As a listener to the Musique du Monde series of mixes would probably guess, two of my favorite contemporary bands are Stereolab and Broadcast, both because their music is wonderful, but also because it’s through them that I discovered things like the United States of America and White Noise and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Serge Gainsbourg, and on to David Axelrod and Placebo and library music and Italian/German/French/UK/Czech soundtracks and. . . probably half of what you hear at Musicophilia. So in the tradition of the ‘Zygotic’ tribute to Flaming Lips‘ unexpected resurgence, and the ‘Gold and the Silver Dream’ tribute to Daft Punk‘s recent success, I’ve cooked up two mixes that, while perhaps not so directly responding to the music of their inspirations, are intended to honor Stereolab and Broadcast via the amazing sounds of their forebears, comrades and descendants.
Where the first of the two, ‘La Diffusion,’ looked back to the foundation of Stereolab and Broadcast, ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ focuses on artists with whom those sounds found a home in the 1990s through to today. In the 90s, as a couple decades of shambling indie rock, increasingly dumb metal and “alternative” rock, and smart but unambitious college rock had pretty much extinguished any sense of style, adventure, artiness and class from rock-based music, Stereolab showed that the way forward was to back up to the sounds that were too quickly lost, and start building anew from there to see where things went. A few years later, Broadcast joined them as the beacon of what was possible moving forward for people who knew where they were coming from (paralleling Dilla and other crate-diggers in hip-hop and the world of electronic music, which ironically rarely abandons its history). They lived in the heady brew of analogue synths, jazz xylophones, cosmic guitars, tight beats, and nimble basslines; others made similar discoveries at the time; and collectively they continue to inspire new artists (and well-established but restless artists) who discover how much untapped potential remains in these sounds.
‘Memories of Tomorrow’ is somewhat unusual in focusing on the 1990s through 2010s, with a lot of well-known names like Portishead, Beck, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise, Air, Erykah Badu and Flaming Lips. Joining them are Beak (furthering Portishead’s new path), His Name Is Alive, Ivy, Caribou; Ghost Box figures Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Belbury Poly and The Advisory Circle; and a new generation who draw on Broadcast as much as White Noise, like Death and Vanilla, The Soundcarriers, and Jane Weaver. And of course, Stereolab and Broadcast are both here. There are quotes to be found–Caribou samples Barry Forgie, the Soundcarriers sneak in the “Vitamin C” beat, Tortoise finds a bowl of pasta in the Wild West, and Beck pulls of the supreme homage to Serge–but these artists aren’t burdened by influence, but rather liberated by it (with Portishead/Beak and Flaming Lips in particular given new leases on old band lives in the last decade through these sounds). Whatever you may think of those big-name artists, or however skeptical you may be of new bands working an old tradition–close your eyes, open your ears, and I think you’ll move into a timeless space that’s a lot of fun.
At the “more…” link below you can stream the mix, check the full tracklist, and download. Be sure to check out the companion mix to this one, ‘La Diffusion,’ featuring the spiritual roots of Stereolab and Broadcast. As always, if you like what you hear, please pass it along and support the artists and labels who made the music.
Various – ‘Memories of Tomorrow’
01 [00:00] Death and VANILLA – “Necessary Distortions” (To Where the Wild Things Are., 2015)[Total Time: 1:30:32]
02 [05:55] BEAK – “Lulsgate” (Beak II Bonus, 2012)
03 [08:15] Jane WEAVER – “Argent” (The Silver Globe, 2014)
04 [16:10] Mount Vernon ARTS LAB – “The Black Drop” (The Seance at Hobs Lane, 2007)
05 [19:22] Last EX – “Trop Tard” (Last Ex, 2014)
06 [23:57] His Name IS ALIVE – “Everything Takes Forever” (Ft. Lake, 1998)
07 [28:02] The SOUNDCARRIERS – “Let It Ride” (Harmonium, 2009)
08 [33:45] PORTISHEAD – “The Rip” (Third, 2008)
09 [38:05] Belbury POLY – “Goat Foot” (The Belbury Tales, 2012)
10 [41:03] BROADCAST – “Unchanging Window” (The Noise Mde by People, 2000)
11 [44:48] CARIBOU – “After Hours” (Andorra, 2007)
12 [50:44] Yo La TENGO – “The Sea Horse (excerpt)” (The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, 2002)
13 [53:13] BECK – “Paper Tiger” (Sea Change, 2002)
14 [57:56] IVY – “Back In Our Town” (Apartment Life, 1997)
15 [62:27] TORTOISE – “I Set My Face to the Hillside” (TNT, 1998)
16 [68:19] STEREOLAB – “The Emergency Kisses” (Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night, 1999)
17 [74:12] The Advisory CIRCLE – “The Patchwork Explains” (As the Crow Flies, 2011)
18 [77:04] AIR – “Ce Matin La” (Moon Safari, 1998)
19 [80:35] Erykah BADU and Flaming LIPS – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Heady Fwends, 2012)