strange noises - Suzie Beckley
This playlist has lurked in the depths of my Spotify library for several years now, shamefully unlistened to. It was only in a fit of lockdown boredom that I stumbled upon it and listened again. It snaps, crackles, and pops like a bowl of electronic rice krispies which doesn’t exactly make it an easy listen, but it's not so disruptive that the listener would shut their laptop and reach for a bowl of actual rice krispies. Featuring tracks from Venezuelan sound wizard Arca to Bristol legend Roni Size, it is a hodgepodge cosmos of spiky, strange noises. Within these uneasy, otherworldly sounds I think there is something of the uneasiness we are experiencing right now (not to sound too pretentious, it is just a playlist after all). Every day is a strange repetition of itself, like the very rhythms we have in these tracks, and we are searching for a new kind of escapism, which you may find in this playlist.
Image: collage by Suzie Beckley
hallways to other worlds - Ellie Fernyhough
The title for this playlist came from a poem by Frederick Seidel, which he wrote for the opening of the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Earth and Space. I thought it worked because both the poems and the Center they were written for revolve around observing far-away space from the confines of our own lives. I tried to put together a set of songs which feel more expansive than the few minutes they take up; they’re pieces of music which, when I listen to them at least, I feel lighter than usual. In particular, the Brian Eno track is composed in such a spacious way that it creates an atmosphere, gentle and weightless and capturing how I imagine floating in outer space might make you feel. In the past few weeks, life has become oppressive, the limits of our daily experience more apparent. Our worlds have shrunk to the space we can explore on our short excursions. The ability of music to allow us to escape the confines of our own thoughts for a while is essential, and that's what this playlist captures.
Image: 'Morning Sun' painting by Edward Hopper
космос - Kai Daniel Malloy
A playlist themed around the Soviet-American space race, космос lends the contest for cosmic domination. A soundtrack inspired by 1980s sci-fi cinema - think if Yuri Gagarin had a souped-up keytar aboard his wee little shuttle. The bulk of the songs being composed within the last decade, but resembling sonically the sounds of an era gone by, imparts космос (‘cosmos’ in Cyrillic) with both glossy modernity, but also a dreamy nostalgia for frosty relations between two nuke-happy, tantrum-prone nations. A twenty-first century soundscape, for an eighties depiction of a sixties event - it’s all very meta. Noises that can be heard within this playlist include, but are not limited to: mechanical drum loops; sustained synth basslines; wobbles; slavic language; ethereal strings; vast layers of moog keyboards; the odd bleep or bloop; stuttering percussion; industrial noises; wibbles; occasional dread; occasional celestial-ness.
Image: ‘Yuri Gagarin: Let’s Go!’ illustration by S. Alimov