Re-listening to the self-titled A Winged Victory for the Sullen album from 2011, I noticed the second and third tracks are part of a mini-suite called 'Requiem for the Static King,' which I had before chalked up to Ambient Song Name Generator but this time around reminded me of the first track on Fennesz’ new album, 'Static Kings.' I looked it up.
Maybe this was obvious to you already, but I don’t know a single song by Sparklehorse or any other of Mark Linkous’ projects (beyond a few of the tracks on the Dark Night of the Soul collaboration with Danger Mouse).
In 2005 I was finishing my sophomore year of college at UMass and trying keep up with classes and get my bearings socially. I didn’t drink or do drugs, and that made me feel lonely a lot of the time. I had several good close friends, though, and I was pretty happy. I was in my first-ever relationship. I left for Japan to study abroad in September, and stayed with a host family there while I made new friends and studied Japanese language and literature.
Over the 2005–2006 winter break I traveled around Japan by myself. It was intense, enjoyable, and often quite isolating. In 2006 I finished my second semester abroad, returned home briefly, and moved up to Amherst to live with friends in a rented house for our senior year. My first relationship ended. I studied very hard and spent time with my housemates.
In 2007, after my senior year, I moved to Boston both to while away the months until the start of a year-long language studies program in Hokkaido and to be closer to a person with whom I was in a new relationship. I had a difficult time in Boston, feeling restless. The relationship faltered. At the urging of a friend, I moved to Hawaii to start a web development consultancy with him and dropped out of the Japanese studies program. We worked on websites and I tried to get accustomed to a new place.
I was re-listening to some mid-2000s DJ mixes by Surgeon today while working. It’s good working music—driving beats, relatively consistent in BPM, diverse in texture, all blended together so you don’t have to think about what to play next until an hour’s gone by.
The pastoral IDM interlude that comes in around 2:00 in this Ed Chamberlain track really stood out. I found the track on Amazon and I’ve been enjoying it all afternoon.
All 208 songs I listened to in iTunes or on my iPhone on Thursday and Friday, August 7–8, 2014, and the surrounding situation.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 7, 2014
Checking out songs I tracked down from a friend’s blog while I eat breakfast:
Checking out music whose influence a friend said you can hear in something else I like:
Listening to some ambient/electronic tracks I’ve been enjoying lately while I do email:
Putting on a few ambient albums I always listen to while I’m working:
Break for lunch and waiting for a client phone call. After the call, finished the album while working:
Jamming out to some recent favorites while I do some quick finances and then pack up to go work at the coffee shop:
Walking to the coffee shop:
Working at the coffee shop:
When I packed up and left the coffee shop, I wasn’t wearing headphones. The stereo was playing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody.’
Doing dishes, making dinner:
Back to work. Forgot about this Actress album, remember it was received poorly. Get two minutes into the first track and get impatient. Back to Dalhous, which I’ve been listening to constantly:
Then I went to bed.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 2014
Morning bike ride, about 11 miles:
Making and eating breakfast (yogurt, bacon, a bagel), showering and getting dressed:
Doing email and business administration:
Lunch break. iPhone on shuffle:
Checking out this new Gold Panda track before I get back to work:
More Gold Panda while I finish some email and administration:
Ambient music for working:
Folding laundry and doing dishes:
Back to work:
Then Lauren came home from work.
All told, I listened to 208 songs in two days, a total of 16 hours and 45 minutes of music. This was a slightly higher than normal amount of listening, I’d say, since I’ve been working extra hours recently.
Paste Magazine named Clones of the Queen one of their ‘Nine Hawaii Bands You Should Listen to Now.’ Thank you Paste! We’re very happy that people are still finding and enjoying our music!
Members: Ara Laylo, Paul Bajcar, Matthew McVickar Hometown: Honolulu For Fans Of: Son Lux, Animal Collective
Take an atmospheric siesta with Laylo’s creative and sometimes dissonant vocals. Like a hip-hop songstress who stumbled into a drum circle, lyrics are definitely the centerpiece of Queen’s EP, Moonlight, which dropped last September. With a flair for the spooky, their electronic stylings were featured as part of Hawaii’s Halloween festival, Hallowbaloo. Personally asked to open for the Cure, you can hear some Robert Smith throughout their three EPs, all free for download on their website.
The Clientele — Impossible (Strange Geometry, 2005)
The last minute-and-a-half or so of this song is up there in my all-time favorite last minute-and-a-halfs. That snare drum, so insistent and tense in its polyrhythm; the pathos in Alasdair MacLean’s crying out “impossible” over a twisted-up and frantic guitar solo.
‘Impossible’ feels particularly dramatic and literary, even for a Clientele song. The structure is at once basic—roughly two verses, two choruses, and an outro—and quite ‘composed’—a string section opens the song, and each verse and chorus is separated by lengthy instrumental bridges between that only begin to resemble one another on repeated listens.
Lyrically it’s standard Clientele: romance, loneliness, surrealism. The Clientele’s is an acknowledged surrealism—here with the titular refrain—as though the narrator can’t help but acknowledge and disbelieve the absurdity of his own visions, imagined or not. It balances against what otherwise might seem unrelatable—for every “streetlamps fuse the rising night,” there’s a “I feel so far away.”
Strange Geometry was the first Clientele album I heard, and sountracked much of my junior year of college abroad. During those nine months I often felt isolated and lonely and separated, and The Clientele’s brand of self-aware, surreal melancholy was perfect for both sides of loneliness—hearing my sadness made poetry in reverb one day, reveling in the romance and freedom of solitude the next.
Last week Lauren picked out a 50¢ used surf rock compilation at the record store called Golden Summer. You’d recognize about half of it—plenty of Beach Boys, ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and ‘Wipe Out’ and ‘Surfin Bird’—and the whole thing is good fun.
This instrumental came on near the end of side four and struck me immediately. I thought the production sounded familiar, and it turns out Jack Nitzsche was Phil Spector’s right-hand man and a prolific arranger and orchestrator of rock, pop, and film music.
This is a good track, and I’m fascinated as much by why I like it as by the song itself. I tried listening to a collection of Nitzsche’s work on Spotify and couldn’t get more than three or four songs in—it was too much in a row of a style I’ve only ever really heard one at a time, mostly in films. Do I really like the song, or do I just like the feeling of the atmosphere it means to evoke? A nostalgia for a place and time I only know from media? (Is that sehnsucht or saudade?) Would I like it as much if Tarantino and Anderson hadn’t coached me along, given me images and themes to associate with music like this?
Often, when I find myself liking something, I try to explain it: this is Aspirational, or this is Reflective of My Thoughts and Feelings, or this is What the World Sounds Like, or this is Meditational. I don’t know where ‘The Lonely Surfer’ fits.
Thought I felt your heartbeat It was just my counting
This is such a perfect line (and such a perfect album). It struck me the first time I heard it and I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since.
The opening run of disappointments in ‘Dance Slow Decades’ is inspired, a beautiful and palpable take on the typically simplistic day-night-happy-sad-angel-devil trope. Angel’s list of mundane mistakes—forgetting her watch, or a dream—is so effective because of the way it matches ordinary error with the cognitive distortions of worst-case-scenario fear, how stupid little failures reinforce the perception of bigger ones, how the obsessive worry keeps itself alive—it was just my counting.
Not to mention the delivery; the plainspoken admissions of misunderstanding alongside the cry of “it took me down” is… well, you have to hear it.
Thought I had a clue It was passing by
Thought I had an answer It was just a sigh
Thought I had a dream once Don’t remember what
Thought I had some time here Left my watch at home
Thought I had ideas once They were all on loan
Thought I conquered something And it took me down
What I thought I heard clearly It wasn’t sound
Thought I felt your heartbeat It was just my counting