Mixtapes

The Isolation Mixtapes : M

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It’s week 13 in my series of Isolation Mixtapes, which means we’re now halfway through the alphabet. When i began this series it seemed possible that the prospect of 26 mixtapes, unfolding weekly over the course of six months, might well be in keeping with the length of time of lockdown. As things stand now the lockdown, and its associated isolation, is slowly becoming less of a reality in the UK – and even more so across Europe – though ‘normality’ (however we end up (re)defining that) remains somewhere in the future, particularly for music and the arts. So my plan is to continue through the latter half of the alphabet in the hope that, by the time we reach Z, all of our lives might be a lot more genuinely normalised, and that enforced isolation is becoming a memory.

To that end, here’s this week’s mixtape, devoted to composers, groups and artists beginning with the letter M. The first half has an inadvertent focus on song, while the second half becomes more abstract and atmospheric. As always there are two tracks for each of the years 2010 to 2019, presented in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : L

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The twelfth in my weekly series of Isolation Mixtapes focuses on composers, artists and groups beginning with the letter L. Once again, there are two of the most interesting tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, featured in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : K

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In this week’s Isolation Mixtape, exploring the best music from the last decade, all of the music is by groups, composers and artists beginning with the letter K. As always, two of the most splendiferous tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, presented in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : J

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This week’s Isolation Mixtape explores music by artists, composers and groups starting with the letter J. Once again there are two of the most interesting tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, featured in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : I

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Week number nine in my ongoing series of Isolation Mixtapes is focused on artists, groups and composers beginning with the letter I. Two of the best tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, explored in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : H

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This week’s Isolation Mixtape exploring some of the best music from the last decade focuses on composers, artists and groups beginning with the letter H. Two tracks from of the year’s 2010 to 2019, once again explored in chronological order. All the previous mixtapes can be found on the Mixtapes page.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : G

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And the beat lockdown goes on, so here’s a new Isolation Mixtape, exploring some of the very best sounds from the years 2010–19, focusing on artists, composers and groups beginning with the letter G. As always, none of the tracks have been featured in any previous 5:4 mixtapes, and once again i’ve worked through them in chronological order. All of the previous mixtapes (Isolation and otherwise) can be found here.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : F

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Another week, another isolation mixtape, this time focusing on groups, composers and artists beginning with the letter F. Twenty tracks, two of the best from each of the years 2010 to 2019, as usual exploring them in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : E

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For the new Isolation Mixtape i’ve ramped up the intensity somewhat, so be prepared to pump up the volume to the max for this one. This week i’m focusing on artists, composers and groups beginning with the letter E, once again selecting two fantabulous tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, going through them in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : D

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Here’s the fourth in my weekly serious of Isolation Mixtapes, which will hopefully provide a distraction from the lockdown along with a large dose of celebration of great music from the last decade. As usual, i’ve allowed myself two tracks from each of the years 2010 to 2019, working through them in chronological order, and all artists this time start with the letter D.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : C

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As the lockdown continues here in the UK, i hope all of you are keeping safe and well. This week in my ongoing series of Isolation Mixtapes exploring some of the best music from the last 10 years, i’m focusing on composers and artists starting with the letter C. The mix features two tracks from each year, once again in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : B

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Here’s the second in my new ongoing series of weekly mixtapes to aid with getting through this unsettling period of lockdown and isolation. This time, a tour through some of the very best things from 2010–2019 by artists beginning with the letter B; two tracks from each of those years, once again featured in chronological order.

The tracklisting in full is below, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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The Isolation Mixtapes : A

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Due to the ongoing battle against COVID-19, many of us throughout the world are currently experiencing various states of lockdown and isolation. That’s not a situation that looks like it’s going to change significantly for the foreseeable future, so today i’m beginning a new weekly series of mixtapes on 5:4The Isolation Mixtapes. i very much hope that these regular doses of fabulous, fascinating music will go some way to relieve the monotony and make our time isolated from friends and loved ones a little more bearable. Just as importantly, they’ll provide plenty of ideas for music worth buying – and thereby help to support the industry a bit.

The Isolation Mixtapes will be a separate strand from my usual quarterly mixtapes (which i’ll be pausing during this period), and while they won’t have a specific theme, i have given myself some simple rules in order to be able to compile them relatively quickly. i’m making these mixtapes an opportunity to look back over the last decade, so everything will have been released during the years 2010 to 2019. In tandem with this, i’ll be working my way through the alphabet, one letter at a time, so this first mixtape in the series features composers, artists and groups that all begin with the letter A. Two tracks from each year are allowed, making for a total of 20 in each mixtape, and the tracks should be no longer than 7 minutes’ duration. None of the tracks will have been included in any of my previous mixtapes, and in general, i’m going to be favouring music by artists whom i haven’t featured before. So those are the rules, and i hope they’ll make for an interesting, eclectic whistle-stop tour through some of the very best things i’ve listened to during the last ten years.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music – and now, more than ever, if you like what you hear, do please buy the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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Mixtape #58 : Virus

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Sometimes deciding a theme for a mixtape can be a time-consuming business – but not this time. If anything, not making viruses the theme for the new 5:4 mixtape would just feel like being wilfully contrary. So – a couple of weeks earlier than scheduled – here it is, a tour through some of my favourites that feel more than a little pertinent to the remarkable times we’re currently experiencing. Not surprisingly with a topic such as this, a lot of the music is serious in tone, though the way this is articulated varies widely. Many explore a quiet, often unsettlingly (in)tense simmering (Nine Inch NailsJohn Oswald, Bass CommunionVykintas Baltakas, The Noisettes, Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch), occasionally featuring hot surges (Brian McOmber, Cat Temper, Ramin Djawadi, SaffronKeira, Toru Takemitsu, Necro Deathmort, Andrew Liles, Daphne Oram, Paul Haslinger). Some go beyond these limitations into ferocious incandescence (Man Without Country, Pan Sonic, Si Begg, Reza Solatipour), the complete opposite, eerie calm (Coleclough & Murmer, Ulrich Schnauss, Justin Hurwitz), or pounding, edgy regularity (Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi & Fajar Yuskemal, Picture Palace Music). The rest channel their sentiments into fierce, forthright vocals (Björk, Chelsea Wolfe, Crystal Castles, Moderat, Lydia Lunch, Cabaret Voltaire, Hecq with Nongenetic). A short jingle from Raymond Scott is a closing tongue-in-cheek moment that i hope is forgivable in these trying circumstances.

Two hours of pandemically-related tracks and tropes that are, in a multitude of ways and in the absolute best sense, highly infectious and hard to shake off. Below is the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud.

These are difficult times we’re living through at the moment. i sincerely hope you’re all keeping as safe, fit and healthy as you can, and that you’re taking advantage of any imposed isolation or downtime to explore lots of new music. Best wishes to all of you, wherever you are. Read more

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Mixtape #57 : Best Albums of 2019

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Happy New Year!

i want to start this year by expressing my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have followed and supported 5:4 in the last year, particularly my delectable band of Patrons. Hot on the heels of my Best Albums of 2019 list, i’m beginning 2020 with the usual mixtape comprising selections from each of those 40 albums. It rather nicely encapsulates another year of breathtaking musical imagination and ingenuity, exploring a typically eclectic range of styles, attitudes and aesthetics.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with the start time for each track in the mix; links to obtain the music can be found in the previous two days’ articles. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed. Read more

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Mixtape #56 : MCU

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Considering that, when i’m not doing something musical, i’m most often to be found in front of a movie, it’s perhaps surprising that none of my previous mixtapes have been devoted to film scores. Until now, that is. Over the summer, the Beloved and i have been working our way through all the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So the latest 5:4 mixtape is a homage to and celebration of the MCU, which for my money is one of the most ambitious, fantastical and exhilarating experiences i’ve had in my cinema-going life. For this mix i’ve allowed myself just one – or, in a couple of cases, two (because they’re really short) – track from each film, moving through them in the order they were released.

i’m conscious of the fact that it might seem a little ironic to turn to the MCU in particular for a musical celebration like this. It is ironic: while some of these movies are among my absolute favourites, very few of their scores adequately live up to the range of imagination and invention that we witness on screen. As was explored in the video ‘The Marvel Symphonic Universe‘ on the excellent, now sadly-defunct YouTube channel Every Frame A Painting a few years ago, a great deal of the music composed for the MCU is bland, generic, superfluous and completely forgettable. Indeed, each time i’ve made the transition from big screen to loudspeakers after seeing each movie for the first time it’s usually proven to be, at the very least, something of a crestfalling experience. But then, that experience is more of a Hollywood problem in general rather than being peculiar to the MCU.

Regardless of all that, i contend that, if you’re prepared to pan for sonic gold, there’s still a lot to enjoy in the music from these movies, and more than a few surprises along the way. i really like the meditative innocence of Ramin Djawadi‘s score for the original Iron Man – when none of us had any clue as to the scale of story-telling that would ensue – which John Debney would subsequently coat in nu metal hooks and riffs for the first sequel (one of the best scores of the franchise). Alan Silvestri‘s theme for The Avengers is as memorable as it is stirringly effective, setting up one of the few really telling points of musical continuity in the series. While we’re talking about themes, Christophe Beck‘s and Michael Giaccino‘s approaches to Ant-Man and Spider-Man respectively are both lovely mélanges of noir, heist and caper, while Brian Tyler‘s setting-up of Thor: The Dark World perfectly captures the film’s mix of mythology and swagger. It was brave of Mark Mothersbaugh to surround this hitherto epic character with retro synths and stylings for Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s brilliantly suited to the gaudy shift in aesthetic, not that far removed from Tyler Bates‘ awe and wonder approach to the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, echoed by Christophe Beck in his Ant-Man and the Wasp music conjuring up the mysterious and gorgeously-rendered ‘Quantum Realm’. Though it was ludicrously over-hyped (much like the film itself), Ludwig Göransson‘s extension of the series’ soundworld to encompass African tropes in his score for Black Panther is refreshing. Most notable of all, though, is Henry Jackman‘s unique contribution to the MCU in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, channelling his inner Trent Reznor to create an unsettling score unlike any other in the series (all the more obvious in this mixtape), filled with unrelenting jabs of marvellously razor-sharp, edgy electronica. And while the accusations of a lack of memorable music have merit, there’s some potent lyrical writing to be found in the saga’s more intimate and anguished moments, particularly from Patrick Doyle in Thor and, above all, Alan Silvestri‘s moving emotional high points of tragedy and heartbreak in the colossal Avengers two-parter Infinity War and Endgame.

While technically the complete ‘Infinity Saga’ includes 23 films, for my purposes – due to its overwhelmingly cathartic point in the narrative, which makes a much more convincing point to close this first epic chapter of the MCU – i’ve made Endgame the conclusion of this mixtape. Though i’ve worked through the films in order, i haven’t sought to retain a clear sense of the saga’s ongoing narrative, nor have i necessarily selected tracks that are highly representative of their respective scores as a whole. This mix simply explores some of the most interesting musical episodes to be found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some of which are happily at some remove from the conventions of Hollywood histrionics.

Over 45 hours of cinematic saga distilled to just 78 minutes of musical mayhem, malevolence and magic; here’s the tracklisting in full, including time positions and links to buy the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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Mixtape #55 : Sun

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For the latest 5:4 mixtape, inspired by the incredible heat that’s been sizzling its way across Europe recently, i’ve turned to the Sun as my theme. The mix has a somewhat different tone from my Summer mixtape from four years ago (which was, generally, intended to be quite upbeat and – well – ‘summery’), drawing on differing degrees of languorousness, dreaminess and, here and there, some searing intensity. As such, it starts rather slowly and lazily, through relatively gentle tracks by Heiko Maile, Benn Jordan, Fovea Hex, Anna von Hausswolff and Altus, before beginning to pick up some momentum. What follows includes various songs (Lady & Bird, Holly Herndon, Björk, Sigur Rós, C Duncan, Jenny Hval & Susanna, Ghost Twin), some of which are beautifully full-blooded paeans to the sun and/or poetically tap into its connotations of heat and fire. Of the non-vocal tracks, i’ve chosen some for their exuberance (Ashra, Kenny Beltrey, Deborah Pritchard), some for their potent energy (Autechre, Ulver, The Hafler Trio, Aidan Baker, Hecq, Elizabeth Anderson, Ouvrage Fermont, Wolves in the Throne Room, Brian Reitzell) and others for their ecstatic bliss (Ascoil Sun, Andrew Liles, Ben Lukas Boysen & Sebastian Plano, Sleep Party People, Christina Vantzou, 36, Liisa Hirsch). The mixtape begins and ends with short traditional songs from Trio Mediaeval that invoke the sun’s rising and setting.

Two hours of sound that bakes, basks and boils in sunlight; here’s the tracklisting in full, including time positions and links to buy the music. As always, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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Mixtape #54 : Menagerie

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For the new 5:4 mixtape, i’ve turned to the world of animals, assembling music that references a diverse collection of wildlife. All manner of beasts are featured, insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians in addition to mammals, from the smallest (probably, in this selection, a wasp) to the greatest (definitely, in this selection, a whale), and i’ve not entirely limited myself to reality, including a couple of pieces that pertain to non-existent creatures. The musical choices are similarly aesthetically eclectic, and on this occasion i’ve not sought to make strong stylistic connections throughout the mix but instead emphasise uniqueness: for the most part, none of the 38 tracks closely resembles any of the others.

In all, two hours of sonic zoology providing a veritable musical menagerie, ending with a small tribute to one of music’s great musical minds and voices, who sadly is no longer with us. Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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Mixtape #53 : Best Albums of 2018

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Happy New Year everyone!

Many thanks to all of you who have read, followed, commented, shared, promoted and otherwise supported the blog during the previous year, most especially to my beloved band of Patrons. i’m starting 2019 in the usual way, with a new mixtape featuring something from each of the brilliant albums in my Best of 2018 list. Being such an eclectic list, the ‘narrative’ of this mixtape is one that unavoidably veers between quite wildly dissimilar styles and aesthetics, but to my ear that only makes it all the more interesting and fun.

40 tracks (well, technically 41: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s were short so i included two) that testify to and celebrate the range and scale of musical wonders created during 2018 – the full tracklisting is shown below, and links to buy each album can be found in the previous two days’ articles. As always, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed. Read more

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Mixtape #52 : Christmas

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For the last of my 2018 monthly mixtapes, which i’ve been doing throughout 5:4‘s 10th anniversary year, i’ve gone seasonal and turned to the theme of Christmas. However, while that theme permeates all the choices i’ve made, the result is quite far from the kind of conventional upbeat playlist we’re using to hearing this time of year. i haven’t in any way set out be deliberately contrary, still less put something together that’s sarcastic or ‘alt Christmas’, but i’m conscious that this is a distinctly subdued and contemplative mixtape (something i’ve reflected in the cover artwork). Like compositions, mixtapes are very personal things, and i guess this collection of music is just what i particularly wanted to be spending time with at the moment.

No need for a breakdown of what’s included this time, i think the music pretty much speaks for itself. 60 minutes of mysterious, melancholic and magical music to provide perhaps a darker, deeper hue for the festive season. Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded using the link below or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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