What are your top five “outside the industry” music favorites? Stephen Vitiello



Television: Marquee Moon

I was thinking about my top 5 today and wrote down Marquee Moon before anything else. Later on (10 minutes ago) on a documentary about New York music, Moby quotes a lyric from one of the songs on this album. In 25+ years of listening to Television, it has always been the guitars that were front and center for me. I couldn’t quote a single lyric and I forget most of the titles. It is the interplay of the guitars on this album, melodic, rhythmic perfection that I never get tired of. I can imagine brilliant lyrics, drums, and bass lines are going past me, but it is the two-part inventions of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd that stay in my ears.

The Feelies: The Good Earth

I haven’t listened to this album in a long time but every once in a while a sense memory of drums brings me back to seeing The Feelies at Maxwell’s and of listening to this album. The propulsive post-Velvets drums and percussion with perfectly strummed post-Velvets guitars and mumbled voices that I hear in my head stay vivid, even if I haven’t found my vinyl copy (somewhere in storage or lost).

Fred Frith, Guitar Solos

An annoying houseguest left this for me and I almost threw it away without listening to it. I remember that the minute I put it on (1990?) my sense of all that could be done with guitar was instantly expanded. There are a handful of these examples, music or art, things that have deeply influenced me, without being works that I’ve had to study or go back to very often. The beautiful sounds Frith produces and his use of loops and prepared elements is as strong as any other musician’s “trained technique” I can think of.

Tony Conrad: Four Violins

This too was one that struck me immediately. The possible responses to the onslaught of Conrad‘s violins is to run and stop the CD or accept it and become immersed in his micro-intense technique and sound. This isn’t music to share, or to play for friends, family, or company, but it has the impact and presence beyond most things I have heard. I read an interview with the artist Bruce Nauman, where he talks about having the full-on intensity of Lennie Tristano‘s piano in his head when he makes work. Four Violins works as a similar reference for me.

Eliane Radigue: Adnos 1-3

As with Four Violins, Radigue produces remarkable drones. Where Conrad’s drones shock the body and go to the head, Radigue’s have an effect that is more internal and physical—direct to the body. They take over your breathing and blood flow. They work their way into the structure of my living room so that ghost tones and bass players in other apartments seem to materialize. There is an incredible stillness packed with motion in her work. This probably only makes sense once you’ve spent time with her beautiful recordings.

Back-ups: Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Vrioon; Alvin Lucier, Music on a Long Thin Wire; a recording of a solo cello piece written by Giacinto Scelsi that was probably performed by Frances-Marie Uitti but I’m not sure.

[Read a NewMusicBox conversation between Stephen Vitiello and Marina Rosenfeld.]