It’s October, my birth month. The time of the year when everything in Michigan melts into cold mush and outdoor summer adventure turns to quiet moments by the window, watching leaves fall on the wet grey world. When I think of autumn, I think of decay, decomposition, death, dissolving. There’s a kind of freedom in that sense of letting go. Giving yourself over to an experience, a long slide into the dark of winter, a plunge that turns gelid and snowblind before it ends.
I don’t romanticize this time with hot apple cider or maple brushed bonfires in the backyard, but I do have a sort of entropic affection for the way life near the forty fifth parallel changes so completely within a month. So I made a mix to kind of sound like how this time feels. Because I’m a total dork, I called it Hypersleep.
As I hastily but pretty spot-on wrote as my upload finished, it’s a deep dream dive from atmospheric future techno through a wormhole of ambient, drone, and new age, toward an altogether weirder, experimentally tinged genre-agnostic ending. These 80 minutes are meant to feel like one long freefall that gradually slows and transforms as it goes deeper and darker. The final pieces are so far from the first, stylistically & emotionally. Listen when you want to feel different than you do right now.
Press play to hear it now:
Track list appears as the songs play, and at the bottom of this post.
So I have to mention right up front that my experience of autumn this year was greatly accelerated when I brutally injured myself right near the tail end of summer. My ankle was sprained, my foot swelled to the size of a pumpkin, my body was wracked with pain to the point that I returned to the doctor a third time to make sure there really wasn’t anything worse going on – and to finally get some needed pain medication. Relevant protip: don’t move to the US if you don’t already live here. Our healthcare system is trash. And I’m one of the lucky ones who actually has insurance.
Anyway, what happened? I fucking fell down the stairs. In my own home. That’s it, the entirety of the whole stupid story. I slipped on the last step and managed to land on the side/top of my right foot and come crashing to the floor in a whole-body impact. I wasn’t even in a hurry; I was just fetching a glass of water while my son napped. So of course I writhed on the ground in silence, mind boggling at how so much pain came on so suddenly. I spent weeks with my leg propped up on a pillow, iced and aching. I watched the days turn from balmy paradise to icy swamp, only getting outdoors to read a couple times before it was too late. It’s taken over six weeks of recovery so far and I’m still not ready to even jog on a treadmill.
But I did listen to a LOT of new music and start putting together a mixtape that reflected the colors of my mood shift, immobile yet constantly in flux. It was a natural progression that happened as I convalesced, the different sounds I went through as the days got colder. I’m always into techno, ambient, drone, new age, and their adjacent sounds, but this mix traces the journey my listening takes across that weird landscape with particular lucidity.
So it begins with the pulse of cyberpunk tinged techno, adding crunchy breakbeats and ghostly samples, before spilling out into a haunted miasma of ambient touchstones, soft beatscapes, and finally free floating drone. Momentum is reborn in a dappled synth sunrise and then flourishes as the eerie moon sets a glow to the final rush of arpeggios, feedback, spacebound vocals, and jazzy destruction.
One of my favorite qualities of this mix is the fact that it showcases the immense talents of a number of female artists in a genre neighborhood that is way too often overrepresented by men. While I adore every artist represented here, I feel compelled to highlight the contributions of Kara-Lis Coverdale, Ulla Straus, Johanna Knutsson, Karen Gwyer, and Megan Mitchell aka Cruel Diagonals. Without these incredible women, this mix would not have its soul. The most out-there, bewildering, beguilding stuff in this set – the music that stretches its boundaries into unexplored territory – comes from these five brilliant artists and, frankly, I don’t see enough talk about their work in comparison to many of their male peers.
So yeah. I like making mixes that transform from one mood into another and I’ve done something similar with the dance dichotomy of Ballroom  and especially the storm-before-the-calm of In Heaven  made in the depths of a radical depression, a few months after my mother died. Since I finished this one a couple weeks ago and let it sit before revisiting, before publishing, I think I might be getting better at spreading that sense of change over the whole track list. I don’t know. I’ve actually felt kind of dumbfounded and doofusy as I become more self aware, as I age toward forty. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s just the next step of growing into myself. I’m not as smart as I used to think I am and it feels pretty good? I do know that I love all this music and badly need to share it with you.
• • •
About the cover art: this is based on a frame from Wim Wenders’ grand apocalyptic road movie, Until the End of the World. The film is four and a half hours long, blending science fiction, love story, comedy, musical, and the unique spiritual elevation that Wenders brings to all his best work. I named a mixtape after it awhile back, but a recent and much needed remaster brought me back to one of my favorite films ever. It’s a truly consciousness-expanding adventure if you play along and invest yourself in the experience. It’s also awkward and weirdly styled and deeply empathetic and possibly maybe too ambitious, and it conjures a mood so singularly transformative – I felt compelled to draw from its imagery to represent this mix. So yeah, I chose a shot of star Solveig Dommartin donning the reality capturing headset that changes and defines the narrative, for the first time. It’s a film about people crossing the world in search of an answer, falling into their own dreams, and getting lost beyond sight. Here was the moment that shift begins. It just felt right for a mix centered on one long shift into the unknown.
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. I fully recommend every album linked. Here’s the full track list:
01. Etapp Kyle – Sakura
02. Skee Mask – 50 Euro To Break Boost
03. James Place – Move In Blue (Homeward Mix)
04. Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV – Disney
05. 猫 シ Corp. & T e l e p a t h – 世界の果て
06. John Beltran – Gutaris Breeze (6000km To Amsterdam)
07. Knopha – Er
08. Ulla Straus – House
09. Daniel Guillén – Rainbow
10. Johanna Knutsson – Kungsvagen 44
11. Karen Gwyer – Waukon
12. Opaline – Signal Loop
13. Cruel Diagonals – Soporific Return
14. Barker – Die-Hards Of The Darwinian Order
Thank you so much for listening.
3 thoughts on “Hypersleep [mixtape]”
SYMPATHY regarding usa healthcare. i lived 13 yrs in nyc, 8 without healthcare cuz it cost about 50% of my meager monthly earnings. 25 yrs later in amsterdam i pay half as much for my entire family for comprehensive that i would have paid for minimal [no dental/optical, no anything] insurance in 1995. the good thing about an accident is that you are forced to go deep – reading and listening. thnx, bart / wreck this mess
Thank you! I’m currrently facing the consequences of having no dental insurance for years – getting my cavities fixed this month and then a treatment for my gums next month! Ouch. The dentist wasn’t even surprised; this happens all the time in the US sadly. So glad you got back out of here! I’m considering moving away from this country in the next few years with my family too.
Pingback: Best Techno of 2019 | Optimistic Underground