extra~terresterial Mix

Room6-AllSpeechIsLabored_ThereIsNothingManCanSay.indd

This is a mix I started putting together last fall since Raw Paw was publishing several of my Rooms series in their gorgeous Alien zine (which is so much more than a zine – it’s really a beautifully printed art book). But I finally found some lo-fi electro tracks to fill in my perceived musical gaps. To accompany the mix, I’m including an unreleased Room that I’ve never included with show or publication submissions because I didn’t feel it was quite done, but fits the mood of this mix appropriately. Headphones recommended. [DOWNLOAD]

  1. Way Out Of Living – Linear Movement [2008]
    Pretty sure I either heard this on Intersonik (indie radio stream from Greece) or La Grieta (stream from Acapulco native living in Houston).
  2. Astral Decoy – Michal Turtle [1983]
    According to discogs, the title of this album is true – it was, in fact, recorded in a living room. Michael Turtle is an English jazz/electro composer who went on to compose music for TV commercials in Switzerland (which, considering the link between early electro and commercial/library music is not surprising). Found on YouTube via Music From Memory, the record label that re-realeased Leon Lowman’s work from the late 70s’/early 80’s, which I discovered via the Basic Soul podcast, of course.
  3. Birds of Paradise (dub version) – Peaking Lights [2011]
    Don’t know much about them, see #1.
  4. Opus 11 – Fifty Foot Hose [1968]
    My favorite female-fronted psych/electro/prog/jazz band from San Fransisco. Ahead of their time.
  5. Three Small Coins – Craig Leon [1982]
    Experimental/lo-fi/library-ish weirdness. Sounds a little bit like “Alone In Kyoto” from Air’s soundtrack for Lost In Translation. Pitchfork has more info here.
  6. Time Travellers – Galactic Warriors [2013]
    Koto reboot.
  7. Shadow World – Xeno & Oaklander [2009]
    See #1. I’ve basically had dozens of songs from these sources on file for several years that I love, but wasn’t sure what to do with.
  8. Southern Cross – 808 State [1993]
    Back when house/acid artists could put out a catchy club track and have the rest of their output be more composition-oriented. I think some artists in the late 80s/early 90s picks up where 70s prog/jazz/electro artists left off.
  9. Suite No. 5 in C Major (Jupiter) – Antoine Fouqeray [1747]
    Fouqeray was a court harpsichordist and composer for Louis XIV (that’s Louis quatorze), but according to Wikipedia he was also a huge asshole who divorced his wife and had his son put in prison (more like Fuck-er-ay). My graphic design clients at the Arizona Early Music Society turned me on to this shimmering piece. Some commenters on YouTube say that this version is played much too fast, but I like it.
  10. Fantasy – Kim Rapatti [2007]
    Industrial-goth-electro-tastic!
  11. Geomancy – Joel Graham [1982]
    Major proto-house happening here. Re-released on Music From Memory.
  12. Obsolete – 2nd Injection [1993]
    When I was 13, I heard on EdgeClub94 in Dallas about these things called “raves” that were, uh, apparently all the rave. So when I saw a compilation that had the word “rave” in the title in my BMG Music catalog, I had to order it. You can imagine my surprise when I first listened to Zoo Rave 2 and realized the music was much different than what was being played on this local radio show. Nonetheless, it still sounds cool now, and I’d like to pat 13-year-old me on the back for being so cool, even though I felt nothing close to it during those years.
  13. Welcome to the Pressure of Night – Mellowtron [1998]
    I remember buying this random drum & bass album at the record store in Barton Creek Mall during my freshman year of college. I probably took the bus out there by myself, which was another time in my life that I felt alone and not very cool. I believe I sold my CD at some point at Cheap-o’s, but apparently it’s quite rare now.
  14. Loomine (Creation) – Heinavanker [2007]
    Traditional Estonian runic song from Ambla Parish performed by the choral group Heinavanker, which gets their name from the Hieronymus Bosch triptych, “The Haywain.” Traditionally, this song performed by a girl swinging on a swing hung from a tree. Estonia has a wonderful polyphonic vocal tradition that is definitely work checking out.
  15. Prisme – Joel Fajerman [1979]
    Library interlude.
  16. Island Sunrise – Software [1988]
    Palm and laser.
  17. All Of Your Things (Blue Daisy Remix) – The RAah Project [2010]
    I have a harder time commenting on stuff that’s more contemporary… just wait till 2 mins. Magic!
  18. Transparency (How To Dress Well Remix) – d’Eon [2011]
    I love the 90’s R&B sound mixed with chillwave or whatever you’d call it. All I know is that I’d like to hear more of these kinds of mashups.
  19. On It (Seven Grams) – Slug † Christ ft. Stalin Majesty [2014]
    A commenter on Carles.buzz suggested this Southern rap track as a niche of auth music. A total Houston rap spin-off – not something I’d normally listen to, but super-catchy nonetheless. Also, the name Stalin Majesty totally makes me think of Buddha Stalin from Strangers With Candy (“Buddha Stalin is SO chronic!”).
  20. Dark Mist – Simon Benson [1979]
    Library interlude.
  21. Oxbow Lakes – The Orb [1995]
    I’m sure I’m not the only kid who got The Orb and Orbital mixed up. This was another BMG Catalog CD order that totally jarred me. I’d heard both Little Fluffy Clouds [1991] and Halcyon And On And On [1993] (and probably assumed It’s A Fine Day [1992] were all put out by the same artist) on EdgeClub in the around 1993 or so. While listening to Orbus Terrarum as a teen was a case of name recognition taking me by surprise again, it’s yet another example of dance artists that had massive club hits doing experimental, composition-oriented music that still sounds incredibly fresh today. At 7 1/2 minutes, “Oxbow Lakes” is one of the shortest tracks on the album and features a beautiful solo piano hook. I would have put my favorite, “Slug Dub,” which features among other things, a slowed down Led Zeppelin beat, but it’s almost 20 minutes long.
  22. Flower (King Britt’s Underwater Dub) – Soul Dhamma [1999]
    Welp, you’ve stuck it out for this long, you might as well sit through 11 minutes of illuminating, mind-expansion that’s like a combination of Deee-lite [1993] and Goldie’s Inner City Life/Pressure/Jah [1995 and 21 minutes long], and it’ll be over before you know it.

Art: Room 6: All speech is labored — there is nothing more a man can say
Digital Collage, 2014

2015 Faves

homerpallooza

[DOWNLOAD]

  1. When I Was A Child – Pearls Before Swine [Florida, 1969]
    I have so many Pearls Before Swine favorites, it was hard to pick just one. The ferventness of Tom Rapp’s vocals, his speech impediment, and occasionally esoteric lyrics seem to me a kind of harbinger of Daniel Johnston.
  2. The Ballad of El Goodo – Big Star [Tennessee, 1971]
    Another one that’s hard to pick a fave from. I remember hearing so much about these guys in the early 90’s, I just assumed they were a contemporary band. So watching the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me a year or so ago was a rather surprising experience for me.
  3. Turn Around – The Beau Brummels [SF, 1968]
    Can’t remember where I found this one, it probably just stood out while streaming Fuzzy and Groovy.
  4. Jessye Lisabeth – Bobbie Gentry [Mississippi, 1968]
    I’d intended to make a Bobbie Gentry compilation when I roadtripped to New Orleans in October, but ran out of time. This takes me back to driving through the swamps on I-10.
  5. Spanish House – Felt [UK, 1984]
    Technically this is a leftover from 2014 as I’ve included Felt on a previous mix. They are one of my all-time favorite bands though, and again, hard to choose a track for. I listened to them a lot on the long drive out to the Marfa Myths festival back in March.
  6. Naima – Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers [NYC, 1971]
    Bachelor pad re-vamp of a John Coltrane tune. Probably heard on Luxuria Music.
  7. Too Much – Byron [Italy, 1985]
    Just a gorgeous Balearic track.
  8. Lonely Moments (Moog) – Robert Hall Productions [NYC, late 60’s/early 70’s?]
    Library music was the stock music for TV, film, and commercial soundtracks from the 50’s through the 80’s. Because there wasn’t a lot of industry pressure to sell records, some library artists were able to push boundaries in symphonic and electronic music. In other instances, composers were able to simply make music for their own pleasure, which gives the listener space to enjoy without much commercial context.
  9. Life On Mars – Dexter Wansel [Philadelphia, 1976]
    As usual, Basic Soul has turned me on to so much good music this year. I don’t think I’ve missed a single podcast in all the 9? years I’ve been listening. #DevotedFan4Lyfe
  10. Mongtomery Clift – Ajello ft. Jyoti [UK, 2015]
    I don’t know much about this track, but groovy house that sounds like part of an exploitation soundtrack? Yes, please! It also reminds me a bit of King Britt’s (as Sylk130) 1997 album, When The Funk Hits The Fan.
  11. Devil’s Run – Peter Jacques Band [Italy, 1978]
    We may have reached Peak Disco with this heart-pumping 8 1/2 minute track.
  12. You Just Love You – Recloose [UK, 2013]
    Ever since I got back into running earlier this year, I’ve been listening to a LOT of deep house music – both tech and soulful sub(sub?)genres – particularly Deeper Shades of House (since 2008!) and some podcasts I found via Deep Vibes. This one is more on the French tip, but unless you’re Simon Harrison (see remarks re: Basic Soul above), it’s difficult to throw a random deep house “chune” into a multi-genre mix.
  13. WTF (Where They From) – Missy Elliot feat. Pharell Williams [USA, 2015]
    It’s Missy: I mean, how can you not. Her wardrobe in the video is so good.
  14. Hot Sauce – Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators [Finland, 2015]
    If this song doesn’t make you wanna go all George Costanza, check your pulse.
  15. Mise Au Point – Jolie [France, 1984]
    Italo version of Jakie Quartz’s original pop hit.
  16. Go Away – Strawberry Switchblade [UK, 1984]
    And then there are times you find new things to listen to on Instagram.
  17. Hands All Over Me – Tamaryn [USA, 2015]
    Her set at Marfa Myths was so good, and Cranekiss came out on my birthday!
  18. Sunshine – Miranda Sex Garden [UK, 1993]
    Pretty sure I remember hearing this on the radio back in the day. Anyways, I am all about MSG’s combo of madrigal-style singing and goth/shoegaze-y rock.
  19. Pretend We’re Dead – L7 [USA, 1992]
    If I were running for president, this would be my theme song.
  20. Some Winters – Weyes Blood [USA, 2014]
    Love the Enya-channeling going on here. Unfortunately I missed her set in Marfa. Oh well, there’s always next year.
  21. Israel Suite – Rupture [France, 197?]
    Rare French jazz album that was re-issued this year. This excerpt is not necessarily my favorite bit from the entire 18-minute piece, but you can listen to the whole thing here.
  22. Morning Song – Leon Lowman [USA, 1982]
    I just heard this beach-y slow-burner for the first time two days ago. Sounds totally contemporary.
  23. Falling Down the Stairs – Blank Realm [Australia, 2012]
    Favorite line: “I got the cinnamon and skeletons”
  24. One Of These Days I’ll Get An Early Night – Camel [UK, 1977]
    Yacht jazz!
  25. How Far Will You Go… – Smokey [197?]
    Would someone PLEASE make a documentary about John “Smokey” Condon? And while you’re at it, Brett Smiley (how is this guy still alive)?
  26. Flashback – Yukihiro Takahashi [Japan, 1982]
    It’s all about that one lilting little chord change.

ChrisMix: There Will Be No Miracles Here

10296423_10156297130035623_3754522596517893681_o

Made a short, random Holiday Mix!

[DOWNLOAD]

1. Narodil sa Kristus Pan – Tublatanka (1993)
This is in Slavic but the lyrics are almost identical to the carol the Czech choir at my parents’ church sings every year.

2. Wayfaring Stranger – Burl Ives
Mr. Holly Not-So-Jolly Christmas.

3. Noel – Serge Gainsbourg* (1968)
From the soundtrack for the film, Le Pacha.

4. Ex illustri nata prosapia – Las Huelgas Codex (13th c.)
The Las Huelgas Codex is a music manuscript for a choir of 100 women at a convent in northern Spain in the 13th century, despite Cistercian rules against the performance of polyphonic music.

5. Home for Christmas – Heaven & Earth* (1973)
This is what sipping a marshmallow-loaded mug of hot cocoa by the fire sounds like.

6. Lifes Illusion – Ice the Falling Rain (1983)
Not really a Christmas song, but the name of this UK New Wave group is so wintery sounding.

7. Anorak Christmas – Sally Shapiro (2006)
Italo revival done right.

8. O Holy Night – The Moog Machine (1969)
From the album Christmas Becomes Electric.

*Grabbed these from the Finders Keepers Records Christmas podcast. Good stuff!

Cover art: “There Will Be No Miracles Here” Nathan Coley, 2006

2014 Faves

2014-music

Just in case you thought last year’s list wasn’t random enough, I’m even more surprised with this year’s list which includes a variety of niches from early 70’s pop-heavy/prog-rock to library to electro-afrobeat to coldwave to nu folkcore cumbia. If I did have to come up with a theme, I’d have to say that for me – as a non-lyrics person – this was the year of the lyric. If you’re worried about this mix being too heavy, don’t fret, there’s still plenty of jamming, instrumentals, and a couple of non-English tracks. I didn’t get my new-to-me music from a ton of new sources this year – mainly just noting interesting tracks from Fuzzy and Groovy and Intersonik web radio stations, Basic Soul podcast, Soundcloud, and random blogs. I also still regularly listen to the summer mix I made back in July.

[DOWNLOAD]

    1. You Don’t Know – 13th Floor Elevators [Austin, 1966]
      Sure, songs can have interesting lyrics, but it’s usually the little things that make them stand out. In this example, I just like the wobbly sound effect in the background!
      Her eyes are filled with coral snakes and liquid plastic castles
    2. Seagreen Serenades – Silver Apples [NYC, 1968]
      Not much to be said here, their whole repertoire is amazing.
      Things are what they seem to players of the mind who whistle gentle melodies and turn the world to right
    3. You’re In America – Granicus [Cleveland, 1973]
      The lead vocalist sounds like a Plant-wannabe on speed, but rather than being annoying, it keeps you in a trance-like state throughout the whole album, waiting to see what crazy scream-o heights he’ll reach next. Hard to believe Granicus is from a hardscrabble rust belt city.
      Where are you, Americaaaaans?!
    4. Nobody Else – Atomic Rooster [England, 1970]
      Atomic Rooster proves that rhythm piano and organ solos can co-exist in the same band. A nice pop mash of prog and heavy.
      My whole world is falling down
    5. Bad Boy Turns Good – Fresh Blueberry Pancake [Pittsburgh, 1970]
      1970 was a weird year for music. FBP does a nice job of bridging the transition between psych and prog.
      I cast no shadow ’cause I have no eyes
    6. Open The Door – Carolanne Pegg [England, 1973]
      Carolanne’s uniquely earthy vocals are a delight on this whole folk rock album.
      There were friends who could always see me, though the haze their smiles would greet me, saying OK, saying goodbye, saying hello
    7. The Great Silkie – Trees [England, 1970]
      Trees is one of my fave 70’s folk rock bands, but for some reason I just now got around to acquiring The Garden of Jane Delawney, from which this track is sourced.
      And you will marry a gunner good, a right fine gunner, I’m sure he’ll be. And the very first shot e’er he shoots will slay my young son and me.
    8. Vile Excesses – Mellow Candle [Ireland, 1972]
      Excellent musical arrangements and duets by Clodagh Simonds and Alison Williams (who were only teenage schoolgirls when the band formed in the late 60’s) make this album so much fun to listen to.
      Did you see shadows of unicorns? Did you wear laurels of a crown of thorns?
    9. Chimica Industriale (Industrial Chemistry) – Oronzo di Filippi [Italy, 196?]
      Library music was the stock music for TV, film, and commercial soundtracks from the 50’s through the 80’s. Because there wasn’t a lot of industry pressure to sell records, some library artists were able to push boundaries in symphonic and electronic music. In other instances, composers were able to simply make music for their own pleasure, which gives the listener space to enjoy without much commercial context.
    10. Officia Stellare (Workshop of the Stars) – Piero Umiliani [Italy, 70’s? released 2000]
      Library music instrumental – jazzy bass in outer space.
    11. The Devil’s Dancers – Oppenheimer Analysis [England, 1982]
      A blast of fresh coldwave.
      All the radon daughters wonder what they taught us
    12. Recalling You – Solid State [Belgium, 1983]
      Belgium is the best-kept secret of great 80’s music.
      You make your creation, I’m a part of your soul
    13. IC Love Affair – Gaznevada [Italy, 1982]
      A catchy ZE Records-esque No Wave/Italo mashup, but tbh mainly I just have a crush on the dude in the video.
      Ching sang a song that broke my soul, a Chinese kind of rock ‘n’ roll
    14. Stop – Valery Allington [Italy, 1982]
      Early hi-NRG Italo classic with powerful posi-sex lyrics from a female vocalist.
      Give me love, give me your soul, give me your body, baby, don’t make me wait
    15. Dr. Jekyll – Unit Eight [England, 1981]
      Darkly experimental library music.
    16. Touch As Much – Magical Ring [France, 1977]
      I’ve been an AIR fan since the late 90’s, and I’m just now beginning to understand where their influences came from.
      Keep yourself loose as the wind
    17. Electric Mountain – Jane Weaver [England, 2014]
      Best psych/soundtrack revival I’ve heard all year. Also, can’t believe I just discovered Jane Weaver in general. She’s so great.
      It’s a deluded game because there’s no justice here.
    18. Throbbing Number – J.P Decerf & G. Zajd [France, 1977]
      30-somethings look back on their youth and do a fun-yet-perfect psychedelic instrumental.
    19. Drifting Apart – Personal Effects [Rochester, 1984]
      Minimal Wave meets The Velvet Underground
      You mean the world to me, you’re all that I see, I could never write it down
    20. Bad Water – Carroll [Minneapolis, 2014]
      Don’t know much about them, but the sound is very Luna.
      Bad water makes your body glow, they’re looking for a good replacement
    21. Hunter and the Hunted – Simple Minds [Scotland, 1982]
      Oh, Simple Minds, you drama queens.
      The side effects of cruising at the speed of life, side effects of living in temptation
    22. Any Way That You Want Me – Evie Sands [NYC, 1970]
      Northern soul train chuggin’ thru.
      Nothing you could say or do could make my love grow colder
    23. Houses – Elyse Weinberg [Toronto, 1969]
      Vocalists like Elyse make you wonder why rock was such a sausage-fest.
      I could never make it in your jail, you could never make it in mine
    24. Could Heaven Ever Be Like This – Idris Muhammad [USA, 1977]
      If you like Jamiroquai, this gentle disco gem is right up your alley.
      I see music in your eyes, rainbows in your kiss
    25. Yaguareté abá – Barrio Lindo [Argentina, 2014]
      If you don’t know about all the great cumbia coming out of Chile and Argentina over the last 8 years or so, you’re living under a rock. Barrio Lindo shamanizes this ubiquitous dance beat with funky percussion and trance-y synths.
    26. Wuma Te – Francis Bebey [Cameroon/France, 1976]
      Bebey was a pioneer of combining European/American electronic music with traditional African rhythms. Wuma Te is an wonderfully fresh, catchy tune you’ll be humming for weeks to come.
    27. Good Name – William Onyeabor  [Nigeria, 1983]
      2014 was my first full year as a freelancer. Sometimes I had great months financially, other months were rather lean, but this upbeat track gave me a good buck-up when I needed a reminder of why I broke away from working for another dude in the first place. It’s not about the money, it’s about having the right kind of healthy, beneficial relationships with clients, who are being helpful and beneficial in their own  missions. Plus, almost all of my new business comes from referrals.
      Good name is better than silver and gold, no money can buy a good name… I have my conscience and no money can buy my name
    28. Maiden Voyage – Ramsey Lewis [Chicago, 1968]
      To end on an optimistic note for 2015… Ramsey Lewis’ cover of a Herbie Hancock composition, featuring backing vocals from Maurice White of Earth Wind and Fire and the astounding Minnie Riperton.

Caprice – Summer Mix 2014

Caprice mix cover

Just a random summer vibes mix of old favorites and tunes that I’m into at the moment, from the 60’s thru today, everything from instrumentals and pop vocals. I’ve sequenced the tracks together as cohesively as I can, so make sure you play them in the right order. Oh, and I’ve meant to say this on all the other mixes I’ve put together, but I think you’ll find the experience better if you listen with headphones. And if you want to play while driving in a Chevy Caprice, that is totally cool too.

  1. Personale –  Alessandro Alessandroni [1974]
  2. Dolphin – Linda Perhacs [1970]
  3. Astralunato – Baffo Banfi [1979]
  4. Life in motion – Pseudo Echo [1983]
  5. Primitive Painters – Felt [1985]
  6. Do I Make You Feel Shy? – Connan Mockasin [2013]
  7. L’ami ennemi (Daniel Wang remix) – Les Rita Mitsouko [2007]
  8. Tokio – Linda Mirada [2009]
  9. We Just – Moses [1985]
  10. Senza Paura – Ornella Vanoni – Vinicius De Moraes – Toquinho [1976]
  11. Time To Get Straight – The Charlatans [1969]
  12. Drive That Fast – Kitchens of Distinction [1991]
  13. Midnight Sun – Bobby Christian And His Orchestra [1962]
  14. Dream The Summer Back – Ambra [2005]
  15. Floating No. 2 – Andrew Jackman [1979]

[DOWNLOAD]

Summer mixes, previously:

Land Yacht [2013]

Lame Summer [2011]

Tragic Summer [2011]

Good Things Come In 3’s: My Top 10 Musical [re]Discoveries Of 2013

I’m not one of those “TOP 50 JAMZ NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC” compilation fiends, but having left my job of nearly 8 years to start my own business and pursue my artistic dreamz, has me taking stock of life in these waning weeks of 2013. Oh, and heck, I just have more time and energy on my hands now too to do pointless stuff like this, whereas in the past, I probably would’ve thought, “Oh, that’s a good idea,” or gotten halfway through the post and abandoned it because I was too busy.

Anyways, I came across some chestnuts this year I thought I’d share. As I scrolled through my catalog of tunes downloaded, YouTubed and Tumblred this year, I noticed most heavy-rotation favorites were released in years ending in “3”: 1973, 1983, 1993, etc., hence the title, “Good things…”

10. Sui Generis – Confesiones de invierno [1973]

sui-generis-confesiones-de-invierno-1973You don’t have to be bilingual to understand when music is saying something important and/or poetic. Of course, I could just be a clueless American – perhaps Sui Generis are huge sellouts who made terrible folky songs. I lack the language skills to understand what people have to say about them on the interwebz. Although what I can parse through Google-translating their lyrics and my own limited comprehension tells me this is not so. I’d love to hear the POV of my Spanish-speaking friends.

 

9. Masters at Work feat. India – “I Can’t Get No Sleep” [1993]

Can I travel back in time to ’93, only not as myself, but as the models in this video? This was one of those that randomly popped into my head, and I spent an hour or so tracking down. I had no idea who the artist was because it was from a mixtape I recorded from the BBC late at night in 1995 or 6. Searching was a bit complicated because the version I remember on my tape was actually the “Choice Hip Hop” mix released in 1995, not the original. MAW‘s particular flavor of house epitomizes a good chunk of my musical obsessions, when I first discovered Friday and Saturday late-night radio DJ broadcasts from local clubs in the early 90s. Sure, we had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and god, where do I begin with hip hop?, etc., but I imagine this epitomizes the sound of the 90s for a lot of other folks in my generation too.

8. Ella Mae Morse – “40 Cups of Coffee” [1953]

4900-001ellaThis selection represents a personal habit, not necessarily a particular song. I periodically sing the praises of the local radio show Big Band “Sundy” on social media (you can stream from anywhere). A couple of years ago, I’d get irritated when the station switched formats on Sundays from (Ch)Easy Listening to tooting, trumpeting Big Band. Now, my weekend isn’t complete without it. “40 Cups of Coffee” leans more towards the Rock ‘n’ Roll era, but the host will play it every once in awhile, and it’s just such a damn catchy tune by a great vocalist, Ella Mae Morse. Ella Mae was born in Mansfield, Texas, a town in the rolling grassy plains just south of DFW, and after winning a talent competition in Dallas, lied about her age at only 14 years old so she could sing with Tommy Dorsey’s band. She then went on to produce a string of hits in the 40’s and 50’s. I’m kind of surprised Texas music folklorists haven’t “discovered” her yet, they seem to latch on to anyone remotely famous or influential who ever passed through our borders and claim them as a “Texas artist.”

7. Beck – Sea Change [2002]

beckseachangeYeah, I know this was released technically 2002, but in my memory, it’s firmly implanted in 2003. I went out and purchased the CD (one of the few I bought brand new during those years) after hearing the clerk at Asel Art Supply play it over the speaker system. It fit the post-college anxious funk I was going through – a directionless phase, like driving endlessly through an insulating night down a deserted highway. After I started feeling better a few months later, I stowed the disc away and haven’t listened to it much in the ensuing decade. I re-discovered Sea Change while researching my Land Yacht mix earlier this year. Now I’m able to appreciate the sound for itself – sublime, honest, brilliant-dark – rather than attached to my own mood. The album visuals still look fresh too.

6. Belle – “We Once Were*” from Lapwing EP [2013]

I started catching up on my beloved Basic Soul podcasts recently, and this track instantly stood out – which says a lot, as host Simon Harrison possesses both broad and impeccable taste. I don’t keep up with current music, but it seems that the UK keeps slinging out amazing female vocal artistes, and Belle is no exception. As I write, I can see a connection between this, “I Can’t Get No Sleep,” and a lengthy documentary  I watched earlier this year about the history of the “Amen Break” in hip hop, jungle, and drum & bass. The lushly produced “We Once Were” is, to me, quintessentially electro. What the heck do I mean by that? It’s a sonic atmosphere that’s both immediate and distant, real and unobtainably fantastic, not tied to any particular genre. Instead of being rooted in reality (which imparts its own sense of wonder – see #10), it lets you experience the secrets of your heart and a distant galaxy at the same time. (*Embed from Soundcloud is a preview of the whole EP, link goes to the actual track, which was not embeddable.)

5. VA – Zoo Rave II [1993]

Surfer dude: “I’m walkin’ down the beach, and I see this, like, brass lamp. I pick it up, and suddenly, there’s the big F’in’ cloud of smoke.”

Mystery voice: “U got 3 wishes, MF’er.”

SD: “I wanna be the DJinni.”

51lhg88-e1L._SY300_“What did my parents just pay for me from BMG Music Club? This has swearing! And it’s so weird!” my freaked-out 13-year-old self thought when I played the first track on this compilation. Remember when you purchased music and you had no idea what you were getting yourself into? I thought, based on the cover thumbnail and brief description in the catalog, Zoo Rave was going to be MAW-style house, not – what was it called again? – acid. I mean, they played the same music at raves AND clubs, didn’t they? If you were a kid living in a bedroom community outside of Dallas, the very buckle of the Bible Belt (Fort Worth is the prong – ha!), you had no way of finding any of this out. I was so taken aback that I didn’t listen to it all that often. But when I took up running this spring, I needed something faced-paced and interesting to keep me going, and Zoo Rave came to mind. During my runs, I enjoyed the structural progression of the music, it’s not really repetitive at all like one would assume. Under the surface of trance it takes you on a journey. I also think the tracks on Zoo Rave utilize found vocals really well (“Mystery Cafe” by Texas Audio uses a clip from an episode of Star Trek, e.g.).  I’ve already been listening to 808 State and enjoying acid mixes here and there for the past couple of years, and now I think I’ve come full circle to appreciate this compilation.

4. Vangelis Papathanasiou – Earth [1973]

MI0002160950Certain types of music sound better depending on the season. Summer and winter require distinctly different sounds; whereas you can listen to similar things in the spring and fall transitions. I think it has something to do with light. True, spring is forward-looking, but the mutable weather makes gloomy days in both seasons equally dreary. Even though I’ve only been listening to Earth since October, it’s one of those that’s risen in the ranks simply because the season is apprpriate. A proto-Enya-esque mixture of non-Western musical styles, prog and pop, the sountrack-y feel of this album creates the perfect atmosphere for staring out the window on a cloudy day, even if your’e only dreaming of doing so.

 

3. Silverhead – 16 And Savaged [1973]

tpsa7511-frontWhy the hell Purple Records the pulled the plug on these guys is beyond me. They had the swagger, the work ethic, and chops to be a legendary glam rock band. It’s unfortunate to say, but well, it’s true: a lot of Brit pop rock from the early 70’s hasn’t aged well. It’s best kept in period movie soundtracks, although you have to give it credit for not trying to present as anything else than what it is — fluff. But Silverhead has well-written songs that also totally rawk, especially the title track, “Heavy Hammer,” and “Cartoon Princess.” There’s not one clunker, or anything even edging clunker territory, on 16 and Savaged or their self-titled album released the previous year. So they’re definitely one of those “Whatever happened to…?” bands worth looking up. I won’t go into the members’ storied careers thereafter, but you should listen to this album, watch the documentary, Mayor Of The Sunset Strip, and then listen to more Silverhead for a fuller experience.

2. Brett Smiley – Breathlessly Brett [1974/2003]

BrettSmileyUnlike Silverhead, who fate seemed to will a crappy hand, Brett Smiley is just another promising talent who lost his shit on drugs and alcohol. Still, he fell exceptionally hard. Rising from the ranks of child stardom on Broadway, he went on to work with Andrew Oldham – the producer who made the Stones famous. Oldham and the whole team were equally screwed up on various substances, impacting the production and release of the album for three years. Smiley’s deal with Columbia Records was shelved. He started acting in B-movies, spent some years in prison, only to find out he was HIV positive. Miraculously, he’s lived to tell the tale and still performs.  Breathlessly Brett is a joy to listen to, a glorious lipstick-smeared flaming wreck, and was only released in 2003.

1. Cleaners from Venus – In The Golden Autumn [1983]

cfvgoldenautumnThe best discoveries are the ones that lead you down winding passages, in a maze you don’t even remember entering, when all of a sudden, you realize you’ve arrived at something wonderful. That’s how I found The Cleaners from Venus, via a muddle of Tumblrs and Blogspots, starting with this album. While it’s not my favorite one out of their catalog, it was the first one I was introduced to. The Cleaners were a rotating cast of musicians centered around singer/songwriter Martin Newell who recorded in England from 1979-ish through the 80s.

While it’s unfortunate that such talent never found footing on a broader scale when the group was active, their music doesn’t really have an aspirational, “trying-too-hard” feel – but they’re not anti-establishment anarchists either. It just sounds like a bunch of friends came up with the idea of making music that takes up where The Beatles left off with The White Album: a sound that is essentially guitar-driven pop while straying all over the map in terms of style depending on which album you listen to, from post-punk to to jazz to weirdly experimental (Speak & Spell intros, song blocks hosted by a disturbingly exuberant Woody Woodpecker-ish cartoon character named Mr Cutie Patootie, soundbites of humans making barnyard animal noises).

Lyrically, The Beatles-esque legacy continues with a mixture of storytelling (“East Street, 8:35 / There by the factory gate / just as the day is coming alive / two kids kiss as they wait”), evocative dreamlike associations (“Wearing a greatcoat, shuffling ’round in my Cuban heels”), playful consonance (“Ilya Kuryakin looked at me”), political and cultural criticism (“Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and London / Burning like crazy in the middle of summer / The ministry man could only sit there and wonder / with a salary looking like a telephone number”; “Say hello to money and good-bye to reality: be an idiot popstar”), humor (“Major Mandy: people said he was a dandy / but he led a double life”), relationships (“She’s staying around or else she’s going away / it could be tomorrow, or it might be today, or maybe forever / I call her a mercury girl”) and an unsettling melancholy underlying the whole thing, if not surfacing outright from time to time (“The loudmouthed summer sun that tells you the good is on the run and the golden age is not the present one”).

The extent of the whole project seems to be: craft some songs about whatever is interesting at the moment, hang out in someone’s living room or garage, and hit “record” on the cassette deck, as attested by the sound quality on some albums. Sadly, many of these great talents stay active long enough in their eras to produce only a handful of songs (hello, The Delmontes). But lucky for us, The Cleaners kept on going, producing one or two albums a year for several consecutive years. Even the songs that were covered again on later albums are interpreted differently and better recorded so that they sound fresh, or at least give a sense of a live band’s evolving sound from performance to performance.

Anyways, my entry for CFV is getting long, so I’ll sum up by saying that, as you age, it’s a comfort to find new music that you know you’ll be returning to again and again for years to come.

Honorable mentions:

TEEN – “Carolina” [2013]

The video is kinda weird and not that great, so I’m not linking to it.  This catchy little ditty falls electro-psych-pop umbrella – the singer’s voice reminds me of Lena Karlsson from Komeda, and the intricate looping and multi-tracking is quite similar to Kitty Craft, which brings me to another honorable mention…

Kitty Craft – Catskills [2000]

I’m bummed that I can’t find audio of this album anywhere online. I used to have the CD (randomly bought used at Cheapo’s, natch) but apparently it’s since been purged. It wasn’t a magnum opus or anything, just makes me nostalgic for that time. DJ Pamela Valfer loops found beats and hooks, weaving vocals and synths on top à la Juana Molina. Think embroidered samplers in grandma’s house, frosted cake decorations, a kitten playing with a ball of yarn: the very definition of quaint, yet the maker’s mastery of a tricky process: a hidden game, making it look deceptively simple, humble.  None of this is evident on the finished surface – the mark of a true virtuoso.

Dust – Dust [1971]

“Well you turn to me, with a look on your face like a gypsy.” Hard rock from future Marky Ramone, and Kenny Aaronson, who went on to be a successful session and touring player with a ton of famous 70s acts. Would’ve easily booted someone else off the top 10 but the release year didn’t end in “3.” Hot stuff.

Kano – Kano [1980]

Italo Disco. Need I say more? Y’all know I eat this shit up!

Land Yacht: Summer Road Trip Mix

IMG_1504

An existential journey on AM radio through country myths and folk memoirs. I’m pretty new to the classic country genre, so I may have overlooked some obvious hits and obscure gems. Even with the power of YouTube, it was taking forever to research so instead I decided to go out on a limb and steer this rig beyond the good ol’ U.S. of A.

[DOWNLOAD]

  1. Giddy Up Go – Red Sovine [1965]
  2. By the Time I Get to Phoenix – Glen Campbell [1967]
  3. Castles In The Air – Don McLean [1970]
  4. Solitaire – Brett Smiley [1974]
  5. The Golden Age – Beck [2002]
  6. Bird: Bird – Air/Alessandro Baricco [2003]
  7. Galilee – Clean Living [1973]
  8. Pour Man – Lee Hazlewood [1968]
  9. Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell [1968]
  10. Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues – Danny O’Keffe [1972]
  11. Lonely Son – Vernon Wray [1972]
  12. Sparks – Max Stalling [1999]
  13. Confesiones de invierno – Sui Generis [1972]
  14. The Slow Song – Luna [1999]

Photo: Bootheel Grocery on Hwy. 9 | Animas, New Mexico [2011]

The Dead of Christmas Mini-Mix

I meant to finish this mix a week ago on Christmas Day, but was too busy. A dystopian, haunting take on seasonal themes, cinema, shopping, church, people dying during the holidays, and especially inspired by the 1974 movie Black Christmas. I wanted to include a hymn I remember performing in 5th grade with my school choir at our Christmas program, but was only able to find the lyrics (below), and the minister who posted the piece didn’t credit the writer. The disappointment kind of sums up my feeling about the lost life/death poetry of a winter sacred time. On that note, Happy Holidays, everybody!

[DOWNLOAD]

  1. Caroline – Chrome [1976]
  2. Contrique – 808 State [1993]
  3. The Cherry Tree Carol – The Pentangle [1972]
  4. O Holy God – Maxim Berezovsky performed by the Kiev Chamber Choir [18th century]
  5. Monochrome Days – Thomas Leer & Robert Rental [1979]
  6. 39 Explosion Heats – 39 Clocks [1981]
  7. Nocturne No. 15 in F Minor, Op. 55, No. 1 – Frédéric Chopin [1842-44]

On the night when Christ was born,
In the starlight’s gleaming,
Sharp-speared thorn boughs in the shadow
Stirred with troubled dreaming
Of a cruel, piercing crown,
Of a King in death bowed down:

On the night when Christ was born,
And the glad song breaking,
Reeds about a marish pool,
As with long heart aching,
Wailed with pain of that far hour
When a reed should mock His power.

On the night when Christ was born,
To a bleak moon clinging,
Stood a grey, ungladdened wood
With the olives flinging 
Writhen shadows—watchers dim
Of the tree which heareth Him.

Artwork: Photography and design by me

Hipsters: The New Ravers

Despite the fact that fashion has moved on, there are people stuck in 1998 who still dress like ravers. Despite the fact that fashion has moved on, there are people stuck in 2008 who still dress like hipsters. With the explosion of hipster jokes, it’s been proven that the style is a formula just like anything else. That it isn’t a statement about personal, but rather a means for people to identify with/as themselves/others. By subscribing to a fashion-lifestyle formula, voila! One’s potential to connect socially is greatly enhanced. Superficiality is a boost to the ego.

Music-driven fashion is the longest-lasting, specifically neo-flappers, hippies, kickers, metal heads, hip hop, ravers, goths, hipsters, etc., their trends rising and falling — andfossilizing, for some — over the course of a approximately a decade. What styles of music are in their formative phases now that will be the next big fashion-lifestyle movement? My two decades of being in touch with pop culture as experienced in the U.S. are waning, so anything I could guess at is rather uneducated. Musical artists like Lady Gaga and similar are exports from the fashion world rather than vice versa. Perhaps this means that consumers will become luxury brand-conscious again, only not in a flashy way as seen in the 00’s, but a sort of revised 80’s-90’s preppiness. Yes, it looks like influences are mixing and matching everything under the sun, but the label won’t be on your ass, it’ll only be visible only to those who are in the know. Thanks in part to brand-blogger partnerships, sponsorships and collaborations, the human billboards of the future have arrived and walk amongst us. Will they continue to be groomed as eventual traditional models? Or will the human or brand influence be maximized in ways yet to be determined? It speaks to the current larger socio-political struggles between humanization and monetization. Music-driven fashion-lifestyles from developing countries are what might be (or I’m sure already are) really interesting.

Of interest*:

*nowhere near a complete list, just trying to finish this damn post I started 6+ months ago during the hipster identity crisis of 2011.

Italo Space Mix

Some sci-fi for your hi-fi… Halloween dance party!

[DOWNLOAD]

1. All Night Party – Tabu
2. Factory – BlackShag
3. Strangers In A Strange Land (Instrumental) – N.O.I.A.
4. Light Years Away – Warp 9
5. Space Is The Place – Jonzun Crew
6. Feeling Love L.E.B. Harmony
7. Robot Is Systematic – ‘Lectric Workers
8. Sapphire (EscortRemix) – Zombi
9. Disco Computer – Transvolta
10. Mandroid – Gift Of Dreams
11. Tomorrow (Instrumental) – The New Company
12. Carry On Turn Me On – Space
13. Future World – Ganymed
14. Mind Warp – Patrick Cowley
15. Shall Return – The Warlord
16. Love Is – Gino Soccio
17. Pulstar – Hipnosis

Previous Halloween Mixes: