Friday, March 06, 2009

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MNML SSGS: CHRIS

The mix was recorded on the last day of January, 2009. This was the first day I had not worked in over a month. It was also one day after I had my first panic attack, and was struck with the realisation that I was dangerously close to complete mental and physical collapse. It has been a very difficult month, defined by extreme amounts of work, lack of sleep and isolation. Hardly the way life should be lived. This provides the context within which this mix was conceptualised and made. I am not much of a DJ, nor do I pretend to be. As such, it is more of a traditional mix tape than anything, which places even more emphasis on the track selection. The first draft for the mix came together quickly. I knew roughly what I wanted it to sound like – mostly old records from the mid ‘90s which were both timeless and deeply emotive. I didn’t want it being too up-tempo, but I did want a soft kind of kick to it in parts. I also wanted to structure the mix in a certain way – rather than the standard build, peak, come down format – I wanted it to have a more dynamic and unsettled feel, going back and forwards between more dynamic records and more ambient ones. Despite the final tracklisting differing somewhat from the original selection, I have tried to keep this structure and feel.

My first attempt at making the mix took place in my office at about 1am one night. It was a disaster. I was in completely the wrong headspace and nothing felt right. The mix was abandoned about 20 minutes in. I tried a second time about a week or so later, after reaching an important milestone with my work. I thought I’d now be better placed to put it all together. I did the mix after what was one of the worst days I’ve experienced in living memory, when I felt completely isolated, alone and detached from those close to me. It is hard to describe the extent of my unhappiness on this day. Doing the mix managed to make me feel a bit better, a strong reminder of how important music is for the soul. Unfortunately, though, the mix itself didn’t quite work. A few of the tracks didn’t fit and a couple of transitions were overly rough. After having a listen to it, I decided to rethink the records I had selected, which led to a new, and longer, tracklisting. The big difference is that there were now quite a few newer records, but I felt these all possessed similar qualities to the older ones. I spent some time reordering and changing the tracks until I got something I was happy with. I wasn’t sure when I was going to record it, but after some friends persuaded me to take a day off, I knew doing this mix would be good therapy and a way of unwinding slightly. Putting it together had a similar effect to the previous time, calming me and making me feel a bit more at peace.

The mix was done at home on my laptop using Ableton without any cueing, a program I don’t have much affinity with, but was forced to use due to lack of alternatives at the moment. It was recorded in realtime using Audacity, which I also used to clean the mix up slightly, though unfortunately I couldn’t get rid of a few clicks and skips which managed to sneak in somehow, sorry about this. As I said, I am not much of a DJ, so this is not too much more than glorified crossfading, I make no claims otherwise. Regardless, the transitions are good enough I think, and the emphasis is squarely on the tracks themselves. I’ve played out most of the records and there were only a few I adjusted the pitch on, just to make sure the BPMs didn’t get too high (‘Acid Eiffel’ may be a bit too slow, but I’ll let you decide). Many of the records are particularly close to my heart and ones I keep coming back to. While there is a reasonable amount of variation in the tracks themselves, I feel something which unites them – and the mix as a whole – is their deeply emotive nature. In different ways, each record is able to convey real feeling and depth. Perhaps on some level that explains why I chose them: at a time when I have felt so isolated and my life has felt so bare, music like this has been one of the few sources of warmth, comfort and solace. The picture accompanying the mix is meant to reflect these feelings. I took it from the balcony at my work, from where I like to watch the beautiful sunsets; they often tend to produce a transient moment of calm and peace within me.

Thanks to: Rayna for kindly inviting us to take part in this excellent series; the people that made the wonderful records included on the mix; to my fellow ssgs Cam, Dave and Pete for their unwavering friendship; and to everyone that has read, supported and contributed to mnml ssgs. The mix is entitled, ‘Time is Luck’.


01. Ø - Muistetun Palaava Taajuus
02. Aphex Twin – Parallel Stripes
03. Plastikman – Konception
04. Shed – Waved Mind
05. Speedy J – Pannik
06. Rod Modell – Morning Again
07. Pan Sonic – Arktinen
08. Mathew Jonson – Symphony for the Apocalypse
09. Donnacha Costello – Cocoa B
10. Choice – Acid Eiffel
11. Speedy J – Pepper
12. Global Communication – 8.07
13. Plastikman – Lasttrak
14. Aphex Twin – Blue Calx
15. Autechre – Nil
16. Biosphere – Chukhung
17. Terre Thaemlitz – Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion (2007 Archive of Silence Mix)

18. Vladislav Delay – Anima Version
19. Vladislav Delay – Anima

4 Comments:

Blogger Evad said...

LOVE

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful mix. It really grows on you. a keeper.

6:22 PM  
Blogger chris said...

thanks for the kind words guys. i really wanted to share some special records, so i'm glad people have connected with that. chris

8:00 AM  
Blogger Count Drugula said...

Fantastic. In the end, track selection is everything, to me at least. You mixed it more than capably, good sir. This is no grower, but a full-on dome capsicum.

3:50 PM  

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