Lovely Recordings Hosted by Brendon Davies-Patrick

Okay, I get that this list is possibly stretching the limits of what constitutes 'exceptional' from both a musical and sonic point-of-view, but taste being what it is, this is more-or-less representative of a small corner of mine.

Without wanting to come across as some sort of anti-audiophile, I kinda like noise. It was Iron Maiden's "Somewhere In Time" and Brian Eno's "Apollo" (the latter experienced over a Meridian combo into a pair of Gale 401's) that first reorganised and enflamed the synapses in my then mildy pubescent brain, and now, several decades later, I've continued to mine the same neural trench for the type of musical viscera that stimulates more than just the intellect. Don't get me wrong - I like a good melody. But I love a great riff. And if that riff descends from music into noise, then hey, let it be the type of noise that crosses from the ridiculous over to the sublime.

Of course, I struggle with endless genre fragmentation as much as anyone else, but I've always been drawn to musical ideas that modulate the premise through repetition, distortion or oscillation into new narratives of expression. "Here's a riff, a note, a chord, a texture - what happens if we do this to it"? isn't a genre per se, but it's possibly the only thing that might bind this collection together.

Swans: The Seer (Young God, 2012)
I once worked in an indie record shop that stocked an eclectic mix of classical, electronica, reggae, blues, jazz, country, rock/pop and whatever else would never make it into the charts. We sold Gillian Welch and Autechre and scratchy mono recordings of Cortot playing Saint-Saens, and sometimes to the same customer. On the same day. It was a little like working at Championship Vinyl except we sold CDs and were more polite - at least to people's faces. It was during that time I amassed a crazy amount of recordings and indulged in the periphery of aesthetics from the masters of the art form collectively known as music - often based solely on what the record cover looked like. All those Keith Jarrett albums I owned…? Yeah, the covers were awesome but I only liked the Vienna Concert if I'm honest. And I just never really "got" Swans' cover art. So I never owned any of their albums (ironic, considering the rigour of the graphic design). Right up until this year. Having judged their books by their covers I would like to apologise to Michael Gira because I don't know how I went this long without discovering how awesome this band is. Michael, I am sorry.

Available from Boomkat

Yob: Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot, 2014)
Ah, this is it. That one riff, slowed down, flayed to within an inch of its life and extended beyond any rational notion of time. All four tracks are great, but "In Our Blood" is worth the price of admission alone. And at the twelve-minute mark, just when you think it's all over, the riff begins again for another four minutes over which someone screams like the open mouth of a volcano "In our blooooood, we always knoooooooow" and you think, wow, this is the what the end of the world will sound like. And you'll skip back to the beginning and play it over again. Just like I'm doing now.

Available from Boomkat

Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky, 2011)
Tim Hecker makes me feel sad. Sad and uneasy and dislocated. Kinda perturbed and as if something is really wrong with me. Like I'm longing for something but don't know what it is. So, of course, I have all his albums. Which somehow makes me feel content. Weird, right?

Available from Boomkat

Shellac: At Action Park (Touch and Go, 1994)
I've played drums in bands forever and if Steve Albini's curriculum vitae has done nothing else, at the very least it's shown the world how drums sound when you can hear the room as much as the instrument within its walls. While exclusively close-miking boosts tone and texture it inevitably sacrifices dynamics and perspective (and leads lesser-disciplined mortals to engage in "adding" those things in absentia). For a while I'd cart "At Action Park" to sessions and play it for the engineer to say, "Can't we at least set up one room mic?" I know it's silly to list an album because of how the drums sound from 12 feet away, but the caustic chords and lyrics are more than a match for the sonics, and it's hard not to love a band whose latest album comes packaged in chipboard with two "high gloss, full colour monkeys" on the cover.

Available from Qobuz

Russian Circles: Memorial (Sargent House, 2013)
You know that great girl you dated during university but kept on breaking up with? (Okay, okay, I was that great "girl" and it was my girlfirends who kept on breaking up with me, but I digress). As my wife once said, "You can't marry potential". So it was with Russian Circles. I liked Russian Circles. That is, I liked the 'idea' of them. But they were never really a keeper. Did they change or did I? Probably the latter (much to my wife's relief, but I digress), but Memorial is the album I took home and kept. I'm pretty glad I did.

Available from Boomkat

Thomas Koner: Novaya Zemlya (Touch, 2012)
Having first discovered Koner's work on the 1994 compilation Ambient 4: Isolationism, I then spent the next two years trawling the back pages of Wire magazine in the hope that someone had physical copies of his work, at the time on obscure labels from the Netherlands. That track (from the near-impossible to get Aubrite) spoke to a part of my psyche I didn't know existed, but demanded to be placated from that time on. What is it about modulating texture over time in defiance of the rhythmic and melodic that is so… primevally sublime? I don't know. Like the notion of love and the monolith in Kubrick's 2001 it seems to answer a question that's difficult to articulate without recourse to reductionism. In a world ever-more concerned with the facts, it's still nice to bask in the surrender of something incomprehensible every now and then.

Available from Boomkat

Mastodon: Remission (Relapse, 2002)
Sometimes you start with a band's catalogue in the middle, journey with them to the present but end up preferring the stuff they did first. That's pretty much where I've come to with Mastodon. It's not like I don't like their later stuff, or even Leviathan and Blood Mountain - I do. It's just that stuffing multiple tempo and time-signature changes under ridiculous never-ending drum fills and growly vocals makes for the type of adolescent listening experience no amount of greater maturity can come close to touching. Plus, there's a horse on fire on the cover. Cool.

Available from Pono Music

Meshuggah: I (Fractured Transmitter, 2004)
I wish I could play drums like Tomas Haake and play guitar like Fredrik Thordendal. If I could, I would make a video of myself playing along to I and post it on YouTube whereby I would garner the greatest collection of adoring comments from technical metal nerds the world over, in awe of my staggering technical prowess and endurance. I would also do it shirtless for extra metal horns.

Available from Pono Music

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (Constellation, 2015)
I don't really know how to write about this.

Available from Amazon

Brendon Davies-Patrick works in advertising, but doesn't really like to admit that he does. He used to own a big stupid system that took up a lot of space and alienated casual passers by and close friends alike. He lives with his wife and children, and is working on cutting out white carbs and processed foods from his diet. He has secret plans for another big stupid system, but mostly streams music wirelessly to a JBL Go.

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

jrhud's picture

Not familiar with some of these, looking forward to checking them out.

Babbaïsta's picture

Playing "In our Blood" 5 minutes ago destroyed whatever was left of my neighbour's patience towards my listening habits. Thanks a whole lot for that Brendon.

PS: Micheal, ask your boss to hire this guy to write about music before someone else does, there is something very special going here..

JR_Audio's picture

Hi Brendon

I like your list. Most of them I am familiar with. And your Meshuggah recommendation triggers me to one of my favorite tracks from them "bleed". Hearing this song and I got immediately hooked by the rhythm section of drums and guitar and made me sweet. Great.

This is far from high end sound, but who cares when it touches you via short cut, bypassing the brain.


JR_Audio's picture

Correction: I meant "sweat" and not "sweet"

grantray's picture

I'm only half way through it, but still. Wow. If you haven't already, you might want to check out Steve Roach's album from 2002, Darkest Before Dawn.

garysi's picture

I love the way he records bands. All analog, all clean(well, depending on your definition of clean) and in your face. He is as good an engineer as a drummer and his list of credits shows it. I have Ravendeath, got it on a suggestion and fell for it at first listen. I will check out the others on this list.

en1omb's picture

The music probably isn't for me but I loved your writing. Really engaging. Thanks

kenmac's picture

Mastodon too!

NeilNZ's picture hear Brendon. I thought you had disappeared off the face of the earth.
Come and visit me at Turned On Audio if you're still in Auckland.

Ejlif's picture

Nice list. It's your excellent taste in music that keeps me coming back to read Audio stream. Such a breath of fresh air from the typical audiophile favorites.