Every day, I’m becoming more and more the person I decided I would be. There is no immutable, core me – at least, not on a long enough timeline. It’s freeing to realize this and to reflect upon it every once in a while.
They say that no matter what you’re writing about, you’re always revealing yourself. A moment on this blog tells you I keep my mind on the future, and I keep its aim true with a steady diet of sci-fi, art, music, and stories all filling in the aesthetics of the great beyond. It’s impossible to create anything without these influences pouring out. So it goes, with another mixtape: Until the End of the World.
Track list appears as the songs play, and at the bottom of this post.
I titled this latest mixtape, the first of 2018, after one of my favorite movies: Until the End of the World is a 1991 Wim Wenders film that runs 4.5 hours long and is one of the most beguiling things I’ve ever seen. A weird mixture of apocalyptic road movie, comedy of errors, and consciousness-expanding science fiction, it’s awkward, sprawling, beautiful, obtuse, and overflowing with empathy. It’s exactly my kind of thing, but it’s so difficult to obtain that I hadn’t seen it in over a decade, when I got a fresh DVD copy on New Year’s day. I spread it over three nights, because I’m a father and husband and I’ll never have that much free time in one single chunk, and that’s okay. I shared it with my wife, which felt much better than watching alone like I did all those years ago.
So the film obviously isn’t for everyone, but it puts me in an otherworldly mood, floating outside my life momentarily, seeing it all new, appreciating the very strangeness of it all. There’s a moment toward the end, where the characters have all arrived at their supposed end-point, and the narrator, who is also in the story as a writer, shares his revelation:
“The purpose of our journey had been so that this music might bloom here, on the edge of what was possibly the end of the world … I felt what we were playing was a prayer, a prayer for the wounded planet.”
It really struck me this time. I think that the sentiment just resonates with my perception of the world right now, as everything we took for granted in Western democracy seems to be coming undone thanks to a confluence of heartbreaking events (and runaway capitalism). But I’m seeing friends and artists and all the positive people I know working harder, being more conscious, more present, trying harder than ever before. Whether this existential threat is new or we’re just now feeling it, I don’t know. But its atmosphere is palpable when I get on social media or overhear conversations at the pub. It’s in the air, always.
So I came to the sound of this mixtape organically, my body seeking the tangible warmth of balearic pop, the oblique strangeness of fourth world jazz, the arpeggiated hypnosis of ambient house, and most recently, the kinetic pull of afrobeat music. These are all sounds that I’ve sunk into for extended periods of time at one point or another, but this January, deep into blizzard season here in Michigan, they came together to inspire me, keep me moving, and inspire a little comforting optimism. Many of the songs here are brand new, from up-and-coming artists blending sounds from everywhere in the world, thriving on the polyphonic goldmine of the internet. Many are much older, dispatches of the future from twenty, thirty years ago and more, sounds out of place in their time, finding a home among the hum of 2018. It’s impossible to tell what year any of these tracks are from, at a glance, and that’s important. When I’m trying to think outside of time, it helps to have as few temporal anchors around.
If you want to feel rejuvenated, inspired, hopeful, or even just part of something positive, give this a listen. It’s roughly 70 minutes put together with the express purpose of transporting you outside your head.
The cover art is a panel from Starwatcher, by perhaps the greatest comic illustrator of all time: Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. His work, along with the likes of Syd Mead, was one of the earliest implants in my memories of the future. Their influence can be felt everywhere, from Star Wars to Blade Runner to The Fifth Element and all over pop culture. Still, Moebius’ own work has a power over my imagination that cannot be overstated. Over the holidays, I finally read his masterwork with Alejandro Jodorowski, The Incal. It’s an overstuffed spiritual mind fuck adventure that goes further than almost any other single work of fiction I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to read it again. In the meantime I’ve looked up all his other important works, and landed on the above beauty just today. It struck me immediately as the perfect image to frame this set of music.
Think that snow is falling.
Think that snow is falling everywhere
all the time.
When you talk with a person, think
that snow is falling between you and
on the person.
Stop conversing when you think the
person is covered by snow.
– Yoko Ono
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. Eric Serra – Deep Blue Dream
02. CFCF – Windswept
03. Durutti Column – Future Perfect
04. Joseph Shabason – Tite Cycle
05. Talking Heads – Sax and Violins
06. Len Leise – Route To Reutov
07. Maajo – Maajo
08. Mark Barrott – Cirrus & Cumulus
09. Vangelis – Abraham’s Theme
10. Eric Serra – Learning Time
11. A Vision of Panorama – Rain Theme
12. Tornado Wallace – Kingdom Animalia
13. Nu Guinea – Howl
14. Pitto – Finding
15. Prins Emanuel – Aquarius
16. Dip in the Pool – On Retinae
Thank you so much for listening.