Phil Kijak: Ambient music nerd, video game writer, operations specialist
Stars of the Lid - And Their Refinement of the Decline
Why is it one of your favorites?
From the moment I heard Nine Inch Nails' "A Warm Place" off a Downward Spiral, I knew I loved ambient music. I just didn't know what it was yet because I was a 13 year-old in Indiana. It reminded me of all the movie scores I collected up til that point, and I latched onto the idea that it could elicit the same daydreams of movies that don't exist in my head. In college, I heard Brian Eno's "Ascent (An Ending)," and it was like a drug. I didn't just want Eno's sound, I wanted THAT specific airy, drone sound. Then I got into bands like Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. They all filled my growing need for big, spacious, instrumental cinematic rock, but I was still chasing that drone sound. In 2007, I saw a review for "And Their Refinement of the Decline" on Pitchfork (yeah, I'm a demographic), and it piqued my interest. I listened to the first track, "Dungtitled (in A major)" and it was a revelation. That and every track after was that ambient, cinematic, spacey drone sound I was looking for. Since then, it's never entirely left my rotation, soundtracking long drives, evening walks, flights, graphic novel readings, and countless other situations. It's everything I want out of an ambient album, distilled into its purist form.
Has your relationship with the record changed since you first heard it, if so how?
I wouldn't say it changed, moreover its position in my personal canon has been solidified with time. It's become an integral part of my life, a staple that conjures up old memories, and a go-to that I know will hit just right when I need it.
What is something about the record people might not know, or that you’d like to point out?
Stars of the Lid make a lot of their music apart. So Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie send each other pieces of music they are working on, the other adds to it, and then sends it back. I can't explain why, but I feel like the distance during creation adds to the effect of the music.
Elevator pitch, sum up record in one sentence:
If you want everything around you to immediately feel like a movie, put on this record.