Every Sunday morning I get up early and have some coffee and reading time before the rest of the family wakes up. I usually put on some quiet music in the background, and as I was listening to today’s choice I realized that it’s an album that will forever remind me of Pandemic Times.
I started thinking about the albums I listened to a lot during those lockdown months in 2020 and 2021, and how they served different purposes. Sometimes I was looking for comfort, sometimes for distraction, sometimes for the sound of what that time felt like. So I thought I’d share the 3 albums that will, for me, forever be inextricably linked to the pandemic.
Future Predictions by Celer
Celer’s music would fit into the ambient/drone genre, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this album really captures the feeling of those first few months of the pandemic. It came out just as things were starting to get bad, and apart from the eery ominousness of that title, the album perfectly represents the exhausting, endless repetitiveness of the lockdowns and home schooling. From the Bandcamp page:
Future Predictions is a set of ensemble pieces made with tape loops, from digital and acoustic instruments, field recordings and foley sounds. With a focus on introspection and imagination, each piece begins with all layers playing, with minimal additional long-term structural development in order to maintain a state.
The first few listens were mostly disturbing to me… but over time, the purpose of “maintaining a state” became incredibly calming. I now return to this one often (it’s what I put on this morning) to help center myself if I am having a particularly tumultuous day.
Double Negative by Low
This came out in 2018 but I only started to listen to it on repeat when the pandemic started. No other album comes close to being the sound of 2020/2021. It is chaotic and distorted, but there’s a weird beauty in it if you can look past all of that. The Bandcamp description is pretty spot on here as well:
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise.
Best paired with headphones and darkness, for when you want to feel despair—and in that, somehow, come out the other side feeling better.
Ultra Mono by IDLES
IDLES is a completely bonkers band and I have no business liking this album. It is so far outside of what I usually listen to that I can’t even remember how it first ended up in my ears. But again, it somehow struck a huge chord during the pandemic and there were a few weeks where I listened to nothing else.
If you need the feeling of being completely, utterly out of control, while realizing all you can do is laugh about it and keep going… this album is for you.
This is the part where I’d love to hear your picks. What albums will always remind you of the pandemic, and why?