WYSO's Four Albums From High School: Juliet Fromholt
Seasons are changing, and back to school time has arrived again. Inspired by a social media meme making the rounds earlier in the summer, we asked our music hosts here at WYSO to reminisce on their high school years and pick four albums that they found or were released during that time that have stuck with them ever since. Today's picks from the past come to us from Kaleidoscope & Alpha Rhythms' Juliet Fromholt.
My first job as a teenager was in a record store, and, as these things often go, that job was a gateway to musical discovery and community that I’ve carried with me over the years. For this list, I chose four albums that are connected to my early days working at the record store that you’ll also hear on my Kaleidoscope and Alpha Rhythms playlists to this day.
Tori Amos - To Venus and Back (1999)
Her first double album and first official live release, Tori Amos’ To Venus and Back was released to mixed reviews mainly because of the first disc Venus: Orbiting. Although it features the same kind of electronic instruments as Amos’ prior album From The Choirgirl Hotel, the songs are a bit more experimental and definitely a continued departure from her earlier albums. For me, however, it was just a continuation of the evolution of an artist I adore, and I find new affinities with these songs every time I listen to them. Although I got this album prior to starting my job at the record store, it was one of my first staff picks when I started.
POE - Haunted (2000)
Having nearly worn out my cassette tape of POE‘s 1995 debut album Hello, I was already poised to fall in love with her second album, Haunted, which was released October 31, 2000. The album’s use of samples and archival audio evokes not just a feeling, but a world unto itself, and it became an album we’d play in the store often. The story of Haunted is twofold; much of archival audio samples come from recordings that filmmaker Tad Danielewski made for his children: POE (Anne Decatur Danielewski) and author Mark Z. Danielewski. A passage from his House of Leaves is featured in the single version of “Hey Pretty” (a hidden track at the end of the album).
After hearing it several times, I asked one of my coworkers what the passage was from, and he told me about the book and that Haunted is considered a companion to it. The book and the album remain among my favorites to this day, and I can both vividly remember experiencing them both for the first time and continue to discover new things about them every time I read or listen.
Air - The Virgin Suicides (2000)
The beauty of working in a record store is that there were so many days when I’d arrive at work and a coworker would be playing something interesting that I had never heard before. That’s how I got introduced to the music of Air. The Virgin Suicides is the French duo’s score to Sofia Coppola’s 1999 film, which is based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel of the same name. The moody combination of orchestration and electronics makes this album great for relaxing or studying, and it’s one of those rare scores that can be listened to as an album in complete absence of the film for which it was composed. This album was also one of several that got me really interested in exploring the chill/downtempo side of electronic music and led me to a lot of the artists I still play on Alpha Rhythms today.
Various artists - Untouchable Outcaste Beats Vol. 1 (1997)
Although this compilation came out well before I was in high school, I never would have discovered it if a record store coworker hadn’t brought it to my attention. The summer before my senior year, I was starting to discover Bollywood films and music and when he found out, knowing that I was already getting into a lot of electronic music too (see above), he handed me this album and insisted I check it out. It was a stellar recommendation. Featuring artists like Ananda Shankar, Nitin Sawhney, and Badmarsh & Shri, it’s a primer on both traditional Indian instruments/musical techniques and the drum and bass, jungle and downtempo subgenres of electronic music. The same coworker who handed me this album ended being the person who’d also introduce me to Thievery Corporation and Dan the Automator. He passed away a few years ago, and I’ll be forever grateful for the music he shared with me.