What: This is the kind of techno that rips your conception of time apart. Each time I play any track on this record the first one-to-two minutes I keep thinking; when will it start, when will I get into it. And then, after the track has ended, I keep asking myself: where has it gone. Five minutes have disappeared. For me, the brilliance is in those ‘lost’ minutes.
This is not just techno of course. A adjective, probably ‘minimal’, is common. The problem with this specific genre definition is that it brings to my mind the ‘school’ of Richie Hawtin minimal techno. Music I absolutely adore, but music that thrives in a club. Whereas this record really works great in a home situation. That is probably due to all the warm melodies the Field uses, it is comforting in its sound and production, and the repetition is expedient for simultaneously reading a book.
With:Thomas Mann – the Magic Mountain
The novel that on a psychological level seeks to make you experience and sense time, sometimes it almost becomes physical. On a philosophical level it seeks to explain and understand time. It does so with a profundity that is exemplary for the works of Mann. A dominant parallel with the aforementioned music, of course, is the way in which time can seem to disappear. The expression one would use in English would probably be ‘killing time’. But ever since Hitchens pointed out it’s a “very crass and breedy expression (….) considering that time, after all, is killing us”, I try to avoid this. Yet the expression itself (killing time) probably explains a lot about the human experience of time, and maybe some about the position we think hold in the universe. A somewhat pre-copernican viewpoint.
What: As I write this i’m still somewhat awestruck by the Tim Hecker concert I underwent four days ago. For all the music I recommend applies -in my opinion- that it’s not only, or just, suited as accompaniment to a book. On its own, the music in each post can be a great experience. So when I was sitting in a almost completely darkened theater (the only light came from the escape exit signs) I did not even missed the input to the, somewhat deficient, eye-sight most humans are lucky enough to be born with. Just sitting there with my eyes closed (for even the light from the escape exit signs was to much then) I was experiencing this phenomenal music and as my eyes got some rest my mind took over and I visualised and hallucinated my way through an hour full of the most unintelligible sounds and intestine-stimulating drones.
It is possible to (re)create this experience at home, but difficult to do so without destroying the last bits of friendliness your neighbours hold for you. So perhaps it will be better to turn the volume down from the deterrent ‘twelve’ to a more modest, and indeed pusillanimous, level. Then you go grab a book and you will be able to experience another side to this wonderful music by Tim Hecker.
With: Carson McCullers – the heart is a lonely hunter
For me projection-without-reflection is the concept of this novel. All characters surrounding the deaf protagonist (John Singer!) are projecting their dreams, beliefs and struggles on this man by talking to him, and since he is not able to communicate via spoken word (nobody has the patience or sense to communicate through different means) they seem to be unable to do something with their plans. Perhaps even worse (or the cause of the lack of reflection) is that they don’t get what the protagonist himself is feeling. All the while Singer struggles with these same problems because and old friend just seems to ignore him – and perhaps this goes on ad infinitum.
It is my sincere belief that one of most important functions literature has to offer, is in its ability to reflect your own thoughts and emotions upon you. In doing so clear-up latent thoughts and feelings, in hindsight it could even illuminate motives. All though there’s always the chance of being over-analytical. The heart is a lonely hunter has not only the illuminating qualities I just mentioned, but also has the potential of showing you that both friendship and frugality can, and perhaps should, have these same qualities.
What: It’s that slowed-down techno everybody is talking about. Not just suited for a fantastic, interior, trip on the dancefloor, also a great pairing with a book. I imagine someone blessed with synesthesia seeing the slow beat (under 100 bpm) stomping as the interpunction on an old fashioned typewriter. Low-toned melodies grovel around giving it all a warm and dark feeling while slowly turning – in your head – into words. And these words, these magical words, then, finally, turn into sentences.
I remember Christopher Hitchens talking, in an interview, about writing fiction and that what is needed to do so. He said that his fiction writing literary friends (Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, etc.) all had music in them. Not in the sense that they are musically, or even play an instrument, but in the sense that they underwent language, prose, as if it where music. I am not sure this theory is correct but, when I read a good book, I sometimes have the feeling I can trace back its sentences into the inner music that encompasses the literary psyche. And many a time the psyche sounds a lot like the music of Andy Stott.
With:The short stories of Raymond Carver : His stories are stunning in the retract way in which they tell about the everyday happenings of the common man – Mutato nomine et de te fabula narrator.
Some seem just too ordinary, as if you are missing something. But than, as the story is over, fin, and you are already getting along with whatever it is you are doing, the mind seems to close the story, independent of your consciousness. So when you’re later on thinking back of what you thought about Carvers work you will feel more satisfactory than the result of the sum of what you would rationally encounter. It is a literary experience that enters on the conscious level, yet only will truly extract on a subconscious level.
What: This is truly some evocative music. It sounds to my like the artist is blending both the more traditional tape-loops with contemporary laptop/computer technics, creating an all-embracing sound via erratic, slipshod percussions, rolling tape and impetus bleeps and blobs. Yet it never sounds histrionic, there is always control.
It was Tarkovsky who lit the first spark. Beforehand science-fiction, as a (movie) genre, enfolded the two star sagas. For trek I did not cherish any feelings, I never really ‘got’ it. More warm feelings were held for wars (this was the time when it was still a trilogy). Later on as I was reading more and more about European history I started to connect the dots of my interest. It was the historical plot and scenario that I found more interesting than the futuristic context – mere playing with oversized toys. Only after watching Solyaris I realized there are other opportunities offered within the realm of such a genre. Philosophical mind-games, for instance. Seeking the boundaries of your moral paradigm, trying to expand your horizon. More recent the movie Moon offert sort of the same experience.
With: My guess is that the music of Kane Ikin will be a fine match with some of the well-known s-f books that were written in the past century. Unfortunately the only classic s-f book that I read is Brave new world by Huxley….and I am not a fan. Perhaps the writings of Asimov, Philip K. Dick or Arthur C. Clarke would work? I don’t know.
So something else? Slightly out of the box perhaps, but I think this combines well with the Great Gatsby. Somehow this music overwhelms me in the same way that the world of Jay Gatsby overwhelms Nick Carraway. I get carried away by it with the same velocity and impetus that Nick has with Gatsby. This also makes the combination even more subjective then some I made before, so I would suggest that perhaps the best is to just listen to this music and try and find your own match. And let my know, please.
What: Mild melodies with lots of echo. Innocuous groveling undertones, in the distant. And in a sensible way of sodality some field recordings, here-and-there.
With:Adrian Goldsworthy – Caesar: Unlike historical fiction, non-fictions aim is not to entertain via vicarious deliverance or pain. You are not put onto the battlefield, mouth dry, back hurting from all the armor you had to carry through miles of muddy road, to just wait there in a cold field somewhere in between the mountains of Gallia Cisalpina. The aim is to let you have a view-in-hindsight of the battleground, of the historical events that let to this point. Consider the options (war, diplomacy, co-operation, etc.), and consider – as far as possible – in which manner the protagonist of this battle, event or even era, has judged these options. Which were the dominant arguments, what was the contemporary moral? Reflections of the sort ask for a different approach than the aforementioned fiction – and thus for different music.
My feeling is that this album contains two sides that are both sufficient for historical non-fiction. I mentioned these before – calm melodies and drones, complimented by field recordings. I find these calm features suited for the reflections mentioned in the previous paragraph. Whereas the field recordings – to me – contain the echoes of past battles, to much unnecessary death and perhaps one-or-two heroic ones. Somehow they reflect the geographical influence of battlefields as important as that of, for instance, Cannae. Yet they are also telling of the way in which nature is capable of moving on, drinking from the consolatory waters of the Lethe.
What: The man himself needs no introduction, perhaps this album does? No, probably not.
With:Murakami – every book, story, sentence he has written. Each committed Murakami reader knows his books are filled with music. Some with classical music, some with pop. But to me his story’s are all pregnant with jazz. Perhaps it has something to do with the way he constructs his dialogues. They resemble jazz to me. Short sentences, to-and fro, interwoven with somewhat longer monologues in which the protagonist summarizes the antagonist. It’s a style I think works really well in his works because they always seem plot-driven.
There is not one writer that conveys the same passion for both music and literature. Or at least not one that I know of. And perhaps it’s these ingredients that make me feel right at home in each of his books, whether it is a 500+ page novel or a 6 page short-story. He doesn’t even have to mention music. It is there. For those who consider themselves non-jazz listeners this could prove to be the winning conjunction. But would you please be so provident, please, to always have John Coltrane’s My favorite things within reach? You’ll thank me while reading Kafka on the shore.
What: Dark ambient/electro with a pulse. During their live-show they projected black and white scenes, of what looked to me, partly abandoned east-European towns, on the screen that hung above the podium. But although everything moved very slowly, it did not seem slow-motion. It was as if the life depicted in these towns had adopted the tempo of the music of Raime. I remember a feeling creeping upon me (or rather growing inside of me) that this was the pace in which life should be lived. And it still is as if the space-time continuum shifts each time when I put on a record of Raime.
With:David C. Powers – The yellow birds: A truly heartening book that feels like a catharsis of the most pure and personal kind. For me Raime has this same pureness in it while its tempo can be easily fitted with that of the events and psychology in the book. A match made in the purgatory.
Also:Albert Camus – la peste Dave Eggers – Zeitoun
What: Repetitive sounds, cascading slowly into different kind of forms. It somehow makes me think of the Rorschach test – although I doubt there’s any psychological relevance to upcoming thoughts. There is also a pre-dominant mechanical element which makes me construe the early era of the industrial revolution. Machines that make al sort of non-distinct sounds, shifting, back and forth, into lovely patterns. Large groups of workers leaving the factory, all in uniform, both in clothes as in movement, faces covered with black smudge. It makes them seem unidentifiable. But only from a distance. When looking closer, you will find these are al individuals. When listening closer, you hear laughter. Farcical, hopeful, empty. Each burst different from the other. Some are on there way to the bar, a few drinks they deserve. Most are on there way home where they will find comfort and paternal duty.
With:Ian Morris – Why the West rules – for now: I find these slow developing songs a perfect accompany for non-fiction. This is one a recently read and I think that the cascading mechanism of human development is very easily found on this album.
Sándor Márai – Embers: the monologue of the characters have a similar build up as the songs of Roll the Dice. They start relatively simple. A motive that, like a snowball rolling downhill, grows into something bigger, meter per meter. But unlike with the snowball, you don’t know how far it will roll and what is in the valley that will stop the ball. Herein lays the tension of both the monologues (as well as in the book) as in the songs.
What:Deathprod, the moniker of Helge Sten, creates haunting ambient music. Using a lot of homemade apparatuses together with the more regular analog sound machines, he creates long songs that are not easy on the listener. I find this record to have a very dualistic listening effect on me. On the one hand it has a perturbing aura, a predominant side which could suit a silent movie from 1920′s Germany. On the other there is a cozy, an almost homely feeling hidden to it. A subtextual warmth. It is as if you are sitting in front of a hearth whilst on the outside you hear the wind, and with it the cold, curling around the house. Or palace, if there is love in it.
With: It is because of these properties I find Deathprod’s music to be the perfect assembly for a book like Cormac McCarthy’s the road. In my view this book contains the exact same balance of comfort and distress. You have the haunting nature. Hunting humans. And there is the paternal love and care. Both in memory as in present.
Other tips:Jonathan Franzen – the corrections a nice pair, the long sentences of the prose and the short-sightedness of the characters. Jerzy Kosinsky – the painted bird Primo Levi – La tregua
What: dystophic industrial electro, inspired by terrorism and the battle against it. Although there is a very cheap sort of side, there is also a strong, almost psychedelic, effect to it. When you listen closely and for a short while there is not much to it. But when you listen on a more absent or less conscience way my guess is that you will, like me, experience a sort of dismal trip.
With: This happened to me while I was reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. When I started reading HoD I had trouble putting away Apocalypse Now. All I was doing was looking for things that made it, in one form or the other, to the movie. A movie I adore and have seen many times. After a while, 50 pages or something, I found this way was impossible for me the enjoy reading or to understand the book. So I stopped. Months later I gave it another chance. I had not seen Apocalypse Now for a while and had read several articles en references to HoD, which gave me hope for a better chance this time. It worked. I read large parts of the book while listening to al sorts of music and never had disturbing searches for Apocalypse Now material. But with Vatican Shadow playing I found myself deeply connected to the psyche of the protagonist (Charlie Marlow) and the parable that is the book.
Other tips:Franz Kafka – especially Der Process or Das Schloss Or perhaps something with the topic of Vatican Shadow’s inspiration. Maybe the essays of Christopher Hitchens dealing with this issue.