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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[Musique du Monde/Tribute Series] – ‘La Diffusion’ (1957-1975)

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.

The mix at hand here, ‘La Diffusion’ (probably incorrect French for ‘The Broadcast’) looks back not necessarily on the direct influences of Broadcast and Stereolab (for example, it doesn’t get into the Neu-derived motorik side of things), but to the originators of the animating spirit of the bands.  I’ve features a lot of library music since the beginning of Musicophilia–the joy of discovering that whole secret history of the 60s and 70s is probably what made me start the blog in the first place–but I’ve never had the chance to do the exclusively library/soundtrack-based series for which I’ve culled several hundred tracks over the last six or seven years.  So late 60s and early 70s library cuts feature heavily here, because to me while Broadcast and Stereolab clearly draw on the period, it’s mostly the less commercially known, more sophisticated and cool side of the era that’s their main inspiration–and library stuff embodies that feeling.  Also featured are several of the sorts of related scenes I mentioned above, all drawing on early song-based electronics, tight rhythms, deep but gymnastic basslines, sparse and funky guitar, and jazz-derived vibes, brass and melodic sensibilities.  I’ve never found a satisfactory shorthand for all of this, perhaps because it was never really a fully popular movement; but it’s the sort of thing that is instantly recognizable and, to me, a whole lot of fun.

‘La Diffusion’ features Musicophilia mainstays like Silver Apples, David Axelrod, the Free Design, United States of America, Jean Michel Jarre, Ennio Morricone and Kraftwerk (in their pre-K days as Organization).  But the majority of the cast are library and soundtrack stars, most of whom aren’t nearly as well-known as they should be, like Barry Borgie, Braen’s Machine, Jacques Siroul, Piero Umiliani, Alessandro Alessandroni, Alain Goraguer, and Gianni Oddi.  At thirty two tracks, I won’t list everyone, but rest assured, there are no fillers here.

At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download.  And be sure to check out the follow-up mix to this one, ‘Memories of Tomorrow,’ featuring artists from the 90s through today who, like Stereolab and Broadcast, have a deep appreciation for the far from fully mined world of sound this mix is all about.  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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[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Nouveau Son’ – Vol. 4 (1969-1976)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 18, 2014

On my latest trip to Paris, in a little hole-in-the-wall in the Montparnasse, I chanced upon another forgotten compilation from the venerable Musique du Monde label, which has also given us the ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ series, ‘Les Miniatures,’ ‘Le Mystere de la Musiqe,’ and ‘Les Rythmes du Monde. . .  Ok, I admit it.  There is no Musique du Monde, sad to say (nor do I make it to Paris very often, sadder to say).  Truth is, these are some of the hundreds of tracks I’ve earmarked over the last few years (along with a few old favorites I never mixed before).  Making mixes with any regularity hasn’t been feasible, but I’ve continued to seek out new music as voraciously as ever.  Over the last few years I’ve had the good fortune to live in Portland, Rome, New York, Chicagoland and now New England, and I’ve collected the tracks I feature at Musicophilia at some of my favorite shops (Exiled, Soul Food, Rockit Scientist R.I.P., Dusty Groove, Weirdo Records).  These are some of the tracks that that have really stuck with me, and I think anyone who is still listening will be pleased.  Those unbelievable beats and hooks are there, as usual (some of the best, in fact), and there’s an emphasis on the synthesizer, but on the whole ‘Le Nouveau Son’ is an enchanting, mysterious an moody, late night affair.  The second disc especially enters deep into goosebump territory, the realm of the timeless.  I hope you enjoy–spread the word, and as always, please support these artists and the labels that reissue their work.   Tracklist and download after the “more…” link.  Edit: download link corrected.

Artists featured include Todd Rundgren, Silver Apples, Ananda Shankar, Eroc, 10cc, Amon Duul II (sounding rather post-punk, a la Television), John Cale, Syreeta (with Stevie Wonder), Duncan Browne, Hall & Oates, Sensations Fix, Catherine Ribeiro, Francisco (who also does quite amazing abstract work), Brian Eno, Placebo (whose Marc Moulin is the Zelig of Belgian art rock/jazz–look him up and you’ll see what I mean), Harry Nilsson, Marcos Valle, Roxy Music, Wolfgang Dauner, D.R. Hooker, These Trails, Tim Buckley, Franco Battiato, Michael Chapman, Jacqueline Thibault, and Comus (sounding nothing like you’ll expect, if you’ve only heard their first LP).

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