Mike’s words instantly conjured the music of one of my all-time favorite musicians: Kieren Hebden, aka Four Tet. Four Tet’s work is ever so slightly desaturated, faded. Like an old 16mm reel of The Joshua Light Show; the images are still psychedelic, colorful but weathered with age.
Hebden has an uncanny ability to adhere to song-form just enough to keep you smiling while meandering down so many twisted avenues and near-formless spaces that when it’s all over you often wonder how you’d ever explain what you just heard. Is it space-jazz? Mushroom addicted rave music? Smile Around The Face is Hebden at his poppiest, which is still weird as hell, but this track is just catchy enough, just technicolor enough, just happy-with-a-tinge-of-sad enough to keep this mix on track.
While I love the party time Mssrs. Smigielski and Caribou threw down, I found myself more and strangely attracted to the previous two tracks for the ways they seemed to approximate shifts between black and white to CMYK. “Yeti” is kind of at the far end of the scale—it’s Technicolor, possibly on shrooms—but something about the way the others shifted from crackling hesitation to bursts percussion and instrumentation drew me in. Meeting in the middle led me to “Alike” and its blossoming widescreen color. Efterklang doesn’t try to balance genres; they’re a band that seems to beg you to not use that word to describe them. Here, everything is a delicate balance: fragility and confidence, horns and drums, hooks and catharsis. Why I couldn’t follow the blistering fun of “Yeti” with something even more frenetic and playful is beyond me. I must be getting older.
An interesting transition is afoot. Where we once may have been exploring two songs exiting in simultaneity, now if feels more like two genres coexisting.
The introduction of a more classic sensitive indie boy sound led me up and down my collecting, looking for the perfect song that paired that with the fuzzy, layered found sound with cut and paste beats things we’ve been circling wonderfully for several tracks now. After much laboring and sampling, I finally struck gold with probably the most obvious choice, Caribou. A one man empire that’s made killer record after killer record completely mining the gold in the hills of the exact genre pairing I just described. This particular tracks has a wonderful single minded focus but layered with a myriad of instruments (holy bagpipes!) play through a transistor radio. So good.
Sometimes finding the perfect song feels like climbing up a waterfall. And sometimes it doesn’t. Interested to see where this current takes us.
+/-’s ambidextrous personality begins with their moniker, extends into displaced song structures and lyrical extremities, and lands somewhere in the thematic elements of their artwork. It persists at every level of the American indietronic trio.
As an independent case study, Let’s Build a Fire eloquently describes this ambidexterity. On one hand, we have the aesthetic of an old-fashioned arrangement that is riddled with crackly faux-vinyl skips, a lonely horn solo, and muted vocals. And, on the other, we’re presented with a fuzzy guitar on top of warm vocals, creating a structure that supports a full band with a swinging horn section.
The heart of the track lies within the subtle, yet appropriate, transition between the two. While it feels like a compositionally consistent track, if you heard each part of the song in isolation, you wouldn’t assume they belonged together. Yet, the meat of the track seems to get its livelihood from the muted undertones in the intro and outro.
Like any good movement, +/- proves that no one would ever be able to truly appreciate the latter without the former.
If you’re an avid NEIMT follower you might have noticed my most recent track disappeared shortly after I posted it. That’s because in my Sunday morning haze I posted a track by an artist that we featured in our last mix—a no-no. Sorry folks! The good news is my backup selection is maybe even better.
I honestly woke up with this song in my head this morning. Few bands have a more consistent output both in mood and quality than Black Moth Super Rainbow. This is music you can see. We’re standing in a field. The year is 1976. Through the soft-focus filter on the end of our Super 8mm camera we see an attractive young girl, backlit by the setting sun, blowing the seeds off a dying dandelion.
Or we’re at my house trying to remake Kid A on my Commodore 64.
I was born without the gene that censors self-doubt, so I’ll start by saying that I’m not entirely certain this is the right track to follow Mouse on Mars. But after two days of ransacking my house for an appropriate response, this one worked its way to the top. Mainly because I was both repelled by and attracted to the way that “Butterflies” felt like several songs in one. While I liked the idea of finding something that would isolate a portion and move into a more streamlined theme, I also liked the idea of finding something equally complex.
So I turned to the guys who put the “yeesh!” in “pastiche,” The Avalanches. Whole subcategories of music criticism have been created to discuss how they’ve twisted the entirety of pop music around their fingers. But while their songs are usually hyperkinetic and hyperaware, when in the hands of a skilled remixer, they turn into something else entirely. Hence this Andy Votel remix, which strips away any impulse at sampling and focuses on live instrumentation. True, a lot of the band’s sense of pure joy is gone, but in its place is a more straightforward groove, turned downward in the same way as every track I’ve ever seen him get his hands on. And just when you find yourself wanting a change, the track revs up for the last 90 seconds into something that resembles a jam, albeit one for vaguely dour librarians.
In other words: it may not be a smart choice, but I love that it’s a smart track.
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.