Beats Don't Work in the Woods

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Grant Brissey

Here you will find Charles Mudede's thoughts on the harmony of the produced beat and the city. "Music made with actual instruments is not my kind of thing. It's not urban, inhuman, detached enough." I edited his words last Friday. I am writing these words the following Monday morning. In between, I conducted a highly unscientific and incredibly subjective music experiment in the wilds of the San Juan Islands. Conclusion: Beats don't work in the woods. For that matter, even too strident a drumbeat feels off out there. This all may seem obvious, but being stuck in the city for so many years, I'd completely forgotten. Normally, I am into overamplified, impatient punk and rock scree. Such din just would not take in an environment so otherwise sedate in every facet. Hiphop (is there a hiphop record out there about nature?) or electronic music from my incredibly dilettantish collections rang flat in the otherwise calm setting, although I suspect if I had Edan's Beauty and the Beat available, it would have gone swimmingly. Brendan Perry's Ark had too much phony '80s synth sounds.

Things that did work: Bert Jansch, Six Organs of Admittance, and Fleet Foxes fit quite well among the chirping crickets at the grass airstrip. Similarly, the Cave Singers' No Witch, an album that does not speak my language in the city, hit the mark out in the islands of hushed tide changes and creaking docks. Earth's Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light at 8:30 a.m., while looking out over the fog-socked waterways to the sounds of distant foghorns, was a pinnacle. And the Fresh & Onlys by the campfire as the sun set over Lopez Island across the channel! Of course, the Fresh & Onlys' sound is what I'd have implanted in my brain if I lived here. This conjures the memory of late nights I'd spent in the skeleton of the cabin during its construction, namely My Morning Jacket's Acoustic Citsuoca: Live at the Startime Pavilion, i.e.: the only My Morning Jacket release I've ever played more than once.

Lastly, Don Caballero's 1998 LP What Burns Never Returns worked just fine after getting stoned and taking the golf cart out for a spin. Sledding too fast down hills and around corners, always keeping an eye out for oncoming carts—this is as close as I'll ever get to rally racing. Fall is almost upon us; conduct your own experiment before it's too late! recommended


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HEY NOW, really, try to tell that beats in the woods are wrong to the multitudes of forest ravers and faeries - not all of our parties are out in the desert !!! Check out : ; or perhaps , would be more your cup of tea? I know, lost cause - as most people just don't 'get it'
Posted by Forgotton2011 on August 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM · Report this

No. Fucking no.
Posted by The CHZA on September 1, 2011 at 3:20 PM · Report this
care bear 3
They also don't work in rural towns. I had to give the hiphop on my iPod a break when I was home in Alaska last week.
Posted by care bear on September 2, 2011 at 8:46 AM · Report this
I could see DJ Shadow or Blue Sky Black Death or some '90s bristol sounds working fine driving along an unlit path, trees either side.
Posted by gi on September 2, 2011 at 9:49 AM · Report this
C'mon Grant! This:

Or this:

Don't get you stoked to be in the woods? And nothing makes a sunset like Boards of Canada.
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on September 2, 2011 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 6
@ 4 and 5: Touche!
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on September 2, 2011 at 11:24 AM · Report this
tunanator 7
Of course beats work in the woods! Including Washington, where Jack Kerouac worked as a fire lookout for 63 days in 1956!…
Posted by tunanator on September 2, 2011 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Shambhala Music Festival in BC is another counterexample:
Posted by Metaname on September 2, 2011 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 9
@7: Ha!
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on September 2, 2011 at 2:23 PM · Report this
NaFun 10
You have obviously never been to a renegade acid trance party.
Posted by NaFun on September 13, 2011 at 10:01 AM · Report this
I went to woodland raves in England back in the early 90s. I still recall precisely how the leaves rustled on the trees with every booming beat. It was wicked fun; Definitely needed to be after dark.
Posted by Stowe on September 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM · Report this

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