WARMER MIXTAPES #1368 | by Collin Magarian [Sasquatch]
1. Metallica | Master Of Puppets
Although it isn’t the most romantic way to begin my Love affair with Music, the first CD I ever bought was the Dropkick Murphys' Blackout after hearing one of the tracks off Tony Hawk’s Under Ground. It just so happened that one of my best friends and neighbor was also discovering Contemporary Punk Music at the same time as me and as fate would have it he had the very first generation of iPods. You better believe I was jonsing to share that thing with him everyday on the bus, after School, during School, and on every long car ride we ever spent together. Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, all the Rancid side projects, and every forgettable 2000’s Ska band imaginable were in heavy rotation. I have to say that this was really my initial impulse to start loving Music and these records life changing to me in that aspect, but thinking back all these tunes just seem so easy, for lack of a better term. The first record that really rattled my core and for just eight minutes ruined my life and everything I thought about Music was Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. I’ll probably never forget the scene. After School, in my aforementioned homie’s basement gathered around his pool table. The regular tunes were in rotation, but that day four chords smashed the Stereo that changed everything. It was the intro to Master Of Puppets and as soon as that riff kicked in I was swept away somewhere both awesome and terrible (we’re talking Biblically right now). The sounds were not necessarily new or revolutionary, electric guitars, bass, drums, and some one essentially yelling, but I had no idea one could compose and organize such intense feelings in such a dense powerful format. It was pure fury, anguish, and ruin invoked with a feeling of both desperate passion and cold calculation. Then seemingly out of nowhere this behemoth bows and heaves in a temporary relief. Then, just when you thought you thought this juggernaut of a track can go no further it digs even deeper and doubles back once more sprinting towards utter destruction and at the end of it all James Hetfield can only laugh. And that shit was only track two on the album. I can honestly say that was the first song that really challenged the way I listen to Music and woke me up. Regardless of how it sounded, this was what Music should feel like.
2. M83 | Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun
I mentioned earlier that Escapism is an important aspect of great Music for me. I like to be a part of something bigger when I listen to Music, and it really doesn’t get much bigger than M83’s Close Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun. The synth swells and vocal stutters in the beginning start off sounding shy, but, once the drums thunder in and chorus takes charge, the song just has away of crashing into your life sending the moment soaring and that shy stuttering voice is all of a sudden one part triumphant and another part hopeful. I challenge anyone to just put this song on in the background. One of my fondest memories of my childhood is smoking trees for the first time and just laying on the floor in my homie’s basement just coasting off on something perfect. All these years later listening to this song just feels like coming home. It feels like tapping into something beautiful that’s just not a part of your life anymore and somehow after 10 minutes of floating around in this tune you land back on your feet and everything just has to be OK.
3. Amon Tobin | Mighty Micro People
What draws me to all my favorite Music is essentially rooted in a feeling of Escapism. I simply want to be pulled out of every day life. I want to believe in something impossible. I want to experience more than just my own humble existence. For me, Amon Tobin was integral in opening new doors for both my mind and my life. He was the first producer I ever listened to. Prior to Amon Tobin I had no concept of Sampling, no concept of Making Music On Computers, no real concept out of musicians strictly playing instruments to achieve their sound. I had never even conceived a record like Out From Out Where could exist from this limited perspective. Texturally, sonically, and structurally it was impossible to me, and although I loved the whole record it wasn’t really until the last track, Might Micro People, that I made sense of this enigma. This was more than a performance; it was Sonic Architecture, a new reality fabricated from reorganized and repurposed sounds looping along to their own inherent logical free from human hands. What really did it for me with this particular song though is the guitar loop that weaves in and out taking the familiar completely out of context and out of my known sonic reality.
4. Burial | Endorphin
I remember my initial thoughts after listening to this one was just wishing it were longer. I wanted that moment to last so bad it almost hurt. It was akin to the painful desire to relive some of your fondest memories and knowing that just looking at a picture, or in this case just running the song back will never ever be enough to feel that first time all over again. If nothing else the song is just a comfortable space to be lost in, to be hurt in, it’s something to help share the load even if it's just three minutes long. I hear a song like this and I know that, somewhere, somebody cares and that tangible sense of Empathy is one of the most critical bonds between a song and the listener. The real reason this song makes the list for me though is the context that it’ll forever hold for me. I remember walking home from a party after what would be my first heartbreak. I remember just popping this song on and I honestly could barely take it. I finally understood that the relative brevity of the song was an act of Mercy. A second longer and I think it would have destroyed me. The fact that someone can build a space like that from a few samples still blows my mind.
5. Genius/GZA | 4th Chamber (feat. Ghost Face Killer, Killah Priest, The RZA)
It seems laughable to me now, but up until my Senior Year of High School I had completely written off Rap Music. It was likely because it was always on the radio, or that my brother loved it, and something about that just didn’t sit well with me. What started to change this ignorance and resentment for me was hearing the opening skit to Method Man – torrrrrturrrre mother fucker. I remember one of my friends just shoving an ear bud right in mine on the bus and cranking the bit where Meth is sewing someone’s ass hole shut. I mean what’s not to like? The big moment for me though was hearing those hi-hats rattle as the beat slides into frame, and Meth just goes ape shit, killing shit for the sake of killing shit, over the RZA’s carefully constructed sonic battlefield. Wu’s zen-like devotion to their craft, ethos and aesthetics is unparalleled for me in all other forms of Art and Music. The track that really cemented this for me though was the GZA’s 4th Chamber. The synth riff that kicks off the song is just plain ugly and things only start to look grimmer as the slabs of bass and chunks of drums start rolling through. After that it’s just four dudes wrecking shit and to be clear, the RZA just comes completely unhinged on this one as he blazes my favorite Wu verse of all time, You can see the weakness of a man right through his iris – real talk. Hearing a track like this is just a simple pleasure for me that I haven’t found an equal for.
6. Clipse | Mr. Me Too (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Neptunes beats make me wanna be a better person. This right here is the Future and the album came out in 2006. Marinate on that for a minute. The really important aspect of this particular song is just the overwhelming confidence it has to it. The economy of the beat is such that nothing goes to waste. Every single aspect sounds equally effortless, disposable and disparate, but they all have an inexplicable cohesion and sense of deadly precision. I hear beats like this... I love to believe that it took just shy of 20 minutes to knock out and the moment it was perfect it was done. This is the essence of those Neptunes beats that I’ve loved, studied, and still am confounded by. Then, as if they just rolled out of bed, Pharrell, Malice, and Push just ride this murky beast into History. Each of them breaks coke deals, lavish cars, and private jets down into something basic and hardly worth their time. The disgusted sarcasm of the hook is enough to make anyone else know they’re just as basic. The sheer audacity of this track is enough to make my VW Golf feel like a Porsche.
7. Mobb Deep | Shook Ones Part II
As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t always a huge fan of Rap. In fact, if you asked me just seven years ago I would have said the exact opposite. While Wu had an extremely integral role in tearing down this needless bias, hearing the above mentioned song for the first time might have actually been the singular moment my mind started to change. Of all places I heard the instrumental during the opening scene to 8 Mile. There was just something unsettling about the out of tune guitar riff, coupled with the dirge like sirens in the background pulsing with the unrelenting grit of the boom bap drums. The beat was quite honestly just like a nightmare set on repeat, and after discovering the actual song I came to find the verse’s reflected this as well. The most sinister part of it all though was that, after hearing both Prodigy and Havoc’s unflinching testimonies, I believed them. The line, I’m only 19 but my mind is older still gives me chills, my heart goes out to that 19 year old and there’s part of me that feels like he never left that song. That genuine lack of hope or even the slightest interest in whether he lived or died came across in that tune with devastating effectiveness. It’s clear that these two characters have no desire for sympathy, nor pity, and that’s part of what makes the song as powerful as it is. Although Shook Ones will forever be a classic for me, I’m still wary of that 19 year old every time I hear the song and somehow I just know the situation remains the same.
8. OutKast | Aquemini
If I was in the proverbial desert island scenario, Aquemini would undoubtedly be the album I’d be bringing with me. Although picking my favorite OutKast album would be like asking a parent who their favorite child is, Aquemini will always stick out to me because, in my opinion, it was the moment that André 3000 and Big Boi transcended the ATLiens, André Benjamin and Antwan Patton becoming much more than just rappers. This unique sense mythology combined with the Dungeon Family’s signature blend of Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop and everything that feels right, makes the album feel just as exciting as the very first time Hold On, Be Strong trickled into my headphones. This larger than Life, hyper real aesthetic is another important aspect of Music for me. I think nowhere is this feeling clearer than on the title track as the two share prophetic verse of both children dead off in the path way and wood grain steering wheels, all in the same cohesive idea. On one hand, deep in my heart and soul I know exactly what the song is about, but on the other I could never find the right words to define it. That’s the hardest shit since MC Rand.
9. Charles Murdoch | Dekire (feat. Oscar Key Sung)
A lot of this list has been devoted to songs that were much more relevant to my taste in Music in the past, my formative years so to speak. It only seemed appropriate to mention a more current selection, and I hope this selection will represent my present musical chapter. Although it might seem like a far cry from the Future Classic imprint, from which I snagged this beauty by Charles Murdoch, my first real introduction to DJ Culture and Dance Music was from a free Mad Decent Block Party event where I got the pleasure of meeting and smoking out with DJ Sega. To this day that might have been the most fun I’ve ever had at a show and that was really my first formative impulse to develop myself as a “Dance” producer. Although I was initially attracted to the craziness and hyped up sound that labels like Mad Decent and Fool’s Gold embody, I found that, after long, a more mellow, beautiful sound was what really cut through to me. This is also part in fact that I live in the middle of nowhere and my idea of “going out” consists of walking to the corner store and bumping some tunes. I have spent days and weeks of my life over the past few years in search of this perfect sound, a sublime groove, paired with the ambiance of the effervescent else where - a sound that lends its self to dancing away the pains of the day as well as to just sitting and contemplating. I found such a sound in the lush, sweeping layers, and ecstatic ending of Charles Murdoch’s Dekire, a tune that really should just speak for itself, the kind of sublime tune that just exists as its own entity, almost as if it just appeared one day free from of any human intervention.
10. Koji Kondo | Song Of Healing (The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask Original Soundtrack)
Growing up I always has a strong imagination. I’d spend hours by myself constructing alternate realities and engaging in epic adventures and waging war across planets and stars, inhabiting the bodies and lives of bounty hunters, spec ops mercenaries, pilots of galactic cruisers – the list goes on. Even to this day these adventures and fantasies are some of my favorite childhood memories. With this some-what isolated childhood so rooted in Fantasy, it was no wonder that, like many young men my age, I found a more tangible alternate reality within video games. While I enjoyed the actual game play and the simple pleasure of smashing buttons, what I became really enamored with were the stories and the literal image following/manifesting my actions and choices. Without a doubt, no other games captured my imagination and heart like The Legend Of Zelda series in terms of sheer scope and beauty of both the story and the universe they inhabited. There was just one aspect however that I would not fully grasp the importance of until much later though: the Music. I played the games long before I really became interested in Music, but, unbeknownst to me, my first ever real emotional responses were occurring with out me even realizing it. I sincerely believe that the primary reason that Majora’s Mask is such a beautifully potent and tragic game is due to the painfully simple 4 note theme that is Song Of Healing. A song able to heal lost and dejected spirits in the game universe as well as evoking an inexplicable sadness and sense of yearning that has followed me for the last 15 years amongst all the Music I’ve listened to and experienced. Although I could not have planned it or anticipated it, this was likely my very first favorite song.