Mix: Sublime Delirium

A sequel of sorts to Cooped Up, this collection of tracks traces the acceptance of profound absurdity and incoherence with regard to one’s existence, as well as the fragile and queasy yet undeniably peaceful state of mind that arises once the platitudinal farces of meaning, pleasure, and purpose are finally set aside for good—or it’s just something to relax/fall asleep to, if you’re in a particularly strange mood. Take your pick.

Artwork by Nancy Andrews
Piece by Nancy Andrews for her blog ‘Art and Science of Delirium’

00:00. Black Dice – “Head Like a Door” [excerpt] from Lost Valley (Tigerbeat 6, 2002)

03:59. Michael Barthel – “Verbündete” from Ververbüntede (Coherent States, 2019)

08:26. Sister Iodine – “Les Île” from Helle (Textile, 2007)

16:40. Breeze – “Comfortably Dumb” from Car Masters (Music for People, 2020)

19:47. Pumice – “Murupara” [excerpt] from Land (Soft Abuse, 2014)

25:58. Spectral Park & Kot Kot – “Tuman” [excerpt] from Spectral Park & Kot Kot (Goaty Tapes, 2018)

27:21. Weyes Blood – “Many Voices in the Sand (Transversal Desert Contact)” from Strange Chalices of Seeing (self-released, 2007)

31:32. 1/3 Octave Band – “The System Likes You” [excerpt] from The System Likes You and Wants to Be Your Friend (PseudoArcana, 2005)

35:08. Karnites – “Search” [excerpt] from Pop After Birds (self-released, 2020)

37:05. Mosquitoes – “VS” from Vortex Veering Back to Venus (Feeding Tube, 2019)

Mix: The Noise Not Music Comfort Robots Present a Lullaby for Those Too Scared to Sleep

The last mix was already quite calm and reserved, and usually I try to switch things up, but the description I wrote for that one was bleak as hell anyway and frankly my knotted-up brain needs all the cozy music it can get. I’ve realized that if I’m given curatorial control of any kind of mix I’ll inevitably turn it into the platform for some disturbing, mood-killing existential treatise, so the board and I have made the mutual decision to hand the reins to our in-house Comfort Robots. The cost of getting them fully programmed was pretty damn steep, so we didn’t do that, but they have had the concept of beauty verbally explained to them, which we feel is sufficient. If you find any errors in the content they’ve produced (available below) don’t hesitate to reach out; to be honest I really need a reason to turn these annoying little fuckers into scrap. They keep trying to hug me.

Cartoon of a confused robot
This is what CR-008b (“MOMO”) looks like when it asks me if it can use the botroom

00:00. Axolotl – “Telesma” [excerpt] from Telesma (Spooky Action, 2006)

06:22. Wim Dehaen – “Ústí OST” [excerpt] from 12 Elegies for Pierre Boulez / Ústí OST (ACR, 2018)

07:07. Désormais – “Brief Lights, Broken Compass” from Iambrokenandremadeiambroken… (Intr_version, 2003)
[title comes from another song on this album, and no, don’t worry, your headphones are not broken]

13:12. Biographs – “ground felt softer today” from must dissolve (Reckno, 2014)

18:03. Belong – “I’m Too Sleepy… Shall We Swim?” from October Language (Carpark, 2006)

23:04. Pure & Ultra Milkmaids – first untitled track [excerpt] from s[e]nd (Vacuum, 2000)

25:16. Open Marriage – “Domestic Science” from Destiny USA (self-released, 2014)

33:23. The Hers – “How Night Works on the World” from Tough C~~t (Sex Lies Magnetic Tape, 2012)

35:09. Erik Levander – “Under timmerstockarnas stilla flykt” [excerpt] from Couesnon (Katuktu, 2018)

Mix: Kidz

Whether or not you agree with the act of procreation on ethical grounds, most of us can concur that—much like the somewhat analogous case of house pets—it doesn’t do any good for your beliefs to affect how you treat a conscious, emotionally sentient being that has already entered this plane. But the fact is, this happens all the time, just in the reverse of what you might expect: children are either shielded from the “bad things” in the world because they’re not ready to handle them, held in a sterile gossamer cocoon of safety before eventually being jettisoned alone into the merciless void of self-awareness; or they are neglected and cast away completely because their presence is a burden or inconvenience. It’s unfortunate for every child ever born that their parents couldn’t take the time to consider what a fucked up thing it is to create a new consciousness for one’s own personal gain, and how much of a responsibility it is once it’s here, until after the deed was done, but they were born nonetheless, dragged out of blissful nothingness to think and hurt and struggle and cry with the rest of us. In the face of that profound violation, we owe them the respect of treating them like the intelligent, fully perceptive individuals they are, rather than slinging the the cloying condescension of baby voices, sugarcoating, age-based exclusion, etc. And yet, despite being walked all over and denied decency since their first breath, they remain the most creative, wisest, and happiest of us all. Here are the beautiful sounds of bittersweet existence.

A treasured gift from one of the wonderful young people with whom I had the honor of working

00:00. IT IT – “Pig Death” [ending] from IT IT (self-released, 2016)

00:39. Matinee Orchestra – “It’s a Fantasy World / Everyone Has the Right to Protest Even If No One Listens” [excerpt] from Matinee Orchestra (Arable, 2006)

05:21. Ludwig Berger – “After Nature” from Cargo (Canti Magnetici, 2019)

09:54. Áine O’Dwyer – “The Little Lord of Misrule” from Music for Church Cleaners (Fort Evil Fruit, 2012)

17:45. John Collins McCormick – “Oh Boy” from No Most Fatigue (self-released, 2018)

18:25. Horaflora – “Lunacy in the Garden of Forking Paths” from Eaves Drop (enmossed, 2020)

20:46. Raven Chacon – “MVHS” from An Anthology of Chants Operations (Ouidah, 2020)

22:39. Manja Ristić – “Spring” from The Nightfall (Naviar, 2018)

28:42. Ezio Piermattei – second untitled track from Gran trotto (Chocolate Monk, 2018)

32:19. Nina Ryser – “Whoever Listens to This Tape…” [ending] from I Hope All of Your Dreams Come True (Ramp Local, 2016)

32:33. Climax Golden Twins – first untitled track from Locations (Fire Breathing Turtle, 1998)

35:26. Mémoire vide – “B” from Mémoire vide (Affenstunde, 2020)

Mix: Next Generation Leeders

My attempt to survey the variegated Leeds noise rock “scene” from the other side of the Atlantic (and as such no one, I repeat, no one, is more qualified to do so). Everything from barely rhythmic shit-fi free skronk to tight, claustrophobic, angular constructions. With the wide range of genres and influences also comes significant variance in production styles; I did my best to get all the tracks to be the same volume, but shit’s difficult.


00:00. Belk – “Cows” from Belk (self-released, 2020)

02:42. Thank – “Fragile Ego” from Sexghost Hellscape (Cruel Nature, 2017)

06:09. Klöße – “Sent Home with a Puzzle” from Klöße (self-released, 2020)

11:27. Guttersnipe – “Pipa Pipa Portalspawn” from My Mother the Vent (Upset the Rhythm, 2018)

14:16. Cattle – “Tanking the Piss” from Nature’s Champion (self-released, 2016)

18:47. Irk – “Spectre at the Fiesta” from Recipes from the Bible (self-released, 2018)

21:36. Blacklisters – “Fantastic Man” from Fantastic Man (Buzzhowl, 2020)

25:39. Hookworms – “Away / Towards” from Pearl Mystic (Gringo, 2013)

34:11. Cool Jerks – “Eh” from England (Night Versus Day, 2020)

37:02. Polevaulter – “Ra” single (self-released, 2020)

Mix: Unruly Electronics

A selection of tracks for when one needs a nice brain-scrubbing but also desires something more structurally and texturally complex than plain ol’ harsh noise. Solo artists, duos, and larger collectives make use of a wide variety of electronic materials (I’ve provided the materials used to create each to the best of my ability) to generate the sizzling blasts of static and percussive oscillations that grace these eight pieces, yet all maintain an addictive, complete volatility.

Jin Sangtae live in Baltimore 2018

00:00. R/S – “(20.27)” [excerpt] from One (Snow Mud Rain) (Erstwhile, 2007) computer, synthesizer

06:01. Kiiln – third untitled track [excerpt] from Is Music Invisible? (caduc. recordings, 2017) tapes, radio, objects, guitar, piano

11:09. Jin Sangtae – 25th untitled track from Shadow Boxer (popmusic25, 2015) hard drives

13:10. William Hutson – “170214 (Dedicated to Ellen Gallagher)” from Six or Seven Steps to the Door: Solo Improvisations (a wave press, 2017) reel-to-reel tape

17:25. Klaus Filip, Toshimaru Nakamura, Andrea Neumann & Ivan Palacký – “M1 Crab Nebula” [excerpt]” from Messier Objects (Meenna, 2012) computer, no-input mixing board, inside piano, amplified knitting machine, photovoltaic panels

21:56. Gert-Jan Prins – excerpt from side A of RG-58-GJ (Creamgarden, 2002) radio, television, percussion

24:15. MIMEO – third untitled track from second disk of Lifting Concrete Lightly (Serpentine Gallery, 2004) a whole-ass ARSENAL

29:59. Choi Joonyong, Kevin Drumm & Hong Chulki – second untitled track [excerpt] from Normal (Balloon & Needle, 2015) CD player, turntable, guitar

34:32. Cremaster – “8,40 n​/​m²” from 32,41 n​/​m² (absurd, 2003) mixing board, pickups, prepared guitar

Mix: Dusty Sun (Remastered)

My favorite Darksmith track is the haunting “Everything Is Breaking” on Total Vacuum because during the all-too-often times when everything around me is breaking it seems to be the only thing that gets it. Unfortunately, now is one of those times, and this latest breakage is uniquely catastrophic, so demoralizing and destructive that I find myself reaching to memory, nostalgia, other distant inner-intangibles because the present is no longer survivable. I’ve gotten a lot better at making mixes since I cobbled together Dusty Sun more than half a decade ago, both in terms of technical arrangement and thematic curation (and Mark Kozelek has become a lot more of a known abuser), but this time capsule of my favorite tracks from days spent neglecting the sunsets remains a somewhat entertaining hour of music—at least, in my opinion—so I’ve kept the original cuts the way they are. The answer is in the amber and I can only keep averting my eyes for so long.

© Renee Tolliger

00:00. Astrobrite – “Crasher” from Crush (Clairecords, 2001)

04:03. Galaxie 500 – “Tugboat” from Today (Aurora, 1988)

07:44. Women – “Narrow with the Hall” from Public Strain (Jagjaguwar, 2010)

10:16. No Age – “Eraser” from Nouns (Sub Pop, 2008)

12:49. Nothing – “Hymn to the Pillory” from Guilty of Everything (Relapse, 2014)

17:25. Slowdive – “Brighter” from Just for a Day (Creation, 1991)

21:02. Atlas Sound – “Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox)” from Logos (Kranky, 2009)

24:57. Sun Kil Moon* – “Salvador Sanchez” from Ghosts of the Great Highway (Jetset, 2003)

31:23. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)” from II (Jagjaguwar, 2013)

34:06. The Microphones – “The Glow” from It Was Hot, We Stayed in the Water (K, 2000)

45:03. Have a Nice Life – “There Is No Food” from Deathconsciousness (Enemies List, 2008)

48:49. Titus Andronicus – “Albert Camus” from The Airing of Grievances (Troubleman Unlimited, 2008)

55:04. Toy – “Endlessly” from Join the Dots (Heavenly, 2013)

59:38. The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey” from Psychocandy (Blanco y Negro, 1985)

* Please do not financially support Mark Kozelek (which includes streaming), especially not on my behalf.

Mix: All Hallow’s Eve

This is the fourth and final of my Halloween mixes. Tomorrow is the big day, so here is a collection of immersive horror-soundscape tracks, spooky samples, and general scariness to get you in the spirit.

00:00. JC Greening – “Trick ‘r Treat” from Halloween Haunts & Terror Tales Volume I: Trick ‘r Treating for Children (self-released, 2018)

02:46. Walt Disney Sound Effects Group – “The Dungeon” from Halloween Songs & Sounds (Walt Disney, 1997)

05:37. Tobe Hooper & Wayne Bell – main titles from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (dir. Tobe Hooper, 1974)

08:55. KevOz – excerpt from “Part 2” of Haunted Halloween: 1 Hour of Spooky Music and Scary Sound Effects (self-released, 2017)

13:04. Black Mountain Transmitter – excerpt from Behold the Undead of Dracula (Lysergic Acid, 2019)

16:40. Nick Reinhart – “Post-Slaughter” from Scary Sounds II (self-released, 2014)

19:59. Vacation Bible School – “t h e _ s a t a n i c _ p a n i c” from Fall Festivals and the Satanic Panic (self-released, 2019)

23:52. Edward Is My Middle Name – “heed” from Halloween / Autumn (wdgrain, 2018)

25:31. Loyalty Freak Music – “The Swamp” from Witchy, Batty, Spooky, Halloween in September !! (self-released, 2018)

28:39. Unknown Artist – excerpt from side B of Campfire Tales (Tribe Tapes, 2020)

32:08. Avery Alexander – “Butcher” from Halloween 2020 (self-released, 2020)

35:00. Climax Golden Twins – “Disappointed Expectations” from Session 9 (Milan, 2001) [continues to end]

37:36. Kill the Hippies – “Buried Alive (Just Before Retirement)” from Spectacular Halloween Sound Effects Vol. I (Phoenician MicroSystems, 2015)

Mix: Grave Rave

The music plays, the bass thumps, thuds, thumps. The moon shines high overhead despite you being 90% sure you’re inside. Fog rolls in across the sticky beer-drenched floor and a chilling wind blows, but it just feels like a nice breeze to your overheated, sweat-drenched body. What’s that on your forearm? Looks like a rash. You go to scratch it and recoil in horror as a decent-sized chunk of skin comes off with a single rake of your fingernails. Kneeling down to pick up the glob of gore only causes more to slough off as the rotted flesh of your back splits wide open, exposing your spine and your rib cage, out of which slide two sluglike, smoke-blackened lungs. You look around in helpless terror to see all of the other clubgoers gleefully shedding their outer layers, down to realize that it’s not beer that stains the floor, but blood, and up to the ceiling/sky, where the moon now shines a deep orange, casting the mass of dancing, prancing skeletons below in a bath of jack-o-lantern light. Welcome to the grave rave.

00:00. Kim Petras – “Close Your Eyes” from Turn Off the Light (BunHead, 2019)

03:47. Darkless – “Unholy” from Unholy (No Tomorrow, 2020)

08:14. Pink Tooth – “Unlock” from Mustard (self-released, 2016)

10:21. Owl Vision – “Dead Shall Rise” from The Black Plague (DGA Fäu, 2011)

14:26. Knife Party – “Ghost Train” from Lost Souls EP (self-released, 2019)

18:42. Toy Shoulders – “Crypt Delivery” from EP G (self-released, 2017)

21:13. KSHMR – “It Follows [Halloween Special Remix]” (self-released, 2015)

24:12. Video Life – “Inner Thought” from Eat Your Friends EP (EDM Network, 2015)

31:19. Randomer – “Stigma” from HS002 (Headstrong, 2018)

37:00. clipping. – “Body & Blood” from CLPPNG (Sub Pop, 2014)

Mix: Wholesome Halloween

Halloween has been my favorite holiday literally since I was born. See below for proof (I’m on the left). It’s the only one whose “spirit” rivals that of Christmas, and shaped so many of our childhoods in important ways through its complexities of disguise, fear, independence, etc. For the entirety of my trick-or-treating tenure I was obsessed with the truly scary aspects of the holiday, always hiding behind corners to scare friends or carving horrifyingly grotesque jack-o-lanterns or getting sent to the principal’s office for my disturbing pencil drawings. But as I grow older, I’ve begun to see how the immense space that Halloween occupies in our culture remains largely unchanged in both size and content: nostalgia. For many people (including me), the farther away from your childhood you get, the more you want to reclaim it in some way; since Halloween is something of which almost everyone has fond memories, we collectively feed into the stagnant, nostalgia-fueled zeitgeist of “spooky” songs, classic movies, unchanging traditions, and general atmosphere of fear and fun at the same time—mostly fun, I’d argue. I don’t think anyone loves Halloween because they like to scare or be scared. We love it because it’s nearly impossible to feel otherwise, and that’s not a bad thing at all. While you may not appreciate my rambling pedantry, I hope you will feel differently about this collection of wholesome Halloween tunes (appropriate for all ages).

00:00. Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks – “Halloween Is Here” from Halloween Is Here (Tribulation, 2013)

02:24. Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters” from Ghostbusters Original Soundtrack (Arista, 1984)

06:19. Dead Man’s Bones – “In the Room Where You Sleep” from Dead Man’s Bones (Anti-, 2009)

09:29. The Marshmallow Ghosts – “The Hearse Song” from The Marshmallow Ghosts (Graveface, 2011)

13:10. Oingo Boingo – “Dead Man’s Party” from Dead Man’s Party (MCA, 1985)

19:30. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “A Nightmare on My Street” from A Nightmare on My Street (Jive, 1988)

24:28. David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” from Scary Monsters (RCA, 1980)

29:17. Whodini – “The Haunted House of Rock (Extended Version)” from The Haunted House of Rock (Jive, 1983)

35:45. Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me” from Somebody’s Watching Me (Motown, 1983)

39:31. Orange Hell – “Hybrid Moments” (Misfits cover) from Three Hits From… (Funeral Party, 2018)

Mix: The Shadows of Memphis

Someone on a forum once asked if it was perpetually Halloween in Memphis (not including the actual quote here due to its less-than-subtle coded racism), referring to the oppressive, gloomy, even disturbing atmosphere that was laid to so many inches of tape by many of the artists in this selection, among others. One could spend their entire life studying the complex 90s Memphis hip-hop scene and its stylistic or cultural impact, and this fascination with the gritty and the macabre is just one facet of those formidably creative artists’ work that survives in modern trap and other subgenres. This is the first of several Halloween-themed mixes I’ll be posting over the next few weeks (I am attempting to salvage at least some of the holiday spirit that seems to be dead-on-arrival this year), and combines my favorite examples of actual horrorcore—hip-hop that is legitimately scary or unsettling (ICP fuck off), and not always in a confrontational way—both classic and contemporary.

00:00. Blackout – “Mission of a Murda” from Dreamworld (Snubnoze Muzik, 1995)

04:44. Lord Lyrico – “Hell Made Me w/ ayeisaac” from Heartbreak & Savages (self-released, 2017)

07:27. Graveyard Productions – “Lookin for a Murderer” from The Havoc (self-released, 1994)

10:51. JAK3 – “Vulture (feat. DJJT & Outby16)” from Moonlight Radiation (self-released, 2019)

13:13. MC Holocaust & DJ Akoza – “Time 2 Brutalize” from Products of da Undaground (DOOMSHOP, 2017)

15:42. Lady Bee – “Mask to My Face” from Strictly for That N***a (Gimisum, 1994)

19:47. Orange Juice Click – “Homicide” from Gangsta Tales (self-released, 1994)

25:10. Lo Key – “Wassup Now” from Test My Nutz (Street Smart, 1994)

29:41. Slim Guerilla – “Morgue 12 Gauge” from Blue Light Cemetery 2 (self-released, 2020)

31:21. Koopsta Knicca – “Crucifix (feat. DJ Paul)” from The Devil’s Playground (self-released, 1994)

35:24. Krone – “////AMMONIA//// (feat. EVILLAIRE)” from XRK NeBULA (self-released, 2019)

37:43. The Buttress – “Ratcatcher” (demo) from My Name Means Heavy (self-released, 2016)