21 December 2009

Decadeology (Madmadcat edition)

Or, twenty songs I’d rather remember the noughties by

This is the decade mixtape challenge: 20 songs, 2 songs from each year, with no band duplicates. Download my exercise in decadeology here (zip file, 123 MB). While you’re waiting for that to come down the pipe, a bit more about my rationale after the jump...

When I first thought about what I would include on such a mix, lengthy lists of “must” tunes from each year quickly got way out of hand. I decided that the only chance of proceeding coherently would be, contrary to the backward-looking nature of the exercise, an attempt to look forward. A few notes on how I would like my noughties to be prelude to the teens:

• Quietness. Which is not to say an absence of sound; rather, the democratic quietness that enables previously overpowered sounds to come out into the open. Not the sound of silence; the sound of texture and intrinsic melody. And if true loudness should sometimes occur, it is with purpose, and more likely to be accorded the attention it demands. I think it’s fair to say all 20 artists represented here are alert to the possibilities of quietness.

• That said, insofar as there is to be thumping dance music in the future, it is best sung by emotionally complicated J-Pop starlets who drink whiskey and wear glasses (such as Tomoko Kawase, aka Tommy February6) or mixed up and melted down by beardy underground DJs in Paris (like O.Lamm).

• Only 2 of the 20 artists on this compilation are from America. I didn’t set out to do that, but that’s how things seem to have shaken out. Sorry, fellow Yanks: If you are in a band or pursuing some kind of creative career, maybe it’s best to move to a place like Portugal or Finland and settle down with a nice European person (see: Noah Lennox of Animal Collective; or me). If you insist on staying stateside, have the good sense to be based in a city like San Francisco, and find a film student from Japan to be your singer (see: Deerhoof). It’s the 21st century and these are “post-American” times. Besides, you’ll find it a lot easier to do risky things like start a band when healthcare and college are free.

• Speaking of Deerhoof, there are many worse approaches to art and life one could take than the “high school marching band on mushrooms” route. That’s a rich vein to be mined in the 2010s.

• In the coming years, there will be more softly mysterious songs about squirrels sung in Finnish. Thanks for the tip, Risto.

• The “bowlie kids that hang around here” may have all grown up, but the dream they had is still pretty bankable.

• The Osaka musician Oorutaichi prompts two slightly contradictory, yet also complementary propositions. (1) Traditional Japanese enka chant ought to have more influence on pop music. (2) New folk music is best when it is indigenous to an invented place and time entirely.

• In the next decade, the struggle against the boring tyranny of authenticity will undoubtedly carry on. Words to live by: “I believe in Donovan over Dylan, in love over cynicism.” – Saint Etienne

• Words to, if not live by, at least ponder: “Run from fear, fun from rear.” – Simon Bookish

  1. Broadcast - Echo's Answer
  2. Belle and Sebastian - The Model
  3. Chocolat - God Love Beat
  4. Takagi Masakatsu - Sossette
  5. Saint Etienne - Finisterre
  6. Tommy February6 - Kiss One More Time
  7. Stereolab - Mass Riff
  8. The French - The Wu-Tang Clan
  9. The Konki Duet - Tu Vas Partir Sans Moi
  10. Jens Lekman - Firecracker
  11. Animal Collective - Flesh Canoe
  12. Gepe - La Enfermedad De Los Ojos
  13. Risto - Pikkuoravat
  14. O.Lamm - City Of Julie
  15. Deerhoof - +81
  16. Oorutaichi - Hamihadarigeri
  17. Simon Bookish - Portrait Of The Artist As A Fountain
  18. Momus - Birocracy
  19. OOIOO - O O I A H
  20. Es - Ennen Oli Huonommin
Cover: Banksy Tiger, London, ca. 2004

1 comment:

robot hero said...

oh wow, this looks freaking cool. nice pick for the cover, too.