Sunday, May 01, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: July 2015

Another day, another mixtape ...

"Medicine Map", by Chuck Johnson. You may say that latter-day finger pickers who have drunk at the well of John Fahey are a dime a dozen. Maybe so, but I won't be getting sick of listening to their magical and mesmerising tones any time soon.

"Just Seventeen", by Raiders. The lyrical content may be on the nose (and of its time) but this track by Raiders (wither Paul Revere?) kicks hard and bounces high in a 1973 kind of way, although it is actually the product of 1970 and therefore, perhaps, ahead of its time. Nice use of brass, too.

"Can't Find My Way Home", by Blind Faith. This proto-Led Zeppelin IV number is from the only album by Blind Faith, aka Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and, uh, the other guy. It features a record cover that, if you came up with it today, you would be in jail, my friend.

"She Said, She Said", by Lone Star. One of the reasons I persist with this meaningless trawl through the endless morass of other people's musical recommendations is to find the occasional moment (there is usually one just around the corner, or the corner after that, or ...) of WTF-ness. Here comes one now: The Beatles torn to shreds by way of the kind of overblown overstatement that could only have come from 1976. Enjoy.

(Editor's note: the following is a BBC session, rather than the album version. It is 30 seconds shy of the album version, and perhaps lacks a bit of the latter's variation in dynamics, but heck, on the one hand it's entirely off the planet, on the other hand it's yet another example of "why punk had to happen": bloody (Welsh) hippies.)

"Soul Coaxing", by Orchestral Academy of Los Angeles. It may not even have any words, but this is such an emotional rollercoaster of a song that I cry every time I hear it. Seriously. You can come to my house some time and watch me. I might charge admission.

"Pictures (Quiet Village Remix)", by Grandadbob. I really miss Quiet Village. This helps.

"High", by Ellen Allien. It's been a couple of years since we had anything from Ellen Allien. You know how you sometimes feel like there's an absence in your life but you can't quite place what it is? Now I remember. There's only one word for this track: perky.

"Lucia (John Talabot's Sunset Edit)", by Ishinohana. What this is is a tweak of some 1980s mellow guitar noodling. Although it actually sounds way better than you would imagine. Trust me.

"Breezin'", by Masayoshi Takanaka and Kazumi Watanabe. Did somebody just mention 1980s mellow guitar noodling? I think I've got some more around here somewhere. Ah, yes, here it is. Featuring Yukihiro Takahashi on the drums. (Bonus: album cover of the month. Not just for the "historical" World Trade Centre photo, but for the majesty of the font in which the album title is styled. But look closely: "Fantasic"?)

(Note: this seems not to be readily findable on ye olde internet, so for the time being you can hit the dropbox.)

"Hold On To It (Jonny Nash Remix)", by B.J. Smith. "Jonny Nash". "B.J. Smith". You expect to be in country-twang territory, or perhaps in the presence of a master of the pedal steel. But no. (Guitar shimmer does appear throughout, albeit through what sounds like an opiate haze.) B.J. Smith was fifty percent of Smith & Mudd, whom you might remember. Another track, as it turns out, for those pining for Quiet Village.

"The Rhythm Divine", by Yello. Ah, those crazy Swiss. Enlist Shirley Bassey to sing her not insubstantial heart out. Drop in some backing vocals by the one and only Billy Mackenzie. (One: why would you pull one of the sainted voices of modern music into your orbit and then bury it in the mix? Two: why would he have agreed to it? (Presumably that's easy to answer: it's Shirley Bassey. (Also: he co-wrote the song.)) Three: do you notice how, when she sings "in my heaaaaaaaart", she does sound like Mackenzie? It's actually kind of a neat trick. The word "meta" comes to mind, although there is clearly nothing meta about the result. It kills.)

"No Justice", by Astronauts, etc. The first 12 seconds will determine whether you need this song in your life or not. I bit.

"Chant For You", by Prequel. Here things get a bit murky. It sounds like bits of old records stuck together in such a way as to create a brand new song, one that is both "exotic", and funky as heck. Which is exactly what it is. If you remember the WTF moment you (read: "I") had when you first heard DJ Shadow, or Four Tet's "Rounds", you will go for this. (Also: Australian content. Well done, son.)

And finally, Mr Sakamoto tinkles the ivories. You remember this. But when you first (and probably last) heard it you hadn't yet immersed yourself in the world of Studio Ghibli. So now you wonder if this piece of music, long buried in the far recesses of your brain, is one of the reasons those movies have always felt so strangely familiar, so comforting. Or maybe that's just the genius of Hayao Miyazaki.