Sunday, December 20, 2009

A pagan singalong for the apocalypse

Lal and Mike Waterson's Bright Phoebus

This collection of tunes came from one half of the English folk singing troupe The Watersons, who, after years of travelling for a living, took an undefined hiatus to pursue other interests. While Norma Waterson went abroad for a time, Mike and Lal continued to make music, although in a much different vein than what they had done before.
Departing from the unaccompanied stark a cappella versions of traditional folk songs that defined the Waterson's sound, Mike and Lal enlisted the top brass of the English folk community to help them record this stunning collection of self-penned songs. Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, Martin Carthy, Ashley Hutchings, Sue Kirkpatrick and Norma Waterson are included in the list of luminaries that came together to make this psychedelic folk-rock gem.
The title track to Lal and Mike Waterson's album Bright Phoebus is one of the strangest and most compelling songs I've ever come across. It's a simple tune that manages to be uplifting and joyous while absolutely devastating you at the time. It's an absolutely chilling song, unlike any other. Give it a listen or three.

Bright Phoebus

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress

Skinny Puppy

Whenever life gets hectic I notice that my musical tastes tend to reflect it. This is always most noticeable at the end of the school quarter, when term papers are due, finals are eminent, and sleep becomes scarce. You'd think that one would seek a balance at times like this, and start listening to Kenny G or Raffi or some shit like that, but no. Nope, when major stress hits and my brain feels like a pressure cooker, that's when I head for the nasty stuff. A few years ago in the final month of my engineering program, I became obsessed with the early records of Scandinavian death metalers Amorphis. Last year at this time I got really into doom n' bass drummer Mick Harris. And this year is no different, but for the band: Skinny Puppy. To me they are the quintessential industrial band: Abrasive percussion, eighties synths, blood, distortion, and growls in a fake British accent. Do you know what it's like to listen to skinny puppy on headphones for 8 hours straight, while reading about hemorrhaging vaginas? Well, I do, and I can tell you, it's not a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Here's a little sample, minus the anatomy.

Morpheus Laughing