By ALICE WANG
It’s officially winter. The first snow is behind us. The degree of windchill has become inversely proportional to my will to live. Most store interiors now smell like the mulled cider spices incubating in Santa’s ass crack. And most importantly, Mariah Carey’s Christmas song started playing at Starbucks, filling me with equal parts joy and dread (okay, maybe 60:40 joy to dread). Nevertheless, it’s time to reluctantly abandon my summer playlists of rockabilly surf pop best befitting warm nights of top-down cruising in lieu of some wintry mixes. Yes, in this season of unshakeable Mondays, I need the emotional distance of Daughter to lull me into a state of impermeable melancholia. This probably comes off as more somber than I actually am — I promise only to pretend to be this tragic — but there’s nothing like red holiday cups and the onset of beanie season to make me evolve past the wubs and wobbles of hard-pounding hits for a sea of synth pulses and sparse falsettos. Here are some songs glacial enough to rival Ithaca’s arctic chill:
“Paranthesis” by Tricky feat. The Antlers
’90s trip-hop pioneer Tricky dropped this hit from his latest album, False Idols, as a reworking of The Antler’s original track titled, “Parantheses,” from their second studio release. The Antlers’ debut album Hospice was the go-to angst music of my high school years — as my friend so eloquently tweets, “Hospice, man: the album responsible for approximately 47% of the tears shed in my lifetime.” I recently caught their set at Le Poisson Rouge in the City, and I shit you not, the entire crowd of faux-lumberjack Williamsburgites was teary from (Antlers’s vocalist) Peter Silberman’s fragile falsetto. It really just hurt that good. Yet, Tricky’s version is impossibly more morose, layering his own dark mumblings under Peter Silbermann’s woozy vocals. Altogether, the track plays like a horror movie made sophisticated by the touch of an auteur, or like a battle against ever-encroaching hysteria. Simply put, it’s full of the beautiful delirium your masochistic side begs to partake in.
“Open” by Rhye
The enigmatic neo-soul outfit Rhye has released a number of tracks that both lyrically and sonically speak to the pain and passion of intimacy. “Open” was their first single, rife with their now signature sensual minimalism. Though not my favorite song by Rhye, I’m a sucker for a good opening line: “I’m a fool for that shake in your thighs / I’m a fool for that sound in your sigh.” Body positivity and nauseating sentimentality? Shit, it’s the aural equivalent of an ee cummings poem — the cadence of a sorrowful lullaby with impossibly ethereal finesse. The vocals conjure many comparisons to, well, satin sheets, with sounds so smooth no doubt 2003 Usher must play Rhye as mood music. Bold statement: “Open” could be the modern day Sade’s “By Your Side.” Boom.
“No Diggity” by Chet Faker
This Blackstreet cover combines two guilty pleasures of mine: ghettofabulousness and lo-fi electro textures. Together, it’s a song of velveteen luxury. Fortunately, “No Diggity” comprises no lyrics of Chet Faker’s own imagination, which is to say, the dude possesses comparable lyrical artistry to Ginuwine or Fabolous. Yeah, not good. Nevertheless, this track’s got the right lounge-y feel and grizzly vocals to lean the song more towards Abel Tesfaye’s ironic sexploitation and not, like, Nate Dogg’s overt barbarism — um, hopefully, I think.
“Winter Is All Over You (Baauer Remix)” by First Aid Kit
The same Baauer that brought you the “Harlem Shake” internet phenomenon has a SoundCloud full of No Doubt and Disclosure remixes. This one is most notable not only because it features the lovely and lovelier Swedish Soderberg sisters, but also for defying the standard trap and bass sampling library in choosing, of all things, a folk remix. Yes, because the only thing I’d want for my folk vocals, bereft of any distortion or sonic accoutrements, is, well, actually, some sonic accoutrements. Folk has never sounded less like a Bon Iver B-Side and more like hypnosis for drones … I mean, in a good way, of course.
“Claire De Lune” by Flight Facilities feat. Christine Hoberg
Flight Facilities, the Australian electropop duo of aeronautical engineers, has really made the rounds with “Claire De Lune,” after it’s initial release in 2012. The track, which reportedly took an entire year to produce, has received numerous iterations in the forms of remixes by Motez, Crazy P, Them Jeans, and Prins Thomas. Ahhh, nothing like besmirching the fine reverence of Debussy with some skittering snares. It’s right in all the ways that’s it wrong. Truly though, this song is perfect for subzero treks to class. As Hugo, one-half of Flight Facilities, says, “All we really wanted was to make a bed time song that anyone could put on repeat and eventually become unaware of where it starts or finishes.” Fortunately, with gloved fingers and dazed 8:40 existential crises, you won’t mind when you can’t swipe to a new track on your touch screen. In fact, it has just enough upkick in its tempo to wake you up in a chiming tropical reverie, just as the third repeat has you sailing into the Arts Quad.