Playlist.

A weekly tally of memorable things Steve Smith has stuck in his ears.

Spotify jukebox does not correspond precisely with the selections listed, but maintains the playlist’s continuity and personality.

Before we begin this week, a preface. Just over a decade ago, I wrote a blog post explaining the playlists I compile and post weekly, back when they existed solely on my personal blog. If you’re interested, that post can be found here. The TL; DR version is that I listen to music constantly throughout any given week – at the office, at home, during my commute, walking the dogs, washing the dishes. What appears on each playlist essentially amounts to anything I played that stuck… things that made a lasting impression, be they old, new, forthcoming, commercially released, Soundcloud demo, or something else entirely.

All well and good for a private blog, but it’s been suggested that on this site, a tiny bit of context might help. So, here’s the first-ever annotated Night After Night playlist. (I think. Don’t hold me to it.)—Steve Smith

CelerAvalon (self-released subscriber exclusive; 2017)

You see Celer a lot on my playlists. Celer is Japanese-based American composer/performer Will Long (and, prior to her untimely passing, his wife, Danielle Baquet-Long). I’ve found no artist active in the ambient-drone style more consistently mesmerizing, so I’ve subscribed via Bandcamp to get everything as it’s released. Avalon is part of a flood of recordings to arrive this year alone; it a subscriber exclusive so it can’t be embedded here, and it’s not on Spotify, so I used another 2017 track there.


Colectivo maDammaDam plays Taku Sugimoto (self-released; 2017)
> One Minutes Piece; Mada

Japanese guitarist/composer Sugimoto’s ultra-spare, spacious style, as rendered by a versatile Spanish ensemble.


ChepangDadhelo (Nerve Altar; 2017)

Nepalese grindcore, hell, yeah. Had to acquire this after reading about the New York-based band on Noisey.


ThantifaxathSacred White Noise (Dark Descent; 2014)

Mysterious, complex black metal from a shadowy Toronto trio whose members insist upon anonymity. I pre-ordered the band’s new EP last week, but nothing was streaming yet—not that any excuse is required to return to this LP.


EnslavedMardraum – Beyond the Within (Osmose Productions; 2000)

Black metal, viking metal, progressive metal… however you’d care to classify this album, it’s an essential of its genre. An album so good I almost wish I didn’t know it, just so I could discover it again.

King CrimsonIn the Wake of Poseidon (from Sailor’s Tales) (Island/DGM; 1970/2017)

I attended four King Crimson concerts last week; after the first one, the band’s latest archival box was waiting on my doorstep. Setting aside my ongoing fascination with the music, almost no band issues more thoughtful and comprehensive box sets—or has learned more about itself in doing so. This album and the two others on this playlist aren’t available on streaming services, so I chose songs from each LP as performed by the current band on the 2017 LP Live in Chicago (itself newly added to Spotify).


Jason MoranMass {Howl, eon} (self-released; 2017)

Moran continues to go from strength to strength with the album’s he’s self-released on Bandcamp over the last year-plus; this one, a trio with cornetist Graham Haynes and drummer Jamire Williams, features music Moran composed while watching painter Julie Mehretu at work in a Harlem church.


Tyler WilcoxWorks for Two Chapels (Caduc.; 2017)
> Octet – The Guidonian Hand, Ensemble Indexical; 9. 11 & 13 – Tyler Wilcox


Rosalind Hall & Judith HamannGossamers (Caduc.; 2017)

Operated by composer/performer Mathieu Ruhlmann, Caduc. has become one of those labels where I have to get every release, even if (and especially when) it’s by someone I’ve never heard of—and it’s newly arrived on Bandcamp. The Wilcox pieces show a strong Wandelweiser influence; the recording by Hall and Hamann focuses intensely on pitch and acoustic phenomena. (There’s no Wilcox on Spotify to share, but I did find a brief duet by Hall & Hamann that covers similar territory.)


Courtney SwainGrowing Pains (self-released; 2017)

Courtney Swain is the lead singer for the artfully eclectic Boston rock band Bent Knee… on her own she strikes a more intimate, confessional tone, while remaining true to the individual spark that’s made her Bent Knee work so compelling. Lovely string quartet arrangements, too.


Eve Risser/Kaja DrakslerTo Pianos (Clean Feed; 2017)

Eve Risser is a fascinating French piano improviser whose solo and ensemble work on Clean Feed has been a joy to discover. Here, she plays satisfying duets with a Slovenian pianist new to me.


Magnus GranbergNattens skogar – Anna Lindal, Magnus Granberg, Cyril Bondi, d’incise (INSUB; 2017)

Granberg is a Swedish composer best known for four recordings on the exemplary English label Another Timbre. His music is paradoxical: abstract yet based in song; seemingly composed and improvised simultaneously; ethereal and free-floating, yet rigorously conceived. This small-group session on INSUB is unusually transparent and timbrally delicious.

King CrimsonLizard (from Sailor’s Tales) (Island/DGM; 1970/2017)

The Music Improvisation CompanyThe Music Improvisation Company (ECM; 1970)


AMM IIIIt Had Been an Ordinary Enough Day in Pueblo, Colorado (JAPO; 1980)

Continuing to plumb the riches of the ECM catalog since its arrival on streaming services last week, I’ve taken special pleasure in finding the most obscure abstract sessions on the label. The Music Improvisation Company offers pithy work from improv legends Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, alongside a pre-King Crimson Jamie Muir; AMM III was a short-lived and wildly atypical incarnation of the long-lived free-improvisation ensemble AMM.

King CrimsonIslands (from Sailor’s Tales) (Island/DGM; 1971/2017)


Dante BoonDüsseldorf recital (Rhizome.s; 2017)
> Coleman ZurkowskiDie von Blumen reich ich dir; Gil Sansónuntitled (for Antoine Beuger); Anastassis Philippakopoulospiano piece; Eva-Maria Houbenlose verbunden; Assaf GidronDim.; Jack CallahanBlue Dream Excerpt with Proportional Ending

An impressive survey of Wandelweiser composers and associates, played by a gifted and patient pianist… it’s the occasionally noisy setting that proves the only real challenge. Stream the beautiful Gil Sansón piece I’ve embedded and you’ll see what I mean.

The Hafler TrioCleave: 9 Great Openings (Nextera; 2002)

A seminal act in English experimental music, the Hafler Trio represents a massive gap in my personal database—partly because it’s one of those instances of “where do you start?” So I began with this transfixing example of drone apotheosis after reading this essay by composer Simon Cummings, who refers to Cleave and its two companion releases as “the absolute zenith of drone music.” (Naturally this wasn’t on Spotify… but a Hafler Trio reworking of a Barry Adamson/Pan Sonic piece was.)

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Further reading

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