Music Mixtape: Sociology Professor Erik Larson

By Hazel Schaeffer

Eclectic sociology professor, Erik Larson, usually spends about 12 hours a day in his office. Luckily he has a diverse music collection to keep him company. Newer (2011 and 2012 releases) Vaz “Clone Theory” From Chartreuse Bull, on which there are too many good songs to select. The progressions in the songs from one musical bridge to another (all in about 3 minutes) have had me coming back to this album more than any other from last year. You can stream the album from their bandcamp site. But buy it. Seawhores “Circlotronic” From the brilliant and beautiful first side of The Hunt is On – edition of 260 (13 different covers by Math.i in editions of 20 each) – released last year. (Yes, it is only the first side. The second side of the album will be released in the not too distant future.) I would have selected “Opus Magnanimous” (the only song on the album of the same name), but that 30-minute composition is a bit older. Evangelista “In Animal Tongue” The title track represents Evangelista’s newest album very well. The entire album shows Carla Bozulich et al. adopting a restrained approach, creating a well-integrated, somewhat haunting landscape. Instrumentation varies widely from song to song, making the achievement of the album all the more remarkable. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra “The State Itself Did Not Agree” It’s not quite as good on the tour-only double 7″ as it was live, but the vocals tuned to different keys and multiple stringed instruments carry an infectious energy. Any questions? Mogwai “Music for a Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain)” The single song on the bonus disc for Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will eclipses everything on the album. It is a quieter piece than much of the other material (on the album or this mix), but shows the compositional side of Mogwai. I like writing to it. Gay Witch Abortion “Seeds from Space” From the “Oblation” sequence on Learning Curve’s four-way split album A Butcher’s Waltz. Aggressive drums, fuzzy guitar, and some effects can wake you up if you somehow dozed off. (There’s also their soundtrack—”Snake Behind the Eyes” —to Junko Mizuno’s art book from last year if you would prefer something about 25 minutes longer.) Colin Stetson “The Stars in His Head [Dark Lights Remix]” Yes, those noises are coming from saxophones. From New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges. The left-right / low-high channel alternation provide the rhythm track for the ethereal notes at top that descend into some earthier horn blasts. Older (pre-2011 releases) Hammerhead “Swallow” It’s a mix tape, so I can’t just say, “Any song, any album by Hammerhead,” but that’s the second best advice. (Best advice: Seek all their albums.) This song opens Into the Vortex and showcases the pummeling power of the entire trio. PJ Harvey “Shame” The simple arrangement for the second song on Uh Huh Her plays the same role in this mix as it does here, standing out between two louder songs. Sonic Youth “The Wonder” / “Hyperstation” (live) Two parts of the trilogy from side 4 of Daydream Nation that are on the re-issue that includes live versions of all the songs—there’s a bit extra energy and speed here. I feel fortunate to have caught them playing a Daydream Nation show at the Bruce Mason Centre a few years ago. Kalevi Aho Symphony No. 9 for Trombone and Orchestra When I first saw it performed, after the conclusion, I turned to my companion and said, “Aho composes like I think.” Note to trombonists: be careful trying to play it. Garmarna “Vedergälliningen” From Vedergällningen (Vengeance). Updating this traditional tune to a sample-heavy rock, the instrumentation gives the song an edge, while Emma Härdelin’s vocals coat the violent, medieval lyrics in a sweetness that reminds us that these ballads formed part of the moral fabric. The Ex and Getachew Mekuya “Aynotche Teralou/Shemonmwanaye” The long-enduring Dutch band team up with a brilliant saxophonist from the golden era of music in Addis. The 2006 album Moa Anbessa collects the efforts, mixing some new lyrics with these great songs (the original, instrumental versions of many of the songs from the 1970s are collected on the equally great Ethiopiques Vol. 14: Negus of Ethiopian Sax.) feedtime, “Fractured” Brilliant guitar-led Australian power trio. Originally on the Shovel album (and a single), but Sub-Pop is doing you all a favor reissuing feedtime’s albums in one convenient package. (Maybe I should have listed it under the newer releases?) Even better: you can catch them at Grumpy’s in March. Thug “Dad” Continuing in Australia, the A-side of this single caused a bit of trouble for a station in Queensland when the Australian Broadcasting Authority received a complaint. So, if you’ll be playing this near such regulators, you need a better warning than, “‘if there were any prudish types listening then they’d better tune out now.” Oh, and I wouldn’t classify the music as “thrash / metal” as ABA did. Drunken mayhem might be closer. refresh –>