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Listed: Sharon Van Etten + Simon Wickham-Smith

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The epic Sharon Van Etten and composer and Richard Youngs collaborator Simon Wickham-Smith.

Listed: Sharon Van Etten + Simon Wickham-Smith

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten made a spookily intoxicating debut with Because I Was in Love in 2008 on Language of Stone. Mostly unadorned, with just bits of guitar and her own voice doubled for harmonies, the album felt like a lost folk classic right from the start and won fans including Damon Krukowski of Damon and Naomi. Now, two years later, her follow-up Epic on Ba Da Bing! is less fragile but no less beautiful, with riper, fuller arrangements of rock guitars and drums and the sureness of a songwriter just coming into her own. NOTE: Van Etten’s selection of a Richard Youngs’ song was a coincidence (and Wickham-Smith doesn’t perform on that song anyway).

1. Skogar - “Blood and Soil”
Dark, stark, noisy scapes. On the verge of beats, but loses them in the sludge. Rad. Swedish penpal with a personal aesthetic.

2. Gate - “All”
Beautiful, dark, experimental trance, slow dance. Michael Morley of Dead C making a pop record! What?!

3. Richard Youngs - “It Soon Will be Fire”
Sitting at my kitchen table early in the morning, sipping coffee crying with this song on repeat. I can hardly make out the words, but the melody is so emotional. Supposedly it’s about his dog.

4. Wooden Shjips - “Clouds Over Earthquake”
Heavy. Driving. I listen to this on blast in my car with the windows down. Blown out everything, loud guitars. Yes. Please.

5. Telecopy - “Paradise of the Human Mind”
Messy, jangly, poppy garage. Spazzy in a very fun way. Super energetic kids from Brooklyn.

6. Sleater-Kinney - “Good Things”
One of the songs that shaped me as an angsty teenager that showed me a woman could fucking rule and scream and be emotional and rock and roll. Hero.

7. Decendants - “Cameage”
This is the song I would sing to non-stop in High School with my best friend Dana. Smoking cigarettes, singing about love and other things we didn’t understand as loud as we could. The drumming and the bass is amazing on this and the melody just soars for a punk song. Ballsy stuff.

8. Ride - “Vapour Trail”
Epic, theatric, timeless ’90s music. I love how washy everything is. I imagine lots of fans and hair blowing and arms slowly rising in the air.

9. Lower Dens - “I Get Nervous”
One of my theme songs of this summer / this year. A slower, driven, sweet song with smooth yet heavy turns and Jana Hunter’s shy voice cathartically blending into her guitars.

10. Mojave 3 - “Candle Song 3”
A beautiful love song. Subtle harmonies and chord progressions akin to Low. Open honest lyrics about relationships — dark as they are tender.

Simon Wickham-Smith

Simon Wickham-Smith is best known for his collaborations with Richard Youngs, which have now stretched over a decade and six albums. He also has released several solo albums. With Pekka Kumpulainen, he founded the Inari Festival of Experimental Music in Northern Finland. He is also a professional astrologer and an expert on Mongolian literature. His translation of the complete works of the 19th century Mongolian poet Danzanravjaa was published in 2006, and he has also translated many contemporary Mongolian works. In 2008, he won a PEN International Translation Fund grant, and he was recognized as a Leading Cultural Worker (Soyolin Terguuni Ajiltan) by the Government of Mongolia for his translation work.

1. David Behrman - On The Other Ocean
Without doubt my favorite piece of music ever. More like a desert for me than an ocean, stretching out into the distance, a meditation on time and space, an excoriating heat, and dust and mountains. Blistering.

2. Philip Glass - Music in Twelve Parts
I think that this, the precursor to Einstein on the Beach, shows Glass’s remarkable facility for line and timbre better than anything else he has written.

3. Boards of Canada - In A Beautiful Place Out In the Country
There is something profound and special abut the music of BoC, and especially their early work. This was the first piece of theirs that I heard; it still conjures up sunshine for me and the streets of Oxford, where I as living at the time.

4. Nyi Tjondrolukito - Palaran Pangkur, Wolak Walik in Slendro Mayura and Pelog Barang
Nyi Tjondrolukito was one of the greatest female singers (pesindhen) in the Yogjakarta style of gamelan music. Not only was her vocal range vast, and her articulation crystalline, but the way in which she grazed over the notes is extraordinary.

5. John McGuire - A Cappella
This is based in part on late medieval European polyphony and can make up for my failure to include works by composers such as Machaut in this list. McGuire’s electronic treatment of brief vocal phrases is strangely alluring and catchy, and although there is little melodic development I feel at the end that I have somehow been traveling...

6. Peter Garland - The Days Run Away
Slow and gentle and meditative piano music, deeply heartfelt, bare harmonies...doesn’t come much better than this. Echoes of his teacher Harold Budd and of Terry Jenning’s classic Winter Sun too, but it’s the harmonies that affect me so.

7. Paul DeMarinis - Fonetica Francese
I have a particular liking for music that allows computers to reveal the sensitivity and elegance of their own voices, and this is for me one of the very few pieces which does this successfully. A moving attempt, superbly harmonized, by a synthesized voice to speak French...

8. "Blue" Gene Tyranny - A Letter From Home About Sound and Consciousness
When I first heard this, at the age of about 18, I think I probably wanted to receive such a letter, and read to me, too, by someone with an equally sexy voice. I love the quirkiness and the simplicity of the music, but this is also a fine example of Tyranny’s compositional skill.

9. Robert Ashley - The Park/The Backyard
I first saw Ashley’s opera Perfect Lives on TV when I was about 16 and have loved it ever since. This record is a stripped down version of the original, much more laid-back and, to my ears, a beautiful evocation of the American midwest.

10. The Clean - Secret Place
The Clean, from Dunedin, New Zealand, is for me one of the most significant bands of the last few decades. Simple, catchy, witty songs, elegantly-crafted — and it always seem that they’re having fun together, which is a boon...

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