Songs for Black Days: Insect Ark's Dana Schechter | Revolver

Songs for Black Days: Insect Ark's Dana Schechter

Multi-instrumentalist shares 5 songs that have helped her through dark times
insect ark dana PRESS 2020 carlone, Chris Carlone
photograph by Chris Carlone

"When things start sucking, it can be difficult to navigate out of the maze," says Dana Schechter. The multi-instrumentalist is best known for her involvement in lauded avant-metal bands, such as Swans, Angels of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor and Gnaw, as well as her current endeavor, the harrowing psych-doom outfit Insect Ark, which released its third album, The Vanishing, earlier this year.

"Music has saved my ass many a time," she continues. "Making music, and listening to it, helps me temporarily step out of my brain prison and gain some perspective. It lets us remember that whatever our troubles are, we probably have it better than a good many humans on earth."

For our continuing "Songs for Black Days" series, we asked the musician to share a few of the songs that have helped her through dark times. Below is what Schechter offered up.

Talk Talk - "Myrrhman"

This whole album [1991's Laughing Stock] is a masterpiece of subtlety, texture, shaping sound both light and dark, and it relaxes me, and engages my curiousity/appreciation for the skill and careful attention that went into the writing of this music. Listening to this album feels like I've peeled back the skin on my skull and let fresh air permeate my brain cells.

Tom Waits - "Temptation"

This surely falls into the "familiar" category — it's like an old friend hanging out. I've probably heard this album 1,000 times. As a song, it's got so many interesting interlocking elements. I start studying how the song is constructed and temporarily forget my worries. Also, though I don't really dance, this song makes me want to shake a leg.

Van Halen - "Outta Love Again"

Fuck the haters! These guys sound like palm trees and mirrored sunglasses and pink shoes. VH has a ton of humor in it. You just give in to the absurdity and the energy and my mood usually lifts a little. If it doesn't work, i just listen to the drums and then shut up.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "The Moon Is in the Gutter"

This hits categories one and two for me. I don't always want something audibly and lyrically destitute to accompany my misery, but if I do, Nineties-era Cave does the trick. 

Eric Satie - "Gnossienne No. 3"

Satie ... that man knew how to let a note ring and how to give it space. In his day, they considered him a hack for his unconventional approach. Thankful as hell that people don't follow the rules. This music tickles my brain and gives me room to breathe. Hearing this when I'm all tangled up is like cool water on cracked, parched skin.