Memory Coalition is a mix of some of the best melancholy deep house and soul melting ambient tracks that have warmed and elevated me like nothing else over this long, heavy winter. The snow’s been piling up here in Michigan like it hasn’t in years and life.. hasn’t gotten any easier than it was last year, for my family at least. This stuff is a little nostalgic, a little spacey, full of atmospheric grooves, unmoored from time. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect for when you’re feeling sad and you’re okay with that, but you still want to blend in a little taste of wonder and awe.
Track list appears as the songs play, and at the bottom of this post.
I really had only one unifying idea for this mix when I started: I wanted some prime examples of the kind of lengthy deep house tracks that I can just kind of lay back and feel myself disintegrating to. The kind of tracks that make me head nod, even dance around a little by myself at home, but mostly just wash over me like a vast, powerful, healing wave. The kind that don’t necessarily sound sad, but sound profoundly appropriate when you are sad – and when you want to feel a little bit more, without exactly fixing the sadness. Maybe that’s a long, silly way of saying “contemplative dance music” or something, but I did have a very specific vibe in mind. Like always, I needed to share it.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Traumprinz / DJ Metatron this year so far, just sliding backward through his vast catalog under an army of names after falling so deeply for his Loops of Infinity (A Rave Loveletter) ended up being one of the top ten best albums of 2020 for me. He performs a similar magic to Burial, but with deep house & occasionally techno as his palette, rendering the sound of decay, breakdown, lost time, heartache, and sad rhythm in a uniquely high fidelity manner. Every little bit of analog hiss and crackle is carefully baked into the music, as much a part of the experience as the layers of gauzy ambience and richly textured synth work – just when a track seems to be crackling from low bitrate or too much gain, a crystalline percussion sound moves in, revealing the illusion. It’s at the center of a weekslong binge of music like this where I realized I needed to make my first mixtape of the year with this stuff.
I also wanted to include some of the ambient and other slow-paced music I’m always enjoying, especially since much of it sits on the fringes of deep house anyway, the gossamer space where the beats end the but bass and atmosphere stretch on forever. I’ll always enjoy a solid all-out dance mix, but that’s just not the kind of set that comes natural to me, so there’s a lot of space sprinkled in the mix, expansive passages where mood flows through new colors before erupting in the next sequence of rhythm and release. I love all of this stuff and it just kind of attracted itself with a shared energy. I just feel lucky to be able to hear so much remarkable music and share it with so many people. It always feels like a privilege to put such incredible artists together for a hopefully sublime listening experience.
I guess I kind of ramble, and I’m sorry but it’s part of who I am, especially now that I don’t really hang out with anyone in person anymore. I’ll get to the music now:
The first track I have to mention comes from “Unknown Artist” on the Chikyu-yu label, and it was the last piece added. I discovered the label thanks to an extended wander through youtube and fell in love with their surprisingly cohesive vibe right away. I still know nothing beyond the Bandcamp bio stating, “Born in Japan but raised in Switzerland Chikyu-u Records is about passion and sharing fine electronic music from all around the world.” But I do know that I kept hitting the purchase button on that site over the course of a night and found the perfect subdued dance epic to complete the mix, appropriately titled “Untitled 02.”
The first track I began with was from another Traumprinz alias, Golden Baby: “Rainbowcoalition.” I listened while driving across town with my son and my dog on a sunny, cold day to bring medicine to my wife at work and it just really lifted the whole trip. It’s got that hazy, mysterious, almost dubby house atmosphere but it’s also playful and weirdly bright. It mimicked the way that the sub-freezing day had finally cast a little sunlight on our skin – still cold but with a couple rays of hope. I ended up including another track of his, a sort of self-remix of one name under another called “2 The Sky (Metatron’s What If There’s No End And No Beginning mix)” and I really think that title explains the appeal pretty well. It’s just straight up one of my favorite examples of the genre ever made, and I find myself with it looping in my head all the time.
Throughout, we’ve got those thought-drifting, inner journey pieces from a host of artists who deserve heaps more recognition, including genre-defying women like Nadia Khan, Grand River, and Villete, the last of whom is signed to Francis Harris’ Scissor and Thread label. Two of the biggest, danciest pieces come courtesy of another pair of incredible (and incredibly underrated) women, Soela (50 more best albums of 2020) and Sign Libra (who appeared on the Off World mixtape).
I could probably go on about every track but I see that I’m going on way too long when listening will do justice to all of these artists far better. I truly hope at least some of them find new fans thanks to the mix – that’s always my main goal.
About the cover art: this is a photo taken by my friend Fergal on the coast of Victoria, Australia, looking out over the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. Those great vertical stacks in the distance are the apostles, although some have eroded over the years so there are fewer than twelve now. but it’s an incredible sight regardless. I’ve never been there in person, but I’d love to see Australia someday. I was really impressed with the way his photo came out, in a dreamlike haze because of a happy accident: there was invisible tape covering the lens because the edge of the phone was cracked and loose. It just struck me immediately as something reminiscent of a lot of the music I like so I asked if I could save it for a future mix. Months later, I found its match. Thank you again, Fergal!
I like to jump in blind, but if you prefer to know what’s coming, that’s cool. Each track is shown with the original year of production, linked to the release where the song was sourced, to make it easier to explore. As always, I fully recommend everything linked below. Here’s the full track list:
01. Nadia Khan – Port Ana (2020)
02. Unknown Artist – Untitled 02 (2018)
03. Golden Baby – Rainbowcoalition (2019)
04. Grand River – This Was Us (2020)
05. K-lone – Clouds (2018)
06. So Inagawa – Selfless State (2013)
07. Olsvanger – 2120 (2020)
08. Villete – Lilac (2020)
09. Zlata – wavicles (2021)
10. Dimitar Dodovski – Masculine Mescaline (2018)
11. Sign Libra – Sea of Vapours (2020)
12. Kettenkarussell – Maybe (2018)
13. Soela – It’s Around Us, It’s Everywhere (2020)
14. Traumprinz – 2 The Sky (Metatron’s What If There’s No End And No Beginning mix) (2016)
Thank you so much for listening.