Why do we get a good feeling when we hear music we love? Well, part of the pleasure in music is rooted in the way it hinges on pattern recognition, which is one of our most basic instruments for survival in a world where paying attention confers the greatest advantage. Patterns tell you whether things are known & safe or strange & dangerous; becoming expert at pattern recognition is a fundamental skill & every pattern recognized is a little triumph. Recognizing patterns in music is therefore not only innately satisfying, but satisfying on the most basic survival level as well. And perhaps this helps explain why every culture has a place for music: it may be the most efficient way to prime the brain to seek and understand patterns.
Or you could think of it this way: your preferences are like a lock; when you encounter music you love, it's like the key that fits your lock has just been inserted in your mind. We even say "it clicks!" You feel the fit, and it's the most satisfying thing imaginable. Well, OK, maybe there is ONE exception to that....
So, yeah: This is a post about my "best of" list for 2012. This session recaps the tunes that really clicked for me in 2012 -- beautiful patterns from Lana del Rey, Mikky Ekko, Poliça, Jenova 7, and Pretty Lights in their less-usual funk'n'soul mode. Many of these are remixes of tracks represented on prior shows; in the case of Finally Moving by Pretty Lights, it was the James Brown remix that was featured in late November, while this time it's the original version.
As you've come to expect, there's also a selection of lesser-known treasures -- from the 90s crate this time: James Hardway, Spain, Full Moon Fashions and Jeff Buckley. One pattern you'll likely recognize is how the soaring ethereality so widely loved in Buckley's voice is also a key component in the work of Mikky Ekko (especially in this amazing live version from BBC Radio 1) and The Antlers' lead singer, Peter Silberman ... it's a vocal style that produces shivers, well worth emulating.
Oh and a dollar to anyone that can identify who's doing the recitative in that Spylab burner, Façade. It sounds like Andy Griffith, but that can't be right ....
If you're inclined to listen to this set, please click the PLAY > button in the widget below ... on demand radio courtesy of the fine people at Mixcloud:
Selecting a few notable new tracks is one thing, but finding the overlooked or underappreciated creations out there to complete the set is where the spirit of exploration comes in – that’s the proper spirit to have when greeting the New Year, I might add, so it’s the reigning spirit of this NYE 2012 session.
In addition to a new Solange song & JBoogie's moombahsoul rmx of Adorn, I've gone exploring for more unexpected tunes that share the same wavelength, finding plenty to intrigue & inspire you ... One I love in particular is Parov Stelar's Psychedelic Jazz from 2004; a Four Tet remix of Cosi ti amo by The Dining Rooms is now a favorite, too. Both impress me with their exploratory risk-taking spirit.
The Les Reprouves track from Tommy Hools seems timeless & full of mad energy ... it’s balanced by the spacious surge of chillwave from Bonobo, Kuba & SinQ. There’s exploratory energy upwelling all over the place ... not simply danceable, but it's at least that: Let it move you.
If you're inclined to listen to this set, please click the PLAY > button in the widget below ... on demand radio courtesy of the fine people at Mixcloud:
Like the strongest emotions, good music this year has been a wave washing over me -- abundant and compelling even when I'm just catching up on something I missed *last* year. Let's begin this show at peak energy, with all the hottest and hypest corralled at the beginning; I’m putting them first so you don't miss them (hey, I know you can't expect people to always make it to the last track in a show ... life interrupts, or maybe you bail out because you hit a song you just don't like. No blame.)
As you'd expect, the new tunes are balanced with some strategic picks from the past, so trust the hyperventilating to quiet down about four songs in, yielding to classic grooves from Massive Attack (remastered in 2006) among others. 1995's Jhelisa and 2011's Nicholas Jaar bring the extra complexity for discerning listeners, but this session is quality throughout, beginning with the inspired openers from Gramatik vs. The Beatles, Mikky Ekko and Lianne La Havas. Giving up all my goodies at once: Call it the Christmas spirit... So then maybe the rest of it is the Spirit of Christmas Past, bringing you Fresh Moods, The Verbrilli Sound and Da'Damn'Phreak'Noize'Phunk, all from the Golden Age of Downtempo. Round it off with newer material from Benny Tones, The Warheads and Stac, and it's fair to say you have a treat in store.
Product directions: To awaken emotionally refreshed, hit PLAY and let the sound wash over you; rinse & repeat as needed.
If you're inclined to listen to this set, please click the PLAY > button in the widget below ... on demand radio courtesy of the fine people at Mixcloud:
Feeling time racing towards the end of the year in a rush of lights, sounds and sensations is like standing on a mountaintop, seeing the tail-lights of cars streaming down a dark canyon road ... time stretches and you feel you could watch forever, though you know it will only take moments before the exodus is over.
Time is stretched for you in the new tag-team session from Jez and I, also ... just under one hour of music blended to feel timeless ... exhilaration and sadness mix together, your sense of life finely balanced between the future and what used to be. We used our time together to make these fleeting moments feel endless and uplifting, to take you soaring far above all concerns and regrets ...
Music makes time manifest, gives it shape and direction ... and together we float beyond today, toward tomorrow.
Artists appearing on this tag-team set include All India Radio, The Warheads, Emancipator, Soulalive, Dhamika, CjRcm, Jeff Floyd, Bliss, Carrie Skipper and others including Jez in his music production guise, Frequency Storm (I should mention that his site has a couple of mp3s for free download, so be sure to check that out.)
I feel good: When a favorite holiday comes around, when I hear a brilliant piece of music, when I have the leisure to simply sit outside and listen to the wind & the birds in the trees. I feel guiltily good when I realize that the big storm went somewhere else this year, more than once this year, in fact. I feel obstreperously good when my candidate wins handily and the other guy never even sees it coming. I feel cautiously good when I get to this ripe old age & I'm still capable of handling my own sh!t, earning a living included. I feel luxuriously good when I can curl up with a book & feed myself chocolates on a weekend. I feel capably good when I can pay my bills and not be captive to a mindset that says I always have to make more money than I actually need to deal with the basics. I feel spiritually good every time I create a new show and I know it's driven purely by love and devotion for the art. I feel humbly good when I realize none of this *had* to happen, that everything in life is a matter of grace or luck.
It's Thanksgiving 2012 & I feel good. I hope you feel good, too. (h/t James Brown)
As for the line-up this time, let me emphasize that the engine and inspiration of this session is Finally Moving, the absolutely brilliant James Brown rework by Pretty Lights ... this tune is in the running to be designated my top tune of 2012, except that it's apparently been around since 2010, and available since 2011 on the Pretty Lights website for free (like just about all their music). So I slept on this one at the time, but now I'm awake and on fire for this track ... Pretty Lights doesn't always hit it, but when they do, they hit it hard.
Stac is another artist fielding some tasty R&B nuggets, notably on the Lifeboogie remix of Solomon Burke's 1964 soulful standard, Cry To Me. In that same groove, you'll hear a couple of tunes from Projections as well as music from Paul & Price, Blue Boy, Guardner, Cinematic Orchestra and more. An excellent hour of musical accompaniment to your gratitude for yet another year in this life.
Between the countdown to the elections & the massive storm that churned up the coast before it slammed into NY/NJ as Hurricane Sandy, the need for soothing has seldom been greater. Dark skies & political posturing influenced everyone's mental landscape right up through the 2012 Presidential election (and beyond, no doubt.) Very much like the impact of seeing the now-iconic image of Jane's Carousel lapped by the rising waters on all sides, you may feel overwhelmed by the dark or you may focus on the unquenchable light. With luck, the music in this set will help to keep the storm fears at bay & these tunes will have the power to enchant while you wait for the waters to recede.
The story here will be whatever personal meaning you pull from the wreckage. As usual, I find a lesson in 'never saying never' when I rediscover a track from the early 2000's, one that may just now be finding it's perfect moment in the present session: I'd include Gretchen Lieberum's Brazen Girl and Ypey's Without You in that category. I'm pleased to present them, just in case you missed them back then too ... I'll also be reminding you of good things from Jon Kennedy, Merge of Equals, The Dining Rooms, Yasushi Ide and a 2004 collab between Eastern Sun and John Kelley. Just to shake things up, I've included something new from Esbe, courtesy of the fine people @ Dusted Wax Kingdom.
One track in particular that caught my attention was the Sweetback reimagining of Bobby Caldwell's 70s hit What You Won’t Do -- loved hearing that hook again. I also find myself responding to Alice Russell on the downside, regaining my balance with Razoof & then drafting back upwards on Gelka's steady optimism at the closing track. Your mileage may vary....
So what is the aural equivalent of 'love at first sight'? That immediate recognition music lovers feel when they encounter a magical song for the first time -- an embrace that never fails to turn you on, no matter how many times you hear the tune, no matter how many years pass since you first heard it. Love at first listen, love that lasts: it's what we're all searching for, when you think about it. I’ll call it Listen Love.
The session is built around a few tunes that worked this magic on me. One I first heard decades ago (Down So Low by Mother Earth featuring the righteous blues vocals of Tracy Nelson, came out in 1968) and I know that love has lasted; the Hird track dates from 2004 and regularly appears in my shows; a new burner from Joe Sizzlax I heard for the first time last month, and I'm betting that one will last also.
There's also music from Amy Winehouse (the Lioness vinyl), Afternoons in Stereo, All India Radio, The Warheads, Julie London, James Foster, Bliss and Aphex Twin, among others. Some, like Ocean Floor from AiS or Blue Calx from Aphex Twin, are tracks I come back to time and again, knowing they will always be good to me; with some of these other tunes, well, I'm just getting to know them ... we may yet fall in love
Every BeatConscious set is a chance for YOU to fall in love for the first time; it's great to find out which tunes move you to ecstasy -- holla back and let me know. You’re welcome =;^)
From deep funk beats to swirls of ethereality, the line-up this time suggests a downtown neighborhood full of little lounges playing all varieties of downtempo, where the music is spilling out of every door and giving you that cozy "kick back and relax" vibe. This isn’t London or NYC, so you're not hearing all that cutting-edge stuff -- mostly it's your favorites, the music that says: Here is where you belong, hang with us a while. In fact, why wander the streets, when you can just settle in with BeatConscious, where this sort of show is always on and the welcome mat is always out.
There's a bit of audio coquettry in the first transition as I draw your attention to the deep linkage between Esbe and The Dining Rooms; from that point, though, it's straight-up flow, contributions from Gerd, Boozoo Bajou, Emancipator, De-Phazz with their classic, Anchorless, Bullitnuts, Saru and more.
Naturally, there's a bit of new music, too: chillout from Jeremy Latham & that deep funk from Esbe and from Groove Cereal, a couple of Dusted Wax offerings that really form the heart of this session: the perfect glow in which to spend an hour relaxing with a friend, replacing that Chill in the Air with the warmest of vibes
Come the end of summer travels and vacations, and it seems like everyone is itchin' ... Itching to get back to whatever it is that usually obsesses them, hungry for the momentary satisfaction of scratching that itch, leaving it both satisfied and taunting, ready to itch and to be scratched again. The image I’ve chosen to represent this show is of iPad fingerpoo, but whether we are talking about your online time, your music, your favorite food, or some physical itch that distracts you, we all understand the urgency, just like we understand the satisfaction.
Among my favorites this time is Pretty Lights with a killer tune from 2010 that I'm just now rediscovering, and the opening track from The Cure, which I only really appreciated long after it was new. Mostly, it's a mixed-bag session of varying energy levels, with tracks offering both urgency and satisfaction in generous measures -- new remix from Poliça, and other new tracks from Innereyefull, Beacon and a tidbit from the Kopecky Family Band, as well as 2009 "reload" from Protassov, courtesy of GiantStepDJ while older selections from Toye, Black Rain and a FRW collab of Tosca and AK Musique help round out the hour.
An Itch, Scratched -- it's a glorious thing. (Props to N.O.H.A.'s "Things That are Beautiful Haunt Me" for the title concept.)
The Golden Age of Downtempo offered a specific kind of deep lounge song or session commonly referred to as a babymaker -- music so fundamentally sexy that it all but undressed you. Zero 7 was a band that had babymaker tied to their name, but the best tracks could be much deeper: bumpin’ rhythms paired with irresistible melodies, surging peaks, and layers of sonic effects to make your mind and skin tingle ...
If expressing sexual bliss is one of the proper uses of music, then the downtempo of 1998 - 2005 was supremely proper ... In the present session, I've blended some proper classic tracks with lesser-known offerings -- for every top-shelf tune from Omni Trio, User's Atmosphere, All India Radio, Guardner or Groove Armada, there's a more obscure gem from the likes of Frank Borell, Clelia Felix, Interstellar, The Savages, Speachless Project or Blue Crisp that takes you to the same place, and it's time to air some of those out.
And you? You'll want to listen to Crushin' on You in company ... good company, of course =;^)
You've got an hour -- best get to it: Those babies won't make themselves, you know....
The original Witness My Dub (Dub & Dubber 5) was released in 2005 and seemed due for a rework (a summer passed recently when I posted no dub reggae set at all, which is not at all the natural order of things ... an extra one this summer hopefully will redress that wrong.) A long Labor Day weekend provided the opportunity; Eyewitness Dub is the result and it’s a somewhat more socially conscious session compared to 2005, due to some crucial changes in the set-list, most notably the closing track by Roykey with vocals very reminiscent of Linton Kwesi Johnson … but even the Ramin Sakurai opener (brand new from GiantStep DJ) could be taken as a reference to our political fever as we head into the last 2 months before the US elections: Brace Yourselves, indeed!
Regardless of the updated consciousness, the vibe is still fundamentally roots reggae, bringing both the rough and the smooth for your listening pleasure ... classic warm dub goodness on offer from DJ Krush, Doctor Echo, Thievery Corp., Finley Quaye, G-Corp, Tappa Zukie, and Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor, to name a few.
If you feel the summer winding down, this is an extender you’ll appreciate … if you feel your patience and your passion for the struggle fading, let this roots music provide the energy you need to push on to the end. No matter how you come to it, just don’t sleep – you are an eyewitness to this life and times.
So 2012's first real threat to our coastline appeared in late August in the form of H. Isaac, and while I was involved in prepping for the possibilities, I also had enough time to gather in some tunes along with the porch furniture and the flowerpots. I hesitated to assign the session title, just in case I jinxed myself by presuming we'd emerge unscathed ... Now, of course, I'm happy to set it in stone, so here you have Clouds Rolling By (This Time), remembering, of course, a cloud that passes us by goes on to someone else: The wind will always rise, the rain will always fall, somewhere. Can it be that luck itself is a zero-sum game & not the inexhaustible resource we imagine?
Like a tropical storm, the mood this time is slow and spatial with hints of disaster and uncertainty courtesy of Kraak & Smaak, De-phazz, Timewarp inc, Howie B remixed by Afterlife, The Lushlife Project, Charles Afton and Malcolm McLaren's adaptation of Mme. Butterfly in the 12" extended remix version. The flow seems to mimic a cluster of clouds that morphs from one shape to another ... so the session goes from soul with a passing nod to DnB, through chilled soulful house, then shifting into a variety of downtempo stylings, including some jazz-inflected beat-propelled hiphop and the classic early spliffed-out variety of downtempo remixed with a big bottom end provided by Beanfield ... by the time Guardner and Blondes weigh in, we've left the clouds behind and exited Earth's atmosphere altogether ... It's the ultimate audio getaway, helping you feel like you've escaped the worst, once again.
A favorite song, a fabulous meal, a gorgeous day, a glorious night, a vacation, a love affair: The desire to make a good time last starts with realizing that it never does ... the enjoyment of life's pleasures is generally tempered by melancholy anticipation of the inevitable end … and it requires our best efforts to delay that ending, if only for a little while.
In this particular case, I was trying to extend that vacation feeling ... and in the end, I eked out another hour of luxurious relaxation, disconnected from the responsibilities and drudgery of the typical return to work ... if I've done my job properly, any time I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I should be able to cue up this session and set myself drifting once again, until I regain my equilibrium. In truth, if I've done my job properly, it should work for you, too.
The excellently-named I Was Totally Destroying It establishes our reluctant pace with their opening track, Move So Slowly, and the melancholy is baked in, thanks to selections from All India Radio, Portishead and Gavin Froome. Then there’s that wistful 'never let it end' finish -- I discovered that one way to extend the pleasure, in this session anyway, is by layering one closing track after another, never quite willing to wind things down and concede that the moment is over -- so you'll hear Goldfrapp, The Cancel and Continuo, among others, as we approach, and only reluctantly embrace, the idea of the "last track". (Don't let the false endings fool you -- it isn't over 'til it's over.)
It isn't over 'til it's over ... who hasn't said that at some point in their lives? Who hasn’t said: Make it last!
Twofer Time! Somehow (and you can imagine me looking around rather theatrically for the cause or, rather, a place to lay the blame...) the first show for July, #imaginaryBF, didn't get its moment here on the main page. Imagine how bad I'd feel if a real BF was involved =;^) So, at any rate, you'll find two July shows written up below, along with the usual widgets so you can stream the mixes from Mixcloud if you'd like (as always, I encourage mobile users to download the free MmeFLY app for Android that serves up my stream from mix.dj direct to your gizmo.)
Good then, with all that out of the way, let's see about those shows:
How to justify the value of emotional coupling to one who's done without it for so long? The more we virtualize our lives, cosseted by the devices that do our bidding, the more some folks may come to feel that an #imaginaryBF or GF is just as good as the physical variety & maybe a lot less trouble. Even lonely people are making the decision on some level that their loneliness is less distressing than the agony of intimacy: sharing the space, bearing the scrutiny, doing the work.
Because, after all, what do you get out of it? Sharing expenses? Oh please, don't insult me by suggesting my feelings can be bought, OK? Hugs and kisses? You can hug it yourself just as well & maybe better, while you watch the video. Someone to talk to? Social media gives you plenty of that & exactly when you want it.
I'm not sure what the winning argument would be, but you’ll find this wide-ranging collection of songs offers a view from both sides of the debate. And when I say 'wide ranging' I mean this is pretty close to an all-genres show, with material on offer from Al Green representing for R&B, newcomers Bebe Black, Future of What, The Walkmen, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros bringing the Alt-Indiepop, Emeli Sandé, Belleruche, Poliça, Maya Jane Coles and Si*Sé, stepping up the energy and emotion while Piers Faccini and Sonique go straight for the heart. Something for everyone -- dive in!
And July's second show, just uploaded today (7/15):
Here's a trip-worthy collection just in time for vacation ... The new thing that fired me up (and lent the show a title) is our opener, Silent Rider's ‘I Was a Bomb’. I gotta say, they win the Irresistable Enigmatic Lyrics contest with this verse: "I had my reasons. I was wrong. I was a bomb that never went off."
And while I try not to over-expose any particular track, you will occasionally hear a familiar tune on a new show -- from earlier this year, ‘Oceans’ by We Are Serenades (White Sea Remix) just hangs on in my head regardless of the other things I listen to, so I've put that one on repeat.
Another reason for the show is the J Boogie moombahton remix of that Gotye track ... a welcome new approach for an over-exposed tune (for the record, I kinda like the song but really wish I wasn't carrying the video around in my head; ditto the Silent Rider video.) Mad respect to J Boogie for making that tune available via his Soundcloud page.
On the hunt for big game in the Bringin' it Back category, Neneh Cherry's 1992 'Move With Me' is first among equals, while one of the FRW contributors takes flight with a Phil Collins remix (fertile ground at the Francia Rework site, worth checking out.) Add to that, goodness from Saru, Groove Armada, Blissom and Ashen, NickNack, Timewarp inc and Scientific American, and I believe your time in the airport lounge will be time well spent.
Whether you're arriving or departing, there's plenty here to occupy you on the trip, just waiting for you to unpack it.
When we celebrate Midsummer's Day (June 20th this year and more properly called by its astronomical name, the solstice) we are celebrating the day the Sun (as seen from Earth) literally stands still before reversing direction. This is the gear that keeps the seasons flowing onward in their course … something surely worth celebrating. But we're also aware of the hesitation inherent in that pause, the question of "will it or won't it go on as it's always done?” We sense that we can never take the answer for granted. We sense this might not be limited to celestial events.
The solstice is also the longest day of the year which, in turn, means the shortest night - not so well suited for dreaming, you may say: I’d say you might need to do your dreaming during the day.
This set came into being because Jeremy Latham (Frequency Storm) had a new tune about to be released; when he shared it with me, my latent desire to create a new chillout/ambient show found focus. And there's other new music here, as well: Anthony Valadez has created a tune that could be a dream narrative; the Velvet Vibration compilation contributes tracks from By the Rain and Blue Bliss for our listening pleasure.
Older music is also an influence: I'd recently come across my Stone Idols CD, Reversion -- when I was just getting acquainted with computers and the internet, my initial curiosity was to find as much as I could relating to Brian Eno. Even the rudimentary affinity algorithms of the mid-90's easily made the connection to the UK group Stone Idols and theirs was the first band produced and released CD that I purchased online. And another gem from the past that I mean to keep alive is the profoundly moving Ofra Haza track that opens the show. In addition, you'll chill to H.U.V.A. Network, Carbon Based Lifeforms, From Within, Billie Ray Martin & The Grid, Cantoma and The Orchid.
It's that longest day of the year that we're observing here, the tipping point, with all its anticipated revels and confusions, and there are dreams of all sorts on display, from Ofra Haza’s “Slave Dream” to the dream of peace itself.
Welcome to the sweet chaos of the Midsummer Dreams.
Is there a tribulation upon us? It certainly seemed so in January 2005, when Tribulation Dub was first assembled & when I was still feeling hammered by the hurricane that had ripped apart my town in August 2004. And now it seems so once again: Yes, there's a tribulation -- only this time, the storm is economic.
In times like these, you find yourself appreciating an hour's worth of roots rhythm and rhyming that counsels love, encourages fortitude, and promises better days ahead. The penultimate tune from Doctor Echo may set you soaring ... Additional uplift courtesy of Sanchez Dub, Cottonbelly, Aural Float, International Observer, Thievery Corporation, an outright classic from Noiseshaper, plus -- in an excellent example of atemporality at work -- a 1990’s wakeup call from Dee Patten that might just be the perfect anthem for today’s domestic drones program.
In creating this 2012 rework, I was mostly stripping away tracks that I have used elsewhere, to greater effect, in the intervening years ... The only new track added was the Thievery joint that closes out the set. For those with an archival interest, the original set-list can be found here; the original mix was on mmRadio in its heyday, but is no longer available online.
Is there a tribulation upon us? Yes, in so many ways -- but then, there is also every blessing that we have the wit to recognize.
Two thoughts get joined together here: To be in transit is to be on the move -- here today, gone tomorrow … whereas Venus traditionally stands for desire itself. Put them together and you have some shorthand for the human condition: the prime goal of our lives, even if reached, is ours only temporarily. Thus it will also be with the celestial show set for June 5-6, 2012: The Transit of Venus, a display which won’t be repeated in this century.
The 120+ BPM range of this show is a perfect engine for your activities, day or night, falling into that category of Chill House that the show is known to find delightful ... the primary mover in this regard was Eternal City's Games (Nasty Mix) which came via Eighth Dimension. Selections from Kraak & Smaak, Lisa Shaw, Auricle and Charles Afton explore the same tempo territory. The narrative arc is dedicated to the celebration of Venus, Goddess of love and desire, and while I don't know anything about your office environment, I'm guessing the last track may be NSFW for some of you … Hawke (Gavin Hardkiss) has titled this soft-core moment that closes the show Bob's My Uncle, which is a nice bit of distraction for the morality patrol. Getting us to this climax moment are similarly-spirited tracks from Amber remixed by Afterlife, Lana del Rey, God Within (Scott Hardkiss) and Lush with a fresh take on Vissi D'arte, one of the arias from Pucini's Tosca.
We can rarely ever be certain that we are being offered a true “once in a lifetime” opportunity, but this time is different: you know for a fact that this star show will not come your way again ... Now, consider what the effect might be of treating your transit through life as if that were true of everything you experience.
There's a certain kind of mood most of us are destined to feel eventually, when we're looking back on a relationship that has ended ... because sooner or later, relationships do break down. All of us will someday be looking back on the end of our hopes for making that one personal connection that could outlast everything life throws at it, every error and miscalculation we make as we try to be both things: open, trusting lovers and our *actual* selves, alone and selfish at the core. We wanted a miracle, yeah we did ... but sometimes what we get instead is just a lucky break.
Observing such a 10-year anniversary recently, I found myself listening to a lot of relationship songs & I also found that plenty of bands are still capably providing the tunes we crave to match that reminiscent mood. Tracks gathered for this show range from the gently explosive Parlovr indie-rocker to the austere meditations of Spooncurve, from the impassioned pain of Islands to the archly sophisticated advice of Depeche Mode. As we need them to, the poets and musicians give us some insight on all the different ways we experience this inescapable milestone in life.
You'll also hear another celebration of bad boys from Lana del Rey, a brand-new Norah Jones remixed for dub deepness, classic goodness from UB 40 and Tosca, and the craziest Rolling Stones cover ever, Scubba's electro-bossa, female-first-person rendition of Fool to Cry.
Special shout-out to RCRD LBL and the bands that supply them with tunes for their continuing generous access to new music -- you rule this playlist. Gratitude also to GiantStepDJ, source of the new Norah Jones tracks, and Said the Gramaphone for the tip on that Canadian band, Parlovr. Each of these sites improves my world every day.
I was there in 1976 when Fly Like an Eagle came out; it was ubiquitous and yet I don't remember it for the socially-conscious cast of the lyrics, and I don't remember the overall song being this good. Uh, because it wasn't ... not the way this new Soundhog remix is: in a word, brilliant.
What he does, this Soundhog chap, is to recalibrate our appreciation of some classic number we think we know by remixing it to suit today's aural expectations. So, another theme of this set is increasing our delight in classic tracks through either remixing or recontextualizing in a mix.
So this show celebrates having another Soundhog remix to grace us -- the last I had of his, the Float mix of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, appears on another show, Let Them See You Dancing, a nice hour of synthpop and its descendants.
Today's show is also about classic tracks and attitude, starting out with that reimagining of the Steve Miller Band track and culminating in the "so caressing it's almost body-painting" tune Dreaming of Love, from 1995's Blue Moods of Spain ("Spain" being the group's name.) Also from the mid-90's is Melaaz, whose languid delivery totally entrances me, as does the vocal in the following track, The More You Cry from Fellmann & Louise ...
The tunes included here go from strength to strength -- in fact, the set is mainly drawn from the decade spanning 1995-2005, or as it is wistfully known to devotees: The golden age of downtempo, music that was the soundtrack to many a 4:20-themed event, I have no doubt ... just as it is today. (Today's 4:20 vibe is represented by an RCRDLBL-supplied Memoryhouse remix of Tycho's Dive, 2007's DJ Krush self-remix of Final Home, and one of my favorites from Suhov's 2010 release ... And of course that brand-new Soundhog remix of Fly Like an Eagle.) Title honors this time to E.D. Swankz's Limberer and its exhortations to 'manly men' on the evils of dancing.
Caution: Exposure to Rhythm, Grace and Pleasure may be temporarily, deliciously disabling.
I wasn't that much of a Joy Division fan back in the day -- my observation was that depressives were listening to Joy Division and us bodyrockers were more into acts like Roxy Music, whose Flesh and Blood had come out by then -- so seeing the Ian Curtis biopic Control recently just made me want to hear some New Order tracks.
This short set serves up the associations that flow from bookending two New Order favorites, starting out with "Temptation" & achieving synthpop ultimacy with the final track, "Your Silent Face" -- from the obscure (Alpinestars, K) to the well-known (Gus Gus, Lana del Rey, The Strike Boys) to the well-remixed (Jozif on INXS, Soundhog on Depeche Mode, Miguel Migs on MJ Cole.)
Soooo ... higher energy than usual, very much a dance mix, certainly intended to make you wriggle in your office chair, at the very least. In truth, you might suddenly find yourself standing up just so you can move a bit more freely. Of course, you wouldn’t want it to get out of hand, spinning and bouncing around in your cubicle -- after all, anyone walking by could just look in and there you'd be ...
Yep, there you'd be.
Let them see you dancing.
The groove I work was first revealed to me by Massive Attack's Blue Lines and the albums of Portishead ... I remember, in the days before we could be buying music on the internet, driving to the next big town north of me to get the new Portishead album, because I was already besotted by Dummy. I think the most astonishing thing about this music, at the time, was that it seemed to have been made for me.
Since that time, the hunt's been on for work of similar quality, and music has been good to me in this regard, as this show demonstrates, bringing together masterworks from across the years: Deadbeats, The Funky Lowlifes, dZihan & Kamien, Gramatik, Burdy, Aromabar all shine with that same low inner funky glow. Listen and you may come to understand the reason for my devotion.
Recent works, even when they stray into new sonic territory, do not disappoint: Lana del Rey, Jill Scott in a brilliant remix by Rob Luis of Tru Thoughts, and Dual Control from the Grand Central folks hold their own in this illustrious company and fully satisfy your groove requirements. Closing down the show with spacious sonics is New Channel, whose Llama Ghost is a fresh release from the fine folks at Upstairs Recordings (and a grateful nod to Monta for hooking us up.)
The cover art inspired by the Gramatik track Dream Big -- they speak of assembly, of which the mosaic is a prime example, and then I thought of the way a mosaic is partially defined by its grooves....
One more note: March also marks the first anniversary of the BeatConscious show streaming from mix.dj -- it's been a great year, all thanks due to the most excellent community of DJs and listeners and web geniuses at mix.dj -- you are all awesome! I'm proud to have a station there, and very pleased indeed to have the MadameFLY mix.dj app for mobile listeners running Android -- be sure to get yours, it's free and it collects the nearly 50 shows to date in one convenient spot for your listening pleasure.
I go where it takes me: A show usually begins with a stream of associations, that path from one place to another that music embodies so well, once the flow has gotten a bit of shape & direction to it.
This set began with finding the Sea of Vapours song “How to Love” ...which in turn suggested mostly moody tracks for the flow. But there are impressive bursts of energy in there too -- they come roaring thru like tornadoes on a spring day. The first of these interludes appears courtesy Andreya Triana remixed by Banks, which offers a compelling brief for dubstep & celebrates the slightly dirty, fuzzed-out sound that characterizes many of the versions in this set.
Also new and very now, Emeli Sandé who's been popping up on everybody's radar, and with good reason -- if our luck holds, "Next to Me" is just the beginning. Thanks and much respect to GiantStep DJ for Emeli and for that Kabanjak joint from back a year or so ago. Among artists, Sea of Vapours, The Warheads, Andreya Triana and Canton (Greg Long) are each due thanks for making material available for this show. We're all in this together, yeah? You'll also hear tracks from Carbon Based Lifeforms (who seem to be in every mix lately), Tosca, Ulrich Schnauss, Aya, The Sushi Club and from way back when, Da'Damn'Phreak'Noize'Phunk, among others.
Despite the energy level in tracks by Andreya, Kabanjak and Danny Massure, the general vibe is dreamy/lazy -- just the thing for those waking up to spring weather & finding they have an appetite for going someplace new, for being both soothed and excited. Will this be where it takes you, too?
One more note: This also marks the first anniversary of the BeatConscious show streaming from mix.dj -- it's been a great year, all thanks due to the most excellent community of DJs and listeners and web geniuses at mix.dj -- you are all awesome! I'm proud to have a station there, and very pleased indeed to have the MadameFLY mix.dj app for mobile listeners running Android -- be sure to get yours, it's free and it collects the 50-odd shows to date in one convenient spot for your listening pleasure.
Ms. Lonelyhearts' Advice for All Occasions is now in session: You're all alone -- are you lonely? Or are you free? It's hard to do the right thing -- are you going to bail or are you going to stick around and be a hero? I'm giving you options here, so pay attention; these opportunities don't come every day. You know the song: You’re nobody 'til somebody loves you. It's just another way of saying that it’s hard to believe in your own worth unless it’s validated for you by another, and the form of validation we most desire is to be loved, the ultimate seal of approval. And this seems true even when we believe we are above love, love-resistant, love dismissive ... just a bit of posturing to suggest that we don’t need what we haven’t got.
There was a night I promised myself, as I lived thru it, that I would never forget: I shared a house with 5 other people, and on this summer night, I lay in bed alone, unable to sleep, while into the open window over my head drifted the murmurings from all the other open windows in the house ... From rooms where couples worked through their various love negotiations, louder or softer as their personal styles dictated. Listening to all that apparent pleasure and togetherness, I realized (well, anyway, I hoped) that one day I would be able to look back on that night and smile at my desolation ... because it would have turned out to be temporary. And so it was.
Which is why, when I field a set of songs about the loneliness that precedes finding your own love, especially when that set concludes with the incomparable Mary J. Blige stating her fundamental truth about the necessity of finding and accepting love from another, you can trust me when I say I understand. To tweak a classic Eartha Kitt comment, I've been loved and I've been lonely, and being loved is better -- though sometimes only having been lonely can make you appreciate it.
What's most likely to have you appreciating this show is that we're rocking the blues early on, with music from The Black Keys, Gramatik, David & David, Blodwyn Pig and Chromatic, and then downshifting into the glide path that takes us home, via tracks from Nightmares on Wax rerubbed by Mark Pritchard, Stereo MCs, Weekend Players, The Warheads, Mokhov, Innereyefull (both are gems from Dusted Wax Kingdom) and of course, Mary J. Blige.
Two things are at work with this new show, Aloft: First, I wanted to accommodate some spiffin’ new music from Frequency Storm and Jenova 7, while also recognizing the influence of Carbon Based Lifeforms and Emancipator on ambient tastes here on BeatConscious. Second was to add to the library of chillout/ambient shows for BeatConscious listeners. Chillout offers that special flavor of ambient that’s been blended with downtempo -- e.g., more beats. Whether you give yourself an hour of active meditation or just watch the sunset for the first time in ages, this mix will ensure you feel suitably elevated throughout: intensely atmospheric, abstract tracks balanced by lighter and gentler tunes will keep you properly aloft.
In addition to the spot-lighted artists mentioned above, there are some clarifying tunes from Afterlife, DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo, and Slop Shop, as well as contributions from lesser-known contributors to the many varieties of Cafe del Mar / Ibiza chillout compilations. With regard to the Jenova 7 set, I'd like to give a SO to Dustedwax.org, home of an astounding range of chill/ambient/downtempo music, all available under the Creative Commons license which invites you to listen and include these free tracks in your own personal radio line up. And another shout to the very talented Frequency Storm, whose new music and new website should be going live online right about ... now. Google should get you there....
For me, the lyrical payoff in Aloft comes at the end, in the CBL track that closes out the set: "There are no answers, only choices." Think of it this way: Answers are the ground, solid and settled; choices are the air, constantly changing. Remain aloft.
The door opens and I find the PleasureBot just where I last saw it, humming gently -- I would say "expectantly" but this is, after all, just a machine.
My PleasureBot waits for a sign; it comes loaded with lots of options, but it's for me to say which ones will get used and when. Exquisitely sensitive, it responds to my strokings instantly, its color heightening, emitting the little noises that confirm the changes I can see taking place under my hand. The sweet sighs of my PleasureBot, so close to my ear, so warm on my skin.
In a world where “les moments intimes avec les pleasurebots” abound, will personhood ever extend to them as it does to corporations? Or will they always be considered mere machines -- tools, if you will -- owned and operated by a human?
Will there ever be a Valentine for your PleasureBot?
In this Valentine for pleasurebots and their partners/owners everywhere, you'll be alternately soothed and aroused by contributions from Bonobo, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Boz Scaggs edited by Greg Wilson, Blondes, Boozoo Bajou, Timewarp inc and Budha Building, among others. But the deepest and the hottest thing on offer is the Maceo Plex track "Stay High Baby" which rocks the center of this mix just like it will rock your center, if you let it in.
And I must big-up Stereo Alchemy for repurposing the poetry of John Donne in their track, "God of Love"
From 'Love's Deity' by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
I long to talk with some old lover's ghost
Who died before the god of love was born
I cannot think that he, who then loved most
Sunk so low as to love one which did scorn
But since this god produced a destiny
And that vice-nature, custom, let it be
I must love her that loves not me
But every god of love will now extend
His vast prerogative as far above
To reach, to lust, to fight, to defend
The territory of this god of love
O! were we waken'd by this tyranny
Ungod this child again it would not be
I should love her, who loves not me
I long to talk I long to feel love
I sank so low to love her scorn
To reach, to lust, to fight to defend
To die before this god was born
The cover art is an iPad cover by Myka Jelina, whose incredible art is available in many practical forms on zazzle.com:
So I've been following M Doughty on Twitter only to learn that he completely disavows Soul Coughing and the music he made with them. Whoa. Totally sincere and certainly within his rights but … it just made me want to hear "Sugar Free Jazz" again.
And so here we are, where most of the tracks are new or newish and where something of that repudiation vibe is discernible in a few of the lyrical storylines as well. Love songs that feint, duck, push back, demand a negotiation or a truce -- there's nothing here like the headlong rush of two people to embrace, no sense of refuge or comfort. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much what you’d expect in these fickle moments: if online life has taught us anything, it’s that no one is obliged to meet our expectations as long as they can amuse or intrigue us.
Besides Soul Coughing, we're here mostly for the huge Poliça track, the AlunaGeorge rmx of Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, and The Antlers' disavowal of love. Helping the whole thing hang together like a bespoke suit are bits of brilliance from Rithma, Dpek & Gramatik, Belleruche remixed by Aldo Vanucci, Feist, Creep, Frank Ocean, dZihan & Kamien and pure poetic excellence from Terranova:
In this dream, we say what we mean
We do what we feel
Love fills the day
You take my breath away
In the dream, there's no bill to pay, no decision to make
No consequence to take, and nothing breaks
Nothing is fake, no mistakes
And then I wake up.....
Thanks to GiantStepDJ, Said the Gramaphone and RCRDLBL.com for helping to keep the show fresh, and to Poliça for the cedilla.
Mesmerized: At the death of Steve Jobs, the essays poured out, none more interesting to me than the one that twigged to the importance of the "i" prefix on all those Apple products: because each one exists to perfect the user's self-involvement: via obvious moves like tweaking every setting to a personal preference, but also by the paring away of any content or input not specifically chosen by that user. Consider, then, Natalie Merchant's 1995 track "Carnival" -- so prescient, considering the level of iDistraction these devices encourage:
Have I been blind have I been lost
Inside myself and my own mind
Hypnotized, mesmerized by what my eyes have seen
Have I been wrong have I been wise to shut my eyes and play along
Hypnotized, paralyzed by what my eyes have found …
OTOH, you must also note that guitar run at the beginning, 'cause if that doesn't produce the sensation of a fingernail running lightly but very deliberately up the inside of your thigh, I don't know what you are made of …
Prolonging this sensation are tracks from (among others) the Eurhythmics, Les Voleurs, DJ Cam, Guts, Lamb, newcomers The Weather Station (a Said the Gramaphone Best of 2011 pick) and Widowspeak which came via RCRDLBL, and two from prime-time Jon Kennedy, including the closing track.
Additionally, there's the usual sly references to my Muse -- a reflection of the time I spend contemplating that connection, or what could be a connection, if only my Muse would relent and drop the drawbridge -- or so it seems to me. There's always the possibility I've fooled myself, and if so, it's a move that's been perfectly captured by that Weather Station track.
We spend our energy each day measuring the emotional valence of the people around us … their capacity to react with or affect us in some special way, either by attraction or the way they help make things happen … the same applies to music and our reaction to it, since we attach to music largely because of its emotional valence for us. You may not have known that before, but Now You Do.
BeatConscious has always been primarily a downtempo show, and people are right to expect a laid back vibe, everything working together to reach that plush point when we give ourselves up to the music and trust that we'll be pleased. And yet sometimes I hafta bust a harder move, because something new has caught my ears and it won't let go … maybe it's something that speaks to the rocker I used to be, or maybe it's just that the emotional valence is perfect.
The high energy and strong attraction this month come from Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey who kick off the show, hard-edged and righteous and seductive as they are, and although the vibe softens a bit after that, you'll find there are some emotional pools along the way whose depth will repay your attention: pay special attention to Adani & Wolf, represented by 3 tracks on this mix (and big thanks to Afternoons in Stereo for reminding me how much I like their work and pointing me to some of their newer releases.) You'll also hear Gato Barbieri, Parov Stelar ft. Anita Riegler, Emou, Tycho and a couple of tracks from the Purobeach compilation series.