As a musician, I am often asked what I am listening to. In fact, for a period of one year on this blog, I did a daily “Listography” where I detailed music that inspired and moved me. Today’s music list is different, I will detail the music that I have been listening to in order to cope and work with my grief over the past couple of months.
This music allows me to lift my mood, it allows me to savour the dark moments and yes, at times it allows me to wallow when I need to.
Steven Wilson – Grace for Drowning – this work has been in regular rotation for the past year or so – since July 2012 when the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was given. It is a musical voyage that takes one through the emotions of sorrow, loss and dark rage as well as an appreciation for beauty. I suspect at some point I’ll cease to be able to listen to it as I will so heavily associate it with Larry’s illness and passing, but until then, I will savour its dark beauty.
Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing – a series of ghost stories and tales of loss. A little more concise a statement as Grace for Drowning, and the title track is sheer beauty and haunts my thoughts regularly.
Storm Corrosion – Steven Wilson’s collaboration with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt – dark, brooding and ambient symphonic work that is more about the journey than any destination.
The Algorithm – Polymorphic Code – the combination of electronic dance music and heavy metal aggression. This album is both pummeling and meditative at the same time.
Devin Townsend – Epicloud – Uplifting, symphonic pop metal with a sense of humour and an uncanny sense of peace and ease. Devin’s difficult journey over the past few years has led him to be a person who is comfortable in his own skin and in total control of his musical schizophrenia. The addition of Anneke Von Giersbergen’s angelic voice as a counterpart to Townsend’s operatic howl is a remarkable pairing. “Divine” stands as perhaps the most honest love song I have heard and was part of my presentation at the HGMC Cabaret. I still tear up when listening to it.
Damian Wilson – Cosmas – inspirational, uplifting and gorgeous. Damian is a classically trained voice who often sings in progressive metal (he’s the lead singer of Threshold and Maiden United and often guested on earlier albums by Ayreon), this album is a mix of folk, country and symphonic pop which also hosts a number of my favourite songs due to Wilson’s incredible songwriting abilities.
Drake Jensen – Outlaw – incredible country by a Canadian whom Larry and I respect. Drake came out as a gay man a few years ago and produced this strong statement of identity as a country artist, including taking aim at the people who made his earlier years difficult (see the anti-bullying song “Scars”) and continuing on in life as an openly gay man with a supportive husband (“Fast Enough for Me”).
Jeff Buckley – Grace – Songs of honesty, loss and love that took on greater poignancy when Jeff passed away. His version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is chilling and “Dream Brother” has long been afraid of mine due to the gorgeous poetic lyrics and slithering feel.
Lifesigns – Modern progressive rock a la latter day Yes, Marillion and Asia…reminds me of the music I enjoyed listening to in the 1980s with better songwriting…plus Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo) on Chapman Stick, Bass and backing vocals (he is also on both releases by Steven Wilson listed here)
Steve Lawson, Daniel Berkman feat. Artemis – the Complete Fingerpainting Sessions – Ten completely improvised live concerts recorded and released with little editing, production or other muddling. These sessions are what happens when you combine three incredibly talented musicians whose talents in listening and digesting the others’ contributions equal and often exceed their prodigious talents. Steve Lawson has become an inspiration to me as a bassist and as a human being and rapidly someone whom I would call a friend. I am truly honoured to be allowed to get to know him as I grow to appreciate his musical and philosophical contributions to the world.
Ghost – Opus Eponymous – what happens if Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath were raised in Sweden in the 1980s and 1990s. Retro art rock with darkly (and often humourously) satanic lyrics. Yes the lyrics are in poor taste and (purposefully?) lame, but the music, songwriting and production are so finely crafted, I’m willing to overlook them.
Ghost BC – Infestissumam – See above but add two years’ experience, increased production values and a legal addendum to the band name so as not to further confuse the fans of an American band of the same name. Weird how fans of one band could be confused by a band of anonymous rockers whose lead singer appears in Papal Robes and a skull mask. I’m just jealous that they have been able to continue the vibe of the anonymous masked rock band in their own way, that actually adds to the mystique without being cheesy!
So this is what I’ve been listening to as I get my feet back on the ground…interesting that most of these have strong low end contributions – I am a bassist at heart and love the low fundamental vibrations as a grounding and energizing force…