Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Stars of the Lid and Mark Templeton.
Listed: Stars of the Lid + Mark Templeton
Stars of the Lid
If you were wondering what happened to the Stars of the Lid since their last near-perfect record, The Tired Sounds Of, it's quite possible the band had lulled themselves to sleep in the process of its creation. Easily the best drone/lullaby act of the past decade, this Kranky duo has been relatively quite (more so than usual) of late. During the interim, both members released excellent solo albums, Adam Wiltzie's as The Dead Texan and Brian McBride under his own name. FINALLY they are back with a new album, a double-disc like the last one, and it is every bit as pristine, soothing, and beautiful as their last. And Their Refinement of the Decline will be released on April 2 by Kranky Records.
1. Alexandre Desplat Birth soundtrack
The best movie soundtrack of 2004. I had heard his scores for Syrianna, and Girl With a Pearl Earring which are quite lovely. This however is a modern masterpiece.
2. Alberto Iglesias - Volver/Bad Education/Habla con Ella soundtrack
Alberto Iglesias is my other favorite modern composer. Each of these soundtracks I mentioned are complete with druel potential. His use of dark strings, with harp, and classical guitar are some of the best moments in soundtrack history.
3. Bernard Herman - Psycho soundtrack
Alfred Hitchcock once said that this score was 33% of the reason Psycho was such a good film. It was the first films to use an entirely string based score. everyone will always remember the 'shower scene' pizzicato death march, but the rest of the score is infinitely melodic.
4. Zbigniew Preisner - Trois Couleurs Blanc soundtrack
Preisner has always been a very big influence on SOTL. I will always owe this man our gratitude for what he has created for us. i can imagine we would sound quite different with out him in our lives. The infinite sadness and longing that fills this oboe score is for me the reason it is my favorite of the three.
5. Black Earth - Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
I was turned on to these guys by my friend Paul Simang who runs the 'Scheune' club in Dresden. fans of Angelo Badalamenti will love these guys. They essentially sound exactly like the Fire Walk With Me soundtrack. The concept...play real real real slow, and with all the lights out...
1. Arvo Pärt - Alina
What hasn’t been said about this one. For me, it’s so human and personal that it’s devastating.
2. Harold Budd - The White Arcades
I personally drool over so much of this guys work that it’s real difficult to pick. I disagree with a bunch of people about The Serpent (in Quicksilver). A lotta folks saw this record as a bunch of unfleshed out ideas. I think they saw it as too short to be really all that substantial. And then there’s La Belle Vista, which many people sort of lump with his supposedly later “more awkward” phase. But this record is just Budd on a piano and pieces like "Campile" couldn’t be the more the polar opposite of awkward. I had the suspicion that The White Arcades could have gone really badly for Budd. Choosing a bunch of synthesizers as your strategy for going it alone has the potential to produce an early 80s John Carpenter record of epically obtuse proportions. I used to fall asleep to this one on my crappy portable GE solid state record player. Tracks like "Algebra of Darkness," "Totems of the Red-Sleeved" and "The Kiss" seem to perfectly balance the synthy background choral thickness with his signature acoustic piano parts. Budd always reminds me that not everything coming out of California has to be all bad.
3. Ennio Morricone - Sepolta Viva
I have a huge soft spot in my heart for this guy. He’s way too prolific for his and our own good and I’m pretty sure I could spend a lifetime and more tracking down his work. Lately, Sepolta Viva is my Morricone listening choice. For me, most Morricone records are about the 10 minutes you find in various places, where he plays around with different motifs and alters them in subtle but profound ways. Tracks like Pieta and Romanza a Christina are so classically Morricone to me: simple piano arpeggios with achingly elegant strings swirling around it.
4. George Delerue - Le Mépris Soundtrack
There are so many reasons this soundtrack means so much to me. For starters, the film itself is a sort of attenuated sequence of events about creativity and human relationships. Life is presented as a bunch of fragmented parts where relationship frustrations are never entirely explained. For me, Delerue’s music turns these impressionistic moments into something larger than its parts. The music itself: Sweeping, piercingly beautiful strings in unison to make the most unfeeling of you cry.
5. Gavin Bryars - Sinking of the Titanic
I once heard this hymn played on the streets of Chinatown (Chicago) by six tuba players one morning for what seemed like a funeral. It was one of those dumb-struck moments for me. The Sinking of the Titanic was written in 1969, performed for like 20 years, recorded multiple times and then Bryars found an unused water tower to record the final version. The band performed in the basement and the empty top floor was used as a reverb chamber. I love the fact that the piece is really just a hymn tune that is extended and given more space by incorporating what he thought to be its slow descent. Say what you want about his later compositions, for me, no one records strings better than Gavin Bryars. Add the fact that his curiosity included music generated and reverberated in what he called the “more sound efficient” medium of water. It seems like no contest.
Exciting things are happening in Edmonton. Laptop musician Mark Templeton released the eloquent and entrancing Standing on a Hummingbird on fledgling Anticipate Recordings last month, and it's been slowly growing on us here at Dusted HQ. His molding of acoustic, found sound and digitalia resembles the more melodic moments of Fennesz's work without sounding redundant. For those from his part of the Great White North, Templeton will host a CD release party at the Whitemud Crossing Edmonton Public Library Theatre on March 16th.
1. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds” CD (Capitol Records, 1966)
My parents introduced me to the Beach Boys as a healthy alternative to KISS. The entire neighborhood loved the band and even went so far as collecting KISS dolls and trash cans. Although I continued to listen to KISS in secret, much to my dismay, I started to love the Beach Boys mesmerizing harmonies and melodies.
2. Weezer - “S/T” (Blue Album) CD (Geffen, 1994)
The first time I heard the “Blue Album” I was in high school. I recently listened to it again and was surprised how deftly lead singer and guitarist, Rivers Cuomo, arranged the songs around simple triadic structures.
3. JJ Cale - Naturally LP (Shelter, 1972)
This was one of the few records my dad didn’t get rid of after converting to Christianity, thank God! I appreciate the lax vocal and guitar approach that JJ Cale uses. At a time when vocal grit seemed to rely on range and volume he just laid back and sang. I learned so much about the neck of the guitar through playing to this record.
4. Leo Kottke - Greenhouse LP (Capitol, 1972)
This was the first time I was introduced to a guitarist who treated the instrument like a piano, allocating the thumb to play the bass notes and the fingers to play melody. My wife put the track, “Tiny Island” on a mix tape for me. I find it humorous that on the back of the LP Leo explains that his memory slipped while recording this track and sang different lyrics.
5. John Hartford - Aereo-plain CD (Rounder, 1971)
I read about John in a Peter Wernick banjo instructional book. His personality comes through so strongly in his music and banjo styling. Although based on Scruggs, he has a voice of his own. I later purchased a double VHS instructional video and was amazed at the amount of attention he pays to tonal detail.
6. Dirty Three - Ocean Songs CD (Touch and Go Records, 1998)
After coming across this album through my friend Lane Arndt, I couldn’t believe the beautiful tonal ambience. The melody floated around throughout their tracks, a much freer song structure than I was used to. Mick’s choice notes and warm tone revealed to me that speed is secondary.
7. Fennesz - Endless Summer CD (Mego, 2001)
How Fennesz can successfully write a pop song that has hidden familiarities, yet refrain from being overtly obvious is amazing. The fact that it was beat less was a relief and truly inspiring.
8. Tim Hecker - My Love is Rotten to the Core CD (Alien8 Recordings, 2002)
My friend told me about a round table discussion on CBC’s Brave New Waves where Tim Hecker was one of three Canadian electronic musicians present. He spoke about this album and what he was listening to at the time. I just had to pick it up after hearing about it and the overtly obvious Van Halen connection.
9. Mitchell Akiyama - If Night is a Weed and Day Grows Less CD (Sub Rosa, 2004)
An album so carefully crafted and well thought out. I enjoy his work and have not only been influenced by his solo efforts but also Desormais. He deconstructs audio in such a meticulous manor, yet it doesn’t feel cold and calculated. As a result, I began to see that it was appropriate to reveal my sound sources from time to time, rather than constantly obscuring them.
10. Alog - Miniatures CD (Rune Grammofon, 2005)
These two gents crushed my animosity towards rhythmical tracks. After hearing the first few songs I was bound to record something that embraced rhythmical fervor. Their album, however, is so well balanced that I never categorize it as being a collection of rhythms, as it extends far beyond that.
By Dusted Magazine