The catalyst for something like this post first sparked 11 years ago when I worked at a deli, bakery, coffee, and wedding cake house called The Cakery. I was talking with a coworker – Susan Hinck I think – about the sense memory experience of pairing a gripping book with a great album. The example I used at the time was A Perfect Circle’s “Mer de Noms” to accompany Dan Simmons‘ Hyperion in my next to last year of high school.
20 years later, I suspect I would be unable to listen to the album without automatically reaching for a copy of the book. Full disclosure, it has been a decade or more since I’ve listened to A Perfect Circle, Hyperion however, is among the top 5 novels I read and listen to repeatedly. Were I pairing it now, I’d probably lean more toward an ominous drone crescendo. Maybe a playlist of The Last Ambient Hero or the Droneflower album on loop.
In any case, Susan suggested I make a practice of sharing my personal pairings. The concept has been trundling around my head since. At this point I’m certain there are others on the planet doing the same thing. Nonetheless, this week will mark the first in a group of /pairing posts. The concept has grown more fluid over time to include television, comic, and beverage suggestions along with albums and books. Obviously it would be difficult to pair all these things in the same moment, so I’m thinking more of a day or days spent engaging them sequentially with some overlap between beverages and everything, music and books, etc.
Weird Walk is a brilliantly produced collection of stories, interviews, articles, and reviews all revolving around the conscious practice of walking through nature, among overgrown ruins, and maintaining awareness of spiritual gravity. In its own words the zine explores: folklore, hauntology, and psychogeography. There have been three publications so far – Weird Walk 1, Weird Walk 2, and Magic Circle. The walk originates in Wessex and I eagerly await the next go round.
Here’s a quote –
“Perhaps there was something in the air around the spring and summer of 1971. Two days after the final episode of The Dæmons was broadcast, the second Glastonbury Fayre was held. There were sketchy reports of UFO sightings on the night of the solstice and Bowie performed an acoustic set as the third day dawned.”
~from Séance Fiction in Weird Walk 2 by Stephen Dowell
Weird Walk 1 introduced me to dungeon synth and it is now a part of my daily life. A subgenre of ambient music designed to accompany the exploration of ancient ruins…yes please.
Thus far Fief is what I’m listening to on repeat, but all the d-synth is worth some exploration if ambient is up your alley…or heath. Old Tower and Thangorodrim are two other options that spring immediately to mind.
Ciderwise I’ve tapped my sister for a dry cider recommendation or two and her suggestions are JK Scrumpy and Bristol. I also enjoy FarCider locally, but it may not be available widely outside northern California.
For a darker turn and some harrowing war horror history pair Sara by Garth Ennis with Band of Brothers from HBO – though they take place in different perspectives, the timbre is similar and both are absolutely gripping. The picture-less book pairing here for me is Reporting World War II from the Library of America – though it might be obvious to pick up Band of Brothers in book form.
My beverage pairing with Sara or BoB is a Potato vodka straight up – Boyd & Blair, Chopin, or Luksusowa are all excellent options – or a vodka based cocktail (A minty mule is my personal preference), another route entirely is Vat 69 Whisky. My musical pairing here is from another HBO miniseries – the song is Vichnaya Pamyat from the final scenes of Chernobyl on endless loop.
Minty Mule Recipe:
1 Lime, Ginger Beer (I like Bundaberg) about 1/2 glass depending on glass size – use your judgement, 1 shot/jigger Vodka, 1-2 clapped mint leaves, 1 mint leaf for garnish (optional), fresh sliced ginger for garnish (optional)
My first step is to ‘clap’ a mint leaf or two between my palms to awaken flavor and aroma. I drop these leaves in the bottom of each glass. If I’m hankering for additional ginger I’ll slice and crush a bit to place in the bottom of the glass with the mint before pouring the ginger beer. Next, I’ll squeeze in the juice from half the lime, splitting it between the two glasses. Next, a shot of vodka for each glass before gently adding ice and stirring. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 Lime, one quarter for each glass, a mint leaf, and sliced fresh ginger if you are so inclined.