WARMER MIXTAPES #1419 | by Duncan Meadows, Jamie Crossley and Richard Talbot of Marconi Union

SIDE A | by Duncan Meadows

1. Arvo Pärt | Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten (Performed by Staatsorchester Stuttgart; Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies)
This one piece of Music provided me with a wealth of Inspiration and Emotion. Pärt creates an atmosphere and allows it to breathe. The Musical elements almost become incidental. The piece taught me a lot about how using a Minimalist approach can allow Music to sound as it is has a life of its own. The emotion of Cantus In Memoriam is never completely overwhelms me, but I do sometimes find it difficult to listen to without thinking of people I have known and people I will miss.

2. Mogwai | Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
I first heard Mogwai through a live broadcast of one their gigs on BBC Radio 1. The noise and the scale of their Music was something I hadn’t experienced before. I went out the next day and bought their debut album Young Team. The first track on the album contains all the elements about Mogwai that made me love their Music: the dynamics, the emotion, the noise. I remember it was a great summer that year, and I recall walking to get the bus to College and feeling totally elated by this song and looking forward to seeing my friends.

3. Nirvana | Smells Like Teen Spirit
I first heard this song at a youth club shortly after its release. I can remember the reaction of everyone in the room as Dave Grohl’s drum fill smashed in and the wave of new emotion I felt surge through me as we began leaping around the room. Nirvana became my number one band. I would drum along to Nevermind using pens and ice creams tubs as a drum kit. Later I would attempt to sing songs from the album in my first band. I wasn’t very good.

4. Edward Elgar | Enigma Variations (Performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra; Conductor: Leonard Bernstein)
This reminds me of my first trip to Berlin. I went to watch a youth orchestra perform the Enigma Variations and afterwards as I walked through a U-Bahn station I began whistling one of the phrases from it. When I stopped I heard someone else whistle the next phrase. Good times. I wonder if there is any other city where that would happen.

5. Lateef The Truthspeaker | The Wreckoning
I haven't heard any Rap that moves other than this one. I'm not usually moved by a musician's performance, but there is something about his voice on this which really gets me, I can hear how much it means to him.

6. Roxy Music | Love Is The Drug
A couple of years ago Marconi Union played at the Punkt Arts Festival in Norway. During the farewell party the DJ played Love Is The Drug which led to unprecedented scenes of dancing and merriment amongst us. The few days we spent in Kristiansand is one of my fondest MU memories and hearing this song always takes me back there and reminds me of the great people we met.

7. Fluxion | Bipolar Defect
This track was played to me during a car journey at night. Everything about it drew me in. The rhythm and sounds were the perfect accompaniment to the sights and sounds of the motorway – the blurring lights, the rumble of the tyres. The gradual shift in the syncopation is almost unnoticeable, until the track begins to end and you realise what has happened. Listening to Music has always provided me with a way of escape, however musicians like Fluxion taught me that Music can provide a soundtrack which immerses you in your surroundings rather than taking you away from them. Sometimes when I’m travelling without listening to any Music I will use the sounds of the environment to make a sort of Music in my head. A bit weird maybe.

8. Radiohead | How To Disappear Completely
Kid A is my favourite Radiohead album. It became an obsession for me, or maybe a habit. I listened to it everyday for months. I remember reading something about Thom Yorke saying that Kid A was partly to do with dealing with Mortality. At the time I didn't really get it, I was at a stage of Life when you think you'll live forever. But I wasn't enjoying certain aspects of my life and the idea of disappearing sometimes felt like a good idea. When I listen to the song now it makes me think more about detachment, the experience of being somewhere but not really feeling like you are there. That feeling is something I struggled with for many years, without realising it.

9. David Bowie | Station To Station
I didn't listen to much Bowie until my mid-twenties and maybe because of that a lot of Music by him reminds of me of good friends who I have known for years. Station To Station fills me with a chaotic joy, which describes the parties and nights we had listening to Music and drinking. I have a hedonistic urge which I mostly keep in check, but when I play this song I immediately want to start drinking.

10. Samuel Barber | Adagio For Strings (Performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; Conductor: Leonard Bernstein)
I was in my mid teens when I first heard this piece of Music and it completely shattered me. I remember sitting in the living room of my parents' living room and playing it on my dads Hi-Fi. It was a Sunday afternoon – the saddest time of the week for me back then. It took me years until I could bear to listen to it again which was unusual because I loved melancholic Music, and still do. Melacholic Music usually has quite a positive effect on me and I get a cathartic feeling from it.

SIDE B | by Jamie Crossley

1. Buzzcocks | Breakdown
Spiral Scratch EP... I used to watch a local band rehearsing every Sunday and songs from this EP were part of their repertoire, it was also played all the time in the local youth club. It was originally released by the Buzzcocks on their own label (New Hormones) and I think they only pressed 500 copies which were no longer available, so it was a very rare record and as much as I loved the songs I never actually owned a copy. I remember going to a record shop in Manchester on Saturday afternoons and they used to have a copy on display for £15 which might as well have been £150 to me, I could never afford it. I would just stare at the band photograph on the cover and think they were the real deal, very cool. Spiral Scratch eventually got re-released at a price that I could afford and it then became part of my Buzzcocks collection.

2. Marvin Gaye | Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
I used to spend a lot of time at my friend's house, he has a massive record collection. Every week he used to play me an album that I’d never heard, it was like a little ritual we did, we would have a smoke and then he would select a record for me and we would sit down and listen. One night he chose Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On. I’d never heard Music like this before, I was confused and yet totally immersed in it all at the same time, by the time it got to Inner City Blues I knew that I was going to be listening to this album again.

3. Joy Division | I Remember Nothing
They were the first real band I ever watched live, they were supporting the Buzzcocks in Manchester, 1979, and my sister took me and my friend to our first concert, we were incredibly excited. The look and sound of this band had a profound affect on me and the memory of this concert is still extremely vivid. They finished the concert with this song and then left the stage, the keyboard they used was still making this droning sound, it was a great way to leave the stage, very mysterious. I got the album Unknown Pleasures soon after the gig, I could have picked any track off it really, they're all so unique in style and sound so different.

4. Doves | Catch The Sun
I remember watching the Doves (before they were famous) in Manchester at a 3 day free festival called Castlefield, they were playing on Sunday the last night. It was a typical cold, wet and grey Manchester evening and there wasn’t really much of an audience. The band came on and started to play and it was a bit chaotic, they were having technical issues and there were lots of messing about in between tracks, however, they carried on playing and slowly but surely the few people that were there started moving closer to the stage. After 3 or 4 songs it was a brilliant atmosphere and the few of us that were there were having a great time and then they played Catch The Sun. It seemed so funny considering the weather, but no one was bothered, this song just had everybody jumping. It really did feel like you were catching a moment that you wouldn’t forget, it wasn’t long after this gig that the Doves became Pop stars.

5. The Smiths | How Soon Is Now?
I’ll never forget the night I was at a girlfriend's house and she had the John Peel radio show on. I never really listened to the radio much (that night was no exception), but then I heard the tremolo guitar intro to How Soon Is Now. It immediately caught my attention and I was hypnotised by what was to follow, I was so excited by this track I didn’t want it to end, John Peel then announced that it was The Smiths new single.
6. Sex Pistols | Pretty Vacant
This was the first song I ever remember hearing by the Pistols, the opening guitar riff is an absolute killer, Steve Jones really was a fantastic guitarist. I also used to love playing the B-side No Fun, at the time I didn't even know it was a Stooges cover. The Sex Pistols were probably the first band that really got me into Music, their albums sounds just as relevant now as it did back then.

7. Magazine | The Light Pours Out Of Me
A classic atmospheric song from Magazine. Everything about this track is right, I love the pounding of the bass and drums and then the mysterious Minimal guitar riff from John McGeoch (one of my favourite guitarists), great atmospheric keyboards and then finally the icing on the cake - Howard Deveto’s voice. I never really know what his lyrics are about, but they always sound so good, the title itself is just so intriguing.

8. Public Image Ltd | Public Image
This record sounds so good even now, the newspaper sleeve was just fantastic and they had a great video which captured the atmosphere of the song. I couldn't wait to buy the album, however when it was released and I heard it for the first time I was confused, I didn't really understand what this Music was about and yet there was enough about it to keep me interested. Eventually after a few months I grew to love this album and the subsequent Metal Box album.

9. Wire | Map Ref. 41ºN 93ºW
I was given the album 154 by my sister in 1980 and, a little bit like the PIL album, I didn't get it straight away, however this track always worked, I loved everything about it. I used to play the album and listen to the other tracks and I'd find other songs like 40 Versions starting to have the same affect on me, eventually it all just clicked. I find albums that appear to be challenging on first listen are the ones that stay with you forever.

10. Radiohead | Exit Music (For A Film)
I was working in a studio around this time and the producer that I was working with brought the OK Computer album in on the day it was released. We made ourselves a coffee and then sat down to listen to it before anybody else arrived, it was a great experience just the two of us listening to it through some big studio speakers. When the album got to this particular song I felt a bit overwhelmed with sadness, however, I do like Music that evokes those kinds of feelings.

SIDE C | by Richard Talbot

1. Brian Eno | Lantern Marsh
Sometimes you find the Music that affects you and sometimes it seems to find you. I still remember hearing Brian Eno’s Ambient 4 (On Land) (the album that features Lantern Marsh) for the first time and the incredible impact it had on me. Up until then I’d messed around with Music, it had been in a very disorganised fashion. I’d never learnt to play anything, I had an electric guitar which I’d bought for £15 and I’d experiment with plugging it into my Hi-Fi (I didn’t have a proper amp). I’d distort it and try to make strange sounds which I’d turn into tape loops on cassettes. Later, I got a two track reel to reel which I’d use to make recordings which I’d chop up to create sound collages. I wasn’t consciously trying to create a serious artistic statement, I just really liked making odd noises. So, when I heard On Land everything came together for me. I immediately understood that I wanted to do what Eno had done exactly, i.e. create sounds, textures and atmospheres that conveyed images. I guess that idea has been the blueprint for everything musical that I’ve tried to do since. I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t heard that record at that moment in my life what I might have ended up doing?

2. John Cale | Close Watch
There isn’t a lot to say about this track except that it never fails to move me… In the privacy of my own bathroom I like to sing along with my favourite songs, but I can never quite manage it with this one as I always get a bit too choked up! There are various versions of it, but the one I really recommend is the version from Music For A New Society, which is sparser and to my ears more emotional.

3. The Beach Boys | This Whole World
I genuinely consider this to be a contender for the perfect Pop song, it has absolutely everything, great tune, brilliant chorus, harmonies, twists and turns. It probably has more ideas in two minutes than most people’s albums. It does everything that Pop Music should do and finishes leaving you breathless.

4. Miles Davis | In a Silent Way/It's About That Time
I often struggle with Jazz, mainly because I intensely dislike instrumental soloing, I really like ensemble playing and the textures you get from different instruments working together. In A Silent Way is great though, because all the players lock into each other and develop the piece at the same time. On top of that there is the strange, slightly unsettling but warm atmosphere. On the down side though, In A Silent Way and it’s follow up Bitches Brew inspired a generation of Jazz musicians to try play Rock Music, ultimately ending up with Jazz Rock and Fusion, which I, almost without exception, abhor. It seems to me that Fusion simply meant that we got the worst aspect of both Rock and Jazz bundled up together to make truly dismal and depressing records.

5. Robert Lippok | Close
This came out on as part of a three track CD on Raster Noton Records sometime around the turn of the century, I’m really not sure why more people haven’t heard it. I think it’s one of the best of all those Clicks ’N’ Cuts tracks from that era. The first track on the Open Close Open EP is a beautiful landscape of loops and crackles that constantly change, it’s absolutely impossible to describe so I would just recommend people to check it out.

6. Loscil | Lucy Dub 
I could pick a number of tracks by Loscil, everything he does is very good. I settled on Lucy Dub because I love the sense of Motion that it has and the depth of the sound. All of MU are big fans of Dub and there is a very strong sense of that Space and dynamics in Loscil’s work. Like most of my favourite tracks, it’s very warm and enveloping. I like Music that you almost feel you can step into and immerse yourself in.

7. David Bowie | Aladdin Sane
I must have been about 10 or 11 years old when I saw David Bowie on Top Of The Pops performing Starman, I still clearly remember his beautiful big blue Acoustic guitar. Although, I hadn’t really developed an interest in Music at that time, something caught my attention and lodged there. However, the greater revelation occurred shortly after that. I was in a high street, newsagents that sold records and the cover of Aladdin Sane was on display. For a geeky kid who didn’t feel they fitted in, that picture signified so much stuff. Firstly, here was something truly exciting that had so far been out of my world of experience. Secondly, that this man had somehow stepped outside of the real and very mundane world of seventies Britain and transformed themselves, into something better, more glamorous, even alien. How could I not be impressed? Just that simple cover seemed to promise a whole world of brilliant possibilities. In retrospect, I can see now that one of the things I most value about Music is “otherness”, a sense of being taken somewhere different and unfamiliar. I have never been attracted to Social Realism in Music, for me it has always been about letting your imagination run free to visit those places and experiences that might not be open to you in regular life. Ironically, despite having some great songs, (Cracked Actor, Lady Grinning Soul, Drive In Saturday) Aladdin Sane is not one of my favourite Bowie albums, for me, it is far overshadowed by the albums he made later, Young Americans, Station To Station, Low, Heroes, but that cover, in some small way, might have changed my life.

8. Jan Bang | Passport Control
Most of the album and songs I’ve listed date back to my youth. I guess that is inevitable, we are most impressionable when we are young, also much of what we hear is new to us. As you get older you hear less and less Music that truly sounds new. ...And Poppies From Kandahar is probably the newest album on my list, one of the things I really like about this album is the sense of there being a narrative. This is helped by the unusual and filmic titles which sound like scene descriptions. A couple of years after this album came out Marconi Union were very fortunate to play at Punkt Festival in Norway, which is an event started by Jan (and the equally talented Erik Honoré, check out his recent excellent Heliographs album). The aim of Punkt is to promote the concept of Live Remixing. Artists will perform in one room while remixers sample them and then proceed to create new Music. Both Poppies and Punkt really opened my mind to the possibilities of Live Sampling and Sound Design, inspiring me at a time when I felt very jaded. So it’s an extremely big thank you to Jan and Erik.

9. Wire | Marooned
As a kid I used to tape John Peel on an old two track reel to reel which could record the whole two hour programme so I could check out everything he played. One night he played Marooned by Wire followed by a live recording of Roxy Music doing Out Of The Blue.

10. Roxy Music | Out Of The Blue
Both of these tracks had a massive impact and I’ve always linked them in my mind ever since. It’s interesting because in many ways they were different musically and they were from opposite sides of the Punk Year Zero divide, but I think there was a sort of open mindedness about of both groups, a willingness to explore ideas and try things out. Marooned was quite a bold track for it’s time and Wire’s decision to embrace synths saw them get a lot of stick from the luddite sectors of the Music Press, but it was also the moment they became a truly great group with their own identity. I still play both these records regularly and they still sound completely fresh.