WARMER MIXTAPES #1341 | by Joel Scott-Halkes [Ablu]

This mixtape is a collection of ten songs that transcend Normal Reality.

The songs I’ve selected are all proof that the Universe is GROWING and is MEANINGFUL. I have no idea what meaning it has or quite what it’s growing into, but in their own way, each of these songs proves that there is something meta-mystically beyond the banal. Some of these songs communicate that in a purely numinous way and some of them communicate it by affirming the significance of the most important and inspiring people in my life.

With my Ablu project, I aspire to make Music that might one day end up on this sort of mixtape.

1. Everything Everything | Tin (The Manhole)
This song is just metaphysically momentous. It’s the 11th song from one of the most intelligent and inspiring albums ever made called Man Alive. Tin (The Manhole) is a religious text; it’s a testament; it’s a final prayer murmured amidst the album’s vivid and overwhelming vision of dystopian England. I used to listen to this song back home, driving around in the pitch-black lanes late at night. It filled me with so much fear, but a special kind of fear. It was the kind of fear that threatens to let you through into to another reality. The fear and the trepidation and the wide-eyed wonder of this brilliant song builds and builds until the amazing final verse that starts they will embrace you tonight, a father and a son... That’s the point where I crumble. I choke up and as I do its like the whole of the album comes crashing down on my head all at once… Alone in my car in the darkness. I always end the song with my own prayer. Lord, in your great mercy, grant me the power to one day write a song like this.

2. John Martyn | Small Hours
Firstly: this song is perfect. Every angle, every line and every shape hits the golden ratio, every time. It sets out its intentions and it fulfils them totally. If my attempt to make Music was a pilgrimage then this song would be Jerusalem: the Holy Temple itself: Mount bloody Zion. Hyperbole aside this song has the unique form of being completely untouchable. If you added or subtracted ANY elements Small Hours would be weaker for it. The reason it’s my Jerusalem is because it’s the kind of song you could only write after years and years of hard travel. It’s the kind of Music you could only create after decades of hungrily wandering the Wilderness of Songwriting just in the hope that you’d one day stumble upon the shrine that is your own Small Hours. John Martyn could only write it because he’d earned it. Asides from the pure objective account I’ve just given of its perfection, Small Hours also proves to me that one’s relationship to a song is never finished. It was my Dad that first introduced it to me (along with so much else) and I carried it with me for a few years before playing it to my beautiful girlfriend Gemma. About a year after I first played it to her, she told me that for months she’d been obsessively listening to it on repeat anytime we weren’t together. It’s not that I was that surprised (I mean obviously EVERYONE would react the same way having heard this song), but it was wonderful because suddenly the song has a whole different meaning for me. Now when I hear it, I can only think of her.

3. Vashti Bunyan | Trawlerman’s Song
This delicate song evokes Time and Place so beautifully. It’s one of the final chapters of an album of melancholic countryside bliss. Vashti Bunyan’s Diamond Day is like a huge and detailed landscape painting full of characters and stories and Trawlerman’s Song is just one vignette nestled there amongst the hills. I love Music that seems to make a geographic space within itself. It’s so important to learn from Vashti and her Music. I always have it tied around my waist as a safety rope just in case things ever get too rough. The most valuable thing about it is that it’s on a different temporal plane from the rest of the World. In Vashti’s world things happen at such a slower pace but things do still happen and they happen organically and without the need to prove anything. It’s Music of such simple expression that’s so very far removed from the stress and the hype and the worry of making it that I find in most parts of World. I actually wrote to Vashti when I was a teenager and she replied. It seemed so in keeping with the generosity of her carefully kept vision.

4. Grimes | Genesis
This is the song that suddenly made me get Electronic Music. Not only is it deliciously produced and structurally innovative but also it treats Electronic Music as a songwriter’s substance - something that is as intimate and as personal as a fireside guitar. About 3 years ago I was obsessed with Grimes. Her live set is astonishing and her relationship to the laptop as a tool of Creativity is artful. The idea of these intense solitary Music-making sessions where it’s just you, your laptop and your synth staring deep into the void has been the model I’ve aspired to when creating my recent tracks (plus a guitar or two). It was remarkable for me to find because Grimes suddenly revealed that far from just being a Dance Music genre, Electronic Music could actually be a form that was more truthful, more heartfelt and more intimate than the somewhat-exhausted format of one-person-and-their-guitar.

5. Fingers Inc. | Can You Feel It (feat. Chuck Roberts) (Bootleg Version of Mr. Fingers' 'Can You Feel It')
This track is like the Abraham of Electronic Music. The tectonic bassline, the antediluvian recording quality and the prophetic quality of Chuck Roberts’ spoken word sample seem to make the origins of Deep House feel like the origins of the Universe itself. I include this track as a tribute to that vast and mystical moment you get in when you’re in a club or a rave and you suddenly loose all sense of your own boundaries and enter into the mass collective organism of everyone-ness. I’ve never heard a single DJ drop a Fingers track, but there was a similar bassline in a Four Tet all-nighter I was at. I’ve never been able to work out what track it was but when it dropped it was tantamount to a religious experience. That moment was ineffable and unrepeatable: I might never experience it ever again.

6. Nick Drake | Place To Be
Nick Drake’s Place To Be was one of those first golden keys that unlocked Music for me. I discovered it at the age of 14 through my Dad, who it turns out had played it to my Mum just after they first met. The fact that by the time I was born they’d already broken up adds a huge poignancy to the isolation of Nick Drake’s voice and his deep longing for an emotional home. This song and the rest of Pink Moon created the sparse autumnal space in which I spent the first half of my adolescence fantasising about being depressed enough to write Music like Nick Drake. By the time I had my first experience of Depression I realised, of course, that writing songs is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re low.

7. WU LYF | Heavy Pop
WU LYF (R.I.P.) were actually mental! I can’t believe the strength and the solidity of their massive sound. It’s a broadside. Heavy Pop is like my victory song. I play it when good stuff happens and I feel like a winner. It’s outrageous. It’s shameless. It’s for when Joy and Youth maxes out and feels undefeatably alive. It’s saved for the most decadent and indulgent moments of my listening life. If everything has gone to plan I really hope that someone is by my deathbed playing this at full volume for my triumphant final breaths.

8. Joanna Newsom | Go Long
I had to ration myself when Joanna Newsom’s third album Have One On Me was finally released. It had 3 discs! I’d waited years for just one! This amount of divine providence could only mean one thing: I would have to control myself and swear that I would only allow myself to listen to Disc 2 of the album once I’d listened to Disc 1 at least 10 times through. Newsom is without doubt the greatest singer/songwriter that has ever been born so this was like manna. With this amount of anticipation my reaction to finally hearing Disc 2’s closing track Go Long was probably to be expected. I was driving (I love driving and listening) and at the moment that Newsom’s voice reached the first of those soaring high notes I just inexplicably burst into a massive flood of tears. I almost swerved off the road! But the song doesn’t stop there. Knowing she’s got you all raw and vulnerable she goes for another one of those unbelievable high melody lines. This second one did for me. I was literally wailing by the time I’d pulled over and eventually I had to finish the song hunched over, sobbing into the steering wheel. It was pure catharsis… And the crazy thing is that I had nothing to be sad about at the time at all. Life was good. It was as if these were Newsom’s own tears violently possessing my body and forcing their way out, or perhaps they were from some huge ancient hurt that I’m not conscious of.

9. alt-J | Bloodflood
I knew one of the founding members of alt-J from Secondary School and when I heard an early mix of this track I knew they’d made it – they’d achieved something incredible. Having followed them from hearing their very earliest bedroom recordings to seeing them headline festivals with tracks like Bloodflood, I feel reassured that there is sometimes Justice in the Music World. The fact that years on I still adore this track and their whole debut album cuts across all my Music snobbery and illustrates such an important point: that even the all too familiar Indie band line-up with guitars, drums and skinny jeans can still make something profound and touching in the midst of the Commercial Music machine. It all comes down to Integrity; the tools you choose are irrelevant.

10. Joanna Newsom | Emily
Any mixtape I ever make will always involve a disproportionate amount of tracks from this genius and Emily is sort of like the flagship of the Joanna Newsom fleet in terms of its ideas and scale. It is also one of the most ambitious songs ever written and, bloody hell, does it pull it off! It’s like a planet’s worth of imagery and narrative lighting up in one song. It comes at songwriting from a Classical tradition that’s completely alien to most Popular Music and yet it has none of the pretentions of Orchestral or Experimental Music. It's generous and open armed. This track instantly returns me to autumnal family holidays in Dartmoor, UK, when my late grandmother was still alive. She was such a mentor and inspiration to me and I will always secretly dedicate this song to her and to my wonderful family as a whole. Not that she or they were ever into Alternative Freak Folk, haha, but because this song has such an transformative ability to bring those lost and cherished days back to Life.