We’re extremely proud to present this mix from London-based sonic alchemist Leafcutter John. Having become hooked on John’s foreboding soundscapes for the excellent Polar Bear, we soon found him to be a fascinating musician – not to mention electronics expert, inventor and artist – in his own right, the Leafcutter website a veritable grotto of weird experiments, soldering tips and heavenly clangs. This mix is one to lull and daydream upon, with poetry, Bhangra and birdsong fed through the Leafcutter machine, taking on magical, soothing properties. At the conclusion you can hear John’s first new studio work in several years – what a treat! Eloquent words from the man himself below…
“When I was a kid I’d lie half awake, half dreaming, with the sound of my dad’s records distantly playing in his painting studio below. The sound was muffled, stripped of hard accents and all but the most obvious melodic elements. The architecture of my bedroom was a perfect filter, merging Queen, Jean Michel Jarre and early Genesis into seamless droning nighttime lullabies.
This mix reflects this plastic blending idea. Tracks overlap in unexpected ways, and sometimes they are obscured by sonic flights of fantasy (songs marked with an * are treated really heavily). I hope you’ll find some things you like.
Harold Faltermeyer – Axel F (0.00-2.16)*
Everyone seems to know this tune. It was used in the Beverly Hills Cop movie from 1984. I have no idea why this is in my record box but there is no denying the there are strains of pop greatness here. I like pop, but not enough to leave it alone. Imagine you are drifting off to sleep, parts of the music are getting lost and others bizarrely accentuated.
Ivor Cutler – Looking for Truth (2.16-5.03)
When I was an impressionable art student in the mid 90’s I visited (book shop) in London and came away with three tiny signed volumes by Ivor Cutler, I had no idea who he was but something about the books (probably the lovely pen and ink illustrations) made me pick them up. It was not until later I heard Ivor’s voice – It’s such a perfect fit for the words.
Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty – Nishi bhor holo (5.03-10.45)
Ten years ago I took a punt on five CDs from different sections of Hackney Central Library’s Music section. Today I have no recollection of what four of the CDs contained, the fifth, Ajoy Chakrabarty playing Raga Malkauns became an instant point of fascination for me. There is something about his voice which is both full of wisdom while at the same time being quite cheeky. My favourite pieces of his are all about half an hour long but this one is of a Bangra tune so it’s a lot shorter.
Leafcutter John – Bird montage (10.45-12.37)
The end of Ajoy’s tune merges with the sound of a dawn chorus recorded out of my bedroom window in Hackney. The birds change in pitch until they resemble strange tropical species.
Bernard Parmegiani – Dynamique De La Résonance (12.37-15.19)
I remember distinctly when I first heard this track. It was on a tube train with Mike Paradinas (of Planet Mu Records). He let me hear it on his MiniDisc player. He’d been given the Disc by Aphex Twin. The quality and humanity of the sound is so striking it sends shivers down my back. The album it is from, De Natura Sonorum, is such an inspirational thing. You should search it out!
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Somewhere (15.19-21.20)*
Before I joined Polar Bear I had only one Jazz record that I actually listened to. This one I used to play late at night. I’d often drift off to sleep with the sounds of this resonating into my dreams. Here I’ve tried to illustrate that sonically.
Palace Music – Stablemate (21.20-24.54)
I used to think Will Oldham was the best lyricist of all time, but I think that it really depends what mood you are in. There are some people who never seem to get it, and I can understand that. It’s really nice if you listen to this on headphones when walking around a city on a really sunny day. Will Oldham has written a lot of songs about horses and riding, a friend of mine said she was listening to this track in Vienna and all of a sudden a dead horse floated down the canal.
Autechre – Track 1 (24.54-30.50)
I love the 7.1 and 7.2 EPs, they don’t have song titles and you can play them at either 33 or 45 for different intensities. I don’t know what’s going on here but I like how it makes me feel.
Leafcutter John – Resurrection (30.50-41.28)
I’m not sure it’s really on to put your own work into a mix? Anyway here is an expansive track which I hope will be coming out in the not to distant future on Desire Path Recordings. It’s my first studio material since ‘The Forest and the Sea’ (2006) so I’m curious to hear what people make of it.”