Thursday, October 20, 2011


I listen to and am inspired by a lot of music, but the album that has most directly influenced Autohypnosis over the past few years is Portishead's self-titled release from 1997.

I was a fan of their single "Sour Times" (from their first album, Dummy) in the mid-'90s, but after that I didn't listen to them for years. It was in 2004 that I got introduced to the self-titled album, and I immediately connected with it.

Crashing beats. Dark, moody, mysterious instrumental music. And Beth Gibbons' tortured vocals that are intermittently -- and sometimes simultaneously -- frail and aggressive. These elements combine to form one of the most unique works of music I've ever heard.

I think part of the reason I felt such a strong connection is that I heard in their music some of the things I hoped to accomplish with my own, particularly in terms of combining big beats with nuanced but kind of dirty-sounding instrumental music. After getting a good sampling of that album for the first time and feeling very inspired, I quickly came up with the drum beat that drives my song "The Numbers." (Listen here.)

As the years have passed, that album has remained a favorite to listen to and an inspiration. It's pretty common for artists of any medium to discover works by others that they feel they're constantly chasing, in terms of trying to achieve that level of greatness. There are a few albums that fit that scenario for me, and Portishead is near the top of the list.

On Tuesday of this week, I got to see Portishead live for the first time. While they only did two songs from the self-titled album ("Over" and "Cowboys"), it was an incredible show, and it has me reenergized for creating more music.


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