Against the frivolity the last weeks sandwich I present you with its opposite; still a skinny, lean, indie sandwich mind, but of one born of tradition, be it tradition gathered from the bounties of my fridge, foraged from jaunts to farmers markets. I have picked a selection of four tracks from different artists, picking up on certain ingredients but also the general sense of melancholia that I developed when considering this foodstuff. I think it was the rye bread.
The soft rasping of the bread; the top-side texture of the roast beef; these rough and real qualities can both be found in the recording process of Devendra Banhart‘s UK-only The Black Babies EP from which my first track, the psychedelic treasure ‘Surgery I Stole’, is taken from. The process being next to nothing; and the texture a constant hiss and crackle of the four-track in his domestic setting when he was just tentatively discovering his own sound – it is personally my favorite album. Following this stripped down acoustic mood is the more serious ‘Christian Brothers’ from Elliot Smith‘s eponymous second album. Elliot is frequently labeled ‘punk-folk’ because of the all-American hardcore scene he was involved in with band Heatmiser prior to his solo career – which makes him the beef of our sandwich. His vocals may have been spidery and fleeting but their is a solid sense of, well, something; sadness definitely – as well as the mythos based around his destructive lifestyle and horrifying suicide of two stabs with a carving knife to the heart, while sober. A previous attempt was a cliff jump, ending up stabbed but ultimately saved by a tree limb. Grim.
The next track I was hesitant about including but eventually has become of the centre piece of this mini-playlist. Slint‘s Spinderland is hailed by most as the beginning stages as what we now know as Post-Rock although this is neither the dense orchastration of GSYBE or the jazz noodlings of Do Make Say Think. A band with harder roots like Smith, ‘Good Morning, Captain’ is the final and hardest track on the album and also the most creepy (or pretentious, depending on your outlook) – regimented simple instrumental riffing accompanying the ghost story of a ship gone down that, relieves its tension with screaming and fiery stabs of guitar. The mustard is the inspiration for both this and the next selection which is perhaps a more familiar bonus for the Friday release of this column. While my heart most often lies with our American brethren in music we are, of course, in turn an inspiration for their sounds. As quintessentially English as his my favorite mustard (no Dijon, thank-you) so is the music of folk and psychedelia – and Pink Floyd. As a last flourish from mercurial genius Syd Barret (who is apparently a major influence for Banhart) in at the end of A Saucerful of Secrets. Although the lyrics are open to interpretation, the beginning lyrics “It’s awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I’m most obliged to you for m-making it clear/that I’m not here” are oddly prophetic. I particularly the noisy breakdown and slow and despondent strumming at the end. Magical.
Here is this weeks music.
P.s. Check out the new E.Smith rarity on Imeem’s homepage – from his new rarities album.