As a DJ, I very frequently punish my ears for the sake of pleasing the ears of others. It doesn’t have to be via bass or harsh noise; a night of constant babble screamed an inch away can work that drum ’til the skin feels ready to split. By the time I get back to whatever bed awaits me, there are very few sounds I actually care to hear—especially in the form of music. There are, however, a few albums I keep in my iPod that just click with my brain in the right ways, lending me some measure of peace, relaxation or a much-needed mental boost. Results may vary.
1. Belbury Poly – From An Ancient Star (Ghost Box)
Take a pinch of the midnight disco theatrics of Goblin, add a dash of Delia Derbyshire‘s sci-fi burnage, and combine with the star-soaked taste of cosmically psychedelic paganism. This is the recipe for a glimpse inside the mind of Jim Jupp, the man behind Belbury Poly. With moods that shift from the weirdly bouncy, such as the deranged ’70s children show theme “The All At Once Club”, to the downright eerie (“Time Scale”), From An Ancient Star isn’t necessarily soothing. What makes it so perfect for winding down is the detached sense of reality it gives you, a place out of time. The soundtrack Lovecraft might have made had he worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
2. Pocahaunted – Passage (Not Not Fun)
I really miss this band, but I’m grateful to have seen them several times in their first incarnation, and even happier to own this beautiful piece of vinyl. Unlike their previous work, Passage focuses less on tribal elements and more on pitch-painted dub and smokey raggas, evoking cold sand dunes and haunted desert cities. Much of the drone elements have been stripped away as well, possibly due to the influence of guest musicians Cameron Stallone (Sun Araw) and Bobb Bruno (Best Coast); the result is cleaner, but no less engaging.
3. Pukers – Born In The USA (Gel Tapes)
A harsh, shrieking noise rock cassette as a comedown album? Well, did you want to be down forever? When this comes up I’m upupUP, and relaxing was never my thing anyway. This tape was dropped into my hands one day in 2009 with the descriptor “Andy Spore from Racoo-oo-oon and his girlfriend playing drums and screaming”, and that’s pretty much exactly what you get. Fortunately that is my thing, and every time I play this I’m seized with a strong desire to hurl myself around the room. Throw in some synth twiddling and guitar punching and you have something to make even the most cynical art fuck sit up straight and clutch his head in agony. Difficult music made by actual weirdos with real life problems. Bruce Springsteen, eat your heart out.