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Halls is a south London creative writing student and songwriter who has made one of the year’s quietest yells with his debut album ‘Ark’. A light, fragile web of folk, memory, history and the compositional ends of London’s recent electronic music explosion, it’s a tremendous, beguiling achievement. Sam Howard, the man behind this music made us a mix, which you can stream here, then read his commentary underneath, and play his video underneath that.
1. Robbie Basho – Ophan’s Lament
The song is from the album Visions of the Country, my favourite album of his. The album has more singing in than his others, and this song shows his voice soaring. It is impossibly beautiful. Basho has been a big influence on how I’ve been approaching certain instruments recently, like the piano.
2. Forest Swords – The Light
Really interesting sounds in this song. There is a sense of mystery surrounding Forest Swords that draws me in.
3. Neil Young – After the Gold Rush
Another one with beautiful vocal work. The lyrics are incredible. The whole album is brilliant but this track really stands out for me.
4. NZCA/Lines – Moonlit Car Chase
Michael is a friend of mine and someone I admire. He has a sharp ear. I had the privilege of playing my Fragile EP launch show with NZCA/Lines last year and they were great, and the last time I saw their live show it was so well thought out, so slick.
5. Sun Ra – Velvet (Janus version)
This is a recording of a live performance given by the Sun Ra Arkestra. I love the jarring piano in the right speaker in contrast with the band going crazy in the left. I wouldn’t say Sun Ra has been a direct influence on my work but there is something that really draws me in. Beautiful textures.
6. Efterklang – Step Aside
Big influence. Those drums! I saw them play at the Barbican with full orchestra backing and it was outstanding. It made me want to play with an orchestra. I still do.
7. Perfume Genius – No Tear
Great album. The lyrics seem so personal, and this made me think about my own lyrics. I’ve avoided being too direct with any lyrics that I write, but I’m becoming more open to the idea.
8. Arvo Part – Sanctus
Massive influence. This track especially introduced me to a whole world of amazing choral music created by Part. The whole of Berliner Messe is awe inspiring. The choral section in White Chalk was inspired by Part’s pieces.
9. Bjork – Cocoon
First heard Bjork when I found my mum’s tape of ‘Post’, which I loved but never really ended up listening to any of her other albums. Around a year ago I got into ‘Vespertine’ and it’s an amazing album. So atmospheric. Big influence on instrumentals.
10. Alice Coltrane – Govinda Jai Jai
My favourite album is actually ‘Journey in Satchidananda’ but I thought I would include this one as it’s fun. Not a direct influence on the Halls sound but the consistent use of spiritual themes throughout her music definitely had some effect on me.
11. Arthur Russell – Home Away From Home
A constant source of inspiration for me. My favourite album is ‘Another Thought’, and this track is one of my favourites. I love the space that is found in Russell’s work, especially in the songs that contain just vocal and cello. Russell’s sense of exploration is also inspirational – he’s written dance music, experimental electronic music and even country music. I want follow his example.
Thanks to Sean Adams for the image. The video interview he conducted can be viewed on Youtube.