a liminal state

the day is done but the night is not through with you yet

A lot of my favorite music falls into what I think of as “night music”. “Night music” is not a genre, though some genres fall under the label more readily, it’s more of a mood. Downtempo, often downbeat, and generally with minimal instrumentation. It’s not always melancholy, but that’s definitely a night mood, right?

I have a few playlists that work to capture this, with meant-to-be-evocative titles like “at night, adrift”, “a bed of static”, “Winding down”, and “Gossamer”. This is another one for the list; it was created by request, for a friend that wanted something chill and atmospheric. It’s music to play when you’re home alone, it’s dark out but still about 2 hours from bedtime, and you’ve turned off all your overhead lights, so it’s just lamps and maybe candles. Sleepiness hasn’t kicked in yet, but you’re definitely not opening your eyes to full daytime width.

The first four songs all feature the human voice in interesting ways. Aphex Twin samples and twists the voice of someone who is cooing more than singing, layering the sounds over some warm synth washes. I used to listen to that track to calm down and to try to fall asleep. Next, Four Tet builds a blanket of children’s voices in a gorgeous swell of sound I find genuinely affecting, especially through headphones. After that, Team Sleep, a Deftones side project, gives us spoken French drowned in reverb over hip-hop-inflected production. Then, Nicolas Jaar keeps moving his vocals through the mix, sometimes echoing distantly, sometimes right next to your ears.

After that, Loscil’s minimal techno takes us into a patch of goth/darkwave. This stretch also involves a few concert memories for me. I saw Loscil perform at the Ace, showing basic video loops that synced to the music in a hypnotic fashion. I saw youryoungbody in Seattle with a friend and a room full of bona-fide goths, the exact right scene. And just a couple of weeks ago I saw Be Forest as part of a Part Time Punks show at the Echo, which as always had a killer lineup and notably good music playing between sets. I always hold music I’ve seen live a little closer, and these acts should be listened to when it’s dark, so they fit right in here.

Finally we end with some piano. Now things have calmed down. It’s about time to sleep. And if you need more music to get through the night, check out one of the other playlists I mentioned.

Track listing:

  1. #1, Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2

  2. Gillie Amma I Love You, Four Tet, Late Night Tales: Jon Hopkins

  3. Paris Arm, Team Sleep, Team Sleep

  4. The Three Sides of Audrey and Why She’s All Alone Now, Nicolas Jaar, Nymphs II

  5. Deceiver, Loscil, Monument Builders

  6. I Woke Up And The Storm Was Over, Tropic of Cancer, Stop Suffering

  7. Sigfrido, Be Forest, Knockturne

  8. False Moon, Them Are Us Too, Remain

  9. January, youryoungbody, Betrayer

  10. Daydreaming, Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool

  11. Melancholia III, William Basinski, Melancholia

Summer Cannibals with Flames of Durga and Cheekface at Redwood Bar, April 14th, 2019

I always hear Redwood Bar referred to as a pirate bar, but really it’s more of a nautical-themed bar. I don’t recall any pirate-specific decor. (I mean, I’ve been to a pirate-themed bar, maybe my expectations were too high.) I’ve been meaning to go for a long time (it’s just a couple blocks from my place), but they’re always doing shows, and I only like to go to bars with live music if I’m there for the music. Also, I normally haven’t heard of the bands that play there, which I respect, but can be intimidating, especially when it’s mostly punk and metal and those people are much cooler than I am.

This time was different though. Go Home by Summer Cannibals is a real banger, and I listened to it enough that Spotify knew to bring the fact that they were in town to my attention. Plus, it turned out that Cheekface was opening. I hadn’t seen them before, but their drummer is in my favorite local band, Ramonda Hammer, and their lead singer runs RH’s label and is at a bunch of the shows I go to, so it was about time.

Cheekface was fun, a kind of low-key punk trio with speak-sing lead vocals and some melodic backing vocals from the bassist. They sort of reminded me of Fred Thomas vocally, and also a little bit of House of Large Sizes (that’s a deep cut for my Iowa people).

Flames of Durga played solid desert hard rock, with the interesting twist that the two frontwomen are twin sisters. The way they trade off the vocals but still sound basically the same is pretty cool.

Summer Cannibals fucking ripped. That’s about all there is to say. They play high-octane guitar rock; check out their album Full of It, and look forward to the album they’re dropping this summer (which they played some songs from, all of which were good). They didn’t play Go Home, but they’ll be back in town sometime in June, and I’m probably going to see them again. Maybe I’ll hear it then, but even if I don’t, I’m positive I’ll have a good time.

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