I hope you’ve had a brilliant week. Lots of great stuff to share this week, and I’m reading an excellent book that’s filled my head with thoughts too. Music-wise, this week’s mixtape is vintage Love Will Save the Day 🍾. .
Stuff to click: read this excellent Quincy Jones interview; order this children’s synth; if you’ve bought a turntable recently read this tech set up guide; and if you haven’t already, watch Straight Outta Compton 👊🏼.
Music from: Darondo, Khruangbin, Danny Brown, Snoop, Parliament, Mary Clark, Crown Heights Affair, Red Rack’Em, Lone, Daniel Avery, Jesu, and Jonny Greenwood.
First things first, I watched Straight Outta Compton this week (I know, I’m probably the last person on Earth to watch it). It’s brilliant. The film is a brilliant (if slightly exaggerated) story of a subculture going mainstream and taking with it a whole host of new symbols, language, and beliefs – much to the shock of late 80s America. The soundtrack is, as you’d expect, phenomenal, and as you’d also expect, it had an influence over some of the music this week. Also, Ice Cube’s son plays his father in the film, and is absolutely mesmerising – such a total doppelgänger for his dad.
I was talking to some friends earlier this week who mentioned to me that Hedi Slimane had taken over at Céline. I’ve not really read any fashion press for ages, so it had passed me by. I used to work on CHANEL, and my ‘keeping-up-with-clients’ reading lead me to become totally fascinated by that world, and in particular, Hedi Slimane. Way back in the early 00s, Slimane was creative director at Dior Homme, and singlehandedly reinvented the skinny jeans, skinny suits, skinny boys look. He’s the reason bootcuts were retired (and should be knighted for that alone). He then went on to relaunch YSL as Saint Laurent (and turn its fortunes around), and now he’s joining Céline. The reason I think this is important, is because Slimane isn’t just a creative director of a fashion brand – he’s at the nexus of so many subcultures, and has over the years earned a reputation of being able to both take from and add to those cultures. He borrows from the edges, and makes something brilliant. He’s also been responsible for helping many, many bands break into new audiences.
He is, in many ways, the Quincy Jones or Pharrell of fashion. This quote from the Hypebeast article above made me think of the power of subcultures to make people feel like they belong; “broken sequins, pointed toes, secret trademarks embellished on back pockets of jeans and hems of tee shirts. When you see it on the street, if you know, then you’re invited into a world where conversation is held in whispers.” This feeling of being in the know, and part of a secret club is powerful – and I think music is the spine to it all.
Back to music.
This week I’ve started reading an amazing book a friend recommended, called Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen to Music Now. The premise of the book is pretty straight forwards; we’ve now got so much choice when it comes to music, that we’re faced with a tyranny of choice, and so we either listen to what we already know, or we subcontract our discovery process to curators (either robot or human – ahem). However the way that music is categorised and labelled makes it really difficult to break away from that framework – so we never stray far from our comfort zones. This is, along with a few other reasons, one of my main motivations for starting Love Will Save the Day. I love sharing music, and finding new things that I think people might like, but also; it forces me to find new music.
Ratliff says “we build an autobiography and a self-image with music, and we know, even as we’re building them, that they’re going to change”. So when music plays such a fundamental role in our personal development, should we pay more attention to how we find it?
This has had my head spinning all week. The more I thought about how I find music, the more I realised the butterfly effect was at play – everything came back to rhythm (as mentioned way back in November in Letter #21). But rhythm is only one facet or structural aspect of music, and the only one that I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to using as a guide for finding new music; what if Ratliff is right, and there are nineteen others?!
I’ve got about half way through the book, and there are some brilliant methods for pushing out of your comfort zone, some of which I’ll be trying to apply in the coming weeks (watch out for the mixtapes getting weirder and weirder 😂 ). If you’ve any interest, then I highly recommend buying a copy.
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️ .
- Darondo – The Wolf
- Khruangbin – Evan Finds the Third Room
- Blockhead – Grape Nuts and Chalk Sauce
- Souleance – Jazz at the Vert
- Danny Brown – Grown Up
- MED – Knock Knock
- Snoop Dogg (ft. Nancy Fletcher) – Gz and Hustlas
- Parliament – Flash Light
- Cymande – Pon de Dungle
- Oumou Sangare (ft. Tony Allen) – Yere Faga
- Hailu Mergia – Yegle Nesh
- Streetboxxer – Tear Down Level 22
- Alan Tew – Total Silence
- Monty Alexander – Love and Happiness
- Mary Clark – Take Me I’m Yours (12” mix)
- The Whispers – And the Beat Goes On
- Risco Connection – Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
- Crown Heights Affair – Say A Prayer for Two
- Red Rack’Em – Place for Me
- HNNY – Trummor
- Gerd Janson – Surrender
- Bakey Ustl – A Tender Places
- Crackazat – Sundial
- Lone – Mind’s Eye Melody
- The Dead Rose Music Company – Just a Bitter Love
- Mariah – Shinzo No Tobira
- Rhye – Song for You
- Daniel Avery – Slow Fade
- Jesu – Comforter
- Jonny Greenwood – The Hem
See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day