HEADPHONE ODYSSEY MU

nils frahm – harmonium in the well EDIT
sufjan stevens – mercury EDIT
panda bear – scheherazade
brian eno – matta
kate bush – snowflake
lubomyr melnyk – sunshimmers
ben salisbury & geoff barrow – for those that follow EDIT
mbongwana star – from kinshasa to the moon
radiohead – worrywort
the stranglers – golden brown
tim hecker – radiance
aleksi perala – UK74R1406070
andrea benini – jawa
caribou – melody day (Four Tet Remix) [feat. luke lalonde, adem & one little plane]
siavash ghanbari – untuned memories EDIT
walt whitman – miracles (excerpt)
neil young – tonight’s the night

 


MIX NOTES

Harmonium in the Well – German pianist and ambient composer Nils Frahm is my go-to guy for setting a mood, and this track from his 2018 EP “Encores 1” seemed like just the thing for the start of this mix. Read more about him and this record HERE.

Mercury – This simultaneously dark and bright trip through the solar system is from “Planetarium”, the ambitious 2017 concept album by Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister. I edited out the vocals because I wasn’t ready to hear any just yet, but the music sits alone just fine. I saw them perform this record live from start to finish in Prospect Park last summer and it was pure magic. If you’re a fan, also check out Sufjan’s last solo record, “Carrie & Lowell”, a very moving tribute record about the death of his mother.

Scheherazade – Forgive me if I’ve written this before in mix notes, but I was never really sold on the whole Animal Collective/Panda Bear sound – that is until I heard it live at ATP in 2009. I can assure you: Live, it is a truly transcendent experience. This is from “Tomboy”, the 2011 album by Panda Bear aka Noah Lenox. He recorded it in Lisbon and it was mixed by Peter Kember from Spacemen 3, which connects a lot of dots when you listen to it.

Matta – I used just a small snippet of this track from “Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks”, Brian Eno’s 1983 ambient tribute to the Apollo 11 mission. I also included a bit of the Rickie Lee Jones interview famously used by The Orb on their landmark 1990 house track “Little Fluffy Clouds.”

Snowflake – A gorgeously moody song from not just Kate Bush, but also her 11-yr old son Albert “Bertie” Macintosh, whose very existence was kept a secret from her fans for years. It’s a conversation between the two of them, that sounds almost like he’s describing a dream – or maybe a nightmare. She assures him “Keep falling. I’ll find you.” You can really hear Kate Bush’s profound influence on Thom Yorke here. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Radiohead’s “Codex”, one of all time favorites, came out the same year. Maybe not. I like to imagine that Kate and Thom have the same dreams from time to time, writing each other long letters to compare notes.

Sunshimmers – It’s no coincidence that Ukranian composer and virtuoso pianist Lubomyr Melnyk is labelmates with Nils Frahm on the UK Erased Tapes imprint. They share a gift for complex and hypnotic music that is greater than the sum of its parts. This came out on his 2015 LP “Rivers and Streams”, available HERE.

For Those That Follow – I seem to be one of the few people I know that really loved the 2017 Sci-Fi movie “Annihilation”. I dug it for lots of reasons, not least of which was the incredibly haunting soundtrack composed by Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow. This is just a piece of a longer track, but its eerily reminiscent of the vocal soundscapes from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, an apt lineage of astral encounters put on film, if there ever was one.

From Kinshasa to the Moon – Thanks to the magical interwebz, we now have easy access to experimental music being made not just in Berlin and Tokyo, but absolutely everywhere, including the homeless shelters off Kinshasa, whence two of Mbongwana Star’s members first collaborated. Mbongwana Star was formed after the breakup of Staff Benda Bilili, a group of primarily wheelchair-bound homeless street musicians who gained immense critical acclaim up on the release of their debut album in 2009. I only recently began hearing Congolese street music, thanks primarily to the work of Belgian producer Vincent Kenis, who released recordings by the amazing Konono No 1 a few years back . This entire record is dope, and well worth further investigation.

Worrywort – Speaking of Radiohead, this B-side-only song from 2001’s “Knives Out” single kinda slipped past me. I only recently got into it and it seemed perfect for a mix like this. It received wider exposure when it was later included on the Amnesiac Deluxe Edition, which has all of the outtakes and B-sides from that era.

Golden Brown – This one-of-a-kind gem from UK punks The Stranglers really has no equal. It was released as a single in 1981and quickly became their biggest record ever. The harpsichord and odd B-flat tuning gives it a weird baroque style that has always stood out. Everyone assumed the lyrics are about heroin, and I would wager they were right, but the band has always denied this.

Radiance – A quick wind down and reset into ambient spaciousness with this track from Canadian experimental composer Tim Hecker. This came out on his 2012 Virgins LP.

UK74R1406070 – Yes, I did already put this Techno track on another mix quite recently, but it is so perfect for the Nevada desert I was compelled to include it here. I’ll copy/paste my notes from the previous mix, as it gives the song some much needed context: Finnish techno producer Aleksi Perälä has developed his own custom musical scale called The Colundi Sequence, an alternative to the standard musical scales most music is composed from. Rather than the usual octaves with semitones, he chose a specific set of 128 resonant frequencies. These frequencies were selected through a variety of nebulous methods, including experimentation, human bio-resonance and mysticism. Hopefully my friend in the desert have some good low-end in their headphones, because it’s the sub-bass frequencies that really bring this song to life.

Jawa – Composer Andrea Benini aka Italian producer Mop Mop made this Drumphilia Vol. 1 record as a tribute to the Afro Caribbean rhythms he had been studying for years. He primarily built these sounds electronically, rather than using the traditional instruments. Whatever the process, it works, and I dig it. Check it out HERE.

Melody Day (Four Tet Remix) [feat. Luke Lalonde, Adem & One Little Plane] – I discovered this 2011 Caribou track via a dope, 3-disc vinyl DJ-Kicks compilation that DJ Tennis released in 2017. Brooklyn DJ & Producer Four Tet has a real knack for letting voices lead a song, evident here, and on an old favorite of mine, Juana Molina’s “Salvese Queen Pueda”, which I included on THIS MIX almost a decade ago.

Untuned Memories EDIT – I came across this experimental track on a random blog some years ago and its’ been hanging around for its mixtape debut ever since. I needed something to slow down the vibe in preparation for the Neil Young to follow, so some ambient space seemed like the right move. Siavash Ghanbari is a Toronto musician who also records under the names Cee Cee Cox & Colourblind. Check out his Soundcloud for more.

Tonight’s The Night – I’ve always loved this song. It has the vocal richness of a CSNY track, but still has the essential loose and raw qualities that Neil Young possesses innately. It was recorded in 1973 with one of his greatest bands, the Santa Monica Flyers: Nils Lofgren on guitar and piano, Ben Keith on steel, and the Crazy Horse rhythm section. It’s a deeply tragic tune about the death of two of their friends on tour (guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry), both from drug overdoses. Neil had banished Whitten from a recording session due to his drug use. He OD’d in exile soon afterwards, and Neil blamed himself. Yet still, when the song gets moving, it has a raucous jam feel to it that seems to lift it out of the gloom just enough to see some light. Tongue in cheek lines like this help open it up too:

Early in the mornin’ at the break of day
He used to sleep until the afternoon

I included it as the last song on this mix because these Headphone Odyssey mixes are traditionally listened to out in the flat desert void at sunset, just before the night begins and shit gets really really crazy, so a bit of calm before the storm seemed like just what the doctor ordered. I’m thinking it will do the trick. Peace.

 


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