22 August 2008

Recent music

Some of this is what I listened to on recent travels, and some of it is music I discovered when I got back. I like the fact that the memories of the English countryside, the city of London (remembered fondly even, who would've thought?) and domestic night flights across Australia come back so vividly - perhaps even more real than a photograph - when I listen to this music again these days. Anyway, in chronological order:

Popol Vuh

Popol Vuh
Albums: Aguirre, Coeur de Verre (listen to 'Aguirre II' here)

The opening scene of Herzog's Aguirre, set to Popol Vuh's music, is truly unforgettable: conquistadors moving like ants through the mists of the Peruvian mountains. That piqued my interest but of course their CDs were completely impossible to acquire in my country. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet I've actually managed to procure seven of their albums. As silly as it sounds, a bad amazon.com review put me off the Aguirre album, but when I actually got to listen to it I loved it! It's probably my favourite album of theirs that I have because every track is great. I particularly love the two tracks from the Aguirre film and 'Morgengruss II' - but really, trust me when I say this whole album is fantastic.

The more accessible and guitar-driven Coeur de Verre - the soundtrack of another excellent Herzog film, Heart of Glass - is what I listened to train rides through the English countryside. It just seemed to go really well with that landscape. Like Dead Can Dance, they're influenced by and incorporate elements of non-Western traditional music - though Popol Vuh are more influenced by Indian music whereas with DCD it's more of Middle-Eastern music. My favourite track on this one is 'Hüter Der Schwelle' - the track that got me into the whole album.

Trent Reznor, Feb '08

Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Slip (free download here)

Having been a total NIN fangirl for the past whole year (though I'm glad to admit it's finally wearing off now) it goes without saying that I was ridiculously excited when this was released for free online and wasted no time in downloading it. I got it the night before I left Hatfield for Edinburgh and so I got to listen to it for the first time on the almost five-hour train ride, passing through York and Newcastle. After listening, I was pleased as punch since the album exceeded all my expectations (especially after hearing and not really liking 'Discipline' the week before). 'Echoplex' is totally my favourite track off this album and for me is synonymous with London and the apprehension and anxiety I used to feel on the trips there. I guess it can be really alienating travelling in a huge city on your own for the first time.

I have to say I also really love '1,000,000' and I used to start my day off listening to that. I mean, it's so energetic! Love it. Anyway, I've met quite a few NIN fans in the last couple of months, and I'm really the only person I know that likes their new sound. I can't wait to see them on this tour (assuming they will head this way. I mean they should, right!?).

Imaad Wasif

Imaad Wasif
Track: Seventh Sign (listen here)

Yeah, it's just one song - but it was one song I absolutely could not stop listening to when I was in Australia and especially on the dreary domestic flight from Perth to Canberra. Seriously, the sheer emotional intensity of this one is quite unmatched. Unfortunately, at this point I can't really get into most of the rest of the album Strange Hexes (a nice title and great album cover - which is what drew me to it in the first place). But the more I listen to it... I have a feeling that might change soon.

Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance
Albums: Into the Labyrinth, The Serpent's Egg (listen to 'Host of Seraphim' here)

I really love the heavier Middle-Eastern influence on both these albums. I also think both Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are excellent vocalists. It's kind of strange how the music has this really timeless quality to it, as it's so influenced by traditional forms of music. I like that. I like how I can listen to it on the train, travelling around in this city and not feel out of place. It fits right in with the modern world. I certainly don't feel that way when I'm listening to any form of classical music, which is why I find it hard to listen to such music when I commute - it just doesn't fit. Anyway, off of The Serpent's Egg 'The Host of Seraphim' and 'Echolalia' really stand out to me. Especially the former, because every time I hear it, I'm reminded of this scene from Baraka (incidentally one of my favourite films - love it when my favourite things come together).

And as for Into The Labyrinth, my favourites are 'Emmeleia' and 'The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove'. I tend to prefer the overall sound of this album and I like the fact that it sounds less dated. Although I actively dislike 'Tell Me About the Forest (You Once Called Home)' and 'The Carnival is Over' and can't really listen to those tracks.


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