Sunday, April 19, 2020

DEVS - a real & unreal soundtrack

DEVS, a tv series on FX/Hulu, is easily one of the best things I've ever seen on tv. It's written, directed and produced by Alex Garland the man responsible for Ex Machina & Annihilation, two of my favorite films of the last ten years.

The sound design and music in his films is always perfect. His musical collaborators are Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow and they are responsible for the music in DEVS as well. Garland lets scenes breathe, lets the music wash over you as the camera lingers. 

It's difficult to separate the original music from pre-existing music used in the series. No soundtrack has been released so this mix has none of the newly written score. But I was able to track down a few of the pre-existing tracks that were used. The most important of which is Jan Garbarek - Regnantem Sempiterna. It makes several appearances throughout the series. One of the other pieces I was happy to find is Fortunate Ones by The Beacon Sound Choir. I ended up using two other tracks from them because they fit the style of the show perfectly.

I used several tracks from other soundtracks by Salisbury & Barrow and a few from the new Johann Johannsson album. I also used some favorite tracks from Cliff Martinez because of the steel drum sound he uses. Salisbury & Barrow used that same type of sound throughout their score. And anybody that has seen the series finale will know why I used Rachmaninov - Dues Meus.

If you haven't seen the series I highly recommend it. And then, of course, listen to this mix.


[ s t r e a m ]    [ d o w n l o a d ]    [ i t u n e s ]

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Jan Garbarek - Regnantem Sempiterna
  • 05:28    Existence - Moon
  • 06:15    DEVS - Stuart's Poem
  • 08:48    Daniel Lopatin - Buzz Me Out
  • 09:23    The Beacon Sound Choir - Fortunate Ones
  • 12:04    Steve Reich - Come Out
  • 14:35    Mica Levi - Bedroom
  • 15:40    Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Hand Covers Bruise
  • 19:25    Cliff Martinez - What Shoe Size
  • 21:14    Johann Johannsson & Yair Elazar Glotman - Slow Destruction Of Neptune
  • 24:36    Ashera - Lullaby for Mother Earth
  • 27:38    Cliff Martinez - They Broke His Pelvis
  • 28:39    Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - Smelling Reality
  • 29:25    Johann Johannsson & Yair Elazar Glotman - Remembrance Of The Past
  • 30:45    Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - The Ghost of Her Mother
  • 33:48    Cliff Martinez - We Don't Have to Think Like That Anymore
  • 36:15    The Beacon Sound Choir - Drone 3
  • 39:52    Rachmaninov - Deus Meus
  • 43:50    Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - Dream Reality
  • 44:25    Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - Annihilation
  • 48:15    The Beacon Sound Choir - Sea Of Voices (Machinefabriek Rework)
  • 52:33    Johann Johannsson & Yair Elazar Glotman - The Last Men
  • 55:28    Salisbury & Barrow - Sleep
  • 56:42    Johannsson & Glotman - The Universal End
  • 58:11    end

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Of Reed and Breath

This mix started nearly two years ago when I created a playlist on Spotify called "Sax is Back." In there I collected tracks that used a saxophone as a main instrument and had an ambient vibe. I was careful to not let the tunes devolve into Kenny G on the beach schlock. But I still wasn't sure if an entire mix of sax tunes would work, but, I gotta say, this mix turned out really well. It's cohesive and a nice variation on straight forward ambient.

One caveat - I'm not entirely sure that the instrument in every song is indeed a saxophone. Soprano sax can sometimes sound like an oboe so there may be a couple of times where that may happen. But I don't really care, I just love the sound of this whole mix.

A few of my favorite tracks in the mix are:
-  Blue Chamber by Mute Forest from the excellent new album, Riderstorm, on Lost Tribe Sound. 
- A Break in the Clouds by Andrew Heath from Soundings
- Music for Airports by Delta Saxophone Quartet from Bowie, Berlin & Beyond

I hope you enjoy this slight detour into ambient sax.


[ s t r e a m ]    [ d o w n l o a d ]    [ i t u n e s ]

T R A C K L I S T :

  • 00:00    Tortusa & Breistein - Mind Vessel [2018]
  • 05:30    Joseph Shabason - Long Swim [2017]
  • 09:45    Anenon - Panes [2016]
  • 12:34    Ben Bertrand - The Manmaipo [2020]
  • 16:40    Daniel Thorne - Fear of Floating [2019]
  • 18:52    Mute Forest - Blue Chamber [2020]
  • 21:42    Andrew Heath - A Break In The Clouds [2017]
  • 27:57    Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Joy [2019]
  • 32:40    Rauelsson - Marbles [2018]
  • 35:03    Donny McCaslin - Warszawa [2016]
  • 38:00    Dylan Howe - Art Decade [2014]
  • 42:10    Delta Saxophone Quartet - Subterraneans [2018]
  • 47:50    Anenon - Mansana [2018]
  • 50:28    Tortusa & Breistein - Ladder [2018]
  • 53:43    Ben Bertrand - Those Behind Us That We Follow [2020]
  • 58:28    Delta Saxophone Quartet - Music for Airports [2018]
  • 64:05    end

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Lockdown - by Peter Van Cooten of

I like to think that I put a lot of thought and effort into these mixes. Hopefully, the mix as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But what I do is nothing compared to the transformative touch that Peter Van Cooten brings to his mixes.

Each mix is a unique work of art. Peter rarely lets a track play in its complete form. Instead, he uses smaller samples and deftly weaves the tracks in and out of each other. Sometimes 2,3, or 4 tracks play simultaneously, creating something new from different elements. In this mix, he uses an incredible 41 tracks! Here's what Peter has to say about using so many short samples:

"Sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed about using such short samples and/or editing the tracks (of these 41, only 8 are used in their complete form). It's a bit like cutting up the Mona Lisa to create a landscape patchwork with the fragments ;-)  But on the other hand, this is what I feel makes these mixes unique. Taken out of their context and in relation to other fragments, the music sometimes tells a different story."

This mix is a bit darker than most of my mixes. But it's dark in an interesting way, not in a droney, dissonant way. The mix has a very cinematic feel and combined with the cover art and title I can imagine drone shots of empty streets and newspapers blowing across the square. Peter was hesitant about the name and the cover art. He says - 

"It may be too closely linked to the current worldwide crisis, but on the other hand I have tried to think of another name or context but the uncertain times seem to be too dominant to think of another name I could give it. The funny thing is, that if you listen back most of my mixes have a rather dark edge to them. There's always a lot of 'tension/release' to them. But in this case, it seems there's a bit more 'tension' than 'release'. Oh well, sign of the times..."

Peter runs his own ambient music blog called, appropriately, Where in addition to his fine mixes(available in DTS surround as well), he has a ton of good reviews and recommendations. You can find it here...   He's also on Mixcloud here...

When he creates these extraordinary mixes he posts a pic of the total track layout, layer upon layer of all the music used. Here is the map of this mix...

Peter does his tracklist a little differently than I do. He gives listeners more info about each track, including start time, sample length, artist, title, album title, year and record label.  

Thanks to Peter Van Cooten of for such an excellent mix. Hopefully, I can talk him into doing another one in the future.

Cheers, and stay safe.

T R A C K L I S T Start time - Sample length - Artist - Title
Album Title, Year, Label

00:00  03:23 Fovea Hex - Is 
Is Lanza Light and Given (Steven Wilson Remixes), 2019, Die Stadt/Janet Records
01:25  04:35 Maggi Payne - Fluid Dynamics
Arctic Winds, 2020, Aguirre Records
02:03  01:45 Pat Keista - Doppler
Still Of The Void, 2020, self-released
04:17  01:47 Dave Phillips - Phytognosophysiology
Post Homo Sapiens, 2020, Attenuation Circuit
05:10  02:45 Jóhann Jóhannsson and Yair Elazar Glotman - Prelude
Last And First Men, 2020, Deutsche Grammophon
05:42  02:00 Andrew Pekler - Fonseca Winds (Lament)
Sounds From Phantom Islands, 2019, Faitiche
07:29  01:19 Jóhann Jóhannsson and Yair Elazar Glotman - Telepathic Unity
Last And First Men, 2020, Deutsche Grammophon
08:13  03:10 Ben Bertrand - Those Behind Us That We Follow
Manes, 2020, Les Albums Claus
11:08  01:31 Fani Konstantinidou - (Variations)
Moving Music: Sounds From The Rocking Chair, 2020, Moving Furniture Records,
11:58  01:32 Aaron Martin - Overcoming Inertia
Test Subjects, 2019, self-released
12:53  01:51 A Journey Of Giraffes - Gone Is The New Fuji
Kona, 2019, Somewherecold records
13:29  03:30 Robert Haigh - Ghosts Of Blacker Dyke
Black Sarabande, 2020, Unseen Worlds
16:46  02:48 Snorri Hallgrímsson - Fear
Chasing The Present, 2020, Moderna Records
16:53  00:30 Mica Levy - Mensajero
Monos, 2019, Invada
17:40  02:30 Snorri Hallgrímsson - Suffering
Chasing The Present, 2020, Moderna Records
19:22  01:58 Bersarin Quartett - Prolog
Methoden Und Maschinen, 2019, Denovali 
20:41  01:09 Ruairi O'Baoighill - Scryer
To See Without Eyes, 2018, Cursed Monk Records
20:50  01:59 I Wound - The Choir Of The Drowned Sings 'Our Demons Are Real'
Homework Year 3, 2018, Taâlem
21:48  03:01 Christine Ott - Comma
Chimères (Pour Ondes Martenots), 2020, Nahal Recordings
24:22  02:34 Ida Toninato - Pour Retourner Au Silence
We Become Giants, 2020, Dragon's Eye Recordings
25:32  03:47 Merrin Karras - Drawn, Quartered
Northwest Passage, 2020, A Strangely Isolated Place
28:27  02:07 Ciro Berenguer - Luna Creciente
Eilean 100, 2019, Eilean Records
29:57  01:47 Yiorgis Sakellariou - B4
Diapsalmata: A Collection Of Short Works, 2018, Tanuki Records
29:57  01:19 Celer - Birds Inside The High Halls Of Hangzhou (06.23.17)
Xièxie, 2019, Two Acorns
30:12  03:18 Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, Koichi Shimizu - Sharjah And Java
Metaphors - Selected Soundworks from the cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2017, Sub Rosa
31:24  00:44 Coil - Corybantic Ennui
Stolen and Contaminated Songs, 2019, Cold Spring Records 
32:32  01:22 Olivier Messiaen - Quator Pour Le Fin Du Temps III: Abîme des Oiseaux
Olivier Messiaen - Complete Edition, 2008, Deutsche Grammophon
33:54  01:26 Hildur Gudnadottir - Following Sophie
Joker OST, 2019, Watertower Records
35:14  00:55 Ryuichi Sakamoto - Countdown
Black Mirror: Smithereens, 2019, Milan
35:45  03:24 Silent Chaos - Nocturne On Ganimede 
Macro, 2020, We Don't Give A Fuck
38:52  04:03 Roger Eno & Brian Eno - Burnt Umber
Mixing Colours, 2020, Deutsche Grammophon
42:38  02:13 Martina Bertoni - Invisible Cracks
All The Ghosts Are Gone, 2020, Falk
44:29  03:30 Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang - Nightspell
Snow Catches On Her Eyelashes, 2020, Jazzland Recordings
46:21  02:13 Jana Irmert - Fog
Cusp, 2020, self-released
47:40  01:36 Fovea Hex - Given
Is Lanza Light and Given (Steven Wilson Remixes), 2019, Die Stadt/Janet Records
48:42  02:40 Frank Makowski - Fliegende Schatten - Canon 1
Canon der Finsternisse, 2019, Diffusschall
49:05  01:12 Michael Begg - Plain Chant
Sonambulo, 2019, Omnempathy
50:40  02:20 A Winged Victory For The Sullen - The Slow Descent Has Begun
The Undivided Five, 2019, Ninja Tune
52:35  04:30 Felix Blume - Horns In Fog Pt. 2
Fog Horns, 2019, Discrepant
55:49  03:02 Max Richter - Ursa Minor - Visions
Ad Astra, 2019, Deutsche Grammophon
58:30  00:40 Jóhann Jóhannsson and Yair Elazar Glotman - The Sun
Last And First Men, 2020, Deutsche Grammophon
59:10 End