Lockdown List - Volume One Nick Fewings

Lockdown List - Volume One

April 10, 2020

Written by:

Dragoș Rusu

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While the entire humanity is shifting to a new paradigm and nature attempts (and simply succeeds) in connecting us to a (new?) social dimension, music remains one of the most honest and reliable communication channels.

In the new now, we’re suddenly being served large doses of corporate empathy hidden in complex schemes of actions. While being locked in our houses for most of the time and mind social distance, there’s not much one can do to than try to stay awake, to be aware and remain in the present.

Not only in this certain moment of reflection, but also throughout our own insignificant life, we, human beings, should consider that we owe so much more to music and art. Not just because music provides infinite ways of escapism, but also for its unique, divine, cosmic force, one that rises way above the mundane. From all the discussions I had with friends and acquaintances from all over the world, there is this recurrent thought that comes to my mind. Are we missing something? What have we lost on the road, throughout our journey? Did humanity fall into a consumerism trap and has lost its purpose? What can we learn from the present, in order to constantly evolve?

While staying focus, today's present makes it easier than ever to fall for apocalyptic scenarios and dream about dystopian (or utopian) future. On this note, I remember about the good irony in one of David Byrne's song (and poem) from 1985 - ”In The Future”, taken from Music For The Knee Plays LP: In the future people with boring jobs will take pills to relieve the boredom. In the future no one will live in cities. In the future there will be mini-wars going on everywhere. In the future everyone will think about love all the time. In the future political and other decisions will be based completely on opinion polls. In the future there will be machines which will produce a religious experience in the user. In the future there will be groups of wild people, living in the wilderness.

So, without any further introduction, here’s the first volume of the Corona List, a new series of features mirroring the present through the eyes (and ears) of our friends, collaborators, contributors and favourite artists. This is an on-going seasonal piece, to be published twice a month.

From Edgar Froese to Harold Budd

Dislocation Dance - Music Music Music (New Hormones, 1981)
Dislocation Dance - Music Music Music (New Hormones, 1981)
Dislocation Dance - Music Music Music (New Hormones, 1981)

Best of all, I perceive music when I go somewhere - I arm myself with an updated playlist, headphones and just go. Step speed, time of day and surrounding landscapes directly affect my listening experience. The rhythm usually helps me listen to music more carefully and adjust my sensitivity much more accurately. Early in the morning, rushing to work, I always want to listen to something rhythmic, in the evening - something inventive and experimental. On weekends, in a more relaxed mode, you can try to listen to what in other cases has stumbled on your biases and the snobbery developed over the years. Sometimes I get lucky - and some street events seem to be synchronised with the drama of the track I'm currently listening to.

However, now that we are all forced to sit at home, my listening ability has fallen markedly. Where I live, shops are at arm's length, and you can only dream of the existence of a shopping center, the road to which takes listening to an entire music album. Therefore, you have to desperately nostalgia and play the best land walk album with the catchy name “Music Music Music” from the Manchester's new wave band Dislocation Dance.

The group was formed in the early ‘80s by the strong creative tandem of trumpet player Andy Diagram and drummer Richard Harrison, which is still active today. The album Music Music Music is the first and best from the band’s discography. Everything is perfect in it - it appeared in the prime of the new wave, when the musicians did not repeat the chips one after another, but continued to invent new ones. Dislocation Dance differed from many similar groups in its special light summer sound with extra-short catchy and stringy songs - probably because they knew the secrets of levitation. The singing and incredibly melodic sounds of the Andy Diagram’s trumpet perfectly complement the pop-oriented songs of the vocalist Ian Runacres, and sometimes even provoke the band to play the most frivolous swing in the world. If I were on the street, I would definitely start to lope around. The instrumental compositions of Dislocation Dance, on the contrary, are full of drama and kinemotogrophicity - only “Ventetta” can sound all the spaghetti-westerns at once. As paradoxical as it sounds, there is so much music in Music Music Music - and by its end (it lasts only half an hour), you feel a wonderful state of fullness and satisfaction. And if at that moment the bright sun shines, then, squinting and smiling, you could start to levitate. Picked by Eugenie Galochki (ТОПОТ)

Dissmentado - The Best of Dissmentado (Huntleys + Palmers, 2018)

I chose this album because I have known, liked, played and listened to these tracks for more than a decade, and they are still fresh to me. The tracks are also made by two musicians I admire a lot and I was there when they started working on this project back in 2007/2008. My first introduction to learning Ableton was watching Ismael and Maximo work together on some of these tracks. Picked by Charlotte Bendiks

Edgar Froese ‎- Epsilon in Malaysian Pale (Virgin, 1975)

The album by Edgar Froese – the leader of Tangerine Dream, is composed of only two tracks filling up the whole record. It was recorded in Froese’s studio after the band’s tour in Australia in 1975. It is a sonic dream of traveling into remote places. An album is a result of the fascination of the artist in a new and immersive sound of futuristic synthesizers and sequencers but from a deeper perspective, it is homage to nature and the beauty of secret life that earth sometimes allows us to witness. It is a piece of perfect music for the time we are living now. Froese tells us that there is a promise of calmness that comes after the storm. Picked by Kornelia Binicewicz (Ladies On Records)

Feederz ‎- Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? (Flaming Banker, 1984)

I don't need to hear what humans think, I don't like what they do, and political thought and action is the worst. This album has some energy so yeah, ok! Picked by Victor Stutz

Fun Boy Three - The Fun Boy Three (Chrysalis, 1982)

The English new wave band from 1981 found a few words back then which fit in the actual times very well. Just enjoy the ride along the nice groovy synth bassline and mellow guitar riffs which carriers you through the track. Sing along, have faith in humanity and take care to the people next to you. Hope dies last. Picked by Alexander Arpeggio

Harold Budd - The Pavilion of Dreams (1976)

When asked to think about an album that has been helping me weather these difficult and unsettling times, the thing that immediately springs to mind is The Pavilion of Dreams, Harold Budd's first album, which has certainly been getting a lot of play over recent weeks, particularly in the small hours when sleep has been avoiding me. Released in 1978, the work was produced by Brian Eno and released on his short-lived Obscure label.

The album features a who's who of important experimental composers and players, including Marion Brown on Saxophone, Gavin Bryars on celeste and glockenspiel, Michael Nyman on marimbas and some vocals from Brian Eno. The Pavilion of Dreams is such an apt title for this work, which seems to construct a warm, and dense architecture around the listener, to house us in a massive, welcoming structure built out of the lush sounds of harps, marimbas and glockenspiels, and the ethereal wordless vocals of what appears to be a choir of angels.

Despite its warmth and lush tones, this music appears to be devoid of any emotion, rendering it as something beyond human, something more natural. It shimmers like the reflection of the sun on waves, it ebbs and flows in a way that helps me to remember the world is bigger than my anxieties, and that helps to ground me. This music has provided solace and shelter through difficult times over a number of years but it’s taking on additional meaning for me now through this pandemic, providing me with a safe space and a retreat. I hope you'll consider giving it a listen and that it provides you with something you need too. Picked by Marc Teare (Hive Mind Records)
László Hortobágyi - Sygnus Synth Season (1975-1978)
László Hortobágyi - Sygnus Synth Season (1975-1978)

From Luz Azul to Manu Dibango

László Hortobágyi - Sygnus Synth Season (1975-1978)

I'm not entirely sure why – perhaps because of its abstraction, timelessness and the time passed since its creation (mid-1970s), László Hortobágyi's “Sygnus Synth Season” has provided a soothing escape from these doom-filled days. The interview I've done with László always brings a smile to my face. “In the Western world, the concealment of real working processes and their enjoyment is part of a mendacious, hypocrite tradition in which alienated meme-plex portfolios of competing human objects are racing with each other in a network space.” Picked by Lucia Udvardyova (Easterndaze)

Luz Azul - Luz Azul (Cortizona, 2020)

It's like a trip to another universe...very shamanistic, with lots of percussion. This music is truly an escape to another realm...perfect for this moment in time. Picked by Anna Homler

Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staifi 1985-1997 (Les Disques Bongo Joe, 2020)

An excellent introduction to RAÏ - music. The music of the poor and social classes in Algeria which in the later years became an open-minded example of border- and style-crossing music. When we signed Mameen 3 on Bongo Joe we didn't know they had an upcoming compilation of some of the tunes that influenced our project the most. Picked by DJ soFa

Manu Dibango - Wakafrika (1994)

We recently lost this great human being and musician from the Covid-19 virus infection at age 86. What isn’t obvious to know is how influential and important a man like Manu Dibango was. Throughout his life, he accomplished the tour de force of being highly political and not to be categorised as such. Indeed, his entire career is intertwined with the evolution of black music in France and Africa, but also in the rest of Europe and in America by ricochet. His incredibly diverse musical career stands as an illustration of black history and Africa’s early stage of self-awareness as a powerful group of nations. He’s a living proof of how the humankind can interconnects beyond all differences whether religious, ethnical or political, a great lesson through music.

I picked this album because it shows how people practice solidarity and also because, as he mentioned himself, it was a ”response to Band Aid, which many Africans considered condescending”. Wakafrika was recorded as a charity album to fight the famine in Ethiopia. It features collaborations with Angélique Kidjo, King Sunny Adé, Peter Gabriel, Salif Keïta, Papa Wemba and Youssou N’Dour among others.

In this particularly difficult time, it is more than welcome to get reminded what makes us, the humankind, so great. That is our ability to evolve, to use every tool we have to investigate both the past and present and make the best of it. This thought could have sounded old-fashioned if the threat we’ve lived for almost a month now would be controllable and if we would be able to keep full-on with our certainties. What the world pandemic does do is to force us to explore new pathways between the high ground of technical certitude and the swamp of the individuality. Paradoxically, at the start of lockdown, the selfishness protected me. I found easier to cope with the situation doing as usual and avoiding the flow of news which can get so overwhelming. So, the above was a great reminder for me as well that I am not alone in this world and that nothing should be taken as granted anymore. This said, we must all take things one day at a time. Picked by Bérangère Maximin

Methadon 3000 ‎- Veriga Lipsă (Cat Music, 1999)

Cheat the current lethargy with this Romanian hip-hop at its finest, straight from the underground vaults of Bucharest. Throughout their short career under this project, the Romanian experimental hip-hop group Methadon 3000 released only this album in 1999, ”Veriga Lipsă” (The Missing Ring). Comprising DJ Sleek and Vexxatu' Vexx (currently Norzeatic), the duo disbanded in 2001, with DJ Sleek's departure for the US. Picked by Dragoș Rusu

Nivhek - After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house (2019, self-released)

Another chance find at Stranded, guided by its exquisite sleeve(s). Don’t judge a book by its cover, but by all means do trust your instincts picking a sealed record, particularly when a glued photograph on it calls your name in tongues. Copped at once when I was told this was Grouper under a different alias, I first played its dark counterpart – the other vinyl in this double pack ’After its own death’ – which was way too somber for my mood at the time, so I didn’t pay much attention to it, until recently. Back home in Berlin while in isolation already gave it another chance, this time starting the ritual with “the white record”, and then this wicked, soothing feeling invaded my inner self. You could spend an entire afternoon flipping this over and over again, entranced, and not get tired of it. I could, anyway, and found great solace in doing so. A gentle companion of solitude I’d say; whether that that makes sense I’ll leave it entirely up to you. Picked by Hugo Capablanca
Praed - Doomsday Survival Kit (Akuphone, 2018)
Praed - Doomsday Survival Kit (Akuphone, 2018)

From Horațiu Rădulescu to Psarantonis

Ortwin Stürmer, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lothar Zagrosek ‎- Hommage À Horațiu Rădulescu - Complete Works for Piano (2018)

This record came out as a compilation in 2018 and especially the sonatas I find so pure and honest somehow. I have given this album to friends and listened to it myself many times also recently. I feel that it opens up a space, through its clear and beautiful melodies and fragments, how they are placed in time, and repeated- a space musically but also mentally. Picked by Magda Mayas

Praed - Doomsday Survival Kit (Akuphone, 2018)

Well, I would say the Praed’s Doomsday Survival Kit, if I had to choose something from the Akuphone catalog. Album title speaks by itself in these strange times. Otherwise, my choice will be on this album released by a French friend label. Picked by Cheb Gero (Akuphone)

Psarantonis - Ideon Andron (1999)

A few days ago, I was approached by the Attic to choose one album to reflect on the current situation of isolation, uncertainty and despair. In this context, a lot of music comes to mind, music that is made to sound dystopian and otherworldly, uneasy and uncanny. And as it happens with all yesterday's news that now seem like information from centuries ago, most of this music seemed inadequate to tackle the tasks of life and misfortunes happening to nonfictional people. I had the urge to come back to the artist that pervades all eras, who you can imagine singing by the first fire as well as hauling around the debris of the world, now and yet to come - Psarantonis.

Born in the village of Anogeia, few kilometres from the "birthplace of Zeus", Psaranotnis' seminal album (with very informative booklet) takes its name from the actual cave where the myth of Zeus' origins take place, the cave of Ideon Andron (central Crete). Raging from punk anthems dedicated to Mount Psiloritis (Ida) and almighty himself "Ο Δίας", to dreamy interpretations of traditional songs like "Όμορφο Νιο Εζύγωνε", this magnum opus evokes mixed feelings towards the epoch that we are supposed to pay attention to, leaving us in a broken elevator somewhere in between warmth of Minoan bread oven, Indian burial grounds of Zulawski's "Na srebrnym globie" and uneasiness of Miller's "The Colossus of Maroussi". Picked by Branislav Jovancevic (kӣr)

Quarantine Workout

This is a nice project set up by the Milanese Standards collective. It's a set of listening scores conceived for this current domestic environment. Some of them include the use of sound from an external source so I suggest this lovely album by Lovely music ltd-affiliated David Behrman. Picked by Matteo Pennesi (Babau / ArteTetra)

Smagghe & Cross ‎- 1819 (Offen Music, 2019)

My favourite new record. There’s a lot of ambient albums being made these days and there’s nothing wrong with more peaceful music, but it takes a special skill to do it right. There is a certain depth to this recording, I’m very proud of my friends who did it. Picked by Manfredas

Temp-Illusion - Pend (Zabte Sote, 2020)

This recently came out on my label Zabte Sote. It's a great album, which takes you on an intense journey. Picked by Ata Ebtekar (Sote)
About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and co-editor in chief of The Attic, sound researcher and allround music adventurer, with a keen interest in the anthropology of sound.

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