Sad-Ass Music #4: End of the World Edition
Dec 21 2012
So here we are... The big ol' December 21st, 2012; dreaded date for oh-so-long. Mayan calendar says we gonna bite the big one and drift...or does it? Who knows? Well, I'm actually writing this on December 12th, but I'm prepared, y'know, for THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD.
This time around, I asked, y'know, what would be the ultimate playlist for the very last day on earth? Sure, many highly-respected, well-educated muggs have come forth to say anyone believing the 21st will be the end of the world is being foolish, but goddamn if it isn't a fun topic to toy with. It's so heavy.
I've been fixated on armageddon since I was just a boy, honestly. I love apocalyptic film and literature, anything really focused on the doom and gloom and the world going kaput really strikes my fancy. I'm not even really saying I want the world to end, per se, but I love the idea of it. I think it's fucking radical...and heavy.
So a while back, I started messing around, making a playlist of tracks I thought would be the perfect rock block of tunes for the end times. I think my list is pretty good... So let's get deep in these guts, before we all blow the fuck up.
And let me go ahead and stop you right here... No, I didn't include Prince's “1999,” R.E.M.'s “It's The End Of The World,” or like, any shit from the Independence Day Soundtrack, because this is my fucking column. Write your own.
This piece and its Disintegration Loop-companions have a storied past, deeply rooted in New York City and 9/11. Basinski has dropped much wordage about this over the years since The Disintegration Loops were released, and much more since the new boxset recently dropped via Temporary Residence. I picked it, not because of its already established connection to tragedy and destruction, but because it is a long-rising swell, a perfect score to an eventful climax. There's an astute focus on decay and, y'know, finality. What more could you even ask for? This is a perfect intro into our Soundtrack For The End Of The World.
I've been saying this shit for years. If the world were going to end and I knew about it in advance – either like some celestial body sent rays of knowledge to my dome, or like it was a big fuck-off meteor and there were news reports – whatever, I'd jam this. I'd be on the rooftop of whatever the tallest building was – well, if it's actual like a meteor or comet or some shit – and I'd be cranking Cohen and trying to spread all the beautiful love I could find. This song is totally epic and perfect for comets and meteors alike reigning hell down on our stupid, fat faces.
Um, check the title, bro. Stars Of The Lid make that wonderful, lofty, ethereal, bombastic music that's perfect for any life-changing event. With a title like that, I'm thinking bring on the end of days, be it zombies or martians or nukes or mammoth hurricanes or what-the-fuck-ever. Bring that shit. Going out in style.
I just really, really, really like Neil Young.
This to me, is the perfect score to whatever the millions of motherfuckers are gonna be doing to escape certain chaotic, epic death. The strings go absolute ape-shit and it's furious. If the 21st, which is today, were totally the last day on earth, shit would look wild, let's get real for a sec. Motherfucking heads would be popping off necks; a type of chaos we can't even fathom. Riots? Whatever dude, this is THE END OF THE WORLD. Shit is going to go off in a big big big big bad way, and I think Steve Reich's jam here nails that kind of pandemonium.
This song, to me, is what reflecting over your entire lifetime sounds like... Well, I bet you're gonna be doing a lot of reflecting – plus shitting and crying – while waiting on a fucking comet to drop on your skull; might as well rock a dope-ass McGuire guitar + delay pedal wrangler.
I included this for the romantics. At the end of the world, I guarantee most people are going to be far too chicken-shit titty-baby to actually run through the lawless streets to find the love of their life, and try to find the new-fangled Noah's Ark type shit the army's been hiding for 2 years, or whatever... But in a perfect world, we'd all be that heroic, and this Cocteau Twins jam would be the soundtrack to us running, escaping streaking fireballs crushing the concrete all around us, swooping down to push a little kid out of the way of a cracking fault line into his panicked mother's arms, then hollering “187” on a fucked up zombie's feeble cortex with a baseball bat, just in time to save our lady – and maybe even Jeff Goldblum/Will Smith/Randy Quaid the whole situation altogether. Yeah, son.
Just a really pretty, melancholy jam for you to turn up while fucking the love of your life before it all goes right down the shitter in the biggest way ever. Y'know, stay in. Don't fuck with all that destruction in the streets bullshit.
Maaaaaaaan, this just feels like a great song for letting go. Phil Elverum has crafted so many beautifully desolate songs that just wrap all around you like night time fog, but they pack so much real-deal emotion that there's a comforting quality. I think when this time comes, we'll need something to help up feel well enough to slip away, to just go on, but y'know, we wanna be genuine about it. Phil's gonna help us out with that. Your love swells and pounds me...
Back when this album dropped, there was much ink dropped about its connection to Hurricane Katrina, due to the band's New Orleans homebase and the timeframe in which it was released. I won't go too deep into that realm, as you can read that by going just a bit back in time via Google. What I will say is Belong's October Language album is a perfect example of the beauty of bedlam. It's a chaotic stir of sounds, laid out in this dense and saturated swell, almost breaking into similar territory as William Basinski, but with their own style of disintegration. Plus there's the title, “All Equal Now,” which when it comes to the last days, fuck all the bullshit, we literally will all be equal; race, religion, sexual preference, financial status, rad points: none of these things matter to a fucking asteroid. We're all going to end up smushed goop.
That name, that sound. Enough said. Get emotionally ruined for nine minutes before you physically GET RUINED.
This is perfect for just walking out into the street and letting it all crash down around you. Fearless, indifferent, cool, or just desperate; with this one, you can take it all. The world's already pretty fucked up, and you have to wonder what you're losing/what you're gaining. Maybe we'll fall into a majestic spiral to a whole other level of existence. Maybe through the ultimate end, we'll gain the type of concsciousness that alien mages have perfected. Just saying. This song is a smoking jam, fyi.
I think a song that's named after a town that was basically devastated by in the early 60s, when a mine fire blazed underneath the town, and oh yeah, it's continued to burn for like ten million years. So I mean, that's pretty heavy... Early Day Miners just capture the spirit of misery, that real terrible, sinking, gutrot that we're all going to have to face. Not even when facing something cataclysmic like the end of the entire Earth, but even just in ourselves; facing the fact that one day we'll cease to exist. Heavy fucking vibes, man. Hope I didn't just ruin your day, but I guess that's kind of partially the point of my column. Sorry.
Some motherfuckers wanna hear Prince at the end of the world, well I wanna hear this. Zoned for mass hubbub. And you know, I feel like the Mayans that wrote the calendar would've grooved this shit. “Just say goodbye...” P.S. Yeah I know this song isn't sad, but it fucking goes hard.
Duh, did you see the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles? It's like that but with you shitting your pants because of real explosions, and not just because that movie was terrible... If you don't know why I'm including this, my man, you are dense.
So yeah, that would be a perfect soundtrack to the end of everything as we fucking know it right? Assuming you have a couple hours to burn, you could go out in style. Hey, but, y'know, maybe all this hocus pocus bullshitty armageddon shit isn't your flavor... Well I have you covered. If you skipped that whole section, like a total clown-ass, I've whipped up another little list for this article.
SO I PRESENT... THE TEN – in no specific order – SADDEST SONGS I HEARD THIS YEAR, THAT DROPPED IN 2012... ENJOY!
Ugh. John Kolodij created the perfect soundtrack to crumbling scenery and blank skies. I love this shit. The High Aura'd album, Sanguine Futures, ranked way high on my best-of-list this year, and for such good reason. This shit is smokey, dark, ambient, scary, and wonderful.
If you read the armageddon-talk up above, you'll know my vibe on the music of Phil Elverum and co. I was so pleased this year when homeboy dropped, not one, but two super-solid records on us in 2012 with Clear Moon and Ocean Roar. Both are absolutely incredible albums, with their own merits. I went with a Clear Moon track here, “The Place Lives” because it's big and brave, while Elverum's reserved voice is endearing enough to put you down. That music video is also a perfect example of how to make a priceless piece of art with minimalism and class.
If you've ever heard any of Kyle Bobby Dunn's music, I don't really even have to explain this at all. Dude is just, like, a pro, purely, top of the class at making these somber, dragged out ambient records that ultimately trawl your entire essence through both blue dreams and murky haunts. He also dropped two records this year, the substantial double-LP, Bring Me The Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn – best album title ever? The more recent In Miserum Sercum. A lot of people are saying the latter is the more grim of the two, but I've invested so much time into Bring Me The Head..., which “The Hungover” comes from, that it's just there for me, brining me down ten notches. I love it.
I picked the album closer from Loscil's new album, Sketches From New Brighton, which is just a staggering album of stretched and smooth glitching ambience. Perfect soundscapes for long nights and grey mornings. “Praire Trains” just manages to sum everything up into a perfect eight minutes of sound.
Rafael Anton Irisarri and Thomas Meluch (Benoît Pioulard) teamed up and made an album that straddles the line between blurry dream-pop and droning ambient, with shoegazing tendencies. It's a perfect genetic fusion of these two men's seperate sounds, which absolutely should be expored in-depth. The entire eponymous album is warm, breathing, and gauzy, but it's on the Broadcast cover “Until Then,” that this team really breaks us down. Most people remember that Broadcast singer, Trish Keenan, passed away in 2011 from pneumonia. This was their dedication to her, and what a beautiful dedication it is. RIP Trish, what a tragic loss.
Ross Gentry took the whole ambient/drone/whatever scene down this year with his jaw-dropping LP, Theories Of Ageing. Taking Labradford style post-rock-influenced ambient sounds and mixing it with the moodiness of Stars Of the Lid, he crafted something much more flesh and blood than a lot of today's fractured-laptop-ambient records. “Reclining Figures” blends deep tones with a minimal guitar riff that just puts the mind in the right place for deep introspection.
Like... Fuck. I don't even wanna talk about it. Look at the title. Listen to the song. I just don't even wanna talk about it. Mark Kozelek forever. This motherfucker can do NO WRONG.
I haven't heard anything Karen O has done since that one Yeah Yeah Yeahs album where she said “they don't love you like I love you,” but I've genuinely always loved her voice, truthfully. I love Swans. I loved the new Swans album, The Seer – like, probably my favorite of the year. I love her voice on this song. The instrumentation is brilliant, beautiful, and I want to lay my head down into three pillows and just have Karen sing me to sleep while I drift because I don't know who I am or what I'm doing.
Fucking flood my heart, why don't you? Uggghhh.
Angel Olsen stole almost everyone's heart back in 2010 with her first release, Strange Cacti, and trust me, with her new one, Half Way Home, every single heart she didn't steal back then are firmly tucked away in her back pocket, and she even went back and re-stole some of the other. Jesus Christ, this girl is going to fucking run the world.
2012 was a great year for music, I'm truthfully proud to admit that. I heard so many incredible things from across the board, every genre, just everywhere. I loved it.
I hope you made it to the end of this article without your apartment wall coming down thanks to a big fucking alien or a comet chunk. Really though, I don't believe the world is going to end today, but we're all sweating a little bit, just a little bit.
You know I love you. I'm here. As long as I can be. I don't know what else to say...