Monday, December 02, 2013

Hypothetical mixtape: December 2012

1. "Cafe Rock", by Mikis Theodorakis. We begin this month's trudge through the detritus of my hard drive with a slice of fuzz-laden sixties psychedelic soundtrack music. This one is from "Z", a film that was a pretty big thing back when it was a pretty big thing.

2. "Garsore Waa Ilaah", by Dur-Dur Band. Students at Foster High School circa 1978 would have found the name "Dur-Dur Band" the cause of much childish amusement. But the plight of African musicians in that decade was frequently no laughing matter. And while I am not sure of the provenance of Dur-Dur Band (I believe they are from slightly later), I am very confident about the sound they made, even if it is filtered through the lo-fi, uh, "stylings" of what sounds like several generations of cassette dubbing. If you wanted to rob me of all my possessions, I suspect you would just have to sit me in front of African rhythms like these and you would be able to go about your evil business unhindered, as I sat there mesmerised by the sounds going on around me. (The curious thing about this song is how closely the vocals hew to the kind of singing you hear in the kind of pop music played in Chinese restaurants.)

3. "The Ego", by Nicolas Jaar and Theatre Roosevelt. Ah, I see, "Theatre": for a minute there I thought the old fellow had overcome death in the pursuit of one more moment in the spotlight. But, no. It's some other dude. Fans/devotees/worshippers of Nicolas Jaar continue to wait for the follow-up album to "Space Is Only Noise". 2013 has nevertheless been a busy year for him, with the Darkside project coming up not only with one of the albums of the year, but also with one of the maddest projects imaginable, a full-scale deconstruction of "Random Access Memories". Plus a remix of Brian Eno, which must be one of the bravest things a musician working in the (rather large) field of "electronic music" could take on. (I think he got away with it, too.) But this time last year, the pickings were slim -- in terms of quantity, not in terms of quality. This is good.

4. "Please Don't Turn On Me (Disclosure Remix)", by Artful Dodger. These are just names to me, although I believe Disclosure made something of a name for themselves over the course of this year. (I could be confused.) This slips down the throat like warm honey on a summer evening.

5. "Tusk", by The Crystal Ark. Gavin Russom is something of a regular in these lists. Yes, this is the Fleetwood Mac song. No, nothing will ever better the original. But well done Gavin for having a go. In the absence of new material from Black Leotard Front (I know, I know) this will do for now.

6. "I Love It", by Icona Pop. Ah, pop music circa 2012. It was a very good year.

7. "110%", by Jessie Ware. Like, ditto, man.

8. "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)", by Nite Jewel. I used to be able to say I never met a Nite Jewel song I didn't love. That is no longer the case, but her understated, homespun (but in no ways disrespectful or irreverent) take on this Michael Jackson song is certainly easy to like.

9. "When I See You", by Magic Touch and Sapphire Slows. Likewise, I used to be able to say I never met a 100% Silk release I didn't love. That love affair went sour some time ago (hey, it wasn't you, it was me) but I can't say the pilot light doesn't flicker into life whenever I hear this. That piano line must have been used a thousand times, but it never grows old.

10. "The Same Love That Made You Laugh", by Margie Joseph. On the other hand, I never met a Bill Withers song I didn't like, and this is one that has just recently made my aquaintance.

11. "Bad To Me", by Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas. Rolling with a dubious piece of repetition for a bit longer, I never met a Lennon/McCartney song I didn't like. (Well, I'm not so sure about "Good Day Sunshine".) Once upon a time the Dynamic Duo gave away their songs to other people, and this is one of them. It's not hard to imagine it being on "With The Beatles". (Historical note: "Dakotas" turns out to have been an unfortunate name for something concerning John Lennon.)

12. "Pretend You Love Me", by Sonny and the Sunsets. Let’s see now: I never met a Sonny and the Sunsets song I didn’t like -- even if that’s only because I have only ever met this one. Gently rolling proto-West Coast pop with a slight "Astral Weeks" tinge. A winner.

13. "Headsore", by Gramme. Herky-jerky proto-New Wave, of the type that might have been found on an early DFA side. Could perhaps be compared to Factory Floor -- although Gramme's modus operandi seems to be of a much simpler nature than that of those dudes, who frequently do my head in. This doesn't.

14. "That's Siberia", by Blanche Blanche Blanche. Oh, this is clever. I instantly picked it as being the well (or part of the water in the well) from which the previous song drew. But no, it isn't from 1983, it's from 2012. Could have fooled me (read: did).

15. "Corn", by Seiichi Yamamoto. Could soothing-but-not-ambient noodling from Japan be your thing? If so, go here. There is something of a "Tago Mago" vibe going, maybe, and they make it work.

16. "Blue Drive", by Oneohtrix Point Never. Drift off into the sunset with this nine-minute bliss-out (although, this being Daniel Lopatin at work, the bliss is less than pure: these synths have been given the slightest of sharp edges, to catch the unwary). Having bought the original version of "Rifts", I am grateful to Mr Lopatin for throwing this additional track, from the 2012 reissue, in my (and your) direction, gratis. You see, Virginia? There is a Santa Claus.