December, a closure month that always seems to fly by. I spent the first half in Berlin, wrapping things at work before taking time off, focusing on photography during my free time and getting ready to fly back home for the Christmas holidays. For the second half, I was in Lebanon, spending time with family, reconnecting with friends, walking the streets of Beirut for the first time since the August 4 explosion, going on road trips, soaking up the Mediterranean sun and indulging in homemade food.
December, a closure month that always seems to fly by. I spent the first half in Berlin, wrapping things at work before taking time off and flying back home for the Christmas holidays. If there's one thing I will remember vividly from my time there, it's the deep sadness I felt walking the streets of Beirut for the first time since the August 4 explosion.
This is the last mixtape of 2020. 90 minutes of jazz, soul and funk, with a touch of electronic sounds towards the end.
Recommended setting: for a spring walk on that first warm week-end of the year, witnessing tree buds sprouting, amazed by nature coming to life again.
We start with a 10-minute track by Mary Lattimore, a harpist who augments her graceful harp improvisations with electronic effects. With Slowdive’s Neil Halstead in the producer’s chair, her latest album is entrancing and sweeps you in. The mixtape opener features a reverb-soaked guitar dancing around a steady harp melody, creating a gentle ambiance that sets the mood for what’s to come.
Cooly funk-scented ambient jazz on 'Orange Peel' by Sopwith Camel, a band associated with the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene of the late 1960s. In 1973, they recorded The Miraculous Hump Returns From The Moon, a terrific album that never got the recognition it deserved.
We continue our musical journey with 'Kinsiona' from Franco and Le T.P OK Jazz, a Congolese rumba band that was established in the 50s, remained active for 40 years and became the most popular and significant African band of its time. This song was released in 1972 at a time when the band was consolidating their position as the giant of Congolese popular music.
Following the recent release of a recording from a 2014 concert (Nov 2020 mixtape), DARKSIDE dropped a new down-tempo track earlier this month featuring atmospheric electronic, tinges of psychedelia, and Jaar’s mellow vocals. After 7 years, they’re back and their second album Spiral is set to be released in 2021. This song has been on repeat last week, accompanying my sunset walks on the Beirut corniche.
Cranking it up a notch, 'Renegade Breakdown' is the title track of Marie Davidson’s latest album. A bold and darkly funny pop song. On this album, the French Canadian (one half of the synth-pop duo Essaie Pas) teams up with two collaborators from the Montreal’s DIY scene. According to her Bandcamp page, this track is a “reaction to years in which she spent most of her life on the road, navigating the club and festival lifestyle: the airports, the late nights, the lost or damaged gear - often alone, always with her case of instruments and cables in tow.”
To wrap things up, we end with a deep, poignant and haunting song from Another Flower, a 2020 album by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and ambient composer Harold Budd. Budd passed away a couple of weeks ago, 4 days after the album was released. This is a celebration of his life and stunning musical pieces.