Musicophilia

[Post-Punk] – ‘No Heroes’ (2016 Expanded Edition) (1978-1982)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on February 28, 2016

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A Musicophilia first: an expanded edition of a mix from the early days of the blog, the post-punk covers mix ‘No Heroes’. ‘No Heroes’ is a messy, fun compilation of Post-Punk and New Wave covers of classic tunes. Tongue in cheek, loving homage, or both? Post-punks could have it all ways, and they do here, with a few hip nods (VU, Eno, Roxy Music) and a few album rock faves (Beatles, Dylan, Jimi, Stones) but just as many Motown and girl-group oldies, soundtrack legends, plus Sinatra, Robert Johnson, Marlene Dietrich and Erik Satie thrown in for good measure. With fourteen additional cuts added to the original twenty-seven (now a “3LP”). For all the futurist Year Zero no history talk that gets applied to the “post-punks” (the “post,” while silly, is telling), it seems they knew their heritage well and could have a lot more fun with it than they’re given credit for. Even when they ripped it up and started again, they knew better than to throw away the raw materials.

‘No Heroes’ features A Certain Ratio, The Creatures, Gun Club, Lydia Lunch,  Yellow Magic Orchestra, Tom Tom Club, Flying Lizards, The Feelies, Dolphins, The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Plastics, Japan, Lene Lovich, XTC, Hector Zazou, Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, Antena, Bauhaus, The Pretenders, Devo, Selecter, Soft Cell, Trio, Talking Heads, The Slits, and Orange Juice, from the original mix; and now adds Grace Jones, The Beat, Half Japanese, Agent Orange, Tracey Thorn, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Y Pants, Magazine, Family Fodder, Material, Dalek I Love You, The Mo-Dettes, Klaus Nomi and The Human League.

Full tracklist, Mixcloud stream, and download after the “more” link.  As always, if you like what you hear, pass it on, and please support the artists and labels who made the music!

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[Post Post-Punk] – ‘The Dawning’ (1981-1989)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on November 15, 2015

As autumn becomes winter, here’s a new mix that’s been slowly percolating for the last couple months.  It follows some of  the artists of Post-Punk and New Wave as they developed into the later 1980s, as their music–still empowered by the artiness and intelligence of Post-Punk and the popular ambitions and joy de vivre of New Wave–began to become less self-consciously futurist, also drawing inspiration both pan-culturally and from decidedly pre-Punk, even classical and folkloric traditions.  These artists deftly blend state-of-the-art electronics, sequencers and samplers with organic acoustic and electrified instrumentation, confidently in control of their means of production always toward a greater end.

Perhaps this music can be described as post-Modern, but unlike its architectural or academic/art world counterparts that superficially tacked on non-Modernist references at random (always with air-quotes-implied irony) to a fundamentally Modernist framework that rejected accrued culture and understandings, this is music that has moved on from abstraction for its own sake, and is whole-cloth human and humane, unashamed to be deeply concerned with conveying emotional truth by all available means.  It is music that is unafraid to be more than simply “new,” and to declare that Beauty is a good and worthy pursuit.  And the music is indeed beautiful, speaking equally to the body, mind, soul and heart.

This music is the work of mature artists, including The Blue Nile, Heaven 17, Dif Juz, Tears For Fears, Thomas Dolby, Talk Talk, Scott Walker, Scritti Politti, Arthur Russell, David Sylvian, This Mortal Coil and others.  I imagine they were inspired by artists like Brian Eno, Sly Stone, Joni Mitchell, Bernard Parmegianni, Marvin Gaye, Erik Satie, Van Morrison, Haruomi Hosono, Mike Cooper, Vangelis, Astrud Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Nina Simone, Brigitte Fontaine, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, et al; and likely serving as inspiration to people who would follow a similarly sophisticated humanist vision, like Bjork, CFCF, Matmos, Antony and the Johnsons, Fennesz, Junior Boys, Caribou, Earth, Joanna Newsom, The Knife, Anja Garbarek, Erykah Badu, Massive Attack, Stina Nordenstam, Burial, FKA Twigs, Matthew Herbert, Sade, Portishead and countless others.

I imagine this music will serve you equally well on a last-of-Autumn walk through the woods and as the soundtrack to a late-night walk through the empty city streets.  For me, this music inhabits the ethereal and the physical, the cinematic and the intimate, the pastoral and the urbane, the orchestral and the synthetic, the nocturnal and the dawning light.

Full tracklist, stream and download after the “more” link.  As always, if you like what you hear, pass it on, and please support the artists and labels who made the music!  A very special thanks to Eric Scheidt for allowing me to use his gorgeous photography for the cover art.  If you like this one, I recommend you check out the ‘1981 – Heart‘ mix, which is the spiritual forebear of ‘The Dawning;’ and the other “Post Post-Punk” mixes which follow the more angular and more electronic paths of Post-Punk.

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[Sensory Replication Series] – ‘The Depths’ – (1971-2013)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on July 24, 2014

Continuing the tradition of Musicophilia’s most adventurous (and admittedly, least popular) mixes, the ‘Sensory Replication Series,’ comes ‘The Depths’.  Like its predecessors, this mix seeks to create an immersive experience through a virtual landscape.  This involves “heavy mixing,” testing the boundaries between harmony and discord, rhythm and arrhythmia, tension and release, layering seemingly disparate elements and weaving them into something else.  So there are moments where the elements may seem to pull in different directions, but then coalesce as one.  In most instances, there is a spine in the form of a song (or two songs) mixing and meshing with more abstract pieces.  While the sources are diverse, there is a concerted effort to sustain a narrative feeling and a cinematic scope.  So, casual listening it probably isn’t–it may only really make sense when you have a moment to listen without distraction (ideally in the dark with headphones, so that the soundscape can really substitute for all other senses).  But for those who can find beauty in imperfection, I hope it will be rewarding. Stream and download after the “more” link.  The tracklist this time around is only an approximation, not a sequential list, as many of the tracks are intertwined.

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[Post Post-Punk] – ‘Circuits’ – (1983-2013)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 9, 2014

Tracklist, stream and download after the “more…” link.  Rather just let the music do the talking on this one, hope you enjoy it.

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[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.

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[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.

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[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…”.

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[One-Off] – ‘Still’ (1630-1999)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on June 30, 2009

Note:  Some listeners report getting an error when unpacking the .zip file containing the mix, leaving them with only “Part I”.  I found I had no problems using a freeware program like ExtractNow, but did get the error on one machine using the built-in unzip function of Windows Vista.  On Macs, the situation seems to be reversed–the built-in OS unzipping utility works, program(s) may not.  Sorry for the hassle, and thanks for visiting. I’ve added a new download link with a new zip here, which hopefully has none of these problems.

A majority of the music I share here at Musicophilia could be described as oriented around movement: the kinetic, sometimes frantic energy of post-punk; the rhythmic fluidity of the Musique du Monde-style blends of funk, jazz, Krautrock, sound library music, etc.; the space-disco march of the ‘Rhythmes du Monde‘ mixes; or the narrative journey through the dense, quasi-three-dimensional landscapes of the ‘Sensory Replication‘ series.  These are generally the sorts of music to which I listen most often.  But there is always a need for music that focuses inward, that slows our minds and draws our attention to the smallest, simplest details–for me such sounds remain my foundation, whatever far-flung branches my path through music takes.  This is the music found here in ‘Still‘.  This is a mix I could have made (and probably virtually did make) a decade earlier in my musical searching–but this, I hope, is a good thing, an indication that this is music that remains constantly evocative, elemental and essential.

There’s piano-based and fusion jazz, singer-songwriter balladry, harp- and flute-like instrumentation from Italy, Japan, Indonesia, England, and the Ivory Coast.  There’s neo-chamber music, modern compositional sounds, folk music of the South Pacific, and the generally unclassifiable.  But the common thread is a spaciousness, a carefulness, and a simplicity that I think makes everything coalesce.  Among the mostly well-loved artists are Dave Brubeck, Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Moondog, Nick Drake, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Toumani Diabate, Colin Blunstone of the Zombies, Low, Keith Jarrett, and Arthur Russell.  Less known but no less beautiful are Renaissance composer Giovanni Maria Trabaci, Brigitte Fontaine & Areski, the Noday Family, L.S. Gelik, Rachel’s, and Gerald Bole.  This may not be Musicophilia’s most ambitious mix, but many of these are among my very favorite songs, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.  Full tracklist and the download link are at the “more…” link below.

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

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on June 21, 2009

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[UPDATE: Great news–the album is set to be reissued in 2010 on the Bureau B label (home of Faust, Cluster, Wolfgang Riechmann, et al) on CD and 180g LP, as per a representative of the label in the comments below.  If you downloaded and enjoyed the album, please support them and Jaki Liebezeit & Co. by buying the reissue when it’s available.]

This is a very unusual post for Musicophilia, but it’s one I think needs to be made.  For the most part, the out-of-print albums I’d like people to hear are already shared at places like Mutant Sounds, Egg City Radio, the Library Hunt, Never Enough Rhodes or Decoder Blog.  My primary objective in sharing music at Musicophilia is to encourage the further discovery and support of featured artists, by getting you the listeners to make new purchases.  But for (very) out-of-print music, this is not an option–if you bought the overpriced LP on eBay nothing goes to the artist anyway–so all bloggers can hope for is to foment enough interest that a (legitimate) reissue eventually happens.  This is one of those cases of an album being severely out-of-print (going for $150+, if you can even find it for that; or on a similarly rare bootleg “twofer” CD), and amazingly this wonderful album doesn’t seem to have been shared on the blogosphere.  I simply ask that you support Jaki Liebezeit and Phantom Band by purchasing the one album that remains in print, 1984’s equally good ‘Nowhere.

Phantom Band, as featured at Musicophilia Daily and in the recent post-Can compilation here at Musicophilia, was Jaki Liebezeit’s principle ongoing project after Can.  On this, their first LP, they were in many ways a direct extension of Can, further developing the fusion of art-rock, Afrobeat and South American and African pop, reggae, spacey funk, and disco and electronic dance music that the former band originated on ‘Saw Delight‘ and ‘Out of Reach‘.  In my opinion, though, ‘Phantom Band is a stronger and more cohesive album than any of the late Can albums.  It’s definitely a better showcase of Can collaborator, vocalist and bassist Rosko Gee.  As I mentioned previously, it reminds me most of Hamilton Bohannon‘s warm-but-spooky disco-funk. It will also appeal to fans of the Rail Band, King Sunny Ade, Magazine, Maximum Joy, A Certain Ratio, Tony Allen or Fela Kuti, ET Mensah, fusion-era Miles Davis; 70s soundtrack work by Alain Goraguer or Roy Budd; or the funkier side of 70s sound library recording, like Alan Parker‘s ‘Afro-Rock’ LP or Janko Nilovic‘ ‘Supra Pop Impressions’.  The music is shimmering, serpentine, catchy, joyous and often wonderfully melodic.  It is rich with delectable beats, judiciously polyrhythmic percussion, slinky and bouncing basslines, glistening Rhodes and shimmering synths, minimalist funk rhythm guitar and Karoli-like leads, and unexpected flourishes like harmonica, dub production or brass arrangements, all stitched together by Rosko Gee’s sweet vocals.   It desperately deserves a reissue, and I can only assume there’s some sort of legalistic hang-up preventing Mute from getting it (and its fairly disparate but very good follow up, ‘Freedom of Speech‘) out there.  Regardless of the Can connection, this is an album that should be much more broadly heard.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more” break.

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[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

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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.

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

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[Update:  5/3 Download Link is down again.  If you are an artist or label responsible for a particular work but do not wish it to be featured, please let me know and I will remove it.  My sincere intention, as always, is to promote the artists’ work and help people discover it and purchase what is available.   So listeners, as always, the music shared here is not intended to replace purchased music.  Please support the artists involved, especially via independent shops like those linked in the right-hand column. ]

[Check out ‘No Heroes’-style bonus tracks, with links to the originals, as part of an ongoing series at Musicophilia Daily.] For a bunch of supposed futurist Marxist Modernist post-historical art-weirdos, the post-punk/New pop set were actually remarkably affectionate toward the music they grew up loving, “I Hate” graffiti t-shirts notwithstanding.  And not just toward their Can and Roxy Music and Lee “Scratch” Perry albums that they all had, naturally, when they were 13 years old proto-Art School students.  Sure, there’s an LP worth of voidoid Rolling Stones anti-covers of varying quality that can be pretty backhandedly complimentary in a Warhol sort of way.  But at least in music, if not rhetoric, there was a lot of love for the radio of recently-lost youth: for Motown, for psychedelic bands and garage (the “first punk” kind) rock, for the Beatles, even for the occasional movie theme and crooner standby.  The covers on this “newly discovered 2xLP” compilation “from 1982” are certainly not reverent, and few are straight (most are decidedly a little bent, befitting the zeitgeist), but few of them are detached, (wholly) ironic, or dismissive.

Post-punk is often quite catchy in its way, and so there’s plenty of singability, listenability, pop ability on display–some of which actually had some popular impact in the grand tradition of the commercial cover tune.  The Beatles get channeled by Yellow Magic Orchestra, The Feelies, and Hecter Zazou.  Lee Dorsey and Al Green are both faves, fueling Devo and Trio, Talking Heads and Orange Juice, respectively.  There’s Motown and funk love to spare, with A Certain Ratio, Flying Lizards, Soft Cell and The Slits being careful to avoid direct theft they can’t pull off, but honoring the sources with their own quirks firmly displayed.  Straight-up pop is in evidence with Lydia Lunch, Tom Tom Club, Lene Lovich, Plastics and Antena joining the Oldies parade–and even Psychedelic Furs tackling “Mack the Knife”.  As for the “I Hate Pink Floyd” sentiment, Dolphins aren’t having it, and The Pretenders clearly don’t hate the Kinks.  Lizy Mercier-Descloux and the Selecter take you to the movies, and XTC and The Cure of all people show Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix love.  The Gun Club reach back to Robert Johnson, and Siouxsie’s Creatures laud The Troggs.  Only Bauhaus and Japan cover material you’d think of as post-punk-approved–Eno and The Velvets–but they do it with aplomb.  I can’t say most of this music eclipses the originals–be sure to check below for links to all of the source tracks–but it’s all a lot of fun.  Full tracklist, artwork and download link–along with those originals links–at the “more…” link.

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[Full Album] – Chalsa Nepal – ‘Let Them See’ (1983)

Posted in Albums by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

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A Musicophilia first: sharing an utterly out-of-print album in full!  I’ve scoured the internet, including the encyclopedic Mutant Sounds, and nobody seems to have shared it yet, so I’m happy to make a first-source contribution.  The album is truly one-of-a-kind, and unfortunately almost a total mystery: its nine tracks are untitled, and I can find almost no information beyond what is written in the liner notes of the Russian “import” reissue promo that I picked up at Exiled Records.  So I’ll simply quote the notes here:

Let Them See‘ is the long-lost cornerstone of the nearly-forgotten but deeply influential post-post-punk Circuscore scene based in La Digue in the Seychelles from the early 1980s through the fall of the Berlin Wall. The album was produced jointly by Robert Gotobed of Wire and Albert Kuvezin (later of Tuvan thoat singing combo Huun-Huur-Tu), and features guest contributions from bassist Lemmy Kilmister, trombonist Peter Zummo, ex-Shangri-Las Mary Weiss, and string arrangements by future Fraggle Rock music director Don Gillis.

Chalsa Nepal combine their obvious debt to Crass, the bands of Les Disques du Crépuscule, and an abiding love for classic skiffle 78s with the longstanding Seychelles tradition of Circus Music derived from the islands’ French, African, Indian, and Chinese populations’ roots. ‘Let Them See’ (a title taken from a quote by band-hero Henry David Thoreau) is a free-wheeling set of neo-psychedelic disco-dirges and xylophone-led post-Soul proto-dubstep pop confections–albeit with a tendency toward Marxist-Feminist death metal darkness.

Says Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, “The first time I heard it, I hated it; but the second time, my brain turned around backwards in my skull. It changed me forever; I think it changed all of us.”

This is one you have to hear to believe.  Full tracklist and download link below the “more…”

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 2, 2009

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Volume Two of ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook’ continues an exploration of some of the contributions of women to post-punk sounds and culture begun with Volume One, and which will be continued in a third volume.  As I stated previously, women don’t seem to be outside of or secondary to the main artistic and cultural thrust of the post-punk milieu, and so this mix is just as much an introduction to post-punk’s variety and energy as it is any sort of sub-story.  That said, several tracks on this mix can be heard as a feminine/feminist perspective on a number of the central ideological concerns of post-punk: questioning of the centrality of binary romantic love to life and society; gender inequality and its parallels to racial and economic inequality; and an ambivalent relationship with notions of hipness and “cool,” among other themes.  The titles might suggest a politicised or satirical reading: “It’s Obvious,” “Love und Romance,” “52 Girls,” “Boy,” “That’s The Way Boys Are,” “But I’m Not;” and they will likely reward such a listening.  But the post-punks were focused on the artistic, the musical, the visceral at least as much as the political and the polemical: they’d learned the lesson Fela, Bob Marley, or James Brown taught: that the message goes down best with a groove (even if that groove tended to be a little bent, with the post-punks).  If this is political music, it certainly isn’t po-faced politics.

Over a 45-minute mix, you’ll find Family Fodder, one of my top five post-punk bands who rarely fail to excite new listeners; Chris & Cosey (with the only track repeated from the ‘1981’ set); Japan’s goofy-fun Plastics; Georgia’s Pylon and the B-52’s; The Slits, the Au Pairs, Vivien Goldman and less-heard post-No Wavers Y Pants with wickedly subversive skewerings of traditional gender expectations and concepts of romance (as well as of the traditional electrified masculinity of Rock); the slinky Swamp Children; the earliest, maddest Cocteau Twins; the smooth bossa-post-punk of Antena; and electro-tinged tracks from Siouxsie & The Banshees and Thick PigeonBe sure to grab Volume One if you have not already, and be sure to grab Volume Three in the near future.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more…” link.

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[Women of Post-Punk] ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook, Vol. 1’

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 27, 2009

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The first mix of a three-part series, Volume 1 of ‘The Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook’ is Musicophilia’s first mix-by-request, based on a 2-disc set I put together several years ago [here are ‘Volume Two‘ and ‘Volume Three‘].  Yet another reason I view “post-punk” as both distinct from and superior to “punk” is that it has little need for the traditional machismo of hard/arena/punk rock; indeed, it might be argued that a degree of political feminism and personal androgyny were prized or even required qualities of the ideal post-punk artist.  While I’m sure the ideal was rarely achieved, it would be hard to deny that seldom in its history has the Boys Club of Rock and Roll been more infiltrated by women as equal participants.  In a way, it seems slightly odd to explore “the role of women in post-punk” because I don’t want to ghettoise or marginalise it–women were so central that there is none of the feeling of searching for exceptions to the rule here: many of the artists featured are Big Names, who’d make any top-40 list of Most Important Post-Punk Bands.  However, singling women out only illustrates their centrality: you could play these mixes for a post-punk neophyte, and they would come away with a good sense of the breadth and depth of the fertile era/ethos; but they might not even notice, if you didn’t point it out, that the mix focuses on women.   So listen with your Gender Studies and Subaltern Political History caps on if you want–but you certainly won’t have to.  As long as you’re enjoying the music–and there’s no shortage of top-shelf tracks here–you’re getting what is important about the shifts post-punk brought to art-rock music.

‘Volume 1’ features performance artists, No-Wave inheritors, gentle proto-indie singer-songwriters, ska revivalists, dance-funk-disco popularizers, artsy weirdos, west-coast pop-punks, agit-prop art-punks, and more from between 1978 and 1983.  You’ll find Laurie Anderson; Delta 5; The Go-Go’s revealing a more pensive side; Raincoats deconstructing rock; X; Flying Lizards; Jane Hudson; Crass; Blondie; very early Sonic Youth; Selecter; Marine Girls; Lizzy Mercier-Descloux; and the lovely post-Young Marble Giants project Weekend.  Further volumes feature Family Fodder, Au Pairs, Pylon, The Slits, B-52s, Y Pants, Cocteau Twins, E.S.G., Lydia Lunch, The Pretenders and others.  These mixes make a nice companion to the ‘1981′ series, and I’ve avoided any track overlap with that or other post-punk mixes.  Download link and full tracklist (along with an update on upcoming mixes) after the “more…” link.  [Update: and here is ‘Volume Two‘ and ‘Volume Three‘]

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[Mega-mix] The Best of ‘Les Rythmes du Monde’ (1977-1981)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 12, 2009

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Note: Volume 4 has been down, and has been replaced with a new upload and a new download link.

‘Le Meilleur de Les Rythmes du Monde” represents the natural progression in the compilations of the Musique du Monde label from the late 60s/early 70s to the late 70s/early 80s.  Funk bass, latin percussion, soul breaks, electronic and musique concrete experimentation, sound library and soundtrack string flourishes, dub production, perfect-pop tunefulness, Kraut-rock drive—these are the key ingredients of the earlier ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ compilations.  And these sources make up the DNA of ‘Les Rythmes du Monde,’ as it mutates into disco, electro-pop, New Wave, post-punk and electro-disco.  If you know you love Giorgio Moroder, you’ll find a feast to devour here—all the vocoders, four-on-the-floor beats, sexuality and sensuality, stories of robot love, trips through outer space, and comic book science you could want.  But these mixes are not kitschy, so if you don’t know if you love Moroder, you don’t know if you can lose yourself in the beat—this mix will try its best to sway you, and it may well sweep you off your feet.  This is cool as cool as the iciest post-punk—and twice as fun as most.  It’s a 4xLP set, featuring over 200 minutes of music, much of it beatmatched; fifty-two artists and fifty three tracks from twelve countries and four years, 1977-1981.  It’s my biggest single-shot undertaking since the ‘1981‘ set, a long while in the making.  I hope you’ll enjoy it, and pass it on to friends who need to see the (disco-ball-refracted laser) light.

Italians do it better with il maestro Giorgio Moroder twice, and further featuring his indelible production for Three Degrees, Donna Summer, Munich Machine, and Sparks.   Telex are here, as well as related projects Transvolta and Electronic System; and fellow Belgians Trevor and Geoff Bastow, and pre-Honeymoon Killers Aksak Maboul.  Many of Daft Punks French forefathers are here:  Moon Birds, Space Art, Droids, Roland Bocquet, Jean-Phillippe Goude, Heldon, the elusive Black Devil, Venus Gang and Francis Rimbert.  Germany brings us godfathers Kraftwerk and Can (from their underrated late work), with  Tangerine Dream’s Peter Baumann-crafted Leda, Gina X Performance and Liaisons Dangereuses.  From Japan, Akira Sakata, Yellow Magic Orchestra and solo work from Ryuichi Sakamoto and Haruomi Hosono.  Brits found here include Human League splitters B.E.F. and pseudonymic League Orchestra Unlimited; as well as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, This Heat (with the seminal “24-Track Loop”), Ultravox’s John Foxx, XTC’s Andy “Mr.” Partridge, and Tortoise-blueprinting Brian EnoGrace Jones is here (Jamaican-American), along with South Africa’s Hot R.S. (with an unlikely but amazing cover of “In A Gadda Da Vida,”) Australia’s Essendon Airport, Canadian proto Hi-NRGers Lime, and the Soviets Zodiac.   The USA rounds it out with heros Patrick Cowley, Prince, Marvin Gaye, Hamilton Bohannon, Funkadelic, and Suicide; with lesser knowns Industry (whose psycho proto-jungle will blow your mind), Chromium, and hardly least, Arthur Russel’s Loose Joints.  This set is dedicated to my friends at the Rhythm Room, who’ve spun this web for years, and without whom I would’ve spent years in the musical wilderness without any of this music.  Let me know if you enjoy these mixes, and if you’re already in the know with these “Rythmes,” I’d love to hear any suggestions for further exploration.  Full tracklist, sleeve notes, reissue notes and FOUR download links (with complete album art) follow “more…”.

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[1981] – ‘Cassette’ Mix (2005)

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

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‘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.

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[Sensory Replication No. 5] – ‘The Somnambulist’ (1908-2007)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on December 17, 2008

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I’ve never really understood the practical reality of sleepwalking, but the idea has undeniable mystique.  Mainly what I’ve wondered is how the body’s action and interaction with its environment fails to jar the somnambulist into a conscious state.  I guess the case isn’t that one is actually asleep, but simply that the conscious, memory-forming parts of the brain are not engaged.  I take this to mean that in essence, the physical world has become as a dream, and the somnambulist’s actions in it equally as ethereal, incapable of inducing standard awareness.  This is the basis for this mix, then: to guide a virtual, thrill-seeking adventure in somnambulism; no walking to the bathroom or making a sandwich here, but rather, roaming through a dream-world made physical, full of strange landscapes, ghost-figures, fogs and miasmas, echoes and shouts, fear and beauty.  Like in a dream, nothing can quite be held in focus, and the laws of physics bend to the laws of imagination.  Like in the world of a somnambulist, the unremembered physical world becomes an imagined place of shadows, however solid it was before sleep arrived or will become again in the morning.

‘The Somnambulist’ is the third posted mix in the ‘Sensory Replication‘ series, which seeks to create an immersive aural environment through the dense intermingling of a large number of individual tracks, treated as source material.  For the first two mixes posted and a greater exploration of the impetus for the series, look here.  This mix is particularly dense, with sixty artists represented in just under forty-two mintues.  If you listen casually, you will still recognize music here: a “spine” of central tracks emerges more or less recognisable and intact.  But the point here isn’t any individual component, as there are often four, five, six or more bits of “source material” comingling, lurking around the edges, fading in and out of earshot in the landscape; solos, duets, trios emerge and recede.  The hope is that you will take the time to listen without distraction, letting all your usual sensory inputs other than hearing fall aside, to see how fully your ears alone will compensate.  I pretty regularly find myself standing on a city corner or in a laundry geeking out to the sounds around me, just shy of being brave enough to be that crazy guy who closes his eyes and stands still for a few minutes amongst the activity.  So this is a chance to just-listen freely, set in the most bizare bazaar of movement and interaction one could hope for.

Represented in the ether of sound are people like This Heat’s Charles Hayward; Dick Raajimakers; John Cage; Burning Star Core; Luc Ferrari; John Cale; His Name is Alive’s Warn Defever; Tod Dockstader; Funkstorung; Tortoise; Shuggie Otis; Miles Davis; Huun Huur Tu; avant-garde extra-Beatles George Harrison; Burial; Klause Schulze; Autechre; Pharoah Sanders; Maurice Ravel; Agitation Free; Deadbeat; Iannis Xenakis; Stockhausen; LaMonte Young; Steve Reich; Can’s Holger Czukay; Tony Conrad with Faust; Tibetan Buddhist monks from Bhutan; 23 Skidoo; Kraftwerk; Neu; Daniel Menche; Rhys Chatham; Peruvian folk musicians, and many others.  But I encourage you not to trainspot, at least the first listen.  Full tracklisting and download link after “more…”.

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[1981] – ‘Heart’ Mix (2005)

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

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‘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. . .

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[One-off] – ‘Post Post-Punk’ (1983-1994)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on November 17, 2008

As I’ve said before, I find “post-punk” to be a term of minimal descriptive accuracy, in terms of the character of the music to which the label is attributed, nor even in terms of any meaningful timeline. The types of music we call “post-punk” have less to do with “punk” to my ears than with forms of music and art created in the 60s and early 70s. All that said, for convenience we usually talk of “post-punk” as peaking between 1978 and 1982, being supplanted (ostensibly) closely thereafter by the mainstream ascent of “New Pop,” “New Romantic,” “New Wave,” and soon enough outside of MTV, “indie-” or “college-rock”. And I’ll agree that between the quantitative peak of 1979-1981 to 1983, something does seem to have significantly changed. Plenty of the flag-bearers of post-punk adopted a more through- rather than against-the-system approach (some to great effect, like Scritti Politti or Depeche Mode; others less so, like Simple Minds). But the good thing about “post-punk” is that it was always more of an approach and a sensibility than a close-cropped aesthetic or production value, and it was less overtly based in the typical youth-oriented trappings of pop/rock music; so it never really died as a fount of new energy either for many of its premiere proponents (like David Byrne or David Thomas or Sonic Youth) and younger artists inspired by the freedom it expresses.

‘Post Post-Punk’ is a playful glance at the continuation of the ‘Spirit of ’78 to ’82’ (to put it awkwardly) through the mid-80s and a little of the 90s. Many of the artists featured are directly carrying on from the “peak” years—ESG; Liquid Liquid; Wire’s Colin Newman; Pop Group’s Mark Stewart; the Specials as Special AKA; or Siouxsie’s Creatures—who didn’t fit the slicker sounds gaining dominance. Other included here ‘predate’ the peak and never lost the tack, and simply kept going regardless of fashion, perhaps reinvigorated by their slightly younger peers, like David Thomas; Arthur Russell; or This Heat’s Charles Hayward, carrying on with Camberwell Now. Others were there in the day but became better known for later work, like post-Urinals 100 Flowers; Neon Judgment; Thick Pigeon; The Ex (perhaps the most successful long-time miners of the post-punk zeitgeist); Cybotron; the Blackouts; or Sonic Youth. Finally, a few represent the best of the generation more typically associated with indie-rock or Brit-pop, whose sensibilities had more in common with the ambitions of post-punk artists: Dog Faced Hermans, Biting Tongues (featuring Graham Massey, later of 808 State and Bjork renown), and Disco Inferno (who seem to me a bridge between post-punk, what was called post-rock, and the post-whatever good stuff being done today). Ultimately, though, the mix makes no attempt at any comprehensive argument or any sort of historical revision: it was just meant to be a mix of some of my faves who “carried on” the weirdness. Full tracklist and download after the “more…” link.

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[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…”.

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[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…”.

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[Sensory Replication No. 2] – ‘Gloaming’ (1731-2005)

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

Though it’s not the denotative meaning of the word, for me, “gloaming” connotes ambiguity, a tension between the waning day and encroaching night, a feeling that is beautiful yet tinged with some regret or trepidation—there’s more complexity and mystery to it than a simple synonym to “twilight”. And that beautiful tension is the feeling I’ve tried to create here, as well as a concept that informed the methodology behind the mix (more on that later). ‘Gloaming’ is the second mix I made seeking to create quasi-binaural “field recordings,” to create an immersive journey through an almost physical space constituted of (mostly) musical sound. (For convenience, I’m calling such mixes the “Sensory Replication Series,” an idea explored in somewhat greater detail here). You probably already know most of the artists featured in this mix—Tangerine Dream, Tony Conrad, Mozart, Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, Reich, Cage, Bjork, Eno, Low, 23 Skidoo, Holger Czukay, Vivaldi, Cluster—but I hope that the combinations, contextualisation and sum total make something you haven’t quite heard before. (I’d also like to make special mention of the track “Heathering Blues” by “unknown” Matt Anders, definitely the most emotionally satisfying thing I’ve ever known to originate with Fruity Loops)

This is my favorite short mix I’ve made so far, and despite its brevity (less than twenty-eight minutes) it feels like a full journey. It’s more or less the opposite of the spastic flailing of the ‘Miniatures : Post-Punk’ mixes, in that each section leads very much to the next, and there is a careful and unhurried sense of direction at all times. But like those mixes, it’s a good way to get a lot of listening done in a short amount of time—though this is “headphone listening” to be sure, not so suited for cruising down the highway or running errands. While I’ll tag it “avant-garde,” if you were to try any mix such tagged as a way in, it would be this one. A little more rambling, the tracklist, and full download after the “more…” link. If you do find you like this one, then check out the first posted ‘Sensory Replication’ mix posted here.

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

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

Here’s the third and final (for now) mix in the ‘Post-Punk’ subset of the ‘Miniatures’ series–another very short mix (<35 min.) of very short tracks (<2:00). And this one is the best yet, in my opinion. It’s a rocket-fueled midget submarine race, featuring more of the Big Names–Wire, ESG, Devo, Pere Ubu, Suicide, XTC–and more of the should-be-big names, like the MX-80 Sound, the Diagram Brothers, Arthur Russell’s Dinosaur L, Jaki Liebezeit’s Phantomband, pre-awfulness (quite good actually, those first few albums) Simple Minds, RIO-licious Debile Menthol, Pyrolator, Dalek I, and more. You probably have the idea down already–if not, don’t miss No. 1 and No. 2. Between the three, you can try out seventy bands and artists in a little over a hundred minutes. Full tracklist and download link after the “more…”.

Coming soon to Musicophilia: another of the ‘Sensory Replacement’ series (which also happens to be a brief mix) of heavily “texture-matched,” segued and intermeshed sounds; another ‘Le Tour du Monde’ set featuring music from 1972-1974, and another focusing on 1975-1978; and ‘Miniatures’ mixes from genres other than post-punk. Hopefully within a month or two, I’ll be honored to feature guest mixes from friends covering territory such as the unexpected and best Bob Dylan covers ever made, a mix featuring “a couple of favorite dark bossa tracks,” and another introducing Russia’s post-punk-new-wave that I bet is unknown to most of us (certainly to me). Stay tuned, let me know what you’d like to hear more (or less) of, and please contact me if you’d like to contribute.

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 20, 2008

This is the second in a series of “miniature” mixes, and the second in the post-punk-oriented subset. The ‘Miniatures’ series feature all songs less than two minutes in duration, and mixes under forty minutes. ‘Post-Punk No. 2’ stretches slightly, back to 1975/76/77 and well outside the bounds of what is normally considered strictly “post-punk”. However, in any way other than a purely chronological utility, I’ve always found the name “post-punk” to be a term of convenience only, and ultimately a misnomer that obscures the fact that the “post-punk sound” was merely a continuation (and later a popularisation) of the arty, but non-virtuoso-oriented strains of rock music that have their roots with the Velvets, Stooges, Roxy Music, Canterbury scene stuff, Red Krayola, Residents, and other assorted weirdos and kooks. While it’s arguable there was something of a lull in this strain around 1976, it’s clear that what Pere Ubu or Devo or Brian Eno and David Bowie were doing in 1975 has more in common with the sounds and approaches to art-making of “post-punk” than with the (briefly) culturally more significant but musically impoverished “punk proper”.

Anyway–all that to excuse a little reaching; and an idea to explore more fully later on. This second volume features some big names–Bowie, Eno, Costello, Beefheart, Raincoats–but also plenty of potential new finds I hope, like the Stickmen, Rosa Yemen (Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s band), Crash Course in Science, Matthais Schuster, Aksak Maboul, and Family Fodder (for me, the quintessential post-punk band in the counter-Joy Division-knock-off mold). Full tracklist and download following the “more” link. Check out the first volume here; and the 3rd is going to be a doozy, so check back if you dig this one.

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[Miniatures Series] – ‘Post-Punk No.1’ (1977-1983)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 15, 2008

Designed for those days when your messageboard- and text-message- and blog-addled attention span is particularly hyperactive, the ‘Miniatures’ series feature all songs less than two minutes in duration, and mixes under forty minutes. Despite their brevity, every track tells a full-scale musical story-no mere interstitials here. Above all, fun is the name of the game.

So, the kinetic, herky-jerk, anything-went playfulness of the post-punk period seems the perfect fit to kick it off. So here is the first of three post-punk-themed mixes in the ‘Miniatures’ mold, featuring favorites like the Swell Maps, Scritti Politti, the Slits, Young Marble Giants; as well as lesser-knowns like Industry, the Homosexuals, Dif Juz, Voigt-465 and 100 Flowers. Full tracklist and download following the “more” link.

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[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.

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[Sensory Replication No. 3] – ‘Collide\Coalesce’ (1950-2004)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on October 6, 2008

‘CollideCoallesce’ is the third mix in an ongoing series of heavily edited and crafted mixes wherein many elements are layered, combined, remixed/dubbed, or otherwise altered into (hopefully) a singular whole. It’s not quite easy listening, but it’s more accessible than the unwieldy tracklist might suggest. Featuring mostly giants in areas of experimental, electronic, a little jazz, post-punk, and ‘world’ music–Can, Cage, Suicide, Bjork, Stockhausen, OMD, Bill Evans, Reich, Autechre, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, This Heat–the mix nevertheless aims to recontextualise all of these to a degree that makes hearing them here a unique listen for avid fans and neophytes alike. The aim is to create something akin to a 3D sound environment, something like a binaural recording, wherein a stereo signal is perceived with full spacial depth. Of course, this isn’t really possible–but I’d like to hope that if one listens to as many elements as carefully arranged as this, it becomes something close to multi-sensory immersion, hence the ‘Sensory Replication Series’. Notes, tracklist and download beyond the break.

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