Taking a slightly different route away from the usual menswear and London life pieces to draw your attention to something else. I first discovered Stars of the Lid when I was about 15 on some Pitchfork “Best Albums of 2007” list for their album ‘… and Their Refinement of the Decline’. I just sort of fell in love with the artwork and decided it was worth a shot.
Stars of the Lid is a musical duo of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie. Over the past twenty years they’ve pretty much come to be respected as one of the pioneering artists in ambient/drone music, creating some of the most powerful music I’ve ever listened to. Their name comes from the idea of dreams and how every person has ‘your own personal cinema, located between your eye and eyelid’—thus, the Stars of your Lid. If that’s not profound enough to at least get your attention then check for a pulse.
Anyway, they started out working in dark rooms in Austin, Texas using DAT-Tape recorders and rudimentary equipment and have since gone on to living in different locations around the world, interacting through postal services and email, passing songs back and forth and creating music. I’m as much of a fan of club bangers as the next guy, but Stars of the Lid fascinate me as an act that create incredible sounds with so little. They’re really unlike anything else I’ve ever listened to. Even the guys themselves have admitted they never imagined an “ideal” listener to their music and are always amazed by how broad their appeal seems to be from punks to ravers to yoga instructors.
Moving on, what’s my point? Basically, the group’s two most recent albums—2001’s ‘The Tired Sounds of…’ and 2007’s ‘…and Their Refinement of the Decline’—have become pretty much cult classics in the ambient field and beyond. Vinyl copies sold out virtually immediately upon release and mint condition vinyl can now sell for as much as £150 which is pretty fucking mental.
Stars’ record label, Kranky Records of Chicago, recently announced they would be issuing 3LP vinyl re-releases of both of these albums. Obviously have a listen via your source of choice and see what you think, but if you enjoy it then you’ll hopefully immediately understand that these are two albums that are essential additions to your vinyl collection. You should head over to the Kranky website now for more information.
It’s now been more than 8 years since Wiltzie and McBride released and album, with fans getting more and more agitated by their absence. They recently announced a small series of increasingly rare live shows in North America, and there have been hints that they might make some European appearances in the near future. We’re talking church performances with live video projections and orchestral arrangements. If I manage to get to one of these shows I will be able to die happy. Anyway, in a recent Rolling Stone interview, McBride responded to inquiries about their silence thusly:
‘I mean, really, when you think of it, all this time that a record hasn’t been released — that was us releasing a record, but it was the most minimal record we’ve ever released and nobody knew it was a record.’
Mind fucking blown.
Visit Kranky’s website to learn more about the ‘Tired Sounds’ and ‘Refinement’ reissues and check out the videos below to get a feel for their music. Safe.