I used to make a lot of mixtapes: for myself, for other people, for this blog. I transitioned to making playlists (as many of us did), but there’s something magic about the well-turned mixtape that a playlist can’t touch–even an immaculately created playlist. This is something inbetween–a playlist made in the spirit of a mixtape, with a beginning, middle, and end. It goes roughly slow to fast, introspective to extroverted. Enjoy!
1. “Deep Brown Eyes” – Racoon Racoon. Few acoustic songs feel as intimate and immediate as this delicate duet. The songwriting is tender and memorable, the lyrics lovely, and the recording immaculate. A triumph. Highly recommended.
2. “Arthur’s Hanging” – Feverist. I’m not much for TV (I’d end up with a TV review blog, inevitably; ain’t nobody got time for that), but if you’re up on Peaky Blinders then you’ll recognize this song from the titular scene. For those of you (like me) hearing it for the first time, it’s a cross between the melancholy instrumental and vocal sonics of The National and the spacious environs of a slowcore song. It’s a real slow burn, and it’s one that’s hard to look away from.
3. “No. 49 – A Long Journey (For Mika)” – Roy Dahan. Here’s a jaunty yet not flimsy piano piece. It matches the enthusiasm of the tempo and melody with counterpoints and minor-key depth. It’s got the sensibilities of a pop song but the sonic landscape of a classical piece. It’s a great piece.
4. “Near-perfect Synchronization” – Koki Nakano. This is a composition composed of piano, occasional spartan electronics, dancer, and environment. The dancer evokes his way through a strange yet beautiful field of uniformly-spaced, enormous vehicles while the piano delicately evokes the sounds of feet landing and bodies whirling. It is a full experience.
5. “Alapaap” – Juan Torregoza. A dreamy, surreal sort of meditation that feels like a cross between smooth jazz, vaporwave, and new wave (with some funk-lite thrown in), but the fusion of the aesthetics elevates all of the oft-maligned genres into something heady and engaging.
6. “Still Here” – Kllo. A skittering, punchy, ’90s-inspired beat is overlaid with heavy piano and smooth, emotional vocals to create a great track that pulls at lots of different tensions.
7. “SABAW ft. Serina Pech” – Kuya James. The Asian instrument samples that form the basis of this slinky, sinuous electro cut are immediately appealing, and the rest of the song builds on that immediate connection.
8. “Before the Light” – Zopp. I would guess it’s not a prerequisite to like jazz before understanding prog, but my discovery of how jazz works has had knock-on effects of creating a burgeoning appreciation for prog. I am as shocked as anyone. Astonishingly, Zopp is a duo, but I would never have guessed from the zinging, ping-ponging, go-everywhere-at-once sound. The amount of layers of work and number of ideas from just two people is impressive.
9. “Men Er Grah” – Darius. Darius’ stormy instrumental post-hardcore is on full display here in the first third of the tune, pitting turbulent guitars against a steady, stomping percussion beat. The heavy distortion never becomes distortion for its own sake, and instead reflects emotional states clearly. The song opens up into a big rock section (complete with searing guitar solo) before going into soaring post-rock mode. There are even more twists and turns after that–the track is nine minutes long. Mad props. Highly recommended.
10. “Tales of Termina (Guitar Playthrough)” – Ebonivory. This is a right ripping instrumental progressive metal track. The band is doing the thing that metal bands do, which is play through their songs. In a laundromat. As you do.