January Playlist

The second half of January has been a bad time for me, with a lot of very difficult things to deal with. I’ve been low on energy for doing anything much creative. Here’s a playlist of songs I’ve been listening to lately though.

 

1) Queen of Borrowed Light- Wolves in the Throne Room

I was really disappointed with the most recent Wolves in the Throne Room album. I mean I guess it’s nice that they stopped trying to be a pale copy of Brian Eno, but the new stuff was really generic. Enjoy this instead.

2) Mouth Breather- Jesus Lizard

This song is about Britt Walford from Slint. He might be great at drums and songwriting, but don’t let him mind your house. There will be plumbing incidents.

3) I Am Living Death- Institute

Great new punk/post-punk from Texas.

4) Real World- Hüsker Dü

Great old punk from Minnesota. RIP Grant Hart.

5) Cross the Breeze- Sonic Youth

6) Закрой за мной дверь (Zakroy za mnoy dver’ / Close the door behind me) – Kino

This song from the 80s is incredibly well-known in Russia. Viktor Tsoi is kind of their Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain rolled into one. In the early 80s he was repressed for his music- they had stopped sending people to the Gulag or falsely imprisoning them in mental institutions, but if you did anything to displease the authorities suddenly you would lose your university place and your job applications would always be unsuccessful. Tsoi was kicked out of art school and given a job as janitor of his own block of flats for lyrics like “well this train isn’t going anywhere anyone wants to go” and continually pushing the very tight limits of what was allowed in public performance. By the late 80s under Gorbachev he was allowed to get away with lyrics demanding outright political change and became hugely successful in the USSR, but then died in a road accident less than a year after the Berlin Wall came down. You can see the lyrics in Russian & English here.

7) Abschied (farewell)- Nico

Nico on the other hand was a deeply unpleasant person, even if I enjoy her music. I’ve never really understood why people call the Marble Index “unlistenable” or an “ordeal”. It’s quite a soothing album really. I like the baroque style of this song- which extends to the lyrics, full of old-fashioned literary words like harren and verzehren. The words and translation are here.

8) Master Song- Leonard Cohen

I listened to Leonard Cohen non-stop when I lived in Budapest, and it fits the city and its atmosphere pretty well. I miss Hungary a lot, but no way could I live there under the current far-right (and increasingly actually fascist) government. The sooner Viktor Orbán is out the better.

9) Translate- Suuns

The soundtrack to walking over frozen rivers in the Czech Republic last year

10) Oh Yeah- Can

11) Pig- Sparklehorse

It’s still sad what happened to Mark Linkous.

12) Corpse Pose- Unwound

13) Night Goat- Melvins

14) Chromakey Dreamcoat- Boards of Canada

15) Etna- Sunn O)) & Boris

Around the Winter Solstice I always seem to want to listen to nothing but Sunn O)) and Earth. Let your ears take a soothing bath.

16) I Troldskog Faren Vild- Ulver

I like Ulver but am also aware that they are in some (many?) ways cheesy. The lyrics on this album are in Ye Olde Fairy Tale Norwegian and are actually pretty ridiculous (but let’s let them off, they were teenagers when they did this album). Enjoy them here.

Auto-suggested pathways

Long time, no see. I’ve been without a computer recently. Now it’s been fixed, I’ve got a bit of a backlog of posts. This is a spotify playlist I made a little while back. I was going for a introspective and slightly witchy mood.

1. I Found the F- Broadcast
I never got to see Broadcast properly live. I caught part of their set once at ATP when they were on really early, but I wasn’t in a hurry because they were a UK band, so it seemed like there were plenty of chances to see them. And then of course Trish Keenan sadly died of pneumonia, so no more Broadcast. I always categorise Broadcast with Stereolab and Ladytron in my head, except instead of focusing on 60s jet age stuff, they’ve been watching loads of Oliver Postgate and eerie 70s Nigel Kneale tv shows. Last year I went to a Halloween special event at the UCL Archaeology department themed on “Archaeology and the Uncanny”. As well as actual archaeology there were talks about portrayals of archaeologists in the media, literature etc (Nigel Kneale was a name that came up pretty often). Fictional archaeologists who aren’t Indiana Jones usually discover some forbidden secret and come to a nasty end.
Read more

Wake and walk and talk and take

More like wake and talk and work and talk and work lately. I’ve been working teaching on a residential course in an ex nunnery near St Albans this week. I’ve worked for the company for a few years on and off, teaching the odd course here and there. Most of their work is residential, so I just do it occasionally. They hire out beautiful historical buildings and teenagers from abroad come for 2 week holidays. You take them out on field trips, give them lessons about cultural topics, and to improve their practical use of English, and do a creative project with them. This time we have been doing film-making. Last week they did a detective story, this week horror stories. No, you can’t see them, because of child protection rules at the job.

The hours are long and you live in work and see no-one but your students and co-workers for 2 weeks, but the work is satisfying and well-paid, and meals and laundry and cleaning are taken care of, so all you have to do is concentrate on the work. The food at this place has been surprisingly good too. I couldn’t do it long term though, you’d feel like you’d been institutionalised. I return to London on Saturday and start a new Summer teaching job on Monday. It will be good to be earning proper money for a while.

1. Circumambient- Grimes
<3 Claire Boucher.

2. Anyone Can Have a Good Time- Owls
Owls! Owls! They’re playing in London in September! Also Kingston in a pub, I’m not sure why. I’ve always wondered why this song isn’t on the album though, it’s great.

Read more

What is not but could be if

Here’s another mix, no theme this time, just songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately. When I moved the blog over to wordpress, I had to put the playlist on Spotify, so a couple of the songs aren’t available.

1) Zoom!- Super Furry Animals
See my entry about Gruff Rhys’ Separado film)

Read more