Nick Mamatas's Blog

A Sensation Playlist

By Nick Mamatas

Two weeks ago I was asked by the nice litblog Largehearted Boy to compile a “playlist” of songs for my novel SENSATION. This list is more for the sort of thing you should listen to while reading the novel, not what I was listening to while writing it. (I barely remember writing it; that’s fugue-state creativity for you.) Actually, my wife Olivia Flint chose most of these. Anyway,  here it is, readers. Head on over to grooveshark and recreate this list for your listening pleasure:

“Days” by Creep

(This first tune is one Olivia didn’t recommend, she wanted me to say.) Anyway, “witch house” is perhaps the only musical subgenre in which the name is the cleverest thing about it, but this song is pretty clever—it sounds quite witchy anyway. Actually, I like any song that goes vvvvvvrrreeeeeeeeeee and to avoid filling the playlist with the same (there are still a couple) I outsourced most of the rest of the playlist.

“(Nothing But) Flowers” by The Talking Heads

Sensation begins not in the mists of pre-history but in a supermarket in Greenwich Village, specifically one I used to patronize, and where I twice saw David Byrne of The Talking Heads. One time he was on his bicycle and was ready to push off into the street. I saw a car coming and shouted, “Watch out, you idiot!” He did and avoided being hit. (Maybe he saw the car coming down Sixth Avenue and didn’t actually need me.) But anyway, if you’ve enjoyed any of Byrne’s work since the early 1990s…you’re welcome.

“Cobweb” by Animal Collective

Listen to these fucking hipsters, will you? They sing like spiders sing.

“Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard” by !!!

This band pronounces its name chk-chk-chk. Hard to Google, and insect-like! I like that. Anyway, there is another world and in that other world there is another version of Sensation, and another Book Note Playlist, but on that Playlist there is only one song, and it’s this one, which keeps changing and playing with a variety of musical genres before it ends. Somewhere in Austin, Texas someone has just realized that if you read at the rate of one page every four minutes, the action of the book syncs up exactly with the song, set to repeat forty-six times.

“The Swan” by Clara Rockmore

Did you know that Lenin played the theremin? He did. Clara Rockmore is better at it though. “The Swan”, a lyrical instrumental, is the exact opposite of autotuning, and manages to sound more naturalistically human than any of the false humans who entertain us, or rule us.

“I’ll Never Love Again” by The Carpenters

The WASPiest song ever. Also, exceedingly dark. That’s what you get, indeed.

“I Don’t Mind” by Cold Showers

Yeah, we listen to Forkcast. Big whoop, wanna fight about it? When it came on, we both stopped what were we doing and asked one another, “Who is this?!” The man-woman vocals make this applicable to Sensation; communication is all but impossible, but third parties overhearing conversations are able to comprehend 777 layers of occult truth in every quotidian “please” and “thank you.”

“Exterminator” (Massive Attack Remix) by Primal Scream

I really enjoy songs that use distortion, both as a sonic quality and in the lyrics. This remix also chugs along leisurely, with bursts of energy here and there, much like history itself. Ignore the repeated refrain of “No civil disobedience”, as that was just put in place by a cartel of advertising agencies and non-governmental organizations looking for that fabled “seat at the table.”

“Murders” by John Frusciante

This song can be part of the playlist to any novel, really, especially the important bits where characters sip their drinks and open or close doors, raise their eyebrows and consider their own behavior and those of others just a few pages past, have telling dreams, and vanish from the book as they attend to matters not pertinent to the plot.

“Do Your Best” by John Maus

Footsteps? Horseshoes clomping on cobblestones? Is that voice a joke? Alone in the city tonight! What the hell is this? Is this the sort of thing that gets labeled ironic, or earnest? Who can even tell the difference anymore? Strangely hopeful though: someone’s alone in the city tonight. Only one? We’ll need more hands than two to reach out…good thing arachnids have many.

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