Jeff Ryan, the multi-instrumentalist behind the atmospheric post-rock moniker myopic, seems hesitant to stand still for any appreciable amount of time. Having played drums for artists such as St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, and Baptist Generals, Ryan is no stranger to the kind of cathartic indie soundscapes that seem to be part and parcel of the artists with whom he has worked. His latest release We Were Here plays with the kind of ambient athemicism of bands like Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky but manages to carve out a unique position among his post-rock peers. By appealing to the gradual build and release aesthetic of bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion, Ryan’s music feels vaguely familiar, while also sounding like more than just the sum of its influences. He was kind enough to sit down with Beats Per Minute recently to talk about a few records which have influenced the way in which he approaches his own music. Ranging from the pop perfection of Robyn Hitchcock to the fractured indie stylings of Sparklehorse and the ambient experimentalism of King Creosote, Ryan’s choices—and the resulting influences—can be seem scattered throughout the music on We Were Here. Read his descriptions of these records in the latest installment of our On Deck feature.
This record is so special to me for many different reasons. I’ve been to Scotland now many times now because my wife is from there and we try to make a yearly trip back to visit family and go exploring in and around the area she’s from, which is known as the Kingdom of Fife along with trips up to the Highlands. I became aware of King Creosote about 8 years ago after reading an article in Mojo about his small diy label called Fence Records. I just fell in love with the aesthetic and spirit of that label. It’s still completely hands on, they do everything themselves still packaging records and having the artists run the marketing side of the label. It’s just a very organic process, and I’m always a sucker for that.
So, fast forward to 2011 when Diamond Mine was released on Domino. Again, I knew of King Creosote and had a few songs but never a full record until I heard the track “Bats in the Attic” on BBC6 Music one day. I literally, had to stop what i was doing and just listen to the track in it’s entirety. After buying the LP and understanding the story of it, I was completely blown away by the sincerity and depth that this album had achieved. It depicts life in and around Fife, in particular, a beautiful fishing village named Anstuther, and even has small clips of Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote, sitting with his collaborating partner, experimental artist Jon Hopkins sitting in small cafes. You can hear the clinking of the plates and glasses and the Scottish accents chatting away, it’s just very transcendental. It really embraces what I love so much which is combining the organic with the electronic, and they do it very well. My top album of 2011, hands down.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about this band until a couple of years ago. They just kind of flew under my radar for some reason. This record is so dense, sonically though, it’s really an amazing listen, and I keep going back to it hearing new nuances and sounds. I love hearing the brickwalling of guitars with the motorik drums, and the soundscapes in between the actual songs are as enjoyable as the songs themselves and add real depth to the record. It may sound self congratulatory that I listed this record, because I was lucky enough to play drums on one of the tracks, thanks to my good friend John Congleton, but honestly, I play this record weekly, sometimes daily, it inspires me still that much.
I was lucky enough to see R.E.M. on the GREEN tour and the supporting act was this quirky, whimsical storyteller with a very Barrett-ish nasal like tenor voice that I still, despite the obvious comparisons, find beguiling and beautiful. Robyn Hitchcock turned 60 last week, and this album Queen Elvis that he released in ’89, to me has only ripened with age. He has this fantasy-esque, sickly English aura around him, going so far as to write this loquacious, mind untangling, stream of consciousness fairy tale dream about devils, phoneboxes, and graveyards. Peter Buck guests and to me is a true gem on this record, especially on the track “Swirling,” where he does his signature, melodic/arpeggiated guitar stylings that only enhances the simple, beautiful story of of the track. Hitchcock’s a truly a gifted artist, that luckily is still putting out albums and has become a British legend in his own right.
The first time I heard Mark Linkous was when I heard The Dancing Hoods, his first band. My brother had their second album, Hallelujah Anyway, that we used to play nonstop at our parent’s house. I remember thinking how unique his voice was and something about his songwriting, even then, seemed classic.
I fell in love with this record while on tour in Europe, years ago with my band Pleasant Grove. Sometimes, all those things align to really make a unique listening experience.This album came out the year that I started being very serious about music, and I think this record had alot to do with that decision. I finally heard, again, the mixing of the acoustic and electronic, the near perfect sounds of all these instruments melding with the simple, yet heart wrenching melodies that still make me want to play the song “Sea of Teeth,” over and over again.
From the very first note of this record, when it sounds like a Wurlitzer and organ are being piped in from some strange melodic dream to the last track, where it almost sounds like a plea for help, in “Comfort Me” it has me in it’s grip and won’t let go.
Simulacra Records has myopic’s We Were Here for sale now at their website.