WARMER MIXTAPES #1524 | by Hugo Justin Race [Hugo Race] of Dirtmusic, Plays With Marionettes, Sepiatone, The JLP Sessions Project, The Wreckery, Transfargo, Hugo Race Fatalists, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Hugo Race & The True Spirit
Photo by Corrado Vasquez
1. Country Joe & The Fish | Crystal Blues
Psychedelic Blues moved me deep in my soul long before I even knew what it was. In Australia, in 1973, it’s really hard to find records that you like. My brother Chris brought back Here We Go Again from some hippie collective he was frequenting at the time and I adopted the album because of the vibe, the feel, the mood. It’s a nostalgic, Woodstock kind of thing – a safer, dumber, more childlike world far from the terror of full-blown Modernity. In the 60’s they were looking back in Time – but since then, for our generation, it’s been about looking headlong into The Future to dodge oncoming bullets. Mind you, Crystal Blues is about Crystal Methamphetamine – very much a part of the subterranean menu today...
2. The 13th Floor Elevators | Roller Coaster
Rock Music and drugs have always been inextricably linked in my mind. The 13th Floor Elevators are part of the reason why. Chris Hughes turned me onto the band back in the 1980s. We are driving around Germany on tour and he drops in this cassette tape marked with black felt-tip scribble. The Autobahn is glittering with metal machines, giant power stations pumping white clouds into a cobalt blue German sky. Everything is slightly surreal, and then comes the Roller Coaster riff and Roky’s rant about the powers of Acid and it all makes sense – you don’t even need to be high to experience the power, it’s around us all the time in everyday reality if your mind is open to receive.
3. Bob Dylan | Tombstone Blues
On Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan synthesizes weird strands of American History into a Rock And Roll song that connects Sam Phillip’s Sun Studios with John Steinbeck and the Marx Brothers. The cartoon overkill flows from an amphetamine soaked imagination and the fact that Bob is like a prism where multiple colours enter and white light emerges as a single beam of Purity. Besides the freak show characters and the skid row poverty in the text, there’s Mike Bloomfield’s stinging-nettle Telecaster that works like a musical whip leaving etheric whip marks on your skin, your ears, your psyche. It’s brutal and funny all at the same time.
4. Jacaszek | IV (from Pentral)
I’m perched on the grass on a small hill in the Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, on a beautiful September afternoon. The park is dense with people bathed in a perfect, shimmering light. I’ve just come back from Poland and I’ve brought with me a copy of Michał Jacaszek’s new record, Pentral. I’m listening to it on headphones, watching the day pass me by. The Music is very quiet and ominous, lulling me into a false sense of security before a massive shift in volume literally elevates me into the air. I’m stunned by this brutal dynamic, exhilarated by the way Jacaszek manipulates Sound, Mood and the listener with absolute precision. In his sound I hear the echoes of centuries, timeless and Spiritual, in a place where the Medieval meets the Electronic. Pentral is a masterpiece.
5. Talk Talk | The Rainbow
A soundtrack for the dawn of Time – sounds emerge from nothing, disappear into nothing, an electric harp, some orchestral strings, a weird cohesion of sounds seething for minutes before the song very slowly comes together. I’m lying in the grass with my girlfriend and this Music is wafting out of the house like sweet summer perfume. All of a sudden, the sky starts raining sand – a high wind is scooping sand up off the beach, carrying it on a thermal for a few hundred meters before raining down on us. It’s magical, like this song.
6. Julie London | Cry Me A River
A lifetime is a song, a lifetime is made up of a million songs. One in a million they might be, but deep down they’re all the same because the only thing we really notice in Life is a lack of Love. The lack of Love manifests in many different ways and from all directions, creating an infinite loop of heartbreak songs in our collective subconscious. Some singers dream deep into this ocean of tangled Emotion, bringing pearls back to the surface, shiny rewards for all the suffering undergone. I don’t know a lot about Julie London. I don’t need to, because I can hear something in her voice that tells me her whole story without words. She was a girl with a beautiful voice, a showgirl who dealt heartbreak to the strangers in her audience every night until someone got under her skin and afterwards she was never the same again. Cry Me A River was just one of ten thousand songs of lost love floating in the aether; by chance, Julie made it her own and that’s how I will always remember her, a glass of champagne in one gloved hand, a microphone in the other, and those truthful tears, glittering like diamonds in the stagelights, hovering in her eyelashes but never falling…
7. Leonard Cohen | The Stranger Song
Back in the days of Love and Hate, Leonard was known as Laughing Lenny; no stranger to Depression, he exalted the Inner Dark as Confessional Entertainment. Finding a way to sing what we struggle to articulate (or prefer to avoid) and reflecting our bleakest thoughts with ironic humor, Leonard charmed us with his inscrutable wisdom. Although we felt he understood us better than we understand ourselves, he was always talking straight - I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter. Leonard never claimed to know the answers to the mysteries of the Human Soul; he just offered observations, having spent lengths of time down on his luck immersed in religious texts in various terrestrial wildernesses. Sometimes I think he's still out there; he is so familiar to us in a paternal kind of way that it's easy to forget what he said back in 1967 - I told you when I came I was a stranger.
8. Pink Floyd | Interstellar Overdrive
I like grit and dirt in my Science Fiction, and the Science Fiction is important because it is the Now - we are already living in the pages of a warped narrative underpinned by the evolution of various technologies which writers of decades past described in micro detail before such technologies even existed. Interstellar Overdrive is like a song for the opening credits of a movie depicting the origins of Twenty-First Century Modernity; although this song suggests a futuristic Space odyssey, the actual sound of the band is a basic Garage Rock set-up tricked out with some reverse tape effects, scraped guitar strings and keyboards. But Syd Barrett and the Floyd could sense what they were after – the Mystery, Mayhem and Terror of Dehumanized Space. I love Electronic Music and the hybridization with Rock begins here on this masterpiece the band created before they hit the money and bored themselves into catatonia...
9. The Velvet Underground & Nico | Heroin
I’m about ten years old, playing my brothers’ records while they’re out of the house. I put on the album with the banana cover and the mystery bomb of this song explodes in my mind long before I even knew what Heroin was. The fascination is in the sound of the drums, viola and guitars. A haze of reverb envelops a slow, ceremonial rhythm while Lou mumbles Nineteenth-Century metaphors. It’s an incredible piece of Evocation, a drug mantra both seductive and shattering – just like the real thing.
10. John Lee Hooker | Love Blues
Music, always, is more than just Music. Music is Sensation, Memory, the private language of your deepest soul talking to itself while you’re busy in the jungle thickets of everyday life organizing physical survival. Music is fundamentally transcendent and that is its profound significance and power over us. Music not only interprets Reality, it transforms it. Music doesn’t have to be complicated – it can be many things, but in the end it’s a beat, a pulse, a key and an emotion that yearns to be expressed. John Lee Hooker is the master of this. Hooker doesn’t overthink what he’s doing, he just lets it happen – because it's already there, waiting to manifest. Take Love Blues, or any other song he wrote in the Nineteen Fifties, and what you hear is Transcendence, Perfection, Music beyond Time and Space. And it’s just one chord and a catch phrase, nothing more, and yet so very, very much that it grasps everything about the Human Condition without even raising a sweat. Deadly cool.