For anyone into music, mixtapes served an invaluable purpose in the pre-internet days namely, to open up ears to new sounds. These tapes, like a rare, dusty book containing not words but sonic arcana accompanied by (sometimes) brief track and artist details and possibly original artwork; the marginalia of the mixtape. The best of these became cherished pieces of plastic and tape, holders of new aural experiences and a departure point for the discovery of a new artist who would invariably in time, become a favourite.

Nowadays, with technology and the internet, mixtapes (and I’ll still call them mixtapes just like we still might call a release a ‘record’, regardless of the format it’s released on) are easy to make and come by. In the search for new aural experiences, I find myself listening to more mixes than ever in the search for new discoveries or the ‘recontextualisation’ of the old. The mixes below have achieved that more on the latter rather than the former however, the search always continues.

Ghostfunk and Mos Dub from Max Tannone are some great mixes, the former combining Ghostface Killah’s tunes with various African artists, the latter Mos Def and reggae/dub tunes from the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Big Youth. Both releases share a similar feel between both of their source materials despite differing styles, locales and timeframes. Being able to absorb these sounds and hear the links between them (not just in a sense of key and rhythm) displays some aural equivalent of a photographic memory. If you needed a further recommendation, Ghostfunk has been bootlegged onto vinyl.

Another Jay on Earth from DJ bc was played on heavy rotation (if such a verb can be used in regards to a digital sound file) for a number of weeks. Using Jay-Z’s American Gangster and Brian Eno’s Another Day on Earth as source material, this mix appeared to be the musical equivalent of getting two fighting kids and throwing them in a room and not letting them out until they become friends. DJ bc to his credit, got those scrappy kids to make up and become best buddies, so much so that listening to the Eno record without wanting to hear Jay-Z over the top of it is impossible. Likewise, American Gangster without wishing for Eno’s deep sonic textures.

The mixes from Fact have been a little hit and miss. Some folks seemed to be phoning it in, others like these two examples wanted to get synapses firing. Autechre’s mix covered everything from Mark Stewart, Detroit hip hop, Tangerine Dream and Necrophagist! Ayshay was someone unknown to me, a Senegal-born, Kuwait raised, now a native of Brooklyn, singer and producer. Beautifully haunting vocals clash with any number of beats from the scope of the electronica genre, approximations of traditional figures and rhythms are dragged from the bazaar to the dancefloor not to disrespect these older styles but realising that we have loved to dance in large numbers for aeons.

A couple of older mixtapes and releases got a revisiting during this phase. Mr Geoffrey and JD Franzke’s Get a Room is a prime example of a mix taken to a new artistic level. Field recordings combine with a range of artists; snatches of Eno, Rhythm and Sound, Gotan Project, Donnie Hathaway and Blossom Dearie to create a whimsical, wind-down record. Warp’s Blech mixtape covering the first 6 years of the long running electronic label got dug out and enjoyed all over again as this period in Warp’s history was when, to my ears, they could do no wrong.


~ by spatialthoughts on May 27, 2012.

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