Tuesday, March 04, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded Kevin Church's mix, Music For Reading 001. It's ambient music of the sort that plays on Echoes on xpn. Music I never had much use for, to be honest, because Echoes was always on the radio late at night, and it would always lull me into sleep while I was driving. I can hear the deejay's dulcet tones: "I'm John Diliberto, and you're listening to Echoes, music to scrape the guardrail by." So smooth you're dead afterward.

But this mix... it's something else. The music is the same sort of ambient (Ambien?) stuff, but the context in which I'm listening to it makes all the difference. Instead of controlling a ton of bone-crushing machinery, I'm sitting on a train. I read for a little bit, as Kevin suggests... and then I put the book or comic down and close my eyes.

The first time I did this, the conductor had to bang on the train window to wake me up. I was in the soundest sleep I've ever had on a train. It was winter-coat, cocooned bliss. Since then I've queued up the mix a half dozen times, and each time found myself drifting off as the music drowns out the other passengers, including a cell-phone woman next to me this morning. It's wonderful.

And waking up with these swirling, engulfing sounds in your ears? It's like being born into a science fiction movie. Everything is new. For a while, you have a hard time distinguishing which sounds come from life and which are only in the headset. I keep the music going through my walk through Penn Station, only switching to other, more worldly stuff as I emerge onto the New York City streets. I drift past the pretzel stands and magazine shop neon, my eyes full of wonder.

One word of caution: This mix is powerful stuff. Don't listen while operating heavy machinery. Prepare to take the train to the end of the line.



EchoesRadio said...

Hey Man-
Thanks for the mention, I think. I have to say that lines like "it would always lull me into sleep while I was driving" are the most tired cliche as regards Echoes. In fact, while it is true that people think it's the highest compliment to tell me they go to sleep with Echoes, we get just as many people saying it provides an imagistic, almost cinematic soundtrack for endeavors like driving, especially at night. Truckers station hop at night, driving up the Northeast to keep Echoes on. Perhaps after hearing this music in a different context you can listen to Echoes with new ears. Personally, I'll have to give Kevin Church's mix a spin myself.
John Diliberto www.echoes.org

Rob S. said...

John, thanks for stopping by. I have to say, I *do* plan to download some of your podcasts and listen to your music in this new context. I'm a bad one for drifting off in the car, and need really bouncy, energetic music (or talk radio about an interesting subject) to keep me awake at night. I've listened to Echoes a few times in the car and have learned that it's not a safe thing for me to do (at least during it's late-night time-slot; I haven't tried time-shifting it to the daylight hours).

But Kevin's mix has really opened my eyes/ears, and I really do intend to explore this music further.

Sorry about the cliche, and thanks for reaching out.

Don said...

I get the same kind of engulfed, detached feeling when I listen with headphones to the soundtrack from Solaris, though it's not really sleepy - just repetitive and hypnotic. In a good way. Thanks for the recommendation - I'm d/ling it now.

Nicole Maynard-Sahar said...

This is EXACTLY what you need if the obnoxious guy at work bugs you again.