In this series, we hand a page over to the excellent Austin-based 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 mixtapes based around music and the great outdoors. The first of the series, based on Forests, is here, while the second, based on the sounds of an overcast ocean is below, and you can download the app here.
As we continue to explore natural environments through this mix series, I’m still thinking about the coast. But, this time, it’s not the sunny surf and sand that most people associate with summer. Living in Texas, where the summers are unbearably hot, I’m finding myself more interested in the bracingly cold water, overcast skies, and salty spray of a more northern shore. This mix is my attempt to evoke the feeling of an overcast day on a beach with dark waves, rushing tides, and an exhilarating trip into the ice-cold water.
01. Arp — “Catch Wave” The Soft Wave [Smalltown Supersound; 2010]
This gorgeous piece from Alexis Georgopoulos’s Arp project is a great way to slowly sink into the churning water. Pushed around by different currents of sound — here some beautifully played piano, there some detuned synthesizer — the borderline chaotic nature of this track is a great illustration of Georgopoulos’s comfort at the intersection of classical instrumentation and more modern electronic experimental music.
02. Charlatan — “Faint Blue Outlines” Triangles [Digitalis; 2011]
Brad Rose, the man behind Charlatan, is a pillar of the small-run experimental tape and vinyl scene. His long-running Digitalis label and review website Foxy Digitalis served as a clearinghouse and springboard for almost everyone in this underground world. Though he’s located in landlocked Oklahoma, the bubbly, thick sounds of this piece have no problem conjuring the feeling of a deep, tugging tide.
03. Mary Lattimore — “You'll Be Fiiinnne” The Withdrawing Room [Desire Path Recordings; 2013]
A harpist who has worked with everyone from Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile, and Jarvis Cocker to traditional orchestras, Mary Lattimore set out on her own with The Withdrawing Room. Exploring a different end of the instrument’s range than heard on records by artists like Alice Coltrane, Lattimore uses her harp and a loop pedal to create an alien, floating world with an almost crystalline beauty.
04. Manuel Göttsching — “Quasarsphere” Inventions for Electric Guitar [Ohr Kosmische Musik; 1975]
Best known as a founding member of legendary Krautrock group Ash Ra Tempel, German guitarist Manuel Göttsching also released several solo albums. While some splintered off into electronic house and dance music, the first is a beautiful document of what can be done with looped guitar. Though, in theory, “Quasarsphere” is a simple motif repeated, Göttsching gives it a pulsating, weightless feel. The other pieces on this record feature his more technical overlapping guitar work and are highly recommended if you’re a fan of this next group.
05. Emeralds — “Nereus (Spirits over the Lake)” Allegory of Allergies [Gods of Tundra; 2007]
The closest thing there has been to a drone supergroup, the three members of Emeralds played a large role in the recent resurgence of the synthesizer in underground music. Originally based in Cleveland, Ohio, the group has put out dozens of releases with everyone from small tape labels like Gods of Tundra to the new iteration of Mego. Though guitarist Mark McGuire left the group and their newer work has moved into a more structured electronic space, this piece — from one of their earliest releases — showcases the dark, dense, slowly evolving drones that established them on the scene.
06. Tu M’ — “That” Is That You? [Crónica; 2008]
With this release, Italian duo Tu M’ took carefully composed orchestral pieces and reprocessed them in real time using digital software. The result is immediately enveloping, as the relatively wispy individual parts are woven together into a beautiful suspended atmosphere. To me, this brings to mind the slow drift and changing landscape of an underwater world.
07. Marielle V. Jakobsons — “Purple Sands” Glass Canyon [Students of Decay; 2012]
Already featured on c60 as a member of Date Palms and Portraits, Marielle Jakobsons is part of the hearty sound art scene built around the Root Strata label in Oakland, California. With her solo album, Jakobsons combines her emotionally resonant violin work with a soundscape of buzzing synthesizers and a wash of other electronics. In our ocean journey, “Purple Sands” is a swirling ride back up to the surface.
08. Fourcolor — “Curves of Air” Air Curtain [12k; 2004]
Coming out of Japan’s prolific electro-acoustic/glitch scene in the early 2000s, Keiichi Sugimoto brings us a piece with such precise movement that it feels still on the surface. Today, Sugimoto works as a sound designer for film and art exhibitions, and his attention to intricate detail is audible here. Lapping up on the shore, raindrops striking the surface of the water, “Curves of Air” embodies the feeling of the shore on a gray day.