There used to be a record store on St. Mark’s place called Sounds. I went there pretty regularly for at least a decade. When I was first allowed to go to “the city” as a teenager, this was one of the spots my girlfriends and I would hit, along with Flip and Unique Boutique and a few other places.
My old method of choosing records was pretty good. I didn’t know anything about music, outside of classical and classic rock and other classic things. And most of the records were a dollar or two. So I’d buy albums based on their cover art.
This worked pretty well, based on the concept that the cover art of the album should reflect the music within. I definitely got some clunkers, but I also wound up with an EP by the Legendary Golden Vampires, a great promo disc for Robert Fripp’s first solo album, and an album by the band Matthew Sweet was in before he went solo.
And I found this one. I knew who Brian Eno was, but not Cluster.
One confession – I didn’t actually know the title of the album when I sat down to write this. I don’t have access to most of my albums right now, and none of them are in my home. (Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, we moved to a wonderful but much smaller place, and many things have had to stay in storage.)
But I managed to track it down, thanks to Marty McSorley on WFMU. It’s called “Old Land,” and it’s on Relativity records.
Listening to it for the first time, it was one of those records that’s like someone opened a door for you and said “Look! There’s all this awesome music through here that you’ve never experienced!” I love it when that happens.
There’s a track on the record, “Tzima N’Arki,” where the vocals are in reverse. I remember running the vinyl backwards manually to hear what they were; it’s actually part of the chorus for Eno’s song “King’s Lead Hat.”
These days it would be nothing to hear the vocals; just throw it into Audacity. But I don’t want to. It’s just not the same.