In this series, we hand a page over to the excellent blogger, Brad Barry, whose blissful C60 Radio has soundtracked many a late night in the office. After the mix series went down a few months, we've been so desperate for him to start up again that we decided to commission him. Every month he'll explore a different strand of the vast and wonderfully fruitful tape / outre underground. But this time, inspired and supported by Victorinox's Festival App, we asked Brad to make a series of mix tapes based around music and the great outdoors. The first of the series, based on Forests, is below, and you can download the app here.
In anticipation for an upcoming road trip to Big Sur and up the California coast into Oregon, I’ve decided to venture from my instrument-focused mixes and, instead, explore music that evokes the different landscapes I’ll be seeing in a few weeks. With this mix, I was fascinated with the idea of the forest; I chose songs that inspire visions of soaring trees, mossy paths, and filtered sunshine.
01. Emmanuelle Parrenin — “Ballade Avec Neptune” Maison Rose [Ballon Noir; 1977]
This gorgeous piece of pastoral finger picking comes from French folk musician Emmanuelle Parrenin. The album is a unique mixture of drifting, ethereal folk music and more experimental pieces, including some composed by Jean-Claude Vannier who would go on to, most famously, write the arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson.
02. Stag Hare — “A Rose for the White Witch” Spirit Canoes [Hands in the Dark; 2011]
Hailing from the unlikely musical hotbed of Salt Lake City, Garrick Biggs has been creating shamanistic, nature-inspired music on small run cassettes and CD-Rs for the past few years. His pieces, like the one heard here, combine the flutes, chimes, and synthesizers of New Age music with steady rhythms built from hand percussion and his overlapping, meditative guitar playing.
03. Ashan — “Forest Hair” Ancient Forever [Inner Islands; 2012]
One of several projects from Oakland, California’s Sean Conrad, Ashan fits somewhere between the idyllic wanderings of Emmanuelle Parrenin and the cyclical, percussion-based pieces of the Stag Hare track that came before. In fact, Stag Hare has also put out releases on Inner Islands, the label the Conrad co-runs.
04. Gimmer Nicholson — “Wesak” Christopher Idylls [Lucky Seven; 1994]
Originally recorded in 1968, but unreleased until 1994, “Wesak” is a beautiful example of the twisting, undulating acoustic guitar playing that Gimmer Nicholson is know for. His background was rooted in the folk canon (he played with Ry Cooder in a band that backed Arlo Guthrie), but with this album he edges very close to what would soon be known as New Age music. Here, his intricately played, dynamically shifting acoustic guitar patterns feel like leaves rustling on a breezy day.
05. Rameses III — “Theme Five” Honey Rose [Important Records; 2007]
This piece by Rameses III slows down that breeze. Using mainly acoustic instruments and field recordings, the London-based trio creates organic drones that float by in a beautifully languorous state. Honey Rose is actually the soundtrack for a short film, and I think it’s safe to assume that that film is filled with golden light and slow-motion journeys through nature.
06. Wyld Wyzrdz —“With the Morning” Acceptance [Inner Islands; 2012]
Braden McKenna, the other half of the Inner Islands label and the second Utah resident on this mix, is another artist who shows allegiance to the instrumentation of classic New Age. Occasionally with music like this, the emphasis on nature sounds and imagery can seem forced, but the artists on Inner Islands really do things like play shows on beaches and in National Parks across the United States.
07. Deuter — “Life Is Love” Celebration [Kuckuck; 1976]
Starting out as a Krautrock act, Germany’s Georg Deuter was one of the people who helped develop and define what we know as New Age music. His use of field recordings, traditional ethnic instruments, bells, and synthesizers formed the palette that other artists in this mix continue to draw from today. “Life Is Love” is a great display of the exuberance and virtuosity that are evident in the dozens of albums he has released over the past 40 years.
08. Plankton Wat — “Shasta Trinity” In Magical Light [Reverb Worship; 2011]
It’s almost cheating to include this piece from Plankton Wat. Named after Mount Shasta, which is directly in the region I’ll be traveling through, this song unwinds slowly, remaining subdued but full of energy as it feels out new territories. I can only hope that my trip unfolds in the same way.