Musicophilia

[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Monde du Funk’ (1973-1977)

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on December 29, 2016

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Just in time to say goodbye to a year that has seemed like an endless winter, here’s a little summer sunshine.  Picking up threads of the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and other ‘Musique du Monde‘ series but a few years later, and a close (if perhaps mellower) cousin to the Daft Punk tribute mix ‘The Gold and the Silver Dream,’ ‘Le Monde du Funk’ explores the warm world of the mid-to-late-70s where funk, jazz, fusion, art rock, folk and pop met worldwide in mutual love for the electric piano, the analogue synth, the active bass, the funky beat, and the melodic hook.  It’s a sound that is forward looking without being coolly futurist (that would come a bit later), highly skilled but all about having fun, and accessible while adventuring past all genre boundaries.  It’s funk, but defined in the broadest terms.

‘Le Monde du Funk’ glides over four sides, featuring Musicophilia mainstays like Hamilton Bohannon, Can, Colin Blunstone, Space Art, Giorgio Moroder (as Munich Machine), Jean-Michel Jarre, Scott Walker (nominally with the Walker Brothers) and Haruomi Hosono–some sounding rather different than their best-known selves–along with the Jan Hammer Group, Herbie Hancock, Parliament, Baris Manco, 801 (Phil Manzanera), Al Stewart, Simone, William DeVaughn, Hall & Oates, Dexter Wansel, Les McCann, and Azymuth.  The US, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, France, Japan and England are all well represented.  (And the tracks I had to cut were just as good as what stayed in, and I’ve got another mix of the same vibe from the early to mid 80s percolating, so hopefully more to come.)

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download the mix. As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made all this fantastic noise.

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

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 6, 2009

Finishing up the ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ trilogy (for now) after ‘Volume Un‘ and ‘Volume Deux,’ I’m happy to present ‘Volume Trois,’ which visits a darker, moodier, but no less catchy territory.  As with previous volumes, the focus here is the mid-70s, and the music which links the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and ‘Les Miniatures‘ sounds with the ‘1981‘ and other post-punk work.   ‘Le Mystère’ blends art-rock, sophisticated funk, and artful soul with elements of dub, songwriter-noir, subtle fusion jazz, and even minimalist country, alongside music that belies the “post” in “post-punk”.

At the nexus of all the sounds on ‘Volume Trois’ is the proto-post-punk music (going to show how inaccurate the “post-punk” moniker really is) of Roxy Music and Pere Ubu, but things quickly expand far afield in terms of genre while maintaining these artists’ artfulness.  David Axelrod kicks it all of with some deep-groove funk that is simply irresistible.  Big Star and Bob Marley (in an instrumental dub treatment) brings things into the nighttime.  Stevie Wonder carries on the contemplative mood, while Ennio Morricone adds a dainty chamber orchestra touch.  Jorge Ben‘s emotional voice soars above his psychedelic orchestral tropicalia (which is in the emotional tradition of the music tristeza of Astrud Gilberto).  Willie Nelson is equally emotive, in his understated fashion, and Miles Davis‘ last great group adds fire to heartbreak in an incredible tribute to Duke Ellington–stunningly and completely timeless music, it exists outside of all genre boundaries.  Lard Free provide an abstract electronic transition into the unbelievably soulful simplicity of trans-Carribean-South-American-British group Cymande.  This is accessible music, but it is in no way shallow, and I hope you find the combination of sounds rewards return visits.   Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.  If you like what’s going on here at Musicophilia, please take a moment to participate in our 1st Birthday poll and CD giveaway drawing.  Your feedback is very much appreciated!

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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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[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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