Songs of Winter

Posted: January 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles About Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Songs of Winter

The best time for contemplation is on late winter nights, a friend said to me. Sometimes he holes up in his bedroom and while the world sleeps, he thinks.

The cold harnesses the mind and hones the senses. We see divisions more clearly: the geometry of a bedside table, the sharp difference of darkness and light, the separation of communal identity and the lone self. In winter, the watercolor smear of summer is gone and the world has suddenly come into focus.

Winter keeps us indoors for long spans, which is hell for restless people. But more time affords longer commitments, like that of listening to a record in its entirety. Here are some frosty nuggets.

Music Has the Right to Children – Boards of Canada

Music Has the Right to Children is a future-music dream city submerged in murky water and subliminal messages. Melodies dissolve just as they reach boiling point. Many sounds are so subtle they hardly exist, so strap on some headphones. Hazy jams like “Aquarius” and “Turquoise Hexagon Sun” loom high, stretching a hip-hop beat and warping it forever past time. If Kubrick made beats…

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

“All Blues” is the winter song on the jazz record. These alien chord changes don’t ever touch ground, despite heaps of praise. A tense theme for driving home from work at the end of dusk, the song has no peers. Kind of Blue is so unassuming but it demands your attention. This kind of record is extinct; it’s for people that have to wait for things.

Kid A – Radiohead

I remember first listening to all of Kid A in the early morning, on a stretch of highway in Colorado. We passed cranes and incomplete shopping malls, all of it dusted with snow, to the chug of “The National Anthem.” The car coasted around a mountain pass during “In Limbo,” a drugged funhouse mirror. It’s an album, man, and each song is a stream into one frigid reservoir.

Knives Don’t Have Your Back – Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton

Haines sets out on a desolate adventure from Metric, the electric-rock group, with nothing but a husky contralto and jazz in the liner notes. “The first three songs all begin with the same note,” a friend pointed out, and he’s right; this is a mood record. The music of a late winter night should be concentrated, sparse and factual. Haines’ path is sad and beautiful.

Others:

  • The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
  • 23 – Blonde Redhead
  • The Moon and Antarctica – Modest Mouse
  • Sanguine – Julianna Barwick
  • Turn On the Bright Lights – Interpol
  • Songs of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen
  • Demon Dayz – Gorillaz