Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: New Zealand pop star Bachelorette and metal meditators Om.
Listed: Bachelorette + Om
Annabel Alpers takes her band name from a cottage (or ďbachĒ) on the seashore of New Zealand, where, over the last five years, she has been recording songs that are equal parts pop melody and avant garde experimentation, optimism and alienation, welcoming and chill. One of Dustedís 2009 class of Destined artists, Alpers released her second full-length, My Electric Family on Drag City this spring, exploring the interstices between computer technology and human connection. In his review, DustedĎs Daniel Levin Becker noted the albumís obvious intelligence, ambiguity and a ďreckless play between heavy and light that makes Family more than an electro-pop curiosity.Ē
The criteria I used to pick these albums were how repeatedly Iíve listened to them, and whether they inspired feelings of awe. There are many other albums that were equally significant which Iím not mentioning. I havenít listened to some of the albums below in years and their meaning to me personally isnít always easy to pinpoint. But I will attempt to figure out why they meant something, just through tapping into residual emotional memory.
1. Tall Dwarfs Ė Thatís the Short and the Long of It (Flying Nun)
Itís mostly the song ďNothingís Gonna HappenĒ that Iím referring to here. As a teenager, I would listen to this song over and over. I never got sick of it. It made me feel emotional in that particular way that only music can Ė where itís not an easily describable emotion, like Ďsadnessí or whatever, but some kind of peculiar joyous longing.
2. My Bloody Valentine Ė Isnít Anything (Creation)
I remember being stuck to the floor of my bedroom listening to this. It was exciting music to listen to. It wasnít a soundtrack to anything Ė as in I donít think it even inspired visualisations of the sounds. The sounds were enough on their own to be completely absorbing.
3. The Beatles - Abbey Road (Apple)
I love how they started integrating electronic synthesiser sounds on Abbey Road but how it still sounds genuine and apposite. This album is just one example of how fresh their music could be, even after years of mega-popularity. They never compromised their approach or lost their ability to make ground-breaking music. And itís just a beautiful sounding record.
4. John Lennon Ė Plastic Ono Band (Apple)
This albumís so loose. It shows the raw emotional depth of John Lennon Ė maybe because production hasnít been the main focus, so the emotion hasnít been diluted like maybe it was sometimes on Beatles recordings. The songs are so good. They just hit you in the gut/heart area and make you wanna cry (in a double-edged joy/frustration way).
5. Syd Barrett Ė The Madcap Laughs (Harvest)
Syd Barrettís songs sound so innocent and pure. It was either this or Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Itís the production vs. rawness debate again. I guess what was so loveable about his Pink Floyd songs was made more obvious in his solo recordings. The innocence and instability. Itís in the chord changes, the words, vocal style and melodies.
6. Cocteau Twins Ė Blue Bell Knoll (4AD)
This represents more frustrated yet hopeful longing. I listened to this album over and over through headphones when I was a lonely 16-year-old exchange student in Japan. I was way out of my depth. I think it was the music that I listened to that helped me survive - buoys of identification in an ocean of alienation.
7. Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album (Warp)
I found this album mesmerising when I first got my hands on it. No one was making the sounds and rhythms that he was. And he would use samples from everyday sounds to emotional effect. It was in the very early days of computer-based recording and was an example of what could be beautiful about the medium.
8. Cornelius Ė Point (Matador)
The precision and clarity of the recordings is spectacular. I couldnít even imagine how it could be done. Itís a pretty cerebral experience, but feel-good all the same. Like art? I listened to it a hell of a lot, anyway.
9. Palace Brothers Ė Viva Last Blues (Drag City)
Itís that sadness/joyousness combination again. And I could mention any number of Will Oldhamís albums here. When I think about it, the music that I love best always conveys some sense of longing. Perhaps itís just a relief to hear that latent longing expressed outside of yourself. Itís therapeutic?
10. Animal Collective Ė Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
I know everyone loves Animal Collective, but itís worth mentioning because itís the album Iíve been listening to most over the last few months. It feels so good. I equally love Feels, Sung Tongs and Panda Bearís Person Pitch for the same reason. Magical combinations of melodies, rhythms, samples and effects, all of which are new, but sound so natural and right together. (More joy).
Om is the bass guitar, vocals, and drums duo of Al Cisneros and Emil Amos. Cisneros formed the band in 2003 with drummer Chris Hakius, after they had played together in Sleep. The last Om full length was 2007ís Pilgrimmage on the Southern Lord label. Amos replaced Hakius in 2008, and he also plays solo as Holy Sons and as part of the group Grails. A new Om record is due out in September 2009 on Drag City.
A few years ago while listening to Lee Hazlewood I realized that the ultimate record for me would sound perfect at the climax of a night of heavy drinking, but would sound equally soothing the next morning in the worst part of the hangover. The following records have helped ease this desperate cause.
1. De Angelis Brothers - Street Law (Il Cittadino si Ribella) (GDM)
This movie is fucked (donít watch it). The De Angelis Brothers were known for doing Italian comedy soundtracks (a genre you can probably safely avoid), but this is a killer collection of tense 70s cop-drama jams they wrote for Franco Nero that epitomizes the insidious/gangster semi-funk/baritone-guitar thing pretty well. On the last Grails tour across Europe we listened to the song "Driving All Around" at least once a day and sang it incessantly, trying to piece together the nonsensical, barely decipherable vocals. It became our anthem and an unhealthy obsession.
2. Stelvio Cipriani - Blindman (Digitmovies)
Stelvio is the only Italian film composer that seems to consistently approach the unimpeachable stature of Morricone. The problem with comparing anything to Morricone is his unending structural, implemental and melodic flexibility. "Blindman" is one of the many soundtracks that Cipriani did that proves he was right behind the master in his control of arrangements, sonic choices and giant melodies.
3. Lard Free - Entire Discography
I usually think of Lard Free as Franceís Faust. Like some of the other kitchen sink/no-rules bands like the Cosmic Jokers or Smegma, they defy a lot of the basic rules of the record industry by merely existing. Who imagined releasing these records would make anyone any money? Richard Pinhasí guitar style has greatly influenced my overdubbing approach and enthusiasm for playing more wrong/blurred notes. This group changed the way I thought about making instrumental music and was on my mind a lot when making records like Black Tar Prophecies. Ultimately they sound so relaxed and unpretentious that, although they are fearlessly experimental, they sound just as organic and effortless to me as any American roots music.
4. Bee Gees - 1st (Atco)
Probably like a lot of people Iíd never realized I was a candidate for being obsessed with the Bee Gees. Thereís definitely something comical about them that borders on certain Spinal Tap-isms (see the movie Cucumber Castle) mostly because their lyrics approach a filling-in-the-blanks kind of self-parody at times. But, strangely similar to Robert Pollard, when the melodies are strong itís as though they hit a chord in the universe that is so huge it resembles Pop music as Religion. The record 1st contains "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You," "Holiday," "Red Chair Fade Away," and "One Minute Woman," making it a virtual encyclopedia of hooks.
5. Kuni Kawachi - LOVE SUKI DAIRKIRAI (Capitol)
Kuni Kawachiís work with the Flower Traveling Band was pretty timeless; their collab record features some of the great 70s Japanese production. But his solo record is stranger in that itís very calm, sometimes resembling the White Album, with some easy-listening touches verging towards Bread. Hard to find and relatively expensive, itís one of those records that seems to exist down in the cracks for diggers while the rest of the world goes back again for another chorus of "American Pie" or some shit.
1. Reverend Gary Davis - "Children of Zion"
I remember watching an old film of him playing this song in a living room, the people in the background are these venerable blues players. Through the song Davisí lyrics break open everything in the room, even the old veterans, and it is beautiful. His 12 string runs shine as well.
2. Israel Vibration - Unconquered People (Greensleeves)
Itís too bad Apple left the band, but I was fortunate enough to see them several times as a trio in the mid-90s. I will never forget those shows. This record is helpful if your life gets too heavy. Wiss sings the line, "A blind man can always hear and a deaf man can always see."
3. Swami Muktananda - Guru Gita
4. Black Sabbath - Master of Reality (Vertigo)
The Sleep shows caused me to consult the archives for Butlerís guidance. This is the most perfect array of riffs in a concise, palatable collection, both in its sonics and its content. Everything about this record works and hits me today the same way it did when I first heard it. Riff textbook.
5. Scott Walker - Tilt (Drag City)
My friend Dan gave me this, and I am grateful. Orchestral songs and vocal delivery of the highest order. Atmosphere. Lyrics are great.
By Dusted Magazine