3 Albums That Perfectly Capture The Essence of Autumn

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Autumn is literally everything I love in life.

If it were possible to live in a place where it was fall year-round, I would sell a kidney and half my liver to live there. Crisp nights, cool days, misty mornings, spiced tea, apple cider, pumpkin picking, hayrides, wood fires... I could drone endlessly on, but you get the idea. 

My favorite thing is to explore during the fall. I live near the Virginia mountains, so gorgeous scenery is always only a car ride away. And what's the point of having an amazing vista if you don't have an appropriately amazing soundtrack to go with it?

Now, for some reason, autumn is the time where I go "Yes, everything must be acoustic and preferably inspired by Medieval Europe/the Renaissance/Baroque/traditional Chinese music/resonance instruments in general". I blame my friends. One of the movies we made back in the day was filmed in the fall, and the soundtrack we put together for it had a lot of Renaissance/Medieval/Baroque inspired music on it, and I guess that must have imprinted on me a love for such music during this season. 

Now, I won't subject you to my autumn playlist- yet- but the 3 albums I've selected all have very strong acoustic and/or classical components. 

In addition to these sounds, I also like to listen to music that's bright, but melancholy. That's what autumn feels like to me, honestly. It’s a beautiful season, but a sad one too- the nights get longer, the foliage fades away, and always running beneath the beautiful days and clear nights is the knowledge of the oncoming winter, of the cold and the dark that waits at the end of it all.

These albums, to me, also perfectly capture this feeling, this beauty that is enriched by the awareness of its impermanence.

Secondhand Rapture- MS MR

Originally I bought their EP, Candy Bar Creep Show, and liked it enough that I knew I would have to buy the album when it came out. And I'm so glad I did! Now, I’m incredibly ADHD and I find it hard to sit through albums that are too slow. SR has none of that; all of its songs are utter jams. “Bones”, in fact, is the song that I consider to be the “opening credits” of Sylvanlight- more on that later. Lizzy Plapinger’s voice is a contradiction- clear and yet can have this rough quality to it in certain parts, and I love it. Max Hershenow creates intriguing soundscapes that are different in every song- yet the whole album doesn’t feel disjointed, but cohesive. They’ve been compared to Florence and the Machine, and I think that’s a very apt comparison. Both acts have an almost “baroque pop” feel to them. Florence in fact is another artist who makes frequent appearances on my autumn playlists, but her two CDs don’t feel as autumnal as a whole, unlike Secondhand Rapture. It still makes me sick that I had to miss their tour for this album.

Enchant- Emilie Autumn

It would take quite a few more blog posts to explain the significance of Emilie Autumn to my life, so I’m not going to even try and I’ll just settle for saying that she’s one of my “ride or die” artists- creative people who have influenced my own endeavors. I discovered her Enchant era one fall, and during that time I listened to pretty much nothing else, especially during art class. The whole Enchant era comprises about 24 songs, including remixes and b-sides, and I wish there had been more. The actual album itself spans quite a few genres, from hip-hop to jazz to classical and then back again via rock. If Middle Earth had punk rock, Enchant would be it. However, at the time she was very inspired by baroque and medieval music, and it shows, because this early baroque feel is present in all the songs, no matter how jazzy or punk they get.

And you know how much of a sucker I am for early baroque music in the fall…

The lead single from Enchant was "Chambermaid", a punkish number which showcases a hint of her later-to-be-iconic electric violin. However, I feel that this was actually not the best choice. To me, the best songs on the album are "Juliet", "Rose Red", and "Epilogue: What If". I literally can’t choose between any of them; it’s gutting to try and figure out which one to feature in this post. Those songs also feature what I feel is the best descriptor of the album: renaissance pop. I would donate my other kidney to have more music in this “genre”, but she moved away from it for her next era, which is crushing because no one else seems to do anything similar. There’s a lot of people out there performing music from the renaissance era, but no one melding that sensibility with more modern genres. I want to hear interpretations, not just replications. How dare she introduce me to this and then peace out?? Doesn’t she know that some random person 10 years later would need more???

I finally decided to go with "Rose Red", as I feel it best captures the album as a whole (and really should have been the lead single). But really, the whole album has a wistful beauty to it- perfect for fall.

Eden- Sarah Brightman

My ultimate ride-or-die artist. As a teenager, my friends and I were utterly obsessed with her. I have all of her DVDs and one of my life goals is to obtain the elusive Classics special. I’ve watched all of her concerts at least twice, and her Harem DVDs multiple times. No one else has influenced me in the manner she has.

I’m sure this is ridiculous to people who aren’t as familiar with her, especially if your only association is that she did Phantom approximately two centuries ago. But she has actually been quite an innovator since POTO; her and Andrea Bocelli both jump started the classical crossover genre in the early-to-mid 90s. However, unlike the others who followed after, Sarah has never let the conventions of the genre confine her. While others were content to wear tuxes or ball gowns and stand in front of an orchestra for all their photo shoots, music videos, and tours, Sarah always took it to the next level. She did that for the Timeless tour, and then after went “LOL no that’s boring” and basically went Cher on us with elaborate tours and breathtaking costume and set design. Her albums usually have a theme that is carried through the photoshoots, the music videos, the promo, and the tour. Everything is perfectly cohesive.

The albums that best showcase this are the Holy Trinity of EdenLa Luna, and Harem. Of the three, Eden is the most autumnal of them all. She uses a lot of orchestra, choir, and acoustic instruments in the album, which gives it a very heavy and velvety feel. Oddly enough, that velvety feeling also makes it perfect for late afternoon summer listenings. Probably because in Virginia those times are also full of rich sunlight and heavy humidity, which go with that feeling.

Between songs like the title track, "Dust in the Wind", and "Deliver Me", there is a beautifully melancholy tone to the whole affair, which makes it perfect to listen to as you drive down the winding Virginia backcountry roads, sunlight on trees that will soon be bare, and air still tinted with the smell of that morning’s frost.

What about you? What albums do you have to give a spin during autumn? 

Parts of this post were originally published on my Livejournal.

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