Mixtape
May 2021
AMBIENT / EXPERIMENTAL / ELECTRONIC
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Monthly mixtape artwork collage cover.
Mixtape
May 2021
AMBIENT / EXPERIMENTAL / ELECTRONIC

A bit about last month.

It's only in May, towards the end of my sabbatical, that it became clear my photography series was about transcendence through live music. My initial naive idea of creating a body of work around concerts took many shapes, forms and directions before morphing into a final form. The editing process, completely new to me, was also very informative. After narrowing down the selection to a couple hundred pictures, I made small prints, categorized them, put them all over my apartment walls, and went into an introspective 2-week phase where I looked deeply at the pictures to understand them, find patterns and connect threads.

This daily routine of going to the wall and gazing at the prints to provoke conversations between them and myself was very insightful. It's only by looking carefully at the work, moving pictures around, identifying which ones I'm most drawn to and understanding why, that I was able to anchor the series and create a coherent flow. Music, reading, late night walks and day dreaming were important driving factors too.

It took a while to converge towards transcendence and mysticism, but that time was much needed. When you find your core concept after swimming for a long time in this ocean of consciousness, it's pure bliss. You now have concrete ideas to build your series around, and you start pulling pictures in and out to tell the best story that depicts these ideas. You construct and deconstruct, many times, until you're happy with a selection that conveys well the message.

In May, I also sent my selection to photographers to seek early feedback. I was humbled by people's kindness and generosity. Some really took the time to study the work and provide thoughtful, constructive feedback. It was important for me to finally share with a few people what I've been working on for a long while, to let something out and shed a bit of light on pictures that had stayed too long in the dark. While the feedback I received was extremely valuable, one key learning was that people will always interpret pictures in their own way, and can potentially pull you in directions that are not yours. This is obviously expected because of the subjective nature of the field, and you incorporate feedback that resonates with you - but it's important not to deviate from your original path, stay true to yourself and ultimately create something that is pure and personal.

My sabbatical touched to an end on May 17. And what a crazy ride that was. I definitely feel an inner transformation regarding my approach to photography, and the decision to set aside time for this was hands down one the best decisions of my life. Willingly staying home to work on photography while everyone flocked to restaurants and bars when Berlin re-opened in May, was a clear sign that this period was indeed transformative. I used to struggle to prioritize photography over other interests. Today though, nothing matters as much as photography. And that's a precious feeling. This sense of purpose, dedication and obsession that nothing can take away from you.

I launched my website on May 26 with a simple page inviting viewers to sign up to a newsletter to follow a gradual release of the series. The website is something I had on my mind for such a long time that when it actually happened, it felt like a huge accomplishment, a big relief. The support I got from friends and family was overwhelming. I felt very grateful to have a wonderful community of people around me helping me spread the word on social media and share the series launch invitation with their circles of friends. I then focused on spreading the word on communication channels, setting up the infrastructure needed to send newsletters, designing the welcome email, finalizing my artist statement, and wrapping the picture selection.

That was the personal update. On to the music.

The May 2021 mixtape is an amalgamation of different sounds that manage to come together to convey a wholistic output. It is cosmic, magnetic, weird, quiet, loud, surprising, terrifying, disturbing, repulsing and exciting. Sometimes epic, sometimes intimate, the songs featured are beautiful in their unpredictability. Some might challenge you and make you feel uncomfortable. Others will be light and soothing. Hit play, let go and enjoy the flow.

Recommended Setting

Recommended setting: when you’re in the mood for both soothing and challenging sonic abstractions.

CHAPTER 1

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Comma Opening - Christine Ott
2021

We start with a subtle, delicate and intimate song by french multi-instrumentalist Christine Ott. Taken from her 2021 album Time to Die, the mixtape opening track is a quiet and cinematic meditation on the theme of death. Its lush arrangements are reminiscing of a star glowing right before dying, expressing striking feelings, touching the listener in a visceral, primitive way.

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Mass Transit Railway - Monolake
1997

Monolake (a project by Robert Henke) became one of the key icons of electronic club culture emerging in Berlin in 1989. His first album Honkong was compiled from tracks created between 1995 and 1997 and enriched with field recordings captured in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The album’s outro 'Mass Transit Railway' is an atmospheric piece that invites the listener to hop on a train and travel.

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Movements Of A Visionary - Tangerine Dream
1974

Phaedra, Tangerine Dream’s international breakthrough album, was the first ever commercial album to feature sequencers back in 1974. It is a unique voyage of sound and art, that is still as influential today as it was back in the 70s. On this track, let yourself drift away on a cerebral journey through sounds, genres and worlds.

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Dandelion Heart - Murcof
2021

Meticulous sound design, ghostly samples, forceful beats and a diaphanous atmosphere on Murcof’s 2021 album The Alias Sessions. This is electronic music of exquisite tension and ecstatic release, moving from barely audible details to explosive peaks.

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Waves Future - Natalie Beridze TBA
2017

I’m always on the lookout for new sonic textures I haven't heard before. Weird associations and contrasts between sounds of a different nature with a freshness and originality that trigger a strong emotional response in me. 'Waves Future' has a bit of that. It’s featured on დე / DE, a compilation of music from artists of different backgrounds who got together to showcase the dynamic influences within the Georgian underground electronic scene.

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مقدمة ممذوقة - Dijit
2014

Next is what you might call an unconventional but genius track by Dijit (Hashem L. Kelesh). The Egyptian music producer and visual artist is not concerned about making ordinary music and his songs might not make much sense at times, but they surely leave a mark on you.

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bower of bliss - Mira Calix
2021

Wild collage of dense sonic textures, shifting rhythms and experimental music on Mira Calix’s latest album absent origin. The UK-based composer experiments with blended brittle, distorted beats and obscured vocals to translate the visual techniques of collage into an auditory assemblage of fractured but rhythmic sounds.

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Hallucination Ejaculation - Joaquim "Joe" Claussell
2021

Next is a floaty low tempo track from Brooklyn record producer and DJ Joaquin "Joe" Claussell. The track is taken from his 2021 album Raw Tones, a deeply personal audio time capsule that captures both his spirit and the emotions that he experienced during the lockdown period. Sensual and intimate recordings made solely with a drum machine, sequencer, microphone and a four track portable cassette recorder.

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Human Being - Erik Truffaz & Murcof
2014

We continue with another song from Murcof, this time in collaboration with French trumpeter Eric Truffaz. Listen to how Truffaz's formal and post-jazz sensibilities weave together with Murcof's fuzzy electronic abstraction.

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Pulsing - Bryce Dessner, The Australian String Quartet, Sydney Dance Company
2021

In the wake of the 2019 Australian wildfires, Impermanence/Disintegration was conceived as a meditation on the “fleeting transience of life.” Led by Bryce Dessner (The National), the Australian String Quartet's energy captures the agitation that must have occurred during this tragedy that took the life of 34 people. ‘Pulsing’ is rapid, frantic and fierce. It’s a track of violent beauty, where sensations of delight and horror braid and unravel very rapidly.

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Akhnaten, Prelude (Refrain, Verse 1, Verse 2) - Philipp Glass, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
1983

Akhnaten is one of Philip Glass’s three large-scale operas based on a “big idea,” in this case monotheism. It is a meditation on the tumultuous rule of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaten, who is said to have pioneered monotheism and been overthrown for that blasphemy. The score is lyrical, elegiac, and while clearly a product of its famous composer, is among the most easily appreciated of his creation.

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Pinocchio Medley ("Do You See The Noses Growing?") - Ken Nordine, Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, Ringo Starr, Herb Alpert
1988

Hal Wilner, the American music producer and longtime music supervisor for Saturday Night Live, died this month from COVID-19. He left behind a number of recordings, like the weird and wonderful Disney compilation Stay Awake. Even if you know nothing about Willner, a quick glance at the Stay Awake’s tracklist offers insight into his eclecticism. A spellbinding listen, the compilation pays a tribute to the Disney songbook.

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Very Never (My Mind Extends) - Tomaga, Cathy Lucas
2021

The final album from Tomaga (Tom Relleen and Valentina Magaletti / November 2021 mixtape) will forever be colored by the untimely death of Relleen last August; and the color is blue. Blue is loss and sadness, sea and sky, inspiration and wisdom, and finally, acceptance. Contrary to expectations, the album is suffused with joy and giddy enthusiasm. The single vocal piece on this album, 'Very Never (My Mind Extends)' is nearly ebullient, thanks to a hypnotic groove and the voice of Cathy Lucas. The duo were aware of Relleen’s diagnosis but this is not an album that feels like it is facing the final curtain. It’s a worthy tribute to Relleen and arguably sees the duo bow out with their finest work.

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The Seventh Wave (Sailing Away) - Suzanne Ciani
1982

The legendary Suzanne Ciani (also featured on the Sept 2020 mixtape) recorded her first album Seven Waves between 1979 and 1981. The atmosphere is dense, gentle and floaty. The synthetic sounds pleasant, warm and full of life.

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Replay - Alain Klingler
2011

On ‘Replay’ by Alain Kingler, the cassette recording of an answering machine reveals an intimate exchange between French people. Centered around seduction, lust, patience and doubt, it takes you on a delightful journey that slowly unravels as you listen to human voices leaving short messages to each other.

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Trilogie Omaya - Babx, Archie Shepp
2017

Poetry, sax and piano on the charming 'Trilogie Omaya' composed by French musician Babx. He is accompanied by Archie Shepp’s gentle sax and Dorothée Munyaneza’s voice. This painfully beautiful 3-part song is dedicated to Omaya Al-Jbara, a fearless 40-year old Iraqi national hero who fiercely fought ISIS, was killed in 2014 by a sniper and rose to become a symbol of resistance and inspiration for all Iraqi women.

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Prayer (Ben Lukas Boysen Rework) - Neil Cowley
2021

We start to wind down with Ben Lukas Boysen’s reinterpretation of Niel Cowley’s 'Prayer'. Cowley’s debut solo album Hall of Mirrors merges sounds and influences from ambient, electronic, improvisational and contemporary classical music. It is a highly personal account of Neil's relationship with his old friend the piano. Hall of Mirrors (Reflected) is a companion piece that remixes and reworks the original album.

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15-19 - Joseph Shabason
2021

We conclude with Joseph Shabason’s new solo LP The Fellowship, a sublime, expertly crafted journey through his upbringing in a dual-faith household. On this autobiographical instrumental experience, the Toronto musician digs deeply into religion and childhood, delivering rich and emotionally engaging ambient jazz.

CHAPTER 2

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Happy listening

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