Neon Dream [mixtape]

This mix explores the cyberpunk dream world where deep techno and hip-hop meet.

It’s a reflection of where my head is at in early 2017, meshing flights of fancy with the hard texture of life right now. Everything feels weird, glowing with potential for catastrophe and catharsis. Every day is spent finding a new sense of balance, eyes finding the horizon.

Tracklist appears as the songs play, and at the bottom of this post.

Download mp3 version here.

When I started putting this together, I wanted to reflect the noise of this burgeoning year, burning brighter than life seemed to before. I wanted to bridge the gap between the harshness of moment-to-moment experience and the soothing balm of daydreams about better times ahead. I wanted to curate a soundtrack to the precariousness of this world.

It’s weird to think that the future I always dreamed of – highly technological, vaguely dystopian, aesthetically weird – has come to pass. It’s a lot messier and far more stupid than I imagined, but it certainly is here. We don’t have flying cars, but we do have far stranger things. The very fact that my day job exists entirely online would blow my childhood mind. I’m still agog about it, in moments of reflection.

Suffice it to say, despite the darkness in the news, this world is exactly where I want to be. I’ve been ready for it since long before I knew it was really coming. My tastes, going back to grade school, are a case in point. This mixtape is the latest vanguard pointing the way forward, around the corner and over the horizon, where we can’t yet see.

It began with the nautical futurism of Drexciya, the long-gone Detroit techno duo that produced some of the best cyberpunk music ever recorded. I was combing their collection of B-sides when a certain track set my imagination alight. Since I’ve been listening to Future’s newest album along with my current rotation of Berlin composers, the idea coalesced: techno and hip-hop are my future soundtrack, and that future is now.

This mixtape rises and burns through ragged beats, compact noise assaults, glacial meditation, and synthesized bliss, all in a quest for a balance that cuts right through the cluttered days and restless nights of 2017 so far.

One final, important aspect must be mentioned: the cover art is based on a piece called “Liquid Swords,” by Josan Gonzalez. He has a new art book called The Future is Now and it’s coming to print this April. Gonzalez creates truly astonishing sci-fi visuals, packed with detail, passion, and energy. Fans of this music just might find a lot to love in his style.

A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
A dream you dream together is reality.

– Yoko Ono

Jumping in blind is recommended, but if you prefer to know exactly what you’re getting into, here’s the full track list:

01. Drexciya – Neon Falls [dub]
02. Actress – X22RME [edit]
03. Future – Incredible
04. Youandewan – 10405 (Alice)
05. Nathan Fake – Degreelessness [edit]
06. Vince Staples – Pimp Hand
07. Lee Gamble – Flatland
08. Babyfather + Arca – Deep
09. Demdike Stare – Hardnoise [edit]
10. Dedekind Cut – Integra [edit]
11. Autechre – Nil [edit]
12. Carsten Jost – Dawn Patrol
13. Trentemøller – Miss You

Thank you so much for listening.

4 thoughts on “Neon Dream [mixtape]

  1. Long term lurker here, but looking forward to this one. Came across 2814 because of your recommendation and that, and some of your other picks, have been good soundtracks for writing.

    Cyberpunk, hip-hop, ambient and techno, that’s hitting a lot of notes that resonate. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Thank you for sharing that. I’m so happy when I hear that I’ve helped someone find something they love. That 2814 album is still one of my favorites in years. I really hope you enjoy the mix.


  2. Pingback: Vince Staples – Big Fish | Optimistic Underground

  3. Pingback: 50 Best Albums of 2017 | Optimistic Underground

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