There is this sort of phenomenon I have experienced on numerous occasions throughout my life, each one of the events being extremely influential on the way I approach music, both in listening to it and playing it. There is always a chime of some sort as I walk past a towering shoplifting device, followed by snippets of some elitist conversation about some secret society band- dead and gone for a handful of years now, which is a dialog then counterbalanced by some other conversation, much more humble and open revolving around what is happening locally in the music scene.
I jolt past the multicolored flyers and the recently distributed weekly’s (I’ll catch them later) and notice within the chatter of patrons, the audio breeze of some staff selected track that beckons the tapping of my foot while standing in front of the alphabetized rack I have finally arrived at. Now, in this moment while searching for that new release or used treasure, thumbing through the plastic jewel cases that stumble into an angled clattering pile at my belly, I eventually realize that not one item I have sought after, whether it be vinyl or CD, is available- and this is where the phenomenon begins to flicker. Some force unknown to me is demanding that I start at “A” and flip over and dig through selections until I reach“Z”. So I do- Digging and digging until some kind of energy rests between my two hands where either the art work, the title or other varying facets of the gem will select me for the purchase, flipping the entire process on its ear, always pleasantly rewarding me; for I can have no real expectations, for it is something I have never heard. Now I have had many friends who have exclaimed their genuine lack of faith in the phenomenon. How can you purchase something without an inkling of insight into what it sounds like? What if it fails miserably when you listen to it? Nobody wants to be disappointed right?
To those remarks I always respond with (aside from mentioning these five life altering examples at the bottom) a few statements regarding the excitement of selecting an unknown, the act of supporting of a local music store, the perks of store credit and lastly, the fact that what I like or dislike does not fit the template of other individuals resulting in the possibility that the recent purchase/possible let down can be handed off at a show, at a raffle, sent in the mail to some unexpected family member, the possibilities are endless. I embrace this phenomenon all the time and swear by it because more often than not I fall in love with the album that sought me out and can’t stop talking about it. Here are five albums I attribute to the Hunter Becoming the Hunted Phenomenon.
The Microphones – Mount Eerie
The last studio album by the Microphones
Released 2003 by K Records and Produced by Phil Elverum
There are limited re release pressings of it on nifty vinyl which come in a sewn gatefold jacket with cool drawings or the original release is just as cool which has CD packaging that folds out into an equally rad, poster sized drawing with explanation of the concept albums songs. What I remember from the day I bought Mount Eerie was putting it on immediately after I left the record store. It was an overcast, bloated thunderhead sort of day and a track sounded like rain. Sure enough, it began to rain right when the album took off into the song Solar System, forever lending a mystical stamp to an already magical album.
Max Roach – Deeds, Not Words
Released in 1958 by original Jazz Classics
At first glance, I think it was the sun glasses and dirty drum head in the photo that sold me on this one. Max owns the track “Conversation” with his rhythmic patterns on the drums, a signature of his truly original style.
David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Released in 2008 by Todo Mundo
Produced by David Byrne and Brian Eno
Additional Production by Leo Abrahams
I arrived at the gate late for this release- nearly two years after it came out. But, within the instant the record player at home played the song Strange Overtones, I was hooked and this remains one of my favorite albums to date. Shamefully, until the purchase of this album I never took the time to really digest Byrne or Eno, but this album sold me on both of them and sent me searching for everything I could get my hands on by the two artists, including their first collaboration My Life In the Bush of Ghost.
Released by Cloud Recordings in 2004
I was in Asheville, North Carolina browsing a local record shop and saw this album in the used bin. The store clerk immediately said “Have you heard that?” to which I said “No”. In return he played it over the speakers, skipping through the tracks. I was immersed in weird interludes of genres (which was explained later- they feature a key member of Need New Body). This Chicago based act has created one of my all time, favorite go to albums when in need of creative inspiration. The track titled Icy Demons still remains my favorite Icy Demons song.
Ivor Cutler - Dandruff
Released 1974 on Virgin
Produced by Ivor Cutler
Explaining why I like this is useless. Words are meaningless when describing Ivor Cutler. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoy basking in the eccentric qualities of Cutler, in his beautiful poems and whimsical songs. Check out I Believe in Bugs. Dandruff is definitely an acquired taste, but it is a perfect example of the phenomenon I’ve spoken of.