Homeland’s sound design
British dramas tend to have clean, neat soundtracks. I don’t mean the musical elements, but the overall soundscape. Often brilliant atmospherics and great scoring, but generally pristine voice recording and foley work. US programmes on the whole have a funkier sound (it may be partly a technical thing, I’m no expert). However, Homeland has taken funky to new levels. It’s oppressively, brilliantly, noisy—all cicadas and compression. [Compression |kəmˈpre sh ən| noun. Compression in audio recording lessens the dynamic range of the audio by reducing the level of the louder parts, resulting in an “in your face” sound. The proper use of compression will bring out the quieter parts of the audio and make the entire piece sound louder.] In each scene, the outside seems as loud as the inside (witness the crickets at night in the episode where Carrie sleeps at her sister’s house and the same background sounds run into Brody’s house. Air conditioners whirr, fridges hum, interview rooms throb. There’s no escape…
emusic find of the month
Late Late Party, a compilation of songs recorded by The Pac-Keys and The Martinis, at Stax in the mid-Sixties, both bands featuring Packy Axton, son of the label’s founders. Like a frat boy version of Booker T and The MGs. Fantastic. Hear Greasy Pumpkin. If you like that, hear the rest.
White On White
I hadn’t reread The White Album by Joan Didion for years. But it’s extraordinary. Against a backdrop of California, Manson and her own mental issues, it’s filled with brilliant passages like this one. After Manzareck and Morrison discuss, in a circular way, where they might rehearse the next day… “I counted the control knobs on the electronic console. There were seventy-six. I was unsure in whose favor the dialogue had been resolved, or if it had been resolved at all. Robby Krieger picked at his guitar, and said that he needed a fuzz box. The producer suggested that he borrow one from the Buffalo Springfield, who were recording in the next studio. Krieger shrugged. Morrison sat down again on the leather couch and leaned back. He lit a match. He studied the flame awhile and then very slowly, very deliberately, lowered it to the fly of his black vinyl pants. Manzarek watched him. The girl who was rubbing Manzarek’s shoulders did not look at anyone. There was a sense that no one was going to leave the room, ever. It would be some weeks before The Doors finished recording this album. I did not see it through.” Read anything about music that good recently?
Karen Dalton 1966
Personal recordings made in her family living room, now released. The folk world’s Billie Holiday sings Darroll Adams rhythmic, pretty Green Green Rocky Road with such a motionless sadness, it’s as if she’s staring transfixed out of her window at the road itself.
Funny how certain songs leap into your head when prompted by something visual. I was walking down Edgware Road on Monday with the morning sun flooding past street signs and traffic-light poles and jaywalkers, and everything was angles and glare. I always think of views like that as Garry Winogrand mornings, a reference to the great American photographer whose photographs captured the extraordinary cityscapes of New York. A half-remembered lyric comes to mind: “Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat and coverin’/the crossroads I’m standin’ at…” (Bad, bad attempt below)