10 essential albums for wintertime, part 2

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After writing the piece on essential record for wintertime listening last week, I realized today — after staring out my bedroom window in a grey, lifeless landscape of fucking cold, that hell, I could come up with ten more records to talk about.

In all honesty, I could come up with about 30 or 40 more. But here's ten.

Library Tapes, Feelings For Something Lost

I feel like with the music and aesthetic of David Wenngren's Library Tapes project, I could've picked any of his records — all of which you can actually listen to and purchase here. However, there's something about Feelings For Something Lost that just speaks to the part of me that's all bummed in winter; digging through drawers to find warmer clothes and breathing a bit heavier than normal. It's the crackling noises in the background, fronted by beautiful, clanging piano chords and drawn out, blue-grey textures and tones. It's like capturing a small snippet of kids building snowmen and sledding down small hills, and then stretching it out to last forever. It's a love letter you're never going to send because the mailbox is frozen shut.

Idaho, Hearts Of Palm

Winter does indeed make me a sad bitch boy. I think this type of music, which I reference again later, slow-core, or whatever it's called, is perfect for wintertime. (I said it all before in last week's post.) I remember the first time I heard “To Be The One,” it was on some CD sampler I got in a magazine and it resonated deep within me. It's a track that makes you kinda tilt your head to the side; like passing someone you'll always love in a hallway or standing awkwardly with a new love on an elevator, building the confidence to hold his/her hand for the first time.

So… Crank the heat a bit, pull back the sheets, give that little “c'mere” motion and learn the nooks and crannies of the body you've never paid attention to before.

Vincent Gallo, When

Jesus. I've always been a fan, for better or worse, of Vincent Gallo as an actor and as a director. I think he's an extremely talented man, if maybe misunderstood at times, for lack of a better word. I think he's out of this world intelligent, and knows what he's got up his sleeve, at all times. His music though, holy fuck. You can't beat it. There's something about the mellotron tones and the warm, minimal guitar of this album, the delicate coo of Gallo's voice that makes this one a wintertime classic. It's like your visible breath and a hot cup of coffee crafted into a record. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.

William Basinski, The Disintegration Loops

This record, and the accompanying later volumes added to it, have always had a very distinct, rustling winter tone to me. Apparently, this album is the outcome of Basinski trying to convert older recordings done on magnetic tape to digital, but the tapes have basically just deteriorated… thus Disintegrated. These distant, fractured melodies are what Basinski was left with and they're perfect. This dissolved, grainy, textured sound, to me, screams wintertime. It's like watching the frost dissolve from a thawing windshield or icicles forming on the overhang, snapping off, and falling into the snow below. I think The Disintegration Loops will remain in my top 20 records of all time, forever.

On a sidenote, Basinski has said he finished this project the morning of September 11, 2001 and sat on his rooftop listening to the work with friends. Wow. Pretty outageous. Can you even imagine that? Well, goes to show the kind of helpful information you can learn on Wikipedia.

Everyday Loneliness, The Bond

I wanted to follow up The Disintegration Loops with this CD-R release by Everyday Loneliness because I feel there's a definite connection to what both parties are doing. Everyday Loneliness is the work of Jon Borges (Pedestrian Deposit, Emaciator, Monorail Trespassing, et al) and it's a similar form of broken, dark, yet oddly melodic, and suprisingly gorgeous looped tones and pieces. The Bond isn't quite as seductive as Basinski's work, or even Everyday Loneliness' other release, Appropriation, but it does have a true beauty to it, and feels right for trudging through snowy muck to find wood for the fire.

Christian Fennesz & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cendres

I don't know if this is a perfect wintertime album or maybe more of an autumn-time album, and I honestly don't care. It's all pretty much the same. This is a record combing the alluring styles of Fennesz and Sakamoto. Sakamoto brings his delicate piano lines to the table, while Fennesz augments and filters, providing a backdrop of glistening and glittering texture. It's the perfect kind of record to stare out a window to, knowing you're not going to slice your wrists or O.D., life's not that bad. This is the recovery album, and the snow is falling, and you're still loved.

Eluvium, Copia

You may remember I talked about this album a while back on Never Waking Up, and I stand by my favorite ambient albums, especially during the wintertime, when they're absolutely necessary. I'll reiterate what I said before, regarding this release, moreso the track “Amreik“:

A song like that stops me dead in my fucking tracks. I can't ignore it. It's like watching the sky dissolve. It's not something I can turn my attention away from. So I spent the rest of the night listening to Eluvium and feeling a bit odd, out of sorts, somber, depressed maybe, hopeful. There was just some odd wash of emotions, and that's what I feel is the point of music like this. It creates landscapes for you to sit in and just feel things. It makes you feel everything and reel backwards into your own mind, reshaping memories, thinking about your future, mistakes, the happy spots; all of it.

…And my friends, there's really no better time to feel those things I was talking about than wintertime. When we set on some curb, in a toboggan with gloves off, breathing hot air into our hands to keep the frostbite from sinking in, hoping she'll hurry so you can go check out X-Mas lights together… It's a class act album. Vibe on it.

Red House Painters, Down Colorful Hill

Similar to the vibes I was talking on The Cure last week; I bought this album out of the used bin, back when I was about 15 or 16. It would fuel many awkward, confused, depressed nights for the rest of my life. And yeah, I know this isn't the essential records to get sad as fuck to list, but hey fuck you, wintertime makes me a sad bitch boy. I think it's pretty much like that across the board, for everyone; and anyone that says otherwise is a fucking liar, and I'll tell them that to their face.

So yeah, Mark Kozolek makes albums that are perfect to listen to for weirdo teenagers who want to fall in love and have the kind of sex you see in movies, and he also makes music that's perfect for adults who did fall in love and did have the kind of sex they saw in movies, and are fucked up for it. It's not gonna be a party listening to any Red House Painters album, but you should put this one on, light a fire, pour some booze in your hot chocolate, and show your girlfriend your dick. (This last part here for the boys in the club.)

Codeine, Frigid Stars & The White Bitch

Yeah, I couldn't pick between these albums because if there's really a band whose entire sound wraps up the cold, frozen, dreary, beautiful vibe of winter, it's fucking Codeine. Their shit sounds like dinner plate-sized snowflakes covering every inch of your personal world, packing up against your door, trapping you in. I can't imagine a more bittersweet sound. It's heavy, it's dark, it's completely soul-devastating, but it's dazzling, seductive, and gorgeous. I'm pretty foolish for having not included this side-by-side with Loveless last week, but I suppose it just slipped my mind. That, or I'm a complete nincompoop.

Low, Trust

Now, we continue in the tradition of the Red House Painters, Idaho, and Codeine with Low's 2002 album, Trust. I would say it's easily one of my favorite of theirs and yeah, it screams wintertime. I mean, check the song “The Last Snowstorm Of The Year.” Something about this album, to me, has a holiday-esque vibe to it, as if the tracks are odd takes on Christmas songs. Low did do an EP of Christmas song covers, entitled simply, Christmas in 1999. Shit, I dunno, maybe that should have been on the list, but I think Trust is the best choice. Take your time, play this one through, and feel your pulse slow as warmth creeps in.

I wanna share this quote I read on their wikipedia page, which was taken from critic Denise Sullivan, regarding Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's shared vocal duties: “As chilling as anything Gram and Emmylou ever conspired on — though that's not to say it's country-tinged, just straight from the heart.” Sums that shit up pretty well.

Leonard Cohen, Songs Of Leonard Cohen

Again, I could've basically picked any Cohen album on this, but Songs Of Leonard Cohen has a few too many of my favorites for cold-as-fuck morning walks with the furry hood pulled up over my head. I walk and I walk, staring at my feet, only looking up as the chorus of “So Long, Marianne” rolls in and the sun is bright in that weird winter way. I imagine myself being Leonard Cohen as I pull a cigarette out of the pack, realizing “Shit, I'll never be that cool…” Wintertime is gloomy… but, it's beautiful, and it's perfect, and it's a time when we learn more about who we really are. Maybe that's just me, I dunno… I can never tell with you assholes.