Mixtape #15 : Late Night

by 5:4

It’s been a while since the last mixtape, and i’ve decided to return to the theme of the the first two mixes, music particularly suitable for late night listening.

Steve Peters‘ work is always fascinating, and his field recording project Here-ings is a masterpiece. i wrote about it at length early last year, and its profound sense of hush, allowing the space and its environment to speak, is unparalleled, and a fitting way to start this sonic foray into the night. Lovesliescrushing have dominated my listening in 2010; their lavish 2CD box-set Girl. Echo. Suns. Veils. arrived a few weeks back, and earlier this week Crwth (Chorus Redux) arrived. As the title suggests, it’s a retake of Chorus, their superb classic from 2007, as laden with velvet gentleness as the original (the CD comes with a voucher to download the original free of charge, so you get the best of both worlds). Ambrose Field‘s Being Dufay was one of my best albums of 2009, and the whole release is arguably best heard at night, when everything else is still; this is especially true of “Sanctus”, which emerges from the solo voice into some breathtakingly beautiful textures. sc140 was a project in conjunction with The Wire magazine, where composers wrote short snippets of Super Collider code, no longer than the length of a tweet (140 characters). The result is a mixed success but Nathaniel Virgo‘s contributions are invariably engaging; the pink noise in this track, punctuated by deep booms takes on the transparency of a field recording, all rain and thunder.

The music Carsten Nicolai releases as Alva Noto is among the most accomplished of all contemporary electronica. His skill at folding the sharp, pungent edges of raw electronics into a soft ambient fabric is unique, with Xerrox Vol. 2 a benchmark for quality; it is staggeringly lovely. i first heard John Pickard‘s epic Gaia Symphony on the radio while driving down into Whitby, in the north of England, and was immediately hypnotised at the remarkable array of timbres he was eliciting from the most parochial of English creations, the brass band. This 60-minute work has no connection to the um-pahs that continue to plague these bands; it’s brilliant, contemporary music, and this movement—inspired by the aurora borealis—is a rare period of pause within an often violent and tempestuous temperament. Mathew Adkins‘ equally large-scale electronic work [60]Project (released on the fantastic empreinte DIGITALes label) is a panoply of electronic mannerisms, each of which is etched into its titles (“Sea Soundscape”, “Urban Soundscape”, “Noise Study”, etc.). “Abstract / Ambient” is the opening movement, and its 8-minute duration covers a vast range of ideas, seamlessly evolving into ever new shapes, many of which are simply gorgeous. Chris Anderson’s work as Operations could do with being better-known, as his work with field recordings and electronics has a subtlety of touch that’s rare and makes his music highly engaging. His little Cold Months EP contains at its centre the enigmatic miniature “(andnbspandnbspandnbspandnbspandnbsp)”, where the incessant surface noise of vinyl threatens to destroy the final, distant vestiges of music lurking in its valleys. It’s quite simply one of the most exquisite bits of music i’ve ever heard.

Every one of Tor Lundvall‘s releases seems to inhabit some area of the night, often alluding to just such a time, as in his album Last Light. “It’s Over Now” sets up a languid pulse above which Lundvall meanders a melody, the chords circling; musically it goes precisely nowhere, proving that’s not always a bad thing. i know nothing about Heiko Maile, except that he contributed to the soundtrack of one of my favourite films, Die Welle. Here, he establishes a simple motif to accompany the scene where an important text message is sent (also at night), building a powerful sense of tension and foreboding. Michael Perry Goodman’s Implex Grace project has produced some very worthwhile experiments in the area of loops and ambient noise (heard best on the two Through Luminescent Passages albums, available free here). “Moonlight Slanting” is a delicate morsel of sweetness and poignancy, its fragment of high melody growing in clarity while fading in substance. There are times when i’ve felt ambivalent about Angelo Badalamenti‘s abilities as a composer; since first encountering his work in Twin Peaks as a teenager, its often seemed as though that’s the only kind of music he can make: soft, slow, shuffling, jazz-infused nachtmusik from some surreal American outback. But his achievement in Mulholland Drive—in my opinion, one of the finest movies ever made—is astonishing; perhaps it’s David Lynch’s influence (his albums Polish Night Music and The Air Is On Fire project a similar music), but the result is an amazingly intoxicating kind of electronic music, fusing ambient, drone and noise elements. The lengthy track “Dwarfmusic” is at the epicentre of the mixtape, heard in its entirety, concluding with a transition into glacial, metallic drones.

The French organist Louis Vierne is perhaps best known for the grand scale of his music, but “Étoile de Soir” shows how successfully he could explore the ineffable quiet that is so seemingly at odds with the organ’s massive size. It’s played here by Naji Hakim (at La Trinité, in Paris), and i love how the music is so soft that even the noise of the organ mechanism becomes audible. Music from another great film next, Roger Avary’s The Rules of Attraction, the soundtrack of which was largely composed by tomandandy. “Snow Theater” comes from towards the end of the film, in a rare moment of thoughtfulness amidst the characters’ histrionic displays of egotism. Autechre continue to confound their listeners on Oversteps, which witnesses a new strain of melodic emphasis in their work; “os veix3” is just such an example, a sublime combination of heavy, intrusive beats and an optimistically relentless pointillist melody. i never know quite what to make of At Jennie Richie‘s output, which is among the most unpredictable music i’ve come across; another night-oriented track is their sparsely-populated “Bleak Village At Night (For Algiers!)”, fixed and frozen. The late lamented Danielle Baquet-Long’s alter ego Chubby Wolf only had the chance to release one album and one EP before her death, but 2010 may be the year in which much more of her work posthumously released. “Melting Upwards” is a sliver of sound typical of her style, which bears unsurprising similarities to her work in Celer, but with a seemingly more ascetic tone. i won’t pretend to have been greatly impressed by Shed‘s rather generic Shedding the Past LP, but its final track is a very effective exercise in stasis, suggesting a more interesting creative approach when the beats are absent.

Jonathan Coleclough is, for me, one of the giants of contemporary electronic music, revealing how vibrant and innovative ambient music in particular can continue to be. Windlass is one of his finest creations, a 41-minute journey through a predominantly lowercase landscape, peppered with deep bass potholes and omnipresent faux-cicadas. Hecq, too, is one of those artists that leave one breathless at the talent their work displays. Night Falls may prove to be the album that most points the way forward for his future work, to a world where beats are no longer in the foreground, and where more amorphous shapes are permitted to turn and play in the air; “Red Sky” is a simple example of that, a series of stretched-out choral ‘pulses’ etched into the night sky. My own second CD, The Stuff of Memories came out in January, and i’ve included an excerpt from the second track, “becauseshewas (veteris vestigia flammæ)”, dedicated to Celer’s Will Long; copies of the CD are still available and can be ordered here. The Real Tuesday Weld is another musician who’s impossible to categorise; his splendid album The London Book of the Dead is best heard in its expanded US edition, on which “Love Sugar Blood” is included, a short wistful allusion to something deep and heartfelt. It was about six years ago that i first encountered Xerxes‘ music, a type of ambient electronica that became pretty widespread in the early noughties (promulgated to the point of banal saturation by such repositories as Kahvi.org). To be fair, Xerxes does produce a lot that’s pretty humdrum, but occasionally—as in his sensitive and achingly effective treatment of Tori Amos’ “Me and a Gun” (included on the eighth mixtape)—he comes up with something really effective. “Fall” was one of the first tracks i ever heard by him, and it remains one of my favourites; the way he allows certain notes to sustain beyond their expected duration, causing poignant dissonances, is delicious.

An unlikely source for the next portion of music; Jerry Martin‘s piano pieces included as part of the ground-breaking soundtrack to original The Sims computer game. i’ll never forget how blown away i was by the integration of high-quality music into the gaming experience, and it was as much due to the quality of the music as anything else. The five piano improvisations are all interesting, but “build5” has always engaged me the most, and a few years ago i even went so far as to transcribe the music, so that i could play it myself. Former Throbbing Gristle member Peter Christopherson’s SoiSong featured in both my best of 2009 lists, and i think i still regard the EP as better than the album (although i love the album too); it was a total surprise, and goodness how unexpected that is these days. The influence of Christopherson’s adopted Thailand is apparent in the bell-like sounds that occur throughout “Kabuki-Chop”, blending perfectly with the underlying electronics. William Walton‘s last composition is also his least well-known: a short orchestral suite called Varii Capricci that i grew to love as a teenager in Cheltenham when i stumbled across the score in the local library. Walton’s such a hit-and-miss composer that it’s nice to hear from him something as refreshing as this piece is; the “Alla cubana” movement has a nice almost schmalzy flavour to it, held in check by the ever-changing orchestration, the melody being passed around from timbre to timbre. And to finish, back to the world of David Lynch, and Angelo Badalamenti‘s music composed for the closing scene and end credits of Lynch’s Twin Peaks prequel, Fire Walk With Me. None of this music was included on the official soundtrack, so i’ve ripped it directly from the DVD; it’s quintessentially Lynchian, and a perfect way to drift off into the night.

In total, just under 2 hours of music to occupy the small hours. Here’s the tracklisting in full (click on the image for high-resolution artwork):

Steve Peters – midnight to 1 a.m. (from Here-ings)
Lovesliescrushing – LAUJL VFX (from Crwth (Chorus Redux))
Ambrose Field – Sanctus (from Being Dufay)
Nathaniel Virgo – play{p=PinkNoise.ar(1!2);BRF.ar(p+Blip.ar(p+2,400),150,2,0.1)+LPF.ar (FreeVerb2.ar(LPF.ar(p+0.2Dust.ar(0.1),60)++[1,1,0.2,1e4]).tanh,2000)} (from sc140 – free download here)
Alva Noto – Xerrox Monophaser 3 (from Xerrox Vol. 2)
John Pickard – Aurora (from Gaia Symphony)
Mathew Adkins – Abstract / Ambient (from [60]Project)
Operations – (andnbspandnbspandnbspandnbspandnbsp) (from Cold Months)
Tor Lundvall – It’s Over Now (from Last Light)
Heiko Maile – Sending Out An SMS (from Die Welle – Original Soundtrack)
Implex Grace – Moonlight Slanting (free download here)
Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch – Dwarfland (from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive)
Louis Vierne – Pièces de Fantaisie – 3ème Suite – III. Étoile de Soir (from “Canticum” – French Organ Music)
tomandandy – Snow Theater (from The Rules of Attraction – music from the motion picture)
Autechre – os veix3 (from Oversteps)
At Jennie Richie – Bleak Village At Night (For Algiers!) (from III (Maximum Minimalism EP))
Chubby Wolf – Melting Upwards (from Meandering Pupa)
Shed – Ostrich-Mountain-Square (from Shedding The Past)
Jonathan Coleclough – Windlass [excerpt] (from Windlass)
Hecq – Red Sky (from Night Falls)
Simon Cummings – becauseshewas (veteris vestigia flammæ) (from The Stuff of Memories)
The Real Tuesday Weld – Love Sugar Blood (from The London Book of the Dead (US Version))
Xerxes – Fall (from Selected Works : Volume Three – free download here)
Jerry Martin – build5 (from The Sims computer game)
SoiSong – Kabuki-Chop [excerpt] (from qXn948s)
William Walton – Varii Capricci – III. Alla cubana (from Symphony No. 1/Varii Capricci)
Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – Final Scene and End Credits (DVD rip)

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Thanks JB, i'm not sure how 'legendary' they are, but i hope you find this interesting…


Looking forward to listening to this, your mixtapes are legendary!

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