2013: Chocolate Grinder Mix: Artists
Some of our favorite artists of 2013 compile a fantastic year-end mix
In case you haven’t noticed, we love playing the Surrealist game called the exquisite corpse. We just recently posted our year-end comic using the technique, and earlier this week we posted a (monster) 30-track mix of TMT’s favorite 2013 songs using the same method. Today, we have yet another exquisite corpse-inspired mix, only this time it was compiled by some of our favorite musicians: Sean McCann, Lucrecia Dalt, Robert Beatty, clipping., Noveller, Kid606, Ahnnu, True Neutral Crew, Susan Balmar, and Neon Bunny.
Same deal here: each musician took turns choosing any song they wanted, as long as it was aesthetically or thematically complementary to the previous track sent to them. Aside from those in the first and last positions (the intro and outro tracks), none of the artists knew where they fell in the mix since the order was random; and aside from the track immediately before their turn, each artist had no idea what other songs were chosen. The mix could’ve gone anywhere the artists wanted it to go.
And it kinda went everywhere, genre-wise. But there’s still a surprising cohesiveness to the tracks, and it’s all stunningly pulled together in the final third, where the transference of ideas/thoughts/emotions between the participants — what artist Max Ernst described as “mental contagion” — is most beautifully expressed. I won’t ruin it for you. Just listen/read and enjoy!
Signor Benedick the Moor - “All Revere [le narrateur]” (El Negro)
Start time: 0:00 • Label: Self-Released
A good exercise for understanding history is to imagine the people who lived it having the same consciousness as yourself. Fashions, manners, politics, and a nearly infinite range of subjectivities uniquely tint the experience of life in every era and geography, but is that really any different than the diversity of cultures on the planet now? Even advancements in education are minor compared to universalities of emotion. Given this, experimental music is really just a pursuit in aesthetics. A new way of describing things and evoking emotions that everyone living or dead has already experienced. The young’s unconscious clamoring for something new is as much an expression of our inherent ignorance to this truth as it is any promise of change. Yet it is that absurdly unreasonable aspect of change, of hope, that excites us the most. More so, that makes new music the most valuable. History is defined by atrocity, but in some rare instances, humans have actually overcome. For me, discovering the music of Signor Benedick The Moor stoked that fire of hope. The naturalness with which he sees past genres and converges styles without a heavy handed postmodern mashup sensibility is an important reminder to me. The minor differences of today will soon be forgotten.
Hitoshi Sakimoto & Masaharu Iwata - “データ画面” (“Data Screen”) (Final Fantasy Tactics Original Soundtrack)
Start time: 3:05 • Label: DigiCube/Square Enix
This particular track is embedded in my childhood memories. My brothers and I played a lot of RPGs growing up together, and this is a song that you would hear in most of the menu screens and loading screens. It would loop endlessly in the background of my household. In contrast to the track before, I chose this because the beat reminded me of old strategy RPGs. Final Fantasy Tactics is a specialty RPG that most Squaresoft heads know about. It’s a bit of a shout to them as well.
Oneirogen - “Numina” (Kiasma)
Start time: 3:52 • Label: Denovali
The opening tracks on Mario Diaz de Leon (Oneirogen)’s records are often my favorites. I chose this track after hearing “Data Screen,” because it feels like the soundtrack to a really dark and moody video game filtered through an array of badass distortion pedals.
Ma Turner - “cubbie” (ZOZ COLLECTION)
Start time: 9:46 • Label: Sophomore Lounge
I wasn’t familiar with the Oneirogen track before this, and it’s not really my thing, but it was pleasantly dense and cloudy, so I went with that angle. Ma Turner (Salad Influence, Warmer Milks, Cross) has made a ton of beautifully schizophrenic and damaged genreless music, and has been putting it out in various ways in a steady stream all year long. “Cubbie” is a foggy instrumental named after artist R. Clint Colburn, the singer of Cross. It tumbles along for a couple minutes over a sluggish drum loop that sounds like a Skip Spence outtake, but it slowly morphs into what I imagine could be a warped Human League tape playing at halfspeed. Everything is reduced down to just a few looming dissonant synth lines that manage to still sound uplifting despite falling apart over and over. It’s really hard to tell what is synthesized, what is sampled, and what is played live. As is often the case with Turner’s music, I’m left pleasantly confused.
James Rushford & Joe Talia - “‘Manhunter” [excerpt #1] (Manhunter)
Start time: 13:58 • Label: Kye
The laissez-faire nature of this “cubbie” piece vaguely reminded me of Manhunter. Figured I’d include something on the “awkward ” side to complement it. To my ears, Manhunter is a subtle record. It is curious how intimate the sounds feel, given their seemingly random construction. Almost as if you are observing James Rushford and Joe Talia cook a meal together. Sitting in their kitchen watching each ingredient being prepared. Elements peeled, boiled, sautéed, and so forth. We never get around to actually eating the meal though. No, that isn’t the point of this record.
chushi - “fxx 3”
Start time: 21:36 • Label: Self-Released
chushi is an unrecognized monument of experimental and minimalist genius. He’s one of my favorite producers and recently his SP-404 died. I picked a song that was from the few last words he gave to me as a musician, for now.
Illum Sphere - “Sleeprunner” (Ghosts of Then and Now)
Start time: 26:03 • Label: Ninja Tune
Not many songs can come after the reverb-drenched “I am tied up in the basement of a techno fetish club and just hearing the echoes through the walls” musical composition known as “fxx 3” by chushi. I thought I could follow it with something equally disruptive and surreal, but then I watched the YouTube video of a way-too-happy koala with a weirdly phallic-shaped nose, drag-queen pink lips, endlessly climbing or humping a never-ending branch to some grand eucalyptus Shangri-La in the sky. I decided on something that would start off a little dark but end with loving harmony, progressively sweetening things up so that hopefully the next entry in this mix tape can play something truly pretty, like Katy Perry.
Felix Kubin - “Zemsta Plutona” (Zemsta Plutona)
Start time: 29:14 • Label: ZickZack
Shared common aims? Shared common keys? If you hear one, then the other one should fit in.
King Krule - “Cementality” (6 Feet Beneath the Moon)
Start time: 34:02 • Label: XL/True Panther
King Krule’s album shows that real music is music with soul. I picked “Cementality” because Felix likes musique concrète, but my favorite is “Baby Blue,” which I dare say is the best “Blue” after Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Age doesn’t matter to him, but in my country, 18- to 19-year-old boys just want to become idols. I don’t mean idols are bad — they’re cool — but I think being an artist is cooler than the idol stars. Artists aren’t products from a company. In Korea, we can’t usually find an artist or musician like King Krule. His album can remind you of why you like music or wanted to become a musician — it did at least for me.
Jennifer Veillerobe - “[B4 6’00”]” (Luftlöcher)
Start time: 36:42 • Label: Senufo Editions
King Krule’s song is about cement. Cement is an ingredient in concrete. We like musique concrète. That was our line of thought here. And while Veillerobe’s album Luftlöcher might not qualify as the strictest concrète since it contains unedited, unprocessed, single-take recordings, it does capture the spirit of acousmatic music quite brilliantly. The album contains recordings made by piercing bottles of carbonated liquid with tiny pin-sized holes and then close-mic’ing the liquid’s escape. The result is a symphony of sputters and chirps — even synth-like tones emerge. After a minute or so of listening, it’s easy to get lost and completely forget about the material source of the sound and just focus on the rhythmic patterns and timbral variations that reveal themselves. Another way one could imagine a relationship between “Cementality” and Luftlöcher comes from the former’s boozy, almost hungover feel. Who knows, Veillerobe’s sparkling beverages might be champagne, or lager.