Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gothic (?) music

No, this is not a post about bands that sold well in Hot Topic in the early 2000s. I've been really into some pretty haunting records lately. This is not the kind of music to listen to on a cheery day. At the same time, I don't recommend listening to this stuff if you're feeling down. I guess going into any of these albums feeling "neutral" would be best. If you're in the mood for an engrossing, challenging, and even frightening listen, I recommend delving into any of these. And when/if you do, listen in a dark room with headphones on. It could be an experience tantamount to any horror film.

Photobucket1) Grouper: Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. I already blogged about this HERE.

Photobucket2) Scott Walker: The Drift. He began his career as a radio friendly pop artist in the 60s, I believe. In 1995, he resurfaced with Tilt, a record that couldn't have been farther from his early work in the Walker Brothers. He underwent another hiatus until 2006, when he released his masterpiece, The Drift. Incorporating electronic embellishments, intensely claustrophobic atmospheres, grotesque lyrics, and a litany of other very uncomfortable elements, this album is downright horrifying. In all honesty, it's the most frightening album I own. Heavily indebted to 20th century modern composition, Walker's stunning voice and dissonant, atonal string sections are incredible. Abrupt dynamic shifts and long-form but never merely meandering song structures captivate throughout. It's something that I don't listen to often, but it's rewarding every time I do.

Photobucket3) Evangelista: Hello, Voyager!. I only got this album today, but it was essentially the impetus for this post. Carla Bozulich sounds like Joanna Newsom if she smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and just escaped from a mental hospital. Maybe that's not appealing, but tell me it's not intriguing. At the same time, her voice is a lot more immediately "listenable" than Joanna's (don't get me wrong, Joanna Newsom's Ys is one of my favorite records of all time. Her lyrics are cryptic and brooding, and are perfectly complimented with the noisy, free jazz meets modern composition style music from the band. Slight glimpses of optimism are seen throughout. A bizarre and visceral release that hardly ever falters.

4) DM Stith: Curtain Speech EP/Heavy Ghost. Well, Heavy Ghost isn't released yet (I got an advance copy), but if you want a taste of the man's music, I highly recommend the (far too short, yet tantalizing) Curtain Speech EP. I first heard his austere compositional style on a My Brightest Diamond remix of "Gone Away" (which is breathtaking, by the way). His voice, curious lyrics, and dense (and often primal) instrumentation combine to make a truly (at risk of making this adjective banal) haunting experience. Ultimately a lot more welcoming and positive than the other three albums listed, there are songs that are almost celebratory in nature.

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