wordless vocals & music before language
a new movie, a new place to connect & the possibilities of the human voice
# of Tracks: about 80
Length: almost 5 hours
Themes: what singing sounds like before language ~ when people communicate in hums, grunts & bird song ~ when you perceive a foreign language not as words but as phonics ~ how voices can improve & deepen an instrumental
Link: spoti.fi (Spotify) — apple.co (Apple Music) — bit.ly (YouTube)
Here’s a new mixtape of recordings which feature wordless vocals. I’m sharing, in part, because I don’t feel like writing much right now — and sharing a playlist largely free of recognizable language is a great excuse for me to shut my mouth.
However, the “extra credit” section below is extra long in this installment of AHB’s Goodies. There’s news of a movie I helped create — a new social network associated with the Substack platform — and some odd merch (cycling caps!) which my label Brassland has manufactured.
AHB's Goodies is a reader-supported mixtape delivery service. If you value it, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
The playlist includes songs such as…
^ Bothy Band: “Fionnghuala”
^ Adriano Celentano: “Prisencolinensinainciusol”
^ Roomful of Teeth: “Partita for 8 Singers” (composed by Caroline Shaw)
Extra credit & assorted notes:
• Buke & Gase concert film & documentary out on May 9th: During the pandemic I helped make a feature-length concert film/documentary about one of my most consistent collaborators, the instrument-inventing duo of Aron Sanchez and Arone Dyer, who are known as the band Buke and Gase but whom I usually refer to as the Aron(e)s. If you've never heard of them, here are some introductory playlists to get you started.
The film’s rollout begins on Tuesday, May 9th when it hits Apple TV / iTunes in the United States. Here’s a trailer.
If you are interested in buying the movie, I’m told that Apple TV will run a 50% off flash sale this weekend, from May 4-6th. If you don’t want to see it without spending money, New Yorkers can and should join us at our premiere party in Queens on the day of release. Mostly it’s a hang out and eat/drink/dance thing—but the full movie will screen on the venue’s giant LED video wall.
—> RSVP to the premiere party in Queens, NYC
—> Pre-order the film
To answer a question people keep asking: Yes, the film will appear on other platforms in good time. Maybe some artsy TV networks in Europe? Or in-flight entertainment consoles next time you’re on a long flight? One day we hope it makes it onto Prime Video or Tubi.comor even Netflix.
The directors of this project have informed me that Apple TV pre-orders really could determine how hard the distributors push the film and how widely it will be available. So, if you consume “content” in the Apple eco-system, your patronage there is much appreciated.
• I’ve been encouraged to mention Substack Notes: It’s a new space on Substack where I (we! you?) can share links, short posts, quotes, photos, and other stuff. I plan to use it for things that don’t fit in this mixtape delivery service.
I know what you're thinking: "Just what I need! Another social network! Hoorah?" And...uh...yeah...I agree. But this one is kind of like a Twitter alternative, only without Elon Musk, which makes it a bit less stressful. There are instructions on how to join me there in the footnotes —>
• Ridiculously, my label Brassland is now in the hat business: Okay, that’s only true in a limited fashion.It turns out Brassland artist Ben Lanz aka LANZ worked as a bike mechanic before he started his career as a musician / sideman / producer with artists like The National, Beirut, and Sufjan Stevens. Recently we released a new song by him called "I'll Keep Running" inspired by Ben’s devotion to cycling and our encounter with a lovely and supportive Facebook group. That group is called I Think I’m Hittin’ A Wall (ITIHAW for short) and it is devoted to indie music, physical activity, community, and mental health. We collaborated with ITIHAW to make a music video and these attractive, high quality LANZ cycling caps to bring attention to their work. Just when you’ve written off the Internet as a cesspool, groups like this give one hope. Anyway consider buying a hat. If you need a hat.
• Monologue Soul: This playlist from British cultural journalist and editor Andrew Maleis an insanely perfect counterpoint to my Wordless Vocals playlist. It documents the phenomenon of long, evocative and usually quite melodic speak-singing on (mostly) 1970s American soul, gospel, and R&B records. They are sermons, confessions, moral reckonings about love and faith (but mostly love). Before podcasts, before audiobooks, before even rap music (these are pre-rap, not proto-rap), these records were a dreamy medium for impassioned linguistic expression overlaid on top of deep instrumental workouts. These recordings are like movies for your ears. I love it.
People Who Died: Seymour Stein ~ Harry Belafonte ~ Ryuichi Sakamoto ~ Wayne Shorter ~ Jordan Neely
Thank you to Terrance, Hrishikesh, and Glenn for suggesting recordings which I used on this playlist.
You could spend an afternoon just going down a wormhole of live TV performance videos featuring the incredible Italian cultural artifact that is the song “Prisencolinensinainciusol.” (Some background here on Wikipedia.) The original is probably the best version from a purely musical/aesthetic perspective, but I couldn’t find a working YouTube link, only this non-embeddable version on Facebook Watch. So here is a modern dance version from 1974:
And a terrible contemporary EDM cover version/remix with a glossy video:
And a slightly awkward performance from a 2012 televised concert:
New York Magazine recently ran an article about Tubi, subtitled “How the weird, free streamer won the internet’s heart.” If you’re curious about our ever-evolving media landscape you might enjoy it as much as I did. Read it here.
How to join Substack Notes: Head to substack.com/notes or find the “Notes” tab in the Substack app.
As a subscriber to AHB's Goodies, you’ll automatically see my Notes. You can like, reply, or share them around! You know, typical Internet behavior.
Best of all it’s a two way conversation: you can also share Notes of your own. I hope this becomes a space where every reader of AHB's Goodies might share, uh, my content, as well thoughts, ideas, and other things of interest.
Here’s a Notes FAQ if you’re confused. Nothing to be ashamed of! Sometimes my entire life on the Internet feels like an unrelenting bout of out-of-body, dysphoric scrolling. (So let me note that you can also make notes with a pen on paper and your laptop closed. Works for me!)
Fashion, hats, ha ha haha. But really: no pun intended.
Here’s video of an animated Ben Lanz playing trombone with The National in a Thanksgiving episode of Bob’s Burgers. Reports of the band being always dour, sad dads are…overstated.
I think I met Andrew (via email) over a decade ago, when he asked me to write for one of his publications. (I might have even done that, once or twice…until I decided writing for money was a bit of a Sisyphean endeavor—financially speaking—and then decided to retire.) These days I mostly track on Andrew via his kindly, well-curated, free associative, highly visual, tastefully nerdy pop culture Twitter feed where this playlist showed up just in time to re-share it with you. The Internet sucks…but not as much as we think it does.