The first thing I ever heard by Bodies Of Water wasn’t from one of their own records. I heard a song they did for the Aquarium Drunkard curated tribute album Ram On L.A., a brilliant compilation of L.A. artists covering the songs of Paul McCartney’s brilliant masterwork, Ram. Their cover of “Dear Boy” gets right to the heart of the song.
But the band aren’t just a bunch of McCartney sound-alikes. Quite the contrary actually. They may be able to carry that same “tough Paul” sound and even the “bohemian Paul” sound in their work, but their music is a complicated blend of indie pop. Sometimes it’s spooky and sometimes it’s oddly atmospheric.
Consistently, however, the music carries this mysterious weight with it. Songs like “Our Friends Appear Like the Dawn” just sound important, like they would be listened to by romantics during some faux revolution. It’s rock music to drink wine to, like the world’s going to end the next day (that is if you’re not listening to The Stooges or something more visceral).
Bodies Of Water – “Dear Boy” (from Ram On L.A.)
Currently, the band is working on a new album. For now, here are their five (actually six), courtesy of David in the band.
1) Maurice Ravel – “Rapsodie Espagnole” and John Adams – “Shaker Loops” – “I put these together because they are somehow analagous (Ravel and Satie have always seemed like proto-minimalists). Both of these pieces kind of disguise the ostinato parts with these variations on harmonic color and timbre (obviously Ravel disguises them more than Adams), but that repetition keeps moving it forward. I guess the concept of ‘loops’ is literally taken from splicing tape together, but Ravel’s looping stuff way before tape (‘Bolero’ may be the most famous loop ever). I’ve been listening to ‘Shaker Loops’ as I type, and noticing that the last minute of it sounds a ton like Steve Reich’s music for 18 musicians.”
2) Meredith Monk – “Three Heavens And Hells” (from Volcano Songs) – “The lyrics of the song are a poem that Tennessee Reed wrote when she was 11. I read that M. Monk doesn’t, for the most part, write out scores for her music. I’m not sure how this one went down—how they organized it. I’d be surprised if these ladies memorized their parts—the piece is 20 minutes long. I have to look into this. I’m really into the part that starts around 3:45.”
3) Charles Mingus – “Meditations on Integration” (from The Great Charles Mingus Concert) – “He retroactively titled the recording of this that I have been listening to ‘Praying with Eric’ or something like that. The version I have was recorded in NY right before this group went on tour in Europe and Eric Dolphy died. I love the warbly film-strip feel of the bowed bass.”
4) Quintet Of The Hot Club Of France – “Night and Day” (from Parisian Swing) – “Django Reinhardt gets all the laurels, but Stephane Grapelli is just as great. Is he also a gypsy? How did they meet? I need to look into this, too. Django has inspired this weird little alternative universe of acoustic guitar shredders, go on YouTube and see what I mean. It’s a macho vibe, but a European kind of machismo. When you go back and listen to Django after hearing what he inadvertently spawned, his playing seems really lazy and tasteful.”
5) Roy Orbison – “In Dreams” (from In Dreams) – “I haven’t listened to it in a little while, but I found myself singing it as I drove yesterday. Right now I am in our RV on the way up to the Pacific Northwest. We are playing some shows up here. I think this is my favorite Roy Orbison song—have you seen Blue Velvet? The scene where the lady puts ‘In Dreams’ on the stereo and starts dancing on the roof of the car was the first time I heard this song. Roy Orbison is probably my favorite singer—robust and tremulous at the same time. It’s intense stuff.”