Regular readers know that, recently, I’ve been working on my back and leg to ease significant pain. This, in itself, is a process of casting off the shape I’d adopted over the past twenty years in corporate life, re-emerging pretty much as I was before – a story-teller working in poetry, writing and song.
My spoken word piece, “Voice”, covers some of what I’ve discovered in the journey of these past weeks and months, so I won’t re-tread that ground.
What I wanted to do today was to share the soundtrack to my reshaping – which has, at times, had me laughing fit to burst with joy, sobbing from my feet right up to the tip of my extended fingers, or simply blissed out and floating on energetic clouds. Whether upside down on my inversion table
[which gets a triple-A recommendation from me]
stretching myself through pilates and yoga or simply lying still for an extended period, this soundtrack has been glorious. I won’t describe the music much, I’d rather you discover it for yourselves but here are my entry points.
Sigur Rós – introduced to me a few years’ back by my good, good friend Mark R. Henning (Guilty About Girls, Combine The Victorious), Icelanders Sigur Rós make sumptuous music, including the haunting voice of Jónsi Birgisson – what a band. Many has been the evening recently, after stretching, when I’ve laid in the dark in my studio floating in Takk or (…).
Primed already by Sigur Rós, I picked up on a recommendation by FishofGold of a band I’d never heard of nor heard, Canada’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Per Goldfish, I started with “Moya”, off “Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada” and very quickly found that the next track “bbf3” just knocked me sideways
[and still does – listen to it loud]
maybe because it’s such a reference point to much of the extreme right hyperbole and rhetoric that’s in play these days. Just walking with GYBE! on the iPod is enough to transport me to a completely different place – and I was pleased to find that their last release “Yanqui u.x.o.” is also five tracks of pure “take-you-elsewhere”, though I do keep returning to bbf3. Very quickly, GYBE! was interspersed within Sigur Rós for my stretching routine.
Other sounds at this time: Pink Floyd (various), Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells – live on “Exposed”), Rachmaninov (Piano Concerto 2 in C minor)
I found Mogwai via a link at iTunes while downloading GYBE! tracks – and they have become an abiding and deep obsession for me. I’m gradually working my way through their back-catalogue and each new track feels like fresh discovery. I’d picked up on Mogwai in Q magazine in the late 90’s/early 00’s but had never listened to them – they were often described at that stage as ‘stoner music’ which, while undoubtedly true to some extent, seriously under-recognizes how good this music is. I’ve spent weeks hanging upside down, stretching or meditating to a backdrop of Mogwai and all I can say to these Glaswegians is THANK YOU for helping me open myself to welcoming myself back in. If you want to try Mogwai, my route in was via “Mr Beast”, quickly followed by “The Hawk is Howling” and the live collection “Special Moves”
[for those who do listen to “Voice”, you should know that the original poem came to me while inverted, listening to “Scotland’s Shame” off “The Hawk is Howling”, with me crying to finally get the words out – copyright risk prevented me using it as the backdrop to the spoken word piece, but oh how I wanted to!]
Now I’m further back through their history and everything I turn up
[literally and metaphorically]
leaves me astounded. Gorgeous.
Why do I write all this? Firstly, though I doubt they’ll ever read it, to thank all of the musicians above for putting their art in the world, you have accompanied and propelled me forward – THANK YOU! I also write this because this is how music proliferates, by recommendation and links, music is an art-form that touches the soul and I’m pleased to share this all in the hope that it will touch yours. Anything and everything linked above carries my gold seal of approval.