And there you have it, folks – the 300th episode of Headphone Commute Podcast! The very first mix was published exactly twelve years ago (about a year after the site was officially launched), and I simply used the platform to share some of my favourite recent finds, before the all-digital era of playlists (in fact, many of the features mixes were made from vinyl). The format quickly picked up, with many of my favourite artists showcasing their very own selections. The top mixes, to this day, still remain :papercutz’ Dream Scores, Orangewarrior‘s Chilled Dubstep, and my very own selection of the Best of Modern Classical (of 2010). Somewhere throughout the last decade, I toyed with the idea of creating a record label and releasing compilations (like the monumental … and darkness came), but in the end, I always turned to mixes – they capture all there is to say. So without any further reminiscence, I present to you a mix by Franck Zaragoza, who releases on n5MD as Ocoeur – in fact, he’s got a brand new album on the way! His latest, titled Connections, is scheduled to come out next Friday, September 10th, pressed on a beautiful, limited edition, transparent red double LP. A few of the tracks from this upcoming release are featured on this mix, curated exclusively for Headphone Commute. There’s always more to say about the selection, but maybe I’ll just let the music speak itself.
On July 13th, 2021, one of my all-time favourite labels, named after its inception date, 130701 celebrated its 20th birthday. What can I say about its output, its delicate curation, and its monumental impact on our lives? Just look at the roster of its artists, many of which are showcased in this exclusive mix put together by Dave Howell, and you will immediately be swept away in the beautiful torrent of music that has been so extraordinary comforting in the last two decades. I would even proclaim that because of this imprint, on which many of today’s biggest names made their debut, the world is a different place, a richer place, and definitely better. Just look at HC’s coverage of its releases – I think I wrote about every single one! There is so much more praise which I would like to publish, but Dave has also written a little bit about this special mix, and so I’d like to give him the stage for a moment. Meanwhile, enjoy the mix and please support the label!
See the entire tracklisting and read more from Dave Howell on the mix here: http://hcdi.gs/130701
About, oh, eight years ago now (jeez!) I featured a Noir mix by Sirat, a DJ from Spain who hand-picked his favourite downtempo and trip-hop tracks to create a tribute to film-noir, “with its characteristic anti-heroes, femmes fatales, gangsters and dirty dealings”. It was a fantastic stroll down the rain-refreshed alley, which received a lot of praise among the followers of the genre (including yours truly). It seems that the mix has also left a wonderful impression on its creator – enough to create a long-awaited follow-up, “returning to those smoky sounds, and black and white environments…” Once again, the intention here is for you to create your very own movie of your mind, and transport yourself “to the universe of film noir.” Enjoy the many familiar bits on here (like that lovely Portishead track!) and discover new artists along the way! Oh, and while you’re in the mood for further listening, check out Sirat’s Soundcloud, where you will find more mixes, as well as his productions as part Clima project.
James Heather is a pianist, composer, and publicist for Ninja Tune that has appeared on these pages on numerous occasions – most recently with a track premiere for his upcoming release Modulations: EP2. James and I have a mutual passion for sharing the music that we discover. A few years ago, he made an ambient focused Headphone Commute Mix for this very same podcast. Today I’m syndicating his selection originally appearing on his very own Moving Sounds program that he runs on London’s Soho Radio. This monthly show “was born out of the long-running playlist of the same name created by James that explores spaces between classical, electronic, ambient, soul, jazz, drone, film soundtrack, folk, field recordings & other transporting sounds from the past but mostly from now.” This particular mix is featuring many of my favourite composers whom I am honoured to call friends, and I was even happy to contribute a track of my own. In the case of mixes, I always follow the “less words – more music” formula, so here you go, folks! Enjoy!
I always welcome new music, new connections, new friendships that then come along. In this example, a track premiere by Joachim Spieth at the end of last year made me relisten to his works on Wolfgang Voigt’s Pop Ambient series, taking me to releases on his very own Affin imprint and finally asking him for a mix. In this process, this seemingly random stranger quickly became a musical friend, as we exchanged grand ideas and connected with music. I really appreciated the spectrum of electronic music genres covered on Spieth’s German label and requested that he showcased the output through a traversal of styles. The result is a beautiful 90-minute journey that will take you from soothing to upbeat, through highs and through lows. I’m very happy with how it turned out and honoured to host this showcase on Headphone Commute.
In November of 2020, Amsterdam-based label Ambientologist released a compilation titled Sustain Series, Vol. 1. It’s an impressive gathering of ambient artists and their music, showcasing some of the most delicate sides of the genre. The proceeds from the release have been donated to Conservation International, promoting sustainability across the world. I reached out to the label in hopes to broadcast this selection to a wider audience on my platform, and I am happy that they obliged to share this 90-minute continuous mix by Lauge with followers of my podcast. Take a look at the tracklisting and you will know why I’m excited to spend today in the company of my favourite ambient artists, as well as a few newly introduced names to my ears. As of this writing, the label is preparing a follow-up volume, with artists such as Halftribe, The Green Kingdom, Pepo Galán, awakened souls, Dylan Henner and Sven Laux, confirmed for the roster. I’m keeping my eye on the Ambientologist’s Bandcamp for the available pre-order, and so should you!
In anticipation of Matt Emery‘s upcoming six-track EP on Injazero Records, titled Spotlight Series : Cello, I have asked him to put together a thematic mix prominently featuring the instrument. As many of you may already know – I’m a big fan of this low-end stringed beast [side note: In high school, I’ve played the double bass in the orchestra, but I wasn’t very good and was jealous of the cello]. I have especially enjoyed the darker, moodier, and sullen pieces by the likes of Julia Kent, Resina, Anne Müller, Peter Gregson, Sebastian Plano, Clarice Jensen, and of course, Hildur Guðnadóttir, all of whom I have reviewed and interviewed on Headphone Commute before [I have linked up each name for HC content for you above], and who, once again, appear on this gorgeous mix selected by Matt Emery. His very own two pieces, one from the upcoming EP, and the other from his previously released album Empire, also appear on this podcast, which I hope you will thoroughly enjoy!
In December of 2020, one of my favourite imprints released a gorgeous label compilation! Ryan Griffin has been lovingly curating every single release on A Strangely Isolated Place since 2012. He’s also compiled sublime Reflection mixes, which I have happily syndicated on Headphone Commute. Following the first label showcase launched in 2019, Ryan puts together ten tracks, including a few previously unavailable as individual pieces, that make up this 2020 Label Compilation. As a bonus, this release includes an hour-long continuous mix (available as part of a digital-only purchase), which I have arranged with Ryan to share with you today. “I hope the (continuous) year-end mix will become a regular occurrence going forward,” says Griffin about the release. “Many of you will know a big part of my inspiration and passion lies in DJ’ing and classic mix CDs. If the label momentum continues and releases keep coming as planned, then each year I’d like to invite a DJ to select and mix tracks from the label – make an annual tradition out of it.” This compilation is still available for purchase on a CD for only $10, while the digital-only album is up for grabs for only $1! Please see this label Bandcamp page.
What’s this? Somehow, last year, both Mathias Van Eecloo and I completely forgot our annual tradition to publish another eisOtones instalment, in which this prolific French musician and label(s) owner collects 50 tracks from 50 releases of the prior year. How did that happen? I suppose, Mathias was extremely busy wrapping up his monumental Eilean Rec. project, in which he released 100 records based on an imaginary map of 100 points. The final catalogue entry in this imprint [as you can imagine] was number 100 and collected unreleased pieces in an 82-track compilation. Van Eecloo wasted no time there and immediately set off on another venture, titled LAAPS, releasing vinyl records in a permanent continuity of sounds and visual bridges between each one. Another puzzle for you to complete! So I suppose it was a very busy time of endings and new beginnings… but this year we’re back! So, without more words and reflected distractions, here’s a 72-minute journey, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
More than a couple of weeks late, but here we are, with the long-awaited vinyl mix, still marking down, bookmarking, and closing off a year we won't surely miss... but at least there was a lot of awesome music, and as such, thanks to Mike Jedlicka once again, we are celebrating the best it had to give. A fascinating playlist here, with more than a few new artists even to my ears. So yes, I am enjoying it as well! And if you like this beautiful selection, be sure to check out our past archive of Optic Echo Presents mixes, as well as the ongoing Best of 2020 lists, which I intend to finish up this week. Also, I want to quickly point out that this is Mike's 10th vinyl mix for Headphone Commute which we publish at the end of each year - so yeah, we've been at it for a decade now, kids!