Music to Write By: Looping Sounds

I do my most satisfying writing when listening to looping sounds. Around and around, on repeat and again.

My love for repetitive music started when I was a kid. My favorite song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Chris Superstar wasn’t I Don’t Know How to Love Him or Superstar but Trial Before Pilate (including the 39 Lashes).

39 Lashes features counting, whip Foley and a guitar riff that goes around and around. That’s basically it. I felt weird about liking it so much. Did I enjoy hearing a man being whipped? No, it was the sound. It went around and around. I liked that.

I discovered more looping magic over the years in the music of John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Fripp and Eno, Eno and Byrne, Godspeed You Black Emperor, NIN, Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine.

My Bloody Valentine, Hammerstein Ballroom, 2009

Bandcamp now feeds my addiction, offering an endless ebb and flow of the sounds, such as Off the Sky, Alex Bober, Drape, Keith Berry, Green Kingdom. The list goes on.

There are times I find these sounds in the city, a distant jack hammer, air conditioner units, honks, whirring and yelling, but it never holds and dissipates into a mess.

There just has to be a sound – preferably electronic – that goes around. I will listen to that on repeat, the song of the repeated sound again and again. There is something pure in that. Something divine. Something definitely to write by. The problem can be coming up for air.

Godspeed Tomorrow’s Parties

All Tomorrow’s Parties is one esoterically overwhelming event. Staged on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, bands – including Autolux (pictured above) and The Magic Band – performed directly underneath the congealing weekend traffic on the FDR Drive overpass. There was another stage inside a converted warehouse – with music such as The Album Leaf – and a mini-festival of Criterion films – Eating Raoul & Harold and Maude and others – in the hull of the party cruise boat, Queen of Hearts, as well as The Amazing Ultran offering to forecast your future. (More on him tomorrow.)

Headliners, Godspeed You! Black Emperor closed the evening with two hours of full-on-and-oh-so-fucking-loud sonic-film-scapes. Click on the picture below to view a haunting and somewhat distorted clip:

Godspeed at ATP

It was a lot to take in – eight hours of constant input in the end – including what looked like a perfect fall (?) evening.

All of this should help me write…when my brain stops spinning.