The last couple of tracks have been decidedly difficult to follow. They represent experimentation in layered, minimal and textured environments, carried out over a career. After much deliberation, I settled on a track that pushes Mogwai—a band traditionally known for pairing lush soundscapes against uproarious white noise to create often entirely instrumental compositions—out of their comfort zone and into a totally unchartered creative space. This track represents a similar kind of experimentation as the last few, only confined to a simple five-minute expression.
The heart of Mexican Grand Prix pits a hushed intonation against intrepid robot-speak, creating a certain kind of refined intensity that wouldn’t exist if either of the vocal tracks was heard in isolation. I appreciate the subtle balance of the electronic- and organ-induced rhythm that kicks off the track against the clapping layered into the synth- and guitar-heavy post-rock fade out. The flawless layering and consistently subtle texture makes the exercise feel effortless, yet refined.
This track is as much about push as it is about pull, and definitively proves that Mogwai are more than just Scottish slow-burn post-rock kings.
Sorry for the wait gents, but seriously—how do you follow James Blake?
London-based electronic producer Patten is truly an enigma. Like a real enigma. No photos of the man exist, he answers interview questions in URLs and other people’s YouTube videos.
His new record GLAQJO XAACSSO has been receiving mixed reviews, most of which claim the record is too off-kilter to be enjoyable. His methods are similar to James Blake’s—samples chopped and stretched into an entirely new emotional space. Perhaps Patten is a little looser in his technique but I’ve always found the results exciting, otherworldly and strangely calming. Ice, the GLAQJO XAACSSO captures the Patten sound perfectly.
For me, James Blake is literally an enigma. A critically acclaimed artist that, for the most part produces music so impossibly stripped down and minimal, it’s barely recognizable as music at all. Every minute is the beginning of a pop song. Instruments layer in. But never coalesce. Pure texture and emotion. It’s quite an achievement.
The Wilhelm Scream, a haunting case in point. An absolutely tortured treatise of soulful minimalism. I encourage you to look it up, and listen to it with the lights off. A good wind down the day experience. It was almost my selection for track 6. But I feared it might bring us to a screeching halt right when we should be picking up steam. So I give us CMYK. A bewildering remix/mashup of Aaliyah and Kelis, but distorted and rearranged so much, all that we have left is uniquely James Blake.
I’ll only add, that the addition of two new authors to the mix train has already changed the dynamic considerably. In a refreshing way. Mr. Joosse and I can perhaps beat ourselves up a little less over whether or not we are posting the most perfect next song and enjoy this new diversity.
King Creosote is like an insomniac uncle, tinkering about the garage in the middle of the night. He’s amassed dozens of albums and home-recorded hundreds of tracks—the coastal Scottish equivalent of John Darnielle—and released them on CD-Rs and 7”s on his own label. He began cleaning up his sound around 2004 and last year reached what may be the pinnacle of his career, a collaboration with electronic artist Jon Hopkins. Few traces remain of the scrappy, ragged DIY quality of old songs re-recorded over and over to make his whole discography yet more serpentine. But in place of that is the definite sound of a man getting older and being surprisingly okay with it, ready to trade in the four-track for the two-car.
I labored over 10 or so KC tracks from the last decade, any of which would’ve been great but led us down wildly divergent paths (the mopey singer-songwriter, the droning guitar player, the happy accordion folkie, the sampling-heavy weirdo, etc.) In the end, I couldn’t pass up the grown-up-edness of this track, a Hopkins-remixed version of the highlight from Diamond Mine. Its melody and optimism bloom gradually, like the spring always around the corner.
At first blush, By Your Side has a nice kind of romantic resonance. Though, if you dig a layer deeper, a sense of desperation begins to surface, which transitions into a much more emotional plea. The tense of the phrase “all I wanted was to be your housewife” reveals the true intention of the track, and builds on the if described in the previous track. To that end, I’m left wondering whether this is commentary on a relationship gone sour, or a simple longing for on opportunity that was never posed.
While the subtle layering and beautifully-articulated emotion remains, the sunny swagger and romantic disposition of the first few tracks begins to fade.
Got it together Again? Let’s Call It Off? Seems to me we’ve got a bit of a love problem on our hands, and a swedish one at that. Thankfully, my future spouse and eternal soul-partner Lykke Li has already written this century’s greatest love song and damn if it doesn’t drip Swede-pop weirdness. Little Bit is like a “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” for the emotionally handicapped—I think I’m just a little bit in love with you, if you’re a little bit in love with me.
On a personal note I had an ex-girlfriend who’s tiny lapdog was named “Little Bit.” Oh, the memories.
And, pro-tip: throw this jam on a mix tape and you will make out, son.
Got it together Again had a wonderful sunny swagger and romantic disposition to it. It’s deft combination of co-lead vocals, electronic hum and warm toned classiness, proved to be a really hard combination to build on. Once, again the second track of each volume is one of the toughest to post. It requires an ability to understand the zag is track 1 building from the previous volumes zig. There are so many options. More synthyness? Warm grooviness? Vintage Americana?
Hopefully this track satisfies at least the last two—being a great example of something fairly American sounding coming from a bunch of swedes.
As I’m sure I’ve said before here, I usually like to kick off a mix with something that blows away as much of the audience as possible. Start with the fireworks, set the bar high, scamper away gleefully. But damn if I wasn’t infected by Mixel Pixel’s low-key charm and co-lead singing. It’s hard to turn your back on that and aim for the rafters when there’s something so pleasant happening at eye level.
“Got it Together Again” is a cover of “another unfinished song” by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra (the quote marks are Lee’s, from the tribute album in his honor). It’s, perhaps in every sense of the word, a true ditty: brief, delightful, catchy as anything, riding a slight electronic hum and thumping bassline. Saint Etienne turns in possibly its most straightforward song ever and brings along a German singer doing a rather dry American accent and wonderful harmony. And before you know it they’re off to the pub (or the Coke machine) and that’s that. Coming off a volume with a decidedly European bent, it’s nice to at least pretend to be American for a couple of minutes.
Every couple of days, one of the NEIMT authors will post a song that is in some way a reaction to the previous song posted by another author. Every 15 songs will be packaged up with cover art and presented for download as a complete mix. The only rule is that no artist can appear more than once in the same volume.
The best way to be informed of NEIMT posts is to subscribe in the field in the upper right. You can also follow the page on facebook. We longer maintain an email list. Email is dead to us. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments of this blog, but if you'd like to contact the NEIMT directly, email to: robb (at) agrayspace (dot) com.
You can still see the old mixes at neimtarchive.blogspot.com. Some of the old download links might still even work.
We freely admit that this blog is probably a violation of artistic copyright law. We put together these mix "tapes" as way to share great music in a way that encourages artist support and utilizes grassroots promotion by purposefully violating those copyrights. We would like to imagine that no artist in their right mind would oppose such altruistic intentions despite its bureaucratic insubordinance.