Musicophilia

[1981] – 10 Year Anniversary!

Posted in Mixes, Uncategorized by Soundslike on August 28, 2013

Ten years ago this month, I started making the first mix that grew into three that grew into the nine-disc physical ’1981′ box set. In celebration, I’m posting all of the original mixes–and working on at least one new mix–to my Mixcloud profile at

So check it out, and spread the word–it’s time for another round of rediscovery, as this music still sounds like the future, even at 32. The other mixes will be up shortly, added to this post over the next couple of days.

http://www.mixcloud.com/musicophilia/musicophilia-1981-feet-2003/

http://www.mixcloud.com/musicophilia/musicophilia-1981-heart-2004/

http://www.mixcloud.com/musicophilia/musicophilia-1981-car-2004/

Tagged with: , ,

[1981] – ‘Ice’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 15, 2011

1981 - Ice

Superficially, the ‘1981‘ box set tells the story of just one year; not even really the whole year, but one year for a particular scene.  It is what Woebot described as an act of “potholing”.  But that partial history of one year of post-punk was chosen because it was not a one-off (like “real punk”), but rather a nexus, an intersection of many other stories that suggests many other directions backward and forward (“frantically out-branching” as Pitchfork put it).  Moments and movements of extreme artistic fecundity are perhaps always this way: as exciting as they are in and of themselves, the particular mechanics of their expression, and especially the places and people who make them happen, are fleeting and finite; but if they’re really tapping into something, the energy carries on in many directions.  Why I love post-punk in the year 1981 is because it wasn’t really just about itself, even as exploring it consumed countless hours and energy and plenty of dollars in my life.  It was perfect at the time because it rekindled the excitement of all my musical “discoveries” to that point, and has provided the fuel for my exploration and enjoyment since.  Even though sharing it represents an end–it’s the last of nine mixes– ‘Ice‘ is perhaps the best example of the fact that ’1981′ isn’t just an isolated incident: these sounds are the most out-of-time, ageless, in some ways oddest but most enchanting of the set’s dozens of tracks (hundreds, if you include the ‘Briefcase).  I hope the mix and the box set will provide you with fuel for further exploration, too.

Ice‘ is not definitely not meant to imply coolness in the sense of detachment.  Bill Laswell’s Material quickly prove that, along with Talking Head Jerry Harrison, Was (Not Was), the Honeymoon Killers, and The Slits, as they bring the movement and the (earth)beats.  ‘Ice’ is about mystery, as explored by Brian Eno and David Byrne, the Comsat Angels, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Selecter, Phew, or Ryuichi Sakamoto.  ‘Ice‘ is also about being just plain, un-fuckwith-ably cool, like Ex-Can Holger Czukay, Grace Jones, ESG, Jim Jarmusch’s Del-Byzanteens, the Gun Club, or our hero Robert Wyatt.  But there’s also meditative contemplation, as with the Delta 5, Echo & The Bunnymen, or the creator of perhaps 1981′s most timeless and compelling contribution of all, “O Superman,” Laurie Anderson.  Full tracklist and the download link are after the “more…” break.

The Del-Byzantines – “Girl’s Imagination”


(more…)

Tagged with: , , , ,

[1981] – ‘Amplifier’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 8, 2011

This is the fourth posted mix from the 10-disc, 400+ band ’1981′ Box Set I put together in 2004-2005.  (For more information regarding the set as a whole and the impetus behind it, check the first mix, ‘Feet’.)  1981 probably wasn’t the peak year for any sort of “pure” cultural or musical strain of what defined “post-punk” as an ethos or as a sound (I’d give that title to 1979).  But I chose to focus on 1981 in such depth because it seemed to me the year that that sound and way of looking at music had spread farthest without diminishing in intensity (few would argue, no matter how much they love the music of 1982, that even in that one year later there was not a bit of a come-down, or at least a diffusion into more disparate strains).  The heroes of the first wave of post-punk were about to retire (like Wire, Buzzcocks, first-run Pere Ubu) but still hadn’t lost a step, and so many others were at their peak (and still many more greats just getting started).  So this mix, ‘Amplifier,’ exemplifies the breadth of post-punk in ’81, when set next to any other mix from the set.  While much of the rest of the set might attest the ascent of the art school or art house over the arena in rock, the artists on ‘Amplifier’ are less artsy, more visceral, less equivocal about the guitar, and probably the punk-est of the post-punk.

But while riffs and chops still had cache amongst the nascent hard-core punks and plain-out rockers found here (not much Oi here, as to my ears it’s usually too reactionary and conservative to qualify as post-punk in any way) there’s still an undeniable artiness creeping between the fuzz boxes that qualifies it as more than simply temporally “post-punk”.  This might be the last mix I think of when I think about the ’1981′ box set, but when I listen to it again, it always surprises me how much I enjoy it—it’s certainly not “least” of the set.  Looking past the omnipresent guitar, there’s a surprising variety here: drama, irony, silliness, melodicism, anger. And it’s a lot of fun, and it’s what you can play for your little siblings or nieces and nephews who just picked up their first studded belt and got their first faux-hawk, to start them on a journey to wider waters.  Plenty of the names you’d expect are here: the Minutemen, Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, Dead Kennedys, X, Buzzcocks (with their triumphant final single from the original phase), Agent Orange, The Cramps, Mission of Burma, Stiff Little Fingers, The Replacements and Bad Brains.  Also along for the ride are less-knowns like The Gordons, Au Pairs, MX-80, Empire, Josef K, the Zoomers (with thanks to Hyped 2 Death), and Portland’s beloved Wipers.  Toss in a few voodoo oddballs like Flipper, the Flesh Eaters, 100 Flowers, Swimming Pool Q’s, Gun Club, and the early Virgin Prunes, and you’re read to turn it to 11.  Full tracklist and download link after “more…”.

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , , ,

[Musicophilia] – Visual Mix Index

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on September 13, 2009

Musicophilia’s 1st birthday is coming up soon, and by then the blog will feature over 50 mixes! In order to make them easier to find, I’ve created a Visual Mix Index. I’m posting it here as a blog post, but it will be permanently available (and updated) at this page. So if you’ve missed some mixes–go grab them, and I hope you’ll hear new sounds to love. Thanks so much for listening!

[Musique du Monde]

Musique du Monde is a faux-reissue series focused generally on the music of the 70s, bleeding slightly into the 60s and the 80s. Across the “LPs” from the “label” you’ll find an eclectic but carefully crafted blend of the well known and the unknown, from around the world. On any one “side” you’ll find funk, pure pop, psychedelia, fusion and electric jazz, prog, proto-punk, progressive folk, singer-songwriter, sound library recordings, Euro-funk, art rock, early electronics, musique concrete, and on later-era mixes, disco, proto-electro and a bit of post-punk. The Musique du Monde label never existed–but it should have.

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 5′ (1967-1971)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 7′ (1967-1973)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 4′ (1968-1971)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 12′ (1971-1975)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 3′ (1967-1971)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 14′ (1972-1975)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘The Best of Les Rythmes du Monde, Volume 1’ (1977-1981)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘The Best of Les Rythmes du Monde, Volume 2’ (1977-1981)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘The Best of Les Rythmes du Monde, Volume 3’ (1977-1981)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘The Best of Les Rythmes du Monde, Volume 4’ (1977-1981)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume One (1973-1977)

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume Two (1974-1977)

COMING SOON: [Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume Three (1972-1977)

[Sensory Replication Series]

The ‘Sensory Replication Series‘ mixes are my personal favorites at Musicophilia. My aim is to create a new whole from existing parts, inspired by cinema and binaural field recordings, that hopefully offers a new listening experience even if some of the music is familiar. These are by far my most intricately constructed mixes, weaving together up to half a dozen elements (songs, tracks, and custom-made remixes, versions, and new additional sound) at any given time, spanning decades and cross-pollinating genres, and creating a seamless journey. Headphones recommended.

[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘Collide\Coalesce’ (1950-2004)

[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘Gloaming’ (1731-2005)

[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘The Somnambulist’ (1908-2007)

[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘Tall Stories of Evil Gris-Gris’ (1915-2007)

[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘Adrift’ (1969-2001)

[Post-Punk Mixes]

These mixes explore the endlessly innovative, past-gobbling and future-seeking world of “post-punk,” a term so meaning-stretched as to be almost meaningless that you nevertheless know-it-when-you-hear-it. My aim with post-punk mixes is to give the well-loved names their due but to celebrate the unadulterated fecundity of the years 1977-1983 (or so) through equal exploration of the much less well-known names and sounds.

[1981] - 'Feet' (2005)

[1981] - 'Convertible' (2005)

[1981] - 'Brain' (2005)

[1981] - 'Amplifier' (2005)

[1981] - 'Heart' (2005)

[1981] - 'Cassette' (2005)

[1981] - 'Computer' (2005)

[1981] - 'Fire' (2005)

[1981] - 'Ice' (2005)

[1981] - 'How To Say 1981 In German' (2005)

[Miniatures] - ‘Post-Punk No. 1′ (1977-1983)

[Miniatures] - ‘Post-Punk No. 2′ (1975-1983)

[Miniatures] - ‘Post-Punk No. 3′ (1976-1983)

[One-Off] - ‘Post Post-Punk′ (1983-1994)

[Women of Post-Punk] - ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook, Vol. 1′ (1978-1983)

[Women of Post-Punk] - ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook, Vol. 2′ (1979-1983)

[Women of Post-Punk] - ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook, Vol. 3′ (1979-1983)

[Post-Punk Covers Classics] – Various – ‘No Heroes’ (1982)

[One-Offs and Albums]

While Musicophilia tends to concentrate on creating curated series, there’s always room for one-offs, single-artist mixes and other excursions. I’ve also shared a few albums of my own, very tiny music as Soundslike, which might appeal to fans of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Christian Fennesz, or Nick Drake.

[Soundslike] – ‘Complicity’ (2001)

[Soundslike] – ‘The Irish Sea’ (2001) + ‘Full of Blue-Green Blood’ (2004)

[Soundslike] – ‘A Where Was And Isn’t Anymore’ (1999)

[One-Off] – ‘Get Off My Lawn, 2008!’ (2008)

[One-Off] – ‘Still’ (1630-1999)

[Miniatures Series] – ‘Lullaby No. 1′ (1957-2004)

[Miniatures Series] – ‘Lullaby No. 2′ (1903-2004)

[One-Off] – ‘Musicophilia Daily - Week One Sampler

[One-Off] – ‘Electromance’ (1969-2006)

[One-off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book One’ (1975-1979)

[One-Off] – Can – ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two’ (Beyond Can, 1977-1984)

[Full Album] – Phantom Band (with Jaki Liebezeit) – ‘Phantom Band’ (1980)

[Guest Mixes]

Musicophilia has had the honor of hosting a number of fantastic guest-mixes put together by talented musicians who also happen to be passionate listeners. These mixes dovetail nicely with the Musicophilia sensibility, but add their own much-appreciated flavors.

[Guest Mix] – ‘Human Heads’ (Mixed by Ettiem)

[Guest Mix] – ‘Spring2009Mix’ (Mixed by The Subcons)

[Guest Mix] – ‘Good Morning,’ (Mixed by The Harvey Girls)

[Guest Mix] – ‘Afternöön Röck Blöck’ (Mixed by The Harvey Girls)

[Guest Mix] – ‘Somniloquies’ (1931-2009) (Mixed by Love, Execution Style)

Subscribe to Musicophilia

[1981] – ‘Briefcase, Volume 2′ (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Tracks by Soundslike on May 18, 2009

1981_briefcase-small

As you hopefully know, the principle nine mixes from the ’1981′ Box Set are all now available for download here at Musicophilia.  For those who just can’t get enough of the post-punk fecundity, the adventure continues roughly every weekend with tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ disc (a catch-all mp3 disc that added another 250 tracks and artists/bands to the box set) at Musicophilia Daily.   Periodically, these tracks will be collected and presented here at Musicophilia in unsequenced, alphabetical order; this is the second such collection, featuring tracks #21-40.

Highlights from this 20-band collection include Bow Wow Wow, the Bunnydrums, the Cardboards, Cancer, Buzz, very early ChameleonsCCCP-TV, Ceramic Hello, Hyped2Death faves Chemicals Made From Dirt, Christian Death, The Clash in dance-remix mode, Bouncing Czechs, Colours Out of Time, and perhaps my faves of the bunch, Club Tango.  Tracks are in low VBR and include cover art; download link below the “more…” link.

(more…)

Tagged with: , ,

[Musicophilia] – The Complete ’1981′ Box Set

Posted in Talking by Soundslike on May 13, 2009

drum_bw1

All nine mixes from the ’1981′ Box Set are now available in full! That’s hundreds of key artists, the famed and the forgotten, from the apex of post-punk and the ascent of new-pop, synth-pop, and related artforms.  Links to every mix are below, at the “more…” link.  Don’t be shy–say hello, let me know if you dig what I’m doing here.

(more…)

Tagged with: , ,

[1981] – ‘Briefcase, Volume 1′ (2005)

Posted in Talking, Tracks by Soundslike on April 6, 2009

1981_briefcase-small

So far, eight of the nine ‘1981‘ mixes from the box set released in 2004-2005 have been “reissued” here at Musicophilia, with over 3,000 downloads between them, hopefully helping many of you hear music that’s new to you.  But there was a whole other element to the box set where the carefully sequenced and themed mixes ended: the ‘Briefcase‘ disc, which was a catch-all grab-bag from the endless corners of what could be called “post-punk” in 1981.  It added another 250 tracks and artists/bands to the box set, and while not a mix in the usual sense (tracks were simply presented alphabetically), there was a lot of great stuff in there, and the ‘Briefcase’ is what makes the box set something closer to an historical record than simply a collection of mixes.  Every weekend, more tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ are made available for streaming over at Musicophilia Daily; but due to their apparent popularity, I’ve decided to make the tracks available for download here at Musicophilia on a periodic basis.  Here’s the ‘1981 Briefcase, Volume 1‘, with the first 20 tracks; depending on whether anyone downloads this set, another 11 or so volumes will likely follow over the next year.

Among the highlights from the twenty artists in this collection: 1000 Ohm, Absolute Body Control, and Beranek (also featured in higher quality as part of the “1981 addendum” mix, ‘How To Say 1981 in German‘); early A Flock of Seagulls and ABC; Adam & The Ants; Alternative TV; 49 Americans side-group Avocados; pre-Bangles The Bangs; The Work-related Black Sheep; Blondie; and Cyndi Lauper’s first foray, Blue Angel, amongst others.  Tracks are in low VBR and include original cover art; download link below the “more…” link.  [My thanks to the true geeks who discovered this download last week via my little April Fools trick/self-satire/wishful thinking.]

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Fire’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 31, 2009

1981-fire

One element of post-punk that’s generally overlooked in the prevailing narratives (grey overcoats, “art school,” edgy guitars, politics) is that it directly countered the lockstep of punk by vastly expanding, if not exploding, the rhythmic possibilities of “rock” music.  Gone was the polka-like punk stomp, gone was the prog 20-piece-kit pomp; and in their place, a cultural pluralism of percussion, groove, shake, surf, shimmy, disco, jazz, skank, and free-form funk.  You might call it renewed cultural imperialism after 20 years or so of rock-whiteyfying; but perhaps Malcolm Mclaren-touched projects aside (think Bow Wow Wow), the sound to me is one of liberation, not domination; honor, not theft; it’s exploration, not usurpation, in earnest joy.  As evidence, here is the 8th mix from the 1981‘ Box Set: ‘Fire‘.  This is perhaps the most generally encapsulating mix of the broader zeitgeist of post-punk (at least as I see it) after the first mix posted six months ago, ‘Feet;’ and both share a prevailing danceability and buoyant pace, making this another good mix to share with your post-punk neophyte friends.

Loosening up the beats across 24 tracks and 80 minutes are plenty of well-known names: New Order (from their underrated debut, the gloom already beginning to lift); David Byrne going solo and mirroring his contemporaneous work with Brian Eno, along with Talking Heads and beside the Tom Tom Club; The B-52s; INXS (telling you something about just how vibrant 1981 was by being actually quite decent); Wire, in one of their last first-run releases; Prince, already stirring up controversy.  Then there’s queen Banshee Siouxsie in her fantastic polyrhythmic side project Creatures; David Thomas really going all out like a parade, from his first solo album, and sounding about as far from contemporaneous Pere Ubu as you could imagine; The (English) Beat; The Specials with their all-time great and post-Specials Fun Boy Three; Japan with Mick Karn’s singing bass; and A Certain Ratio demonstrating Factory’s shifting modus oparandi.  Rounding it out are Fad Gadget, the Raybeats‘ surf stylings, Loung Lizards‘ snake-skin jazz, The Suburbs, indefatigable Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, Bauhaus, The Raincoats marching to their own drummer (in this case This Heat’s Charles Hayward), and a barn-burner from my favorites, Family Fodder.  And that leaves one more to go–the counterpart to this mix, ‘Ice,’ so keep on the lookout soon.  Full tracklist and download link at the “more…” link.

(more…)

[1981] – ‘How To Say 1981 In German’ (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 19, 2009

how-to-say-1981-in-german

How to Say 1981 in German‘ is a Musicophilia’s first “addendum mix” to the ’1981′ box set (and is based on a mix I put together partially from tracks in the ‘1981 Briefcase‘ in 2005).  It explores the tip of the iceberg of Deutsche Neue Welle and DNW-inflected music, and in terms of quality could well have been the 10th “main disc mix” in the box.  If DNW is new to you, this should serve as a reasonable introduction, despite being limited to just one year: ’81 was as peak for Germanic-speaking synthy, dark, reassuringly non-virtuosic  pop as it was for post-punk at large–though like Italo Disco, DNW seems to have carried on strong longer than non-New Wave/New Romantic post-punk in Britain and the U.S. did.  Within basic parameters described above, this compilation reveals the considerable breadth within the DNW umbrella: songs of tuneful joy; sultry saxed-up rockers; dubby or D.A.F.-lite dance-pop; playful squelchy synth-funk silliness; sentimental romanticism; minimal ambient horror-shows; odes to evil robot CIA/KGB; precient proto-house (if Pole tackled house instead of dub); “dance-punk” that you’d swear came from 2003; and of course a good dash of pre-apocalyptic rumination, as expected from the front-lines of the cold war, but offset by an equal measure neo-kosmiche optimism.

Few generally recognised names are found here (unless they’re better known in Germany): Neonbabies are sort of the German Bush Tetras; theres Absolute Body Control, Grauzone, Palais Schaumburg, Beranek, Geisterfahrer, Pyrolater (perhaps the best-known name here); Klopferbande, Sudenten Creche, Din a Testbild, Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons, Metro Pakt, Kosmonautentraum, Mythos, 1000 Ohm, Les Vampyrettes (actually Holger Czukay & Conny Plank, but which fits right in); and Deutsche Wertabeit, Matthais Schuster, Van Kaye & Ignit, Starter, Exkurs, and Weltklang.  Not a great deal of this stuff is readily available, though there are a few scattered “best ofs” and the occasional CD reissue of some of them; others are still waiting for their due.  As a couple of these tracks have been shared from the ‘1981 Briefcase‘ at Musicophilia Daily, I’ll stream them below as a preview of the mix.  Full tracklist and download below the “more…” link. [This mix is presented in its original form, as individual tracks, non-mixed.]



(more…)

[1981] – ‘Briefcase’ Tracks

Posted in Talking by Soundslike on March 7, 2009

1981_briefcase-small

For those of you who enjoy the mixes from the ’1981′ set–there’s a whole other side to the box that until now I haven’t had a good way to share.  But with the advent of the Musicophilia Daily blog, I think there’s now an appropriate forum.  So starting today, every weekend I’ll be posting tracks both from the ’1981 Briefcase’ proper, and additional ’81 tracks I’ve discovered since I made the box in 2004.  Of the 250+ tracks originally included on the disc, I’d say fewer than a dozen were included for “context” or in order to “paint a full picture,” stuff I didn’t really enjoy musically (though you might); the vast majority are, in my opinion, high-quality stuff that just didn’t fit for one reason or another on any of the themed mixes.  So this is not barrel scraping–if you like what you’ve heard so far, you’ll hear plenty to love.

Check it out at Musicophilia DailySubscribe to Musicohpilia

Tagged with: , ,

[1981] – ‘Computer’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 10, 2009

1981-computer1

As exciting as it must have felt if you were in the right place with the right people in 1981, my guess is that within a couple years it was evident that 1981 was a high-water mark for arty weirdo fusion un-rock rock music, and things had moved on.  Most of the music on the ’1981′ box set represents this climax, and it doesn’t sound much like what your average person on the street thinks of when they think of “80s music”.  And not just because some of it was obscure even in its day; but rather because although it would inspire a small minority, a lot of music on the ’1981′ set is actually the sound of the end of something, not a beginning.  By contrast, the music on ‘Computer,’ the seventh disc of the 1981 set, presents the birth of what most would identify as “80s music”.  This is “Electropop,” this is “New Wave,” this is “New Pop,” with a little bit of “New Romantic” for good measure–unabashed pop melodiousness, accompanied by synths and lead by keyboards, informed by the beginnings of an obsession with chorus, delay, and reverbed drums.  But–this is still 1981, so it all feels a little innocent, a little rough around the edges; the art-school diplomas and the bedsit squats and the situationist screeds still peek out from behind the bigger hairdos and the pleated trousers and the faux-corporate rhetoric about band-as-brand and taking on the system through the system.  ‘Computer‘ is the sound of turning at a crossroads.  But I would say it’s far from a lamentation of something lost–this music is above all else about smiling in the face of uncertainty.

This isn’t electro-disco or Italo or Hi-NRG.  This is electronic-based pop and some of it was quite popular: Depeche Mode, Devo, Human League, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Soft Cell and the Cars you’ll recognise from the radio even if you were in diapers in 1981.  And most will most likely know Thomas Dolby (at least by way of John Hughes), Annie Lennox’s Eurythmics (with half of Can), Cybotron, OMD, The Buggles and of course the godfathers, Kraftwerk (here with probably one of my top 5 tracks of 1981).  But the trick is, this isn’t quite these bands as you might best recognise them, though depending on your proclivities, it might be these bands as you best enjoy them.  These staples are joined by the darker or slightly odder likes of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, The Associates, Heaven 17 (ex-Human League), the Plastics, Yello, the lovely New Musik, Manuel Gottsching quietly “inventing” House, Tuxedomoon, Chris & Cosey (the softer side of Throbbing Gristle), Moev, Classix Nouveaux, and the wonderful Blue Nile with a song of pure unadulterated joy.  Full tracklist and download link are after the “more…” link.  And keep on the lookout of the next couple months for the final two mixes from the ’1981′ box.

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Cassette’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 22, 2008

1981_individual-mixes_cassettesmall

‘Cassette’ is the sixth of nine mixes from the ’1981′ box set to be posted here at Musicophilia (the first five can be found here, with detailed information about the project at the first mix, ‘Feet‘).  The mix began with a focus on the lo-fi and twee strains of post-punk in the box’s 1st edition.  By this, the 4th edition revision, the disc had mutated into something rather broader.  There’s still a commonality of unabashedly amateur means, a certain ramshackle sensibility, and a decided quirkiness that means you’ll mistake none of it for, say, Echo & The Bunnymen.  But stylistically and sonically, ‘Cassette’ became one of the most eclectic mixes in the set.  Partially this can be credited to its ‘Miniatures‘-like emphasis on brevity: 35 artists and tracks in its CD length means it never lingers any one place too long.  But in the odder, proto-home-recording edges of post-punk, limited means did not shape the aesthetic as much as with later, more voluntarily “lo-fi” music.  So here you’ll find cassette-trade-worthy takes on perfect pop, bristly punk, electropop, DNW, proto-Indie, Rock in Opposition, avant garde feminist art-rock, with an emphasis on the scruffier, scuzzier end of early synthpunk.

There are a few “known” names here (now, whether they were so much at the time): The Clean, Felt, Tall Dwarfs, Half Japanese, The Fall, Television Personalities, and the Violent Femmes.  But this disc almost certainly has the highest percentage of any ’1981′ disc of unknowns-to-be-known-later and pretty-much-always-unknowns.  The artists you do know, but in early permutations or flying solo: Laughing Apples feature Andrew Innes later of Primal Scream; Ben Watts shows up here solo, best known as one half of Everything But the Girl with ex-Marine Girl Tracey Thorn; Biting Tongues included Graham Massey, later of 808 State; Plasticland is here in their earliest iteration (with Brian Ritchie of the Femmes), as are Aztec Camera.  There are Midwesterners (including many Hoosiers) like Social Climbers, Dow Jones & The Industrials, Dancing Cigarettes, Amoebas in Chaos, Philosophic Collage, and Human Switchboard; West Coasters The Beakers, Nervous Gender, Monitor, and Voice Farm; and excellent New Yorkers Thick Pigeon.  Not American are the 49 Americans, a well-connected London artist-amateur coalition that included David Toop; along with other Brits like Ludus (sometimes known for being Morrissey’s pals), The Fall-related Blue Orchids, recently-reissued Diagram Brothers, and Flux of Pink Indians; lovely French Young Marble Giants doppelgangers Fall of Saigon; and Germans Der Plan and the very reissue-worthy Neonbabies.  All this, on two sides of the elusive C80: the perfect sound for your new Walkman or Stowaway.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more…” link.

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , ,

[1981] – ‘Heart’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 15, 2008

00_1981-heart_1981_coversmall

‘Heart’ is the fifth compilation from the ‘1981′ box set, originally compiled and released 2004-2005 (the previous four can be found here, and more information about the project and as a whole and photos of the box are here).  Most of the time, “post-punk” has a spiky connotation, and an artsy reputation; words we would commonly associate with the period/movement/ethos are iconoclastic, political, contrarian, weird, Modernistic, futuristic, maybe even danceable and funky, in a wiry sort of way.  But one idea we might not think of very quickly is “emotional,” unless the brooding, gloomy sub-genre dominates our perception.  But even “gloomy” is almost more of an idea of an emotion than an emotion itself; a pose of sadness, a melodrama that does not particularly convey itself directly to any listener not already striking a similar pose.  This mix, then, was meant to shed a little light on the occurrence of more mature, fully-fledged emotion: the earnest, the hopeful, the broken, exultant, desperate, dreaming, nostalgic, regretful, passionate, uncertain, and sometimes viscerally angry heart of post-punk.

Most of the other discs in the set were compiled primarily around particular sonic criteria, so in some ways this is one of the more eclectic of the nine.  Musically there is a tendency toward simplicity, a degree of spareness, an un-punk sense of restraint; but other moments snarl or get a little anthemic, and others are unabashedly poppy.   Among the tracks here are some of my very favorite from 1981: The Cure‘s inimitable (would that none had tried) “All Cats Are Grey,” post-Young Marble Giants the Gist with “Love At First Sight,” Gang of Four‘s Achilles-like tale of “Paralysed,” OMD‘s bones-exposed “Romance of the Telescope” (one of the best b-sides of all time), Raincoats‘ “Only Loved at Night,” Talking Heads‘ biting-or-inspirational “Once In A Lifetime,” and perhaps most haunting, Japan‘s “Ghosts” (which, were it not for Laurie Andersons chart-penultimate ‘O Superman,’ would have to be one of the most unlikely singles of all time).   But the Passions, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, Durutti Column, Buzzcock Pete Shelley, The Sound, New Order, This Heat, Gary Numan, Psychedelic Furs, MX-80, Ultravox, and the other post-Young Marble Giants act featured here, The Weekend, are all represented here by some of their best work, too.  This would have to be the darkhorse contender for best disc in the set, so if you have hesitated to check them all out before, pick up again here and work your way back.  Full tracklist and download link after “more…”.  Four more ’1981′ mixes remaining. . .

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , , ,

[1981] – ‘Brain’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 10, 2008

‘Brain’ is the third Musicophilia-posted mix from the ‘1981′ box set, and pretty much the precise inverse of the poppy, breezy, songwriter-oriented sound and feeling of the last mix posted, ‘Convertible‘. And I’d concede it’s probably a little less accessible than the first mix posted, the beat-oriented ‘Feet‘ mix. These tracks are the mutant sons and daughters of musique concrete; late 60s/early 70s weirdos like the Residents, White Noise, Bruce Haack; Germans like Cluster and Faust. This stuff is often aggressive, frequently dark, a combination of the visceral and the experimental. That said, there’s a distinct sense of humor running through it all, even if the humor is a little black, and the music manages to be pretty catchy, too. If you’re at all post-punk-curious, this is essential territory.

Featured names include Germans Klaus Nomi, Trio, Einstruzende Neubauten; Brits like Matt Johnson (of The The, presaging Disco Inferno), Fire Engines, Flying Lizards, and the Birthday Party; No Wave elites DNA and Glenn Branca; post-Henry Cow RIOers Art Bears, Homosexuals and This Heat; agit-prop Crass and The Ex; and essential American art-pranksters like Chrome, The Residents, Negativland, and Pere Ubu. It might have made more sense to post this one on Halloween, and the closer-to-celebratory ‘Convertible’ mix after the recent good news here in America. But this is a good one for those flashbacks to the creeping paranoia and anger of the last eight years—this is the sound of smiling through it all, with panache and wit. For more information about the whole ’1981′ series, read more here. Full tracklist and download link after the “more…”.

(more…)

Tagged with: , , , ,

[1981] – ‘Convertible’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 31, 2008

The second posted mix from the ‘1981′ box set, the ‘Convertible’ compilation showcases a side of the post-punk sound that usually gets the least attention: its poppy, melody-oriented, hummable, playful persona. Some of this gets lumped under “New Wave,” but for many that term connotes a synth-based sound that ascended later in the decade. The sounds on this mix in some ways reflect a more traditional, sometimes even pre-psychedelic, singer-songwriter-oriented “pre-punk” or “un -punk” approach to songwriting. Some of it foreshadows the late-80s rise of “indie rock” as an ‘antidote’ to excessive perceived synthetic-glam, but in 1981 there’s not much of the anti-artrockist twee feeling of 80s indie. This is simply catchy pop music, a continuation of a long tradition, with a feeling that is nevertheless uniquely informed by the heady musical freedom in the underground of the era.

I put ‘Convertible’ together as further evidence that post-punk was fun, for those under the looming cultural shadow of Joy Division and the other dark-side mopers. The music found here isn’t nearly as “cool” as a lot of the other stuff on the ’81 set, but it simply doesn’t need to be: it’s just right the way it is, simple, well-crafted, cleanly produced. As usual, there are big names (Costello, REM, Go-Go’s, TheRamones, Pretenders) and less so (Go Betweens, Pylon, The Suburbs, The Stranglers, and the Necessaries, featuring Arthur Russell, transitional Scritti Politti, pre -Everything But the Girl Marine Girls), but to my ears again the remarkable thing is the parity, the consistently high quality of the era’s broad zeitgeist, between those who received lots of attention at the time or went on to become mainstream acts, and those who never came close (or never wanted to). More information about the ’1981′ box set in general (as well as the first mix in the series posted toMusicophilia) can be found here. Keep your eyes open for more mixes from the ’1981′ set in upcoming weeks, including synthy goodness, weirdo careening, and the very height of 1981 “cool”. Full tracklist and download link after the “more…”.

(more…)

[1981] – ‘Feet’ Mix (2005)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 9, 2008

[Note: All nine mixes from the '1981' box set are now available to download here.]

From the ’1981′ box set, the ‘Feet’ compilation is a rhythm-oriented collection that makes a nice introduction to the set and to the period. Featuring some well-known heavyweights of the post-punk milieu–Gang of Four, Kraftwerk, OMD, Public Image Ltd.–it’s one of the more immediately accessible discs from the box. But it also has a features a few artists who get less general recognition, like Dome (post-Wire); Family Fodder (possibly the anti-Joy Division for me, in terms of more accurately capturing wildly expansive ethos of post-punk); Massacre (Fred Frith’s most bracing, prog-less stab); Dif Juz (post-rock what?); Trio (great band, misfiled as novelty one-hitters); British Electronic Foundation and Heaven 17 (post-Human League); and Goat that Went Om (courtesy of Phil at No Night Sweats, I gather they only recorded this one track). A good mix to pass on to friends. Tracklist, notes and download after the break.

(more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41 other followers

%d bloggers like this: