In my last blog post, I talked about the albums that had first inspired me to pick up an instrument and start playing music. This week, I’m interested in what people are listening to right NOW. What songs, albums and artists are you finding inspirational in 2021?
My current album of obsession is a Trojan dub compilation that came out a few years ago, that I picked up a few weeks back:
I have a 3 CD Trojan dub compilation, but it is somewhere in a storage crate. This new compilation is BLOWING ME AWAY. In the past, I’ve focused on the tape echo in dub tracks, but this compilation brings the spring reverb to the forefront. The first track, “A Ruffer Version” by Johnny Clarke and The Aggrovators, shows how a spring reverb, in the hands of a talented dub mixer, is a physical instrument in its own right. Sounds are sent to the spring tank, the results are filtered with a swept EQ, and the tank itself is shaken and hit to create rhythmic explosions. The tape echo is glorious as well – you can hear the tape speed lag at the very beginning of the track.
Track 2, “Simple Dub” by The Upsetters, features fuzz guitar and deep phase shifting. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!?!?! I’ll listen to pretty much anything with fuzz and phasing, but this is just a sublime track.
I could go on and on, but the whole album is this good. Highly recommended.
My other big inspiration this week is the late 70s output of the band Suicide. I’ve always loved the song “Cheree,” and just stumbled across the 12″ version of this song, backed with a track I’ve never heard before:
What I find fascinating about this 1978 Suicide track is that it uses the same technology that was being used in late 70s dub (phase shifting, tape echo, spring reverb), but with VERY different end results. I’m a big fan of distorted organs, old school drum machines, that whole repetitive drone thing. Stereolab was clearly a fan as well – their track “Tempter” is essentially a remake of “Cheree” with a key change and different lyrics. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE this Stereolab track!
So what songs/albums/artists are getting you through 2021? What are you finding inspirational for your own music, or just plain old inspirational? Let us know in the comments below – we are always looking for new music!
These last weeks I’ve been obsessed with Ron Morelli’s label L.I.E.S. So many great tracks and artists to discover. Been hearing non stop since March.
Not from L.I.E.S. but also a great record
P.D: Loved those Dub tracks!!! And loving these blogs!!
Eva Cassidy – The Best of… What a wonderful voice!
I’ve been wrapping myself in Fleet Foxes “Shore” – I even went so far as to buy the Stems on Bandcamp. That was silly – they’re wet – not a single one of them without reverb. Lovely reverb, but reverb. What I really wanted was dry stems so I could use them to learn how to mix all that loveliness with – naturally – Valhalla products… Still, there’s gold in them thar hills…
My good friends Those Nervous Animals, from Sligo, Ireland, availed of the lockdown to finish and release an album (it only took them forty years). A couple of tracks produced and featuring the great Gerry Leonard (Bowie, Suzanne Vega etc).
Otherwise, my struggle to stop engineering and start recording ideas continues. This blog is VERY HELPFUL and inspiring.
Stay safe y’all.
Nice picks Sean,
Not listened to Trojan for ages; I love Stereolab their side project Cavern of Anti Matter, is well worth a listen!
My picks would be:-
Bibio – Crocus
I love the bass guitar going through what sounds like an old tape echo, reminds me a bit of BOC’s The campfire headphase.
Brian Eno – Discreet Music
Would there be any way of creating a Frippertronics mode in Valhalla Delay?
Mark Pritchard – Beautiful People
All his latest stuff is great.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Nice layered Tape distortion.