The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Really Heavy Things: Devin Townsend's Favourite Albums
Toby Cook , December 18th, 2012 13:18

…well, apart from Enya. The Strapping Young Lad man offers up his top albums


Stravinsky – The Rite Of Spring
To be honest, I couldn’t get online to check the actual version of it – I think it’s the one with the sort of cartoon-y looking cover – because of course everybody who performs this is going to do it differently under different conductors and whatever, and the one version that I’m thinking of particularly has slipped my mind unfortunately.

Classical music for me is a hard pill to swallow, I like it’s when it’s broad and really obvious – like I love the Star Wars soundtrack, like "oh here comes Darth Vader", you can tell because it’s Darth Vader sounding; or "here’s the rebels" and you can tell because it sounds victorious – I like those broad strokes of emotion. But a lot of the people I know who are into classical music, a lot of the time they’re these sort of beret wearing, clove cigarette smoking, elitist douche-bags who make me feel like a schmuck because I don’t understand Bartok or something – I’ve listened to it and it doesn’t really say anything to me emotionally, like, nothing. I’ve got this buddy that is always liking these things that sound like a dude just throwing down random notes and he’s like "isn’t it brilliant?" And I’m like, "well, it doesn’t say shit!" It’s the same thing that I disliked about Zappa’s music – it wasn’t that Zappa was unemotional, Zappa was so technically astounding and so far in a different league than I’ll ever be that that’s not even up for debate. However, the notes that he chose did fucking nothing for me – I would listen to Zeppelin way more than I would listen to Frank Zappa because Zeppelin said something to me with the note choice – like ‘Friends’ or ‘Kashmir’ or any of that shit – it really said something to me. But Zappa, when he’s all like "doodle, doodle, beep, beep, bap…" I’m just like "yep, that must be hard to play". It’s the same with all this sort of, cork sniffing classical music where you just say, "yeah, it sounds like a bunch of dissonance, that I hear is brilliant, but makes me feel nothing except for annoyed." Stravinsky was able to take all that sort of disparate, dissonant, atonal and rhythmically obscure shit and condense it into these walls of sound that made you feel something very particular.

The Rite Of Spring is pretty much one of the heaviest pieces of music ever written and you can you put it together with Lugosi or Bartok and it compares in that it’s sort of avant garde classical stuff, but it lurches and imposes itself in a way where it uses that avant garde stuff to a very fucking distinct end – it’s like he’s trying to get across this sense of the season and the idea of it being these imposing walls, and so all that dissonance and avant garde shit is used almost like he’s painting with it as opposed to just jacking of with it. I think Stravinsky in general has had more of an effect on music, arguably, than a lot of these big composes, even back to Chopin and Mozart – I think that Stravinsky has had more of an effect in modern music than any of those guys and I think that The Rite Of Spring is a summary of it too – The Firebird is great but The Rite Of Spring man, it’s like, if you put yourself into a listening environment where you’ve got a perfect recording of that done well – that’s some pretty scary fucking music.