1. Saing Saing Maw, “Than Shin Ley Ye Khan” (Sublime Frequencies; originally released c. early ’70s).
  2. The Fall, “Container Drivers (Peel Session—24 September, 1980)” (Sanctuary).
  3. Troubled Hubble, “I’m Pretty Sure I Can See Molecules” (Lookout!). eMusic
  4. Matt Pond PA, “So Much Trouble” (Polyvinyl).
  5. Nourhanne, “Habibi Ya Eini” (Mondo Melodia).
  6. Konono No. 1, “Paradiso” (Crammed). eMusic
  7. Amadou & Mariam, “La Fête au Village” (Nonesuch). iTunes
  8. Bob Dylan, “Barbara Allen (Live at the Gaslight 1962)” (Sony).
  9. Bill Frisell, “Shenandoah (Live)” (Nonesuch). iTunes
  10. Ed Motta, “Tem Espaco Na Van” (World Music Network; originally released 2003). iTunes
  11. Kanye West, “Hey Mama” (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam). iTunes
  12. Sensational, “I Always Rock It Right” (Quatermass).
  13. General Elektriks, “Tu M’Intrigues” (Quannum). iTunes
  14. Ying Yang Twins ft. Teedra Moses, “Put That Thang Down (Remixed by Michael ‘5000’ Watts for the Swisha House)” (TVT). eMusic
  15. Bruno Pronsato, “Wuorinen” (Orac). Kompakt
  16. Black Dice, “ABA” (DFA/Astralwerks). iTunes

Last week Stylus ran an essay, “Soulseeking,” by British writer Nick Southall (www.stylusmagazine.com/feature.php?ID=1854), about something uncomfortably close to home for both myself and this column. In it, Southall describes a period where, having nearly simultaneously separated from his girlfriend and gotten broadband, he went on “an accidental crusade . . . to hear everything [he] possibly could.” From September to Christmas, he acquired something like 500 hours of music that he was at least somewhat curious about—more music than anyone could reasonably take in over a year, much less a quarter. P2P sober a year, Southall describes the “vague sense of disgust mixed with guilt” the process entailed.

I understand this pretty well. Hearing as much music as possible has its limits even if you don’t P2P much, and one of them, to tweak Southall’s formula a bit, is a vague sense of annoyance mixed with self-doubt. This is especially easy to fall into when you don’t consider yourself a specialist—when your primary consideration is what grabs your ear, and when those parameters are fairly wide. And there really is something pernicious about the feeling that you didn’t hear enough, or at least didn’t hear the right “enough.” Nothing turns wine into water faster than a sense of obligation, even if it’s not quite the dilettantism that Southall criticizes: “[H]ow satisfying can it be to know nothing about everything, to value vague, instant opinions over deep understandings and appreciations, to have heard a hundred records but to have loved none of them?”

Though I have to wonder which hundred records Southall is referring to (not even a couple? Really?), I understand what he’s saying. Compulsion begs for burnout, especially once you turn it into a livelihood; I feel something similar plenty of times myself. This mix isn’t quite like that—it’s autumnal, feels more crafted than inspired, and while it sounds good from beginning to end, I wish it said more.

Still, you can’t necessarily expect to construct a worldview out of table scraps. A lot of these songs had been held off from prior mixes for not fitting in quite right, and in fact a few tracks got left off that I like more than some of what got put on. (Remember, these are mixes, not lists.) Knowing there’s something else around the corner can fill my overstimulated mind with dread, but right now it’s more of a relief. I hope that becomes the case again for Nick Southall, too.


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