1. “Americans” – Oneohtrix Point Never
Experimental musician Oneohtrix Point Never‘s music has been described as “gentle eddies of sound”; “Americans,” off his 2013 Warp Records debut R Plus Seven is an eventful, interesting, complicated piece of music that somehow makes me think he is trying to describe the history of human civilization.
2. “Meet Your Creator” – Oneohtrix Point Never
Since debuting his music in 2006, Oneohtrix has already released a huge amount of music, most with much less structure than tracks on R Plus Seven. “Meet Your Creator” is from Commissions I, and is more similar to R Plus Seven than work he published previous to its release. There is monolithic, frightening sound at 0:55—a terrible announcement broadcast across a sprawling metropolis—that marks the segue into something glorious, a kind of ascension.
3. “On The Beach” – Cliff Martinez
This song is on two movie soundtracks I like: Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. It begins dreadfully, but then disperses into something urgent and thoughtful and sad, as if it were desperately trying to tell you something. The track actually plays during a murder scene in Drive, but I don’t find it as terrifying.
4. “Wildlife Analysis” – Boards Of Canada
The intro track on Boards Of Canada’s iconic 1998 release Music Has The Right To Children, “Wildlife Analysis” is a short, strangely pastoral, wintery reflection, or maybe a refraction, of what seems to me to be the outdoors, an ecological system. It’s short—just over a minute long—but creates a sort of open space where you can ‘cool off’.
5. “Turquoise Hexagon Sun” – Boards of Canada
Also from Music Has The Right To Children, “Turquoise Hexagon Sun” is a nostalgic, emotional song whose repetitive beat lulls you into a state. Somehow this song is just right; recurring background noise from a bar is reassuring and comforting. This song reminds you of a great night with friends and someone you have a crush on.
6. “A Chronicle of Early Failures – Part 1” – The Dead Texan
The Dead Texan, an artifact from 2004, has released exactly one album. Self titled, all its tracks “sit on the brink of consciousness,” according to a Pitchfork review. “A Chronicle of Early Failures – Part 1” is one of the longer pieces on the album, its swells rolling dramatically in a large tin chamber, inducing reverie.
7. “Taco DE Macque” – The Dead Texan
“Taco DE Macque” feels like what the sequel to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road would be like, if McCarthy ever publishes one. It has emotional scope—something about its slow, repetitive chords insinuate release, giving up, death, and peace.
8. “Opus 23” – Dustin Hallorhan
This number, which I discovered on the soundtrack of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, is relatively lighter fare for this list. Its soft piano is entirely calming; the piece is absolute and serene.
9. “Jynwythek Ylow” – Aphex Twin
There is something terminally interesting about “Jynwythek Ylow,” which I also found on the Marie Antoinette soundtrack (check it out—it’s great), albeit just as soothing, reverent, and stoic as Hallorhan’s “Opus 23.” It sounds like a recording of the harpsichord, but I’m not sure that’s what we hear.
10. “Strong And Wasted” – M83
Another pastoral track on the playlist (obviously due to the background birdsong), M83’s “Strong And Wasted” emerges from this mix surprisingly fast, and is strikingly loud. It’s briefness only punctuates its effect, and offers a short, clarifying moment of catharsis.
11. “ClapOne” – Seams
“ClapOne” by electronic musician Seams marks a departure from all previous tracks in this mix—it’s an upbeat, percussive song that you can actually nod your head to. Like all the other tracks on this list, though, it’s still not without it’s own brand of pensive brooding—its intense, robotic, luminescent progression is at once excited, manic, and serious.
12. “Midnight Souls Still Remain” – M83
Off their popular album Saturdays = Youth, this eleven-minute number is a cleansing bath in the red color spectrum. You will likely forget you’re listening to this song until it changes to the next track or you take your headphones off. Or, you’ll just fall asleep to it.
13. “Nightmusic (feat. Majical Cloudz)” – Grimes
“Nightmusic” is a positively fun, exciting track on Grimes most recent (and most popular) album Visions. It hardly shares anything with any of the other songs on this mixtape, and functions as a sweet interlude to all the subdued, cerebral stuff here.
14. “Ocean Death” – Baths
Off his most recent EP Ocean Death, LA-based, Anticon-backed musician Baths’ title track is a “whirring, humming paean to death that sounds eerily ceremonial”. At times both dark and joyous, you can either dance to this track or tear up to it.
15. “Inter” – Baths
The version of Baths in “Inter” is significantly more relaxed and lighthearted than the one in “Ocean Death”. This song expresses a lackadaisical contentment with the world, reminding us that happiness is a matter of perception. It drives its point home through its absurdity and humor; something about its harmony makes you laugh and smile.
16. “When I Get Back From New York” – Oneohtrix Point Never
“When I Get Back From New York” is another long one, clocking in at over sixteen minutes. It’s expansive environment evokes a city’s grid in a neon future. It’s either terrifying or enlightening. The song waves at you, over and over—artificial intelligence trying to get your attention. You forget you’re listening to this one until you realize you’re actually thinking about it, and when it’s over, you want to listen to it again.