Look, we realize we’re lucky; that we have the luxury of not worrying about record snowfall numbers because the self-titled office is in the same neighborhood as all of our apartments. Beyond that, our editor hails from Buffalo, NY, a blue-collar city that turns into a frozen tundra every winter. So yeah, eight inches of snow is nothing; talk to him when Brooklyn gets buried in three feet.
To be honest, we actually enjoy winter storm warnings because they’re an excuse to stay inside, to watch the flakes accumulate as drone tones fill the room like an overactive radiator. Here are five records that made their way onto the office stereo as the streets got icy and the sidewalks struggled with snow drifts.
You may have noticed this guy’s name in such random remixes as Animal Collective’s “Peacebone” and the Long Blondes’ “Guilt.” (He’s also opening for the former in an overseas tour this month.) Pantha Du Prince’s second album is his greatest achievement thus far, though, a late-night subway ride soundtrack that’s epic in scope and more suitable for headphones than the superclub around the corner.
Lawrence, one of Pantha Du Prince’s Dial labelmates, is also highly recommended in the melancholic/melodic techno department.
Our first exposure to Klimek, a vinyl-only EP called Listen, the Snow is Falling, couldn’t have been clearer about the frosty soundscapes and spliced harp samples within. Dedications, his first non-Kompakt LP, using some of the same techniques (loops that flutter and ripple, live instrumentation funneled through some sort of twilight zone filter), yet it manages to sound even more engrossing and, well, human. This despite Sebastian Meissner’s rather academic mission statement: “I want to draw attention to the relationships and tensions between two characters symbolizing opposite values, different discourses or personalities.” Listen closely and his thesis is lurking right beneath the LP’s shimmering surface, but if all you want to do is turn the rest of the world off for an hour, this is a fine place to start.
The fact that Slumber Tides opens with a song called “Snow Airport” should give you a good idea of what’s in store here. Well, sorta. Unlike our other winter storm selections, Greg Haines’ stunning debut is tethered to a neo-classical/electro-acoustic template–the sort of cello-spiked songs you’d expect to hear in a concert hall. Boring? No. Gorgeous? Yes.
Using Stephen O’Malley, Michael Nyman, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Continental Airlines’ “malfunctioning inflight program” as his source material, Raster-Noton co-founder Carsten Nicolai reminds us of a time when the Clicks + Cuts series was cool as shit and Autechre were demigods of ‘intelligent dance music.’ As clinicial as both of those experimental electronic music touchstones could be, Xerrox Vol. 2 transcends its highly-processed origins to become a series of glitchy suites–orchestral manoeuvres in the dark that shift from strangely beautiful passages to corrosive slabs of shock therapy. It’s noise you can nod your head too, a highly-recommended reminder that laptop compositions can have a pulse, too.
Fresh off the Kranky assembling line comes another one of Mark Nelson’s minimalist drone/dub opuses, cut with crystalline chords, subterranean percussion patterns, whispered vocals and electronic effects that leave little trails of dust and debris. Definitely one to cozy up to under the covers when the heater’s not working.