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This mixtape is a constellation of great tracks that have percolated through my speakers, often on repeat over the past months. While writing up my comments I realized that the tracks fill space through their layers of orchestration, whether sparse or magnificent.
Would love to hear your comments, reactions and feedback in the comments below.
Technical note: To download a track*, right click the song link and select “Save Link As…” or “Download linked file As…”
*M83 is missing. Available as video below.
Typhoon – “CPR / Claws Part 2″ on Hunger and Thirst
This band from Portland has over a dozen members. Their songs are elaborately orchestrated and impeccably arranged. You at once feel like you are the audience of one in their creaky old house (where they all live together) and surrounded by voices, percussion and strings.
“CPR/Claws Pt 2″ was my first song from them. From sparseness, the layers of sound build and build to fullness. Waves and crescendos. Rising and falling. The moment lead singer Kyle Morton drops into the word “suffering” on the chorus gets me every time.
Layers of sound.
Zoe Keating – “Optimist (live)”
A fairly new discovery. Cellist Zoe Keating samples her Cello and builds and morphs her compositions. Maybe layering has become a theme, but the layering is different than Typhoon. While Typhoon feels like an orchestration, with many moving parts tightly blended and loosely held, Ms. Keating’s work feels denser. There is both hesitation and inertia.
Hear and find more from Zoë Keating (on iTunes)
Emancipator -”Safe in the Steep Cliffs” on Safe in the Steep Cliffs
I played a selection of tracks off Emancipators’s albums on repeat on the plane ride to and from Barcelona this summer. If I must describe: it’s electronic, yes, and ambiance-ish, yes, but I never consider Emancipator either of these, especially as I dislike most of the traditional “ambiance music” or “electronica”.
Here the layering is lush–a mix of synth, strings, and lightly percussive. You feel as though you are walking through fog in the forest.
I could have chosen any track from this album. They all have a different tones and tempos, from the mellow rhythmic “Nevergreen” to the upbeat moving “Maps” to the glassy voices of “Bury them bones” to the whisper of “Lionheart” (technically on Soon It Will Be Cold Enough)
The selected example, the title track, tends more melodic than most. But like most emancipator songs, he builds an environment.
Take a few listens. It might grow on you.
M83 – “Midnight City” on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
I must give credit to yoga teacher Sarah Sturges who reminded me of M83 and their brilliant album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Electronic and synth in feel, yet organic. Great yoga track, great amp up track, great song. This one goes on repeat. The music video is kind of great too.
Explosions in the Sky – “Remember Me As a Time of Day” on How Strange, Innocence
So many songs by Explosions in the Sky could have made it on this list. I choose this one for the simple riff the dual guitars play on their strings.
Instrumental and emotional.
Bon Iver – “Holocene” on Bon Iver
Bon Iver is in top form here. Fabulous. Played this on repeat since last summer. It blends into the background without loosing itself. There is a haunting quality to Holocene, without being scary or somber.
Hear more from the Bon Iver allbum titled Bon Iver (iTunes)