Gems for The Insomniac: 4 A. M. Riddims by Adam Kasturi
Insomnia can be quite a real bitch at times. But it can also provide the best moments to just sit and retrospect on life, ideas, and stuff. Here, I’ve handpicked 10 tracks that best described and suited my insomnia episode, and to amplify feels.
1. Manix – Reach Out
A straight classic from Manix off his Heading To The Light album. Released in 1993 via legendary label Reinforced Records, this tune shows a rare side within the whole hardcore/rave spectra. When its signature piano stabs drop together with half-melancholic and bright vocal of Marie Antoinette, you know straight away that it’s a banger. The glass is indeed half full. Perfect choon to listen to when I’m having a shitty day/night.
2. The Durutti Column – Never Known
Vini Reilly is undoubtedly one my favourite guitarists of all time, and also in my view one of the most innovative artists off Factory Records. The vocals are almost indecipherable here but blend well with the phased guitar, crystalline riffs and all. The ending is so on point, especially when he sings, “The lines of expression/ The patterns of place/ The patterns of youth/ The patterns of love/ Don’t turn away/ Say my name.”
3. Y.M.O – Perspective
Here, OG Ryuichi Sakamoto sings about the trivial in a zen-like manner (“Every day I brush my teeth/ Every day I read the paper”), almost subtly questioning our false sense of security and routine that we blanket ourselves every day. When the chorus hits, it offers listeners some kinda perspicacious and stoic sentiment towards the depraved human condition. A well-balanced dosage of pop music and something of substance.
4. Miki Matsubara – Stay With Me
This is one of my all time favourite citypop songs. It’s all about aesthetics here. The vocal harmonies, big band sound, arrangement, and groove all wrapped up together, forming a perfect luminous love song. Too special. I just love everything about the song from beginning to end. Oh ya, total babe alert – Miki-chan definitely deserves an appreciation day.
5. Drakhma – Tiada Kusadari
Can’t sleep cause you just stalked the qt you once had a major crush on for a long time, or you just had a weird dream about your exes out of the blue? Play this one for maximum feels. While you’re at it, try Harry Roesli’s ‘Cerita Dua Remaja’ too, and Chrisye’s ‘Terus Berlari’ for strength and weight. You’re welcome.
6. Grouper – Alien Observer
Liz Harris’ voice and music can quickly transport me to an isolated, dreamy, and desolated space continuum that sounds close to home while effortlessly reminding me of who we all truly are. Here, the song vibrates harmoniously in its signature minimalistic music structure; “less intimidating” dark tone, muffled rhodes, acting almost like a spaceship that carries Harris’ ethereal vocals, inviting listeners to its sacred and intimate world. Everything here is poetry. Beautiful record through and through. ‘Water People‘, released in the same year, works best as a perfect companion piece to ‘Alien Observer’.
7. inc. – Angel
The Aged brothers’ take on the neo-r’n’b soundscape is nothing short of charm and elegance. Been championing them for a while now. This song stood out to me the most – the woozy guitar sound and whisper-like vocal delivery are just perfection, especially when he sings, “But I know that you walk with the devil/ But I’ll never hold it against you.” Taken off their debut full-length album No World, released on 4AD. Check out the post-apocalyptic-esque video for ‘Black Wings‘ too.
8. Groundislava – Girl Behind The Glass
The video treatment for ‘Girl Behind The Glass’ really complements the song very well. You can’t help but immediately be sucked into its futuristic digital realm, while feeling exactly like the protagonist as he roams the opalescent and alternate universe of the lonesome modern nightlife in RPG-esque style. Reminds me of the movie Enter The Void a lil bit. The low-res digitised raindrops that just keep falling in the early part of the video scream Blade Runner‘s well-known ‘Tears in Rain’ monologue in my ears, doe. Brilliant.
9. Kassem Mosse – Workshop 19
Gunnar Wendel needs no introduction really. He has been releasing some serious innovative and intriguing work in recent years and Workshop 19 proves to be his most refined vision to date — the bar is definitely raised. A straight up cult classic and bomb-ass record for electronic music fans who are keen for progression. Check out the mixtape he did called Shopping, you won’t be disappointed. I usually grouped him alongside artists like Andy Stott and Nicolas Jaar.
10. Bladee – 4AM
I just need to end the list with this special track. “In the city, late night, I’m on a quest/ I remember some things I want to forget/ 4AMMMMMM, it’s close again/ I’m not gonna let you know where I am~”