The Greatest Conversation

Fear in Music, Pre-Dubstep

Posted in Old Music by Brian Park on September 16, 2009


I’m thoroughly tired of dubstep. Listening to wobbly basslines just makes me nauseous, and honestly I have no idea how Skream ever became popular. Anyway, a friend and I were nerding about why dubstep has exploded these last few years, and he was saying it is the whole element of fear. Anyway, tonight my goddamn iTunes Genius mix decided I wanted to hear Skream – Midnight Request Line, but it just made me start searching frantically for other music. So, here is some music with lots of fear.

Ralph Towner – Oceanus

The album Oceanus is on may be my favourite album of all time. I’ll say more on it another time, but this is the title track and it is very strange. I can’t tell if there’s a phantom rhythm being implied or if it is supposed to be free playing; either way, this song freaks me right out. It is the perfect way to start an album, and it even sort of resolves all its tension as it ends.

Christopher Spendel Group – Morning In The City

This track continues the tense aspect of the last one, but in a more blatant way. It’s basically proggy fusion with lots of 9ths that has a really rushed, hyper feel. Some nice melodies, and nothing too dramatic. Also, I got this track from the always excellent My Jazz World. Everyone should keep an eye on that site, so many amazing albums that are out of print.

John Williams – Concerto De Toronto: Moderato (Leo Brouwer)

This piece, written by Leo Brouwer, takes fear to epic places. I hate to make the connection, but it is like the score of a strange, terrifying, dream-like art film. Turn it up, it is very moving. John Williams (the guitarist) isn’t my favourite guitarist, but he does an amazing job here. He lets the song breathe.

John Williams – Hika – “In Memoriam Toru Takemitsu” (Leo Brouwer)

After those last three tracks, you’ll be glad this one takes it down a notch. This is off the same album as the last song (it is called The Black Decameron, quite fitting). Leo Brouwer wrote it after the death of the composer Toru Takemitsu, his close friend. The emotions are more restrained, but this is one of the most terrifyingly intense songs of all time. Pour a glass of scotch, turn it up, and close your eyes.


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