A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Salem Collo-Julin, Reader listings coordinator
His Name Is Alive, Ft. Lake His Name Is Alive fans who were used to an experimental electronic approach from Warren Defever and company found the much poppier sounds of the 1998 album Ft. Lake a conceptual stretch at the time. I, however, loved it, and still find myself singing “Everything Takes Forever” at bus stops thanks to the album’s pleasantly harmonized synthetic aesthetic and Lovetta Pippen’s gospel-trained voice.
Eugene Thacker’s playlist for his 2018 book Infinite Resignation I just started reading the depressing philosophy of Infinite Resignation, and it’s the direct opposite of my mostly-baking-show TV intake as of late. The prospect of tackling Thacker’s playlist all at once—though he made it under duress, at his publisher’s insistence, it’s well over 24 hours—pushes me into so much gloom that my mind and soul become full of joy: inner goth emerges, scowls at bitches, et cetera.
- Thacker’s playlist includes Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere (c. 1638), performed by the Tallis Scholars in 1980
Historical Academy Award nominees for Best Original Song Looking over the list, you can see what a revelation “Theme From Shaft” must have been for Academy voters. I’m an unashamed Dick Van Dyke stan, so I certainly can get behind “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” but it’s refreshing to see some of the other nominees, which were clearly written strictly to complement the movie and not tie in with movie merchandise.
- Isaac Hayes performs the Shaft theme at the 1971 Oscars ceremony.
Salem is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Courtney Mora, half of experimental duo In Masks
FKA Twigs, Magdalene In a recent interview with Zane Lowe, FKA Twigs said that for her this 2019 album is about “finding my voice without societies’ whispers.” You can hear it in her lyrics, voice, and production on “Thousand Eyes”; see it in her nuanced, studied body movements in the captivating video for “Cellophane”; and feel it in her choreography and direction in the “Home With You” video. Her music shoves, twists, lulls, disrupts, and ignites. It guts me and then puts me back together with a caressing touch.
Sanyo MCD-Z1 Boombox CD Stereo Cassette & Recorder I still have my first boombox, which I bought alongside my first two CDs, Annie Lennox’s Diva and Nirvana’s In Utero, in junior high in 1993. (My musical proclivities were undoubtedly rooted in the Little Bird in the womb.) The boombox, along with my collection of mixtapes, has survived nearly three decades of moves across the country and among countless apartments. Perched in my kitchen between garlic and dried peppers, it serenades diners with weary yet hungry mixes from old crushes, lovers, and friends.
- Annie Lennox’s Diva includes the song “Little Bird.”
Underground Radio Directory I spent the holiday in Miami Beach with a couple of my favorite people. When not “swimming” in the Atlantic or rambling about town, we dined to the music of the Underground Radio Directory. URD hosts stations around the globe—currently 91 stations in 57 cities in 29 countries. There’s endless music to explore, and when your jazz-loving sister grows tired of the avant-garde, you can press the “I’m feeling lucky” button to bring up a random station. Our Miami listens included Le Mellotron in Paris and Operator Radio in Rotterdam.
Courtney is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Maddie Rehayem, vocals and synths in the Cell
Dolly Parton’s America Listen to this WNYC podcast and you’ll soon find that Dolly Parton’s America stretches beyond national borders. In episode four, “Tennesee Mountain Trance,” you can hear Ghanaian singer Esther Konkara deliver a chilling rendition of “Tennessee Mountain Home” and host Jad Abumrad tell the story of how his father connected with Dolly because he grew up in the mountains in Lebanon. Dolly is a great unifier—a singular, godlike character, as she illustrates with her lock on political neutrality (and ability to swiftly deflect any prying interview questions with a tit joke), her unique brand of capitalism, and her faith in humanity.
- WNYC’s playlist to accompany the podcast
Yaz, You and Me Both This 1983 album by Yaz (or Yazoo) was my favorite record purchase of 2019. It’s a breakup album in the first degree—so bad that I’ve heard Alison Moyet didn’t even want to be in the studio with Vince Clarke during production. She laid down her vocals by night after he recorded in the daytime. She’s screaming into the void, not at him. The pain and sadness, as well as the shake-it-off joy, are palpable.
Korg Volca Beats It doesn’t look like much, but this little analog rhythm box goes a long way. It’s a toy that’s not a toy—fun to play with but actually practical (though the Volca series does have a toylike, collect-them-all appeal). You can whip it out on a whim and spin up a little beat to workshop over. Look up the specs yourself—with its low price point and small size, it’s a piece of hardware that I plan on hoarding for years to come. v
- A tutorial video for the Korg Volca Beats