A CLOSER LISTEN weekly #33
3rd precinct installation, The Best Film & TV Soundtracks of All Time, and more
Dear Listeners, (Dr.) Joseph back for another ACL round up. What a two weeks it’s been. Back home in Montreal now. I was lucky to catch a few shows while in Minneapolis, very different from the night at Knockdown Center I described in our previous newsletter. My friend Cole Pulice accompanied Lynn Avery for a set as Iceblink at a backyard show, along with Jaak Jensen and Stevie. Overall a very chill night of nice music with friends, and the kind of show that represents what is most special about Minneapolis. But the fact that so much of underground music in town happens in private spaces is also something that kinda bugged me while living there. Maybe it’s not so uncommon, I wasn’t used to living in a city that was so car dependent, where so many people live in actual houses with backyards, and that dynamic makes it a bit harder to meet people and be welcoming and inclusive. That said, it’s nice to take advantage of when it’s a possibility. On Sunday night I saw Tim Hecker, who has been doing a few tour dates in support of his new LP, No Highs. I hadn’t seen him play since before the pandemic, when during 2018 and 2019 he performed with Kara-Lis Coverdale and his Konoyo Ensemble, so I was looking forward to experiencing a more straightforward live set. I first saw him perform shortly after I moved to Montreal 2009, and have since heard him in a variety of different rooms. The benefit of his music live is the volume and the room, so while he might have turned the pews of the Red Roof church into a kind of ecclesiastical sit down rave(death) experience, the rock club experience doesn’t always land for me. But I enjoyed the set at the Front Line in downtown Minneapolis, prepared as I was with a few gummies and parked in perfect relation to the PA.
In my best of 2022 list, I singled out Child Actor as responsible for some of my favorite productions of the year. Among those productions were the bulk of Serengeti’s sequel to Ajai, the first volume of which was produced by Kenny Segal. For Ajai II, Serengeti combined multiple beats from Child Actor, sometimes including just a few seconds, not unlike the kind of collaged arrangements you might expect from Madlib. Child Actor has just released Ajai II Instrumentals, allowing us to hear the entire beats, check it out here.
I recently returned to Minneapolis to defend my dissertation, and so it is unlikely I'll return again in the near future. I wanted to mount some kind of version of Music for Insurrection, my 2020 sound collage of Minneapolis recordings, while there. I visited George Floyd Square at the intersection of Chicago Ave and 38th St, a block from where I used to live, but I couldn't imagine doing the piece there. The ruins of the 3rd precinct, however, are not so very sacred, and the significance of what happened there made it a fitting location. I created three loops of varying lengths drawn from multiple excerpts of Music for Insurrection, and then put the three speakers in various configurations outside the 3rd precinct, recorded while I was wearing binaural microphones. This is the result. Headphones recommended.
The Best Film & TV Soundtracks of All Time ~ Part One
“Remove [the] score from any scene, and it becomes nearly unrecognizable. Something has instantaneously and fundamentally gone, like the soul of the piece.” JJ Abrams said this about John Williams’ work on Star Wars, but it’s equally applicable to the soundtracks we’ve included here. ‘Silent’ movies were never silent, of course; there would often be a score sent with the reels for a pianist or small ensemble to play along to. If a score wasn’t available, a pianist would improvise to what was shown on screen; from the beginning, there was a symbiotic relationship between image and music.
The soundtrack is often the final piece in the puzzle of filmmaking. The script, the actors, and the design are all in place, and then the cameras roll, often without any input from a composer. The director edits with other pieces of music to indicate the mood, and if you’ve ever had the chance to see a rough cut of a film, you will appreciate what a composer has to compete with. Sometimes, the director keeps a pre-existing piece in because they can’t imagine the scene with other music – in the case of 2001, Stanley Kubrick kept all of his soundtrack choices because he felt the specially written music suffered in comparison.
Suffice it to say, being a composer is often a thankless task unless you have an understanding director who sees the soundtrack as a collaborative work: perhaps the composer will write the key themes beforehand, or in response to the rushes, rather than waiting for an edit. You will notice several examples in our list where directors and composers have worked on multiple projects together: we haven’t always stuck with one example.
Our selection process was as broad as possible – so, for example, a couple of our choices have never been released as actual soundtracks. We didn’t limit our choices to one per composer, either, so there are a few multiple entries – and there’s obviously a lot left out. We could have gone up to a hundred without much trouble, but that might have tested your patience. As always, feel free to let us know who we have missed – but remember it’s a two-part feature, so read both sections before leaping in. We’ve included YouTube clips (and Bandcamp where possible), but please bear in mind that we have no control over their continued presence on the site and any adverts that might crop up.
Read the entire list here.
The Best Film & TV Soundtracks of All Time ~ Part Two
One element of this feature is the broad range of Films and TV that have inspired the soundtracks on this list: from documentaries to drama, from romance to robots. We’ve covered the decades, from the 1930s to just a year ago; you may have seen some of these, but there may be several you are unfamiliar with. It’s certainly increased our ‘to watch’ lists, yet one thing we have noticed is that very few great soundtracks are attached to poor films. Either the music lifts the overall quality of the cinematic experience, or we forget the whole thing. Possibly, the composer is so underwhelmed by the film they have been asked to write for and holds back the best material for another project.
It is possible to love the music without having seen the film at all, of course. There’s more music than films available to stream, and fewer services to sign up to, so your hunt should be easier for the audio side. Streaming services for TV and film carry a lot of content, but it’s expensive to keep up multiple subscriptions for any length of time; inevitably, the movie you are looking for was removed last week. Hopefully, we have given you enough choices that you have plenty to hunt down.
Read the entire list here.
Reviews are at the heart of ACL. Here are (excerpts from) a few of my favorite reviews we posted on the blog in the last few weeks. And we have a lot of old friends in this round up.
Arbee ~ La place est prise / Glacial Anatomy ~ Field
One of the pleasures of watching Montreal’s Florina Cassettes is matching their cover art with the original paintings. The young label’s unified cover aesthetic is particularly appealing as it zeroes in on abstractions ~ even in otherwise straightforward art, as in George Romney’s “Portrait of Sir Robert Gunning” below. A splash of olive, a triptych of ivory, a base of red all seem suited to Arbee‘s gentle flowing music. The image appears to be turning (see the cylindrical bent of the tape’s upper left), and indeed this is the case of original art, now rotated. In like manner, the music twirls around, the cassette unspools, and La place est prise turns its eyes to the past, placing a remastered version of last year’s Précédents on the B side. This is a wise idea, as the EPs share a similar feel and flow.
Bartosz Dziadosz ~ Peace
Just as the pandemic produced a ripple effect across the music industry, the war in Ukraine is having an effect today. Bartosz Dziadosz‘ Peace is the latest album to address the war, albeit obliquely, offering a feeling of calm. Dziadosz spent the first invasion year traveling around Poland, writing in various locations as the war was waged just across the border. The wordless vocals of the opening “GABI” are like a requiem, a layering of voices producing the effect of a small choir. At the very end, only piano plays, as if everything else has been destroyed. Synthetic strings, bass and electronics color “August,” a more sprightly piece, even hopeful, mimicking the unprecedented spirit of Ukraine’s unbowed populace.
Croatian Amor ~ A Part of You in Everything
A Part of You in Everything is a kind, life-affirming album that seeks to answer one of life’s biggest questions: what happens to us after we die? The album is dedicated to Croatian Amor‘s younger brother, who died at birth. Someone once told him that his brother “lived in the stars.” When the artist had a son of his own, these words came back. What could have been grief became gratitude, and this album is now dedicated to his “ghost friend.” While wistful, the music is never sad; while reflective, it is also imaginative. A slew of friends join the artist for this venture, adding an additional layer of warmth.
Eluvium ~ (Whirring Marvels in) Consensus Reality
(Whirring Marvels in) Consensus Reality is one of the year’s most anticipated releases. The album is also the longest anticipated, as the tracks have been appearing two by two, like the animals on Noah’s Ark, since last November. The final track will appear on release day. This is an extraordinarily confident way to promote a release, but Eluvium (Matthew Robert Cooper) knows the worth of what he has. Hobbled by an arm injury and isolated by COVID, the artist sought the aid of algorithms and remote recording to complete this ambitious set. Touted as “the first Eluvium album featuring a full live orchestra,” Consensus Reality sounds significantly different from the rest of the artist’s catalog, but it’s a great foray into a different field. Eluvium is joined not only by the Budapest Scoring Orchestra, but by members of Golden Retriever and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, virtually guaranteeing success.
Penelope Trappes ~ Heavenly Spheres
On Heavenly Spheres the Australian born vocalist and musician Penelope Trappes depicts the fragility of improvisation and experimental practice, while imbuing the spaciousness of ambient music’s soundscapes with surprising heft. On album opener “The Bitterness of Parting,” an opening wave of tape hiss and the humming of air give way to the infrequent hit of a piano key and a well as a muffled voice delivering ethereal vocals in a minor key. The vocal distortions Trappes plays with across the album are ghost-like but serene. Her soundscapes are murky and dissonant but also relaxed, their slow development opening onto plenty of space.
Standard Grey ~ peregrination
Having lived in Japan for a dozen years, the artist accumulated a collection of “favorite places,” both physically and sonically. Even though acclimated to the city sounds some might call “noise,” he cherishes the times when he can escape to quieter climes. This sense of spiritual transition is first apparent in the breakdown of the quarter-hour opening piece, as the natural cacophony recedes, if only for a brief period. A fragile peace rushes through the sonic cracks, replaced by an encroaching drone. When one has lived in the city for so long, does one yearn more for industrial sounds while in the forest, or forest sounds when surrounded by industry? Splitting the difference, Olson presents both, blurring the lines between organic and inorganic. The crackle at the end of the piece may be precipitation, sparking wires or a hybrid of both.
(complete list with Bandcamp links here)
Summer is so close, we can almost taste it. College students are already home, while younger students are stuck in school and grown-ups are dreaming of vacations. Beaches are beginning to open, but for those in northern locations, the ocean is still too cold. What to do while on the cusp of a new season? Why, check out new music, of course! The late spring slate is in full blossom, and the summer garden is starting to fill. New music is added to this page daily; we hope you’ll find your next favorite album right here!
MinaeMinae ~ Räumlichkeit (Marionette, 18 May)
Aki Yli-Salomäki ~ Jäi mieleen (19 May)
Alabaster DePlume ~ Salty Road Dogs Victory Anthem (International Anthem, 19 May)
Bend the Future ~ Sounds So Wrong (Tonzonen, 19 May)
Canaan Balsam ~ Eternity lies within or nowhere (Where to Now?, 19 May)
Charles Wesley ~ C (LINE, 19 May)
Fetlar ~ Before Entanglement Aftermath (JVDASZ ISKARIOTA, 19 May)
Julian Loida ~ Giverny (Gratitude Sound, 19 May)
Kate Gentile | International Contemporary Ensemble ~ b I o m e i.i (Obliquity, 19 May)
Mike Cooper ~ Black Flamingo (Room40, 19 May)
Niala Effen ~ Kolory Też Potrafią Śpiewać (Ropę Worm, 19 May)
Rich Aucoin ~ Synthetic Season 2 (We Are Busy Bodies, 19 May)
Roman Angelos ~ Supermarkets, Underwater (Happy Robots, 19 May)
Sam Weinberg Trio w/Chris Lightcap & Tom Rainey ~ Implicatures (Astral Spirits, 19 May)
Swartz Et ~ Leviathan I (Utter East, 19 May)
UCC Harlo ~ Topos (Subtext, 19 May)
Flower Storm ~ Yek EP (22 May)
Karen Vogt ~ Losing the Sea Remixes (22 May)
James Ilenefritz ~ #entrainments (Infrequent Seams, 22 May)
pucemoment ~ Ex Situ (22 May)
Candyfloss Mountain ~ Escape from Candyfloss Mountain (Métron, 24 May)
Andrey Guryanov ~ Anthems (Abstand, 25 May)
Simone Sims Longo ~ Paesaggi integrati (esc.rec., 25 May)
Asma Maroof, Patrick Belaga, Tapiwa Svosve ~ The Sport of Love (PAN, 26 May)
Chromic Duo ~ Room of Oceans (cmntx, 26 May)
Croatian Amor ~ A Part of You in Everything (Posh Isolation, 26 May)
Doug Wieselman ~ WA-Zoh (figureight, 26 May)
Ensemble Modelo62 ~ Battleship Potemkin (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Fourth World Magazine III ~Neoplatonic Aquatic Symposiums (Poole, 26 May)
Gerald Cleaver ~ 22/23 (577 Records, 26 May)
Holy Similaun ~ Radicor al flort, espert on’ill il erb, aor Raetia (Kohlhaas, 26 May)
Joni Void ~ Everyday Is the Song (Constellation, 26 May)
Karl Evangelista’s Apura ~ Ngayon (Astral Spirits, 26 May)
Matthew Herbert ~ The Horse (Accidental Records, 26 May)
Michael Scott Dawson ~ Find Yourself Lost (We Are Busy Bodies, 26 May)
Mud Spencer ~ Kliwon (Argonauta, 26 May)
Nate Scheible ~ plume (Warm Winters Ltd., 26 May)
Roots In Heaven ~ Edge of Non-Compliance (Other Facts, 26 May)
Schneider TM ~ Ereignishorizont (Karlrecords, 26 May)
Tongues of Mount Meru ~ Kalpa (Moving Furniture, 26 May)
Twinsleep ~ S/T (Nettwerk, 26 May)
Gunnar Jónsson Collider ~ S.W.I.M. (A Strangely Isolated Place, 29 May)
Ned Milligan ~ Considerable (laaps, 29 May)
Ostrowski ~ WoKa 02 (Brutality Garden, 29 May)
SY/N ~ Where Nothingness Is Bliss (HIDE | H-4, 30 May)
ugne&maria ~ Healing (Futura Resistenza, 30 May)
Gaucher & Ruth ~ Shockwave (FiXT, 31 May)
The Metamorphic ~ The Man on the 99th Floor (Werra Foxma, 31 May)
Reptilian Expo ~ Cunti (Artetetra, 31 May)
Kajsa Magnarsson ~ New Age Sound Aesthetics (Outerdiscs, 1 June)
Big Liquid ~ Loose Corner (sound as language, 2 June)
Bit Graves ~ Murmur (2 June)
Curtis Stewart ~ of Love. (New Amsterdam, 2 June)
loket ~ All Ages EP (CWPT, 2 June)
Mt. Fuyu ~ A Mirror to Weave (Danse Noir, 2 June)
Obelisk Ruins ~ Thought-Vision-Doubt (Katuktu Collective, 2 June)
Toumba ~ Janoob EP (Nervous Horizon, 2 June)
Tsuadatta ~ Preparation for Sleep (Astral Spirits, 2 June)
Henrik Meierkord ~ Geschichten (Audiobulb, 3 June)
Federico Durand ~ Tour Tapes (Home Normal, 5 June)
Josef De Schutter ~ Stillness (Moderna, 2 June)
Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim ~ Starling (2 June)
Matte Black ~ Landscape (2 June)
Meredith Bates ~ Tessaract (phonometrograph, 2 June)
Nina de Heney/Qarin Wikström ~ QOMOLANGA (OUTERDISK, 2 June)
Sarah Pagé ~ Voda (Backward Music, 2 June)
Samuele Strufaldi, Tommaso Rosati, Francesco Gherardi ~ t (Elli Records, 2 June)
David Toop & Lawrence English ~ The Shell That Speaks the Sea (Room40, 5 June)
F/E/A ~ Anti (Sliptrick, 6 June)
Omar Ahmad ~ Inheritance (AKP Recordings, 7 June)
Garrett Sholdice ~ The Blue Light (Ergodos, 8 June)
Andy Stack and Jay Hammond ~ Inter Personal (Sleepy Cat, 9 June)
Bendik Giske ~ S/T (Smalltown Supersound, 9 June)
Broken Chip ~ Bells (Flaming Pines, 9 June)
Devin Gray ~ Most Definitely (Rataplan, 9 June)
Erin Rogers & Alec Goldfarb ~ Earth’s Precisions (Infrequent Seams, 9 June)
Gacha Bakradze ~ Pancakes (Lapsus, 9 June)
Gridfailure & Interstitia ~ Sunyata Ontology (9 June)
Nico Gioris ~ Cloud Suites (Leaving, 9 June)
Nora Stanley & Benny Bock ~ Distance of the Moon (Colorfield, 9 June)
Piers Oolvai ~ Solace Shards (9 June)
Theodore Cale Schafer ~ Trust (Students of Decay, 9 June)
Werner Dafeldecker ~ Neural (Room40, 9 June)
Werner Daleldecker & Valerio Tricoli ~ Der Krater (Room40, 9 June)
Wobbly ~ Additional Kids (Hausu Mountain, 9 June)
Zohastre ~ Abracadabra (zamzamrec, 12 June)
Night Gestalt ~ Staring Light (Bigo & Twigetti, 13 June)
The Cry ~ S/T (Gizeh, 15 June)
An Moku & Stefan Schmidt ~ Raum im Raum (Karlrecords, 16 June)
Caterina Barbieri ~ Myuthafoo (light-years, 16 June)
Fredrik Rasten ~ Lineaments (SOFA, 16 June)
Gloorp ~ S/T (JOLT, 16 June)
Luke Cissell ~ Serenade (16 June)
Massimo Magee ~ Networking (Orbit577, 16 June)
Rone ~ L(oo)ping (InFiné, 16 June)
Samuel Sharp ~ Consequential (Blackford Hill, 16 June)
Ulrich Krieger ~ Aphotic I (Room40, 16 June)
Wild Up ~ Julius Eastman Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? (New Amsterdam, 16 June)
Amniote Editions and Male Junta Present ~ The Collective Capsule EP (Amniote Editions, 18 June)
Tom Schneider ~ Isotopes (Macro, 22 June)
Black Duck ~ S/T (Thrill Jockey, 23 June)
Blue Lake ~ Sun Arcs (Tonal Union, 23 June)
Dorisburg & Sebastian Mullaert ~ That Who Remembers (Spazio Disposable, 23 June)
Emily Kuhn ~ Ghosts of Us (Bace, 23 June)
Foster Neville ~ The Edge of Destruction (Subexotic, 23 June)
Jérôme Noetinger ~ Outside Supercolor (Room40, 23 June)
John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble ~ Volume 2 (577 Records, 23 June)
Divide and Dissolve ~ Blood Quantum (Invada, 30 June)
Mondoriviera ~ Frenton Cantolay (Artetetra, 30 June)
Pat Thomas, Chris Sharkey, Luke Reddin-Williams ~ Know: Delerium Atom Paths (577 Records, 30 June)
Pauline Oliveros, IONE, Christopher Willes, Public Recordings and Others ~ Resonance (Art Metropole, 30 June)
Zeena Parkins ~ LACE (Chalkin, 30 June)
Tony Buck ~ Environmental Studies (Room40, July 1)
Autodealer ~ Circumstances (Somewherecold, 7 July)
Daniel Carter, Leo Genovese, William Parker, Francisco Mela ~ Shine Here, Vol. 1 (577 Records, 7 July)
Ireen Amnes / Chloe Lula ~ Synergy (Tresor, 7 July)
Penguin Cafe ~ Rain Before Seven… (Erased Tapes, 7 July)
shedir ~ Before the Last Light Is Blown (n5MD, 7 July)
Siavash Amini ~ Eidolon (Room40, 7 July)
Stefano Guzzetti ~ Letters from Nowhere – Piano Book Volume Three (Home Normal, 7 July)
Taylor Joshua Rankin ~ Sun, Will Grow (7 July)
The Titillators ~ That’s the Night (Noodle Factory, 7 July)
Yann Novak ~ The Voice of Theseus (Room40, 7 July)
Christina Giannone ~ Reality Opposition (Room40, 14 July)
Hecq ~ Form (Mesh, 14 July)
Hyunhye Seo ~ Eel (Room40, 14 July)
Kevin Daniel Cahill ~ Impossible Worlds (False Walls, 21 July)
Wil Bolton ~ Red to Orange, Blue to Black (Home Normal, 25 July)
Wil Bolton ~ Södermalm In Autumn (Home Normal, 25 July)
What a phenomenal list. Thank you!