I’ve been thinking even more about the future since my son was born. Considering that science fiction and futurism are some of my biggest passions, that means a lot. I’ve curated this focused mindset with the help of some very specific sounds along the way, and I decided it’s time to share them.
This might be my best mixtape yet. Each one has been a self portrait of a specific slice of my life, and Deep Future is no exception. It is simply the most accurate reflection of my own private future. This is an adventure under hazy cyberpunk sunsets and new age neon skylines. A glowing mesh of deep house beats and world music textures cocoon the listener. It’s the sound of tomorrow’s dreams.
Tracklist appears as the songs play, and at the bottom of this post.
I had no great aim when I started putting this mix together. I just wanted to express the sound of my daily life as a new father, perpetually obsessed with the day after tomorrow and the years after that. I’ve learned to center my mind in the here and now, to appreciate the moment to moment experience of life more than growing up ever taught me. Mindfulness simply keeps me happier and more engaged with the world and the people around me. It has banished depression and anxiety to the past, for the most part.
Music like this is a true companion to mindfulness. While the textures and tones may conjure AR-infused cyberpunk jungles or gleaming interstellar adventures, the overall effect plants my mind in the here and now. Anxious ideas fade; awareness and acceptance bloom. It sounds like I’m describing ambient music, but this set is a little trickier.
I began this mix one day while taking care of my infant son, the moment he finally began napping. I placed him in his bed and put on some headphones, daydreaming about the sci-fi anime movies I watched so often as a kid. Having a child has put me in direct connection with the earliest days in my life like no other experience ever has. I find myself wheeling back to the guileless creativity and weirdness of that age, thinking about how my son will soon be entering it himself.
I was thinking about the appeal of those late 1980s and early 90s movies, stuff like Akira, Armitage III, and of course Ghost in the Shell. I was absolutely driven to see more of this aesthetic, this mindset. I’d spend hours scouring every local video store to find another film, living in the relative cultural wasteland of pre-internet midwestern United States. What captured my mind so completely? I’ve always known that these movies were responsible for my tastes in some way – my enduring love of experimental Japanese music, my low key obsession with cyberpunk fiction – but I hadn’t examined why they struck me in the first place.
With some time to consider, I realized that my adolescent mind was hooked on the notion of the far future as being far more possible than any fantasy styled fiction. No matter how outlandish, it was some time that could come to pass. Even when it was a dark dystopian society or a soon-to-be annihilated one, even when the sentient AI was crushing humanity, it represented a new dimension of possibility. These things could happen. It was nothing like mainstream American sci-fi, which used the genre as dressing for standard-issue thrillers. The plots resolved in unexpected, elevated ways, without traditional conflict and resolution. Watching them felt experimental, mind-expanding. They went beyond, and took me with them. It helped that they looked and sounded like nothing I’d seen before, which is why those qualities have stuck with me.
I decided that I needed a mixtape to represent that exact feeling, the expansive rush of future-cool daydreaming. It would essentially be a soundtrack to the virtual cyberpunk anime film in my head, the idealized expression of a deeply personal aesthetic. I explored some of my favorite releases of 2017 as well as some older albums that feel weirdly ahead of their time, gathering a mixture of new balearic, deep house, ambient, new age, and world music sounds. Rare vocals appear dreamlike, indecipherable, ecstatically haunting. While nothing here sounds exactly like any specific film from my childhood, they all evoke the colors of my memories. They’re all also some of the most sumptuous tunes you’ll hear all year. I can’t emphasize enough how lush this all feels. It’s the kind of music I want to bathe in – maybe in a sensory deprivation tank.
Whether you’re working or reading or just want to spin off into your own mind for a while, you might enjoy this 75 minute slide into the deep future.
About the cover art: I based the artwork on a frame from perhaps my favorite comic of all time, even though it’s not yet finished: Saga. It’s the intergalactic story of a young family on the run from overwhelming forces, absolutely bursting with creativity and surprise, as unpredictable as it is gorgeous. Written by Brian K. Vaughn and drawn by Fiona Staples, it’s one of my favorite pieces of any media, but I haven’t had any opportunity to mention it here yet, lacking music as it does. Consider this my highest recommendation.
Through the darkness of future’s past,
The magician longs to see.
One chants out between two worlds
“Fire, walk with me.”
– Twin Peaks
I believe jumping in blind is best, but if you prefer to know what’s coming, that’s cool. Here’s the full track list:
01. Claude Speeed – BCCCC
02. Domenique Dumont – L’Esprit de l’Escalier
03. Mark Barrott – Emilé
04. Scott Gilmore – Europe
05. Suzanne Kraft – Flatiron
06. Gacha Bakradze – Gather
07. SW. – Untitled A2
08. Leon Vynehall – Midnight on Rainbow Road
09. Shanti Celeste – Being (ambient mix)
10. Unknown Archetype – Into Ether
11. Actress – Falling Rizlas
12. Garrett – Angel Reflections
13. Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby (ambient mix)
14. Konx-Om-Pax – Rainbow Bounce
Thank you so much for listening.