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🔀 Shuffle Sundays #71 • A guest post by Fog Chaser, featuring Ólafur Arnalds, Slow Meadow, Sun Rain, Graham Francoise, & more.
📣 » Hey there! As I mentioned last week, I’m taking a break from the usual schedule for a couple of weeks, so until I’m back with a regular Sunday post next month, I wanted to leave you with something a bit different. For today’s issue, I bring you fellow Substack writer and musician Fog Chaser as a guest with his own personal recommendations to you. He writes one of the most interesting music newsletters you’ll find out there, sharing a new original instrumental song every month — among other things — so make sure to subscribe if you enjoy what you see around here today!
Matt from Fog Chaser here — very honored to take the reins of one of my favorite newsletters this week. Thanks to Leo for having me fill in while he’s off galavanting around the country.
The selections this week include a collection of neoclassical and ambient instrumental songs that not only inspire my own original music compositions as Fog Chaser but also help me focus and get into a flow for my own writing and work on a daily basis — I hope these songs and artists can do the same for you.
💽 » re:member, by Ólafur Arnalds
neoclassical, ambient, electronic • 12 songs • 47 minutes
You could spend hours poring over the enormous catalog of Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and producer Ólafur Arnalds — including his many collaborations with some of today’s most acclaimed neoclassical and ambient artists such as Nils Frahm, Max Richter, Bonobo, SOHN, and others, or his scores for TV and film projects like Broadchurch and Gimme Shelter. You could even make the argument that Arnalds has long been the standard-bearer for a new kind of classical music — one that blends classical sensibilities and instrumentation with electronic and ambient elements.
His 2018 album, re:member, marks his fourth full-length release and embodies all of the things I love about what Arnalds creates: dreamy neoclassical paired with the careful use of electronic elements, resulting in really jaw-droppingly beautiful music that is so easy to get lost in. Arnalds brings a distinctive sound to the emotive instrumental music landscape that builds on the work of composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. This record is as good a place to start as any, especially because it includes the track “saman”, one of my personal favorites.
Between this record and Island Songs, from 2016, I have drawn so much inspiration for my own instrumental music compositions. These songs stop me in my tracks — and I turn to them again and again when I am in need of engaging, interesting, and textural work that helps me focus.
🎶 » Artificial Algorithm, by Slow Meadow
Slow Meadow is one of my absolute favorite ambient / neoclassical artists. His work has been such an inspiration to me, and I probably listen to his work on a daily basis. This song comes from the 2019 album Happy Occident, and it just blows me away every time I hear it. The arpeggiated synth that comes in about halfway through the song is so rich and unexpected, it always catches me off guard in the best way. His use of strings to accentuate the emotional center of his songs is so powerful and distinctive, allowing him to create songs that are mellow but stirring.
🎶 » Paper 2, by Sun Rain
Sun Rain (Chad Skinner) has released a few excellent new songs over the last few months, but this song is one I come back to again and again so I wanted to share it here. A simple but powerful solo piano piece (with some wonderful natural ambiance), this song has a slow burn to it that always gets me in a good flow state. For this video, Chad teamed up with director/cinematographer/editor Cory Thibert. I’ve had the chance to work with Chad on my own music (he runs the recording studio Half Moon Audio in Toronto), and he is such a talented musician and a wonderful person.
🔀 » Listen to all of these tracks (and many more) on this Shuffle Sundays x Fog Chaser Playlist:
🎹 » For more instrumental music, check out The Writing Hour, an hour of instrumental music perfect for finding your focus:
⚡️ Visual Inspiration
I first came across the paintings of Graham Francoise through his really interesting series “Morning Coffee Paintings” where he sits down and creates a quick painting with his morning coffee. Based in Seattle, WA, Francoise’s artwork is infinitely imaginative and fun, and I actually have a few pieces hanging in my studio. In his work, there is a sense of familiarity and honesty within his characters and scenes, as well as a sense of mystery and wonder. Check out his Instagram for more. Here are some favorites: