Dream Shelter [mixtape]

Dream Shelter began a few weeks ago when I put together a few tracks that really vibed well, but it wasn’t until the gravity of the global pandemic hit me that I could tie it all together into a proper mix. I needed the sound of adventure and I felt drawn to a very specific mood that I ended up finding spread across an odd gathering of scenes and sounds.

This is music for pure escape when you can’t leave home. Genre-agnostic tunes sourced from across the globe from 1978 to 1995. It’s hard for any of us to handle something so world altering, but I truly believe that the right music can help. We’ve got a long way to go, so I just want to spread the love and good feelings. We’re all in this together.

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

Download FLAC version here.

Download mp3 version here.

I’m not even sure what I have to say about this mix at the moment – and I’ll add more later if I feel particularly inspired – but I wanted to get the post out so everyone who prefers downloading can do so, and so everyone who’s enjoyed it so far can get a look at the track list. I thrive on the mysterious feeling of getting wrapped up deep in a mixtape, losing my bearings and just absorbing the beguiling sounds. But it always deepens my desire to look up every artist and find out who it was that sent my mind reeling the second it ends. So scroll to the bottom if you’re curious.

This mixtape might be a little shorter than many recent ones here on OU, coming in at just over an hour long, but every single track within is an absolute gem. One of them in particular, the final track, was a crucial yet random find that I spent a while tracking down. After hearing it while scouring youtube, I had a nearly physical need to own the one particular edition of a 12″ single that contained it. Sure, the original song is streaming on Spotify and everywhere else and the standard vinyl is on Bandcamp, but this cosmic disco masterpiece was a one-off remix on a particular repress of a remaster of a thirty seven year old single. And it was totally worth it.

This mix is meant to send you off on a higher note than almost anything I’ve put together before, so the final track was crucial. Everything leading up to it is just as vital, just as exotic, soaring, searching, and yearning; the whole set taps into this magical vibe despite being sourced from the worlds of pan global jazz, Japanese lounge, mutant disco, apocalyptic dub, sax-laden synth groove, and elsewhere. It’s a set of tunes that might not appear to work on paper, but to my ears at least, comes together like a perfect confluence of overlaid dream worlds. It’s an image of pure inner travel, locking together and forming a holistic little environment to escape into.

The saxophone is one particular aural touchstone found on most of these pieces, a recurring element that pops through the mix, swirls around the rhythm, the stereo space, the atmosphere where distinction between artists and eras and genres entirely dissolves. It’s found bouncing against African drumming, swarms of gentler woodwinds, oceans of synth, and the cavernous dub space between bass thump and airy female vocals. It’s the little roving heart of the mix, I suppose – something I only came to realize after it was all put together. Serendipity is, as always, one of my favorite ingredients.

I love all the music here and through putting these songs together, found a couple new artists to adore too. I’ve always created mixtapes to spread the love. This time it just feels a little more urgent, a little more palpable. We’re all suffering right now and we all need a little relief where we can get it. So I hope at the very least, this is a soothing escape for everyone who hears it. Whether you’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future or forced to work at an essential and likely dangerous job, maybe you can find some joy in here.


About the cover art: This image caught my eye and wouldn’t let go. I knew it had to be the cover the second I saw it, despite having browsed over a hundred historical photos over the course of a day. I was seeking something to vaguely reflect this weird time to be alive, this particular circumstance, without actively showing it. This is wartime, it’s heightened history. It’s the kind of event I heard my grandpa talk about in hushed tones as a kid, feeling awed that the world could ever be so unpredictable. The original photo has no official title and the photographer is unknown, but its background info can be found at the National Archives Catalog. The only caption states:

Like Girls from Mars Are These “Top Women” at U.S. Steel’s Gary, Indiana, Works. Their Job Is to Clean Up at Regular Intervals Around The Tops of Twelve Blast Furnaces. As A Safety Precaution, the Girls Wear Oxygen Masks., 1940 – 1945

So the context revealed a distinct connection beyond my gut feeling: it’s about women during wartime, the biggest war in modern history in fact, working hard at home to keep life running. The seemingly mundane setting of a steel mill in the Midwest contrasts with the alien image of those huge, head wrapping gas masks, creating exactly the kind of contrast that feels familiar after a couple weeks of hiding out at home from an invisible, pervasive menace. Life carries on in houses all around while businesses shutter, services go on hiatus, and the roads begin to empty.

Just last week, the governor of my state, Michigan, put out a shelter-in-place order, as many states and cities have already done. The hope is that we can stop the exponential spread of the virus, flatten the curve, and allow our already inadequate healthcare system enough breathing room to care for all who need help. But as of the moment I’m writing this, things are looking bleak. The system is about to be inundated, the curve is reaching near-vertical, and this pandemic is about to become tangible to millions upon millions of people in this country and around the world. It’s a hold onto your butts calm before the big storm. I don’t really have anything reassuring or intelligent to say, so I’ll leave you with the music.

I believe jumping in blind is best, but if you prefer to know what’s coming, that’s cool. Each track is shown with the original album title (when taken from an album) and year, linked to the release where the song was sourced, to make it easier to explore. I fully recommend everything linked below. Here’s the full track list:

01. Michal Turtle – Maid of the Mist [1983]
02. Joan Bibiloni – El Salto del Martin [Silencio Roto, 1987]
03. Jon Hassell – Sundown Dance [Earthquake Island, 1978]
04. Don Cherry & Latif Kahn – One Dance [Music / Sangam, 1981]
05. Maximum Joy – Silent Street / Silent Dub [1981]
06. Creation Rebel & New Age Steppers – Threat To Creation [Threat To Creation, 1981]
07. Toshifumi Hinata – Atarashii Yuhbokumin [Chat D’Ete, 1986]
08. Rare Silk – Xenobian Love Song [Black & Blue, 1986]
09. Software – Sea Gulls Audience [Digital-Dance, 1988]
10. Charles Lloyd – Koto [Pathless Path, 1979]
11. Ace of Pentacles – Dancing in the Shadow of a Palm Tree [Ace of Pentacles, 1995]
12. Blue Gas – Shadows From Nowhere (Danilo Braca ReVision) [1983]

Thank you so much for listening.

8 thoughts on “Dream Shelter [mixtape]

  1. Thank you for this! And one album for everyone here that has been getting me through the past week: CS + Kreme // Snoopy [2020, The Trilogy Tapes]. Highly recommend for a full, blunted album experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Echo Station [mixtape] | Optimistic Underground

  3. Pingback: Love Will Se Us Through [mixtape] | Optimistic Underground

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