Down-Tempo Acoustica
May 26, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for the s-l-o-w-e-s-t tunes you can think of from the “roots” repertoire of South, Central and North America.

Folkloric music, jazz, blues, gospel, country, salsa, son, beguine, etc. While I lean towards instrumental music, there is no instrument like the voice of a great singer. There are some simmering slow grooves in rhumba. Bill Evans and Mingus both recorded tunes at very slow tempos.
What are the slowest tunes you know: moody, menacing, maudlin, mysterious, mournful?
posted by Jode to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are songs in slower tempos, but few feel as slow as Blind Willie Johnson's great "Dark Was the Night" It's all those "m" words too.
posted by neroli at 1:34 PM on May 26, 2012

Triste Bahia and most of the songs in Caetano Veloso's Transa
Ry Cooder — Canción Mixteca (look for the version with lyrics)
posted by Tom-B at 2:09 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Swing low sweet chariot is often done at a very slow tempo.
posted by HuronBob at 2:28 PM on May 26, 2012

Natalie Merchant's version of Poor Wayfaring Stranger is slow and definitely dark.

"Pharaoh" as sung by Sidney Carter in Alan Lomax's Southern Journey, vol. 1 is way slow and dark.

You might look at the Crooked Jades for dark and slow in the American roots genre. The Unfortunate Rake, vol. 1 might have the most.
posted by ceiba at 3:40 PM on May 26, 2012

Not really what you're looking for, but just in case there is an entire genre of music called Drone which is slow....Stuff by artists like Robert Rich, Steve Roach, the albums Selected Ambient Works Vol I & II, some of Harold Budd's stuff, Klaus Schulze, etc. etc. There is tons of ambient stuff out there.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 3:45 PM on May 26, 2012

If you are not listening to Gillian Welch, you should be.

"I Dream a Highway" might be a good place to start, but for full effect just listen all the way through Time (The Revelator).
posted by brennen at 8:51 PM on May 26, 2012

Chicago blues is a wellspring of waaaay downtempo phat grooves.
posted by drlith at 10:32 PM on May 26, 2012

Idle Moments starts slow, and gets slower.
posted by misteraitch at 1:50 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cassandra Wilson practically specializes in (outstanding) covers of existing songs at a slower, sometimes radically slower, tempo.
posted by lorimer at 10:33 AM on May 27, 2012

Cartola's o mundo é um moinho is a gorgeous, slow, mournful samba with the heartbreaking lyric "the world is a mill. It'll grind you down."

Caetano Veloso has some great ones on other records as well. Samba e amor is a classic Chico Buarque cover (the best version is unyoutubable on the record qualquer coisa), and Vampiro is a sultry Jorge Mautner cover.

I'll throw a couple others that aren't fully acoustic or the nebulous category of 'roots,' but fit your other criteria:

Fregues da meia-noite by criolo
Anything by the band Low, like Shame, The Plan, or Over The Ocean.
posted by umbú at 11:41 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need Brightblack Morning Light. Their music plays out like blazed-out soul 45s played at 33rpm. I'm on my phone right now, so I can't provide a good link, but theyre easy to google.
posted by sleeping bear at 12:45 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

nice one, sleeping bear, thanx!
posted by ouke at 4:01 AM on May 30, 2012

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