A Closer Listen continued to grow in its fourth year. We are grateful to all of our readers, as well as to the artists and labels who trust us with their wonderful music! Two weeks of year-end features begin here!
Looking back on the past twelve months, I’m amazed at the sheer amount of instrumental music that has been released and submitted to our site. Some days we can receive as many as 20 albums for consideration! Think about that for a moment; we’re currently choosing our 20 favorite albums of the year. There’s a lot to sift through, and despite being music obsessives, we still have jobs and families. At least one person listens to everything we receive, but a lot of good music goes uncovered. In light of this fact, we humbly thank everyone who has sent music to us in the past. If you haven’t been reviewed yet, please don’t give up hope! It’s hard to predict when an album will strike a chord within a listener, but almost every release has a potential audience, if only a devoted few.
Our task is to listen closely to the music we review. We also encourage active listening in general: to our local environments, to our loved ones, to the music of the spheres. The world is filled with so much noise that the still, small voice is often obscured, whether the voice of a higher being or the voice of the oppressed. So many sounds vie for our attention that the loudest, brashest, and most repeated dominate our attention. Politicians, commercials, car horns and cell phones steal our silence; airplanes disrupt even the most secluded environments. Sometimes even our own children beg to be heard. But are we brave enough to listen?
Most of the music we cover is lyric-free. So what do we hear in these sounds? Sometimes we hear calm, peace, acceptance and respite (Ambient). Sometimes we hear an acknowledgement of tension and drama (Drone). Sometimes we are inspired to dance, or at least to move (Electronic). Sometimes we are awed by the vast array of human creativity (Experimental). Sometimes we delve into the real sounds of local and distant places (Field Recording and Soundscape). Sometimes we simply hear beauty, majesty and grace (Modern Composition). And sometimes we just want to rock, whether softly or loudly (Rock, Post-Rock, Folk and Jazz). These definitions may be incomplete, but they explain a lot about what we play, what we enjoy, and what inspires us.
Almost every artist we review has a day job. Whether driven by an internal call to create, a desire to please others, or the love of music, they dedicate their time and energy into creating something new. Our year-end charts honor a small portion of what we have received during the year, and we hope that you enjoy our choices. Even more, we hope that you are touched in some way by the music we cover ~ that it helps you to think, feel, or move. Thank you for your readership and best wishes for a peaceful and holy season! (Richard Allen)
Our brilliant cover image comes from the business website Remarketing Marketing.