Oct 8, 2008
Dntel – (This is) The dream of Evan and Chan
Life is full of possibilities (Plug Research / 2001)
With Ben Giddard’s penchant for pop hooks and Tamborello’s ear for crafting intricately accessible and credible pop songs from the most abstract of electronic music soups, ‘evan and chan’ was ripe to be magnificent. The result is a gorgeous, kaleidoscopic dream, all textured sound washes, and electronic dynamics at the service of Giddard’s keen lyrical edge. One of the most refreshing and fascinating pop songs, turn of the century.
TV on the Radio – Staring at the sun
Young Liars Ep (Touch & Go / 2003)
This song is all about the sexual tension. Tunde filling up space with sex metaphors while an expanding wall of sound keeps building up as a promise of a trembling, suffocating orgasm, and just when you think it’s finally at the door, the actual climax never arrives. It’s all dry sex, oscillating on a plateau. I find it exquisitely frustrating, and oddly enough, satisfying.
Mazzy Star – Fade into you
So tonight that I might see (1993)
Fade into you is arguably one of the most gorgeous and affecting musical portraits of 90′s youth, driven by Hope Sandoval’s sublime laconic delivery, the song is a sort of passive response to teenage angst of a vainly introspective generation and their very often illogicaly confused relationships. Personally speaking, I like it because I find it extremely sexy, I think it makes an ideal soundtrack for languid, passionate fully clothed make-out sessions on snug couches.
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
The Bends (1995)
Such a well adressed-ache. Fake Plastic Trees is a song that perfectly captures the opposing traits of radiohead’s music: maudlin lyricism spiralling around modern society’s decay and impotence countered by an uplifting melodic structure and textural arrangement. I don’t think Thom’s voice has ever sounded as good and straight as it does on this particular song, played in a certain mood, it pierces right to the bone. The way he sings “it wears me out” never fails to have an impact upon me.
The MFA – The difference it makes
The difference it makes (Border Community / 2001)
Fueled by a heavily compressed pentatonic synth and an unstoppable groove, I really can’t even begin to describe the immense delight that I get when lost into its musical sehnsucht with a good pair of headphones. Like beer being poured over a 100-proof hangover, this feels so warm and soothing.
Red House Painters – All Mixed Up
Songs for a Blue Guitar (1996)
When I was around 7 years old I used to accompany my father to his work and he’d play his ‘the Cars’ tapes while I layed on the floor drawing pyramids and animals. Later on I discovered Mark Kozelek’s sullen voice and his rendition of ‘all mixed up’ and fell in love. Whereas the Cars original was one of the least memorable singles on their catalogue, Kozelek works unbelievable beauty out of it. A song that triggers memories both from my childhood and my highschool years, what more could I possibly ask for?
Chavela Vargas – Paloma Negra
Con el cuarteto Lara Foster (1961)
Born in Costa Rica, Chavela escaped to Mexico when she was 14 and spent the following 15 years singing on the streets dressed like a man, carrying a gun, smoking constantly and drinking till the last drop. When she recorded this song at 30, her voice, cracked and mournful, by the persistent corrosion of tequila and tobacco is nonetheless dripped in fiery passion. She sings from the entrails. His rendition of this traditional mexican composition stands as one of the most well-known performances in latinamerican grounds.
Lhasa de Sela – De cara a la pared
La llorona (1998)
I first heard Lhasa in a hotel room in New York. The city had left me exhausted and I felt extremely lonely during that particular season in my life. I felt I was suffering from Stendhal’s syndrome when I first heard her voice. I left my room and went to every record store that I could find open at that time of the night looking for the album. When I finally found it, I came back to the hotel, and I think I must have repeated this opening track at least 7 times before listening to the rest of the album. That was 4 years ago, and to date I still turn back to this album whenever I feel soulburnt. It soothes like no other.
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Pink Moon (1972)
I’ll admit I fail to make any sense of the lyrics to this particular song yet, Drake voice transmits such a unique warmth and human emotion on this one, it could be sung in finnish for all I care.
Claude Debussy - Clair de Lune
This particular rendition by Peter Schmalfuss.
Out of every song on this list, this is the first one I’d save from the fire. Clair de Lune sums up afterglow, its beautiful melody lifting its sleepy head to the silent piano notes soaring over it all, imbued with sublimely romantic melancholia. When played at the right time and the right moment this song is magic.
Paintings: Henri Matisse.