To gauge how Seattle musicians and DJs have been dealing with the looming prospect of a four-year shitshow, The Stranger asked some of them to reveal the sounds that are keeping them relatively sane during this gut-wrenching time. The response was overwhelming and diverse—including everyone from Leonard Cohen to Björk to A Tribe Called Quest. We have a crisis on our hands, America. (Personally, I'm coping with heavy doses of Terry Riley and Alice Coltrane, plus Colin Newman's A–Z and Not To—not that you asked.)
I have been listening to Björk's 2001 album Vespertine, as it combines the comforting experience of being at home (it was an album about things that happen in the home—the B-sides release was called Domestica) with her powerful emotional vulnerability and femininity. It just reminds me that what is in our homes and hearts are worlds unto themselves and the source of what we will present as an alternative to the cold neoliberal and now potentially fascist politics of the outside world. Also Marcel Khalife's album Promises of the Storm, because it's sad and beautiful. I'm so upset about this election and glad to be in a city where that sentiment is overwhelmingly shared.
A few months ago, during my many days of utter despair and overwhelming anxiety (as it sank in that Trump could win), I said jokingly that I'd curate the 2017 Trump inauguration: Sunn O))), Tim Hecker, and Lawrence English. You know, some sounds to go along with the impending beginning of the end we'd be witnessing.
Merzbow, all day long. I did make an exception to listen to a bunch of Leonard Cohen last night. Oddly, I feel like his passing is not a terrible addition to the blows of this week, but a kind of light for us to celebrate. As evidenced in the recent long portrait of him in the New Yorker, he was engaged, happy, and making great work right up to now, had his affairs in order, and seemed at peace and ready for his passage. It's hard to imagine a better end to such an admirable life. And I sure needed something to celebrate this week, since it couldn't be the one thing I expected. Cohen gave me something else—typically generous of him.
Outkast's Aquemini and A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service.
Amiri Baraka's "Who Will Survive America" from Listen, Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power 1967–1974—it's very much a universal message in 2016, going into 2017, with Trump.
A pretty deep Cocteau Twins phase has been soothing me through the day. And Scorpions before that for some reason... probably because it's hard to not feel awesome when listening to them.
Silence. Although the Vijay Iyer/Wadada Leo Smith show at Benaroya [November 9] helped center me amid the siren din after that shooting downtown last Wednesday night.
For very obvious reasons, NON's "Total War." The collective anxiety of election night was so palpable that this came to mind.
Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker.
Not much to say, because of the fragility in everything right now. Gil Scott-Heron's Pieces of a Man.
George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness" and Frank Zappa's "I'm the Slime."
Pretty much since that night I've been listening to nothing but Brian Eno's Discreet Music and the track "XMAS_EVET10 (thanaton3 mix)" off of Syro by Aphex Twin. [The former] is the most soothing and peaceful piece of music that exists; it's practically the aural equivalent of an episode of Bob Ross or Mr. Rogers. I intersperse that with the Aphex Twin track, because that is the perfect combination of calming me down while amping me up to get off my ass and do something.
I was on the air as the results started coming in on Tuesday. I started playing tracks to help deal and have evolved them to help cope... barely. KEXP has been awesome every day, and the DJs have curated perfect shows. It's so great to have a living station that has DJ-driven music to reflect how we feel. Fela Kuti's "Roforofo Fight," Harold Budd and Cocteau Twins' "Memory Gongs," David Sylvian's "The Healing Place," Gaudi's "I Start to Pray."
Full Toilet's "So Fucked." This just gets right to the point and doesn't belabor it.
This is killing me. So sad. I could cry at the drop of a hat. Last week, I placed the Kinks' Low Budget in my bag, I had no idea how prescient that move would be in the coming week. I finally listened to it yesterday and realized just how timely tracks like "Catch Me Now I'm Falling" and "Superman" really are. As I've matured, I often reflect on the fact that Kinks were so overtly political, certainly more so than Dylan or other so-called protest singers. Ultimately, the Kinks are more in line with the Minutemen in regards to political commentary. Ray Davies has always displayed incredibly keen insights into modern life in the US. Never has the voice of dissent been more crucial than it is today. I will be going home to listen to Parliament's Chocolate City to mourn the loss of Obama as president.
I'm listening to a ton of vaporwave and dub. Spaced-out dub and Jamaican sound system shit... Scientist, Burning Spear, Dillinger, etc. It's transporting and meditative—a quaalude for my ears.
I'm going dark and ambient. I want to try to be positive (or at least not negative), but it's too early. I need to release some frustration first. So for now I'm listening to Wolf Eyes' "Dead Hills" and smashing stuff in the backyard.
So much Brigitte Fontaine, especially the crying tracks.
I have been attempting to cope by blasting Mgla's Exercises in Futility. If ever there was a time for nihilistic Polish black metal, this is it. The album is raw hopelessness, which is how I feel, but it also has an angry forward momentum. It allows for embracing the despair without the apathy.
Bad Religion's How Could Hell Be Any Worse? It is absolutely timely and relevant—thematically disenfranchised by the government and an impending World War III. The Roots' Things Fall Apart—I listened to this album a lot during the 2000 election, but in retrospect, it's even more relevant this year.
By 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, I decided that my band Vibragun is done. The next show will be our last. Not as a protest or because we're giving up, but to recognize there are going to be new voices to deal with this permission of misogyny and xenophobia in the coming years. The patriarchy is real. "The KKK Took My Baby Away" by the Ramones has been in my head a lot, because we're Joey Ramone singing this fucking song to Johnny Ramone, aka Trump, and we're all in the same band. And I've also been listening to Outside by David Bowie because maybe the time of post-millennial tension has come.