December 3, 2010
Cold Snap and Winter Tracks
While a lot of winter-centric song collections focus on warming up cold days and colder nights, this particular lot continue the themes expressed in the Autumnal Mixup post from October: music that is given a lift by seasonal associations. Therefore, the tracks below are to me the coldest sounds I could gather together (off the top of my head), given that extra transcension by the snow-covered streets and biting cold of the night.
Probably the coldest album ever committed to tape (or HDR), Björk’s Vespertine could store frozen peas in its CD case. Perfectly replicating the icy solitude of her native Iceland, the pixie queen of electronic pop gets a huge helping hand from pioneering producers Matmos, who sample active geysers, footsteps in snow and a whole lot of foley-inspired ambience to which she breathlessly and breathtakingly performs feats of vocal acrobatics.
An instrumental hip-hop album based heavily on Persian and Arabic sounds and samples might not be an obvious candidate for this list, but Imhotep’s flawless Blueprint album (see dedicated post HERE) is also dark, cold and mysterious in a different, but by no means less relevant, way to Vespertine.
Moody instrumental hip-hop does seem to have an edge when it comes to winter tune selection. Aim’s Cold Water Music, an applicable title here, has low winter sun glinting off frozen lakes. Giving Up The Ghost has a similar feel and instrumentation, but its place is at night, a journey down snow-covered streets.
The tinkling piano of Brookemeyer’s take on a jazz standard may aswell have icicles hanging from it, it’s so sharp and crisp. The lethargic wooziness of the saxophone does little to damage this tune’s wintry credentials.
A slow-building trudge across arctic tundra takes 3″24 before Roots Manuva’s chilly paranoia kicks in, and the realisation that this is to be a long, cold night slowly sinks in…