Yes, this is ridiculously overdue, but thanks to the extra pressure of a new year and a long-delayed piece I haven’t found the time to put this together for real until now. Consider this an update on the previous 2020 playlist; like that one, I sequenced it to flow in a way that (mostly) makes sense. See the track listing at the link or the ‘full’ version at RYM (a few songs weren’t on YouTube). From chillwave that reaches to the sky (Brothertiger) to siren-like ambient organs (Ichiko Aoba) and metallophones from the Phillippines (Pantayo), this should have something for everyone.
More ‘eighties noir’: Is It A Crime?
Elegant ballads and slow grooves from the eighties paint a romantic, sometimes elusive picture of city nightlife. ‘Smooth’ radio shows blur together into the distant cars as hundreds of tiny lights fill the darkness.
golden war – blue camera / subterraneo amor – cecilia toussaint / lilly et bill – blues trottoir / living in confusion + living all alone – phyllis hyman / midnight mood – kashif / victor should have been a jazz musician + i’ve done it again – grace jones / make me a believer – luther vandross / esquinas – djavan / pleurer des rivieres – viktor lazlo / to tak jak gdyby ktos – ewa bem / ten minutes – isabelle antena / all the world loves lovers – prefab sprout / fantasy (pioneerball remix) – tesla boy / che vita ha fatto – lucio battisti / ocale cie – 2plus1 / cowboys and angels – george michael / the night owl – nits / slow – sunset rollercoaster / transeunte sin identidad – virus / fear – sade / from a late night train – the blue nile / when all things are well – dani lee pearce / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena / love is here where i live – everything but the girl / scarlet ribbons – roisin murphy / holding back the years – simply red / gullible fool – la roux
Isolated, often mournful voices wander through a specter-like fog of synths and reverb, suggesting ghosts and the mysterious tragedies surrounding them.
poison arrow – yeule / your favorite color – lifeformed / possession – pastel ghost / moon in aquarius – pat moon / dreams – mushy / lazy hunter – boy friend / little ghost – metal mother / ambur – demen / island of doom – agnes obel / flying dream – tamaryn w. oneohtrix point never / visiting night eyes – samantha glass / call me – gigi masin / dance ghost – helado negro / master of none (beach house cover) – toro y moi / ghost dance – be forest / annie’s box (karin dreijjer version) – the knife w. planningtorock & mt. sims / crystalfilm – little dragon / patterns – suse millemann / no matter what – ioanna gika / into the light (siouxsie and the banshees cover) – darkswoon / vernal limb – camp counselors / vulnerable now – low city rain
Sequencing this one was difficult for some reason. Here’s some songs I would include in different iterations of this idea:
- Tamaryn – “You’re Adored” (2019)
- Black Marble – “A Different Arrangement” (2012), “It’s Conditional” (2016)
- Carla Dal Forno – “Clusters” (2018)
- Grimes’ entire Halfaxa album (2010)
- Cuushe – “Lost My Way” (2013)
- Neon Cloud – “22” (2011)
- Pastel Ghost – “Clouds”, “Prism” (2015); “Underwater” (2018)
- Lene Lovich – “Ghost Story” (2005)
If Sophisti-Pop Summer was the soundtrack to a voyage by cruise, this is a montage of picturesque cities, with morning walks downtown and thoughtful discussions with friends by the sea. Maybe: that bittersweet feeling of summer becoming fall.
Expect lots of gentle orchestration, wistful vocals and breezy guitar. This one’s for you if you like Prefab Sprout.
prisoner of the past – prefab sprout / copernicus – basia trzetrzelewska / summerdays – weekend / children say – level 42 / mahalia – the bible / one better day – madness / my girl and me – gangway / obi & vida real – djavan / change – lisa stansfield / wildflower – blow monkeys / lá vem você – elza soares / teletrips – ice choir / iris – tadashi shinkawa / listen – johnny hates jazz / jocelyn square – love and money / second sight – the dolphin brothers / won’t you come back – breathe / advice for the young at heart – tears for fears / tell tale signs & the soul awakening – china crisis / new brighton – it’s immaterial / desconocido – golpes bajos / everybody’s gotta learn sometime – the korgis / far too hard – dead or alive / don’t ask me why – eurythmics / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena
Cover painting by Jean Dufy
It was way past midnight
and she still couldn’t fall asleep.
This night the dream was leaving
she tried so hard to keep.
And with the new day’s morning
she felt it drift away.
Not only for a cruise, not only for a day.
– Double, “The Captain Of Her Heart”
To mark it’s year anniversary I re-upped one of my best mixes with a few new songs for Mixcloud, a much more convenient way to listen. Go here for the Youtube list if you prefer that.
A summer mix invoking the romance, mystery, scenery and varying emotions of a lavish cruise as it begins a long journey overseas. Think sipping a cocktail as you watch the sunset, a romantic embrace by the docks or a suited pianist enchanting the crowd during their buffet.
This naturally doubles as a spotlight for the sophisti-pop genre best known for Sade and Prefab Sprout. Its cross of slick production and synths with elegant piano, strings, clean guitars, sax and/or brass has close ties to this imagery.
|1||Double – The Captain Of Her Heart||3:49|
|2||Alain Delon – Comme au Cinema||4:23|
|3||Viktor Lazlo – Clair Obscur||4:36|
|4||Marcos Valle – Fogo Do Sol||3:49|
|5||Jeanne Mas – Lisa||4:14|
|6||Gazebo – Lunatic||3:59|
|7||ABC – Confessions of a Fool||3:55|
|8||Muriel Dacq – Tropique||3:32|
|9||Prefab Sprout – Michael||3:02|
|10||Ice Choir – Peacock In The Tall Grass||4:11|
|11||The Bernhardts – I Hear You Calling||3:55|
|12||The Style Council – The Boy Who Cried Wolf||5:04|
|13||Alaska y Dinarama – Un Hombre de Verdad||4:30|
|14||Luxury Elite – blush||2:42|
|15||A.V. Walker – Night Silk||3:20|
|16||Moodoїd – Kasbah||5:32|
|17||Kim Wilde – European Soul||5:20|
|18||Isabelle Antena – Laying On The Sofa||3:41|
|19||Miami Sound Machine – Surrender Paradise||4:50|
|20||Presuntos Implicados – No Hay Palabras||3:53|
|21||Djavan – Oceano||4:56|
|22||高橋幸宏 [Yukihiro Takahashi] – Brand New Day||2:46|
|23||西松一博 [Kazuhiro Nishimatsu] – 残照||3:37|
|24||Anna Domino – Bonds of Love||4:49|
|25||George Michael – The Strangest Thing||6:00|
|26||Bryan Ferry – Windswept||4:20|
|27||Deborah Harry – Strike Me Pink||4:02|
|28||Beata Kozidrak – Żal mi tamtych nocy i dni||4:27|
|29||The Painted Word – Night After Night||5:32|
|30||Vanity – Romantic Voyage||4:48|
|31||Enzo Enzo – Pacifico||4:04|
B.Y.O.B. – sister sledge / let’s go together – change / she’s strange – cameo / driving satisfaction – grace jones / heartbreaker – evelyn champagne king / still a thrill – jody watley / oh sheila – ready for the world / back and forth – cameo / have you heard the news? – high fashion / let it whip – dazz band / party train – the gap band / didn’t mean to turn you on – cherrelle / the character – morris day / don’t disturb this groove – the system / slow dancin – – phyllis hyman / thinking about you (prod. kashif) – whitney houston / all of you – pointer sisters / i love you too much – stevie wonder / family man – kathryn white / why you treat me so bad – club nouveau / the glamorous life – sheila e. / i want my girl – jesse johnson / i betcha – klymaxx
Pictured: Phyllis Hyman
Sign Libra – “Sea Of Nectar” MV
I have a lot to catch up with but this is an interesting music year so far! This particular mix wound up having a lot of rich and moody synth-pop along with airy vocals (AKA my default mood). I love to have some variety in all of my mixes though so we also have tropical vibes, ghostly ballads and some unique fusions. As you might expect from me, I focused my inclusions on less canon artists who could use more attention.
- Σtella – The Race
- Wild Nothing – Sleight of Hand
- Choir Boy – It’s Over
- Baby Zionov – Extract From Truth
- Planet 1999 – Party
- Sign Libra – Sea of Waves
- Lido Pimienta – Te Queria
- La Roux – 21st Century
- Shura ft. Ivy Sole – elevator girl
- Christine And The Queens – I Disappear In Your Arms
- Hello Seahorse! – Mujer
- Maria Jose Llergo – El Hombre De La Mil Luna
- Eefje De Visser – Stilstand
- Half Waif – Siren
- Agnes Obel – Island of Doom
- Kelsey Lu – Morning Dew
- Nailah Hunter – White Flower Dark Hill
- Kelsey Lu w/ Onyx Collective – Where Or When
- Lydia Ainsworth – Diamonds Cutting Diamonds (Strings Version)
- Pantayo – Kaingin
- Little Dragon – Stay Right Here
- Empress Of – Call Me
Cover Image: Soda Lite – In Eco, 2017
The 10s saw a slow but steady resurgence from new age in a few different forms. The blossoming period was around 2015-2017. FACT called this story ‘how music’s most maligned genre finally became cool’. Eventually, Simon Raymonde wrote about it. While smaller than many other online-based genres in 2020, I can predict it’s growing. After all, the much-discussed resurgence in calming, nature-centric music is going strong.
To make my best summary, I’d call the revival a few loosely connected scenes in one. Like the original new age, it has a looseness and tendency for overlap. Common roots for these artists are 80s-90s retro culture, lo-fi tape scenes, ambient and psychedelia. Many older artists are long-time fans or collectors; others have experience with all-out meditation.
Finally I can share this, made on-and-off over a six-month period. For my second-ever entry in this popular RYM-birthed series, I put great effort into illustrating this loose, wipe-open ‘scene’. (Check out my first one on 80’s library music too.)
- Intro explaining some origins and influences
- Two-part mix, made from popular or influential releases within the niche, plus a few personal faves
- A ‘further listening’ section: ‘close but not quite’ entries in the niche, compilations, labels
- Many quotes and links for full immersion
It began a simple idea for fun; after all, this is super niche and deserves more interest. Given the surprising lack in canons and communities (I thought all small genres had a subreddit!) though? It got tricky to get ‘definitive’ enough. I had at least three moments bordering on giving up. I struggled to find a good collaborator on RYM, since not many users care about this music. The few who did weren’t so active, so I ‘finished’ it alone.
I figure smaller edits will come, then, but I’m surprised I cut this down and mixed it up as much as I did. So please, check this out and discover some new artists!
🌻 I Heart Noise 🌻
🌲 YouTube 🌲
Excited for the debut of my new spring-time mix and 2nd guest post for I Heart Noise! (Here’s the first one)
The legacy of vintage stock music usually centers on edgy funk samples, but it’s soft side is notable for it’s own reasons. For one, the ever-present ‘pastoral’ category brought the gentlest, most touching sounds in the field. These were nostalgic chamber pieces filled with harp, strings and timid flutes; the soundtrack to barns, cabins or a grandmother’s cottage.
The pure tenderness of this music was quick to strike a nerve with me. Like an unspoiled garden or antique, this is a very straightforward and fragile kind of tenderness. It seems many generations could find something nostalgic in here. Fitting as it sounds that it wound up stashed away like a dusty farm diary, they’re too beautiful not to un-dust.
Dedicated to my grandmother’s backyard ❤
- John Cameron & Paul Martin – Moment Of Warmth (Little Creatures, Bruton)
- Fiachra Trench – Reminiscence (Pastorale, KPM)
- Paul Williams – Wistful Dreams (Memories, Parry Music)
- Eugene Cines – Natures Colours (Seeds In The Wind, KPM)
- Brian Bennett – Drifting Shapes (Tone Poems, Bruton)
- Richard Harvey – The Water Garden (life cycles 2, KPM)
- James Clarke – Running Waters (Nature Study Vol. 1, Bruton)
- Dick Walter & Eugene Cines – Quiet Reflection (Seeds In The Wind, KPM) [YouTube Only]
- James Clarke – Midsummer Haze (Country Calendar, Music House) [YouTube Only]
- Joel Vandroogenbroeck – Romantic Garden (Open Air Impressions, Coloursound)
- David Snell – Recollections (Reflections, Bruton)
- Adone Grossi – Fiumi e Salici (Agreste/Bucolico, Commenti Musicali) [YouTube Only]
- Andre Tschaskowski – Personal Mood 2 (Emotionally, Coloursound)
- Volker Kriegel & The Groove-Combination – The Gentle Old Man (Leaf, Biton)
- Johnny Pearson – Autumn Reverie 60-Second Edit (Piano and Orchestra 1, KPM)
- John Fiddy & Norman Candler – Tender Feeling 2 (Softly, Sonoton) [Mixcloud Only]
- Andre Tschaskowski – Sentimental View 1 (Emotionally, Coloursound)
- Keith Mansfield – Wonderlust (Soft Horizons, KPM)
- Brian Bennett – Summer Reverie (Love’s Themes, KPM)
- Robert Viger – Limpidite (Climats, Musique Pour L’Image)
- Paul Williams – Pretty Flowers (Electric Piano Solos, Bruton)
- Jim Lawless – Rest (Reflections, Bruton)
- Nino Nardini – Morning Dew (Nature – Nocturne, L’Illustration Musicale)
- John Tender & Mladen Franko – Sweet Dreams 2 (Children Pets And Clowns, Coloursound)
As I said in my favorite albums list, this year had many, many albums that almost did the trick for me but just missed, so having this playlist is a nice way of giving these releases their deserved acknowledgement. This is VERY long so please skim and rule songs out to your liking. In order to keep it semi-reasonable, I’ve limited each artist to one song.
Like the previous 2019 playlist, I’ve ordered these songs to flow and blend in a way that makes sense (for example, I gather the slow and atmospheric songs away from the upbeat poppy stuff, and note that I begin with the most chaotic song by far so it won’t be too shocking later).
- Blanck Mass – House Vs. House
- Dorian Electra – Flamboyant
- Sudan Archives – Confessions
- Rapsody – Nina
- Purple Pilgrims – Sensing Me
- Sequoyah Murray – Penalties Of Love
- Jenny Hval – High Alice
- Bat For Lashes – Jasmine
- Golden Gardens – Desert Rose
- Hello Seahorse! – Domino
- Vagabon – Water Me Down
- Natasha Kmeto – Count To 5
- Yuna – Blank Marquee
- Harry Styles – Golden
- Shura – Religion (U Lay Your Hands On Me)
- Chromatics – You’re No Good
- Tinashe – Save Room For Us Ft. MAKJ
- Mark Ronson ft. King Princess – Pieces of Us
- Normani – Motivation
- Liz – DIamond In The Dark
- Charli XCX – Silver Cross
- Roisin Murphy – Narcissus
- Ana Frango Eletrico – Torturadores
- Flying Lotus – Tea Leaf Dancers (Maida Vale Session)
- Salami Rose Joe Louis – Sitting With Thoughts
- Tamaryn – Terrified (Robin Guthrie Remix)
- Drab Majesty – Oxytocin
- Yeule – Poison Arrow
- Barker – Paradise Engineering
- Steve Hauschildt – Subtractive Skies
- Chelsea Wolfe – Be All Things
- Angel Olsen – Summer
- Natalie Rose Lebrecht – Lost
- La Feline – Tant que tu respires
- Caroline Polachek – Go As A Dream
- Soda Lite – Vale & Stone
- CFCF – Impossible Condo
- Sulli – Dorothy
- Estelle – True Kinda Love
- Tei Shi – We
- Maria Usbeck – Retirement Home
- Teebs – Studie ft. Panda Bear