Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Detroit dub-techno producer Rod Modell and Philadelphia guitarist Chris Forsyth.
Listed: Deepchord + Chris Forsyth
Rod Modell might be described as the sound of American dub techno. Under the name Deepchord and as one half of Echospace, his gently listing music picks up where the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction axis left off. More recently, he’s started emphasizing the role of field recordings in his music; the soft, Space Echo–drenched grooves of Echospace’s Liumin (2010) and Hash-Bar Loops (2011) were built around field recordings collected in Tokyo and Amsterdam, respectively. Between the June release of Echospace’s Silent World and the forthcoming Deepchord album Sommer, Modell recalled the recordings that opened his ears to the possibilities of ambient sounds.
1. Ø - “Ilta” from Olento
One of the prettiest tracks that was ever made from a chord-hit and delay. I still listen in awe today. Delicate and sublime. Like petals of a flower. Nothing else needed. And never gets boring. Magic.
1. Bernhard Gunter - Un Peu De Neige Salie
This one taught MANY people about less being more, including me. This CD really pissed some off because, it sounded like a CD of “nothing.” I remember reading reviews from angry journalists who just didn’t get it. Large gaps of silence with periods of static and electricity. I love it because of how it forced people to rethink what “music” really is.
3. Bernd Friedmann - Leisure Zones
This was a very important one for me. To me, this took the concept of “Eno ambience” outside of the New Age realm. Eno’s soundscapes were done in the studio with synths. They were definitely introspective. When you listened to something like Discreet Music, you couldn’t help being reminded of a time in your life. They were impressionistic works. Leisure Zones was more literal. It sounded like a recording from a fifth floor window (with some sonic embellishments). But I liked the literal nature. It wasn’t as abstract as “synthesizer ambient music”, it was a snapshot. One of the first exposures to “field recording being a musical composition” for me too. A standout in my development.
4. Alan Lamb - Primal Image
Very few records sparked my imagination like this soundscape. The outback at night with these weird electrical pulses humming and snapping. It’s pure energy recorded onto a CD. Again, I was really influenced by projects that forced me to think outside the realms of musicality. This one was special, because after being exposed to it my mind ran wild with possibilities. After hearing this, I spent countless late-nights with a Tascam DA-P1 and a Crown S.A.S.S. microphone outdoors filling up DAT tapes.
5. The Hafler Trio - Play The Hafler Trio
Hafler Trio have been a constant influence since their first record. It’s difficult to isolate a most influential project, but I listen to this one the most I think. For me, Hafler Trio forced me to think in terms of sound rather than music. This was vital to my artistic development. It was OK to release a full project of sound design rather than melodies and bass-lines. Maybe tied with Zbigniew Karkowski’s and Andrew McKenzie’s Polar Regions, or Willem De Ridder’s (a genius imho) Snuff as a favorite H20 (-related) project, but they are all excellent.
6. Bandulu - Guidance
This was important because Bandulu was my first introduction to a dub/techno hybrid, and it came out better than either genera on their own. Very dated today, but revolutionary in the early 1990’s.
7. Chris Watson - Stepping Into The Dark
One of the most complete volumes of work by a field recordist. When this came out, I was blown away. The quality was outrageous, and the atmospheres, dark. I loved it. I think it caused a huge interest in phonography and sound-art, and caused field recording labels like and/OAR and Gruenrekorder to be born. Finally, there was a genera for all the guys who made field recordings as a hobby. There was this sort of thing in the past, but not this beautifully done, pure, and as a complete whole. Equally influential is some work of Francisco López, but his was more processed/enhanced sound-art more than unretouched documents of spaces.
8. Elektro Music Department - Compilation 2
These guys are amazing. They had a clear-concept from start to finish... a singular, stark vision that would not have been possible without the extraordinary design of Daniel Pflumm, who is one of my favorite visual artists. I don’t even think some of the people who usually “got” this sort of thing, got this. It was a masterpiece. A more perverse version of Robert Görl’s Night Full of Tension with the “ominous cyberstalker” vibe of ClockDVA’s Buried Dreams. Clinical and paranoia-inducing.
9. Rapoon - The Kirghiz Light
I like recordings that have a mystical element, and this is pure mystical ethnic-ambient. Too much of that “shamanistic soundscape” stuff gets a little corny and New Agey. This doesn’t. I like that about it. Like pure bits of real ancient rituals. This is one that I can loop for days. An especially good listen outdoors at 3 a.m. in the countryside.
10. John Hudak - Room With Sky
This project accomplishes what many have tried to do and failed. Pure audio sorcery. A mystical soundscape that I’ve left looping for weeks in my home. Really remarkable. Similar to Distant Rituals by Chris Meloche in mood (also exceptional).
Avant-garde guitarist Chris Forsyth started pairing up with drone artists galore two decades ago. Ever since, he’s played in a long slew of projects, including alt-folk Peeesseye. The man isn’t much for the classical guitar lesson, instead favoring string guidance from nearly-vintage tech-head magazines. Forsyth dropped an LP, Early Astral, with Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp earlier this year on Blackest Rainbow.
1. Television - The Blow Up (ROIR)
This one is of course an official release, but everything about it screams "bootleg" from the tossed-off cover art to the lo-fi quality of the live recordings. I’ve probably listened to the version of "Little Johnny Jewel" on this record more than any single piece of music in my life, and the audible audience ecstasy throughout their burning cover of "Satisfaction" is as definitive an example of the power of Rock, capital R, as anything I’ve ever heard.
2. The Doors - Liquid Night: The Complete Miami Concert 1969 (bootleg)
In which Jim muses critically on consumer society by telling his audience, "You’re all a bunch of fucking idiots!" Point taken.
3. The Rolling Stones - A Brussels Affair (bootleg) - I guess this 1973 show is now available as an official release direct from the Stones, but their sanctioned mix of course sands all the excitement off this incredible slice of pure domination by Mick Taylor. The cock rock raga outro to "Street Fighting Man" is the Stones’ finest musical moment. Find the boot version. Props to John Kolodij for turning me on to this.
4. The Velvet Underground - April 1967, The Gymnasium, New York City (bootleg)
Any serious Velvets fan knows this one, which was recorded shortly before Cale left the band. The first guitar break on "Guess I’m Falling in Love" is one of my favorite guitar moments ever. Plus there’s 19 minutes of "Sister Ray" and two more songs that never appeared on their original albums.
5. The Feelies - Play The Velvet Underground - Maxwell’s 1983 (bootleg)
6. Jack Rose - Chapel Hill, 18 December 2008 (bootleg)
I can’t remember how or where I got this digital boot, but it’s a really clean recording of Jack at his peak. Lots of extended tuning before songs, too. All beautiful.
7. My Bloody Valentine - Loom (Live in Vancouver, BC, Canada) (bootleg)
Anyone who knows me knows that one of the major regrets of my life is walking out of a My Bloody Valentine show during opening act Pavement’s set in NYC, late 1991, because the crowd was too annoying and they were playing Pearl Jam videos on the screen between sets (Superchunk played before Pavement). This boot from that tour proves that MBV sound exactly like the records live, which ordinarily is not what I want to hear, but in this case it’s kind of unbelievable.
8. Bob Dylan - Born Again Music - Massey Hall, Toronto, April 20, 1980 (bootleg)
I only wanted to choose one Dylan boot, and it was a tossup between this one and At The Globe Arena which is from just post-Time Out of Mind. But I’ll give this one the edge for the seven tracks of just the gospel choir opening the show plus his hilarious extended Biblical monologue/song introductions.
9. Jerry Garcia Band - 1975-12-20 - Winterland (bootleg)
With Nicky Hopkins on piano. The version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" could not possibly be played at a, um, more sedate(d) tempo, and "Let it Rock" is just so, so liquid, like rubber knees liquid.
10. Loren Mazzacane Connors & John Fahey - Live at the Hint House, July 1998 (bootleg)
Loren tells me he was happy with this session. Apparently Fahey was not. But it’s worth finding this meeting of two of the greatest voices of American music of this or any other era at the NNCK space. Especially if you’re a fan of digital delay and reverb.
By Dusted Magazine