A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate editor
Link Wray, Rumble! The Best of Link Wray I don’t typically pay attention to industry awards, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s announcement of its 2018 nominees caught my attention: Among the groundbreaking artists who should’ve made the cut long ago (Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the MC5) was Link Wray, the guitarist who popularized the power chord. We could debate the reasons he wasn’t inducted after his two previous nominations, but it’d be more satisfying to dive into the career-spanning 1993 compilation Rumble! The Best of Link Wray. The Reader‘s music staff has been freaking out over a live 1974 version of the title track from the Winterland in San Francisco.
Gábor Szabó, Bacchanal Hungarian crossover jazz is hardly my forte, but when I heard guitarist Gábor Szabó something clicked. Bacchanal is one of several albums he cut in California in the late 60s that create something timeless by reimagining commercial pop via psychedelia, Hungarian folk, and loungy jazz. I’d take his versions of “Theme From Valley of the Dolls” and Lee Hazelwood’s “Some Velvet Morning” over the originals any day.
Ufomammut, 8 When life or the news cycle overwhelms, it’s tempting to indulge in escapism; Italian spacelords Ufomammut fill your brain with so much sound nothing else can seep in. Despite its enormity and intensity, their music can feel like a warm hug, especially on the new 8, where these masters of the doom and stoner renaissance nod to the connectedness of the universe.
Jamie is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Mike Boyd, Thrill Jockey publicist and guitarist for Stander
Górecki, A Nonesuch Retrospective I first heard Górecki’s Symphony no. 3 (aka Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) last year, after Lee Buford from the Body recommended it, and I was immediately hooked. I only recently picked up the seven-CD Nonesuch retrospective that includes said symphony, and the choral pieces on the fourth disc, especially Miserere and Amen, are perhaps as overwhelmingly emotional and affecting. Densely textured choral sounds are a weakness of mine.
Arca, Arca Arca has contributed to Björk’s Vulnicura, Kanye West’s Yeezus, and FKA Twigs’s LP1. But it took the Venezuelan producer’s set with Jesse Kanda at this year’s Pitchfork festival for me to really start paying attention. It embodied the punk attitude that electronic acts have been adopting over the past decade, fearlessly blending raw, clubby music with wild experiments: disjointed rhythms, forays into bolero, operatic singing. Not to mention the crowd-deterring cow-birth and fish-carcass visuals. Arca is a contender for my favorite record of the year.
Endon, Through the Mirror I’m a bit of a jaded metal fan, having grown up with the genre and thus gotten weary of its pitfalls and recycled tropes. Japanese noise-metal outfit Endon are the sort of ensemble that cuts through that monotony. On their new record, Through the Mirror, white-knuckle speeds, visceral noise, and completely unhinged vocals churn the group’s obvious chops into a thoroughly riveting experience. I can’t wait to see them at Thalia Hall this month.
Mike is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Doug Malone, recording engineer and owner of Jamdek (formerly Minbal)
Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, Simultonality Simultonality provides up-tempo pulsations of moving shapes and sounds through repetition. The album’s stereo imagery pans two drummers right and left (Frank Rosaly and Mikel Avery), their kits conversing with Abrams’s guimbri at the center. The album is as visceral as the cover art—both seize your attention at once but require further immersion to trace the details deep within every line, color, and rhythmic gesture.
Michael Blair and Joe Bucciero’s 33 1/3 book on Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth This great read about an inspiring album by Welsh band Young Marble Giants reveals interesting details about what influenced it, including John Cage’s minimalist composition style and changes in technology and mass media during the late 1970s. Colossal Youth bridges 20th-century avant-garde and postpunk, shaping its sound with hazy drum-machine rhythms and strict attention to dynamics. The band called it quits shortly after this 1980 release, but the record remains important today.
Creeping Pink, Mirror Woods This album by bedroom-recording savant Landon Caldwell (a friend from Bloomington, Indiana) playfully combines multitracked Syd Barrett-esque acoustic and vocal melodies with hazy, lo-fi Harmonia-style electronics. Its wide-ranging aesthetic includes musique concrète and fuzzed-out, tape-saturated pop. The instruments blend into a multitextural palette while staying true to the songs’ rhythmic intentions.