Sound & Vision with Henry Jamison

Described by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker as a writer whose songs ‘sing me through mazes of my own sensuality and sadness, help me to feel less alone in the journey to understand myself more deeply and to face gaping wounds’, Henry Jamison’s position as one of America’s most revered, contemporary writers is secure. So much so that latest EP, Tourism, sees him able to call upon contributions from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Roste and recent Dead Oceans’ signee, Fenne Lily. It is an EP that is made to get lost in – a slow, meditative record that is as soothing as it is engaging.

These are Henry’s Sound & Vision picks:

Three Albums that I love:

Big Thief – Capacity

I was lucky enough to be out on tour with Big Thief in March of 2017 – a few months before Capacity came out. I was opening solo and driving myself down the West Coast. Buck from Big Thief sent me the record for my drive from Seattle to SF. I had already loved Adrianne’s songwriting for years, but the combination of driving down the 101 for the first time and hearing this was really almost too much. This record is devastating from top to bottom, though in such different ways, song to song. Listening to this for the first time, while passing through the redwoods and poor coastal towns, will always be one of my fondest memories.

James Blake – The Colour In Anything

This record is long and a bit spotty, but that’s part of what I like about it. Everything I liked about his first two is here, plus a few other modes he hadn’t shown before. It has moments where it just takes off and lets you vamp and others where there are very thoughtful musical moments that feel both intuitive and thoughtfully composed. Songs like the title track and Meet You In The Maze kind of reset me in terms of what I felt was possible for a pop song to include musically, though I haven’t done such things myself.

Angelo de Augustine – Tomb

Angelo’s name is perfect for him. He feels like he’s somewhat from a different realm. Really all of his songs are good. This record was produced by Thomas Bartlett, who did my last full-length. And the combination of Angelo’s songwriting and Thomas’ production is really beautiful. I find myself a bit envious of the songs sometimes, though I do try to just appreciate them without that feeling. It’s only because we do similar things, but there’s a lightness to Angelo’s touch that I often struggle to find. His melodies feel effortless, like you can’t see any moving parts.

My favourite film:

La Cienaga by Lucretia Martel

My favorite movie is Andrei Rublev by Tarkovsky, but in a pretty masochistic way: it’s very very long and slow. So because I can’t really recommend it without caveats, I’ll recommend a more immediately enjoyable one: La Cienaga by Lucretia Martel. It’s about an Argentinian family; just a series of events in their lives, but told very lovingly and also ominously. The boys are up the mountain, shooting rifles, the girls are lounging around, the adults are drinking and smoking by the pool. And a narrative does unfold, but in a hazy way. The acting is completely natural and the sound treatment creates a very palpable atmosphere (lots of tactile, close mic-ing of glasses clinking etc.), which I think is why I’ve seen it about five times.

A book that I love:

Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space has been very helpful to me in approaching writing. It’s philosophy or maybe psychology, but really it’s not easily categorizable at all. He’s writing about houses. Pretty much every aspect of them, but I always think of his poetic approach to corners in particular. It’s a certain kind of daydreaming that he justifies philosophically, really calling it the highest of human callings, in the end. He notices the ways the mind works when its left off its tether, floating around the room, seeing shapes, subtle shades of colour etc. And that’s how most good art is made, in that freedom of imagining.

A song that I love:

Talk by Lomelda

I love Lomelda, particularly her record Thx. But this is the first track on her last record M is for Empathy. It’s just got a simple tenderness that I love and I sing it a lot to myself. It’s very short (1:11), so I’ve put it on loop while I clean my room or do some drawing. It’s like it’s ambitiously unambitious, which is a rare thing. I remember there was this band, Neva Dinova, who I would describe that way. And sometimes Mike Kinsella from American Football will get there, but I think Lomelda is the best at it.

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