[Stillness] – ‘Pith & Echo’ (1968-2019)



Stream the mix while you read; download at the bottom of this post.

Pith & Echo‘ is the logical ultimate extension and distillation of a number of Musicophilia’s best mixes–‘The Dawning,’ ‘Afrominimalism: Moonlight,’ ‘Evensong,’ ‘Translucence,’ especially ‘Still,’ even going back to the earliest Sensory Replication mixes.  This is a mix of song-form music, reduced to its atomic essence.  It is an ode to the quiet parts, the contemplative parts, the restrained parts–achieving maximum emotional impact and beauty, for the concentration–with everything else stripped away, down to the bone, sometimes approaching silence.

In some ways, I’ve been almost-making this mix for as long as I can remember.  It may sound strange, since this music is hardly child-like even when it is simple, but if I had a time machine, I would deliver this mix to nine-year-old me, for whom it would have been a comfort and a guide. My very first mixtapes, made only for my own benefit, were created for listening after bedtime, after lights-out, before dreams–a secreted time between times. I would play my tapes on a cheap walkman that I often held in my hands to feel its mechanical motion, until I dropped it as sleep descended.  I cherished those stolen moments, with all senses but hearing stripped away, in the darkness, focused only on sound.  Often the batteries ran low and the little green indicator light faded, and the music slowed unnaturally but hauntingly.  The stillness, the warmth, the feeling almost of ceasing to have a body and instead only existing as mind and heart: as far and wide as nearly thirty years of music-seeking has taken me, sometimes I need to return to that place, to that essential space where the music slows down, time ceases, and the world–so heavily weighing on our shoulders in these decaying days–can be set down for a few moments borrowed from sleep.

Music that takes me to that place is never forgotten, and I carry it with me across decades as a treasure.  Finally, I’ve placed some of my favorite treasures in a single place, for safe-keeping.

This mix won’t be for everyone, maybe more so than usual.  That’s OK, because I really made it for myself, as a map of shortcuts to that place I need sometimes, and I know I’ll return to it often.  This is not happy music, not new age, not “relaxing” per se–but the sorrow, the meditative longing it captures soothes the tempestuous soul more than the merely “pretty” or “chill” would.  So, not for everyone, and not for every day.  But I hope that those who (like me) need this place will find comfort and meaning in its spare, elemental beauty.  If you can give it a pair of headphones, closed eyes, and a moment of stillness, it will serve you well.

Download/stream the mix below the tracklist. As always, please, buy this music, support the artists, support the shops and labels that get this music out there for us all to enjoy. Without your direct support, music will become a streaming commodity that can’t support artists, won’t create community, will isolate us rather than bring us together–and, in a streaming-only world, can disappear at any moment. Buy music to make it last–don’t rent it.

Various – ‘Pith & Echo’
Part I

01 [00:00] Mark Hollis – “Westward Bound” (‘Mark Hollis’ 1998)
02 [04:10] Low – “It’s All Been Done” (‘Double Negative’ 2018)
03 [07:40] David Sylvian – “The Only Daughter” (‘Blemish’ 2003)
04 [12:55] The Knife – “Still LIght” (‘SIlent Shout’ 2006)
05 [16:00] Areski – “Liberte” (‘Un Beau Matin’ 1971)
06 [17:55] Melanie De Biasio – “Brother” (‘Lilies’ 2017)
07 [21:00] Brian Eno – “By This River” (‘Before And After Science’ 1977)
08 [24:00] Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Sealand” (‘Architecture & Morality’ 1981)
09 [31:40] Yves Jarvis – “To Say That Is Easy” (‘The Same But By Different Means’ 2019)
10 [35:50] Jansen / Barbieri – “The Insomniac’s Bed” (‘Stories Across Borders’ 1991)
11 [39:40] Tor Lundvall – “Falling Trees” (‘Sleeping And Hiding’ 2005)
12 [42:45] Anja Garbarek – “It Seems We Talk” (‘Smiling & Waving’ 2001)
13 [47:20] Grouper – “Blouse” (‘Grid of Points’ 2018)

Part II

14 [49:40] John Martyn – “Small Hours” (‘One World’ 1977)
15 [58:35] Nico – “Frozen Warnings (Alternate)” (‘The Marble Index’ 1968)
16 [62:55] Arthur Russell – “All-Boy All-Girl” (‘World of Echo’ 1986)
17 [66:35] Richard Skelton – “Votive” (‘Border Ballads’ 2019)
18 [69:05] Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man – “Show” (‘Out of Season’ 2002)
19 [73:25] Bonnie Prince Billy – “Banks of Red Roses” (‘When We Are Inhuman’ 2019)
20 [79:05] Bjork – “All Is Full of Love” (‘Homogenic’ 1997)
21 [83:20] Colin Self – “Once More” (‘Orphans’ EP 2019)
22 [90:05] Yosuke Tokunaga – “Table” (‘8 Furnitures’ 2019)
23 [93:50] Duendita – “Bury Me” (‘direct line to My Creator’ 2018)
24 [98:25] Moses Sumney – “Doomed” (‘Aromanticism’ 2017)

[Total Time: 1:42:50]


Download ‘Pith & Echo’ Here (241 MB)

Stream here:

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2 thoughts on “[Stillness] – ‘Pith & Echo’ (1968-2019)

  1. This mix is is strange and beautiful and profound. What you’ve written about it, especially the second paragraph, is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

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