I always had WUOG on the radio back in the day — not just as a fan, but as one of the college station's music directors — to make sure there was a good variety of music in rotation. But when a DJ had to pee or take a smoke break, I knew: They'd play a long song — more specifically, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not that there's anything wrong with GY!BE, just that there's more to drawn-out music than apocalyptic post-rock.
A long song is a great way to get lost, to engage with music that invites both wandering and deep listening. That's what this week's playlist on Spotify and Apple Music is all about. Alice Coltrane's raga-tinged Wurlitzer and her band's Afro Cuban polyrhythms make "Los Caballos" ecstatic music to cleanse your soul. Rafael Anton Irisarri smears the future-past in waves of distorted melody on "Solastalgia (Suite One)." Fela Kuti's "Zombie" blasts Afrobeat and the Nigerian military in a multi-front funk attack. There are so many ways to stretch out a sick riff or a wild groove.
In an era where streaming now affects the lengths of songs, my weekly Bandcamp dig unearths some extended jams across metal, spoken-word drone and disco-infected psych-rock. (Note: Some of these tracks can only be found on Bandcamp.)
Mizmor, "Desert of Absurdity"
Mizmor's sole member A.L.N. makes a habit out of side-long, blackened doom-metal dirges that grasp despair with riffs both blazing and lumbering. The opening track from Cairn introduces that sound with an acoustic melody that persists and ponders throughout its sulfurous rage.
Félicia Atkinson, "Des Pierres"
The French poet and composer's new album is one of the most engrossing ambient experiences of the year so far, a dense sound-world that moves at a timeless pace. The Flower and the Vessel closes with an 18-minute piece centered around a warm Fender Rhodes warped by whirring drone, not to mention Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen O'Malley adding a bit of feedback doom to Félicia Atkinson's soft spoken word.
Acid Mothers Temple, "Pink Lady Lemonade (Astral Disco Queen - Coda)"
"Pink Lady Lemonade" is Acid Mothers Temple's "Dark Star," so to speak, an enduring melody that's open to some very inter-planetary improvisation. I've seen the Japanese psych-rock band play several different versions of the song numerous times, but never with a disco groove locked into its hypnotic grip.
David Garland lives in the long — last year's stunning Verdancy was four hours of folkloric avant-chamber music! Vulneraries pares down those exploratory practices in a duo setting with his son Kenji, who connected David's electronics-enhanced 12-string guitar with a modular synth. The result buzzes with pastoral possibility, as if finger-style guitarist Robbie Basho took to some cosmic knob twiddling.
Kyle Bobby Dunn, "Years Later Theme"
From Here to Eternity suggests an infinite sadness — a Smashing Pumpkins reference not lost on ambient composer Kyle Bobby Dunn — but more importantly, an understanding that the existential present moves forward. There are cracks of light in this elegantly bleak sculpture of sound, just enough to peek at what's ahead.
Kasja Lindren, "Undercurrents"
It's right there in the Australian label's name and mission statement: Longform Editions seeks "expansive and immersive music pieces from around the world." This 40-minute leap into the deep blue void is my introduction to Kasja Lindren, who breaks up whirlpools of drone with moaning cello, vinyl crackle and howling sax.