See What I’m Hearing: 6 album listening Log #1
our new regular contributor Jake Bellissimo returns to give some interesting listening tips – and to create the first instance where ABBA is mentioned on the Bad Blog of Musick…I especially adore the piece by Delia Derbyshire, female electronic composer extraordinaire, and much ahead of her time (Moritz Eggert)
See What I’m Hearing: 6 album listening Log #1
by Jake Bellissimo
As the temperature starts to drop in Berlin and the leaves change different colors, so do my listening habits. Having a good record or piece or whatever to listen to on a breeeeezy afternoon walk or train ride to your apartment can be soothing. Since most (if not all) of my time for listening to music is reserved for public transit, I cherish these times when I can just look forward and listen.
This is the first of a few listening logs—I’m just going to speak about and recommend 6 albums/EPs/pieces that have caught my eye/ears lately.
(these aren’t in a particular order)
• Pavilionous Miracles Of Circular Facet Dice (2005) by The Skaters
o A weird way to start this off, maybe, but definitely my most-played album as of recently. Wunderkind James Ferraro has a very extensive discography, but I prefer to think it started to get interesting with The Skaters. This is such a beautiful album full of really exceptional pieces. I’m sure this isn’t what they meant it to be, but it sounds like there’s some sort of important/striking performance happening in another room, but for some reason they recorded it from the next room over.
But honestly, as a listener, I have no problem eavesdropping. I dig it, in fact—all of the (rightly so) “Untitled” pieces ambush your brain with some hearty sounds in an unusually soothing way.
Listen to: the whole thing—trying to splice it up isn’t really worth it.
• The Singing from Mount Eerie (2003) by The Microphones
o Phil Elverum is a musician that is able to fascinate a wide crowd on a consistent basis. I didn’t really understand the craze (not really in the new music scene, but more indie rock scenes) until this spring, when I listened to The Glow Pt. 2 (read: the critically acclaimed one) on an overnight bus to NYC. It may have been the landscape or the fact it was 4 in the morning, but ever since then I’ve been captivated by his knack for timbre and the smooth control he has over his voice.
It’s no doubt, then, that a version of his album Mount Eerie with a completely vocal/nearly a cappella focus would be beautiful. This is something really special.
Listen to: “Universe”
• Inventions for Radio: The Dreams (1964) by Delia Derbyshire
o Known best for her electronic realization of the Doctor Who theme song, Delia Derbyshire doesn’t have to put forth much effort to sonically get under your skin. This album is no exception, as on this collection of recordings Derbyshire gets particularly intimate with the way she pieces together interviews about other people’s dreams. The best moments are typically the most unexpected, oddly enough. Just don’t fall asleep while listening to it; you’ll miss the best parts.
Listen to: “Falling”
• String Quartet Describing the Motions of Large Real Bodies (1972, but recording from 1999) by Robert Ashley
o Though the title may be slightly misleading, this piece for an “electronic orchestra” of sorts is probably my favorite in Robert Ashley’s discography. I listened to it a lot in my senior year of high school, but recently have been revisiting it on an almost daily basis. It’s one of those pieces where I prefer to just turn my brain off and listen—analyzing it is only a fraction as interesting for me as just listening…and I’ve been doing a lot of that recently, just kind of letting the sounds wash over me.
Listen to: the whole thing (it’s just one recording anyway…)
• Why Is There Something Instead Of Nothing? (2014) by Mike Majkowski
o Recently I was volunteering at a Quiet Cue show in Berlin and saw Mike perform. The entire room came to a hush, akin to a mass in a large cathedral as he softly played an entrancing piece (that seemed to require a hefty amount of concentration) with what seemed like no effort. Having never heard his music before, I hurried home and was relieved to discover his other great pieces as well. This is a real nice album, I know I’ve made it the soundtrack to many early morning walks.
Listen to: “A Shadow Of Silver Dipped In Gold”
• The Visitors (1981) by ABBA
o Over the years it’s become clear to me that I think it’s rare for somebody to write better songs than ABBA was able to over the course of their career. I’m not only completely deep into how intricate and precise their arrangements were, but also the lyrics and their consistent access to heart-wrenching melodies. Since the group ended with romantic separation, it’s natural that The Visitors had a much darker tone than the rest of their discography (a mood which arguably started with 1979’s Voulez-Vous)…but that only adds yet another facet to the world’s fascination with ABBA—how do you get people to sing along with a sad ending?
Listen to: “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room”