Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: August 2015

There are things I really ought to be getting on with. This is not one of them.

"White Clouds (Day's Rhodes More Travelled Edit)", by Hiroshi Fukumura.  So good.

"Dreams", by Beck. A one-off single by the Beckster. It sounds like a reaction against "Morning Phase". A lot of Beck's records sound like a reaction against the record before. (See also: The Go-Betweens.)

"Spiral", by XTC. If you were seeking evidence to back up the seemingly outlandish claim that XTC had pop songs literally dripping off the ends of their fingers, consider this song. Most bands would commit criminal acts to be able to write a song as poptastic as this. XTC couldn't find a way to fit it onto either of their "Apple Venus" albums, for which it seems to have been recorded.

"Is It Her?", by Smashing Time. This song sits somewhere on the straight line that connects The Zombies' "She's Not There" with "Nice Day", by Persephone's Bees. Which, if you are chasing pop perfection, is not a bad place to sit. Warning: contains a flute player running rampant. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) This would appear not to have been released at all, other than on the compilation whose cover adorns the YT clip.

"Mississippi Mud", by Smithstonian. The song title, combined with the neat pun in the band's name, tells you where you are going with this. Nowhere. Slowly. Deliciously. (Also released under the name of Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles, with added vocals and with the piano replaced by a Rhodes. Now that's quality.)

"Mar de la Tranquilidad", by Azul y Negro. I have died a thousand times listening to the ache on the guitar. Why oh why did the eighties have to end? (Bonus: album cover of the month.)

"Hopeless", by Against All Logic. It's always worth keeping an ear out for what Nicolas Jaar is releasing on his Other People label. This is why. It has that same ever-so-slightly woozy loping gait that Jaar's own work tends towards. Plus, the recurring motif that starts off the record wouldn't sound out of place on a Four Tet record.

"Digital Arpeggios", by Percussion. Did somebody mention Four Tet? This be he, under a sneaky pseudonym. This track is rather gorgeous; it has the clean lines you expect from the best Kraftwerk tunes. If it's a homage, it's a mighty impressive homage. When the beat kicks in, at the five-minute mark, it momentarily feels like it's in the way; but only momentarily.

"Back2TheStart", by KH. "KH" being, as you have probably already guessed, Kieran Hebden. Does that man exist purely to make records?

"Ability To Gain Access (Pye Corner Audio Remix)", by Not Waving. Martin Jenkins is not a recently deceased cricket commentator. He is a musician who often goes by the name Pye Corner Audio. He tends to work in his own darkened corners, although in more recent times he has been brought out, blinking, into the sunlight under the tutelage of the estimable Ghost Box label. Here, he remixes a song.

"Loud Places (John Talabot's Loud Synths Reconstruction)", by Jamie xx. The first half of this remix / "reconstruction" is all about those three piano chords, which the other components exist merely to frame. Then, in the last two minutes, things get dank, via some very tasty high- and low-end arpeggiation. Now might be an opportunity for me to plug John Talabot's very excellent "fIN" album, from a couple of years back. Well, 2012. Time flies.

"Here In Iowa", by Korallreven. This month's Swedish pop goodness is brought to you by the (now defunct, it seems) Korallreven. I suppose this would go in the box marked "Balearic", but there is actually quite a lot of pan-globalism going on here. (Some parts of it remind me of Junior Boys. Shout out to the Canadians.) Possibly the best thing about this song, though, is that it is only physically available via a single-sided flexi-disc. Kids these days. (Also: nice video.) (STOP PRESS: listen to Peaking Lights take the original and turn it inside out.)

"Jump Out Of The Train (Road Chief Remix by Mark McGuire)", by CFCF. CFCF has been in the periphery of my vision for some years now. My Apple Music subscription has allowed me to rest my gaze more directly upon his works. I'm not sure I'm convinced yet, but I suspect there is something there I'm not getting. Mark McGuire, on the other hand, I have been absorbing like a sponge in the desert. (Does that even work?) When he puts on his "Road Chief" hat, that usually sends you in the direction of a yacht rock / high eighties sound. Such is the case here. Is nice.

"Hot Music (Jazz Mix)", by Soho. Imagine what a "jazz mix" of a song called "Hot Music" might sound like. Yep. I dare you to sit still. What was I listening to in 1990 when I should have been listening to this?

"Sundowner", by Zachary Cale. This has something of the feeling of enervated drift that you get from the best of Beach House (which I would classify as their first album, in case you were going to ask), though it is coming from a very different place. Cale has existed below the (or at least "my") radar for several years, but this album was released on No Quarter, a detail which, these days, makes me sit up and take notice.