Begrudgingly, online editor Scott Morrow has joined this decade with the purchase (not by him, mind you) of his first iPod. To celebrate this sign of the end times, here are 10 random songs from his newfangled contraption.
1. Subtle: “Nomanisisland” (For Hero: For Fool)
One of the melodically and structurally odd songs from this album, “Nomanisisland” isn’t a great starting point for Subtle’s idiosyncratic indie hip hop, but it’s a great mid-album respite on the group’s best album.
2. An Albatross: “Cosmic Gypsy” (Blessphemy [of the Peace-Beast Feastgiver and the Bear Warp Kumite])
Here we have 1:19 of organ-fueled shredding. An Albatross’ newest album, The An Albatross Family Album, is more epic and twists many different ways, but this song’s album takes no prisoners with its unadulterated force.
3. Phosphorescent: “Wolves” (Pride)
As the third track on Pride, Phosphorescent’s beautiful and minimalist 2007 folk album, “Wolves” has prime sonic real estate. Though we’re not major folk fans, Pride is so pretty that it made ALARM’s Top Ten Albums of 2007.
4. Tomahawk: “Sun Dance” (Anonymous)
Wow…another entry from ALARM’s Top Ten Albums of 2007. This song’s album, Anonymous, was a spectacular homage to Native American material that was re-imagined by the lineup of Mike Patton, Duane Denison, and John Stanier. “Sun Dance” is one of the most rock-driven numbers on the album.
5. Genghis Tron: “I Won’t Come Back Alive” (Board Up the House)
From melodic new wave to crushing metal breakdowns, “I Won’t Come Back Alive” is a great track to experience this trio’s musical dichotomy. The song’s album, Board Up the House, is an extremely unique album and one of the best of 2008.
6. Luis Bacalov: “Suspense” (The Italian Western of Luis Bacalov)
First, this piece from the soundtrack of 1972 spaghetti Western film Si Può Fare…Amigo revisits the main melody of “Can Be Done,” a preceding piece that features vocalist Rocky Roberts.
Shortly, however, the tune shifts to an upbeat theme that recalls the circus or a cheery old-time saloon. “Suspense” then fittingly moves to a dramatic string passage before the main melody is revisited once more.
7. Amon Tobin: “Marine Machines” (Supermodified)
The deep sea beckons on “Marine Machines” with countless samples, including dark brass accents and creature-like gurgles. This song’s album, Supermodified, is the best album from this big-beat DJ.
8. Femi Kuti: “Wonder Wonder” (self-titled)
As group vocals join Femi in the song’s pensive but sunny chorus, the opening track from his 1995 self-titled album brings a great live feeling to a studio recording. Following in his idolized father’s footsteps, Femi uses his funky Afrobeat to raise political awareness. Here he asks, “Will Africa ever unite?”
9. Secret Chiefs 3: “Hypostasis of the Archons” (Book of Horizons)
Entirely composed by multi-instrumentalist Trey Spruance, the creations of Secret Chiefs 3 span an incredible range of beautiful, cinematic, and heavy sounds, often working with Indian, surf, and spaghetti Western styles.
This track, however, showcases another of Spruance’s loves: rapid-fire, end-of-the-world death metal. Otherworldly screams, demonic vocals, and quick-twitching strings join to make this unlike anything on the album other than “Exterminating Angel.”
10. Matt Ulery: “Would You Remember my Song?” (Themes and Scenes)
The 1:48 closer to this great chamber-score album uses harmonium, toy piano, and whistling to create a quirky, merry romp. A one-time refrain from the composer gives an Old World feel to the album’s final seconds.
(To hear one of his creations, check out my Q&A with Matt Ulery.)
– Scott Morrow