The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Tom Waits

Mixtape: A Call For Distance

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A Call For Distance [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Steve Reich ‘It’s Gonna Rain, Part I’ (excerpt) [Nonesuch]
02. Colin Stetson And Sarah Neufeld ‘Won’t be a thing to become’ [Constellation]
03. So Percussion ‘Music for Wood and Strings: Section 1’ [Brassland]
04. Nils Frahm ‘Wall’ [Erased Tapes]
05. Dawn of Midi ‘Nix’ [Erased Tapes]
06. Craig Leon ‘She Wears A Hemispherical Skullcap’ [RVNG Intl]
07. Holly Herndon ‘Morning Sun’ [4AD]
08. Severed Heads ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ [Dark Entries]
09. Lower Dens ‘Your Heart Still Beating’ [Ribbon Music]
10. Heather Woods Broderick ‘A Call For Distance’ [Western Vinyl]
11. Chris Isaac ‘Wicked Game’ [Reprise]
12. Julia Holter ‘My Love My Love’ [Tompkins Square]
13. John Bence ‘Disquiet, Pt. 1’ [Other People]
14. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis ‘Far from Men 2’ [Goliath Entertainment]
15. Edan ‘Beauty’ [Lewis Recordings]
16. Richard Strauss ‘Vier letzte Lieder: IV. Im Abendrot’ (excerpt) [CBS]
17. Tom Waits ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ [Anti-]
18. The Beach Boys ‘Look (Stereo Mix Of Take 20)’ [Capitol]
19. The Books ‘“Ah…, I See”’ [Temporary Residence Limited]
20. Glen Campbell ‘Guess I’m Dumb’ [Ace]

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.



Mixtape: Holding Pattern [A Fractured Air Mix]

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Holding Pattern [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Miles Davis ‘Julien Dans L’Ascenseur’ [Fontana]
02. Seán Mac Erlaine ‘Dingle’ [Ergodos]
03. Loscil ‘Holding Pattern’ [Kranky]
04. Klara Lewis ‘Msuic III’ [Peder Mannerfelt produktion]
05. Edvard Graham Lewis ‘Bluebird’ [Editions Mego]
06. Julia Kent ‘Missed’ [Important]
07. Fikret Kızılok ‘Haberin Var Mı?’ [Pharaway Sounds]
08. Sattar ‘Kashki’ [Pharaway Sounds]
09. Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Tõnu Kaljuste ‘Für Lennart In Memoriam’ [ECM]
10. Nico ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’ [Verve]
11. The Stepkids feat. Krondon & Percee P ‘Legends’ (Remix) [Stones Throw]
12. Homeboy Sandman ‘America, the Beautiful’ [Stones Throw]
13. HTRK ‘Feels like Love’ [Ghostly]
14. William Basinski ‘Melancholia I’ [2062]
15. Lewis ‘Things Just Happen That Way’ [Light In The Attic]
16. Mica Levi ‘Love’ [Milan]
17. The Langley Schools Music Project ‘In My Room’ [Bar/None]
18. Laura Nyro ‘The Wind’ [Columbia]
19. Tom Waits ‘Rainbirds’ [Island]

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Facebook / Twitter



Younger Than Yesterday: Rain Dogs

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“It’s always the mistakes. Most things begin as a mistake. Most breakthroughs in music come out of a revolution of the form. Someone revolted, and was probably not well-liked. But he ultimately started his own country.”

—Tom Waits

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


‘Rain Dogs’ came out in 1985-the year I was born-and for me it is Tom Waits’s masterpiece. The tenth studio album lies at the heart of the ‘Swordfish’ trilogy-1983′s ‘Swordfishtrombones’, 1985′s ‘Rain Dogs’ and ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ in 1987. I think this period in the Waits songbook is one of the most compelling periods in music history. Magic and intrigue-forever the cornerstone of Waits’s songcraft-radiates from the singer-songwriter’s unique blend of genre-defying sound.

‘Rain Dogs’ was inspired by the Waits family moving back to New York that marks the first album he ever composed and recorded away from Los Angeles. The precise location was, in fact, the basement of Columbia Broadcasting. It was here that movie legends like Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles and Bette Davis came to spellbind, telling stories across the airwaves. This included the legendary, near-mythical 1938 production of ‘War Of The Worlds’ by Orson Welles.

TW: “They had all this stuff set up they’d used in the radio days. They had wind machines, and thunder machines, every conceivable device to create movies for the ears.”

The songs of Waits is just that-“movies for the ears”- wherein the case of ‘Rain Dogs’, is focused on “urban dispossessed of New York City”. The cover photograph is one of a series taken by the Swedish photographer Anders Peterson at Cafe Lehmitz in the late 1960′s. The man and woman are called Rose and Lily. The look of the artwork, and the feel of the music shares this magical realm of an Orson Welles production, where Waits is the conductor casting his cast of characters, specifically for the turntable “outside another yellow moon.”

While recording the songs for ‘Rain Dogs’, Waits was simultaneously writing songs for the stage musical of ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ (released two years later). The distinction was clear-‘Frank’s Wild Years’ was for the stage and ‘Rain Dogs’ was for the turntable. Across nineteen songs, Waits made an utterly transcendent work; as Rolling Stone put it at the time: “his finest portrait of the tragic kingdom of the streets.” I feel the songs come from the heart of darkness. The stories originate from the dark end of the street, but, as ever, an everlasting light of hope shines forth.

Waits is an artist in the truest sense. I mean, the range of his songs is simply staggering. His timeless rock ‘n’ roll (‘Big Black Mariah’); divine soul (‘Union Square’); country (‘Blind Love’); heart wrenching ballads (‘Time’); funeral/parade music from the streets of New Orleans (‘Cemetery Polka’, ‘Singapore’); the song that Springsteen never wrote (and Rod Stewart later covered) (‘Downtown Train’); emotion in its rawest form, pouring from the heart of a million pieces (‘Anywhere I Lay My Head’).

Yes, these are just some of the songs from ‘Rain Dogs’ that seep into your consciousness, now and forever more. I think Waits made the comparison that ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ belongs “somewhere between “Eraserhead” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I think this is an accurate reference point for ‘Rain Dogs’-and for the Waits songbook-mixing the strange beauty of David Lynch and the truly endearing work of Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

Tom Waits’s life changed after meeting his wife, Kathleen Brennan, in 1980. They met while on set in LA for a Francis Ford Coppola film which Waits starred in and Brennan was the screenwriter. Soon, a song-writing partnership was forged and the music of Waits evolved into a new form-a wholly unique and groundbreaking sound. Amazingly, Waits often jokes about his first eight or so albums-from debut ‘Closing Time’ in ’73 to ‘Heart Attack And Vine’ in the early 80′s-and how he was only finding his feet, scratching at the surface without ever seeping into the hidden depths that lay beneath. It is clear, a new road-steeped in remarkable creativity-was set foot on, circa ’83 onwards:

TW: “You get to an impasse creatively at some point, and you can either ignore it or deal with it. And it’s like anything, you go down a road and. . .hopefully, there’s a series of tunnels. I’d started feeling my music was very separate from myself. My life had changed and my music had stayed pretty much the its own thing. I thought I had to find a way to bring it closer. Not so much with my life as with my imagination.”

The range of utterly compelling sounds on ‘Rain Dogs’ is a pure joy to witness. The instruments of pump organ, guitar and mellotron, and of course the singular voice-exuding the spirit of Howlin’ Wolf that encompasses all of life’s pain, anger, anguish, longing and hope. Cohorts Marc Ribot (guitar), percussionist Michael Blair, bassist and horn arranger Greg Cohen, Ralph Camey (saxophone), and William Schimmel (accordion, Leslie bass pedals) provide the perfect sonic backdrop to the tales of Waits. The instrumentation of marimba, accordion, double bass, trombone and banjo adds to the compelling nature of the journey, covering all multitudes of sonic terrain in the process.

“If I want a sound, I usually feel better if I’ve chased it and killed it, skinned it and cooked it.”

Someone who I’ve forgotten to mention is The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, who features heavily on ‘Rain Dogs’. Waits’ close friend plays on ‘Big Black Mariah’, ‘Union Square’ and ‘Blind Love’. His trademark rock ‘n’ roll guitar sound introduces a wall of sound to the mix. Listen to those fat tones on the closing bars of ‘Union Square’ or the tear-stained licks of ‘Blind Love’-a country gem straight from the spirit of Gram Parsons.

“You surround yourself with people who can know when you’re trying to discover something, and they’re part of the process. Keith Richards had an expression for it that’s very apropos: He called it “the hair in the gate”. You know when you go to the movies and you watch an old film, and a piece of hair catches in the gate? It’s quivering there and then it flies away. That’s what I was trying to do-put the hair in the gate.”

The delicate nylon guitar-plucked strings and accordion floats beneath Waits’s achingly beautiful vocals on ‘Time’,and for me, is one of the best songs ever put to tape-by Dylan, Young, or that of Waits himself. Waits sings “memory’s like a train, you can see it getting smaller as it pulls away” and a lyric of “the things you can’t remember tell the things you can’t forget” perfectly encapsulates the passing of time – you can never hold back spring – a song Waits would sing many years later.

Forward to 2008. I witness Tom Waits in concert, for the first ever time, as part of the ‘Glitter And Doom’ tour. The song ‘Make It Rain’ (off ‘Real Gone’) was played on the encore where Tom Waits looks up to the ceiling of the marquee and, yes, makes it rain. The tent may have sprung a leak, but as I felt raindrops touch my face I’d like to see it as a confirmation of my long-held belief that Tom Waits is a larger than life, mythical creature separate from humankind.

Tom Waits on what lies ahead after the ‘Swordfish’ trilogy of ‘Swordfishtrombones’, ‘Rain Dogs’ and ‘Frank’s Wild Years’:

“On the past three albums, I was exploring the hydrodynamics of my own peculiarities. I don’t know what the next one will be. Harder, maybe louder.”

“The world is upside down
My pockets were filled with gold
Now the clouds have covered o’er
And the wind is blowing cold
I don’t need anybody
Because I learned to be alone
Any anywhere
I lay my head, boys
I will call my home”

(from ‘Anywhere I Lay My Head’, the closer to ‘Rain Dogs’)


The following books are recommended on Tom Waits:

“Innocent When You Dream Tom Waits The Collected Interviews” Edited by Mac Montandon (Orion Books)
“The Many Lives Of Tom Waits” Patrick Humphries (Omnibus Press)

Tom Waits and Anton Corbijn will Release a Collaborative Photographic Book “WAITS/CORBIJN ’77-’11” in Limited Edition on May 8.


For more information on this and anything regarding Tom Waits:

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March 27, 2013 at 11:53 am

Step Right Up: Jesca Hoop

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Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


‘Jesca Hoop’s music is like a four-sided coin. She’s an old soul, like a good witch, a black pearl or a red moon’. Tom Waits

‘The House That Jack Built’ is a haven for masterful songwriting and accomplished pop sensibility. In fact, the spectrum of human emotion that flows so prevalently throughout the album is analogous to vintage Wes Anderson; filled with heartache and humour. A parallel can be made to Brooklyn’s Annie Clarke AKA St Vincent, with both artist’s uncanny ability to create stellar electronic augmented pop. Like St Vincent’s ‘Strange Mercy’ album from last year, ‘The House That Jack Built’ sets to be the dazzling art pop album of 2012. The first single from the album, ‘Born To’ is an infectious pop delight with its anthemic refrain, ‘and now you gotta get it with what you’ve got’. The album is immaculately produced, making in turn, a pristine indie pop sound laden with  irresistible hooks. The songs on ‘The House That Jack Built’ embraces polished indie pop which is a move in direction from Hoop’s previous works.

‘I carried a bag of rock and stone full of memory of our family aboard a plane to Tulsa’ is sung by Hoop over a gently picked electric guitar on the album’s heartbreaking title-track. ‘The House That Jack Built’ was my first introduction to Jesca Hoop’s unique blend of dark folk and dazzling pop. Hoop’s CV makes for an interesting read, from being back-up singer to Peter Gabriel to working as a nanny for Tom Waits’ children. The real intrigue on her resume however lies in her music, as a singer songwriter, showcased across three studio albums to date.
On this, her third full-length album, California-raised and Manchester-based, Hoop wrote and recorded the songs shortly after the death of her father. The americana tour de force ‘DNR’ deals with Hoop’s relationship with her father. ‘A lonely heart was the black hole that did him in/From the first attempt to his current critical condition’ is a lyric from the aching ballad. Sparse instrumentation of acoustic guitar, harp and keyboards creates an emotional backdrop to the poignancy of the lyrics. The song’s rawness and intimacy recalls singer songwriter Nina Nastasia at her best. Another highlight is the atmospheric ‘Deeper Devastation’, the penultimate track on the album. The song is built over a brooding guitar line and mesmerizing backing vocals. The hymn-like ballad can be compared to Neko Case, where Hoop’s voice penetrates deep in your veins, ‘Under the power of our one and only sun’.


‘The House That Jack Built’ is out now on Bella Union.

Written by admin

August 18, 2012 at 10:01 am


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