I’m touching on a nautical theme this week. A close friend of mine had a birthday last week and I was reminded of distant friends. In general he is a cantankerous old bastard but has a heart of gold and I love him dearly. He has a passion for sailing. More accurately, he has a passion for drinking by rivers and sailing is more of a by product. But he has a talent for it and a calm head in a high wind. (probably numbed by the alcohol). I’m not sure he would approve of everything on this playlist, but what he doesn’t know won’t bother him.
First is Kings of Convenience with Boat Behind. Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe have been making beautiful Norwegian music together since they were in short trousers. If that is considered acceptable attire in Bergen, which is doubtful in winter unless they had particularly cruel parents. Their first band was rather endearingly called ‘Skog’, which sounds like a name for a rural scandic toilet. Boat Behind is a simple run of minor 7ths and a trotting double bass riff but it is strangely alluring and steeped in tranquility.
Sailboat in the Moonlight was written by Carmen Lombardo in 1937. Here it is sung by Billie Holiday. Billie really was a remarkable personality considering her difficult life, which seems almost unimaginably tough nearly 70 years after her death. I won’t do her the injustice of trying to summarise her achievements in a few sentences here, but do open a nice bottle of wine and listen to a selection of her music. There are a stack of recordings on Spotify (and elsewhere). A lot are pretty average in quality which is understandable given their age, and I’m not a big fan of the big band sound which features on many of them. However, ‘An Evening with Billie Holiday’ is a nice introduction..
This is the first time an artist has made it onto more than one 4tunes lists. Well it was inevitable so we will brush over it, like the small stain on my shirt from my lunchtime noodles. The quality of the noodles made the stain a celebration of their superiority, as does the quality of Pearl Jam make their duplication a moniker of persistent brilliance. Love Boat Captain begins on a gentle vamp that builds into an almost awkward crescendo and then descends back into this calm delicate finale. Put bluntly, it makes you want more noodles.
Finally, this week we have something slightly left field from German electronic music duo Modeselektor. The don’t have a particularly glamorous look, more ‘Plumber Chic’ than ‘Superstar DJ’, but they can put a tune together. They can also apparently attract the artistry of Mr Thom Yorke, which is no mean feat. Quite inconveniently his presence on this track makes it the second time an artist has appeared on more than one 4tunes list, and I have no more noodle analogies to justify it, so put it down to a glitch in the matrix. This tune Shipwreck is from the 2011 album Monkey town, which is not necessarily a calming listen unless you work with heavy machinery all day and are looking for a smooth come down. Perhaps Mr Yorke did more than lend his vocal talents for this track, but whatever happened in the Berlin cement factory that day – the results are worthy.