Musicophilia

[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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[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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