32 seconds into “Don’t Give Up” is the sound of a tambourine shaking exactly twice, then going silent. The tambourine starts back up later as a percussive track throughout the rest of the song, but this stray moment is quite clearly the work of a human being making a small but delightful error. Here’s my thesis statement: this moment is the climax of this volume. The last 14 tracks have been a slow but steady determination to show how musicians control their power of machines and instruments. Track by track we’ve shown more of that power—Yann Tiersen kills on the harpsichord; only H-bombs rival the destructive capacity of Caribou’s drumming; even Múm knows when to replace the glitchy samples with actual singing.
It wasn’t hard to pick out Lake to follow No Kids; we’re back to the sound of a handful of people playing live in a room, and—like us neverending mixers—excited to hear what comes out of it.
It’s just fascinating where this has gone. We’re coming close to the end, and in a totally different sphere then we began. Yet till a totally linear progression. You can trace every step to where we are from where we began. Fascinating. If there were a thread that I think might be woven through this particular volume. It’s restless naiveté. It really came through the last couple of tracks, but really it’s been there all along. All the songs feel like they were composed by some brilliant ingenue, ignored by their parents, trapped in a room full of instruments, old records and a Wes Anderson film crew. Fascinating.
I’m working on a hunch, a feeling, and a free association here. As I listened to the Final Fantasy track (<3 by the way) I could hear the faintest song in the back of my head. Something that shared What Do You Think Will Happen Next?’s off-kilter timing and layered arrangement. It was something upbeat but ultimately melancholy, sophisticated but captured on a crude tape machine, it was….my…cell phone ringtone.
Thankfully, being the sophisticated post-goth that I am, my cell phone ringtone is Xiu Xiu’s brain-crushing Clowne Towne. I love Xiu Xiu completely. They are perhaps the only band that I like the way you liked bands when you were 13—with everything, nonsensically. And perhaps that’s because Xiu Xiu makes you 13—by sharing every dark thing, every sadness, every odd thought of their own you are instantly best friends, family, blood brothers. Though lyrically I’m throwing us off track with this—musically, spiritually it feels on the same page—and I’m hoping it’s a bold answer, literally, to What Do You Think Will Happen Next?
What I love about “Les Jours Heureux” is that it pretty much catapulted us into the next volume. Not literally, of course, but I have to admit that I was feeling in a rut with regards to electronic music. It was really nice to hear something so human and warm—and jaunty! Never forget the jaunty—even though I wager Mr. Woodford would himself say that his leap ended up being further than perhaps he anticipated.
But no matter. My favorite mixes are circular, rather than linear. They force you to listen for details that’ll come back later, little notes or melodies or time signatures that might be easily forgotten and uncovered several listens later. “What Do You Think Will Happen Next?,” aside from its awesomely on-target title, brings back around the cosmopolitan good humor of Yann Tiersen, the curious horns from Efterklang and the joyous victory of Holy Fuck. I’m glad to be able to use one of Final Fantasy’s most cheery songs and thrilled that we’ve entered yet another uncharted sea for the Neverending Mix.
So I’ve been in a bit of denial this week. Two songs ago, the mix was playing right into the hands of a particular song I’ve been hanging onto for a little while. A song I love dearly and hoped to use in the mix eventually. And it looked like it was finally going to happen.
Then Yann Tierson showed up. With all it’s Frenchy quaintness, and doe eyed Amelie smirk. It’s lovely. Just not where I thought we’d be. So I waited for inspiration to strike. And it struck exactly where I started.
Having relistened to the last two tracks, I noticed an interesting theme emerging that I hadn’t before. They are increasingly singular in their melodic focus. They are essentially songs of a one track mind. Songs with perfect melodies. So perfect that complicated structures of chorus’, verses, and bridges are not necessary. The song is content to meander in and out of it’s one idea, milking it for all it’s worth, relishing it’s highs and lows.
It’s a theme that’s been hinted at before but only now do I think it’s the station we’ve actually arrived at. And my original track fits perfectly. Enjoy.
I’ve spent the last few days circling a handful of disparate tracks in an attempt to match the catchy curiosity and meandering optimism of Smile Around the Face. After curating a small selection, trashing it to refocus my energy, only to find myself with the same list again, I’ve realized there is no magic bullet. To that end, I’ve decided to pull the trigger anyway with Les Jours Heureux.
Yann Tiersen—more notable for his soundtrack for the film Amélie, than his ability to incessently break violin strings on stage—is a French minimalist who organizes a mandolin, piano, violin, accordion, and guitar into energy, passion, personality, indulgence, and curiosity. While I abhor the brevity of this track, I appreciate the focused intensity as I struggle through inner conflict.
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.