Noah Hoffeld,
The TVD First Date

“My first associations with vinyl come from that proto-musician phase of life known as childhood. Crouched over a Playskool turntable with my proto-girlfriend, listening to proto-music. Like a gateway drug for the under-ten crowd, album versions of Hollywood movies, like novelizations in sound, were the first recordings to catch hold of my small ears. They dragged me down into a life-long addiction to recorded music, the grooves in vinyl like tracks on a user’s arm.”

Planet of the Apes was a great album, dialogue from Charlton Heston and cast alternating with orchestral interludes, or sometimes overlain. I never saw the movie itself! The sonic images were lucid enough to seduce my imagination; I knew the story back to front and the grandiose music penetrated deep in my subconscious, laying the groundwork for years of imitation.

As years went by, proto-girlfriends became girlfriends. Proto-music became music. Or sort of. I was still fascinated by the allure of a good story and, as I grew, just graduated to a little more grown-up stories. A huge favorite of my pre-teen years was Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by David Bowie. “Are you sitting comfortably?” David would ask in his most White Duke of voices…”Then let’s begin.”

Over and over I returned the tone arm to its origin and allowed the undulations of sound to drench me. In moments of angst and torment, feeling I couldn’t bear the world, David’s voice would soothe me. The sounds of the flute, oboe, french horns, and strings would elevate my mood and lighten my load. Transported by tales and tones, perhaps addicted and dependent on them for survival, I was able to navigate the darkness, laying anchor in a harbor of sound.

But from there it was an endless fall into ignominious gloom! Record followed record followed cassette, followed CD. Maybe what distinguished my plunge from others’ was the strange blend of Classical and Rock I grasped at, spinning hopelessly down that tunnel of sound. Songs now replaced my childhood dependence on musical movie renditions and Meet the Orchestra albums. The perfect combination of story and sound, songs rolled the two into one and became the ideal delivery agent for both. I was hooked on rock ‘n’ roll.

As the cello became a central part of my life in high school, my listening horizons both contracted and expanded. Today when people ask me what bands I followed in youth, my reply is “pathetically few.” Bowie, The Beatles, U2, Lou Reed, Prince, and a few others. Deeply knowing just a fistful of artists, I missed out on a whole lot of good shit. At the same time, I listened to everything Classical under the sun—my training required it and I loved it. Then Classical and Rock vied for dominance in my heart, clashing like Vader and Luke for rule of the Empire.

Today, the two seem to have made peace. On my studio turntable, I spin a mixture of thrift-store Stravinsky and purple-vinyl Bjork from Rough Trade in my Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood. In songwriting and producing, too, the two musics of my teen years have nestled closely. Elements of my album Play Human, like the strings in “Stop Slow Down,” or the rising lines in “Role of Rock,” betray my need to harmonize big, bad Rock with the beauty of orchestral writing. I search still to find that safe harbor where the strains of life past and present can once again be stilled. And celebrated in sound.”
Noah Hoffeld

Noah Hoffeld’s debut release, Play Human is in stores now.
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