58th Grammy Nominees Lacking in Exploratory Music
The Nominees for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards were announced yesterday and it’s a pretty bleak year for lovers of the music on Echoes with only a few gems scattered in the vast expanse of manufactured pop overload. It’s like trying to find life on Mars, and I don’t mean the Bowie song. Evidence is scarce and hidden.
Let’s face it,he Grammy’s really aren’t for people like us. They’re for younger people, the under-30s who are dialed in to glistening electronic dance songs with elaborate beat loops and hooks every 30 seconds or less with songs crafted by committee. I have little expectation that music on the edge will make but somehow, I always hope the fringe categories will rise to the challenge. I had thought that when the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category was created a couple of years ago, it would be a haven for the more genre-defying artists of Echoes. Instead, it became a dumping ground for smooth jazz. But a couple of interesting albums popped through. Most notably Bill Frisell, one of the most original and inventive jazz guitarists of the last 35 years. He’s nominated not in the jazz categories but in Best Contemporary Instrumental Album with Guitar in the Space Age, his wonderful mix of nostalgia, exploration and guitar extrapolations, covering songs from the 60s like “Pipeline”, “Telstar” and The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting for You.” Also nominated was South African flutist Wouter Kellerman’s Love Language, his world fusion follow-up to his 2015 Grammy winning album, Winds of Samsara
Best Dance/Electronic album yielded a few interesting nominees, most surprisingly, Jamie XX’s subdued electro-pop album, In Colour. He’s from the band The XX and their singer, Romy Madley Croft makes an appearance of the album. Other releases worth mentioning are Caribou’s Our Love, Disclosures pop R&B Caracal, and the return of The Chemical Brothers, who, despite the titling their album, Born in Echoes, did not get played on Echoes at all.
Bjork may have provided the weirdest nomination Best Alternative Music album, with her Vulnicura album, a CD of knotty songs, symphonic arrangements and odd beats.
And then there’s Best New Age album, a category that is always problematic since it’s the most obviously manipulated. Artists who work the system and gin up the vote tend to get the nomination. That’s the only way to explain artists like Kirtan singer Madi Das and keyboardist Catherine Duc making it into the five nominees. Madi Das‘ Bhakti Without Borders is a nicely produced album that moves Kirtan into pop territory, but nevertheless has little profile outside the Kirtan community. Duc’s Voyager is a nice album of Celtic infused orchestral electronics, but in terms of popularity, how do they get here? Are they the best the New Age has to offer?
Rounding out the list is the perennial nomination of Peter Kater, this time for his pleasant, but hardly groundbreaking solo piano album, Love, the oft nominated Paul Avgerinos for his sweet electronic and vocal Grace, and flutist Ron Korb for his ambitious and lushly packaged album of eastern flute fusions, Asia Beauty. Nice albums all, but hardly signpost works.
But let’s take note of the few Echoes artists who made it through.
Jamie XX – In Colour
Best Alternative Music
Björk – Vulnicura
And that’s about it. There’s not even enough for an Echoes Grammy show. Here’s the complete list of 58th Annual Grammy Award Nominees. Did I miss anyone?
But who needs the Grammys when you can vote in the Best of Echoes 2015. That’s the only award that really matters, right?
You can do it now, right here.