The Music Connection Game – From Brijean to Rhye to Thom Yorke/Burial/Four Tet
Earlier today, I saw a “Your Memories on Facebook” post about listening to Radiohead. I had written something to the effect that Radiohead songs help to settle me and my thoughts. That post was very specific, but music, in general, has mostly always had a positive effect on me. It can help swing a mood. Giving a first listen to Brijean’s Feelings helped me get excited about artists I have never heard, even if just for an afternoon.
I may be a forty-five-year-old writer, but I sometimes need homework assignments to keep me on my tasks like a high school student. I’m not talking about one of those major projects that sent me to the empty school library. No. Just a short music review to get me back in the mood. To write. For more music. And to keep up my creative endurance.
I’m not writing a review for it yet, but I was sent the new Brijean LP, Feelings, which I have already listened to a reasonable amount. Partially, because I’ve been writing, and it is my background music. But also, because it sounds like music that would pop up on a lot of my playlist. It settled nicely within the cacophony of my head.
However, after listening to the album a couple of times, I started playing the Music Connection Game (MCG). Leave Groove Music and go to Spotify. Search for Brijean and click “ABOUT.” She’s been a percussionist for Poolside, Toro Y Moi, and U.S. Girls. I recognize the name Toro Y Moi but can’t come up with a song. I know at least one U.S. Girls song; “Pearly Gates.” Then I go to “FANS ALSO LIKE.” That leads me to Joe Goddard (Hot Chip and The 2 Bear), who has one of my top songs of 2020 (“Children”); Holy Ghost! (Check out “Dumb Disco Ideas” of Dynamics if you have never heard it. If you know the type of music I really like, you’ll see why it resonates with me.), and Rhye.
I don’t know if it was my friend Bels or if it pops up on some of my playlists, but I have heard the song “Count To Five” before. But that doesn’t matter because now I’m hearing it in a new context, and I love it. However, if you want a real treat, queue “Count To Five – Tensnake Remix” off Blood Remixed to play immediately after the original. It sounds just like a planned change in the song and could be as perfect as anything. (If I was a DJ, I’d start a set with the original version of this song before transitioning to the remix.)
All of this eventually led to Lianne La Havas. If you haven’t heard her and you don’t trust me, maybe you’ll trust Prince. He was such a fan that he asked her to contribute to his 2014 album Art Official Age. But Prince isn’t why I’m bringing up Lianna La Havas. In her third album, titled after her name, she covered the Radiohead song “Weird Fishes.” I love covers that are well done, and I give Lianne La Havas a 5 out of 5 for hers.
Which brings me to Radiohead and Thom Yorke. Those of you who listen to the Radiohead frontman know he did a project with Burial and Four Tet some years ago. “Ego/Mirror.” “Ego” has been a personal favorite for years and could be on my top twenty list. Anyway, playing the MCG led to Four Tet having at least one song on every one of my top 100 songs since 2013. To my delight, Thom Yorke Burial and Four Tet released a new double-A side single, “Her Revolution” and “His Rope.”
I will be honest because I always am when it comes to Thom Yorke. These two songs were not what I was hoping for. Both are slow, soft, distant, and cold. I saw comments that compared them to Yorke’s Suspiria, and I agree entirely. Should I come across this music in a dark and empty house, I might get the chills and feel like I am being watched. However, this was just my first take because I was so partial to “Ego.”
Listening more in-depth to these songs, I realize the importance of “Her Revolution” and “His Rope,” especially in 2020. The skill of these musicians to recreate life through abstract sound and subtle lyrics during a time when the industry is struggling cannot be overlooked. I like and need upbeat music and humor to get me through my COVID stay-at-home depression, but Thom Yorke Burial and Four Tet make me address my feelings. Suppose I choose to ignore my internal struggles, too scared to address my concerns. In that case, I am missing valuable growth opportunities. Instead of fearing the loneliness I feel, I need to take my time, look around, and enjoy the beauty I can find.
Music is essential to me. It has taught me many valuable lessons. Sometimes it leads me out of my darkness, but sometimes it gives me the courage to face my fears. I am grateful for the opportunities that music has provided me and send love and strength out into the world in honor of the musicians who continue to create. Keep producing. We will keep listening.