Astral Blues [mixtape]

Zero gravity dance music for lonely cosmonauts. Or utopian jazz for the spiritually dazed. Interstellar beach techno? I don’t know; I’m calling it Astral Blues.

I like to think of it as a fever dream night out on the town, in love and half-crazed, blurred under neon lights and bursting with energy, connected to the earth and the heavens and all that hormonal stuff that makes us feel larger than life, self-mythologizing the way forward.

But really, I just wanted to make something groovy, earthen, spacey, primal, futuristic, and really dreamy, with a big sense of fun. So here we are. I really hope you like it.

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

Download mp3 version here.

With Astral Blues, I began with no overarching mission, no specific inspiration. I just wanted to make a mixture of some of the most sublime music possible. It’s composed of the same cosmic material that I’ve been unable to define, the sound that I described in my review of Seahawks’ Starways: “It’s balearic, it’s techno and house, it’s jazz, it’s a descendant of both German kosmiche soundscapes and 4th world new age ambience. It’s a nebulous but powerful force roving between all of these sounds.” I might not be able to name it, but I can certainly paint a seamless eighty minute picture of it using some of the most sumptuous sounds in my collection.

I really just love the idea of weaving together this complete little sound world you can get totally lost in. I love finding songs that connect to each other on this holistic level, the production and pace and vibe just meshing as if they were all meant to be together for some higher purpose. I make these mixtapes in an attempt to conjure the feeling of a curated album experience with the moment to moment surprise of a compilation. Astral Blues might be my most coherent attempt yet.

It begins with an exotic cybernetic ballroom fanfare before slipping into a seductive groove carried on rubbery bass, equatorial heat, and processed trumpet sounds. The air is full of sweet tropical smells, bird calls, and a cool breeze from the ocean. Moving from starlit darkness to flashing neon, marimbas to big beats, beach guitars and ambient washes and impressionist siren vocals. Extraterrestrial strings mesh with hand drums, fat wobbly synths, and other elements that repeat across these songs from wildly different corners of the world. Through this weird lens, these artists from so many different countries come together to share a sound.

If everything above reads a little too hyperbolic, I get it. Just know that I’m so enthusiastic because I love these artists and their music and that I really hope this mixtape inspires you to explore them.  Every artist here can be found streaming on Bandcamp or Spotify, so don’t hesitate to explore their respective catalogs. I’ve explored similar moods on mixtapes like Deep Future and Until the End of the World, but I think Astral Blues moves even closer to that elusive ideal sound in my head.

About the cover art: this image was so instantly evocative, I knew that it had to be a mixtape cover. The colors just destroy me; there’s so much feeling here, so much implied movement and time and memory. It felt inherently musical. The photo features my lovely friend Alison and comes courtesy of her photography business, Wildflower Studios. They made me look almost cool in a promo video for my old company, so I’m biased, but if you’re looking to do a shoot in the West Michigan area, they come with my highest recommendation.


Once we were fish
moving freely in the sea.
Our bodies were soft and swift
and we had no belongings.

Now that we crawled out of the sea
we are dry and full of cravings.
We wander city to city
carrying the memory of the sea
(but it isn’t just a memory).

Listen very carefully and you will hear
the sea in your body.
You know, our blood is seawater
and we are all seacarriers.

– 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. Visible Cloaks – Wheel
02. Seb Wildblood – The One with the Emoticon
03. Tuccinelli – Solo un Delay
04. Pharaohs – Invisible Mile
05. Shelter – Courant Bleu
06. DJ Sports – Stellar Clusters
07. Tempelhof & Gigi Masin – Corner Song (Jex Opolis remix)
08. Seahawks – Valparaiso Part Two (Nick Mackrory Remix)
09. The Swan & The Lake – Fresh Food
10. D.K. / S.K. – Hammond Blue
11. DJ Python – Cuál
12. Jex Opolis – Mt. Belzoni
13. Leon Vynehall – Envelopes (Chapter VI) [edit]
14. Seahawks – Starways
15. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Life, Life (Andy Stott Remodel)

Thank you so much for listening.

2 thoughts on “Astral Blues [mixtape]

    • Going by that description I’m guessing this is a totally unrelated project! It’s actually the one artist I know the least about on this mixtape, other than really enjoying their sole album on International Feel label. I thought perhaps another Mark Barrott mystery project, but could be someone else. When I googled, it looked like there are several bands with this name, but I’m not familiar with any others tbh – but this sounds interesting!

      Like

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