Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water-
A deep resonance.
-Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Daniel R. Robinson was an acoustic guitarist who changed his name to Robbie Basho in honor of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Like Matsuo Basho’s poetry, Robbie Basho’s music captures a beauty and calmness deeply rooted in the natural world. In Robbie Basho’s rendition of Debussy’s piano solo “Clair de Lune,” Basho’s guitar echoes the effects a piano’s sustaining pedal would produce in a typical performance of the song while adding a rugged folksiness and energy to the piece. Take a listen:
Happy Halloween! Here’s a witchy playlist I’ve put together for the occasion:
Journey In Satchidananda by Alice Coltrane
- Alice Coltrane is a powerhouse of an individual: a fantastic multi-instrumentalist, swami, and wife to none other than John Coltrane. “Journey In Satchidananda” is witchy in the most beautiful and spiritual ways.
Brujas by Princess Nokia
- My favorite off of her excellent album 1992, “Brujas” is an ode to the rapper’s Yoruban ancestry and the power of brujería.
Heart of Chambers by Beach House
- In Beach House’s autumnal ballad “Heart of Chambers,” vocalist Victoria Legrand croons of intense longing, conjuring spirits to make her lover smile.
Black Moon Spell by King Tuff
- King Tuff’s “Black Moon Spell” is a whole lot of fun and angst.
I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone
- The most bewitching out of all the songs on this playlist, Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You” is haunting in the intense emotionalism Simone imbues in the lyrics.
Run To Your Mama by Goat
- Goat is a mysterious band. They perform in masks and claim to come from Korpilombolo, Sweden, a town that has a history of voodoo worship. “Run To Your Mama” is a catchy garage rock jam with diverse influences and a sinister edge to it.
The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen
- When will this song ever not be on a Halloween playlist though??
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
- One of Jefferson Airplaine’s best, this song is spooky psychedelia straight outta Alice In Wonderland.
Strange Magic by Electric Light Orchestra
- I wanted to end this playlist on a less spooky note and go with this classic by Electric Light Orchestra. “Strange Magic” never fails to make me feel warm n fuzzy :’)
Enjoy, and have a safe, witchy Halloween!!!
October is a nocturnal month where the stars are illuminated, always putting me in an astrological mood. So far my October has consisted of nightly readings of the book Sextrology with friends, which I HIGHLY recommend if you have astrological inclinations. Pharoah Sander’s “Moon Child” has been an obvious go-to song during these rituals. It’s a cosmic tune perfect for a witchy, mystical October.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Byrds ever since my idealistic high school days, which is why I’ve been kicking myself for not listening to Gene Clark’s masterpiece of an album No Other until a few days ago. Since then I’ve been playing the album on repeat, and the grandiose sounds permeate the mundanity of my days with a brilliance I haven’t felt since first hearing the Dead’s American Beauty. “Life’s Greatest Fool” kicks off the album with Clark’s country croon, jangly guitars, a lofty choir. The upbeat tune moves you to perceive your surroundings with rose-tinted glasses, engendering a need for sun soaked road trips while this song blares in the background.
At a first listen, the grandiosity of the production can feel overdone, the lyrics pretentious in their sweeping statements; however, Clark’s delivery subdues the whole thing. He doesn’t give us a concrete perspective on life. He admits that “words can be empty though filled with sound/Stoned numb and drifting, hard to be profound.” And despite this the lyrics are rife with profundity in humbling ways. It’s a song full of questioning, Clark’s unique outlook bundled in the guise of genuine curiosity, open ended and unsure.
Surreal electrifying energy. “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” is a hypnotic track on Electric Music for the Mind and Body, an album full of psychedelic strangeness. I cannot get over the seamless switches from bluesy garage rock to soaring, euphoric organ that pervade the song. Take a listen.
My friend from KALX Berkeley impulsively took a bus to Colorado Springs, surprising me on this stressful start to the fourth week. We’ve spent most of the day sitting on my couch showing each other songs we’ve been into lately. Aside from the classic “Caught In A Butt Sandwich” by The Mangfather Bob Katz, the best song she showed me happened to be by a kickass multiracial artist named Kohinoorgasm. Kohinoorgasm is a bay area artist that used to DJ at KALX, now working as a solo artist. She strives to empower people of color through her music. The music video of “Azaadi Is Freedom Is Fate” has an evident motif of hair, which Kohinoorgasm notes as a “distinct issue for femmes of color.” The song itself is an exploration of the concept of freedom, Azaadi meaning freedom in multiple levels. As a multiracial woman who identifies strongly with my Indian culture, I find Kohinoorgasm to be an empowering presence in the DIY music scene.
Vashti Bunyan is for slow, cold Sundays like today. “I’d Like To Walk Around In Your Mind” moves in that strange flow of time that occurs this moment in the week. Vashti’s tender voice and introspective lyrics are reminiscent of lonely, reflective Sunday thoughts, but leave you warmed by the fuzzy psych-folk instrumentals that wash over them.
It’s been easy to feel powerless as I hear about friends and family who have already faced racially fueled harassment as consequence to this election. As a person of color processing events that have transpired these past few days, music has been a necessary tool in reaffirming my worth and power. “Alright” is an anthem of persistence and revolt, and Kendrick’s words are a source of reassurance and solidarity in a time that feels hopeless to many.
Coining the term “Beach Goth,” the Growlers are known for their psychedelic/surfer blend of garage rock. However, “I’ll Be Around” shows the Growlers distancing themselves from this genre, delving deeper into the neon-soaked night sound they explored in their previous album Chinese Fountain. Produced by Julian Casablancas, the song has a danceable beat and is rife with spooky synth solos. It’s the perfect tune for a Halloween night out.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard produce deafening, propulsive shredding that echoes from a villain’s dungeon in your Saturday morning cartoons. Throughout their career, the seven-piece outfit from Melbourne has imbued jazz, soul, surf, and metal into their distinct blend of psychedelia. While it’s tempting to pigeonhole them with all the other emerging garage rock revivalists, this band is entirely its own animal. A first listen to “Am I In Heaven?” and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is already distinguished from the rest. The mind bending song begins in a serene haze of jangly acoustic guitars and quickly descends into apocalyptic, adrenaline-fueled inferno. Check it out: