Slow This Bird Down

Sometimes a day’s experience can prepare your mind for a moment, the way a cook prepares a dish to taste its best. In my case, I spent Saturday loafing around downtown Ann Arbor with a friend. It was unseasonably perfect – light jacket weather in mid November and we were there to look for photo locations, considering every building and tree for its loveliness and color scheme - our eyes becoming acclimated to looking for accidental beauty.

I drove home during an inky dusk, my mind swept clean from so much fresh air, listening to the new Boards of Canada. As I steered my vehicle East, from 275 to onto 696, I passed one of those giant oscillating spot lights, spinning giant beams of white up at the clouds. The track Slow this Bird Down was playing and at that moment I had the distinct sense of my own transience – that the earth was a place among places, rather than the totality of locations for existence, as it often seems. I felt temporary, that I could dissolve into the oily horizon for a ride to the next station. The marquee spotlights spun powerfully.

Boards of Canada make triggers for the sonic subconscious. Each release is a mixed bag, half of it magic. Here are three of the finer tracks from their most recent release, The Campfire Headphase.

Boards of Canada – Slow This Bird Down
Boards of Canada – A Moment of Clarity
Boards of Canada – Tears From the Compound Eye


Autumn Soul Music

Here are three beautiful, soulful tracks to listen to while the earth around you dies, freezes, goes rigid and petrifies.

Sam Cooke. I go back and forth on this, but sometimes Sam Cooke is my favorite singer ever. (Delroy Wilson and Otis Redding are his competition.) I was listening yesterday to an interview with his biographer. Powerful story. Sad too, him getting shot like that after getting set up and robbed by a hooker. This track is just his voice, cymbal and acoustic bass and that's all that could ever be necessary. I don't think of the living Cooke singing this, but the dead.

Sam Cooke – Lost and Lookin'

Chocolate Genius. I was really into this guy's last record, Godmusic, which came out in 2001. Sometimes the records that take more chances, and make mistakes, stick with me more than the ones that exhibit more taste and dignity. Marc Anthony Thompson is Chocolate Genius. I don't know much about him except that he gets the greatest of the great musicians (like Van Dyke Parks or Marc Ribot) to play on his records, put out two records on major V2, and is the only "famous" person I saw when I was in New York. This song has a similar quiet to most of it as Cooke's Lost and Lookin'. I could do without the baroque rocking section with distorted guitar octaves on Down So Low; that's so mid 90s. But there is so much feeling and texture in this track that it's all OK. And you should really listen to it on headphones.
It's Going Wrong purrs with low end sizzle and is typical of the delicate soul I love from Thompson. Both of these new tracks are from his brand new record, Black Yankee Rock. (This title alone helps me deal with the pain that is the overhyped Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.) Enjoy.

Chocolate Genius – Down So Low
Chocolate Genius – It's Going Wrong