January 27, 2017

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 9

I spent the weekend after the inauguration at the New York Women's March and finishing this mix. I wanted to use all American dance music as a way of recognizing the enormous creative debt we owe to people of color and the LGBTQ community. Since I'm not great at cross-genre mixing (yet!), this veers mostly towards disco. As such, I was also thinking a lot about the recently departed David Mancuso as I worked on it. I recorded this live, so I hope you'll excuse some imperfect mixing and enjoy some very perfect songs. If you like it, you can download an mp3 version of it here. Thanks for listening!

1. GQ - Lies
2. Finis Henderson - Skip To My Lou
3. Scherrie Payne - I'm Not in Love / Girl, You're In Love
4. Vincent Montana Jr. & The Philly Sound Orchestra - That's What Love Does
5. Kenix ft. Bobby Youngblood - There's Never Been (No One Like You)
6. Karen Carpenter - My Body Keeps Changing My Mind
7. The Pointer Sisters - Telegraph Your Love
8. Mariah Carey - Make It Happen
9. Curtis Hairston - I Want You All Tonight
10. George Benson - Give Me The Night
11. Krystal Davis - So Smooth
12. Sharon Redd - Never Give You Up
13. Lace - Can't Play Around
14. George McCrae - Rock Your Baby

January 25, 2017

Daniel Lentz - On The Leopard Altar, 1984

Such a cool record. This was Daniel Lentz's first album and was one of the seven releases on the short-lived Icon Records. Though Lentz's background seats him pretty squarely in the realms of academia, On The Leopard Altar avoids much of the dryness that I associate with minimalism--it's more generous, unafraid to lean into pop sensibility and pleasure. (Fittingly, he went on to make two records with Harold Budd.) "Lascaux" is a gorgeous nine minutes of 25 tuned wine glasses resonating in and out, with nothing added but reverb, and it acts as a new age drone meditation piece, with glasses serving as both shruti box and chimes. "Requiem" attempts to capture the experience of hearing a lone singer in a large, empty cathedral, with big church bell tolls, rolling keyboard chimes, a vocalist bathed in Julee Cruise-esque reverb, and a few pretty incredible overtone moments. The gorgeous title track is very warm, present vocals delivered with a choir boy-esque straight tone purity, over rolling keyboards and (I think) more wine glasses. On "Is It Love" and "Wolf Is Dead..." we hear more typically minimalist long-form weaving of gamelan-inspired rhythmic pulses in the vein of Reich and friends, and vowel-based vocal pulsing in the vein of Monk and friends, but even these are structured in ways that suggest a pop sensibility.

January 19, 2017

Wally Badarou - Colors Of Silence, 2001

I shared Badarou's Echoes a while ago, and will probably share Words of a Mountain at some point, but I think his most recent solo release tends to get overlooked. Though the title pegs it as yoga music, there's very little conventional new age to be found here--it feels more like the hotel lobby music of my dreams. I've never used it as a yoga accompaniment, but I have done a lot of deep cleaning with it, and I would imagine this would be great driving music. Alternately playful, tropical, nostalgic, reggae-tinged, meditative, cinematic, and as one would expect, endlessly smooth. Badarou himself seems to be conflicted about the work, citing poor promotion and "intimate" distribution. He disavowed it as an instrumental record, instead calling it a compilation of high-quality demos that were put together quickly for a friend's project. Nobody needs me to say that Badarou is a genius; this is just a reminder that his wizardry holds fast even under unideal circumstance. (If you also listened to CFCF's Colours of Life a gazillion times, you'll love this--the sonic palettes and titles are so akin that I suspect it's a direct nod.)

January 16, 2017

Miyako Koda - Jupiter, 1998

Solo record from Miyako Koda (dip in the pool, Love, Peace & Trance, personal style hero). A bit hard to pin down, as there's a wide range between tracks, but it all feels very true to Koda's aesthetic: alternately playful and very sober, shifting readily between straight tone choir-boy-esque vocals and spoken word (spoiler alert: closer "A Sea of Love" is an ASMR goldmine). Micro-glitch balearic jazz and delicate electronic pulsing with a bit of a Laurie Anderson feel. Production by Haruomi Hosono, Yasuaki Shimizu, Towa Tei, and Gonzalez Mikami.

To the best of my knowledge, the original recording (download link below) isn't available for sale anywhere, but you can buy a very good six track mini-album of reworked tracks from Jupiter, featuring an all-star lineup (including mastering by Seigen Ono) from Chee Shimizu's 17853 imprint here.

January 11, 2017

CHBB - CH-BB, 1981

Compilation of four self-released cassettes (each with 50 copies made), recorded in 1981 from power duo Chrislo Haas (Liasons Dangereuses, Der Plan, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) and Beate Bartel (Einstürzende Neubauten, Liaisons Dangereuses, Mania D, I have a major crush). The compilation was released unofficially on vinyl in 1998 and to the best of my knowledge, hasn't been released since. As it's a compilation, there's a lot of range--industrial, noise, bouncing new (no?) wave on closer "Go Go Go!", and the incredible proto-techno "Neger Brauchen Keine Elektronik," which I still can't believe happened in 1981. Gritty and very, very good.

January 9, 2017

Bastion - Bastion, 1984

New wave pop from the Republic of Macedonia (then Yugoslavia). This was their only release, and unlike a lot of things in this vein, it's great from start to finish. Spronky, bouncing, a little bit of angst and grit. Even the obligatory "slow track"is a strung out wash in the best way, with judicious use of fretless bass. If this is for you, it's definitely for you.

January 6, 2017

[Mix for NTS Radio] Getting Warmer Episode 8

I made the first version of this mix two years ago as I was starting to see the continuity in a lot of the music I was gravitating towards, though I didn’t have much vocabulary for it at the time. Since then I’ve started to think of it as intimate music (not the same thing as music for intimacy)—it’s music that conveys a closeness to the musician and an awareness of the space that the musician occupied. It’s often acoustic, doesn’t see much post-production, and has a very present room tone. It’s warm and sometimes a bit rough. It leans towards baroque folk, strings, and piano. None of these are hard and fast rules though—Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods breaks most of them and is still peak intimate music. It’s more of a feeling than a genre.

I was really happy with the original mix, and since I published it fairly early on I don’t know if it got much eartime, so I was excited to rework and extend it a bit. I think of it as a fireplace soundtrack, although any quiet nighttime indoor space seems like a safe bet. I hope you have a moment with it. If you like it, you can download an mp3 version here.

1. The Rising Storm - Frozen Laughter
2. The Durutti Column - Sleep Will Come
3. Bridget St John - Many Happy Returns
4. Harold Budd - Albion Farewell (Homage to Delius, for Gavin Bryars)
5. Connie Converse - There is a Vine
6. Woo - Taizee (Traditional)
7. Unknown - Pumi Song
8. Robbie Basho - Variations On Easter
9. Clara Rockmore - The Swan (Saint-Saëns)
10. Lewis - Like To See You Again
11. Carlos Maria Trindade - Plan
12. Patti Page - The Tennessee Waltz
13. Raul Lovisoni - Hula Om (Excerpt)
14. Kate Bush - Something Like A Song (Home Demo 1974)
15. Yasuaki Shimizu - Suite No. 2: Prélude (Bach)
16. Donnie & Joe Emerson - Love Is
17. Rosa Ponselle - The Nightingale and the Rose (Rimsky-Korsakov)
18. Henri Texier - Quand Tout S'arrête
19. Molly Drake - I Remember
20. Virginia Astley - Sanctus
21. Arthur Russell - A Sudden Chill

January 4, 2017

Vincenzo Zitello - Et Vice Versa, 1988

Hope you want more harp, because that's where I'm at for the time being. Vincenzo Zitello tends to get tossed around with the Italian minimalists, but this is a little too swirly and baroque for me to consider true minimalism--his interest in Celtic music means that he often turns up on new age compilations. These were compositions written specifically for the Celtic harp, and like many of my other favorite harp records, there's lots of room tone. Ideal winter record. (If anyone has a rip of his 1986 tape Frammenti D'Aura Amorosa, I'd really love a copy!)