Current Favorites: Autoharp, Patterns, Ginsberg

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them. (This weekly feature was previously titled Current Listens. The name’s been updated for clarity’s sake.)

▰ Kin Sventa playing saxophone and autoharp with live processing (beats, synthesis). When the beat kicks in around 2:00, it gets even better. On loop now. Way bolder than the track of his in my latest podcast, and that is way alright.

▰ Repetitions and echoes define the collection of muted elegies that is Aura by Nashville-based Belly Full of Stars (aka Kim Rueger). Each track is titled “Pattern,” a term true not just to the genteel simplicity on hand, but to the deep sense of permanence the quiet tracks embody.

▰ The shimmering, swelling drone that is “Blue Moon” feels welcomingly rougher, considerably more strident, than a lot of recent music by Jeannine Schulz, and all the more compelling for it.

▰ A host of acts, including Gavin Friday (working with Howie B), Yo La Tengo, and Bill Frisell, set the late Allen Ginsberg’s poetry to new music (“All proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to promoting voter registration and participation in democracy”). A major highlight is the opening “Elegy for Neal Cassady” by Scanner.

2 thoughts on “Current Favorites: Autoharp, Patterns, Ginsberg

  1. Wonderful collection of Ginsberg! Thanks for the tip. I’ve wondered aloud recently — and this is a question you may be able to answer: why don’t audio books have soundtracks?

    I generally don’t have the time to devote to audio books, but when Air released the Barrico soundtrack, I read everything of his that had been translated. Likewise, when I found Current 93 working with Ligotti, I devoured everything — even the fan recordings are good. The popularity of Prairie Home Companion and old radio shows speaks for itself. Seems like someone ought to figure this out: if you’re a writer looking for an audience, you want a hit record; if you’re a sync house trying to license your weird introspective background music, audio books are almost the perfect delivery mechanism.

    1. It’s a good question. There are cues, frequently, at the start and end of audiobooks, and sometimes interstitial ones, as well. Same for sound effects. Audiobooks come in a variety of formats, some full cast, most single-reader, occasionally a hybrid. I think that experiments with sound remain just that: there’s no prevalent norm for “scored audiobooks.” It would be cool to see done well. There are complexities, one being that it’s pretty common to listen to audiobooks faster than their original pace, which would involve speeding up the music, as well. Anyhow, it’d be great to hear this done well.

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