Ambient/psych/prog lately listened to.
Auburn Lull, Alone I Admire
There’s a certain kind of dreamlike synthambient music that comes close to my ideal: gently cresting instrumentals, lightly ‘psychedelic’ in character, made by people who obviously care about music at the same level of detail I do. The trouble with this Platonic me-music is that it’s all unbelievably boring shit. Douglas Adams gave us the Somebody Else’s Problem field: an object wrapped in an SEP can only be seen in passing, out of the corner of the eye, by accident; looked at directly, it seems to vanish, still physically there but impossible for the human mind to care about. This, then, is perfect writing music, miraculously achieving an informational density of absolute zero. Pair with Explosions in the Sky if you need a soundtrack to the iPhone videos of your suicide pact.
Antonius Rex, Zora
Hilariously portentous giallo-prog, heavy on the pipe organ and occult nonsense. Magnificent cover art. If you believe the bandleader, the music is 40 years old; others claim certain aspects of the music were technically impossible until a decade later. I’m curious but don’t much care — either way, this is clever, skillful, carnivalesque prog that generates a rich paracosm over a little more than a half-hour.
Beggar’s Opera, Act One
Scottish rock-classical fusion (i.e. ‘prog’) with one track named ‘Passacaglia,’ so you know they’re not just fucking around. The third minute of ‘Poet and Peasant’ has me thinking Trey Anastasio knows this album. Ludicrous-for-rock chops, irresistible momentum, and of course the whole thing’s unintentionally silly like Yes, though without Yes’s lyricism; I’m not sure I remember a single melody from this album. Try and imagine anyone in rock playing music of this complexity today, when Grizzly Bear is considered ‘difficult,’ and then give respect. Oh by the way: ‘Passacaglia”s balls drop after a couple of minutes, cowbell happens, and the whole thing is charmingly unconvincing, like some wannabe-loverman’s first time in the sack. This is what you get when folks stay behind to build cities where the frontier had so recently been. The frontier keeps moving. The city becomes its own world.