June 29, 2005
OK, if you haven't figured this out yet I listen to a lot of music at work. I pop in my headphones and just crank out the code. As you probably also know I am a librarian, and as such I like to organize and categorize things. So, as I was thinking about Pink Floyd and U2 at Live 8, and U2's previous performance at Live Aid in which they played a 13 minute version of "Bad" I started to think about atmospheric music in a similar vein as this powerful song. You know, songs that have weight and power based on usually a single "motif" of music. A stanza of music, perhaps, that features a very simplistic progression of notes on a violin, or a piano, or a guitar, that transcends the entire song making it unforgettable and immediately recognizable. Don't know what what I'm talking about? Check out the list below and maybe you'll grok the boat I'm floating on:
- "Clocks" by Coldplay -- Probably the most recognizable in this category. It features that unmistakable piano motif that is impossible to get out of my head.
- "Bittersweet Symphony" by the Verve -- Those violins! To me they communicate power and majesty, even if the song itself isn't about those topics.
- "Bad" by U2 -- The song that got me thinking about this. Edge's repeating guitar chords and feedback are the featured elements in this song. This repetition gives the song weight and meaning, but also an effective sparseness.
- "Staralfur" by Sigur Ros -- This song begins with a very minimalistic piano part that immediately draws the listener in. This motif is then used throughout the song. Pretentious? Maybe. Beautiful? Yes. (Give it a listen).
- "Porcelain" by Moby -- I've talked about this before, but this song has such wonderful atmosphere and is so sparse that it just has to be on this list.
- "Walking on the Moon" by The Police -- Probably the best and most recognizable bass line in all of rock music. The bass line plus the clash of guitar are the perfect noises to represent a lunar hike.
- "Nightswimming" by REM -- One of REM's crowning achievements. Again, the minimal nature of the song and the piano motif make it immediately memorable and "clean."
Well, that's about it for me for now. If you can think of any other songs in this simililar vein, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for songs with atmosphere.
Posted by snackeru at June 29, 2005 12:59 PM
I had an EP of U2 live back in the day and it had "Bad" Live on it... wow, I just could not get enough of that song.
Yeah, I might have been a little facetious with my Animals suggestions. I've always liked that album, however. I'd like to hear "Have a Cigar," that is a fav. "By the way, which one's Pink?" This song was actually sung by Roy Harper of "Hats Off to Roy Harper" fame.
Posted by: SBG at June 29, 2005 1:13 PM
Azure Ray - Their entire catalogue is made up of atmospheric, ethereal songs. Some are absolutely gorgeous, although usually not as melodic as most of the songs listed here.
Posted by: Tim M at June 29, 2005 1:55 PM
Little off the subject but iPod related. I find it funny sometimes what songs pop out when I'm playing shuffle. Today, for example I went from "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix to "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. That made me laugh outloud.
Up to 2225 songs on the ol' iPod now. My summer project has been uploading from my CD collection. I finished the "P's" last night. Happy to get Petty's stuff on there finally.
Posted by: Brian Maas at June 29, 2005 2:00 PM
Azure Ray ... I shall endevour to give them a listen. Thanks for the suggestion, Tim.
Brian ... I can barely hold back thrashing you over being excited that you finally put Petty on your iPod. Curt knows of my extreme dislike of Tom Petty. I'll just leave it at that.
Posted by: Shane at June 29, 2005 3:34 PM
Off the top of my head I'll say Air's entire "Talkie Walkie" album.
Posted by: bjhess at June 29, 2005 4:02 PM
You two faced liar!! On previous occasions you have told me that you "didn't mind" Petty, and now, in a public forum, you state your "extreme dislike" for him. It would appear as though there are two faces of Shane: the real Shane which exists outside of the blog, and the "one" he likes to present here, where he thinks he is all and knows all! Needless to say you will not be coming with me when Petty plays the provincial capital!! I speak, of course, of Winnipeg for you un-educated Americans.
Curt in Grand Forks (because everything north of Maple Grove might as well be Canada for all you city slickers)
Posted by: Curt Hanson at June 29, 2005 4:24 PM
I'll put up Petty's Full Moon Fever against anything PF ever did. One of the most solid CDs from start to finish ever to come out of the 80s.
Dish that and I'm moving to Canada with Curt.
Posted by: Brian Maas at June 29, 2005 6:06 PM
Personally, I prefer Wildflowers, my favorite Tom Petty album.
Posted by: SBG at June 29, 2005 6:19 PM
Atmospheric music encompasses a lot of things. Here's some good stuff though, some atmospheric and some just more eclectic (I guess)
Thievery Corporation (simply awesome)
Zero 7 (good atmospheric vibe)
Air (cool in a strange way)
Anything from the Garden State Sndtrk (more zero7)
Jack Johnson (like Jason Mraz, except way better)
Some Daft Punk - "High Fidelity"
"All I Need" Blue Six
"Music and Wine" Blue Six (maybe my fav song all time)
Bran Van 3000 ("Drinkin in LA" and plenty more. It's insane how these 2 DJ's can hop genres and create different songs you could never believe came from the same studio, much less the same head)
"Castles in the Sky" (amazing song - you'll never forget 'Oh tell me why, do we build Castles in the Sky?')
"Welcome to Toyko" Otis Clay by Clinton
for more eclectic lists, check out www.bestplaylists.com. Some is hit or miss, but I've found some cool stuff from his suggestions.
Oh, and can someone more religious than me please light a friggin candle for the health of our infielders? Seriously....
Posted by: Andy at June 30, 2005 1:35 PM
Andy, this is an awesome list! Thanks for all these recommendations! I have the Garden State Soundtrack, but with you and bjhess both suggesting Air I will definitely have to give them a try. And I will certainly track down Music and Wine. I can't recall if I've every heard it.
Thanks again! I'm always looking for new stuff to listen to.
Posted by: Shane at June 30, 2005 1:38 PM
Curt, er ... wait ... I guess I do like Tom Petty! He is an American classic, and ... oh who am I kidding TOM PETTY SUCKS! I can't stand his whining, overrated, pathetic excuses for songs. Every time I hear a song by him on the radio I practically have to take a shower to cleanse myself from the garbage he spews forth. His continued popularity is proof that we are nearing the apex of the cone of time and that the apocalypse is approaching fast.
So there! All you Tom Petty lovers can wallow in his mediocrity all you want. But as for me, I'd rather listen to Chinese opera than his "music."
Posted by: Shane at June 30, 2005 1:43 PM
"Cone of Time"
Haha. It's sad that I know what you're referring to. Be sure to check out Thievery Corp if you haven't already. There are one or two on the Garden State album, but nearly all their songs are really good. I have the 'Mirror Conspiracy' album.
Posted by: Andy at June 30, 2005 2:10 PM
Andy, are you saying you are familiar with the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin? If so, then you probably realize that I am bastardizing his "cone of time" concept somewhat by using it as a measure of our distance from the end of the world. If not, what "cone of time" did you have in mind?
You have convinced me. "Mirror Conspiracy" will be the next album I purchase. I'll let you know how I like it.
Posted by: Shane at June 30, 2005 2:20 PM
How quickly we turn on friends, eh? What else have you lied to me about? Are you really a Minnesota sports fan, or do you just say that when I am around? Do you secretly wear a Brett Favre jersey around the house? Did you put a voodoo hex on the health of Glenn Williams? Perhaps you have reverted to the ways of your native state of Wisconsin. Perhaps the name of your cat is not "Trinity," but "Bucky", in honor of the badger. Perhaps I have been lied to all this time! I no longer even know who you are!
Seriously, though, I will never apologize for being a Tom Petty fan. He is everything that rock and roll was, is no longer. He doesn't care about his looks, his image, his videos, his "street cred," or any of that nonsense. All that matters is the music. It is good old fashioned rock and roll, with a lead guitar, bass, drums, and a rather ugly looking lead singer. Petty may not be as hip as your new favorite, Moby, but I'd take Petty in a bar fight anyday!
Curt in Grand Forks
Posted by: Curt Hanson at June 30, 2005 2:58 PM
Curt: Who is Shane's (is that his real name) fav singer/group? Bono and U2. Now read this and you will understand why he hates ugly musicians:
Ugly U2 Fans Not Wanted
June 18, 2001
Unattractive fans were forcibly removed from the front row of a recent U2 concert and replaced with attractive ones. American TV station HBO was televising the group's Boston concert and were keen to portray the Irish four-piece as a beautiful band with beautiful fans.
According to a report in The Boston Herald, the TV company used U2's hefty security to hand pick the best looking people from the crowd and place them at the front of the stage. HBO staff apparently told the audience that they needed the enthusiastic fans at the front, but it soon became obvious that their plan had an ulterior motive.
"Call us crazy, but aren't U2 supposed to be the 'band of the people', not the 'beautiful people'?" the article asked.
U2 have claimed that they were unaware of the proceedings, despite the fact that their manager, Paul McGuiness, was allegedly watching the audience re-arrangement. HBO have taken full responsibility for the "casting" of the concert. Gives a whole new meaning to their hit single, "A Beautiful Day."
-- DL (MTV.co.uk)
It all makes sense now, doesn't it?
Posted by: Brian Maas at June 30, 2005 3:34 PM
Being Shane's neighbor, I can fully attest as to what he is now like Curt. Shane has decorated his living room with red and white colors of a certain university approx 275 miles SE of Minneapolis. Shane's favorite Monty Python sketch: "The Cheese Shoppe". His favorite song: Todd Rundgren's "Bang on the drum all day". Favorite Book: Who moved my cheese? (He thought it was a mystery novel). Calls jumping into bed with his wife "The Lambeau Leap"
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 30, 2005 4:01 PM
I don't recall if the book was by Chardin, but I believe the physical nature of time, as he believed, was in the form of two cones on top of each other, in an hourglass fashion.
So yes, you did bastardize it because he didn't relate it a measure of time passing, but rather something like a grid if I remember correctly.
I erred before. "All I Need" is by Air, not Blue Six. They have a track on the Garden State Soundtrack... "Lebanese Blonde" (how hot does that sound ;) that is also on the Mirror Conspiracy.
Another group that I like but is much different from these others is OAR. They're kind a college band, but if you like folk rock with an edge, they are just right. Not that I'm a big folk rocker, but their "Crazy Game of Poker" song is genius.
Posted by: Andy at June 30, 2005 4:06 PM
Ack! My good name has been besmirched! I can handle the U2 and ugly people comment, I can even handle my supposed best friend suggesting I have named my cat Bucky (for shame Curt! for shame!!!) but to suggest that I even have the slightest bit of respect for Todd Rundgren's "Bang on the Drum" well, the line has been crossed.
You have hurt my feelings. I expect an apology.
Posted by: Shane at June 30, 2005 4:24 PM
I apologize Shane, you're right, you're favorite song is "I'm a Cheesehead baby, straight out of WI" (to the tune of Beck's "I'm a loser baby" song)
Oh, goshdarnit don't ya know
I'm a Cheesehead, baby, straight out of WI
(getting crazy with the cheeze wiz)
By the way, I have also heard Shane make disparaging remarks about Gophers, called a certain other team the "ViQueers" and got a tatoo of of the Brewers logo right around his navel.
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 30, 2005 4:39 PM
Okay... you got me on a music kick Shane. I really launch into a list on my website. I invite you all to stop over to 'Twins Killings' and check it out.
Posted by: Andy at June 30, 2005 7:17 PM
July 14th will forever be known as the night that Shane became terribly ill from bad Oysters. Once he has passed out cold, a tattoo saying, "I "heart" Tom Petty" will be etched into his chest. I'm open for other suggestions. Currt? Craig?
Posted by: Brian Maas at June 30, 2005 9:41 PM
A) Air's "Alone in Kyoto" (on the album mentioned above as well as that "Lost in Translation" movie's soundtrack) "feels" exactly as I felt when I visited Japan for a week back in 1999. Actually, that whole movie was amazingly accurate in a "feel" sort of way.
B) Tom Petty wiping the floor with Pink Floyd? Blasphemer. Holy crapoli.
(Note - It was margarita night at softball tonight.)
Posted by: bjhess at June 30, 2005 11:44 PM
I'm a fan of Thievery Corporation and like 'The Mirror Conspiracy' as well as their other records, but my favorite is 'The Richest Man in Babylon.' Be sure to check that one out, too.
Posted by: frightwig at July 2, 2005 3:12 AM