It’s often said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, which always just makes me think “Yeah, I want to see more dances about architecture!” However, speaking in my capacity as a sometime musician, occasional music journalist, part time radio DJ and all the time lovably cantankerous author, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite writing albums.
I’m currently working my third novel, Adonis Comma Coma, which is a dark family comedy about a nurse who starts caring for the (allegedly) comatose son of an eccentric rich family who may or may not be killing their corporate rivals in a series of elaborate murders. Here’s what I’ve been listening to:
HUNZ – Penny Time
I am convinced that local wunderkind Hunz is at least 50% machine. Not only because he produces music and animation in a ridiculously diverse array of formats and mediums under various monikers, but because he makes a type of electronic music that seems more human than humanly possible. All his work is brilliant, but this soundtrack to the iphone game of the same name is sheer 8 bit genius.
Good for writing: Chase sequences.
MR MAPS – Wire Empire
Another local group, famous for their incendiary live performances and gorgeously complex yet completely accessible post-rock compositions. Mr Maps have been around for a good few years now, and they are easily one of the best bands Brisbane has ever produced. Wire Empire is a flawless album, and has an accompanying remix album as well. ALL of their work is currently available to download for free, so what are you waiting for you dumb jerk, go and and shove it in your ears already!
Good for writing: dramatic battle scenes or emotional reunions or awkward family moments or scenes involving amnesiac ninjas relearning how to bake novelty cupcakes for children’s birthday parties.
NIN – Ghosts
Ghosts was a weird departure for NIN, and one that confused a lot of people. Personally, I think it’s one of the most original albums released in the last decade. It was also an interesting precursor to Reznor/Ross’s soundtrack work (the Social Network is another one of my favourite writing albums).
Good for writing: mysterious scenes with eyes poking out of paintings whilst the protagonist carefully tiptoes down the hall with a candle and shadows flicker around the hall and then there’s A MONSTER! oh no wait a minute it’s just great uncle Fred sleepwalking phew what a relief except that he does look rather pale? and OH MY GOD HE’S A VAMPIRE! oh no it’s okay he’s a friendly vampire that wants to give you a hug…
RJD2 – Deadringer
RJD2 is right up there with DJ Shadow in terms of next level instrumental hip hop. This album, (his masterpiece), is a gorgeous audio collage of love and longing, beats and samples, cuts and examples, horns and handclaps.
Good for writing: party scenes at the end where if it was a movie there would be still shots of all the actors with white text at the bottom of the screen talking about where they’ll be in five years time because it’s easier to just write that text than shoot more footage unless you want to do a sequel later in which case you’re pretty much screwed.
YPPAH – 1981
Yppah (pronounced yip-pah, and yes it is a stupid name) released ‘1981’ early last year and I have had it on constant repeat ever since. Filled with sweeping, uplifting, warm electronic symphonies, this album is an absolute joy from start to finish.
Good for writing: Happy endings.
ZOE KEATING – Into the Trees
God I love the cello. Why don’t more people play the cello? Why don’t you? Because if you did, I would listen to you and buy all your albums. Although they’d never be as good as this one, because it’s a damn near perfect collection of layered and looped longings and lamentations.
Good for writing: really sad bits that highlight humanity’s tragic flaws like the fact that in the west we discard massive amounts of food whilst in the third food people are starving and yet Coles and Woolworths still pay farmers to NOT grow food and also conservative politicians oppose regulation for corporations that perpetrate these practices, probably because they shop there and don’t want to have to pay $2.99 instead of $3.15 for a bag of tomatoes so they’d rather just perpetuate an endemically flawed duoply that hurts both consumers and the agricultural industry.
BLUE SKY BLACK DEATH (BSBD) – Noir
BSBD are my favourite band. They produce an average of 2-3 albums per year ranging across an insane array of styles and genres including synth pop, ambient electronic and underground hip-hop. ‘Noir’ showcases them at their very best; it’s a surging, swaying collection of symphonic electronica laced with nostalgic film samples. Listening to this album feels like liquifying all your memories of childhood summers into a tiny ocean filled with waves of joy, fear and delight and then diving into them from the top of a cliff.
Good for writing: that scene where the central protaganist liquifies all their memories of childhood summers into a tiny ocean filled with waves of joy, fear and delight and then dives into them from the top of a cliff.