Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Yardsigns and Music: Dr. Spin's Summer 2018 Roundup

My time in Austin coincided quite neatly with the Obama administration. Not only did left-leaning policies prevail during this time, I viewed them from within the relatively liberal bubble of Austin culture. A Trump win seemed inconceivable, so I was shocked when I began teaching in a relatively small North Texas town. The street to my campus was surprisingly littered with Trump yard signs, and I incredulously cautioned by Austin friends to get the vote out, just in case. The rest, of course, is sad history.

I am happy to say that the same stretch of road now features no less than seven yard signs supporting progressive Beto O’Rourke, four more than his conservative opponent Ted Cruz. Of course, yard signs don’t vote, but it is encouraging to see this longshot Democratic candidate gaining a foothold in a relatively right-leaning area. It makes me feel more hopeful than I have since the election.

My increased presence in this area indicates that summer is over and school is in session, and predictably. I am struggling to juggle time with my family with the demands of marching season. Before time slips away, I need to log the music that was in rotation during the summer months. Many of these albums were vetted on the road, while others became new music for the family to enjoy over dinner or at bedtime. I will not parse them out as per their function as I did earlier this year, but I instead lump them all together to represent the Summer of 2018.

Don Caballero - Punkgasm: I actually ordered this in my holiday stash, but it took nearly six months for hardcopy to arrive. The presence of occasional vocals were cause for concern, but don’t distract nearly as much as I had anticipated.

Vulfpeck - Fugue State: Fugue State might be more properly categorized as an EP due to its short length. Despite this, it has evolved into a favorite soundtrack for after-school family dance parties.

Seabuckthorn - A House With Too Much Fire: This follow-up to last year’s album of the year feels much more open-ended and improvised than its predecessor. It retains, however, the engulfing resonance and atmospherics that made Turns so compelling.

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger mountain (by Strategy): This early album by Eno shows how his sonic thumbprint was stamped across a broad spectrum of 70’s art-rock. Listening to it, I often wonder what might have happened if Syd Barrett had stayed in the game long enough to develop a partnership with Eno.

Venetian Snares - Traditional Synthesizer Music: A disarming but ultimately lyrical display of modular synthesizer potential. The potential for exhaustion is very real by album’s end, but the ride is engaging enough to keep listener interest high.

Soen - Lykaia: Soen is often criticized for sounding like Tool, which, in my opinion, is hardly a criticism if it is well-deserved. There are some tonal similarities, but I would throw a heaping dash of Opeth’s liminal prog-metal as a distinguishing characteristic.

Soup - The Beauty of Our Youth: For some reason, I received a promotional copy of The Beauty of Our Youth when I ordered Remedies earlier this year. It is quite an album in its own right, but it will stand in the shadow of Remedies for quite a while.

Spock’s Beard - Noise Floor: I have been a proponent of the current incarnation of Spock’s Beard since Ted Leonard came on board as lead vocalist. Despite the return of Nik D’Virgilio of drums, however, this has been the first release from this iteration of the band that I have had trouble getting behind.

Legends of Et Cetera - Coyote: An acceptably good but sometimes bland collection of jazzy jangle-rock that I mostly like but don’t love. Really attracted to the album art, though.

The Wagakki Band - Vocaloid Sanmai: Well-crafted J-Rock with the added twist of incorporating traditional Japanese instruments and vocal styles. I finally have an album that really satisfies my secret desire to jam to anime theme songs and a justification for liking them.

Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children: This is a classic piece of 90s electronica that I have circled for years. It’s an immediately accessible and distinctive work that lives up to its reputation.

Cayucas - Bigfoot: An easily digestible slice of sunny pop music goodness. Bigfoot brings the intimate cleverness of Peter, Bjorn, and John alongside the cheery ambience of the Beach Boys to immediate and consistent effect.

Van Halen - Women and Children First: The last album in the Van Halen back catalog that has eluded capture all these years. Certainly, the band’s initial steam had begun to wane slightly by this third release, but Women and Children First still features several of the band’s defining moments (not the least of which was featured in the stop-motion hamburger animation in the classic 80s movie Better Off Dead).

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther: Fans of early Radiohead, Jethro Tull and the more arcane aspects of Fleetwood Mac will have a very hard time finding anything to complain about with this album. Although it shares a thread with The Amazing, a favorite from last year, Midlake is immediately distinctive and nuanced, with engaging lyrics to boot.

Various Artists - African Scream Contest V.2: Although as a rule, I avoid compilations, carefully curated collections of ethnic pop from yesteryear often find their way into my listening and can make a clear and intriguing statement. This particular collection fits that description well, featuring a variety of psychedelic pop from the 70s in West Africa.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Modular and the Power of Suggestion

I stumbled across Modular in the artist recommendation area of Bandcamp one evening while doing the menial but necessary tasks associated with being a band director. Although it was my intention to employ it was background music in my office, it immediately resonated beyond this function. Rather than take note to further vet the album at a later time (as I ususally would), I ended up streaming it in its entirety several times throughout the evening.  It seemed to capture all the epic post-rock grandeur of Tortoise’s best work while paradoxically remaining as intimate as a jazz trio recording. The room seemed to feel empty without it and nothing else really came to mind that could effectively follow it up. 

By the time I was ready to head home, I was sold. I was eager to get Modular in regular rotation, but I was disappointed to find, as is increasingly the case these days, that the album was not available in a CD pressing. Not to be dissuaded by lack of access to my preferred format, I purchased the MP3 album as soon as I got home and in the weeks to follow Modular came to be standard evening music in the household.

I heard a curious balance between improvisation and composition throughout the album that urged me to look deeper into the album’s inner workings. Normally, this would mean combing through the CD liner notes, looking for recording and performance clues. Most MP3 albums are sadly lacking in this regard, but Modular came with a 36 page interactive PDF that implied the album’s scope was much broader than I had suspected.

These “soft” liner notes suggested that Modular was informed by a meticulous data gathering system that used movements of clouds, tectonic activity, water currents, and other natural phenomena. This data was gathered by six analog sound components, each specifically designed to process information from aspects of a given environment. Each track on Modular was somehow based on the data gathered from nature. Beautiful pictures of these components in their respective settings and graphic renderings of acoustic data drove this point home.

I was spellbound by this idea. The components presented in the liner notes seemed functional, and the way in which the data was used added a third dimension to the spectrum of improvisation and composition. There was only one problem:

I could not for the life of me understand how it was done.

I strained my mind's ear with every playing, trying to figure out how the data was being used, but I could account for most of Modular’s sounds within the synergistic musicianship of guitarist Dan Phelps, drummer Matt Chamberlain, and bassist Viktor Krauss.  Were sounds generated from the data and used as backgrounds? Was it used as an organizing principle for the compositions and improvisations? Were there subtle envelope filters draped over the performances informed by the data? Was it in the guitar effects? Was it in the melodic material? The possibilities were endless, and my inability to suss out the truth was maddening.

Finally, after several months, my curiosity got the better of me. I actually contacted Phelps through e-mail and asked him directly how he used the data that he had gathered. He replied in a timely manner and apologetically admitted the “scandalous truth:” the entire data collection aspect of Modular was a fabrication of the graphics team of Nate Manny and Gabe Kerbrat. Although that made more sense than any of the outlandish methods that I had imagined, I was still quietly crushed. I really wanted to believe in the potentials in the proposed Modular method, and I truly felt like the pieces painted a compelling picture of the environments to which they referred.

I was not the only one that felt this. While I was still questioning how much my impressions were informed by the liner notes, my wife picked the track Constellation for her performance art installation. In its earliest iteration, this performance was to take place outside under the stars, and she picked the song out from a lineup of contenders because of a connection she heard with this setting.  Weather restrictions ultimately forced it into our garage, but the change of venue did not constrain the track’s suggestion of the night sky’s vast openness.

Despite having a more conventional creative process than I envisioned, Modular still succeeds at capturing something essential about the natural environments that inspired its concept.  I am left to wonder, however, if this perception is irrevocably influenced by my struggles to decode its "mythos."  As of this writing, I am unsure if the concept drove the music or the music allowed the concept to emerge.  Only Phelps, Chamberlain, and Krauss can really answer this conundrum with any authority.  In either case, the album has survived intense scrutiny and still never fails to engage my attention in terms of both musicianship and concept.  My investigation of and experience with the album caused Modular to emerge as an absolute favorite listen this year.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Racing Around: The Relevance of Roger Waters' Question

As a founding member of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters’ career stretches back nearly five decades. Starting as the band’s bassist and occasional contributer, he emerged as a creative czar, forging a unique and distinctive style. His influence eventually co-opted the band’s identity, which made The Wall, for all intents and purposes, a Waters solo album. His solo albums, for the most part, feature the stylistic standards of this landmark album, which suggests the strength of both his concept and creative control over Pink Floyd at that point in the band's career.

Despite his respectable creativity, Waters has been teetering on anachronism for decades. His 1992 album Amused to Death was impressive, but seemed like an overthought paint-by-number rehash of past work. Beyond that, he has remained visible by performing The Wall and other classic Pink Floyd work in spectacular live productions. New music from Waters simply has not seemed like a priority for quite a while.  I was surprised, then, by the announcement in early 2017 of his new album Is This the Life We Really Want?.

Initially, I was only marginally interested. Amused to Death has barely been off the shelf since it went into my collection twenty-five years ago. Additionally, the first single from Is This the Life We Really Want? felt like a clear attempt to recapture the sounds of Pink Floyd in the glory days, and I was not convinced that I was willing to encourage such nostalgia plays. 

I discovered, however, that Waters wooed Nigel Godrich to produce the album. Godrich is best known for his work with Radiohead, and I often like to indulge in thinking that the artistic and commercial successes of both OK Computer and Dark Side of the Moon suggest a shared cultural relevance.  I was further intrigued by the rumors indicating that Godrich wasn’t necessarily a starstruck fan. He was critical of Waters’ solo work, particularly Amused to Death. I speculated that Waters brought Godrich in as fresh ears to help him dodge anachronism.

Godrich’s presence, however, did not have the immediate and obvious impact that I had imagined.  In fact, I was initially surprised at how little Waters innovated. Is This The Life We Really Want? is filled to the brim with Waters most distinctive tropes. In particular, it prominently features his far-reaching interest in musique concrete and found sounds. Waters has always shown interest in the explosive musical impact of glass breaking or the rush of a jet plane racing across the sky. His use of these kinds of sound effects over murmured radio broadcasts and minor key blues grooves is characteristically present throughout the album. 

So Waters was up to his old tricks, and that may seem like a criticism, but in the case of Is This The Life We Really Want? it is actually a backhanded compliment. Repeated listening to the album reveals it to be one of Waters’ most engaging solo efforts, and its success owes a lot to its overt references to his time with Pink Floyd. Perhaps with the band officially done and such a long gap since he took the spotlight with any new material, his identity can sell these allusions as authentic creations rather than overt nostalgia.  And yes, age has etched itself upon his voice, but his distinctive singing has had the the grizzled edge of an old man for a very long time. Any loss of range his voice has suffered is swallowed up in his idiosyncratic style, which has always been driven more strongly by lyric content than clever melody. 

While there are aspects of Waters’ unique musicianship that could garner criticism, he is inarguably a brilliant conceptualist. Lyrically, Is This the Life We Really Want? plays out like a collection of related songs connected to the question posed by the album’s title. This runs counter to Waters’ usual craft with linear narrative, but it gives him the freedom to circle around this question and examine it from a variety of angles.

Looking back on Waters’ career, he has always seemed more relevant when the cultural climate leans toward conservatism, and this also works to the album’s advantage. It seems as if time has raced around to come up behind him again. Is This the Life We Really Want? is clearly informed by and framed in the age of Trump and Brexit, and Waters’ characteristically blunt approach to political commentary feels pertinent as a reaction to the times in which we find ourselves. Not only is the album relevant, but the question that it asks is relevant, and the straightforward way in which Waters examines this question might make the album one of his more important statements.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Enduring Catharsis of Genesis' "Duke"

For a dedicated, if critical, progressive rock fan like myself to have maintained a music blog for nearly ten years and not once dedicated a post to Genesis is a pretty glaring omission. Predictably, I have opinions about the unique arc of their oeuvre, but I have waffled for years now on the best way to do justice to their unique transformation from 70s symphonic surrealists to 80s radio staples.

Now the recent Facebook “game,” in which the participants post the cover art from a personally enduring album once a day for ten days, has forced my hand. For a pathological music listener like me, choosing only ten albums to represent all of the most enduring music in my collection was nothing short of tortuous.  After much deliberation, however, I came up with a list that I could mostly live with.

Until one of my nominees posted Duke.

I considered this 1980 release from Genesis when I made my list, but gave it a pass in lieu of other subjectively important progressive rock milestonesDuke is very personal for me, though, and seeing it posted by someone else felt as if I had failed miserably. I can think of very few albums in my collection that have been more enduring and that I have come back to more often than this unique and sadly overlooked gem. In an act that was equal parts penance and anticipation, Duke found its way back into rotation this Spring.  Now, months later, it would be a contender for album of the year if it had not already earned the title at least four times already.

Duke was in no way my introduction to Genesis, and for a very long time I probably would not have even counted it among my favorites. Initially, I appreciated the album as a unique axis upon which Genesis’ past as progressive rock innovators and their future as a pop outfit rotated.

Throughout the past three decades since I added this album to my library, Duke has retained its initial prog-pop fluency.  The album has revealed layers of depth, however, as my life experiences have unfolded.  Like most, I experienced breakup and heartache as a teenager and a young adult, but it took going through a divorce and, later, having children to really grasp Duke’s narratives.

Duke is, arguably, a concept album about fame and failed relationships,  The themes that hold Duke together were inspired by the toll that the band’s extensive touring schedule exacted on Phil Collins’ disintegrating marriage. Fueled by the ordeals of his private life, Collins finally shed the vestiges of Gabriel’s surreal storytelling and revealed a uniquely personal iteration of Genesis. That his expressions are genuine are, I think, beyond question. I can think of few songs more gut-wrenchingly vivid than Please Don’t Ask, which captures the emotional arc of a grieving man’s internal dialogue as he struggles to keep his composure in the face of deep loss.

Despite being so personal, Duke is not a solo album.  Genesis was made up of three distinctive songwriters, and its a feat of collaboration that they were able to trace the outlines of Collins’ ordeals so clearly. In fact, the perspectives of Collins’ bandmates contribute greatly to Duke’s success. Of particular note is keyboardist Tony Banks, who wrote a multi-movement composition describing an artist’s relationship with the public eye. To distance themselves from their earlier work and perhaps generate a single or two, the band elected to edit the movements of this long-form piece throughout the album. Weaving this narrative in this way imparts Duke with the sense of an objective storyline that frames Collins’ more personal and subjective insights.

This narrative structure suggests that Duke might veer into "rock opera" territory, but a close look at the libretto shows that any story that revolves around a character named "Duke" is more a suggestion than plot.  In fact, such a character is never named in the entire album, and his counterpart "Duchess" only exists as a song title.  Rather like the character "Billy Shears" did for  Sgt. Pepper's,  the idea of "Duke" is set up so vividly in the opening tracks of the album that he frames the listening for all the songs that follow, whether he is intended as an actual character or not.

Looking at the emotional facets of ending a relationship from both inside and out, the band unified their work around Collins' struggle, resulting in a focus that is unique in the Genesis catalog. As a vocalist, Collins called on emotions in ways that he never had before, harnessing an edgy screaming range that would become his signature for years to come. The band’s instrumental aspects, which were always top-notch, rose to meet the challenge of backing his cathartic delivery, and aside from a missed opportunity for a humming low end, the production captures these performances with convincing clarity. I have a hard time imagining any album with better drum sounds than those on Duke.

Revisiting Duke over these past few months, I keep thinking about how it's a shame that the album isn’t considered more highly than it is in the prog-rock pantheon. To be blunt, however, it was too pop to be prog and prog to be pop. Like 90125 and Moving Pictures, it stood at the crossroads of these two genres and was able to inhabit them both with distinctive ease. What makes Duke so enduring, however, its its brutal honesty in describing an experience, both musically and conceptually, that I could only relate to after going through my own trials.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spring Roundup Part 4: Good Car

People's taste in music is often shaped by the distinctive ways in which it is consumed and used.  Take my father, for instance. For most of my adult life, my father has had an explicit preference for instrumental music that he listens to in the car.  As I have stated elsewhere, the automobile as a listening site has its advantages and limitations. One such limitation arises due to the significant amount of background noise that we take for granted while driving, making it more difficult to appreciate music’s quieter aspects.

The problematically labelled “new age” music that my father likes capitalizes on dynamic contrasts, and he would often get annoyed at having to turn his volume up and down to follow the details of softer passages. When he found an album that stayed within a dynamic range that he would not have to adjust, it would receive a label designating it as “GOOD CAR.”

Although I used to tease my dad relentlessly about choosing music based on the narrowness of its dynamic range, there is merit to the designation. Only in recent years have I realized how much I limited myself by making the car my primary listening site. Even now, the majority of my music begins in the car and gets distributed into different settings as the need arises.  Still, there are some kinds of music whose darkness, angularity, dissonance, or general intended volume are best suited for the private setting of my car. These albums are my version of Good Car.

John Williams - The Last Jedi OST: while this may not be John Williams most memorable Star Wars score, just might be his most masterful. The way that he interweaves themes from throughout the franchise is incredible in this soundtrack, and is best appreciated at max volume.

LITE - Cubic: A few years ago, I would have cited LITE as one of my favorite bands. They have steadily moved away from the aggressive intensity of their earlier work, however, towards a more jazzy fusion approach that lacks the same emotional impact.

Mouse on the Keys - The Flowers of Romance: When I first discovered Mouse on the Keys, they were strictly a piano duo with a drummer. They have significantly expanded their sonic palette since then, but in the process may have lost some of the essence of what made them interesting.

Alcest - Kodama: it's hard to resist an album that cites Deafheaven, Tool, and Princess Mononoke as equal influences. Kodama balances light and dark, beauty and ugliness, hope and despair in ways that convincingly reflect these somewhat diverse inspirations.

The Who - Who Are You?: I'm a big fan of The Who, and I've slowly been putting their albums in my collection for the past 30 years. Despite a couple of really compelling high points, this is the first one I really thought was a big jumbled up mess on the whole.

Andrew W.K. - You Are Not Alone: I got this on the suggestion of several friends, and quickly found that there was more to Andrew W.K. than a comically optimistic attitude and theatrical riff-rock. Once I let go of my cynicism and embraced the idea the he might be genuine, I came to really appreciate his mission statement.

Wei Zhongle - The Operators: A songwriter and an eccentric clarinet player walk into a Chinese opera and start covering the Talking Heads. This isn’t beginning of a joke - its Wei Zhongle

Piniol - Bran Coucou: Piniol is, apparently, a mashup of two separate mathty French noise bands, Piol and Ni. In this incarnation, with two bass players and two drummers, they blast through Bran Coucou with the precision of Battles and the Zorn-esque zaniness of Mr. Bungle.

John Powell - Solo: A Star Wars Story OST: To me, the most important aspect of continuity in the Star Wars universe is John Williams' scores, and there has been no small amount of anxiety to find someone to pass the baton to before he retires. John Powell’s approach is noticeably more polyrhythmic and driving than Williams, but his melodic sense is completely compatible with the franchise’s already established musical canon.

Kite Base - Latent Whispers: This album came too late to make the Dinner Music post, but its Bjork-meets-Nine Inch Nails-meets-The XX would probably fit in that category as well. It is just a bit dark in tone (not content), but it abounds with memorable tunes and smart arrangements.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Spring Roundup Part 3: The Prog Stuff

To continue catching up on this series that admittedly was meant to catch me up a month ago, I am addressing the albums that ended up getting lumped into a category I loosely designated as Prog Stuff.

Before I continue, the argument over what progressive rock is and is not is a huge and divisive topic that I am unwilling to engage here. The albums that follow don’t necessarily fall into the neat characteristics of traditional progressive rock music. Instead, these are all albums that I discovered through progressive rock avenues - either from websites dedicated to the style or from rhizomatic connections to other progressive rock groups.
Functionally, a lot of this music floats between the car and the house, although it feels a little indulgent to subject the whole family to some of this stuff. Still, as is often the case, I have found much of my favorite music this year by searching in progressive rock circles.

Wobbler - From Silence to Somewhere: Wobbler’s most recent release is another example of retro prog that transcends mere imitation. Their distinctive sound delves into heavier realms on From Silence to Somewhere than in the past, bringing to mind the riff-driven work of Rush in the mid-70’s.

Barock Project - Skyline: This album's clean, bright approach to late Neo-Progressive rock did not initially appeal to me at all.  Its strong songwriting and clever musicianship, however, has really grown on me, revealing depths that continue to deliver.

Bent Knee - Say So: Bent Knee seems like a band full of great musicians with just too many ideas. There are times when the concept pops into focus with dramatic results, but overall Say So feels too uneven to rise above mere moments.

Big Big Train - Folklore: Although occasionally marred by goofy lyrics, the positive critical responses to Folklore are largely deserved.  Fans of progressive rock in the vein of Genesis will likely connect with this album, especially if a sprinkling of Celtic overtones in the mix sounds appealing.

The Knells - Knells II: With a guitar player who seems to have broken off the the knob off somewhere between Jimmy Page and Hemispheres-era Alex Lifeson, I find a whole lot of like about this album from an instrumental perspective.  Even more interesting is the classically trained women's trio that collectively function as the lead voice.

Cheer- Accident - Putting off Death:  This is another album that is almost derailed by its own eccentricity, but is grounded by the obvious technical prowess of the band’s members.  The album has a certain sonic relationship to Bill Bruford’s 70’s solo work, which I have a longstanding relationship with.

Soup - Remedies: Remedies is my early contender for album of the year.  It's distinctive balance between Pink Floyd, post-rock, and pan-Nordic bleakness makes everything that I've been listening to pop into sharper focus.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Spring Roundup Part 2: Evening Music

I have a longstanding interest in music that is "soothing but not boring," but this area of my listening is often eclipsed by more energetic styles. This is probably because the primary site of listening has traditionally been my car, and active music more readily overlays the experience of driving. The increased access provided by the Plex app, however, has opened up new spaces in my everyday routine.

For example, Seabuckthorn’s Turns is a masterful, atmospheric yet emotionally moving album that worked in the car well enough, but its status as the 2017 Album of the Year is a result of its pervasive presence in the evenings after the kids went to sleep. Towards the end of last year, I became increasingly interested in finding more music that could fill this space, giving rise to the second category that has arisen in the past few months - Evening Music.

There are many albums that I put in this category, and virtually all of them are engaging, but very few of them actually ended up working as well as I had hoped. With only a couple of exceptions, most of them balanced ambient aspects with at least a few moments of explosive noise. I find this musically interesting, but from a functional standpoint, Evening Music can’t wake up the kids or cause study room doors to slam in irritated disgust.

Pejman Hadadi - Epiphany: It's hard to believe that I never wrote about this, but last semester we had a housemate from Iran (via Belgium) who was auditing the PhD program that my wife is in. She gave me this CD as a Christmas/parting gift, and it has served very well as my “non-Western” listening at the beginning of this year.

Tangerine Dream - Zeit: I walked into Zeit hoping to investigate retro-synth source material, only to find that Zeit is hardly the place to start this kind of research. As it turns out, however, it is a surprisingly captivating proto-ambient album that shares more common ground with Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma than Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene.

Kyle Dixon & Micheal Stein - Stranger Things 2 OST: Like its predecessor, Stranger Things 2 shows its intent in its structure. It is a collection of cues, rather than freestanding compositions, which opens up different creative freedoms for Dixon and Stein.

The Radiophonic Workshop - Burials on Several Earths: This is more in line with what I thought Zeit would be like, but it is also far more ambient than I had anticipated. In terms of authenticity, however, you really can't go wrong with three or four guys who worked in the BBC radiophonic Workshop during its heyday in the 70s.

Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch - Blade Runner 2049 OST: This soundtrack doesn’t speak quite as clearly as a lot of Hans Zimmer’s work, but it matches the movie so well that it is hard not to appreciate. It falls prey to the unfortunate trend of closing with a painfully formulaic pop song.

Burial - Untrue: This album has received some attention recently due to its rhizomatic influence on several current electronic styles. Although it’s dark atmosphere has found a pretty regular spot in my evening music listening, its complexity and subtle energy allows it to spill beyond this setting with ease.

Park Jiha - Communion: I love Communion’s emotional cross-pollination of jazz, classical, and traditional Korean music. When it moves into more strident territory, however, other people in the house unfortunately start to plug their ears.

Air - Moon Safari: Moon Safari came up on a Pitchfork “best of the 90’s” playlist a week before I found it in a used bin, I have had Air on my playlist for years, mainly due to Jason Falkner’s involvement, and,despite knowing that Falkner was not involved, I got it on a whim.

Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, and Dan Phelps - Modular: This one is my favorite of the bunch by far. Its got an amazingly well-thought out concept that binds it together, fantastic playing, and enough mystery as to its overall construction that I simply can’t stop listening to it.