February 2, 2012
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Alan Glynn's Bloodland is a well-written and satisfyingly complex international conspiracy thriller.
The Guardian wrote of the book:
"I've not read such a multi-layered, expertly plotted portrayal of arrogance, greed and hubris for a long time – there are, as the publishers claim, echoes of John le Carré, 24 and James Ellroy here, but Glynn's talent is all his own, and his ability to ratchet up the tension is eye-popping."
I listen to music constantly when I'm writing (which has to be one of the great perks of the job, because this isn't just someone else's radio on in the background here, it's you getting to play you're favourite records all day long). The only thing is, for me, it has to be instrumental music. Words aren't allowed, except on the page or screen. And that's a thing – the music I mostly now choose to listen to, working or not, the music I'm most drawn to, is determined by this fact. Which is why the playlist below will be a lyrics-free zone. I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of great stuff, but I've also discovered a lot of great stuff I otherwise wouldn't have – because when I should be working I'll frequently spend hours at a time trawling through Boomkat and iTunes looking for more product. For me, that generally means down tempo, lyrical, trance-like, often minimalist, sometimes even approaching the next thing to silence. It can also mean driving rhythms, pulses, glitches, drones. Fun, huh? The thing is, music for me is not so much a soundtrack to the particular book I'm writing as an accompaniment to the very process of writing itself – the obsessive re-writing, and re-ordering, all the micro-level stuff, the chasing of a comma, say, or a dash, the rooting out of stray rhymes and repetitions, the reaching for clarity and economy and fluidity. These tracks formed the aural landscape – by-turns twitchy, chilled, sublime, medicated-seeming, toe-tapping – to the writing of my latest novel, Bloodland.
"Sketches of Twelve" – Lars Danielsson (Melange Bleu)
Scandanavia may have colonized modern crime fiction, but it's nothing compared to what they've been doing to modern jazz. On this album, Swede Lars Danielsson and Norwegians Bugge Wesseltoft and Nils Petter Molvaer, and others, combine acoustic, orchestral and sampling elements to create an amazing melodic, propulsive sound texture.
"I Fall in Love too Easily/The Fire Within" – Keith Jarrett (At the Blue Note)
A sublime half hour from one of six sets that took place over a single weekend in 1996 at the Blue Note. It starts out as a standard and evolves into something ecstatic and existential.
"1959" – Alexandre Desplat (L'ennemi Intime)
A depth charge into the subconscious from this dreamlike score to a French film about the Algerian war.
"Opening" – Robert Rich (Somnium)
The opening to one of Rich's seven-hour so-called "sleep concerts", where the audience, yes, go to sleep. This is extreme ambient – or hardcore ambient, does that sound any less absurd? – with rain in the background, pelting down, but it's actually quite beautiful and mesmerizing.
"Passport Control" – Jan Bang (And Poppies from Khandahar)
I sometimes have this sweeping, rhythmic patchwork of live samples, remixes and improvisations on a loop.
"Oxg" – Herion (Out and About)
Italian trio, a gorgeous, blissed-out, strange, multi-faceted soundscape.
"#283" – Hauschka & Hildur Gudnadottir (Pan Tone)
German pianist, Icelandic cellist. I know what you're thinking. But this is an extraordinary and magical combination.
"El Mayor" – Bobo Stenson Trio (Serenity)
Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson is one of the greats of modern jazz. The interplay here with Jon Christensen on drums and Anders Jormin on double bass is seamless and almost telepathic.
"Scotty Trails Madeline" – Bernard Herrmann (Vertigo)
Haunting and beautiful, this is from a 1995 re-recording of the score – possibly the finest example of film music ever written. Its tones and moods are inextricable from the movie's layers of emotion, from its colour and depth, from its narrative complexity.
"Drive By" – The Necks (Drive By)
This track – the title and only track on the album, like a lot of tracks by this Australian trio – is over an hour long. It is minimalist, repetitive, monotonous, hypnotic and utterly compelling.
"Piano and String Quartet" – Morton Feldman (Piano and String Quartet)
This is even longer, at an hour and twenty minutes, and even more (sic?) minimalist. I have no technical knowledge for describing this music, but a non-technical word often used in relation to it is addictive. Add warm, dreamy, dark, and subterranean.
Alan Glynn and Bloodland links:
International Noir Fiction review
Irish Examiner review
Irish Times review
Publishers Weekly review
Richmond Times-Dispatch review
Shots Crime and Thriller eZine review
The View from the Blue House review
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists