13 February 2011

Soothing the savage beast...

I've noticed that since changing my news feed options on Facebook, a lot of people I know like to put up links to music videos. While it's not as great a method of finding new music as say, Pandora, but it does give me insight into what makes others tick. For instance: if you were to link up the latest Lady Gaga video, I might have to assume one of two options. One, you are an idiot; Two, you were bitten by the pop music bug (insectus notalentus) and in the resulting fever lost all grip on reality and were driven to link up the track for all your friends to see. (It's okay. We've all put something on social venues we probably wish we hadn't in hindsight.)

Continuing on the subject of music, those of you who've known me long enough are aware that I am extremely particular when it comes to what I listen to. It all boils down to this: I know what sounds good to me. You will probably disagree with me as much as I will disagree with you. When it comes to base genres I will not listen to contemporary country, and Christian-themed music in all its many forms (Gospel, Rap, Rock, etc.). Everything else I will give a chance before I say "meh". (Yes, even pop.)

Here's an example: My dear friend Rich became enamored of the rave scene years back (though I think he's outgrown most of that crap). As such he was always introducing me to new forms of electronic/techno. Ninety-five percent of it I could not stand. The remaining five percent belonged to the much-maligned subset of "Big Beat" techno; e.g. the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy, Aphex Twin, et. al. While most would ask "what's the difference?" I could not then or now give you a rational answer. It just feels "right" and everything else feels "wrong".

There are a few core elements of what I feel is right, though. Unique instrumentation in non-traditional settings, like Korn's occasional bagpipes and Cornershop's heavy use of sitar. Harmonized vocals, whether it is multiple singers (the Beach Boys) or layering of one voice (Queen). Unusual timing (think Tool and Nine Inch Nails) I also find to be quite enjoyable. Also, older is not necessarily better, but I tend to enjoy a wide range of periods from early medieval (Mediaeval Baebes) to classical, and all the way through modern arrangements.

Well, I think I've rambled long enough. Now I'll share a few tracks that I've been listening to heavily for the past few months. Maybe in another few weeks I throw some more up.

1. Puscifer - "Indigo Children (JLE Dub Mix)" from V is for Viagra: The Remixes (2008)

This is one of those rare tracks where I prefer the remix to the original album cut. For those who don't know, Puscifer is Maynard James Keenan's (lead vocalist for Tool) other side project.

2. Peter Gabriel - "The Tower that Ate People (Remix)" from the Red Planet OST (2000)

Yeah, another remix, but this one stands alone better than the original.

3. Cocteau Twins - "Love's Easy Tears" from Love's Easy Tears EP (1986)

Just a beautiful track. You can't make out most of the lyrics, but for me that is part of the appeal. You may recognize Elizabeth Fraser's unique vocal stylings from the more recent "Teardrop" by Massive Attack (a.k.a. the "House" theme).

4. U2 -"Numb" from Zooropa (1993)

Yes, Bono's a piece of shit. We all know that. On this track, however, he is relegated to backing vocals where he belongs.

5. The Jesus and Mary Chain - "Snakedriver" from The Crow: OMPS (1994)

The whole of "The Crow" soundtrack is solid. This is just one of my favorites.

6. Afro Celt Sound System - "Life Begin Again" from Volume 3: Further in Time (2001)

The Afro Celt's third album featured two tracks with famous guest vocals, "When You're Falling" featured Peter Gabriel (another favorite) and this track featuring Robert Plant.

Hope you enjoyed that short playlist. Until next week, kids!

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