Music for your Bacchanalia

A genuine bacchanalia needs the right music, music that evokes a sense of raw desire, truth in flesh, that kind of thing, not superficially bald renderings such as Madonna’s Like a Virgin or at your local electric zoo. maxresdefaultDance party music is often predictable, denying the subtlety of the bacchanalia, the potential for a slow build, heightening the tension, a move to the side, and then incrementally back toward inevitable release.

Some alternate bacchanalia soundtracks to consider:

4. Uah (Mouse on Mars)dance party

Stripped down, dream-like, this music moves between slumber and fever.

3. Supplication (Grateful Dead)

mud festivalJazz meets psychedelia, spiraling toward electric understanding..

2. Voodoo Chile (Jimi Hendrix)

voodooTowering worlds climb and collide, fade into the distance, resurrected, flying again, impossibly so.

1. Heavenly Music at Half Speed (Fripp & Eno)

heavenly musicThe feeling of a vibrating whole reduced to a devastating note washing over, continuing without end. Something like that.

An Ominous Sound for an Ominous Future

Fripp & Eno started it with The Heavenly Music Corporation, not ambient music but ominous and terrifying sonic explorations, lovely too. (Click preceding link to listen.)fripp_pussybI heard the sound again, years later, at a Grateful Dead show in Miami in 1988; it was like being inside a jet engine, all-encompassing, so very loud.

GratefulDeadSpaceAnd then, in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2006), a new version, low and distant, perhaps over-produced, arrived on screen. (Click preceding link to listen.)waroftheworldtripodIt arose again in the trailer for Chris Nolan’s Inception (2010), promising aural profundity; regrettably, the sound was brief and the movie was not.inceptionsoundThe sound became more realized in Gravity (2013), providing the soundscape for the impending doom of debris.gravity-debrisIt has now returned to the frontier of music, more than My Bloody Valentine’s sonic wall, in Sigur Ros’ latest work, Kveikur (2013).sigurros_kveikurLouder and deeper, back-filled by drums and wailing voices, the sound builds, just falling short of the next plateau. 20140703_052932As this sound continues in its evolution, getting deeper and fuller, it might even be a synchronistic backdrop for our promised apocalypse.

Obsession I: My Bloody Valentine’s “Nothing Is”

My Bloody Valentine released a new album this spring, mbv. It is a haunting offering of distorted, crazed music, much like their great Loveless LP from 22 years back. mbv-lovelessI listened to the new album a few times and became obsessed with the second last track, Nothing Is, which I put on repeat and listened to 300-400 more times. mbvI have come to listen to nothing but this song of 3 1/2 minutes – whenever I write, workout, or do anything with music. I’m listening to it right now.

I must admit to a history of obsessive music listening. My housemates in college stole the fuse from my stereo because of my addiction to The Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station. terrapinI’ve obsessed over all sorts of music – NIN, Aimee Mann, Low, Fripp & Eno, William Basinski, Jesus Christ Superstar – often just a song at a time, and that over and over again. jesus-christ-superstar-131991-jpgI was the perfect audience for Ragnar Kjartansson’s 12-hour performance piece Bliss, where the same 4-minute section was repeated again and again and again. ragnar2It’s like a trap or a crutch or a refuge or just something I like too much, and I won’t stop until there is nothing left and I just can’t listen to it again…for months, if not years, and then just might start all over again.