The musical influences are wide and varied, stretching across each member’s life and career. Laura and I met in a jazz history class but originally bonded over really heavy doom and black metal, but she and James come from the post-rock world (although Jimmy is a big metalhead and OG Iron Maiden fan). I’d say we’re big into weird music, concept albums and strange folk music.
Somehow choosing these three records came really easily to me, even though I initially thought it would be really difficult to choose only three. There are records that I could say have influenced me in a conceptual way, especially those bass heavy records – like anything that has Ray Brown on it! (there’s a great duo record of him and Duke Ellington that’s really profound for the first half of the record) – but for Echoes and Dust I have selected three albums that directly inspired me to start writing, and to start composing in a non song-oriented way.
Earth – Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method
Anton Webern – The Complete Music directed by Robert Craft
Anton Webern, Austrian composer and student of Arnold Schoenberg, was a visionary and an iconoclast. His music changed the very language of modern music. Any time you hear a strange soundtrack in a horror movie or imagine what pretentious modern art music sounds like, you are hearing Webern. This collection showcases his brilliant, yet small body of small works, and most of it religious and vocal music. Once again, I’m intrigued by the space. Within each piece you have the foundation of a conceptual universe, a language that pervades the piece and then is discarded. His finest achievement, the two movement, perhaps 12 minute long ‘Symphony’, is a mind bendingly beautiful piece that straddles the line between haunting and grotesque and soft and gorgeous. The music is plainly presented, and recorded in 60s high fidelity, which had a marvellous way of showcasing small ensemble pieces without getting too polished or too crackly and distorted. Simply gorgeous. His music, alongside that of Thelonious Monk, shows that melodies can have internal logic, and that you can build a musical language that you can draw from as an artist over your career. Webern’s music is very recognizable, but not stale or repetitive.
Muzsikás – Nem Arról Hajnallik, Amerr?l Hajnallott (Prisoners’ Songs)
I got to see Muzsikás in a different form performing “the lost Jewish music of Transylvania” at the Jewish cultural festival in Toronto and it was absolutely fantastic. I even lingered after the show and had them sign my record. The only other person I’ve done that to is Dylan Carlson.