For 25 years, I’ve been making mixtapes. Originally on cassette, briefly flirting with MiniDisc before landing on the ubiquitous CD-R, there are over 250 of my own mixtapes clogging up shelf space in the house. The first, titled ‘Aural Subculture’ (a vague reference to New Order) is dated February 1988 and includes tracks from The Sugarcubes, Cocteau Twins, Joy Division, The Fall and the Jesus & Mary Chain, amongst many other less notables.
For me, mixtapes serve two purposes – first, they are archival documentation that not only preserve a moment in sound, but that also ensure that I don’t lose pieces; that artefacts are catalogued and available to recall at any given moment. As a broadcaster, charged with identifying and promoting new music on a weekly basis, music would often pass me by in a heartbeat – the average audition time for a track was less than ten seconds. It had to catch me in that time frame, otherwise I’d already have clicked on to the next. Without that dictum, I’d never get through the volume required in any given week. I still consume a ridiculous amount of music in any given week, and thus mixtapes continue to help me preserve the stand-outs, to ensure that they get played (often repeatedly so) and remain on the shelf for a lifetime to come.
If that sounds a little clinical, then be assured – the second purpose is pure pleasure. The curation, collation and sequencing of mixtapes is one of my favourites pursuits. Even if no one else ever hears them, it gives me great joy.
Thus, when considering a new music blog to follow Fat Planet, it felt very much as if the time had finally arrived to put two and two together. Blogging and mixtapes, as one. Blogging about a single track in a single post certainly gives space and context, but the time allocated to writing is disproportionate to the length of the music itself. With mixtapes, I could get across a wider selection of music, but also create context in a different way – by placing each piece in a sequence with a considered selection of other sounds. Thus, in 2008, the Discontent mixtape blog was born.
Importantly, all of the music on Discontent was ‘legal’ or, more simply, ‘free music’ – that is, that the music in the mixtapes had been made available for free on the web with the permission of the artists and labels. They may never considered that the approved tracks in circulation would be used in this mixtape format, but hopefully the introduction of a new filter, a new context or a new curation would help distribute and sell their work more widely.
Although the project wound down in 2011, the mixtape archive is still available to download. I hope you get just as much pleasure from listening to the selections on Discontent as I had putting them together.
Index of mixtapes:
DISCONTENT MIXTAPES Curated by Stuart Buchanan:
Three Heads Meet Messmer And Koo Koo (January 2011)
Soundtrack For An Imaginary Australia (October 2010)
In Teen Dreams (January 2010)
Disorientation Session – Disorient’s Mixtape For FBi (January 2010)
All That Glitters Is Gold (September 2009)
Burnt By The Sun (August 2009)
Hypnogogic Pop (July 2009)
Music For Merce (A Tribute To Merce Cunningham) (July 2009)
Discontent Mixtape Two (May 2009)
Databass Eclectic Audio – Mixtape (April 2009, originally released 1997)
Discontent Mixtape One (February 2009)
Fat Planet Year Two – Mixtape (February 2009, originally released 2005)
Fat Planet Arabesque – Mixtape (February 2009, originally released 2007)
Fat Planet Year One – Mixtape (January 2009, originally released 2004)
DISCONTENT MIXTAPES Curated by others:
I Don’t Buy Records In Your Shop Now I Tape Them All, A Mixtape By Telafonica (April 2010)
We Are Experiencing Turbulence, A Mixtape by Filastine (March 2010)
Americas Volume One, A Mixtape by Moses Iten (January 2010)
China, A Mixtape by Shaun from Tenzenmen (December 2009)
Paper Money, A Mixtape by Raphael Dixon (December 2009)
We Sleep In This Cave, A Mixtape by Pink Priest (November 2009)