By Aliyya A.
With the shift in schedule and consequently the blurring of allocated time for work and leisure, losing track of time has honestly been at an all time high for me. The feeling of not knowing when to start and end the day gets overwhelming because I was disciplined by the outside world and abiding by external restrictions that we all needed to work around; other peoples schedules and time spent stuck in traffic. Without these restrictions to work around, I was left to fall back into bad habits and the feeling that I just wasn’t doing enough. Not knowing where my time was spent and the feeling that I was doing too much and not enough at the same time. Although the clocks on my screens tell me otherwise, the concept of time was lost on me. 12PM felt like 8AM and 6AM felt like 9PM. The only thing consistent with my surroundings were the sounds that I heard throughout my room; the instruments I heard when I needed to work, the lyrics I sang to in the shower, and the ambience I felt when I was meditating or doing yoga.
I started to use the music I listened to throughout designated tasks as a coping mechanism and started to identify time through the things that I listened to. I now feel a lot better about my days and this method for me has honestly made quarantine feel just a little bit more bearable.
With my take on our What We’re Listening To series, I thought I’d take you through my day via the songs that I’ve put in this playlist featuring a couple quarantine releases that I’ll attempt to (emphasis on attempt) review.
Green-House - Six Songs for Invisible Gardens (Album)
My introduction to electronic ambient music (for plants specifically) like many, was Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia, and although I’m not a plant mom and have no plants to play these songs to, I always feel a certain type of warmth and nostalgia when I do listen to these type of synth heavy compositions. This led to my discovery of experimental record label Leaving Records, which is a sub label of Stones Throw Records that houses a variety of experimental musicians not limited to specific genres and acts more as a sanctuary for musical free-thinkers, one of which being my go to artist to wake up to in quarantine, Green-house. The fairly new artists’ first project, Six Songs for Invisible Gardens was released in January 2020 and has been something I listen to on most mornings to feel more present in this unique time we’re living in. The artist was able to incorporate a lot of different elements within the music, from utilizing the sounds of flowing water to incorporating white noise, helping create somewhat of a filter, creating more depth to the sounds that the listener can experience.
Cate Le Bon, Group Listening - Here It Comes (Album)
I’ve always been a big fan of Cate Le Bon, especially her 2019 release, Rewards. With songs like Mother’s Mother’s Magazine, Home to You, and Here It Comes Again, it was definitely an album I constantly listened to when it first came out, so it came as a surprise to me that her newest project Here It Comes Again would be something I gravitated towards more in quarantine. This new project is a collaboration with Group Listening, an ambient music duo and features vocals from Ed Dowie who replaces Cates vocals in Here It Comes Again and Magnificent Gestures. Although it took a while to get used to, I really valued the rework of the 5 songs and find it to be a refreshing take, delivering characters to the songs which I can really appreciate in quarantine.
Dirty Projectors - Windows Open (Album)
Dirty Projectors was first brought to my attention through their 2011 release with Björk, Mount Wittenberg Orca their then followed by their infamous Swing Lo Magellan album and has since maintained to be an artist I generally keep my eye on. Their somewhat upbeat sadness was something I’ve always found so appealing in combination with their complex instrumentation that feels calculated but completely organic at the same time. When they released their Lamp Lit Rose album in 2018, I heard (I Wanna) Feel It All, and it was probably my favorite song of theirs but now with their most recent project, Windows Open it's rivaled that song in four parts and has got to be one of my favorite quarantine releases to date. Released in the midst of quarantine, the sound of this new EP brings forth a warmth and the somewhat stripped down roots of everything that encapsulates Dirty Projectors' music. Almost always the experience of listening to the songs on this EP feels all too consuming but leaves me feeling somewhat whole by the end of it. In short, I really like this EP.
James Blake - You’re Too Precious (Track)
Safe to say that this pandemic really sucks for the music industry but in a lot of ways as a listener and a fan of music in general, being in quarantine has definitely helped me in some ways get back to the love for looking around for music and experiencing/consuming it in another form. Although going to (and making) shows hasn’t been and probably won’t be possible for a while, a lot of artists have taken these circumstances into their own hands and either released new projects or perform live via their social media platforms. Although it isn’t the same experience as seeing your favorite artist perform at a show, IG Live shows have honestly proven to be a wholesome experience in its own little way. James Blake is one artist that has been pretty active on this front, performing not only songs of his own but also performing a range of covers from Radiohead’s No Surprises to the infamous Frank Oceans’ Godspeed cover.
He’s also released a new single in quarantine, You’re Too Precious. The song generally sounded identical to the style that he brought forth in his last album Assume Form, with its high pitched vocal distortions and a series of loopings all around the song. Overall is a really good complex song and generally makes me feel really excited for what's to come from James Blake (hopefully) soon! (especially in this quarantine).
So yeah, those are my thoughts on all the new releases that I’ve worked into my quarantine days, hopefully somebody finds this coping mechanism useful in some ways and that it helps us all get through these weird times we’re living in. Little PSA: stay at home if you can, and if not just keep your distance, stay safe, and keep your immune systems up!
DISCLAIMER: Don’t take my word for it, I like what I like, you are more than welcome to scream at me on the internet and tell me otherwise