In August, I was heads down working on putting together my photography exhibition, and didn't end up exploring a lot of new sounds. The flow on this mixtape is therefore less smooth and thought-through than the usual - probably an accurate reflection of my state of mind.
On the menu this month, a couple of narrative-based songs, psychedelic sounds and long jams.
Recommended setting: Listen to Chapter 1 when in need of a soft rock dose. Chapter 2... well, just a grouping of random songs.
Histoire de Melody Nelson is Gainsbourg’s first album concept. Paying tribute to the works of Vladimir Nabokov, its Lolita-esque pseudo-autobiographical narrative is built around a young female character, embodied in reality by his muse Jane Birkin. Original and sounding like nothing else in rock, this genre-defying album is one of Gainsbourg's most influential and accomplished work.
With a very Melody Nelson storytelling vibe to it, De Película is a delectable sensual cinematographic pleasure. Strong visuals keep surfacing in my imagination when I listen to this solid collaboration between The Liminañas (July 2020 / April 2021 mixtapes) and Laurent Garnier. ‘Juliette’ is an hypnotic, slow-burning song that’s been on repeat lately, accompanying my late night bike rides home.
Poet and musician Patti Smith is one of the most unconventional and ambitious rock & rollers of all time. In 2002, she released Land (1975-2002), a 2-disc compilation featuring previously published material on the first disc, B-sides and unreleased songs on the second one. ‘Higher Learning’ is a meditative journey on creativity and the passage of time.
In the 80s, the Derg was ruling Ethiopia and many citizens were fleeing the country in fear for their lives. Admas is a quartet of Ethiopian expatriates who immigrated to the U.S and emerged from extraordinary circumstances to make Sons of Ethiopia, a rare record that sounds like nothing else. A music of exile made by players who performed week in and week out for crowds of their fellow Ethiopians who had lost family and friends to the Derg. You can feel them longing for a past they were forced to leave behind.
When I came across this song, I initially thought I had landed on some Grateful Dead material, but was positively surprised to learn about this German experimental krautrock band. A fixture of the Berlin art rock scene in the 70s, their music incorporates elements of traditional rock, blues, psychedelic rock, experimental electronic and drone. 2 tracks from their second album 2Nd made it to this mixtape.
Warm textures, woozy freeness and a pleasant psychedelic ballad from SF-based Wooden Ships (August 2020 mixtape).
Minimal atmosphere and trance-inducing repetitive patterns by Föllakzoid. This Chilean band believes in some sort of gravitational force that makes South America able to dialogue directly with other places, times, and dimensions. With its krautrock and motorik beat, ‘Rivers’ take us on a serpentine journey through mystical sonic landscapes.
Hailing from New Zealand, this humble 7-piece collective is a potent mixture of soul, jazz, reggae, funk and dub. With tunes running a gamut of genre-busting styles, they have cemented their repertoire through must-see live gigs. ‘Bones’ is a loose, spacious and soothing song taken from WAIRUNGA, their 2021 album captured during a secret outdoor performance without audience.
The last of the great R&B tenor sax giants, King Curtis left this world too early when he was stabbed to death at 37 during an argument with a pair of drug dealers who happened to be in his building as he was attempting to carry an air conditioner into this apartment. Contrasting his tragic death, ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ is an energetic and uplifting celebration of his soul. With a witty name and beautifully laid-down arrangements, this song describes the Memphis sound in terms of a cooking recipe, with each instrument introduced by Curtis. An ecstatic 3-minute piece that will leave you yearning for more.
A prominent figure in the U.K. contemporary jazz scene, Pete Cunningham’s Bristol collective Ishmael Ensemble (October 2020 mixtape) ventures into lush cinematic soundscapes with instrumental compositions that transport. The Chapel’s delicate intro builds up towards a tipping point that engulfs the listener into an energetic drum-led rhythm before slowly winding down.
A beatnik who crossed paths with Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Terry Riley and William S. Burroughs, Australian Daevid Allen was one of the original progressive rock wizards. He founded Soft Machine, and Gong, but also went on releasing solo jaunts that were quite varied from his rock endeavours. Rich in melody and sentiment, this song (taken from his 1990 album Australia Aquaria) extolls positiveness, productive thinking and being.
If you’re a regular reader here, you’ve probably noticed by now my obsession with Greg Foat’s flawless craftsmanship (July 2020 / September 2021 mixtapes). On this record, he collaborates once again with multi-instrumentalist Warren Hampshire (Nov 2021 mixtape) to create timeless music of depth and quality. As its title indicates, the mixtape’s ending song is a soft contemplative piece that invites the listener to go inwards and introspect.