Musicophilia

[1981] – ‘Briefcase’ Tracks

Posted in Talking by Soundslike on March 7, 2009

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For those of you who enjoy the mixes from the ‘1981’ set–there’s a whole other side to the box that until now I haven’t had a good way to share.  But with the advent of the Musicophilia Daily blog, I think there’s now an appropriate forum.  So starting today, every weekend I’ll be posting tracks both from the ‘1981 Briefcase’ proper, and additional ’81 tracks I’ve discovered since I made the box in 2004.  Of the 250+ tracks originally included on the disc, I’d say fewer than a dozen were included for “context” or in order to “paint a full picture,” stuff I didn’t really enjoy musically (though you might); the vast majority are, in my opinion, high-quality stuff that just didn’t fit for one reason or another on any of the themed mixes.  So this is not barrel scraping–if you like what you’ve heard so far, you’ll hear plenty to love.

Check it out at Musicophilia DailySubscribe to Musicohpilia

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[Sensory Replication No. 1] – ‘Adrift’ (1969-2001)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on February 24, 2009

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I think I’ve been a non-practicing producer since I got my first pair of headphones: I’ve always been  pulled in by the staging of sound, the dryness or wetness of it, the sense of music pulling or pushing one forward, spinning you around, the mysteriouss relationship between timbre and emotion.   Eventually, I began to hear the world around me as music, too–how different spaces and different noises also created emotions.  I love the way both music and sounds in an environment literally feel in my ears, and the way my body responds even before my mind can.  And so eventually, as my own music was limited by my talent and means, and none of my friends was begging me to produce their records, I started mixing (instead of compiling) “finished” music together, with idea that mixed music–treated as sonic/emotional raw material–could at least temporarily replicate our full sensory intake, including a sense of time, and perhaps even call us to a heightened sensory state.  ‘Adrift‘ was the first mix where I fully embraced this approach, the results of which I’ve decided with unrepentant nerdiness to call the ‘Sensory Replication Series‘.

At a brief 31 minutes, ‘Adrift‘ is by far the simplest of this series, in technical terms.  Consisting of ten primary tracks only sometimes intermingled (unlike later, more ambitious mixes that involved remixing, dubbing, or weaving six tracks together at once) it relies on the way its component pieces fit harmoniously together.   Looking at the artists in the tracklist, ‘Adrift’ might seem to be a somewhat edgy, cerebral affair; but in fact, this is mysterious, sensual, even sweet music, and I’m not certain whether I’ve since matched the purely intoxication of this mix.  I find this music heartbreaking in the most delicious way.   These mixes tend to be the least popular here at Musicophilia, but I hope that for those who allow themselves to drift in, they offer a listening experience outside the every-day.

Mostly instrumental, this mix brings you the most unabashedly beautiful, emotional sides of John Cale, Faust, Rachel’s, This Heat, Mnemonists, Harmonia, Neu, Holger Czukay and Brian Eno (here interpolating Pachelbel with what would seem to be a mental excercise but which is almost more affecting than the original, for me).  The timecode provided with the tracklist is very approximate; but I’d suggest you basically ignore it, and try to let the trainspotting tendency to dissipate.  I think you’ll be amazed how quickly 31 minutes passes in this territory.  If you do enjoy this mix, please don’t miss the most recent addition to the series, ‘Tall Stories of Evil Gris-Gris,’ a dirtier, haunted, swampy, funky, twisted and more beat-oriented approach to the Senrory Replication idea.  Full tracklist and download after the “more…” link.

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[Miniatures Series] – ‘Lullaby No. 1’ (1957-2004)

Posted in Mixes, Talking by Soundslike on January 5, 2009

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While rather more ambitious things are afoot, I thought we could start the new year on a mellow note.   So the ‘Miniatures‘ series is continued with ‘Lullaby No. 1,’ the first of two such mixes currently completed.  The structure is the same here as on previous ‘Miniatures’ mixes: two-minutes-or-less track lengths, and mixes under forty-five minutes.  For the most part eschewing the post-punk sounds and Musique du Monde miasma of the previous ‘Miniatures’ incarnations, this mix follows its title with songs drawn mostly from the quiet, spare worlds of folk and singer-songwriter music, sprinkled with softer samplings of the avant-garde, indie rock, traditional “world” folk music, and even a little proto-punk.  So while this mix mostly whispers, it does so in a Musicophilia-style breadth of musical languages.

In just under thirty-one minutes, you’ll hear 21 tracks from those you’d predict, like Nick Drake, Jeremy Enigk (from his ‘Return of the Frog Queen,’ a minor chamber-pop masterpiece you shouldn’t overlook due to emo associations), Bob Dylan, Big Star, Syd Barrett, Willie Nelson, Low, Mark Kozelek, Leo Kottke, and Cat Power; and also from some you might not expect, like the Modern Lovers, Bjork, a Burmese choir, a Bali gamelan orchestra, Can, Moondog, Tyrannocaurus Rex, and Felt.  Download link and tracklist after the “more…” link.

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[1981] – ‘Cassette’ Mix (2005)

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

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‘Cassette’ is the sixth of nine mixes from the ‘1981’ box set to be posted here at Musicophilia (the first five can be found here, with detailed information about the project at the first mix, ‘Feet‘).  The mix began with a focus on the lo-fi and twee strains of post-punk in the box’s 1st edition.  By this, the 4th edition revision, the disc had mutated into something rather broader.  There’s still a commonality of unabashedly amateur means, a certain ramshackle sensibility, and a decided quirkiness that means you’ll mistake none of it for, say, Echo & The Bunnymen.  But stylistically and sonically, ‘Cassette’ became one of the most eclectic mixes in the set.  Partially this can be credited to its ‘Miniatures‘-like emphasis on brevity: 35 artists and tracks in its CD length means it never lingers any one place too long.  But in the odder, proto-home-recording edges of post-punk, limited means did not shape the aesthetic as much as with later, more voluntarily “lo-fi” music.  So here you’ll find cassette-trade-worthy takes on perfect pop, bristly punk, electropop, DNW, proto-Indie, Rock in Opposition, avant garde feminist art-rock, with an emphasis on the scruffier, scuzzier end of early synthpunk.

There are a few “known” names here (now, whether they were so much at the time): The Clean, Felt, Tall Dwarfs, Half Japanese, The Fall, Television Personalities, and the Violent Femmes.  But this disc almost certainly has the highest percentage of any ‘1981’ disc of unknowns-to-be-known-later and pretty-much-always-unknowns.  The artists you do know, but in early permutations or flying solo: Laughing Apples feature Andrew Innes later of Primal Scream; Ben Watts shows up here solo, best known as one half of Everything But the Girl with ex-Marine Girl Tracey Thorn; Biting Tongues included Graham Massey, later of 808 State; Plasticland is here in their earliest iteration (with Brian Ritchie of the Femmes), as are Aztec Camera.  There are Midwesterners (including many Hoosiers) like Social Climbers, Dow Jones & The Industrials, Dancing Cigarettes, Amoebas in Chaos, Philosophic Collage, and Human Switchboard; West Coasters The Beakers, Nervous Gender, Monitor, and Voice Farm; and excellent New Yorkers Thick Pigeon.  Not American are the 49 Americans, a well-connected London artist-amateur coalition that included David Toop; along with other Brits like Ludus (sometimes known for being Morrissey’s pals), The Fall-related Blue Orchids, recently-reissued Diagram Brothers, and Flux of Pink Indians; lovely French Young Marble Giants doppelgangers Fall of Saigon; and Germans Der Plan and the very reissue-worthy Neonbabies.  All this, on two sides of the elusive C80: the perfect sound for your new Walkman or Stowaway.  Full tracklist and download link after the “more…” link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Mixes by Soundslike on October 15, 2008

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

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

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