Thursday 24 December 2020

Wrapped Up - A Second Wintery Mixtape

This is that little something I was talkin' about! Figured I'd do the same as last year and do a little mixtape thingy again (you can find last year's here!). I'm normally very self deprecating about the quality of them - and while I'm still a little uncertain on the content here, I think the actual mixing part is better than a lot of them I have put out recently. Digression aside, this started as a compilation of tunes that I've loved and discovered or re-discovered this year and I've largely stuck to that. Some artists I wanted to get in there like Tsutchie didn't make it, and I had to stop myself from going overboard with Yokota (both for your sake and so Mixcloud would accept it!). I know I'd been neglecting the blog, I'd been in a bit of a funk personally and wasn't really feeling up to it for a long while. But if anything good has come out of this year, it's a rekindling of both my love for writing and for music discovery, having somewhere to write about these things has been really nice - and I hope that reading has done the same for you. Stay tuned for the tracklist, player and a track-by-track breakdown below:

Ivan Shishkin - In The Wild North (1891)

Susumu Yokota - Sky And Diamond
Keiichi Sugiyama - Snow Girl
Omni Trio - Ocean Driver
Shinji Orito - Phases Of The Moon
JMJ & Flytronix - In Too Deep
Susumu Yokota - Few
Agraph - Gray, Even
Autosundmädchen - All The World Loves Lovers
A:xus - Suite Disappointment (Original Reprise + Original Mix)
Michiel van den Bos - Home Base (UNATCO)

Sentimentality aside - this mix takes a much less 'chill' approach than last year's - at least in terms of my usual content, there's no Röyksopp or similarly Scandinavian electronic this time. Though saying that the intro does betray that a little, it's a lovely slice of downtempo courtesy of Susumu Yokota, a track that would have been right at home with my coffee shop Trip Hop phase some years ago now. We take things more in that Scandinavian style next with Keiichi Sugiyama's Snow Girl which I promise didn't make the cut just because of it's title (or the fact it's from a Winter themed album!), though it does definitely exude those same tundra style vibes as tracks like The Knife's The Captain, it's full of gorgeously cold vibes that I just love, and it felt right at home here on a recap of my loves for this year.

Taking a left turn and upping the tempo with a bit of Omni Trio next, although not for a while as the lengthy intro of Ocean Driver flows almost effortlessly into the end of Snow Girl. I recently re-dug out the album this track is from Skeleton Keys recently - it has some amazing pieces on it like Sanctuary that are a perfect summary of why I love Omni Trio. The album does suffer a bit from being a bit same-y in parts and a personal gripe of mine is that it's one of those albums that has 2 separate releases with different tracklists (though not 100% different to compound the annoyance). Still, not to be too negative - I've fallen back in love with Trio's trademark style of breakbeats and Ocean Driver is a really solid example of them.

The Drum & Bass continues with a piece from Shinji Orito, taken from the soundtrack to Clannad; which while not entirely electronic is incredibly beautiful and something I've listened to a lot this year. Saying that, sometimes a bit of electronic makes its way on there as is the case with Phases Of The Moon, which is right at home up against Omni Trio, and indeed separate from the thing it's sound tracking as well. After that it's a return to Moving Shadow territory with the downright fantastic In Too Deep courtesty of JMJ & Flytronix. It's one of my favourite pieces of Drum & Bass of all time, perhaps a little dated now but I have a really deep appreciation of the early 00's Drum & Bass style that it has, the jazzy edge of Flytronix showing in full force too!

Back to Japan for the next couple, with another piece from Yokota, this time Drum & Bass. The combination of Yokota's more ambient side and proper breakbeats works amazingly well, and the deep almost machine-gun like basslines on Few are just brilliant. It's an excellently structured track, Yokota knew just when to drop the beats and let those lush synths shine for a little while before brining the whole thing crashing back together again. Slowing down a little next with Kensuke Ushio, specifically his solo work under the 'Agraph' alias. I fell in love with Ushio's work on some soundtracks and decided to follow the trail, and to my delight his albums are more of the same - smooth ambient style compositions, with occasional hints of glitchy IDM shining through. This is more pronounced on his later works, the tracks I've chosen here Gray, Even errs more on that ambient side but you can still hear that glitchy edge here and there, especially on the outro.

Rounding out we have a cover of All The World Loves Lovers that I have talked about on here before. It's from a compilation just called Hamburgeins - a compilation of minimal electronic from artists in and around Hamburg as you may have guessed. Minimal isn't always my cup of tea but some pieces of this compilation really do it or me, and Lovers is one that scratches a very specific itch - it's just a simple loop but I can't get enough of it. It's likely due to Alexander Polzin's involvement, his work is rare-ish but I've liked all I've heard from them. Fading out into a custom mix I made of A:xus' Suite Disappointment, potentially one of my favourite house tracks of all time, the Original Reprise is this introspective, skeletal version of the track with limited backing and the vocals, which I use on the fade out before slamming straight into the excellently crafted 4/4 of the full fat original mix. The lyrical content may be a bit bleak but I just adore the delivery of them, for me it's an almost perfect example of this style of soulful house.

And finally, Michiel van den Bos' 2020 rework of his UNATCO theme from the original Deus Ex soundtrack. A little bit of a last minute addition I will admit, but I've loved the UNATCO theme since I first heard it in the early 00's and it warms my heart to see it given this kind of treatment all these years later, that main melody is just iconic. The mix itself is just fantastic, not just a remastered re-tread of the original theme. It may stray a little into dubstep territory in places which could turn some away, but otherwise it's a perfect combination of the ambient and upbeat sides of the Deus Ex OST, and a nice capstone to this slightly eclectic mix of mine.

Well, that about does it for the talking side of things, I hope you enjoy this little mixtape deal of mine, I don't do it often but they are fun to put together, they let me use tracks I wouldn't be able to embed otherwise and stretch my creative legs a bit too. Saying that, I may pull something together for the end of the year but in case I don't - As always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


No comments: