Sunday, April 09, 2006
All Things Go Sleep Mixtape
[artwork by Derek Davies]
I've taken my precious time putting together this masterpiece of a mixtape, but the finished product is worth it. With a little help from Derek, I've managed to create what I deem to be the ultimate experience in sleep-music. These songs are very different in style, but all achieve the same goal, a perfect recipe for a good night's sleep. The artists range from ultimate sleep music makers Belle & Sebastian to normally upbeat Stars. Some songs may not feature quiet, soft strings or a simple melody, but all of them are sure to help you close your eyes and drift into a deep sleep. With that, here are the songs for All Things Go Sleep Mixtape.
NOTE: I will be adding a link to download the entire album as a .zip tommorow, but I am too lazy and tired to do it tonight.
1) Sufjan Stevens - For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti
ZACK: If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, this one might be it. I worship this song, and it seems to always find it's way on to my stereo either on long drives or when I'm tucking myself in at night. Arguably the best track on Greetings From Michigan, Widows features stunning vocals and Sufjan on his finest instrument, the banjo. Using a mixture of pure talent and echo pedals, this song puts you in a trance from the first pluck of the banjo to the soft horns that quietly close this masterpiece. 2) Stars - On Peak Hill ZACK: I am a man, and am completely unashamed to admit that I love Stars. These guys (and gal) know how to make beautiful song after beautiful song, and On Peak Hill is the perfect example of this. I had a hard time choosing between four or five Stars songs, but this one, off of their 2001 debut LP Nightsongs, just seemed so fitting for a sleep mixtape. The simple guitar chords and hushed vocals are a perfect recipe for a good night's sleep. Plus, this gives me an excuse to mention one of the best names in the music business, male vocalist Torquil Campbell. 3) Andrew Bird - Tables and Chairs ZACK: This is one of my girlfriend's favorite musicians, and I can understand why. Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs was one of my favorite albums of 2005, and this song happens to be my, and my girlfriend's, song of choice off the album. Tables and Chairs is melodious, soft, and perfect for a mid-afternoon nap. Besides, who wouldn't want to fall asleep listening to a song about our crumbling modern society and the apocalypse? 4) Final Fantasy - Peach Plum Pear ZACK: Owen Pallett is a genius. There, I said it. Final Fantasy has become one of my favorite bands in a relatively short amount of time. During my recent trip to Amsterdam and Barcelona, Final Fantasy was the only music I would listen to. Listening to Owen and his beautiful violin put me to sleep every single night. Or maybe that was the coffeeshops. Whatever. While Your Light is Spent might be a better sleep song, I already put it on the ATG Valentines Day Mixtape, and Peach Plum Pear is the perfect lullaby. I just recently did an interview with Owen(!) and I will be writing it up and posting it sometime in the next few days. Also, he hooked me up with his latest album, He Poos Clouds (which will be released later this month), and I must say, it is a solid follow up to his breakthrough 2005 debut, Has a Good Home. 5) Explosions in the Sky - Your Hand In Mine (Goodbye) ZACK: I could've put on a number of songs from Explosions, but I chose the shortened version of Your Hand in Mine, featured on the Friday Night Lights Soundtrack (which is pretty much just an EitS album), because it is absolutely beautiful. The song is so simple, yet so entrancing. Put this one on your car stereo for a night drive and be careful, because you might just fall asleep at the wheel. 6) Imogen Heap - Can't Take it In ZACK: This song, feautured on The Chronic(what)cles of Narnia Soundtrack, is a beautiful blend of vocals and beeps. It sounds similar to many Imogen Heap songs, but that is not meant to take anything away from it. Imogen Heap has a very distinct style, and Can't Take it In is one of her finest. If I were Derek I'd probably describe this song as "ethereal". But, then again, if I were Derek I'd also probably study dictionaries and thesauruses in my free time. Her voice is breathy and breathtaking, and this song is a perfect lullaby for a young child. 7) Belle & Sebastian - Sleep the Clock Around ZACK: Derek said that this song is horrible for a sleep mix and asked "when have horns ever been used in a sleep song?" My response is this song. B&S is a favorite of mine, and this song, more electronica(l) than most of their music, is best listened to after a long night. The little whistles and simple drum noise are so adorable, and Stuart Murdoch's vocals are perfectly dreamy, as always. I've used this song as an insomnia cure since 8th grade. 8) Iron & Wine - The Trapeze Swinger DEREK: Sam Beam's finest work to date, his Mona Lisa if you will, "The Trapeze Swinger" is an absolute epoch, clocking in at 9 minutes and 31 seconds with lyrics that would not be out of place in a book of beautiful poetry. Operating with an interesting poetic technique in which every verse begins with the same "Please remember me..." refrain, Beam's ambiguously autobiographical lyrics are the best he's ever brought to the table and will easily lull you into a trance of. If you're still awake at this point in the mix I'd be surprised, but your consciousness doesn't stand a chance against this epic. 9) Ben Gibbard - Recycled Air (Acoustic) DEREK: Seriously, you're asleep already, I don't even know why I'm bothering to even mention these songs. But Zack wanted me to, and I'd do anything for that guy (note: "anything" does not include anything involving danger, physical discomfort, strenuous activity, or situations requiring substantial effort on my part). Here we have a lovely solo performance of The Postal Service's "Recycled Air", recorded live at KEXP, in which the swirling synths and blissful electronica of the original are stripped away in favor of Ben Gibbard's beautiful voice and acoustic guitar. 10) Death Cab for Cutie - Passenger Seat ZACK: Mr. Gibbard makes his second appearance on this mixtape in, dare I say, possibly the best song off of Death Cab's best album, Transatlanticism. This beautiful little ditty holds the distinct honor of being one of the small handful of songs that I can play (correctly) on my keyboard. Passenger Seat is short, simple, and features pretty much just a piano, but is one of Death Cab's most emotional songs. With incredible lyrics and Ben Gibbard's signature voice, Passenger Seat was made for this mix. 11) Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek (Ciaran Hamilton's Unofficial Strings Mix) DEREK: Everyone knows and loves "Hide and Seek" for it's sparse/non-existent arrangement and it's undivided focus on Imogen's unbelievable voice, so how could one possibly remix it and still preserve it's breathtaking beauty. By adding the one element that makes every song better, strings! Ciaran Hamilton keeps it simple adding some very subtle, very soothing strings to the mix, doing the impossible and actually creating a more sleep-able version of Imogen's sleep mix staple. 12) Sigur Ros - Untitled #3 (Samskeyti) DEREK: These next two songs are pretty much all I need to fall asleep and as a result have been the centerpiece (or in most cases, the only songs) on every sleep mix I've ever made. "Untitled #3 (Samskeyti)", which I first fell in love with after it's inclusion in the haunting final scene of last year's powerful/disturbing Mysterious Skin, is unbelievably beautiful despite it's incredible simplicity. In this instrumental masterpiece, the same piano line is played over and over again as Sigur Ros' signature dark ambience swirls in the background (and yes, I decided ambience can swirl), until just before the 5-minute mark when the piano jumps up an octave, and the result is what one can only describe as a musical epiphany. 13) The Album Leaf - Twentytwofourteen DEREK: Even if you've been popping speed and smoking crack all day, you don't stand a chance against this soothe-fest. On this, The Album Leaf's finest track, Jimmy Lavalle creates an instrumental masterpiece of unparalleled beauty. Each pristine note floats through your consciousness and takes you to a whole new place, where immaculate rivers flow through untouched and fertile valleys and no one ever grows old (note: I am sooooo lame). Game over, The Album Leaf has just pounded home the nail in the coffin of your consciousness (in the most soothing way possibe, of course). 14) Air - Alone in Kyoto ZACK: This song is pretty gosh-darn beautiful. When the plucking of the cello, or whatever instrument it is, comes in, I get some shivers down my spine. Alone in Kyoto, more than anything, is just a very comforting song, and what is more important than being comfortable when you are trying to fall asleep?
15) Dntel - Last Songs ZACK: Appropriately titled, this song by Dntel (AKA Jimmy Tamborello AKA the beats behind The Postal Service) is a remarkable instrumental track that, while somewhat repetitive, never gets old to me. During my recent trip to Delaware for my birthday, Last Songs came onto the iPod right as we were crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. No song could’ve been more fitting for the beauty that surrounded us (Note: I actually just complimented Maryland. This was hard for me.)
There you have it, the All Things Go Sleep Mixtape in all its glory. Thanks again to Derek for all his help and his aesthetically-pleasing artwork. I'd also like to thank Derek for using adjectives that I didn't even know existed. Once again, you can print out the cover art and give the CD to a loved one, sibling, neighbor, or the jittery crack-head that lives in your basement. I'm sure he/she/it will love it. That is, if he doesn't scatter when you turn the basement lights on. (NOTE: none of the Derek links are actual pictures of Derek. Except for that dwarf in a suit of armor one. That's Derek.)
PS: Leave comments please, I'd love to know which songs you liked and which songs you didn't. Also, I'm going to be buying a domain for All Things Go and want to know which domain name you loyal readers would prefer: www.allthingsgoblog.com or www.all-things-go.com. Goodnight.