Wednesday, November 12, 2008
you may have noticed that i haven't been posting much recently (then again maybe not, since pete and cam have been doing just fine keeping the ssgs sizzling). to be honest, i have been going through an incredibly difficult transitional phase in my life. one result has been is that i have had very little time, energy or motivation to write here. one of my reactions, however, has been to turn to some of the most important records in my collection. these have provided comfort and solace in a way. listening to these inspired me to put them together in a mix (well, a mix tape is probably the more accurate description). the mix below is the result. each track i have included is one that has great significance and emotional resonance for me. when some people stupidly say that electronic music is devoid of emotion, i immediately think of these records as compelling proof against such a position. each of these compositions is dripping with emotional content. and in many ways i think the lack of words actually enhaces their power, as these records are able to convey feelings and emotions that words cannot always do justice to.
based on my current circumstances, i didn't have most of my music collection at my disposal, but i was able to include all the tracks that were absolutely essential to the mix i wanted to compose. the mix was done through ableton, which was hardly ideal because (a) i don't think it is very good for mixing and (b) i don't really know how to use it beyond the basics. but i didn't have any other options, so ableton it was. i have kept all the records at their original speed and pretty much play them out. so while the mixing itself is essentially glorified crossfading, a lot of time and thought has gone into the selection of tracks to be included and the order they were placed in. this is the first time i have done something like this, so it may have been successful, or it may not have been. i'll leave you to judge. regardless, these tracks are all intensely personal for me and in this sense, as taban hayes says when describing his modyfier mix, 'you are listening to me'. the artwork i have chosen for this mix is a painting i love by my favourite artist - 'despair' by edvard munch. despite its title, i have never found it quite so bleak. pensive and melancholic yes, but perhaps not as total as a title like 'despair' might suggest. anyway, here is the mix with an annotated tracklisting.
chris - dis.connect mix, november 2008
jeff mills - 'violet (21 counts)': this is from his little known album, 'from the 21st'. when it first came out, i was obsessed with jeff and spent a lot of time and energy getting this from japan. the album showed a more experimental and introspective side of mills than i had previously seen, and i liked it. this track may seem somewhat unremarkable, but it has always really appealed to me.
pan sonic - 'liuos': i remember reading a long time ago that one of the guys from pan sonic has a lot of trouble listening to their productions because it feels they are so intensely emotional. for some that may sound like a strange statement given what harsh and cold sounds they often use, but it completely makes sense when listening to this. it is hard for me to properly convey in words how deeply this track resonates with me; ah, i can't describe it, so i'll stop now.
vladislav delay - 'untitled': my very good friend dave introduced me to vlad. when he gave me this album on tape or cd - i cant remember - there wasn't enough space to fit the whole album on, so this track got chopped because it only lasted about 1:30 minutes and that was all the space we needed to fit the rest on. later when i got the full album, i realised how big a mistake this earlier decision had been. this is vlad at his evocative best: the short interlude creates a powerful sense of longing and loss. like much of his work, the real beauty of this track lies in the sense of fragility and incomplete-ness.
vladislav delay - 'kotilainen': another favourite track from my favourite producer. while i have never tried smack, for me this kind of sounds like the musical equivalent of being on heroin. 'kotilainen' has a real distorted, fucked up sense of beauty to it. it kind of feels like everything is falling apart, but in an incredibly beautiful and serene way.
plastikman - 'consumed': this may seem like an odd choice to follow up vlad. it probably is. i spent a lot of time working out what to do about this track because i had to include it, i just didn't quite know how. this is where i ended up placing it (which unfortunately meant me removing a track i love by the much under-sung you dee). if you've read the labyrinth post, you may recall 'consumed' means a lot to me. often i would listen to this very late at night driving home from work. it suited the mood well. as with most of plastikman's best work, it has a dark, pensive, and introspective feel to it. and like many of the tracks in this mix, i have a strong visual association with 'consumed'. i always think of the title sequence to one of my favourite movies, 'vertigo': it has that feel of infinitely spiralling down and down, deeper and deeper...
speedy j - 'patterns (remix)': this was on an old nova mute compilation i used to have, and i played it a lot. but i moved on, the cd got buried away and this track with it. suddenly a few weeks ago i had an overwhelming urge to hear it again. i dont know why exactly. nonetheless, i felt i had to listen to it again and that it must be the centrepiece of the mix i was slowly composing in my head. it is an incredibly powerful and violent record, but in a strange way i also find it very uplifting. i have always associated it with a huge thunder storm, which eventually disappears leaving behind clear skies and sun. i should say, the levels are off in the original and i decided not to tamper with them, so just a warning that parts of this are a bit louder than the rest of the mix.
speedy j - 'tuning in': this is the lead in track before the original version of 'patterns' on speedy j's excellent album 'public energy no. 1'. i have always considered this part of patterns and normally play the two together, so it was hard for me to exclude this (also it worked as a suitable transition). it does a good job of creating the strange sense of calm that comes at the end of 'patterns'. i am not quite happy with the way i mixed in or out of this, but so be it.
aphex twin - 'cliffs': i remember dave gave me a cd where he had compiled the two discs of SAW2 into one disc of all the best bits and stuff i’d like. he gave it to me at a time when i was suffering from a lot of bad headaches and migraines. i would often put the cd on and listen to it in the dark. there are a number of tracks i could have easily taken from SAW2 to include in this mix, but i ended up with this one. i am not sure why exactly – it has a certain poignancy, well, i am not sure if that is the right word, but it is a very delicate track and also very soothing.
donnacha costello - 'dry retch': i bought his first album as soon it came out. i didn’t really know who he was, but at that time I would buy pretty much anything force inc would release. i liked it a lot. but his 2nd album, which this is from, i held off buying for a while. why? because the picture had donnacha with a guitar. yep, that’s the reason. i was worried it was going to be him rocking it out on his acoustic guitar. eventually cam and i became friends, and he had a copy, which is when i found out there were no guitars on it (phew!). the whole album really is spectacular, and i fear that many people who only know donnacha through the 'colour' series may overlook this classic. on an amazing album, 'dry retch' remains the clear stand out. like pretty much everything included in this mix, this is another track i find incredibly beautiful, albeit in a slightly sad, incomplete way. i was very tempted to follow this up with an exert from the 2nd volume of william basinski's powerful 'the disintegration loops', but eventually decided that 'dry retch' was a fitting way to conclude the mix.
ok, sorry this has turned into a rather long and personal post. this was something i wanted to share with you all. take from it what you will.