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

A bit about last month.

That was the personal update. On to the music.

After dwelling in rock, funk and soul for the last 3 mixtapes, September marks a return to experimental and electronic sounds. Heavy on synths and drawing their colors from an analog palette, most of the tracks you’re about to hear have a certain cosmic feeling to them. Drifting levitational melodies you could easily get lost into.

Recommended Setting

Recommended setting: a red-eye flight, up in the air, sitting by the window, gazing into darkness.

CHAPTER 1

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Unearth - Taylor Deupree
2018

We kick off the mixtape with abstract atmospherics and meditative quietude by Taylor Deupree. The American musician composes sounds that feel authentic in their simplicity, constructing a space in which one can dissolve with music. While he originally intended his 2018 album Fallen to be centered around the piano, the more he pushed and explored, the more he got drawn to accompanying the piano with modular and Moog synthesizers, tape machines and guitar. This is music of comforting feeling, one that is very easy to drown into.

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False Angel Lullaby - X.Y.R.
2017

Dark holes spinning in slow motion. Quicksands dragging you under. Being stuck in a loop or stranded on a desert island. This is what comes to mind when I listen to this mysterious lullaby by Russian musician Vladimir Karpov. Hazy electronic excursions and wonderful sounds to drift away to.

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Tramlines - Neil Cowley
2021

Hall of Mirrors is Cowley’s first solo album since the Neil Cowley Trio disbanded in 2018. Characterized by warm and mesmerizing notes, this release is an emotive journey of artistic exploration, reinvention and renewal.

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Hanging D (Alva Noto Remodel) - Joep Beving
2021

The Dutch composer and pianist Joep Beving just released Zero, an EP that features four remixes of ‘Hanging D’ – taken from his second, 2017 album Prehension. With Max Cooper, Polynation and Collin Benders contributing their own interpretations, it’s alva noto (Oct 2021 mixtape) who stole the show for me. His remodel reduces the piece to its muted, minimalist essence while keeping the eponymous hanging D insistent throughout its atmospheric six-minute lifespan.

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Re:Moving - Machinefabriek, Anne Bakker
2021

Electronic musician Machinefabriek (March 2021 mixtape) released this month two subtle 20-minute dance tracks for choreographer Yin Yue. The pieces were supposed to accompany dance performances that eventually got cancelled because of COVID, leaving the soundtracks, for all of their elegance and emotional gravity, without an audience.

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Velocity Of Being - Jason Sharp
2021

I first came across Jason Sharp through Gates of Heaven, a 18-min track commissioned by the experimental music label Constellation Records for their Corona Borealis Longplay Singles series, and was struck right away by his extended saxophone technique. The Montreal saxophonist and electroacoustic composer combines his breath with electronics to create visceral and highly evocative works. His third album The Turn Center Of A Still World was just released. Slowly orbiting around the listener before building up towards its climax, ‘Velocity Of Being’ is a track of immense beauty.

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Splitting Light - Light Conductor
2021

Featured as well on Constellation Records’ solid roaster of artists, Light Conductor was born out of Jace Lasek and Stephen Ramsay’s mutual desire to create expansive drone, ambient, and electronic music. Drawing inspiration from Spiritualized, Brian Eno and William Basinski, they released their debut album Sequence One in 2019, and just followed up with Sequence Two. With its scintillating structure and electricity, Splitting Light’ is a slow-burning spin that burbles and vibrates with intentional pulses, arpeggiators and control voltages.

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Raum (Single Edit) - Tangerine Dream
2021

Composed in a time of social distancing and cancelled shows, Raum is the latest album by electronica pioneer Tangerine Dream (May 2021 mixtape). Since founding member Edgar Froese’s death in 2015, the German maestros continue to supersize their signature brand of cosmic synth music. This Single Edit (cut from a longer 14-minute piece) is a throwback to the omniscient ambience of 1972’s Zeit, and shows the trio at their architectural best.

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Puddle Drop - F.S. Blumm, Nils Frahm
2021

These long time collaborators and prominent figures in the Berlin electronic music scene return to explore a dub-influenced universe on 2X1=4, their 4th album together. Most of the album was initially developed in 2016 during improvisation sessions recorded by Frahm. It was then reworked and edited through numerous iterative sessions before morphing into its final shape.

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Manglares - Molero
2020

I discovered Molero this month at one of Berlin’s Kiezsalon installments. The Barcelona-based Venezuelan musician performed his 2020 album Ficciones Del Trópioco to a small crowd of 200 people as the sun was setting against the lush backdrop of Tiergarten. A delightful 45-minute utopian voyage inspired by the exotic idealism that westerners have towards South America, this performance made me question my own take on the topic. It's one that will stay with me for quite some time.

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Gone To The Cats - Greg Foat, Aleksi Heinola, Teemu Åkerblom
2020

The mighty Greg Foat (July 2020 / August 2021 mixtapes) continues to deliver on each and every recording he is on. He makes yet another appearance on these mixtapes, this time collaborating with Finnish drummer Aleksi Heinola and bassist Teemu Åkerblom. The trio recorded in a small cabin in snowy pre-covid Norway, building up an improvised, spontaneous formula that resulted in 8 instrumental songs paying a tribute to cats. The album is a seductive suite of beat-laden and jazzy soundtrack jams.

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Valley Of The Black Cats - Greg Foat, Aleksi Heinola, Teemu Åkerblom
2021

We continue with another track from the same album. Featuring synth lines twirling themselves around a pugnacious bass riff, this one traverses a more sinister soundscape, evoking a sense of black magic.

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Winter - Explosions In The Sky
2021

Cranking it down a notch, next is a pensive track by post-rock band Explosions in the Sky. In 2021, they were asked to compose the score of a National Geographic documentary about the Big Bend National Park. With a dreamy cover art that matches perfectly the band’s name, this album is divided into seasons: twenty tracks, five each season, with winter beginning and ending the set.

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The Peach Tree Next Door Grew Over Our Fence - Dylan Henner
2020

Filled with nostalgia and melancholy, this is a hypnotic listen with complexity set within its layers. For an album designed as a response to the question "what makes us human?”, all the track titles are subtle and heartfelt. What a fine way to convey emotions. I can’t begin to express what I feel listening to this piece.

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Rêve - Vangelis
1979

Opera Sauvage is a nature documentary soundtrack composed by Vangelis (January 2021 / July 2021 mixtapes) during his electro-acoustic period. ‘Rêve’ is, as its name suggests, a dreamy, quiet piece. The Greek composer puts into play his Fender Rhodes electric piano to create serene and warm melodies. A cinematic treat, they make the listener feel connected to nature without even the need for on-screen images.

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The Wind That Shakes the Bramble - Peter Broderick
2021

We end our journey with an expansive and meditative 22-minute ambient odyssey by Ireland-based songwriter Peter Broderick. The meticulously chosen twinkling sounds featured on this extended play pay a beautiful homage to Irish poet Robert Dwyer Joyce’s ballad The Wind That Shakes The Barley. In this poem from the 1800s, a barley stands tall in the fields, representing the resilience of the Irish people against oppressive British rule.

A bullet pierced my true love’s side

In life’s young spring so early

And on my breast in blood she died

While soft winds shook the barley

Read the full poem here.

CHAPTER 2

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Happy listening

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