Gabriel Rodriguez of San Diego’s Boomsnake initially met our Poetic Memory request with skepticism. In his own words, “I naturally become enthralled or influenced by the artist more than a record…I like becoming immersed in the creator: to view the world from their perspective, whatever it may be.” He adds, “The major influences of my life are probably those of most music listeners. Yes, I delve deep into the obscure, but those are not ‘life’ influences.”
For Rodriguez, though, the bottom line is this: “I enjoy music. All forms of music. If you put on ‘Thriller’ at a party, I’ll be dancing; ‘War Pigs’ at the bar, I’ll be drinking happily; ‘Sex in the Kitchen’ while making out, I’ll get freaky.”
Rodriguez’s list chronicles records that “strike the very being of the listener; records that play as if they were written for you.” His Poetic Memory is below.
Leonard Cohen – The Songs of Leonard Cohen: I start with Mr. Cohen because he is the pivotal artist that I admire. Everyone has a master, someone they answer to, someone who has walked the path before them. Anyone who says otherwise is either lost, oblivious, or lying. I try and follow, from a great distance of course. It’s not just his music, but much more his life in general. The lyrical content of this record is unparalleled.
The Beatles – The White Album: Before I was conscious enough to choose my own music, I was listening to The Beatles. Their catalogue could fill the entirety of this list, but then I would simply be the reflecting my parents’ tastes. [The Beatles] really are the best, and The White Album is a prime example.
Godspeed You, Black Emperor – F♯A♯∞: I was in the back seat of a friend’s car getting high when I first heard this record in its entirety. Ahhhh, high school—the sheer epic quality had my head spinning. The fact that they put a crushed penny in the vinyl jacket — incredible. This was one of the first LPs I ever bought.
The Velvet Underground – White Light White Heat: This album contains the sole four “core” members — Andy Warhol and Nico had no input, and John Cale was still around. The album’s lo-fi, aggressive atmosphere makes me want to do bad things — “it’s fun to do bad things.” White Light White Heat is one of those records that proves there are no rules (along with the rest of VU’s catalogue).
Steve Reich – Early Works: Reich is of the most important/influential composers of our time, and the concepts of phase, pulse, and counterpoint have played a large role in the way I record layers of instruments (Reich’s early works are mostly phasing). I heard he got some of his samples from passengers while working as a New York taxi driver. Since then, I’ve tried to carry a minidisc recorder to gather field samples; after all, the natural sound of the world has rhythm — cities breathe, trees talk.
The Microphones – Mt. Erie: It’s an emotional adventure. Phil Elvrum creates patience in the listener and howls about the struggles of trying to become a better person. It’s my favorite album for long drives at night — a time when you can reflect on where you’re going and why. I remember Elvrum saying, in an interview, that he’s human and that recordings should have mistakes, that it’s natural. As a result, his recordings sound purely organic and “humanly” perfect.
Don Caballero – American Don: Ian Williams opened my eyes to the possibilities of live looping. He proved that you can incorporate machines as members of the band. It’s more a modern composition than “math rock.” I attribute this record to my discovery of Ian Williams, but Storm and Stress also had a major influence on me.
Seven is a good number — I take leave at 7. In Tarot, the Seven of Swords reads as such: this card reveals issues of breaking free, doing things your own way, and abandoning group ideals. The Seven of Swords is seen as a card of saving yourself; this can have positive elements to it, as in many personal transformations, but it can be negative as well — revealing the core selfishness present in many of our decisions. There is also an element of haste in this card, an indicator of moving fast in a decision making process.
Download Re/visions, the new EP from Boomsnake, here.