Musicophilia

[One-Off] – ‘The Gold and the Silver Dream’ (1971-1982) (After Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 10, 2013

Hello!  Musicophilia is at this point mostly a memory–but it’s back from the dead, at least for a little while!  If you’re reading this, thanks for remembering.  Architecture grad school is in the rear-view after three years of all-consuming work, so I finally have a little time for mix making.  I’ve been listening and buying music as much as I could, and I’ve started (in my mind, at least) a dozen mixes, so who knows, maybe life will allow the opportunity to finish them.  Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ was release two days after I graduated, and listening to it (again and again) has felt like a celebration.  It’s an album tailor-made for fans of this blog, connecting the dots between so many sonic obsessions that are the motivation behind the Musicophilia mixes.  So it seemed only natural–and honestly, I couldn’t shake the desire, even in the midst of finishing a thesis–to honor the album with a mix.

‘The Gold and the Silver Dream’ isn’t a Daft Punk influences mix, and it isn’t meant to correspond to the album in any direct way.  Instead, I put it together as a way of spending more time in the space ‘Random Access Memories’ occupies.  It’s filled with the same warm, wonderful sounds of funky, melancholic robots skirting around the edges of the discotheque, alternately wondering what life’s about and deciding it’s all about forgetting to worry what it’s all about. There’s space disco, library funk, sophisticated rhythmic orchestrations, savvy art-rock, psych-poppers and proggers gone dancefloor, and a singer-songwriter or two–all meeting in those blissful sonic years 1971-1982 from which Daft Punk brewed their latest potions.  So if you like Musicophilia’s faux-vintage ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, or the dance-oriented ‘Les Rythmes du Monde‘ mixes, or the spooky ‘Le Mystere de la Musique‘ series, you probably love ‘Random Access Memories’ and I think you’ll really enjoy this mix.  Stream it or download it after the “more” link.

(more…)

[One-Off] – ‘Zygotic’ (After the Flaming Lips’ ‘Embryonic’) (2009)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on November 9, 2011

I would never have guessed I’d be making a mix in response to a Flaming Lips album, in 2009.  But the Lips, purveyors of grinning, gleeful quirk-pop, festooned by confetti and bunny suits during the last decade–a recipe with initial charm but diminishing returns–have, according to Wayne Coyne, killed off their “former selves . . . Our more crafty or calculated selves. Our less brave selves . . . Our less spontaneous selves”.  Thus in their 26th year, the band has created what I feel is their strongest work ever: ‘Embryonic,’ (which can be streamed here at NPR).  I was so floored by the strength of the album–a total surprise, including its staggering cover–that rather than trying to review the album, I felt compelled to respond in mix form, with ‘Zygotic‘.  The Flaming Lips’ new album borrows from the production techniques and stylistic eclecticism of their previous best, ‘Zaireeka,’ and from the manic energy and freak-out distortion of their 80s and early-90s albums.  The stylishness and cinematic scope of their most acclaimed album, ‘The Soft Bulletin,’ is channeled into a darker, sparer, more visceral direction.  Though there are moments of silliness and optimism, most of the cartoonish clowning (“She Don’t Use Jelly,” “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”) and scrubbed-clean brightness of their mainstream successes is gone.  The lyrics remain largely abstract, but a more lifelike character voice is conveyed, one wrestling with the ambiguities of humanity that can be “evil” but can “be gentle, too, if they decide”.   It all adds up to their most sonically vigorous, sometimes most soothing, sometimes most ferocious, and certainly most emotionally evocative work to date.

Looking back, I see that 1997’s ‘Zaireeka‘ was a truly mind-altering experience, formative in my expectations of what music could do in terms of sound, increasing my appreciation of how sounds could be produced and arranged on a record.  Without it, I doubt I would have traveled as readily during the next couple of years into Can, 70s Miles Davis, early Reich, Faust, Silver Apples, early dub, or the more experimental side of post-punk–to say nothing of music concrete favorites like Bernard Parmegiani or Pierre Henry a few years later.  ‘Embryonic‘ proves the link was no fluke, as it reflects a deep connection with many of the sounds that are central to the Musicophilia aesthetic–to the music they propelled me toward.  ‘Zygotic‘ is not meant to suggest, however, that Coyne & Co. have created a pastiche; the mix isn’t an attempt at sonic genealogy, and I wouldn’t claim that any of this music is definitely a direct inspiration for the Lips’ resurgence.  ‘Embryonic‘ is imbued with a here-and-now quality, and it maintains a wit and vocabulary that is uniquely Flaming Lips–ultimately it sounds like nothing else.  Rather, ‘Zygotic‘ is primarily intended as an echo (or pre-echo, as it were) of the spirit of the album; and only secondarily is it an attempt to illustrate the sound-heritage from which the Lips may have drawn inspiration.

I’ve followed the overall form of the album: two halves totaling roughly 70 minutes, in 18 parts, all interlinked with repeating motifs and sounds.  I’ve also attempted to match the careful blend of the beautiful and the ugly, the ambient and the massively heavy, that characterizes ‘Embryonic‘.  The result is hopefully a nice counterpart to the album–but certainly not a replacement for it, and I highly recommend you buy it from the band or at your local record shop.  If you need some convincing for the download, I’ll break down the mixes after the “more…” link, along with the full tracklist.  Personally, I recommend that you surprise yourself and listen to the mixes first, and then look at the artists and tracklist later.  So, if you trust my mixing heretofore, here is the download link.

(more…)

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking, Tracks by Soundslike on June 16, 2009

Folder

Following the mix of later-era Can from a few days ago, this new collection of post- and extra-Can tracks, ‘The Church of Latter-Day Can, Book Two‘ should be perhaps an even bigger surprise for those who’ve bought the hype that Can was all downhill after ‘Future Days’.  Putting together this collection, it even surprised me just how great the boys of Can continued to be after the “split” in 1979–if anything, this period was even more fertile than ’74-’79.  They might not have been years ahead of their time as they were with ‘Tago Mago‘ or ‘Future Days,’ but they were very definitely right in the thick of the zeitgeist of the day, mixing up a glorious “post-punk”-ish blend of reggae, funk, electronics, musique concrete, post-Krautrock, Afrobeat, and dub, with occasional pop melodic flourishes.  This collection covers both “solo” projects by various members (which always included other members of Can) and collaborative efforts with luminaries and lesser-knowns of the post-punk and dance worlds.  Given the breadth of years and the number of releases (17) and the vast number of participants, there is a remarkable cohesiveness in the diversity, proving that even after a “breakup” Can continued in spirit for quite a while.  This set is especially illuminates the fact that whatever Can were in the early days–art-rock, proto-punk, prog rock, Krautrock–is very much part of a strong progression of music through the 70s (reaching out laterally to funk and even sound library music) directly to the very best of post-punk, the latter’s name notwithstanding.  If you find yourself thinking of Talking Heads, The Slits, Arthur Russell, The Pop Group, Pere Ubu, Public Image Limited, This Heat, Family Fodder, Flying Lizards, Antena, Trio, Raincoats and the Tom Tom Club–along with Lee Perry, KPM library records, Brian Eno, Nonesuch’s ‘Explorer Series,’ King Tubby, et al–it’s surely no accident.

The collection begins in the 70s reaching back to Neu!, with Jaki Liebezeit playing the role of Klaus Dinger with aplomb alongside the real Michael Rother and Conny Plank (the latter of whom, along with Inner Space Studios, remains ever present through this set).  Next Holger Czukay demonstrates both the “Turtles Have Short Legs” humor of Can, as well as his Stockhausen-trained musique concrete roots, all set to an easy disco groove provided by Liebezeit and frequent late-era Can collaborator Rebop Baah; it ends up sounding like a silly counterpart to Eno & Byrne‘s ‘Bush of Ghosts,’ a disco-era update of Bernard Parmegiani‘s “Pop’eclectic” or Francois Bayle‘s “Solitude”.  His second solo track here (also featured in the ‘1981‘ set)  proves balding Germans with goofy mustaches can be sexy.  In ’81 Czukay and Liebezeit helped launch Annie Lennox and Phew in style with fantastic bouncing rhythms and brass instrumentation; and Czukay also found time to Goth it up in a one-off with Conny Plank as Les Vampyrettes, who provide a horror-movie soundtrack to match the Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” or The Normal‘s “Warm Leatherette”.  Irmin Schmidt largely exited the pop music world, focusing on soundtrack and experimental work, which his track here with Bruno Spoerri captures well, reminiscent perhaps of Ryuichi Sakamoto.  His other appearance here is nearly a full Can reunion, with Liebezeit, Karoli and Rosko Gee, taking a Meters-like New Orleans-funk feeling into outer space.  Both Liebezeit and Damo Suzuki show up–from different years–with minimal Afro-funk German group Dunkelziffer.

Jaki Liebezeit is unsurprisingly the core of Can even after Can, appearing on nearly every track here.  His excellent Phantom Band is represented as it evolved over four years, starting as a polyrhythmic troupe that I think Hamilton Bohannon would’ve dug (with vocals from Rosko Gee, late-Can member).  By 1981 Phantom evolves into a trippier post-punk dub outfit, and finally by 1984 a pop group that calls to mind Talking Heads or the Urban Verbs.  Liebezeit also helped out with Gabi Delgado-Lopez‘s transition from S&M DNW industrialism with Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft into Mediterranean New Pop territory more befitting his native Spain.  Jah Wobble is here in multiple instances bringing the woozy low-end that Public Image Ltd. lost.  He joins up with Czukay for probably the most surprising moment here–a NYC-style no disco synth workout that would have fit right in on Larry Levan‘s decks, with guitar from The Edge (yes, of U2) and produced/programmed by proto-house legend Francois Kevorkian.  While he was apparently less prolific than others in his post-Can output, Michael Karoli rounds things out (with the aid of Liebezeit) on two beautiful tracks from ’84 that would fit in right beside the “Earthbeat” phase of The Slits or the Raincoats‘ underloved ‘Moving’ LP, with Polly Eltes (who sang on Eno‘s ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’).  I won’t claim all this music will be a guaranteed hit all at once (though if you read all this, odds are good); but there’s a goldmine in this music.  Sadly, much of it is currently long out-of-print; but I ask that you support the artists by buying what is available. Full tracklist and the download link (with individual mp3s and relevant cover art) is after the “more” link.

(more…)

[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 14′ (1972-1975)

Posted in Albums, Mixes by Soundslike on April 14, 2009

les-miniatures-volume-14

After an unintended hiatus, Musicophilia’s “reissues” of the Musique du Monde label are back, with the first of three more “10-inch LPs” from the ‘Les Miniatures‘ series following Volumes 3 and 12: ‘Volume 14,’ drawing from the years 1972-1975.  As with all the mixes in the broader Miniatures Series, the aim is to cover a lot of ground in very little time: all tracks are two minutes or less in duration; and the mixes are around 30 minutes total.  The ‘Les Miniatures‘ mixes are like morning commute-length portions of the 2xLP-length ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ mixes, so anything goes as long as it’s got a groove: funk of myriad permutations from New Orleans to Philly to France to Yugoslavia; musique concrete, psychedelia, singer-songwriter, sound library and soundtracks, proto-punk, Krautrock, early electro-pop, jazz, Tropicalia, and a little of the simply unclassifiable.  You’ll find the familiar and the new, each hopefully adding something to the experience of the whole.  (If you’ve been visiting Musicophilia primarily for the post-punk, I invite you to take a chance on some of the Musique du Monde stuff–it may be worlds apart from post-punk in some regards, but for my money, this is where the coolest sounds in the world were happening, presaging the radical artistic fecundity of the post-punk years.)

Franco Battiato – “Cariosinesi”  (1972)

Shuggie Otis – “Happy House” (1974)

Making up the thirty minutes of this mix are twenty artists from seven countries.  The better known include Marvin Gaye, The Residents, Kraftwerk, Big Star, Barry White, and Brian Eno.  Less well known in the U.S. but heroes elsewhere are Bernard Parmegiani (probably my favorite artist working with electro-acoustic experimentation), Franco Battiato, Brigitte Fontaine & Areski, The Aggrovators, Popol Vuh, the Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper, and Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry.  Finally there’s key sound library figure Janko Nilovic; funk-pop prodigy Shuggie Otis; savant-garde group Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Curt Boettcher (of The Millenium, Sagittarius and the SoCal sunshine pop scene); and soundtrack maestros David Snell and Karl Heinz Schafer.  If you like what you hear, there’s plenty more where that came from: nine other Musique du Monde volumes so far, and several more in the coming weeks and months.  Full tracklist, “liner notes,” and download link after the “more…” below.

(more…)

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

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

00_various_-_le-tour-du-monde-volume-05_2xlp_1971_cover-small

Back again with the third “reissued” release in the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series: ‘Volume 4,’ covering 1968 to 1971.  The mood here is a little spookier, a little funkier, a little rawer, the beats are more to the fore.  But if you’ve heard any of the previous volumes, you can probably anticipate what’s in store: a heady post-Psych, post-Funk stew from a time of boundless exploration and fusion and invention.  Crazy Moogs, slinky harpsichords and Rhodes, choppy guitars, break-worthy drums, soaring strings, Tropicalia- or Indian-tinged percussion, horizon-expanding musique concrete production techniques, fuzz-bass as a lead instrument, sunny pop melodies, heartbreaking singer-songwriting, literal bells and whistles—all unstoppably funky.  There is a proto-electro Beethoven cover, a Japanese take on Jefferson Airplane, a Greecian take on “All Along the Watchtower,” a Moog-and-choral take on “Peace Train”.   Library sound, West Coast psych-rock, soundtracks, experimental 20th century composers, Motown and Motown-on-the-Seine (or Motown in the Outback, etc.).  Over fifteen countries, thirty-five artists and tracks, 2LPs, 100 minutes.

Naming names: you’ll find The Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono (in ghostly ballad form), Isaac Hayes, Nico, Curtis Mayfield, Miles Davis (featuring Sonny Sharrock’s echoplex madness), Can, and Stevie Wonder.  Then there are Brits Bill Fay, Roy Budd and weirdo-folkster Simon Finn; Moogists Gershon Kingsley and Hugo Montenegro; Italian purveyors of the beat Piero Piccioni, Giancarlo Gazzani, and Ennio Morricone in a poppy form; Jorge Ben from Brazil, Yuya Uchida & The Flowers from Japan, Swamp Salad from Australia, Saka Acquaye from Ghana and The Funkees from Nigeria.  Yugoslav sound librarian Janko Nilovic shows up here as Andy Loore.  Composers Vladimir Ussachevksy and Gyorgy Ligeti fit in with German Bruno Spoerri (a Can compatriot), Dionysis Savopoulos from Greece, and lesser-known Americans like The Open Window, Stark Reality, Black Heat, The United States of America, and revered jazz-funk bassist Monk Montgomery.  And of course, Musique du Monde represents la Patrie with Francis Lai, Trust, and Jean-Jacques Perrey with classic sample-fodder.  Tracklist, full album art, liner notes, and complete download follow the “more…” link.

(more…)

[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 3′ (1967-1971)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 27, 2008

les-miniatures_volume03_front_small

‘Les Miniatures, Volume 3′ is the second mix in the ‘Les Miniatures‘ series, fifth in the ‘Miniatures‘ method. For more information and the first download, check here. In short (appropriately) these are mixes in the musical style of the globe-spanning, late-60s-to-mid-1970s sound-collecting ‘Le Tour du Monde’ series—but with every track coming in at under two minutes in length, and each mix under forty minutes (like the ‘Miniatures: Post-Punk‘ mixes did for the years 1976-1983). So give them a whirl—you don’t have much to lose, not even much time.

This volume features some very well known names like the Velvet Underground, Bob Marley, Ennio Morricone (though not in his better-known Spaghetti Western mode), Serge Gainsbourg, Syd Barrett, King Crimson and Nick Drake. But it also emphasizes the less-knowns like Sagittarius (for fans of the Beach Boys, The Millennium, or California sunshine pop in general); library hero Roger Roger (of Stringtronics’ ‘Mindbender’ “fame”—seek that one out) and other sound librarians like Oskar Sala, Roland Kovac, and Reg Wale; weirdos like Red Noise, Pearls Before Swine and the ever-wonderful Shaggs; Krautrock stalwarts Amon Duul II and Kluster (in their pre-electro Cluster, more cosmic abstraction days); and lovely Turkish Les Mogol (aka Mogollar) and Japanese artist Hiro Yanagida. Twenty artists and tracks, two “sides,” thirty-one minutes, nine countries—and I’ve got three more like this one nearly ready, so keep your ears open. Full tracklist and a download link to the mix with cover art and “liner notes” following the “more…”.

(more…)

[Miniatures Series] – ‘Les Miniatures, Volume 12′ (1971-1975)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 24, 2008

les-miniatures_volume12_front_small

‘Les Miniatures’ is a new series of mixes combining the methodology of the ‘Miniatures’ series— sub-two-minute track lengths and sub-thirty-minute mix lengths—with the aesthetic and musical forte of the ‘Le Tour du Monde’ series. So you’ll hear sound library tunes, krautrock, psychedelia (especially in the Canterbury mold), proto-punk, a little singer-songwriter, funk (and Eurofunk), tropicalia, perfect pop, early electro-pop and musique concrete. You’ll hear artists from around the world, and more of those strings, those beats, those leaping bass lines, those production flourishes that could only have come from the brilliance of the 70s. A full helping of all of this—in thirty minutes or less. I’ve got four further volumes of ‘Les Miniatures’ finished. The five volumes feature over 100 artists and tracks, and they’ll be coming soon. In the meantime, check out the original ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ mixes for a more in-depth exploration of what’s going on here; or the post-punk-oriented first three volumes of the ‘Miniatures‘ series.

This first-issued volume of ‘Les Miniatures’ features heavyweights like Faust, Curtis Mayfield, Kevin Ayers, Sun Ra, Serge Gainsbourg, Paul Simon, Sly & The Family Stone, Lou Reed, Robert Wyatt and John Cale. But given equal time and weight by France’s ever-eclectic Musique du Monde label are cult figures like Henry Cow, Erkin Koray, Gil Scott-Heron, and barely-heards Seesselberg, Joe Ufer, Orchester Fritz Maldener, Sammy Burdson Group, and Franco Bixio. [I thank the blogs linked in the right column for introducing me to several of these—do yourself a favor and let this mix send you digging amongst the "primary source" blogs, they're doing the heavy lifting.] Full tracklist and download (including full “album sleeve,” liner notes, and “reissue” notes) follow the “more…” link.

(more…)

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 13, 2008

The second release in the ongoing ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, ‘Volume 7′ features more of the jaw-drop breakbeats, spinning bass lines, post-Psychedelic production flourishes, tape-manipulation and music concrete techniques, early electronic instrumentation, copious strings, harps, Hammonds, Rhodes, brass arrangements, matured post-folk singer-songwriter tunes, and illustrations of mutating funk as it made its way around the world.

Artists from twelve countries are represented, including sound library heroes like Janko Nilovic, Gerard Manset (a major discovery for those who love Serge Gainsbourg), Roger Roger, and Bernard Estardy; art kings Faust, Franco Battiato, and John Cale & Terry Riley (in supreme beat-centric mode); singer songwriter greats like Karen Dalton, Richie Havens, and Nick drake; as well as representatives of pure-pop, jazz-funk, post-psych and even surf-rock-supreme. Bobby Darin even makes an appearance, and if all you know is “Splish Splash” and the Las Vegas crooning, you’ll be in for a surprise. Tracklist, full album art, liner notes, and download link follow the “more…” link. For the previous release in this series, see ‘Le Tour du Monde, Volume 5‘.

(more…)

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 4, 2008

A two-LP set of international beats, breaks, sophisticate funk, sweet organs, harpsichords, heavy bass lines, late psychedelia, bits of playful experimentation and musique concrete, squelching analogue synths, harps, strings, flutes, and a dash of autumnal musing as only the early 1970s could produce. A ‘found’ mix from the ‘legendary’ French Musique du Monde label and their ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, more volumes to follow.

Featuring bands and artists from 18 countries, including the well known and the far from it, ‘Volume 5′ blends a wide range of genres through commonalities in instrumentation and production into a whole that is exciting and yet accessible. You’ll hear Kraftwerk with Donovan; Moondog with Nino Nardini; Leo Kottke, Geraldo Pino, Eugene McDaniels, White Noise, El Kinto, Jean-Michel Jarre, Silver Apples, Roland Kovac, Shuggie Otis, Pierre Henry, Ennio Morricone’s Feed-Back, et al. Track listing, liner notes and the download link (including full artwork), beyond the break.

(more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers

%d bloggers like this: