Yesterday, Space Is The Place, a magnificent podcast out of England, did us a huge honor and asked us to contribute a mini-playlist. We submitted seven tracks for the show, as I felt these were pieces of music which influenced how I listen to music and where that influence may be headed into the future, so here they are…
New Order – Ceremony
I must have been around 13 or so when I first heard the track, as I used to own a shortwave radio during my childhood. I also grew up with uncles on both sides of the family whose taste in music would heavily influence my own. I was utterly amazed by the simplistic but somehow perfect lyrics of Ceremony, and finding out that New Order were once Joy Division got me into exploring their music, as well as that of Factory Records. The words evoked a sense of longing and loss which was, for a budding teenager, the perfect soundtrack to the mess I was becoming. Nearly 40 years later, the song doesn’t ever leave my top ten.
Sergey Kuryokhin & Boris Grebenschikov – Axios (Talk To Me)
I worked for a company called Aprelevka Sound as on outside talent agent in my youth. The owner of the company at the time still mentors me thirty years later, and it was because of his influence that I developed an interest in radical Russian music. It was corresponding first with Sergey Kuryokhin himself in letter form (a lost art, tragically), and then making contact with Leo Feigin of Leo Records that influenced my taste for Russian jazz, and pushed me to explore deeper into places like Georgia, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. Sergey died far too young, but Boris is still making great music, and you should consider checking out his own legendary Russian Rock project called Akvarium.
Anastasia – Nine Iron Doors
The year must have been 1995 or 1996, I can’t quite recall. I had never heard any Macedonian music before except for the bagpiper Pece Atanasovski, and this was thanks to a cassette of music from the Balkans released by the venerable Touch Records (they who would end up publishing Hafler Trio and Chris Watson among so many others). This album was a soundtrack to the Milcho Manchevski film Before The Rain, which told the story of an emigré returning back to Macedonia during the strife of the early 1990s. The soundtrack sounded as though Joy Division entered the Orthodox Church and, as a recent convert to Orthodoxy, the music hit me very hard. It would open me up to further exploring the music from the region, especially the bands Kismet, Mizar and Novogradska, as well as meeting Anastasia’s Goran Trajkovski. All these people I now consider brothers.
Les Grandes Voix Bulgares – Gospodi Pomilui
I’m Eastern Orthodox Christian by confession, and it plays a large factor in my day-to-day life, which I suppose is either considered old-fashioned these days, but I don’t mind. Gospodi Pomilui is a familiar refrain for Slavic speakers, meaning Lord Have Mercy (Kyrie Eleison). I enjoy listening to those singers who can handle basso profondo, and the richness of the voices here make me a bit jealous that our cantors here or in China can’t quite reach these notes yet. During times like these, the refrain remains on my lips quite often, and it gives me the peace I need to push onwards.
Throbbing Gristle – Adrenaline
Though Industrial music can be an ugly beast, this track was one of my favorites simply because it was so catchy. I’d figure this is more because of the influence of Chris Carter and Peter Christopherson rather than Genesis P-Orridge, but Gen’s vocals make this into a surrealist dance track.
Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising
This album called out to me when I was visiting a record shop in Claremont, California called Rhino Records. It was one of the places I honed my music interest, and it’s still in business today, surely helping the local high school and college kids improve their taste in music. When I put on the album, it felt like I was clobbered by a tidal wave of raw power. Three words, “new day rising…” over and over again, yet it felt so alive. The band were on SST Records, one of Southern California’s finest imprints who also worked with Black Flag and a fusion band I liked called Pell Mell, but this album defined (and defines) the label for me.
Selen Gülün – Sea By Sea
As the other tracks are songs I was reminiscing about, this one was on iTunes when I received the letter from Shaun to participate in this mini-playlist project. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Selen’s music in the past, and I find her to be one of the best jazz pianists active today. It’s my hope that one day, if the political winds allow it, that she can perform in China so that I can witness some brilliant playing. She is one of many artists I’m proud to champion.