EMILY LaBARGE



www.ancientandmodern.org

 

Most of the work I do involves researching and / or writing, so I spend a lot of time being still and contemplative. On the other hand, however, for me this kind of mental activity necessitates some form of interior agitation or thrust, accessing a different headspace or realm just outside of the physical and present. I suppose the music I listen to while I work fills this role in a way, and probably pretty accurately reflects the relationship between these often conflicting states of stasis and movement. As such, all the tracks here have a sort of dream-zone-out-trance-y vibe, as well as a structure (or lack thereof) that generates a sense of the continuous and prolonged, or even infinite soundscape. Many of them, particularly the first five (which have no lyrics), exist within albums that have an overarching concept, sentiment, or approach that contributes to the effect of listening as a complete and immersive experience versus simply a compilation of discrete and individual tracks. 



 
Tim Hecker – In the Fog I  

The idea of 'digital garbage' + synth/drone meets a day's-worth of recordings made in a church in Reykjavik, Iceland where Hecker used a groaning pipe organ to lay down the foundation of the tracks -- overlaid with synth-shimmers, creaks, and pulsing, wailing electronics = seductive sonic decay.

 

Philip Glass – Mad Rush

 

No one beats Glass for the melancholic, pulsing, eternal return made audible -- this song is so beautiful it almost excuses him for writing the soundtrack to No Reservations. 

 
Harald Grosskopf – Tai Ki  

This is classic and super-accomplished pre-analog electronics electronica. Grosskopf made the album in his flat with a minimoog, an 8 track reel-to-reel, and a primitive sequencer -- over just a few weeks. Untethered airy sometimes pop-friendly sometimes dark-leaning, this track is the LPs emblematic closer. 

 

Max Richter – Shadow Journal

 

There's something just a bit too romantic/melodramatic/obvious about some of Richter's music, but I've always been a sucker for it. The Blue Notebooks is one of his earlier and stronger works, and 'Shadow Journal' is basically a perfect track that is all, and essentially only, about making something beautiful, which is also arguably the goal of the album as a whole: piano + electronic basslines + harpsichord + lo-fi recording + Tilda Swinton reading excerpts of Kafka's notebooks = all pretty masterfully orchestrated as an electronic/conceptual/classical crossover. 

 

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Fuzzy hazy moody samples ticks loops sighs dark distant close dense buzzing textured synth drones -- all with moments of the pure and almost cinematic. This is one of many evocative songs on a brilliant album that is about nostalgia, the process of making and recording, listening, and remembering, etc. etc. The music video is great too. 

 
Cocteau Twins – Cherry-Coloured Funk  

I became obsessed with the Cocteau Twins when I accidentally bought a bunch of their albums as a teenager in the late 90s when there was that weird resurgence (in Canada at least) of the not-very-good versions of 80s music that seemed to be featured in many teen rom-coms of the time. This whole record listens like a dream and I will probably always have a giant music crush on Elizabeth Fraser because she's basically a genius. 

 
Beach House – Some Things Last a Long Time  

This song is a really sensitive, so so pretty cover of Daniel Johnston, and has the murky lovely romantic death-waltz quality of most of Beach House's earlier, less cleaned up tracks -- A++ maudlin veil of entrancement. 

 
Deerhunter – Spring Hall Convert  

The gauzy, driving climax of a diverse, brilliantly crafted album that cycles in and around itself in a way that's as awkward, surprising, and beautiful as its muffled swoony dreampop lyrics. 

 
Dirty Beaches – Lord Knows Best  

Dirty Beaches is the one-man project of Canadian-Taiwanese Alex Zhang Hungtai. In his words, Wong Kar-Wei and David Lynch films made sonic, with a healthy dose of grubby, lo-fi melancholy. Languid, dense, dreamy. 

 
Grouper – Heavy Water / I'd Rather be Sleeping  

One-woman ambient post-pop ethereal electro-acoustic hypno-dream-music -- this whole album is lush and beautiful, slow and pretty -- and everything is underscored by really carefully and well-crafted melodies that move under and over, deliberately obscure themselves. Play-repeat-play-repeat. 

 




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