(Last Friday, NCS guest contributor Leperkahn announced that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal, and he asked our readers for suggestions of non-metal music to explore. He received a flood of comments, which are damned interesting to read all by themselves — HERE. Beginning today, Leperkahn is revealing his choices and documenting his listening experiences.)
It has begun.
I have not listened to metal since midnight last night, after one last farewell listen to Opeth’s Blackwater Park. In its place, today has been filled with various folk excursions, all of them coming from your lovely suggestions. On the whole, I had a generally positive experience with my selections today: some awesome, some not-at-all-my-thing, some meh. We (the royal we) shall document them chronologically.
The morning started off with the ethereal acoustic guitar of Musk Ox (pictured above), which paired perfectly with the speed of my Monday-afflicted brain (Chai tea helped too). Founding member Nathaneal Larochette and a changing line-up of cohorts do an excellent job of creating marvelously sparse, yet epic accompaniments to the album covers used (especially the later covers). I only had time to listen to the few single tracks Musk Ox had uploaded (one of which came from the Whom The Moon A Nightsong Sings compilation that was suggested at some point), as well as one of the EPs, Entre La Terre et Le Ciel.
On a surface-level listen (which was all I was capable of this early in the morning) the songs seemed rather similar to each other, aiming for a flowing atmosphere and mood rather than attempting to distinguish songs. All in all, Musk Ox proved a promising start to the experiment.
After transporting myself to school, I was afforded some listening time during my first-period Journalism class. I decided to continue in the dark folk/neofolk direction with a random album by Of The Wand And The Moon (i.e., the first full album to pop up in YouTube). I went with 2005’s Sonnenheim. Though this record had its moments, I simply did not find it compelling enough. It seemed a bit haphazard to me, with some rather jangly parts mixing in with the more naturally beautiful parts I enjoy most about folk. Maybe I went with the wrong album (in retrospect, they seem to have a rather extensive discography), but regardless, I’m afraid band number two was not a success.
Later on, I was able to embark on another school listening session, as I attempted to prepare my essay final for my AP Literature class. I decided to give dark folk one more shot with Current 93, the work of David Tibet and other sometimes collaborators. My choice was largely influenced by the fact that I saw them name-dropped in NPR’s review of Thou’s new album Heathen, which is in strong competition for my album of the year so far. I decided to go with the “The Inmost Light” trilogy, consisting of the All The Pretty Little Horses (1996) album as the centerpiece, and one-song EPs Where The Long Shadows Fall and The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home.
The first EP was a rather enjoyable study companion, a nearly twenty-minute long jam of repetitive, hypnotic vocal samples and atmospheres. However, the album proper and following EP introduced Tibet’s voice into the mix, whose extremely strong British accent serves to remove much of the mysterious, location-less nature of Current 93 (not to mention that the timbre of his voice becomes rather grating after a while, and doesn’t mesh well with the industrial/folk combo cooked up in this triad). Can’t say I’ll ever return to these guys, but I do understand what that NPR writer meant in regard to some of the tactics Thou utilized in their sludge/doom/post-metal concoction that were reminiscent of Current 93.
Finishing out the Current 93 triad extended to the bus ride to baseball, and the bus ride back. In fact, I didn’t get back to listening until after dinner, when I decided to go for a surefire bet for awesomeness: Celtic folk. The first choice here was The Chieftains. Being from a half-Irish family, I naturally have about five or six Chieftains albums laying around. I decided to pick up their greatest hits album from 1992.
This was the best idea I had all day. Pretty much immediately, the jolly tempo of the songs made me wanna start dancing across my room, just as the best metal will start to make your head bang involuntarily. “O’Sullivan’s March” had me especially jolly, despite the misery that is multivariable calculus sitting in front of me. I must say, this also reminded me of my time in Edinburgh though, and how inescapable bagpipes are there. Nevertheless, The Chieftains proved to inspire me to move with the music and lift my mood, something most music can’t seem to do anymore.
The same could be said for The Irish Rovers, the final group I picked for today’s listening. Searching for any of their albums ended up being a task too daunting for YouTube, so I decided to just let a playlist of various Rovers tracks play through. They (unsurprisingly) utilized a formula similar to that of The Chieftains, with the addition of some wonderfully Irish vocals and lyrics. It serves to give The Irish Rovers much more of a pub-like feel, and the stories the lyrics tell – wonderfully, distinctively Irish in tone and content – serve to further enhance the experience. “The Irish Rover” nearly had me bursting out in pseudo-drunken song (that may have dismayed my family and neighbors, so it’s probably best that I didn’t act on it).
On the whole, the day was a victorious one. Tomorrow, I’ve decided to tackle a bit of jazz, and related styles. I highly doubt I will cover as much as I wish to here, but I think I’ll start with Steely Dan’s Aja (considering that that album may have been the most recommended one in the initial post) and John Coltrane’s Blue Train. But for now, I’ll sign off with the song that’s been seizing my mind for the past hour. Someone HAS to do a great metal cover of this track.