A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate editor
Föllakzoid, I Formed a decade ago in Santiago, Chile, Föllakzoid expand the language of psychedelia with influences from ancient Andean culture, using modern instruments and electronics to create silky, hypnotic music that can transport heady rockers and dance-club fanatics alike. Föllakzoid typically record their albums live in a single take, but the four pieces on the upcoming I consist of dozens of vocal and instrumental stems recorded in isolation and then reorganized by producer Atom TM. I’m already looking forward to seeing how they re-create this vibe onstage.
Greg Wooten, Marred for Life! Los Angeles record collector Greg Wooten has been seeking out LPs with scribbles, notes, collages, and artwork added by previous owners, and he recently released more than 250 favorites in a book edited by Jason Fulford. For every blacked-out tooth, Hitler ‘stache, or cartoon penis, there’s a more inventive defacement, including some that raise hard questions: Who melted Judy Collins’s face? And what would John Denver sound like if he were the kind of guy to wear googly-eye glasses?
Drahla, Useless Coordinates British art-rock trio Drahla have only been making music together for a few years, but they’ve already made some impressive fans: last year Robert Smith handpicked them to play London’s Meltdown festival. Their latest release, Useless Coordinates, is a fresh, immersive postpunk adventure that touches on identity, self-expression, and modern life, made more riveting by skronky sax.
Jamie is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Brent Fuscaldo, bassist and vocalist in Mako Sica
Various artists, String of Pearls: International 78s A 2009 collection of rare 78s by the fine folks at Mississippi and Canary Records, spanning the 1920s through the ’50s. It includes flamenco singer La Niña de los Peines, whose powerful voice disappeared from the limelight around the Spanish Civil War. The liner notes tell a powerful story about another track: Sholom Katz from Romania was digging his own grave in Auschwitz, along with thousands of other prisoners, and when his captors heard his rich baritone singing they were so moved that they spared him from death.
Cocteau Twins, The Box Set This group hasn’t left my rotation since high school. Recently at Reckless I found this out-of-print 1991 box set featuring ten CD singles, complete with original artwork by Vaughan Oliver of 23 Envelope. Liz Fraser’s vocals are sculpted masterpieces, and Robin Guthrie’s textured production swells and dips like the ocean. The introspective “Quisquose” off Aikea-Guinea threads a shadowy piano backbone with a chorus that blooms like a colorful orchid.
Harold Budd, The Pavilion of Dreams I discovered composer Harold Budd through his 1986 project The Moon and the Melodies with members of Cocteau Twins. The 1978 release The Pavilion of Dreams has an all-star cast that includes Gavin Bryars and Brian Eno (who also produced). Opening track “Bismillahi ‘Rrahman ‘Rrahim” (Arabic for “In the name of God, the beneficent, the merciful”) features the gorgeous harp of Maggie Thomas and the serene saxophone of Marion Brown.
Brent is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Mark Shippy, guitarist and sound experimentalist
Michael Small, theme to The Parallax View (1974) Michael Small composed the themes for many classic 1970s paranoid thrillers, including those for The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, and The China Syndrome. His use of the unnerving flatted fifth conveys suspense and drama in a very direct manner; there’s an urgency like the calm before a storm. This theme is always a strange pleasure to come back to—it’s inspired various open tunings I use on my instruments too.
Bus 711, Carbridge Toro BYD Electric Bus (audio) Along with mysterious shortwave radio emanations and ambient noise from the ether, I’m inspired by odd machine sounds. I had the good fortune of having a record store in my hometown whose back-room vault held all sorts of series of field recordings, including locomotive engines and switches. I’ve also always been drawn to music that sounds like trains and to many songs about trains or traveling by train (like Vashti Bunyan’s “Train Song”). Now that I’ve heard this recording, I’m thinking of writing a new “folk song” for the electric bus.
Ellen Arkbro, For Organ and Brass (2017) This piece builds so perfectly; it has an uneasy peacefulness that can also be found in spectral music and the whirr of rotor-stator generators. Like many Morton Feldman works, it gets you anticipating “something” . . . but you’re not sure what. It resonates nicely in the mind; its sonic environment is easy to recall, even when you aren’t listening to it, and helps block out the detritus when needed. v