Destroyer have spent almost two decades running away from themselves.
The Canadian group are prone to enormous aesthetic shifts between albums, with the Vancouver outfit readily drawing a line in the sand across previous work.
New album 'Poison Season' will be released on August 28th, sitting somewhere between the plastic funk of The Style Council or 'Let's Dance' era David Bowie and the art rock of their earlier albums.
Creative lynchpin Dan Bejar agreed to name his foundational albums for Clash - check out the results below.
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Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht - 'Mack The Knife'
This song became something of an obsession for me for a little while. It seems to me like a very important protest song, maybe the most important one, though it's usually just thought of as a slightly goofy murder ballad. I guess that is Brecht.
Anyway, something about 2012/13 had me thinking about those things more than usual. And yet you kind of end up routing for the villain described, and the sinister world described therein is gross but enticing. Art does that.
I think 'Mack The Knife' is yet to have it's definitive English language rendition, I think there's room for something other than cabaret and swinging jazzier numbers. Also, the 70s translation gets at the real sinister heart - "violated in her slumber, Mackie how much did you charge?" The song is essentially just a list of gruesome crimes done for money.
Anyway, this was the first music I was thinking about when I first started thinking about making another Destroyer record.
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Van Morrison - 'Born To Sing: No Plan B'
A big record for me in 2012 and 2013 and still to this day. Probably solidifying Van Morrison as the guiding light in the Destroyer world, that sounds gross but it's just true. 'Born To Sing: No Plan B' mostly just sounds like what I like a band to sound like. Which I guess means incredibly old and kind of into jazz. Like 'Mack The Knife', a deeply political work.
Van's world-sadness and bitterness and loss seem perfect to me in songs like 'Going Down To Monte Carlo', which is a blues song about driving along the French Riviera to clear your head, because the world bugs you. An anti-capitalist record.
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Scott Walker - 'Scott 3'
Maybe overall I was more listening to Frank Sinatra and the last few Billie Holliday records when I first started really thinking about throwing my lot in with "crooner" music. But 'Scott 3' is the kernel. It has been one of my favourite albums for almost 20 years now. I love the Wally Stott arrangements.
I was watching a bit of Watership Down a couple days ago, a film whose music always really stuck with me since I was kid, and was only a bit surprised to see that Angela Morley (Wally Stott's post 72 sex-change name) was credited when I looked up the score. The over-the-top romanticism and dissonance in the arrangements. The awkwardness and over-reachingness of the poetry and gutter portraits. A voice that is perfect and insane. I guess I like those things.
'Scott 3' lands on the right side of ambition in art making, maybe cause beauty and sadness are so constantly present. I seem to always go back to this record whenever rock music is feeling pointless.
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'Last Tango In Paris' OST
I love the Gato Barbieri / Oliver Nelson combo of lush doomed strings and gritty Latin wailing. And it goes without saying Marlon Brando is one of my favourite artists of all time. The movie itself is kind of goofy, maybe just bad. But I was thinking about movies al ot when making 'Poison Season', and this soundtrack has always really stuck with me. I also was thinking a lot about Nino Rota and his classic Fellini soundtracks, especially 'La Dolce Vita' and '8 1/2'. Two movies which I've watched endlessly, and which inform everything Destroyer does probably.
I was gearing up to dive into Italian singers, also. For the first time ever. Luigi Tenco, Piero Ciampi. And of course Paolo Conte... Later on I would start thinking about 'Superfly' and 'Shaft' alot, but that was more analytic. Though I've since become obsessed with Isaac Hayes' 'Walk On By'.
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Joni Mitchell - 'Don Juan's Reckless Daughter'
The fusion of disparate influences into a specific single voice is something I think about. Or at least thought about when making 'Poison Season'. I'll hopefully stop thinking about it at some point cause it seems like a weird thing to harp on.
Anyway, Joni Mitchell to me is the apex of this "fusion" music. She paid the price with her career, but that's fine. Her string of records from 'Hissing Of Summer Lawns' to 'Mingus' is still the best run of art that I know of. 'Paprika Plains' on 'Don Juan's Reckless Daughter' is a song around which the heart of 'Poison Season' orbits, staring longingly.
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'Poison Season' will be released on August 28th.