Episode 22 – Period Piece

My mood at the end of an era.

This Best Of 2016 mix offers neither the very best songs nor representation for the very best albums of 2016. Instead it condenses some of the year’s very best tracks from some of the year’s best albums into a cloud of sentiment—a Top 40 mix defined by its vintage, covering the songwriters and producers I like most (plus a few one-offs).

Notes: It’s taken a historical moment for Bon Iver to show up on two of my favorite songs in one year. 2016 somehow made this possible. There are greater forces at work. Also, the KOOL AD song came out in 2015. The video is from 2016. And technically I included Ramona Gonzalez twice, edging out a potential fortieth pick. But man is unjust. Enjoy.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Laura Mvula – Bread
Chairlift – Crying in Public
Jenny Hval – Period Piece
Cross Record – Steady Waves
Radiohead – The Numbers
Bon Iver – 22 (OVER S∞∞n)
Mitski – Your Best American Girl
Suuns – UN-NO
Tobacco – Human Om
Gobby – Mysterioso
Alex Smoke – Dire Need
Nicolas Jaar – Three Sides of Nazareth
David Bowie – Lazarus
Flamingods – Anya
Cloudland Canyon – An Arabesque
Morgan Delt – Don’t Wanna See What’s Happening Outside
Animal Collective – Golden Gal
Danny Brown – Lost
Mark Pritchard – Beautiful People (Feat. Thom Yorke)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Rare Things Grow
James Blake – Choose Me
Bibio – With The Thought of Us
Santigold – Banshee
Nite Jewel – Kiss the Screen
Blood Orange – Better Than Me
Jessy Lanza – It Means I Love You
Olga Bell – ATA
El Guincho – Cómix (Feat. Mala Rodriguez)
Kaytranada – GLOWED UP (Feat. Anderson .Paak)
A Tribe Called Quest – Whateva Will Be (Feat. Consequence)
KOOL AD – UP DOWN FREESTYLE (Prod. DJ MUSTARD)
KA – That Cold and Lonely
Clipping – Air ‘em Out
Gaika – VSOP
Foodman – Mid Summer Night (Feat. Diskomargaux)
MJ Guider – Lit Negative
Nite-Funk – Let Me Be Me
Anna Meredith – Something Helpful
Julianna Barwick – Beached
Babyfather – Militant

Episode 19 – Trattoria Tastes

Keigo Oyamada’s vibrant Trattoria Records, a Polystar-owned imprint that lasted from 1991 to 2002, stood out among the core labels of Tokyo’s Shibuya-kei scene. It also provided a home to Oyamada’s brilliant Cornelius project, in which counterpoint, syncopation and sampling invaded — nay, parasitized — the sunny alt-rock sound of the ‘90s. If Cornelius could encapsulate Shibuya-kei’s eclectic, hyper-pastiche type of retro-chic and its flair for experimentalism on a single record, Trattoria reflected a broader vision where sounds like baroque pop, noise rock, psych, shoe-gaze, trip-hop, lounge and J-pop soccer anthems would all live on one roster.

Trattoria accomplished a lot before going defunct after the release of Point, which many consider the creative peak of Cornelius (Oyamada’s stayed busy since, but little compares to his creative arc from 69/96 to Point). First, Trattoria was an Eastern hub for Western groups, being the first to re-issue ‘60s artists like The Free Design, The Millennium, Bill Wyman and Margo Guryan. It also distributed The Apples in Stereo, Louise Philippe and many other American and European groups, engaging with Shibuya-kei’s thirst for everything Western.

As well as putting out Cornelius records, the label released many of Oyamada’s best productions and collaborations with artists like Kahimi Karie, OOIOO, Pizzicato Five’s Yasuharu Konishi and Takako Minekawa (his wife at the time). His influence didn’t end with studio credits, either: many of the best releases by Salon Music, Hideki Kaji and Indian Rope on Trattoria bear the mark of Oyamada’s Beck-like, Gainsbourg-esque, Stereolab-ish eclecticism.

This mix pairs Cornelius tracks with Oyamada’s production work, while setting aside Trattoria’s Western artists — and its more overt J-pop, alt-rock and avant-garde sounds — in favor of the label’s most inclusively adventurous (adventurously inclusive?) Japanese material, showing off what Shibuya-kei was truly capable of.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Cornelius – 1969
Cornelius – The Micro Disneycal World Tour
Dots + Borders – 7 Juillet
Salon Music – Golden Brown
Cornelius – Smoke
Indian Rope – Lovely Dada
Flipper’s Guitar – Southbound Excursion
Yasuharu Konishi – Opening Theme
Takako Minekawa – Plash
Cornelius – Star Fruits Surf Rider
Hideki Kaji – Kanojyo Ga Yoko Wo Muku Riyuu
Citrus – Your Building
Kahimi Karie – Son of a Gun
Cornelius – New Music Machine
Venus Peter – Walk Out
OOIOO – Be Sure to Loop
Salon Music – Wanna Be Tied
Takako Minekawa – Lullaby of Gray
Yoshie – Espacio Verde
Cornelius – Point of View Point
Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her – Sister Sister
Indian Rope – Go West
Citrus – Everysong Landed Near by His Fire Place
Cornelius – How Do You Feel
Kahimi Karie – Le Roi Soleil
Hideki Kaji – Ivy Ivory Ivy
Hiromix – Yume Wo Yoku Miru Hito No Hanashi
Luminous Orange – Ken-Ban
Cornelius – 69/96 Girl Meets Cassette
OOIOO – Asozan
Salon Music – Sleepers
Buffalo Daughter – Great Five Lakes (Cornelius Remix)
Yoshie – 7 Colobe 8 Oqui
SKYEYE – 7EYE7
Rovo – KNM!
Cornelius – Fly
Indian Rope – Purple Mania
OOIOO – Mountain Book
Citrus – Big Day Coming from Northwest
Cornelius – Thank You for The Music

Episode 14 – Let It Hit

Feel it.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Pharaohs – Beyond Within
Musiccargo – Sol Lucet Omnibux
Jib Kidder – Remove a Tooth
The Chemical Brothers – Dream On
Flamingods – Yuka
Morgan Delt – Little Zombies
Animal Collective – Graze
Nice Nice – Big Bounce
Dalhous – Bolder and Lighter Than the Beat from a Wing
Cloudland Canyon – An Arabesque
Spiritualized – Electric Mainline (Part One)
Zomes – Cosmovital Force
The Avalanches feat. Father John Misty – Saturday Night Out
Gwenno – Chwyldro
Vytas Brenner – Araguaney
Woodsman – Beat the Heat
Soft Circle – Shimmer
The Chemical Brothers – Wonders of the Deep
Stereolab – Moogie Wonderland
Caribou – Sun
The Boredoms – (two circles)
Deakin – Good House
Sun Araw – Horse Steppin’

Episode 12 – Short Memories

Wild, uptempo post-punk slammers from Holland in the ’80s. If the spirit of Dutch new wave can be captured in a single mix of dark, eccentric party tracks? Here’s your candidate.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Kiem – Short Memories
Das Ding – H.S.T.A.
De Div – Walk
Güler – Princess Parade
La Voix Qui Rit – Huba Huba
Flue – Some-Times
Minny Pops – Time
Mekanik Kommando – Entangled By Colors
The Actor – Picture 210
The Project – Money and Morals
The Tapes – Night After Night
Dojoji – Quincunx
Cargo Cultus – Le Peste
W.A.T. – Sub
Storung – Europe Calls
Tent – Distances
Ensemble Pittoresque – Program
Van Kaye & Ignit – Negroe in N.Y.
Nine Circles – Twinkling Stars
Vice – See!
Coitus Int. – In Jutland
Nasmak – Plaster
De Div – Dit Moment
Kiem – Moneyman
Ensemble Pittoresque – A Distant Dance
Minny Pops – Tracking
Ende Shneafliet – The Day Detlef Macha Won
Mekanik Kommando – Icefield
Pee Dee – Tiuri
Tent – The Fear
Nasmak – Me Rex
The Tapes – Hot Line
Vice – Fiction Tales
Nine Circles – Here Come I
W.A.T. – Ivanhoo
The Actor – Lights
Plus Instruments – Bodies

Episode 11 – Chase Horizons

New wave poses. Art rock techniques. Cyberpunk poetry. Gothic moods. Alien synths. Caterwauling guitars. Scrap yard funk. Tractor tire basslines. Abandoned factories. It’s post-punk, it’s Holland, it’s the ’80s.

From 1978 to 1988 Holland joined the transatlantic fray. There’d been a few new wave bands in the Dutch pipeline by ’78, but the country’s ultramodernen scene really sparked with the avant-garde post-punk club ULTRA, which ran from 1980 to ’81 in Amsterdam. The term often used to describe Dutch post-punk as a whole, ULTRA was taken from this one short-lived party.

Focused on the more challenging acts, the original night was put on by many of the musicians and writers that would go on to work at Vinyl Magazine and the broadcaster VPRO, both champions of the Dutch wave for most of the decade to follow. Sharing label rosters and venues with the scene’s core avant-garde after 1981 were other, somewhat more sophisticated if not more accessible acts who would experiment less with a “cringe” aesthetic than with music composition. As in the post-punk scenes internationally, bands didn’t even put out records of any note for the most part until after 1981 or ’82. Earlier recordings tended to sound rough, gritty and dissonant, while later projects from ’82 and after moved toward accessibility and maturity.

In the long run, sonic cross-polination was a sort of death knell for the original underground, but looking back it resulted in some of the era’s best releases — similar to how early US and UK punk and industrial bands were hugely influential, but the new wave and post-punk bands that followed (often featuring musicians from the earlier bands) bested them by expanding their sound. After all, purity is boring.

DIY and the general milieu of awkwardness didn’t necessarily go away, though. Often, the more “accessible” stuff could be really weird: You had bands like Kiem, who sound like a bizarro world Kraftwerk, or Moroder, blending completely homemade percussion with thick, arpeggiating synthesizers and a skronking saxophone.

To the mixes, then.

First in the Dutch Waves series, Chase Horizons offers a sweeping collection of truly compelling songs, sounds and perspectives. Next week is Short Memories, focusing on uptempo beats and the dance-oriented vibes underpinning many of the period’s best tracks. The final installment, Building Brains is a definitively bi-polar view of the scene’s outermost creative edges: industrial noises, compositional indulgences and acoustic gems.

Though honestly, they all kind of overlap.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Mecano – Autoportrait
The Tapes – March
Coitus Int. – Bonanza
Nine Circles – The Rose
Mekanik Kommando – Money For Pleasure
De Div – Lichaam Op Het Laken
Kiem – Time Doesn’t Heal
Das Ding – Makimo
Vice – Stirring Up The Fire
Ensemble Pittoresque – Lovesong
Minny Pops – Ice Cube Wall
Nasmak – Duel (With Unequal Arms)
Mick Ness – You In Me
De Div – Marianne H.
Neon – Standing On The Other Side
The Gentry – Escape
Storung – Radio Lines
Sammie America’s Mam – Find a Form
Vice – The Beast
Flue – Esmafarja
Edward Ka-Spiel – Tick Tock
Tent – Chase Horizons
Mekanik Kommando – First Reprise
Nasmak – Silhouette
Stephen Emmer – Teracotta Trimmings
Mecano – March of The Iron Workers
Ensemble Pittoresque – Ash Grey As Sunday
Nine Circles – What’s There Left
Tent – You Will Fall
Sammie America’s Mam – It’s Slipping Away
The Gentry – Senses

Episode 6 – Wild Gems

There isn’t a 70mm film to score this with yet, but there damn well should be.

The first in our percussion-heavy Wild Gems series, this episode is an exotic time travel odyssey taking place between 1959 and 2012, visiting tons of great moments in hard funk, psych rock and groovy Latin music along its journey. Selections hail from the international psychedelic continuum, and the exploitative proto-“world music” LPs of orchestrators like Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman, among other sources like Peruvian chicha and French soundtracks.

Stream it here or listen on iTunes.

Tracklist:

Martin Denny – Temptation
John Hill – Amalthea
Ersen – Kozan Daği
Alessandro Alessandroni feat. I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni – Spiagge Azzure
Sam Spence Orchestra – Wie Ein Blitz
The Wrecking Crew (as Christopher Monte) – Giants of Bombora
Atomic Forest – Obession ’77
Resonnance – O.K. Chicago
Adventure Time – Kick It
Gérard Levecque & Claude Romat – Grey Pepper (Africadelic In Safari Mood); (Montparnasse: Africadelic’s the Name N° 2; with percussion by Black Colored Drums)
M. Ashraf (feat. A. Nayyar) – Main Hoon Play Boy
Fred Weinberg – Big Fat Woman
Bharat Karki & Party – Dancing Rope
The Aay Jays – Lal Qalander Lal
The Son of P.M. – Azava Leela (Guaracha)
Les Brown, Jr. – Drum’s Safari
Telegraph Avenue – Sungaligali
Lucía de La Cruz – Toro Mata
Marty Manning and His Orchesta – Night On Bald Mountain (from “The Twilight Zone”)
Twistin’ Kings – Congo (Part 1)
Dick Hyman & Mary Mayo – Imagination
Arthur Lyman – Jungle Fantasy
Jacques Loussier – Clara’s Jerk
Los Beltons – Cumbia Pop
Mandingo – Chant of the Virgins (Columbia: The Primeval Rhythm Of Life)
Erkin Koray – Estarabim
Troupe Majidi – Essiniya
Aisha Kandisha’s Jarring Effects – El Mouka
Papete & Luís Lopes – Berimbalis
Manzanita y Su Conjunto – Serrano Con Orgullo