ZONE [mixtape]

Fall into the zone. Techno gone weird, stoned, spaced out, turned into a sentient god of some sort. Lose track of time. Think about all sorts of crazy stuff. This is a journey through two hours of the most atmospheric, advanced species of techno today.

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

Download mp3 version here.

For this mixtape, I really  just wanted to make the most sumptuous, adventurous, mind-expanding techno music experience I could. I wanted to anchor it with deep groove machines, the kind of extended dance sequences that leave all cogent thought and time behind. I wanted it to get slow, fast, explore strange atmospheres and new timbres, and to flow between it all seamlessly. I wanted it to highlight the stratospheric heights the genre is capable of, the extraterrestrial places it can go, the undeniable emotions it can stir. I love this genre in all its wild permutations, and I want to share that love any chance I get.

So I sat down on holiday break and started stacking up some of my favorite longform rhythm monsters and combing my collection for the perfect connective tissue. Many of these tracks are from the past year or so; a couple outliers bring us back a little further. Those big peaks are easily my most-listened tracks of 2018, regardless of when they dropped. I love every piece here and all of the albums they came from.

It seemed to work before, so I’m just going to list my outside influences as I made this mix. This is the kind of stuff floating around in my head as I placed these tracks:

Neuromancer, by William Gibson. I’m rereading this book and looping this music and it feels perfect. This was the birth of cyberpunk, the seed of The Matrix, and a big influence on a ton of video games I grew up on. It’s bursting with poetic, nearly musical passages like the following (emphasis mine):

When they’d strung the cables, according to some complex scheme of Molly’s, they hung them with battered sheets of yellow plastic. As they worked, Case gradually became aware of the music that pulsed constantly through the cluster. It was called dub, a sensuous mosaic cooked from vast libraries of digitalized pop; it was worship, Molly said, and a sense of community. Case heaved at one of the yellow sheets; the thing was light but still awkward. Zion smelled of cooked vegetables, humanity, and gangja.

Wings of Honneamise, a gorgeous 1987 anime about an alternate reality space program.

– Rereading probably my favorite single comic book ever, The Incal.

– Catching up with Saga, my favorite ongoing comic series and one of the greatest space operas ever written (and source of cover art for my Deep Future mixtape). Becoming a father has made its story of a family on the intergalactic run even more potent in the time since I last read, bringing some external urgency to an already frantic, beautifully illustrated story.

– Revisiting so much great music in preparation for the 50 best albums of 2018 list.

– The legalization of recreational marijuana in my home state of Michigan.

– All those Christmas lights. I may loathe most Christmas music, but the lights I could leave up year-round. They’re fantastic.

So that’s pretty much it. I may come back here later to add some more thoughts, but suffice it to say: ZONE is meant as an exploration of the interstellar reaches of techno today, an introduction to the genre for anyone interested, and a focused groove sequence for concentration, reading, work, writing, driving, whatever. I hope you enjoy it.

• • •

About the cover art: this is one of my favorite images by groundbreaking comics illustrator Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. His art, along with the visuals of Syd Mead, was one of the earliest influences on my tastes and ideas about the future. His aesthetic influence can be seen everywhere, from Heavy Metal to Star Wars to Blade Runner to David Lynch’s Dune to The Fifth Element and all over sci-fi pop culture. Moebius’ work has a power over my imagination that cannot be overstated. I recently reread his masterwork with Alejandro Jodorowski, The Incal. It’s an overstuffed spiritual mind-fuck adventure that goes further out into spacey weirdness than almost any other single work of fiction I’ve ever read.


I believe jumping in blind is best, but if you prefer to know what’s coming, that’s cool.  Each artist name and song is a link to the album where the song was sourced, to make it easier to explore. Here’s the full track list:

01. Lanark Artefax – Flickering Debris
02. Donato Dozzy – Cleo
03. Answer Code Request – Pasiris
04. Shed – When The Faces Went Down
05. Mark Barrott – Point & Figure
06. Rudiger Opperham’s Harp Attack – Troubadix In Afrika
07. Space Afrika – Sd/Tl
08. Kuniyuki Takahashi – newwave project 2 (Call Super mix)
09. Laraaji – Sun Gong 2 (Benjamin Tierney edit)
10. тпсб – Catching Rare Birds
11. Demdike Stare – We Have Already Died
12. Move D – Beyond The Machine
13. SW. – Extended Mix
14. Khotin – Dwellberry
15. Rezzett – Wet Bilge
16. Dorisburg – Cirkla
17. Skee Mask – Vli
18. Fp-oner – Beyond Understanding
19. Francis Harris – Minor Forms (Valentino Mora Cosmic Trans Rephase)
20. Efdemen – Parallaxis (Traumprinz’s Over 2 The End Version)

Thank you so much for listening.

One thought on “ZONE [mixtape]

  1. Pingback: Meltdown [mixtape] | Optimistic Underground

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