Monday, July 26, 2010

Lonely From the Heat

Like the rest of the whole damned planet, Japan is sweltering. For two weeks, the temperature has refused to dip below the thirties (the mid-eighties for you Yanks). Worse, the baking pavement of Tokyo creates a pocket of hot air that shoves aside any storm clouds that would bring relief from this sick, dense murk that squeezes like you were a sodden dish-sponge.

Not that this was unforseen, of course. I, for one, have been stepping outside only at night. But I'm not exactly a jolly-hockeysticks day-person anyway; I spend most of my time in dimly-lit rooms with chain-smoking cynics & embittered creative types (if with anyone). So really, I haven't had to re-tailor my routine at all.

Still, when hiding inside is less a preference than a matter of self-preservation, it's damned hard not to feel some pang of isolation & paranoia. Especially when the curtains are drawn all day. (A cardboard box is better insulated than the typical Japanese apartment, so any measures to repel sunlight are necessary.) I work from home, so unless I run by the grocery store to pick up more yogurt, I can easily pass an entire day without uttering a word - which is when strange things start ringing in my ears. Conversation is breathing room, both literal & psychological, allowing various threads to untangle in one's head. In silent isolation, it doesn't take long for those threads to fray or tangle into dense & troublesome knots.

Not terribly surprising, then, that so much of my current listening material sounds stir-crazy & paranoid. Not only are the songs often sung from fiercely antisocial points-of-view, but the production itself sketches in bold the outline of the very room in which the music was recorded. When music is heard as from within its own space, it's not escapist, not an invitation to some ethereal/immaterial non-space: it's a retreat, a withdrawal to that finite space in which you're trapped simply by listening.

So I'm exorcising my stereo of claustrophobia and passing it on to yours, given that you're probably reading this in air-conditioned confines outside which heat haze is heaving off the concrete. Click on the mix title to download.

What Comes Into My Yard Is Mine

1. Shellac - "Didn't We Deserve a Look At the Way You Really Are"
2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Cabin Fever!"
3. Lungfish - "Oppress Yourself"
4. Sonic Youth - "Shadow of a Doubt"
5. Ennio Morricone - "Grotesque Suspense"
6. Glenn Branca - Symphony No. 6, Fourth Movement
7. The Fall - "Neighbourhood of Infinity"
8. This Heat - "Twilight Furniture"
9. Fugazi - "Stacks"
10. Ben Frost - "Through the Glass of the Roof"
11. Swans - "A Screw" (Live)
12. Z - "500万円"

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