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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[Tribute] – ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ (1997-2015)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on August 23, 2015

As a listener to the Musique du Monde series of mixes would probably guess, two of my favorite contemporary bands are Stereolab and Broadcast, both because their music is wonderful, but also because it’s through them that I discovered things like the United States of America and White Noise and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Serge Gainsbourg, and on to David Axelrod and Placebo and library music and Italian/German/French/UK/Czech soundtracks and. . . probably half of what you hear at Musicophilia. So in the tradition of the ‘Zygotic’ tribute to Flaming Lips‘ unexpected resurgence, and the ‘Gold and the Silver Dream’ tribute to Daft Punk‘s recent success, I’ve cooked up two mixes that, while perhaps not so directly responding to the music of their inspirations, are intended to honor Stereolab and Broadcast via the amazing sounds of their forebears, comrades and descendants.

Where the first of the two, ‘La Diffusion,’ looked back to the foundation of Stereolab and Broadcast, ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ focuses on artists with whom those sounds found a home in the 1990s through to today. In the 90s, as a couple decades of shambling indie rock, increasingly dumb metal and “alternative” rock, and smart but unambitious college rock had pretty much extinguished any sense of style, adventure, artiness and class from rock-based music, Stereolab showed that the way forward was to back up to the sounds that were too quickly lost, and start building anew from there to see where things went. A few years later, Broadcast joined them as the beacon of what was possible moving forward for people who knew where they were coming from (paralleling Dilla and other crate-diggers in hip-hop and the world of electronic music, which ironically rarely abandons its history). They lived in the heady brew of analogue synths, jazz xylophones, cosmic guitars, tight beats, and nimble basslines; others made similar discoveries at the time; and collectively they continue to inspire new artists (and well-established but restless artists) who discover how much untapped potential remains in these sounds.

‘Memories of Tomorrow’ is somewhat unusual in focusing on the 1990s through 2010s, with a lot of well-known names like Portishead, Beck, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise, Air, Erykah Badu and Flaming Lips. Joining them are Beak (furthering Portishead’s new path), His Name Is Alive, Ivy, Caribou; Ghost Box figures Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle; and a new generation who draw on Broadcast as much as White Noise, like Death and Vanilla, The Soundcarriers, and Jane Weaver. And of course, Stereolab and Broadcast are both here. There are quotes to be found–Caribou samples Barry Forgie, the Soundcarriers sneak in the “Vitamin C” beat, Tortoise finds a bowl of pasta in the Wild West, and Beck pulls of the supreme homage to Serge–but these artists aren’t burdened by influence, but rather liberated by it (with Portishead/Beak and Flaming Lips in particular given new leases on old band lives in the last decade through these sounds). Whatever you may think of those big-name artists, or however skeptical you may be of new bands working an old tradition–close your eyes, open your ears, and I think you’ll move into a timeless space that’s a lot of fun.

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download. Be sure to check out the companion mix to this one, ‘La Diffusion,’ featuring the spiritual roots of Stereolab and Broadcast. As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made the music.

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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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[Singer-Songwriter] – ‘His Heart Had Six Strings,’ Vol. 1 (1968-1977)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on April 11, 2010

Say the words “singer-songwriter” to some music geeks, and you may induce a Pavlovian cringe.  It’s a much-abused term, no doubt, often applied to every M.O.R. woman to sit at a piano and wail, every goateed doofus to wallow over his mother-of-pearl-inlaid Taylor or Ovation.  But taken (as a start) as a natural progression out of 1960s folk revivalism into music with more potential for both sonic breadth and popular appeal, it is one of the bedrocks of the greatest decade in popular music, the equal of funk or post-punk or Krautrock.  It’s sometimes spare and unadorned, sometimes verges on baroque pop, and often brings in jazz and chamber music touches to become something that just doesn’t fit under a more accurately descriptive ready-made label.  This mix is intended as evidence that if handled with care, a few unabashedly poetic lyrics, a little soul-searching confession, some sing-along melodicism, and an acoustic guitar can add up to a very good thing.  ‘His Heart Had Six Strings, Vol. 1‘ features (as the title suggests) male songwriters; it will be followed up soon with a feminine counterpart–and probably a sequel, since I left so many favorites of this volume.

Starting things off are Duncan Browne and the Zombies Colin Blunstone; both excel at more spare and introspective sounds (please don’t miss Blunstone’s heartbreaking chamber masterpiece, ‘One Year‘), but are featured here in a more uptempo approach.  I haven’t avoided the well-known and the beloved favorites–Cohen, Simon, Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and (stretching the term a bit) Eno and Kevin Ayers are all here.  But fewer may know Canadian wit Lewis Furey, or Uruguayan hero Eduardo Mateo (of the beautiful El Kinto).  I hope you all know Arthur Russell, but if you missed the most recent facet of his work as revealed in Audika’s ‘Love Is Overtaking Me,’ you’re in for an unexpectedly treat (if anything can really be unexpected from Russell).  Frenchman Areski Belkacem is best known for his work with Brigitte Fontaine, but his first solo album may be even more adventurously mysterious; his countryman Henri Texier diverted from his Mingus-influenced jazz bass work for a trio of truly unique and accessibly experimental albums of wordless vocals and bass-driven rhythms that call to mind Morocco or Turkey as much as France.  Procol Harum is far from a one-hit wonder, and the aching voice-and-organ “Too Much Between Us” is a longtime favorite of mine.  Leo Kottke‘s resonant voice is underrated, as is his often funky second album, ‘Mudlark‘.  Curt Boettcher (of The Millennium/Sagittarius) takes a slightly more stripped-down approach to his sunshine pop, Jorge Ben brings a little Brasilian sun of his own, and Bill Fay makes sure the End Times will sound good.    Download with artwork and full tracklist after the “more…” link.

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[Year-End] – ‘Get Off My Lawn, 2009!’ (2009)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on December 7, 2009

As far as music made in the 2000s goes, I’ve encountered it pretty much the way an old man sitting on his porch sees the kids who walk down the street: accidentally, viewed with suspicion, what with their crazy haircuts and eyepods, whilst muttering about the good old days.  Ok, so I’m not quite as curmudgeonly as that–there’s actually been a lot of music made this decade I’ve loved–but this blog is generally a testament to the fact that my attention has been directed elsewhere.  Still, I’m a music geek–just because I’m not really qualified won’t stop me from making a mix documenting the year as I managed to hear it (blaring from the goddamned headphones of the teenaged hoodlums in the neighborhood).

Two albums especially stood out to me this year: Fever Ray‘s ‘Fever Ray’ (more or less a new album by The Knife); and the big surprise, The Flaming Lips‘ ‘Embryonic,’ which grabbed me so much I had to make a mix in response.  Each was something of an “album album,” difficult to convey through a single track.  But they fit into the pervasive atmosphere of this mix (not sure if it’s the result of my scattershot listening or some actually representative strain of internet-era almost-zeitgeist) of dirty, fuzzy, clattering darkness, cunning north-north-west madness, and a healthy dose of sweetness.  The Harvey Girls, Dominique Leone, Voodoo Economics, David Sylvian, Animal Collective, Mos Def, Radian, and Faust create a slightly exotic nocturnal bazaar of sound.    Reflecting an uncertain world that still wants to believe in beauty are Mirah, The Subcons, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Grizzly Bear, Vitalic and Junior Boys.  Unless I’m just hearing it with rose-colored hearing aids, (possible given its punning title,) my favorite song of the year, Matt Anders‘ “Schtick Around” (streamable above,) is a heartbreakingly wonderful, almost-unabashed declaration of love and hopefulness–under its bright synthetic kit and half-autotuned vocals, Old Man Soundslike thinks it’s a lovely tune, like they made the old days.

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on September 21, 2009

Following the first volume of the ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ series, here’s ‘Volume Deux,’ which continues to explore the music that links the seemingly disparate sonic strands on which Musicophilia mixes have focused–especially early 70s funk- and art-rooted music and late 70s/early 80s post-punk.  This mix retains the off-center, mysterious quality of the series, but is perhaps a little funkier and more pop-oriented, featuring some very catchy music indeed.

Volume Two‘ begins and ends with quiet ruminations on the joys and pitfalls of love from Kevin Ayers and long-lost German chanteuse Sibylle Baier.  The nebulous territory between “Prog” and post-punk, “proto-punk” and new pop is mapped out here by artists like David Bowie, (very early, very catchy) Laurie Anderson, and Television, with Brian Eno and This Heat adding minimalist textural links.  French artists Emmanuelle Perrenin (usually a more pastoral musician, but here found creating a completely out-of-time hip-hop beat) and Albert Marcoeur add a touch of RIO sophistication.  Robert Wyatt approximates a New Orleans jazz funeral dirge through a lamp-lighted street, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers brings the big-beat  jazz-funk to close out Side A.  Luciano Cilio creates sensitive, minimal music that presages the understated experimentation of beautiful modern chamber group Penguin Cafe OrchestraAugustus Pablo floats his famous melodica over one of the funkiest dub tracks ever made.   Among the least known artists found here, Canadian Lewis Furey struts confidently through his sophisticated art-pop that envelopes many of the sounds found elsewhere on the LP–jazzy drumming and brass arrangements, funky bass, pop harmonies, vibraphones and a sweet-and-sour wit.  Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.

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

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on September 15, 2009

The ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ series progresses the Musique du Monde label into the under-appreciated mid-70s, bridging the gap between the late-60s/early-70s ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and ‘Les Miniatures‘ mixes and Musicophilia’s post-punk mixes.  Appropriately for a time that sits in the shadow of the more well-loved musical “peaks” before and after, ‘Le Mystère‘ explores a nocturnal, ambiguous territory that is perhaps more understated but also more bewitching than the other Musique LPs.  The fantastic beats are still featured, and the genre-eschewing, world-spanning ethos remains in place.  But there is a greater emphasis here on spaciousness, noirish shadow and light, and slow-boiling sexiness–on mystery.

Volume One‘ opens with three tracks–by Henri Texier, Joni Mitchell, and a very young but already ambitious Arthur Russell–that set the mysterious, unclassifiable tone of ‘Le Mystère‘.  Osama Kitajima amps things up with an avant-metal-cum-kabuki sound.  Musique concrete master Bernard Parmegiani provides an abstract interlude, while Lou Reed brings the first side to a close with a dose macabre humor.  Alan Parker and John Cameron, sound library kings, open Side B in a mellow grove, and Brigitte Fontaine and Areski echo Texier’s French-via-Central-Asian exoticism.  Italians Le Orme follow the direction laid out by Franco Battiato into sci-fi-tinged Prog that doesn’t need to show off its chops to be effective.  Sun Ra simmers one of the Arkestra’s funkier, more laid-back numbers, and Harmonia bridges to Iggy Pop‘s dark masterpiece “Nightclubbing”.  The untouchable Hamilton Bohannon closes the record with one of his sexiest, most intoxicating sophisticate-disco grooves, sending us off into late-night ecstasy.  Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.

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[Guest Mix] – ‘Afternöön Röck Blöck,’ Mixed by The Harvey Girls (2009)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on August 24, 2009

After a long absence from Musicophilia, I’m very happy to be (almost) fully back to my normal geeky self.  To kick things back into action, we return to an ongoing series of mixes made by Hiram Lucke of The Harvey Girls which explores the wide-ranging influences of his eclectic, adventurous, and geeky-in-the-best-way band.  For the first mix and the story behind the series–and especially for samples of The Harvey Girls’ music–don’t miss ‘Good Morning.  For those about to rock, we present ‘Afternöön Röck Blöck‘.  I’ll leave the insights and the concepts to Hiram, as he’s provided a great personal essay on what all the music means to he and his partner in life-and-music Melissa (included with the download and quoted below).  I’ll simply say that if Musicophilia has ever seemed a little too earnest or cerebral or mannered, this mix gives the blog a nice kick in the pants while wearing a beaming smile from ear to ear.

Things start off back in your teenaged, pre-geek, pre-access-to-everything years with Led Zeppelin, (post post-punk) Mekons and Blue Oyster Cult.  But this is a mix made by an unrepentant geek, so while the music continues to rock, it quickly leaves behind strict genre-allegiance to Rock.  And so we visit Selda Bagcan, Howlin’ Wolf, the Tall Dwarfs, and Buck Owens.  Pre-streamled Flaming Lips hug close to Aretha Franklin, next to Adam & The AntsJohn Cale hangs out with Dennis Wilson, whose harmonies are echoed by ELO next door to glorious pop-mode Wire.  Things finish off with two old Musicophilia faves, Jonathan Richman (in acoustic Modern Lovers mode) and Robert Wyatt, blissfully kissing the afternoon goodbye.  It all makes sense when you know Hiram:

I spent my early childhood in the late 70s and early 80s, so my brain doesn’t really see what’s wrong with androgyny, polyester (as long as I don’t have to wear it), or overly-dramatic and completely overblown pop songs.  I love Black Sabbath as much as I love ABBA. I can listen to a lot of proggy goodness in the way of Guru Guru and then turn on the sixth Beatle Jeff Lynne and his bubblegumilicious candy-prog band ELO.

Download link with artwork and Hiram’s full thoughts are after the “more…” link.  Stay tuned for the beautiful conclusion to this series, ‘Night Time = Right Time,’ probably my favorite of the bunch.

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[Guest-Mix] – ‘Good Morning,’ Mixed by The Harvey Girls (2009)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on July 6, 2009

I’m pleased to present ‘Good Morning,’ Musicophilia’s third guest mix (with several more soon to come).  I recently had the pleasure of befriending a very talented musician, writer, and unrepentant music geek, Hiram Lucke.  Hiram and his wife Melissa Rodenbeek create beautiful, wide-ranging music under the name The Harvey Girls.  The numerous loves they share (for each other, for making music, and for hearing music) are deeply imbued in what they do.  I asked Hiram if he’d be interested in guest-mixing at Musicophilia after he asked to interview me for Circle Into Square and we hit it off, and after immersing myself in The Harvey Girls’ music, I suggested the loose idea of “an influences mix”.  Hiram came through in spades: he made not one but three excellent mixes–one for each phase of the day, perhaps for each phase of life–and while the “influences” in terms of music are apparent here, Hiram aimed also to express the bigger intertwining experience of music-as-sound with music-as-life-itself. Hiram’s written a lovely story-telling essay about the ways in which music permeates, informs, and reflects a musical and a literal marriage, excerpted below (and which is included in full with the download).  The mixes stand perfectly well on their own, with a nice blend of the sorts of music Musicophilia has already shared with a number of surprises and other faves (you’ll be amazed at how much sense TLC’s “Waterfalls” makes by the time you get there).  But to enjoy the “influences” aspect a little more, I’d like to share a few The Harvey Girls tracks, too.

To my ears, The Harvey Girls inhabit a similar sort of sprawling, genre-free world to His Name Is Alive, Beck, Family Fodder, Cornelius, Godley & Creme, Manitoba/Caribou, Flaming Lips, or The Homosexuals clan, with a hint of the enviable coupled sweetness of Yo La Tengo or The Innocence Mission (with a marriage-safe touch of the witty Quasi or Richard & Linda Thompson).  Playful catchiness, record-geek sound savvy, and emotional sincerity all meld equally as the duo skip and stroll and surf  through pure sunshine pop harmony, girl-group la la las, D.A.I.S.Y.-age hip-hop, sweet country balladry, synth pop and intimations of dub and musique concrete.  These examples tend toward the poppy end of their spectrum, but the darker and stranger and more contemplative moments of their albums always feel just as right.  They also happen to be after the mix-maker’s heart, as the albums are sequenced as journeys, so if you like what you hear I definitely recommend listening to the full albums, a number of which are available for pay-as-you-can donation.

“Hey Little Sprout!” (‘Nutate,’ 2007)

“Good Morning, Bubblegum” (‘Blabber ‘N Smoke,’ 2004)

“Girls Sing” (‘Wild Farewell,’ 2005)

“Resh Day Lo” (‘Nutate,’ 2007)

Now, back to ‘Good Morning,’ which is definitely part of a healthy breakfast: amongst others, there’s post-punk a la Liquid Liquid and Pere Ubu, funk love from Sly & The Family Stone and Al Green, and glamor courtesy of T. Rex to TLC.  There’s summer sounds from Tinariwen, De La Soul, Gilberto Gil, Paul McCartney; and things go deep with M83, King Tubby, and Bjork.  ‘Good Morning‘ is the first of three mixes, to be followed over the next few weeks with ‘Afternöön Röckblöck,’ which will finally bring a bit of the Metal to Musicophilia; and the lovely ‘Night Time = Right Time‘.  Here’s a bit of context from Hiram, but be sure to read the whole essay included with the download (after the “more” link as usual):

There’s a few things you can gather from these songs.  We like rhythm and we like solitary sounding singer/songwriters.  We have an inexplicable love of British pop from the 60s to the 80s.  We love noise and sweet sounding pop in equal measure.  We freaking adore the girl group sound.  And, finally, we’ve got a thing for strings.  Strings are proof of a higher power inasmuch as music is our religion.  And there’s a lot more stuff we’ve left out: no delta blues, no religious choirs, no Fela Kuti, no John Fahey, no Bollywood soundtracks, no Archies, not enough dub, not enough country, no Alton Ellis, no jazz, no kids records, no classical… you get the idea. . .

I spent my early childhood in the late 70s and early 80s, so my brain doesn’t really see what’s wrong with androgyny, polyester (as long as I don’t have to wear it), or overly-dramatic and completely overblown pop songs.  I love Black Sabbath as much as I love ABBA. I can listen to a lot of proggy goodness in the way of Guru Guru and then turn on the sixth Beatle Jeff Lynne and his bubblegumilicious candy-prog band ELO.  But it hasn’t always been that way.

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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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[1981] – ‘Fire’ Mix (2005)

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

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

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

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[Guest-Mix] – ‘Spring2009Mix’ (By Richard)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on March 23, 2009

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And now, as they say, for something completely different: Musicophilia’s 2nd guest-mix, graciously crafted and contributed by my old friend Richard, singer and songwriter of Portland, OR’s dream-pop band The Subcons (newer music here).  As you might have guessed from Musicophilia’s usual content, I mostly left behind the current day a long time ago; but as a working musician, Richard has got his ear to the ground, and brings Musicophilia a bit of the new with this mix.  Almost all of it is completely new to me, and my trainspotter ears hear a lot of fun things: plenty of prime Beach Boys, bits of Scotland’s Orange Juice or New Zealand “Pink Frost;” a little Buggles and Telex and Trio; some Tiny Tim, Vashti Bunyan, The Zombies, Marine Girls, and any number of quality cuts from the ‘Rushmore’ soundtrack, Mark Mothersbaugh included; and finally, touches from the last time I was current with current indie-pop, like The Minders, Kings of Convenience and Belle & Sebastian.  But the point is: it’s great sweet pop music, and definitely evocative of the onset of more verdant days.  I’ll turn it over to Rich:

Strikingly both familiar and new, the onset of spring has always felt so welcome and relieving. I think some of this music may affect the same way. Mozart used the phrase “gleich alles zusammen” to describe how he heard all the parts of a symphony he was writing all at once. So lovely to imagine taking it all in—perhaps this mix can accompany an upcoming outdoor excursion, where new sights and smells abound, helping to catalyze the beginning of spring in your life. Musicophiliacs may find some of this to be familiar territory laden with new ornamental trim. Others may find it wholly refreshing and invigorating. Wherever it takes you, make a point to anticipate a renewal, a tribute.

From the Swedes (Melpo Mene) to the Scots (Camera Obscura) and Welsh (Super Furry Animals), the Euro slant on springy popness can be sublime. Likewise for the Americans: whether east coast (Animal Collective, AC Newman, Grizzly Bear), midwest (Ghosty, Bird Names, Papercuts, Deastro), southern (Dent May, Canon Blue), or west coast (Coconut Records, Mirah, The Long Lost, M Ward), each region holds its own version of spring and its own odes to the beauty and newness of this time of year. All tracks were released within the last few months or will be in the next few.

Rich has been making his ‘SeasonYEARmixes’ for going on six years, and they can be found here.  For the full tracklist and download link, click the “more…” link below. [UPDATE: tracklist file was errant in all downloads prior to March 24th, the correct tracklist is below; a new download link has been created with a corrected file.]

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

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

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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.

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

Posted in Albums, Talking by Soundslike on December 7, 2008

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The most surprising result of the recent Musicophilia poll is that in response to the question of what Musicophilia should cover next, “pretty stuff, in general” was tops, with double the votes of the next closest option.   Emboldened by that result, I’ve decided to post the second full album (and a remix project) of my own work.   Like the first album posted, ‘Complicity,’ ‘The Irish Sea‘ was improvised by adding one extemporous layer of sound to another over the course of a couple days.  (So determined was I to record that you’ll hear a couple of unmuffled sniffles from a cold I was suffering—there could be no second takes.  It was always my pattern to record in a flurry of days, and then most likely not touch an instrument for months till the next session.)  The similarities more or less end at the improvisational methodology.  Whereas ‘Complicity’ is a dark, largely electronic, slightly wide-screen and nocturnal affair, ‘The Irish Sea’ was created almost entirely with a cheap acoustic guitar with some borrowed piano, and it paints a winter day on a small canvas.  Though created ad-hoc, it is entirely listenable, simple, spare and inescapably “pretty”.  I am not a song-writer, but this album turned out to be a collection of songs (even including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”).  It is an intentionally small creation (running just under 28 minutes), but it has stuck with me because it is emotionally evocative and feels whole and self-contained.

As a counterpoint to the unabashed English midlands- and Irish east coast-inspired prettiness of ‘The Irish Sea,’ I have also included in the download ‘Full of Blue-Green Blood‘.  Created several years later, this was an experiment in using only the final mix-down of one of the tracks from ‘The Irish Sea’ (“Full of Blue-Green Doubt,” an acoustic build in a canon-like form), tearing it apart and pushing and pulling it back together to see how far from the original sound and feeling I could end up.  So from the gentle original, using primative wave editing software and no additional sound sources, I created twelve short pieces totaling 24 minutes.  Some are unrecognizable, harsh or menacing rhythm pieces; others more clearly stem from the original but are altered completely in mood and feeling.  ‘Blue-Green Blood’ is not meant to be a proper companion to ‘The Irish Sea,’ but I find it most interesting in direct comparison and contrast to its source material.   The results are not for the most part as ugly as I’d first intended, but I felt the modest experiment was a success—you probably wouldn’t know this album came from one finished song without being tipped off.  Full tracklists and the download link after “more…”.

Full of Blue-Green Doubt” (2001)

DNA” (“Full of Blue-Green Doubt” Remix) (2004)

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

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

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‘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…”.

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

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

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‘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.

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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] – ‘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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[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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[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‘.

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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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