the long delay. The patch is cool, I’ll give them that, but autographed copies would’ve been cool!!
Now it is on to a purchase that helped me decide my next series. I was still missing 6 vinyl albums from Bon Jovi and/or Jon Bon Jovi and to buy three of them individually it was almost the price of the box set, so I bought the box set. Some of my duplicates I’ll trade in at my local store to pick up something nice. The set is 17 studio albums plus a bonus LP of B-Sides and other tracks. It is the Bon Jovi Albums Box Set…
And because this came out prior to the release of their album 2020, I went ahead and bought it too even though I’m not a massive fan of it, I need it to complete the set…
And then I got to thinking, I need to get the Jon Bongiovi Power Station songs as that would be perfect to kick it off. While looking for it, I found the Deluxe Edition to New Jersey with a demos disc and a DVD with a documentary and music videos…
And then for Christmas, I picked up a few things. First is the new book by AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson…Can’t wait to dive in to that one…
I really like those Rock Candy Re-Issues as I’ve picked up a few lately so I gave my daughter a selection of those as options for Christmas and she got me two great ones…
And lastly, the very first album on vinyl I ever bought was from a TV Commercial back years and years ago. It was the Greatest Hits for The Monkees. I found a box set online and told my wife that if she wanted, that would be a great gift as it is 9 studio albums plus a bonus LP of various single edits and stuff…
And that is all. Well, there are 5 purchases I have made from Europe and Canada that did not arrive in time for this post, so we know we have at least 5 items for January so far. Here is everything I got in December 2022! Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!!