I can’t remember the last time I listened to an entire album from start to finish.
I simply don’t do that…anymore. I used to – when I was 16 & had just bought a new Bowie or Robert Fripp album – I’d listen to the whole album – but then one track would remind me of the guitar riff by another artist…or the bass line would be similar to another song…and I began making cassette mixes (non-segued @ that time) on my TEAC double cassette deck. At the time, I’d hand draw the mix cover-art & passengers in my car would marvel at the creativity it took to put everything together in an enjoyable music mix for the road trip we were on.
And I’ve been making mixes, on & off, ever since (Round 1: 1974 ~ 1990). I had taken a break for a few years – when out of the blue, my 10 years younger brother sent me a cassette mix he had made as a way of thanking me for “saving” him from a Village People fate in which his peer group was immersed. That mix, made with a dual turntable & a mixing board, contained songs from his generation (The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Sugar Cubes, Pixies) & mine (David Bowie, Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Ian Hunter) and we labeled it P.H.A.C. – Progressive Hits / Alternative Classics. The series went on for 11 more editions (and, as a side note, I’m restoring a few of them by recording the tape to a digital source). Then Eric enrolled in the Peace Corps and shipped off to Nepal (where he eventually met his wife) and I shipped him 3-4 more editions of ‘After the P.H.A.C.’ – adding acts like Monty Python into the music stream as well as narrated portions using a microphone.
That brings us to, roughly, the year 2000…when I mixed one of my all-time favorites, ‘Lanterna‘ (a tribute mix to the Henry Frayne album by the same name): initially onto cassette, then CD-R in 2004 and digitally in 2014. And I’ve never listened to the entire Lanterna album in toto – only by way of its mixed iteration.
Lanterna can be streamed here: Lanterna & will give you an entree into my mixing style.
That mixed reignited the art of making mixes within me, purely as a pastime, (Round 2: 2000 ~ Present) and I stumbled across the Art of the Mix website & joined their online community – posting under the moniker ‘g.a.b. l@bs‘. The site got glitchy after several years (though is still up & running), but the core group of elite mixers to which I palled around with began to fall apart. But I had had a nice run of things from 2000 through 2010 & resigned myself to posting purely on my blog & cross posting to Facebook (our FB account is no longer).
In 2015 I found Mixcloud, a streamlined version of Art of the Mix with better categorization & a worldwide membership of world-class mixers…within all the genres I participated & a lot more – and have been posting there ever since.
Mixes are, for me, the ONLY way to listen to music. When I purchase or download a new album – it goes on my phone only long enough to determine what songs I like & which ones I’ll utilize to craft a new mix…usually within the same genre – but not always (my ‘elements‘ series (Jazz) is a border-crossing mixed bag of classic Jazz, European Jazz (a la ECM) & Ambient…even Classical.
Albums are categorized into folders on my hard-drive, from whence I derive my mix play-lists & the final deliverable which is then rendered with cover art & uploaded to my phone & Mixcloud.
To my ears albums are boring – too much of one artist & not enough derivation. In fact, when shopping for music, one requirement is that it be different enough to warrant my listening attention…yet similar enough to garner inclusion for the next mix project. Thus albums, CD’s & digital collections sit idle until the master (that’s, uhm…me ; D ) hand selects compositions from same as the new mix is crafted.
There are, however, 2 albums which do reside on my phone’s hard-drive & will probably never be deleted:
…just because I consider them near perfection (within their respective genres).
Bottom line is: I love these 2 albums in the entirety! And I’m sure the reader also has his or her favorite.
So there you have it. The plastic & waxed shape of one man’s opinion on the topic of listenable forms of music. The mix is the thing: taking the creative input of artists & reshaping them into something better, something finer, something able to be shared without violating the artist’s creative world…AND, at least within the genres I mix…a final product that actually grants increased exposure of the artist & their work.
Thanks for reading and, if you have a differing opinion…please share it with me. I’ll read it…when I’m not tilting my head sideways to peruse the spines of stacks like these; in search of the perfect tune.