Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hypothetical mixtape: October 2014

Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa. It's the October 2014 hypothetical mixtape.

"Mkwaju", by Mkwaju Ensemble. I was attracted to this because of its affinity with other mid-80s flights of ethomusicology, such as the "Snake Charmer" EP. But then I discovered that this song establishes that there is one degree of separation between Yellow Magic Orchestra and Studio Ghibli. No, really. Joe Hisaishi, whose project this largely is, has composed  the soundtracks for many of Hayao Miyazaki's films. Hideki Matsutake, who did the keyboard programming, wasn't a member of YMO officially but did so much of the programming for them that he probably should have been. Bonus: it also kicks like Steve Reich in full flight.

(Available here. The link is still good at time of writing.)

"I Pity The Country", by Willie Dunn. Here is a, for want of a better term, country-folk song, excavated by the estimable Light In The Attic, that tells it like it was in the seventies for indigenous North Americans (in his case, Canadians) and, sadly, like it still is, and will likely ever be.

"Ali Baba", by John Holt. The first reggae reissue I bought on CD was "King Tubby Special", two discs of some of the best of King Tubby's studio concoctions. One of the many standout tracks was called "I Trim The Barber". Twenty-five years later, I finally, finally, stumble across the original song from which this riddim (amongst many others) sprang forth. It still sounds fresh as a daisy.

"Voyager Without Passport", by Friedemann. Do you remember Fischer Z? Do you remember Propaganda? Do you remember the sound of the guitar on David Sylvian's first couple of solo albums? It's all here, improbably. Maybe with a pinch of Grace Jones added.

(Bonus: album cover of the month.)

"Everyday Just Another Dream", by Naffi. This song certainly doesn't outstay its welcome. Songs like this one were the reason the post-punk (anti)movement was so important in pushing music forward. You couldn't have imagined a song like this existing on record in the mid-seventies. Of the many doors that punk blew down was the one leading to bands like Marine Girls and, through them, the indelible Weekend. (Also, for good measure, ... And The Native Hipsters, and Life Without Buildings.) That's the door that these folk also snuck through, if only briefly.

"Los Ninos Del Parque", by Liaisons Dangereuse. If I had heard this before I ever heard and fell in love with DAF's "Der Mussolini", would it be this song that lives in my notional Festive Fifty? That, being a counterfactual, is impossible to answer. But one thing I do know: I'm a complete sucker for that early-80s arpeggiated synth-driven rhythm bed.

"En Hast Utan Namn", by Family Four. Swedish pop group. Two males. Two females. Represented their country twice at Eurovision in the early seventies. That's right: Family Four. What's that? You were expecting, maybe, somebody else?

"Im Achtzigsten Stockwerk", by Hildegard Knef. Backing vocals by Die Rosy Singers. (You could easily put a comma in there. Just sayin'.)

"Nothing Serious (Just Buggin')", by Whistle. AKA We've Got A First-Generation Sampler And We're Gonna Use It. I wouldn't want to listen to this every day for the rest of my life but it's hella fun before the novelty wears off.

"How You Got That Girl", by Ex Hex. Power pop lives! Here they are playing it live, just like nature intended.

"Last Ride", by Wildest Dreams. You may think this is authentic southern fried boogie. I'm happy for you to think that, but you would actually be wrong. Wildest Dreams is none other than DJ Harvey. He did something similar a few years back as one half of Map Of Africa, so it must be some kind of a thing with him. (Coincidence corner: DJ Harvey has also remixed a song by Logic System, Logic System being none other than Hideki Matsutake, see above.) (And yes, it's a long track, but stick around for the wicked three-minute coda.)

"Why Didn't You Save Me (Dave Harrington Remix feat Tamara)", by Nicolas Jaar. Let's revisit, for a moment, my crackpot theory that your favourite artist remixed is never going to grab you as much as your favourite artist remixing some other artist. This is, on the face of it, an example of the former, but with a twist: the remixer in this case is the other member of your favourite artist's short-lived band, Darkside. Let's call it a draw.

"Our Love (The Juan Maclean Remix)", by Sharon Van Etten. Whereas this lands firmly in the latter category. It sits comfortably alongside the remarkable Ewan Pearson remix of Cortney Tidwell's "Don't Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up". (That's high praise, in case you were wondering.)

"Faux (Four Tet Remix)", by John Beltran. As to John Beltran, I know nothing. But this remix is classic Four Tet. Although it is also calling to mind something else: Chateau Flight maybe? (Incidentally, the new Four Tet album is needed in your life. Trust me.)

"On", by Aphex Twin. I have been on a vertiginous Aphex Twin learning curve over the last 12 months. It's like a dam burst, a dam that I didn't realise had been built, let alone was filling to dangerous levels. It all started some years ago, when I found "Selected Ambient Works Volume II" second-hand and took it home on spec, listened a few times, and put it aside. Much later, I picked up a copy of the 33 1/3 book about same. Of course, last year, as you know, interest in Aphex took off with the release of "Syro". That seems to have been the spark that I needed. (The Wire named it album of the year.) Meanwhile the internet was sending me off down sundry rabbit holes, one of which led to the discovery of this song. "On" came out as a 12" shortly before the release of "SAWII". That might, I suppose, be why I am partial to it. The heck if I know. I'm stuck down a rabbit hole. (The link is to a somewhat shortened version of the track, but it gives you the idea.)

"Natural Lifespan (Prins Thomas Mix)", by Cos/Mes. As with the Four Tet, the original of this, if it even exists, means nothing to me. We are here for the blissed-out Scandinavian funk moves. (In saying this we mean no disrespect.)