Sounds of Summer: Staff Picks

Cling on to the remnants of summer sunshine with our curated playlist.

21 September 2021

As this post gets written, we’re sitting in a sweltering Scottish Ensemble office. Sitting in the office in itself is novelty enough, but doing it while quietly sweating even while wearing shorts is even more so, especially in September.

We know these long hot days can’t (/definitely won’t) last, and indeed, as this post gets published (several weeks later) we are looking at decidedly more autumnal weather. So we decided to cling on to hot hazy memories of summer by inviting members of the office team to lovingly craft a special Scottish Ensemble playlist of everyone’s top summer tracks. The initial brief was three tracks each but some just couldn’t resist picking a few more (we’re looking at you Duncan). Anyway, it’d be rude not to include them all.

You can take a listen to the playlist below via Spotify, and beneath it can read who picked each track, and why. Happy listening!

The Playlist

Say Somethingby Emma-Jean Thackray
Chosen by Stuart Burns, Producer

“a great introduction courtesy of 6 Music and a perfect summer earworm from Emma-Jean Thackray‘s treat of an album Yellow, the whole album is other worldly but upbeat, big tick for liberal use of brass”

Lilo by The Japanese House
Chosen by Duncan Sutherland, Projects and Creative Learning Manager

“what says “summer” like floating on a Lilo as reflected on by a young English girl with all the time, and all the troubles in the world?”

Primary Colours by Peter Gregson
Chosen by Duncan

” I go through periods of listening to very little classical music and lockdown has been one of those,  But this offering and SE regular is always something I dip into at any time.”

La Vagabonde by Balmorhea (and others)
Chosen by Duncan

“This is the first of my “where classical meets Indie” choices.  Balmoreha’s new album ‘Wind’ on classical label Deutsche Grammophone represents their stongest leaning towards the former and a minimalist acoustic soundworld”

I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) by Sandy Barber and Opolopo
Chosen by William Norris, Interim Chief Executive

“This song is a complete earworm. I became obsessed with it while on holiday this summer, it being on a playlist a friend and I had put together. Unfortunately I have a TERRIBLE memory when I’m having a drink so every night for three nights I’d say ‘Oh this is a great track, what is it?’, as if I’d never heard it or asked before…’

The Message Continues by Nubya Garcia
Chosen by Stuart

“I was reunited with this track from Nubya Garcia’s 2020 album at her Prom last week, her playing is exquisite and makes me want to dust off my extremely dusty tenor sax”

Egyptian Fantasy by Vincent Peirani and Emile Parisien
Chosen by Catherine Ferrell, General Manager

“Two phenomenal musicians, technically and musically. They were my wild card ticket purchase at Celtic Connections one year and it was one of the most memorable gigs I’ve seen. They blend jazz with folk in a classic yet experimental French style, transporting you to a dark and smoky jazz club somewhere on the French Riviera. Total bliss. I never tire of this track”

Thank God for the Rain by Bernard Herrmann
Chosen by Stuart

“Discovered on a voyage through 20th century cinema this past year, this comes from Taxi Driver, perfectly scored by Bernard Hermann to create this sultry and unsettling New York atmosphere”

Nautilus by Anna Meredith
Chosen by Nick Zekulin, Interim Development Manager and Board Member

“Anna Meredith is one of the most versatile musicians on the planet today. As a composer and performer, she is comfortable across a range of genres, receiving accolades and prizes in the classical, electronic and pop worlds, and she is able to blend those influences in such an organic way that she retains a genuine and unique musical voice. ‘Nautilus’ is from her first solo album, Varmints, and combines minimalism and complex rhythms with a pounding, brassy pulse, leading to the most devastatingly deceptive drum beat that will blow your mind when it lands halfway through. Definitely meant to be danced to at a big summer festival, it also happens to be the most played track on my personal playlist.”

Take me Home by The Staves and ymusic
Chosen by Duncan

“where classical meets Indie’ part 2 – this album is amazing with the really quite harsh sound world of YMusic’s brass and woodwind set against the normally soft close-harmony singing of the Staves’ sisters.”

Lyric for Strings by George Walker
Chosen by Nick

“Much like Barber’s ubiquitous ‘Adagio’, ‘Lyric for Strings’ was originally written in 1946 for string quartet. Since re-orchestrating it for strings in 1990, it has deservedly become Walker’s most performed work, and was included in his triumphant Prom debut in 2017, as well the Scottish Ensemble’s digital lockdown project Songs for Life. Poignantly, it was dedicated to Walker’s grandmother, a former slave who sadly passed before having a chance to hear it.”

Empio, diro, tu sei from Julius Caesar, by Handel
Chosen by Will

“This is not particularly summery but its consistently one of my most-played tracks. I think Handel writes ‘angry’ music better than almost any other composer, you can totally feel the rage in this track.

I Know the End by Phoebe Bridgers
Chosen by Duncan

“This album is very much the Indie Darling of 2021.  A depressing title for unsettled times… but possibly the greatest ever modulation in a pop song?  Discuss.”

Lucy by Soccer Mommy
Chosen by Duncan

“Lucy is a play on the name Lucifer.  Despite the dark subject matter it has such a hazy summer if Lo-Fi vibe”

Banshee Beat by Animal Collective
Chosen by Duncan

”More hazy summer vibes on the continuing theme of slightly unsettled thoughts.  More swimming pool references – but no Lilo this time!

‘Je ne vois que vous’ by Mademoiselle Nineteen
Chosen by Nick

“It’s impossible not to do a wee happy shuffle when I hear this. A great summer love song, with huge production values. A rare non-English song that got some airplay in the UK when it came out in 2011.”

Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell
Chosen by Nick

“Despite growing up on the prairies, I was never much of a Country & Western fan. Amazingly, I had never even heard this song until Glen Campbell passed away in 2017. I have more than made up for it since! Released in 1968, it was the first ever Country / Pop crossover hit, selling millions at the time and inviting hordes of covers versions, with jazz, samba and even reggae adaptations sitting alongside venerable country artists and crooners who had a go over the years.

The genius of Jimmy Webb’s song writing is its simplicity, and his ability to match the specific circumstances of his protagonists with a universal message. Al De Lory’s lush orchestrations set the scene of a hot, hazy, summer day on the prairie. Webb’s lyrics transport us to a country road in Kansasand a telephone line repair man miles from anywhere, and even further from his love. Has there ever been a lyric that declared love and longing more simply and deeply: “I need you more than want you / And I want you for all time.

All this is amplified through Glen Campbell’s earnest and honest performance. A truly amazing musician, he started out as a session guitarist, recording for everyone from the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra to Elvis. He’ll forever be known as the Rhinestone Cowboy, but for me ‘Wichita Lineman’ is the greater legacy.”

I Like it Like That by Pete Rodriguez
Chosen by Catherine

“Latin soul, summer club night vibe, samba dancing and lots of Havana Club…”

Maria Tambien by Khruangbin
Chosen by Catherine

“From my ultimate summer chill album; I love this band and the blend of influences in their sound, plus they know how to hold a groove.”

Dumb Luck by DNTEL
Chosen by Duncan

“A summer electro classic from my youth. A bit of surreal self-deprecation that feels very 2021 with all the time we have to think and the dangers of that.”

You Can Do It by Caribou
Chosen by Will

“I didn’t know this track until a few weeks ago when I saw Caribou at a festival. Going to a festival after so much time shut away felt quite overwhelming. This track was perfect festival material, a euphoric and uplifting few minutes of summer evening perfection”

Chosen by Will

“Not sure if all these artists chose to collaborate purely on the strength of them all using capitalised names. Anyway, this is really all about SOPHIE. This Glasgow-born electronic artist very sadly passed away earlier this year, far too early. Her music sounded totally individual, was always utterly recognisable and did not always set out to please. I was lucky enough to see her live twice, and each gig was one of most bizarre and memorable I’d ever seen. This is her remake of a track by SONNIKU rather than being solely her, but the theme of sweaty hedonistic nights seemed like a fitting way to end the playlist.”

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