By Zachary Troyanovsky
#1 The Caretaker- Everywhere at the End of Time
In 1999 when Leyland Kirby released Selected Memories of the Haunted Ballroom, an album which depicted Jack Nicholson’s character from The Shining as a metaphor for mental illness and memory loss, no one could have predicted that those fuzzed out, heavily sampled, ballroom ballads would have such a profound effect on Kirby’s future musical endeavors. When Kirby began the six-part ambient installment now known as Everywhere at the End of Time he publicly diagnosed his own musical persona, The Caretaker, with dementia. Each installment of the series charts the descent of The Caretaker into the blissful abyss of Alzheimer’s. With a total playback time of around six and a half hours, this album which opens with warm fuzzy tracks constructed out of samples of 20th century ballroom classics and ends with desperate, frigid, and elongated drone compositions which run for nearly half an hour each, this album easily claims the #1 spot on my list of albums to wander into Northwoods (and never come back) to.
#2 Grouper- Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
The album artwork which depicts Liz Harris (Grouper) as a child wandering through the woods wearing all black and copious amounts of eye shadow is frankly reason enough for this album to find a spot on this listicle, yet the twelve tracks of seamlessly sewn together heart-wrenching ambient psychedelic pop definitely don’t hurt. Similar to the opening tracks of The Caretaker album mentioned above, this album feels like a warm wool blanket one can wrap around their shoulders as they venture out along the Orange trail, never to return. The blissed out euphoria of a racehorse’s worth of Ketamine combined with the natural beauty of the woods in winter make this album the #2 on my list of best albums to listen to while wandering into Northwoods and never coming back.
#3 Midwife- Like Author, Like Daughter
For those readers who like the idea of walking into the woods and never coming back but wish it had more of a Nora Helmer vibe to it wherein you’re also walking out on your husband and kids to either live or die on your own terms, you’re in luck. This stunning 2017 release from Madeline Johnson is structured around playing crazy guitar progressions and then building off their feedback drone to create complex interwoven compositions. Yet, the album never loses itself in its own musical complexity but rather finds simplicity within that experimentation. Against contemplative guitar and searing distortion, Johnston declares she is, isn’t and once again, is ready to die. This searing piece of audio misery is perfect for the aforementioned goal of this listicle and I don’t have anything else to say about it!
Thanks for reading!
(I’ll add more albums if people are into it)