Jun Chikuma – Bomberman Hero Original Soundtrack
I’m always pleasantly surprised to find myself returning to this year after year – it’s just aged much better than a lot of comparable idm and electronic miscellanea of its time. I can’t chalk it up to nostalgia because I can’t think of any other video game soundtrack I care to listen to all the way through.
It’s pretty wild but there’s nothing superfluous. Everything fits into its place, with tracks rarely exceeding the 3 minute mark. It’s all about the sudden juxtapositions: a midtempo lounge track will explode into acid techno without warning, before veering into a high-velocity drum ‘n’ bass thing. It’s muddy sounding, almost lo-fi, euphoria from the early 3D era. Endless replay value.
Bee Mask – Living’s Just Defying the Ocean
This is the earliest Bee Mask release, and ultimately, very little actually happens here. But sometimes very little is exactly what I want, and for that, this is a perfect go-to. The four tracks here – “Tomlinson Court Park,” “Valparasio Flesh and Green,” “Plant City,” and “De la nada vida a la nada muerte” – are completely distinct and sonically rich with subtleties throughout. They come together brilliantly as a single drone suite. For minimal drone connoisseurs only, I’d imagine, but also recommended to anyone who loves the sounds of box fans and air conditioners.
Billie Holiday – “I’ll Be Seeing You”
You’re at a friend of a friend’s house. The three of you are making dinner. You find a spot in the kitchen, ask for a knife, and begin slicing the loaf of bread you brought. You pour three generous glasses of wine and drink half of yours in one motion. Your friend starts talking about her love life, and you quietly leave the kitchen. You are surprised to see the front window in tears. It’s not raining. From the windowsill, outward: two candles, grey blankets, tree skeletons, and a dozen metal heaps arranged in four parallel rows. You finish your cigarette and wander back into the kitchen.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
"green arrow" is the most beautiful six minutes of sound ever put to record and while it’s playing i will tell you that it’s the only song, the only music, that really matters to me
plus: fifteen more songs at or near that level
i’ve adored this album in so many different phases of life and it still sounds so fresh and relevant and aching every time i put it on. yo la tengo certainly speaks to me from a higher level than all other indie rock and most other music, at that
you know those moments when everything in the universe feels unbearably important as it filters into your consciousness and you have no idea why, but despite it being emotionally draining, you’re still ok with it?
(i wrote these words three years ago and i still stand behind them)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – Songs of Remembrance and Songs of Forgiveness
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is one of my favorite musicians working today. Until I heard this, his sound was defined, to my ears, by his 2010 record Love is a Stream. It’s usually filed under ambient/drone, though I also consider it a shoegaze record. There’s no recognizable percussion, but there are layers and layers of guitar noise with some gorgeous vocals floating underneath.
Remembrance/Forgiveness is a departure from this. It has drum machines, cleaner guitars, repetition, echoes, and lots of space. It is lo-fi, not carelessly so, but rather delicately arranged. I can’t help but think of Chuck Person’s Eccojams: perpetual repetition of surreal, melancholic mantras – though I should mention that this music is entirely instrumental.
These are two separate albums. Each cassette side is one twenty-minute track containing several movements. Taken as an eighty-minute whole, it begins to sound like a masterwork.
Move D & Benjamin Brunn – Songs from the Beehive
love you babe
on your way out the
love you, th
clean up your garbage on your way out the
Cluster – Sowiesoso
A year ago I took a four-day backpacking trip through the wilderness of a national forest. A few friends and I made the trek, none of us having spent very much time in the wild before. We wanted to be disconnected – connected, rather – so cell phones were turned off and stowed away for emergency use (not like we could get a signal anyway). We did, however, bring my small, portable speaker unit. We thought it might be good to have some tunes along.
Before long, we discovered the forest was thicker, tougher, more alive than we thought. After a few dozen miles, we pitched a tent alongside a secluded lake and, once settled in, began to listen to the forest. We heard winds blowing through trees on other sides of the lake. Critters crackling intermittently all around us. And loons, their calls cutting through the night for miles; hanging, echoing, haunting the still air.
We kept those speakers packed away for the four days spent hiking through the hills, and for the three nights spent under the stars.
We spent a lot of time in silence, listening.
I heard Sowiesoso, loud and clear.