Listening Post #6

by Jack Reid

So rather than waterfalls of chocolate eggs and religious fervour, my Easter break has been characterised by lines and lines of code and techno-babble. We’ve revamped the PearShaped website from the ground up, as you can probably see. So whilst half-heartedly asking about social plans with my friends at home, I’ve been writing many lines of code, getting in the zone if you will. I’ve had little time for musical discovery in amongst the work, so instead I thought I’d share with you what’s been putting me in the code zone, my Easter brain workout playlist, if you will.

1. Chet Faker - Release Your Problems

Song. Occupying that wonderful space where my own music tastes and those of my Mum intersect, this inoffensive and yet distinctly non-boring jazz pop artist released his debut LP this Easter. Whilst there’s nothing ground shaking about this record in any way, there’s just something soothing and refreshing about it. Like eggs, bacon, and orange in auditory form.

2. Nils Frahm - Hammers, Says

Songs. I discovered Nils through another melodramatic instrumentalist, Olafur Arnalds. These two, along with Dustin O’ Halloran, scratch that itch I seem to have for music that allows me to pretend I’m living in a dramatic arts-y movie about myself. Sweeping emotional builds and hefty pathos characterise Nils Frahm’s electronica classical fusion. Says is a gloriously atmospheric and mesmerising rise from beginning to end, cacophonous sad synths throughout. Hammers sounds like wiring a power drill up to the keys of a piano, in the best way.

3. Tycho - Awake

Album. If Nils Frahm & Co. make me feel like I’m in a movie, Tycho puts me square in the most chillaxed video game of all time. This entire release is pleasantly built out of soft guitar tones, nodding breakbeats, and most importantly, gentle synth leads that drip summer evening warmth. This is the kind of music that would receive a huge boost in plays on 420, but is plenty mellowing in and of itself. If you’ve had a day where everything seems spiky, unfriendly, and a little inconvenient, tidy your room, sit in the evening light, and chill out with some Tycho.

4. Gesaffelstein - Pursuit

Song. Conversely, if you feel like waking up one day and feeling like a mixture of Robocop, Terminator, and Satan, set Pursuit as your alarm (no fade in). This French touch techno track has an equally unforgiving video that you should definitely check out. If all music is best listened to for a purpose, to set a certain mood, perhaps this one is best used as the pre-exam air boxing tune. Most people have that track that they listen to just before the big exam to get themselves psyched up (Lose Yourself by Eminem for some, you know who you are), and maybe this could be yours. Just be careful not to smash your pen or beat up any invigilators.

5. Bonobo - First Fires, Cirrus

Songs. I’m still finding it hard to calm down about The North Borders, the new album from British producer Bonobo (which ain’t so new anymore). First Fires is one of the best studies of renewed love that there has been, I think. With perfectly melancholy and hard-worn vocals in the verses, the chorus picks up with the first strings of hope and excitement and gah, it’s just wonderful. Cirrus is less emotional, but the ultimate chill atmosphere setter. You may recognise it from the buffers the BBC put in between events at the Winter Olympics (if you watched them as religiously as I did) and that’s pretty apt really. Cirrus is as cold and refreshing as a blast of snow to the face.

So I hope you enjoy my Easter brain workout playlist, as I have dubbed this collection of tracks. Here’s hoping that it has already served me well and given me the coding juices to build an awesome new version of the PearShaped website for you guys to enjoy.