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Listed: Saint Etienne + Annea Lockwood

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: British pop trio Saint Etienne and one of the avant-garde’s elder stateswomen, Annea Lockwood.

Listed: Saint Etienne + Annea Lockwood

Saint Etienne

Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne have been making quintessentially British music longer than Oasis or Blur. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Since 1990, the band has released eight albums, 10 compilations and dozens of singles, most of them unimpeachable. The trio released Words and Music by Saint Etienne in May, their first LP in seven years and one of the finest albums of 2012 thus far. “Tonight,” the album’s first single, might be the best four minutes of pop you’ll hear this year. Stanley took part in this week’s Listed.

1. The Beach Boys - Sunflower
For inventive productions and some of the greatest chord progressions, the Beach Boys are the best. This album gets overlooked—Brian Wilson had semi-retired and the others all had to pull their fingers out with regards to their songwriting and production. "Forever," "Our Sweet Love," "All I Wanna Do," so beautiful.

2. Dolly Mixture - Demonstration Tapes
Me and Pete used to go and see them on a monthly basis in the early ‘80s. Pete once said they had better songs than the Beatles. They were a gateway into ‘60s girl groups for me. We loved Debsey’s voice and I still can’t really believe she sings with us these days.

3. King Tubby - King Tubby’s Special 1973-1976
When we started in 1990, Jon Savage made us a bunch of cassettes of things we should be listening to. I was pretty ignorant of dub back then and this double album blew me away. The space, the trickery, it’s very playful and space age.

4. Les Baxter - Ritual Of The Savage
Another Jon Savage tape. Les Baxter still hasn’t got his due—this is pre-rock, but the instrumentation is so bizarre and unique that it defies any age.

5. Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour
For the wit and melancholy and Englishness, and their gentle combination of electronica and orchestration.

6. Shut Up And Dance - Dance Before The Police Come
DIY with a great sense of humor, and anti-industry. "Raving I’m Raving" being halted at No. 2 in the chart was rave’s "God Save The Queen" moment. Denied!

7. John Barry - Deadfall
One side of the album is taken up by "Romance For Guitar & Orchestra," which JB actually conducts in the movie as Michael Caine carries out a robbery. Best chord patterns not written by Brian Wilson.

8. Denim - Denim On Ice
Lawrence is one of the greatest English lyricists. It includes a song called "Council Houses" which is a condensed history of modernism and post-war planning. I wish I’d written it.

9. The Fall - Grotesque
Again, it’s DIY, has a unique sense of humor, and talks about England without being nostalgic or party political.

10. Various Artists - Deep Heat 5
From a time when dance music and hip hop were going in 37 different directions at once. Some incredibly exciting stuff—FPI Project’s super-atmos "Going Back To My Roots," Pandella’s blankly sexy "This Way That Way," De La "Soul’s Eye Know"—and lots of sample action for us.

Annea Lockwood

Well before David Kilgour became a symbol of New Zealand’s alternate music universe, there was Annea Lockwood. The Kiwi-born avant-garde composer moved to Britain in the 1960s, but her home nation’s rugged terrain and sense of adventure was always evident in her art. For more than 50 years, Lockwood has challenged the boundaries of modern composition, incorporating visual art, dance, poetry, electronics and bizarre field recordings in her multimedia projects. She’s taught composition and electronic music at Vassar College in New York state’s Hudson Valley since 1982, and continues to perform and release new music. Her latest recording, In Our Name, was released earlier this year by New World Records.

1. David Dun - Angels And Insects
"Chaos And The Emergent Mind Of The Pond," a collage of hydrophone recordings of aquatic insects, was something of a pioneering release, revealing a rich and vital sound world completely new to many of us. Now there are many field recordists working in that realm (I’m still fascinated by it myself), and that sound world is becoming more familiar, but the work remains a classic for its crisp recordings and the power of his underlying question: Do these creatures .”..roam with blind instinct, or is this the voice of a genus locii speaking through a distributed network of autonomous beings...”

2. Maggi Payne - Arctic Winds
The sound sources Payne transforms on this album range from satellite transmissions to a boiling kettle, some remaining raw, others mutating through processing into gorgeous and tactile new textures which move and merge with a wonderful natural quality. Her idea of using duct tape slowly unrolling across a resonant floor as a template for stereo panning (via convolution) in "Distant Thunder," and our discussion of her other subtle techniques for spatialization have transformed the way I work with that element.

3. Korean Court Music: John Levy’s Recording
In 1989 a series of conversations with the Korean composer and komungo player, Jin Hi Kim, drew me back to this recording which I listened to often in the late ‘60s, especially the track titled "Long Life Immeasurable As The Sky," for its lovely, slow melody and majestic rhythm. Jin Hi described a traditional cyclical unfolding structure and the concept of the "living tone," each tone as a mobile, inflected event, with its own life and impact. That concept has been fundamental to my way of working ever since, and a piece I wrote shortly afterwards, "Thousand Year Dreaming," is based in part on that traditional structure.

4. Morton Feldman - The Early Years
Of the eight pieces on this CD, the first, "Piece for Four Pianos," is still particularly resonant for me, perhaps because I played it years ago, at a time when I was listening to the original LP of this recording and learning much from it, especially about patience - allowing a sound its full decay and listening to the timbral changes which emerge. It’s the ultimate (acoustic) delay piece - four pianists all softly playing the same score, but each in his/her own tempo so that these delicate sounds gradually diverge, enriching the texture and echoing unpredictably, then converge again where he inserted repeating passages, briefly drawing the players close in little eddies. Other pieces on the disc contrast strongly, using a range of dynamics and erupting in vivid bursts of energy. These great players (David Tudor, Feldman himself, Matthew Raimundi, Walter Trampler and others) allow each sound its full life. It’s the details which register.

5. Hildegard Westerkamp - Transformations
Westerkamp is widely known for her Soundwalks, walks focused entirely on the soundscape, guided but without speaking, a very different way of sensing a place, so it is fascinating to listen to her listening, as happens in "Kits Beach Soundwalk" and in "Beneath the Forest Floor." She tunes our ears to the minute communications of barnacles still audible within an urban roar at Kits Beach, Vancouver, asking us to observe how our brains scan and absorb, creating a strong sense of the vibrant life of these tiny creatures. In the latter work the larger rhythms of old growth forests dominate, moving between dreamlike sequences of transformed sound, and sudden immersion in minimally processed sections, conjuring up the illusion of being there, of no-separation from the forest, creek, wind. I listen both for the excellence of her field recording and for the lovely fluidity with which she moves between the immediate soundscape, and its abstraction.

6. Gyórgy Kurtág - Signs, Games And Messages
This CD contains two superb works for baritone and one for strings. I am particularly moved by the last work "…pas `a pas - nulle part…" a setting of short texts by Samuel Beckett for baritone, string trio and percussion. I listened to it closely, particularly for the beauty of his vocal writing, when working on a recent piece for baritone, Thomas Buckner ("In Our Name"). The work has an extreme quality: the conciseness of each setting, the spare textures - almost empty often. The precision of his timbral choices - full of immediacy and feeling, create a compelling intensity.

7. Eliane Radigue - Naldjorlak pour Charles Curtis
This is a profound collaboration between composer Eliane Radigue and cellist Charles Curtis. It’s a continuous flow of sound, grounded on the cello’s unstable wolf-tone, to which they attempt to tune the instrument’s entire resonating body, following, as Charles Curtis notes .”.. the ways in which the characteristic instabilities of a sound-state would shape its own gradual transformation.” It draws out the great array of partials and complex sounds which the instrument contains and the very fine-tuned ears of both musicians’ discern. I have heard Naldjorlak twice in live performance and it has been one of my deepest musical experiences. I recommend listening through a good pair of headphones. This is sound as a transforming energy. Naldjorlak, the complete work, is in three parts of which only Part 1 has been released so far: Part 1 for cello solo; Part 2 for two basset horns (with Carole Robinson and Bruno Martinez); Part 3 for all three players.

8. Stuart Dempster - In the Great Abbey of Clement IV
9. Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis - Deep Listening
10. Stuart Dempster and others - Underground Overlays from the Cistern Chapel

The beauty of extended acoustic resonance and the way it transforms the sounds of trombones, didjeridus, voices and Pauline’s accordion long tones has been an important learning for me. I first heard such long resonances with trombones, on In the Great Abbey in the mid ‘70s and now much prefer natural resonance, with its rich and unpredictable mutations. I listened again to that album and to the classic Deep Listening when planning my Thousand Year Dreaming (for trombones, didjeridus, perc, winds in resonant spaces). Recently the sound of Stuart’s didjeridu coiling through the cistern in Underground Overlays, all its overtones gleaming, became a significant element in In Our Name, when Stuart generously gave me permission to sample it.

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