Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jon Tells You What To Think, Part 4

Yeah I know, I haven't posted one of these for like six months, but I haven't forgotten about it, I've just been too lazy to write one up. So here's another bunch of my favorite albums, numbers ten through six.

(see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

10: A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms

The first time I heard this album I was dead drunk, and it completely blew me away. Maybe if I'd been sober it wouldn't have had quite so much of an effect on me, but there's no denying it's a brilliant album. A lot of people were disappointed when it first came out because it didn't sound like Tool (a silly expectation if you ask me, there's only one guy whose a member of both bands, and there wouldn't be much point in him being in two bands that sound the same), it's in the same broad genre of alternative metal but with a more gentle, melodic side.

Judith is their most popular song (probably because it's one of the heaviest tracks), and it is damn good, but my favorite has to be Three Libras, a sad, beautiful song which remains at the top of my favorites playlist even after four years. (It's got an awesome video too.)

9: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine - The Ironman

I have to thank Joel for randomly chucking this one at me one day and saying “I think you might like this”. Dr. Kevorkian is more or less the solo project of one Jordan Reyne, and it has a kind of ambient industrial style that might be classified as Darkwave. This album (the first under the name 'Dr Kevorkian', but not Reyne's first album) is dark, haunting and beautiful, but also with a heavier side. The music itself is simply inspired, which caused me to overlook the lyrics for a long time, but once I did get round to reading them I was very impressed with them too. It's easy for people to make fun of goth music, but this album takes the genre and does everything perfectly, where so many other musicians have been let down by their overblown pomposity.

8: The Doors - L.A. Woman

After a string of commercial disappointments The Doors' final album was hailed as a return to form, although sadly Jim Morrisons' death was just around the corner so we'll never know what they might have gone on to from here. Still, it's a damn fine note to leave on (even Ray Manzarek pretends that their two post-Jim albums don't exist), the quiet, mystical album closer Riders on the Storm remains (justifiably) one of The Doors' most well known songs, but the rest of the album is just as good, roving through all sorts of different styles. The opening track The Changeling is very 70s rock (complete with wah guitar), and many of the other tracks have a strong blues influence. Love Her Madly, the obligatory attempt to recapture the success of Light My Fire present on all of their albums, is by far the best 'catchy single' song they ever did, even better than Light My Fire. But my favourite track is Hyacinth House, a slow, sad but not depressing song.

Jim's lyrics are as usual pretty cool, in a very acid induced kind of way. The W.A.S.P. (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) is probably one of his best songs ever,

“I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft/ We have constructed pyramids in honour of our escaping.”

7: Coil - Musick to Play in the Dark

Coil produced far more than their share of brilliant albums over the years, but Musick is widely regarded as one of the finest. It's one of their more ambient, moody products, and also one of their most accessible, (even my mum asked for a copy). There's not a whole lot of craziness here, which is perhaps it's only defect, but instead we have six finely crafted ten minute songs, each of which exhibits a different kind of melancholic but trippy ambiance.

My favourite track is probably Red Queen, although many others come close. A bass drone and a warped jazz drum beat provide a menacing rhythm, and Jhon Balance darkly intones his lyrics while a ghostly piano improvises over the top. It's a very spooky song, truly suited for playing in the dark...

6: Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine -The Loneliest of Creatures

Hey look! It's these guys again! On the second Dr Kevorkian album, the music becomes almost completely ambient, which would have struck me as being a bad idea before I heard it, as one of the first album's strengths was it's tight songwriting, but the result is absolutely brilliant.

The album has a potentially very pretentious concept behind it; it follows the journey of a deep space probe which has lost contact with earth. Fortunately they don't push it too hard, and there are very few lyrics on the album, so it's mostly just mood. The album makes good use of space oriented samples, such as radio transmissions and in one particularly well composed track, the electromagnetic waves given off by the Earth translated into audible sound. Over the top is the odd spoken word vocal or sad violin. Underneath it are a wide variety of menacing bass drones. You can't go wrong with a good long bass drone!

So, come back in about another six months for the next installment.


Joel said...

That reminds me that I need to get myelf a copy of The Loneliest of Creatures. It was such a damn cool ambient album, and they did pull it off with out being pretentious.

Am thinking I should follow suit soon with some of my favourites, in particular I need to mention Coil - Time Machines. I suspect I've told you of it before, but I don't know if I ever got you to listen to it.

Jon said...

Yeah you've mentioned Time Machines before, but I still haven't heard it. Might be time for another amazon.com orgy...