Though Through a Coil, Chris Adams’ debut album as PENDANT, was far from unoriginal, the eight tracks on that LP felt both linear and closely tied to an overarching dream-pop thesis. His recent follow up Harp, on the other hand, is entirely lawless. Introduced with the warped microhouse banger “Blood Rite,” which was followed by the vaguely Beasties-y “Thorn”—coasting on a Delia Derbyshire sample made immediately familiar to contemporary audiences thanks to Danny Brown’s slightly more demented take on it—it feels like the glue that holds the project firmly in place is somehow completely unrelated to genre.
As Adams tells it, it was the soundtracks to skate videos that provided the inspiration for the record’s carefully curated, deeply counter-cultural reference points. But rather than the black and white world of the early Tony Hawk games’ all-punk-and-hip-hop tracklists, the music from these videos go deeper. “Great skate videos tend to double as great mixtapes,” he shares. “Take for example videos from Melodi, one of the best companies out of New York right now. You’ll hear an insane gabber-house track transition into a Dystopia track. It’s super disorienting, but they pull it off so naturally. The backdrop of deranged teenagers skating in New York ties it all together. When this is done well, you feel like you’re sucked into their universe. It’s totally immersive, the way a great record should be.”
With “It’s super disorienting, but they pull it off so naturally” providing the perfect posthumous pull-quote for Harp, which dropped back in April, Adams took a deeper dive into some of these specific influences ahead of his upcoming show with Fime at LA’s Club Tee Gee this upcoming Monday. Check out the album here if you haven’t already, and read Adams’ words below.
Sewerslvt, “Pretty Cvnt”
Not technically part of a skate video, but this song totally broke my brain on first listen. I found it in a random Instagram edit posted by Akobi Williams, one of my favorite young skaters. She skates so hard and is always wearing the sickest clothes. Perfect soundtrack for really unhinged skating.
Cam’ron, “Wet Wipes”
Theotis Beasley’s breakthrough part from Baker Has a Deathwish—another God-tier song/skater pairing. Lizard King opens the part, but the song really shines when Theotis is on screen. The shots of him singing along to this song in the van by himself make my heart hurt. Too pure.
Cass McCombs, “Sacred Heart”
The first song in Jerry Hsu’s legendary two-song ender from Bag of Suck. Once again the song and the skating are totally in sync. Equal parts graceful and gnarly. There’s a weird symbiosis with Jerry and Cass here. I feel like their careers were in similar places around this time. They were both young and finding their footing—obviously massively talented, but still developing their style. I wonder if they keep in touch at all.
Psychic TV, “Godstar”
Not sure how I didn’t hear this song sooner. I’d been listening to Throbbing Gristle for years before seeing this Quasi video, but when the music kicked in after a clip of Justin Henry screaming like a maniac I immediately got chills. The skating is good, but the song blew me away. Instantly made me a Quasi fan—one of the best new companies doing it.
Dexter Wensel, “Rings of Saturn”
Watching a Bronze video can feel like staring directly at a strobe light for 20 minutes. So much information every moment, sometimes dozens of songs. A lot to process. They’ve become known for their soundtracks and playlists, so if you’re looking for something new and weird, just click on a video or one of their mixes and you’re sure to find some wild shit. I included this really serene synth-fusion track. It surprised the hell out of me when I first heard it, but leave it to Bronze to find the coolest shit you never thought could be in a skate video.
Pavement, “Cream of Gold”
I’ll be honest, there’s nothing that special about skating to Pavement. It’s tired as hell. People should stop skating to Pavement. That said, Gilbert Crockett really brought this song to life for me. He’s a mean fucking skater. I think he loaned some of his intensity to a band that usually sounds pretty limp. I tried listening to this song without the video and it definitely falls flat. But the pairing feels meaningful.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Dazzle”
This band was always kind of a blindspot for me. I’ve always appreciated them, but never really connected to any one song. The intro to this Nike video totally changed that for me. The entire video is amazing and “Dazzle” definitely sets the tone.
Leeway, “Stand For”
I had never heard Leeway before watching this insane Cyrus Bennet part from How Original. My first thought hearing this song was “Wow so this is how we got Turnstile.” I love Turnstile but the resemblance is pretty shocking. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I rip off stuff all the time. Pretty enlightening hearing such a precise influence. Learning about Leeway connected me to a bunch of other great New York hardcore. Outburst, Warzone, Killing Time, etc.
Elliott Smith, “Coast to Coast”
I had heard this song before watching Dylan Rieder’s part in Mind Field. I was already pretty obsessed with Elliott Smith. But watching Dylan skate to “Coast to Coast” felt so special. I had seen it once as a teen, but didn’t really internalize it at all. I went back to it after Dylan passed in 2016 and just wept. Another instance where the skater and the song share strange cosmic ties. We lost these two beautiful people that were overflowing with talent and gave every ounce of themselves to their work. This part moves me every time.
John Cale, “Big White Cloud”
Last but not least—the crown jewel of skateboarding soundtrack finds. Marquis Preston throwing down three minutes of hammers to John Cale in Stay Gold. So curious whatever happened to Marquis Preston. I was so convinced he’d be a star; Stay Gold was easily the biggest video of the moment and he put together a stunning part. Apparently he picked the song himself and everyone was like “…really? You want to skate to this?” And he was like “yeah it’s gonna be sick.” And God was it fucking sick. This is actually one of my favorite songs of all time. Wherever you are Marquis, thanks for this part. Endlessly inspiring.