Welcome to our fourth monthly Deep Cuts article. What a month. This month’s theme is Wordless Tone, its prompt question was 'what music speaks clearly without words'. The illustration comes from Trav.
Music from each of this months' writers is combined in the mix below, their full answers below that.
I am free
I know where I’m going but I have NO IDEA. I’m trying to listen… the sound is getting louder. Slowly it's growing inside.
I have a flash of memory, I heard this on the dancefloor or was it on the train… Was I walking somewhere? I remember the vibe, the pace, the place. What was I thinking about at the time? Probably something, somewhere, lost in my mind.
I want to listen to this song, in this place, in time. How do I get there?
I want to be here and there all at the same time. Too little and too much all at once.
Sometimes you know the answer and sometimes you have to sit… listening, letting it breathe.
I am with my best friend and I think of times spent together. Times when that noise was the only silence I could find. Travelling. Staring into vast landscapes whilst on a train, or a bus or a plane. Being young and being old(er). Being innocent and less so. Sick, well. Happy, sad. Here and there.
Many times, taking for granted how lucky I was to be there. Never FULLY being right there.
Sometimes you need a catalyst. A space to hold and be held. A space somewhere in between the now, then and future. A place somewhere in the middle between both headphones. A place to waste some time.
I am free, I remind myself. It is just me, listening and observing. My heart feels so full it could burst. I’m not communicating with anyone but there is so much being said.
I lost it sometimes, too busy to notice or take the time. Running away. Then that song comes on, in that moment of stillness, I connect to it, I remember, I feel. And its right back where I left off.
Shuffle, a new song comes on. Where do I feel it? In my throat? In my heart? In my stomach?
Shuffle, I know what I want. I want something earthy, something grounding, something that tells me the story I’m trying to figure out. Pounding bass. Melody. I need that unexpected high hat for a breath of fresh air. It feels velvety and smooth, like a refreshing drink. Soothing to my soul. Energy. Vibrations. Frequencies.
I think of the person who made this and the why’s in what they created. Why did you repeat that? Why did you add/ take away? What were you feeling at the time? What atmosphere were you trying to create?
I hear it everywhere? I can’t focus on what you’re saying….Do you hear it too?
The sound of transport, the MRI machine, my head pulsates, the electricity generator at the end of the night, the bird calling me as the sun comes up. Music and sound everywhere.
I listen and I remind myself, I am free.
[Lauryn provided a bunch of songs to go along with her contribution, making up the first 11 tracks of this month’s playlist. This included Mashita by Mansur Brown, which opens this months’ mix.]
Lauryn Harper is a member of the all-female Sisu DJ crew which hold a residency at the Concrete Lates, here is a recent mix.
mm I write lyrics, so I normally listen to music’s words a lot. I find hearing voices comforting, especially my voice, weirdly, because it makes me feel like I actually exist and I’m valid, my opinions and feelings are valid.
My flatmate plays this album for me if I have panic attacks so I grew to like it a lot.
[Something Blue from the album, Soundscape 1 Surround, appears at 2:40 in the mix]
The piece of music that speaks to me more than words is Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagnini.
It’s been part of my life since I can remember. It was played at my wedding to my first husband in 1948 just after the war. We’d all endured loss and hardship but this music was part of the hope for a better future. Finally, there was a feeling of post war optimism.
When we had our first daughter we were very poor. Food and utilities were still being rationed. The remarkable thing was the feeling of community. We all swapped and shared in what little we had. I used to listen to this piece of music when times were tough. It fed my soul, renewed my hope and inspired me to believe that my dreams could come true. Life is all about expectation you see! When you live without material things the heart becomes stronger.
In fact, I believe this music helps me connect to something “spiritual”. At my age I continue to question whether there is life after death. The truth is – I don’t know. But, I am forever grateful this piece of music has helped me take a glimpse if not a touch of the divine.
[Cavalleria Rusticana’s Preludio appears at 7:15 in the mix]
Kathleen is the 95-year-old mother of Loose Lips founder Medallion Man's aunt - such a pleasure to have her contribute!
At 2:10 in Duval Timothy’s 2012 track I Do It, he stumbled upon a thoughtful melody, briefly fiddled with it, and then wandered back off to the track’s main motif. Five years later, that melodic movement returns in lbs, the penultimate track of his gorgeous album Sen Am.
This time it feels inevitable, its presence slowly approaching before stepping out into the twilight, eyes ablaze. Though still a solo pianist, Timothy sounds like more than this now, fingers have a steady weight to them as if strengthened by years of pulling solidity from mist.
The album talks of years lived away from his family in Sierra Leone, introduced on the opening track Whatsapp’s voice message; ‘I hope you find a new family, this is Emasin speaking to you, long time, how is everything, listen me what I’m saying to you, Duval everybody miss you.'
There are a few of these personal messages throughout this on Sen Am, whose name translates as 'send it'. Talking about his decision to use them, Timothy said ‘I like the idea of them hanging in the air like unanswered questions or a something that somebody said to you [that] you can’t get out of your head because something about it resonates.’
[Introvert, from Sen Am, appears at 9:40]
Now on to something totally different. My favourite DJ mix of all time was recently made listenable online for the first time, Call Super’s Fabric 92, originally released on CD just over three years ago. I was studying a very liberal, out-there Anthropology course in Edinburgh at the time.
Sat in my dorm room (whose bright ceiling lights I had tinted with red plastic), I played the mix whilst reading, in preparation for seeing mr Super himself at my local club Sneaky Pete’s that night.
I was reading Stefan Helmreich’s Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas, which documents time spent with marine biologists in California’s Monterey Bay, travelling deep into the sea and watching the ways they extracted and interpreted data, the way they ‘made the message from the mud intelligible.’ Helmreich learned that this process was not as coldly logical and formulaic as one might imagine; these ‘marine microbial texts are animated by environmental and ethical imaginations’.
Call Super posted this mix on Soundcloud a month or so before this article went out, before Corona Mania got into full swing in the UK. I read the press release for the first time, and low and behold; 'For the listener, I simply wanted the music to take you out to sea so we could watch the weather together. This isn’t about getting beat upside the head, this is us dreaming in the dawn.'
We published the first Deep Cuts article, Head Space, the day after the December '19 election results. It hadn’t occurred to us that the theme would be timely, that many of us would be needing space.
Now, once again, this month’s theme has unexpectedly synced up with a massive event, this time a global one; quarantine. I recorded the mix on Monday at Threads Radio on the last day their studio was open, letting myself into the studio and switching on the gear guided by a producer on the phone.
Now, it’s Saturday; the club underneath Threads, the Cause, is also shut, as are all pubs. Unnecessary travel has been discouraged, a surge of workers are hunched over laptops on kitchen tables, whilst others were offered 80% of their wage to stay home, yesterday. The Prime Minister has suggested that the worst could be over in 3 months.
Now we need more than space, we need to talk. Talk through voice notes, talk through facetime, and of course, talk through music. Share what helps you, what can help others. As Phoebe Bridgers sings towards the end of Scott Street, don’t be a stranger.
Will Soer is Deep Cuts’ Mama.
[talking to Will] I first heard Andreas Wollenweider’s music, specifically his Down To The Moon album, sometime between 1986 and 87. It’s not a very soulful story actually, it was on Hampstead high street, a temple of conspicuous consumption and privilege. Well, a street can’t be a temple, but you know what I mean. It was in Nicole Farhi’s store, she designed clothing for women that was softer in sensibility than the 80s, it provided something interesting and subtle to wear to work in a time when women were still power dressing. It was trendy, creative, classic with a twist. It helped me feel comfortable in an environment where I felt exceptionally unworthy. Paired back, minimalist chic. That’s also where I first heard George Winston.
My lifestyle is a million miles away from what my life represented then, the music doesn’t even particularly take me back, it has new memories attached, I just thought of that when you asked. I actually didn’t get to listen to it much back then, I was living with someone who couldn’t stand it. I’d sometimes listen to it alone in the car, as an antidote to his tastes (Peter Gabriel, pomp rock).
[Tracks from the Down To The Moon appear at 5:05 and 12:25 in the mix]
Shirley Soer is Will Soer’s mother.
Dans la Nuit [14:55 in the mix] enters with a dreamy and surreal theme which will remain with us throughout the track. Initially building in a seemingly formulaic pattern, adding new steps at regular intervals, allowing the song to fill out and take form. The listener is encouraged to get comfortable, almost able to predict the next percussive alteration, however all is not as it seems. We are met with a sudden change in narrative with the now familiar piano taking centre stage, all before a freefall into improvisational strings and brass. With the occasional vocalisation mirroring the now free flowing nature of the song, broken off to become a totally different creature.
Haig Binnie works as a care giver.
Cycling Sugar Glider
I knew she wanted to dance on Broadway, she had told me whilst the sun set over the surf below us. That was two months ago now, where our crazy story began. November had drifted into January and Lima had morphed into Medellin. We were no longer in her hometown, so the sun down in this city would be an adventure for us both. The later stop would be mine and Objekt would be taking us on a subterranean voyage. But first beers, talking, preamble, now we were wandering downtown, the buzz from the beers guiding us. The reflected neon lights glossed her dark eyes and combined with a playful glint. Follow me it said.
Follow the hum of life, it was emanating from an archway, smiles, wristbands and more beers. Salsa. The core of Colombian culture began flowing out from the house band. She was up, moving without really moving. Gliding across the floor with an effortless intensity. Movement flowing naturally like waves to water - a force through a medium. I thought of those waves orange under the sunset that night, they had nothing on this, her smile was for only herself - immersed in her own world. A feeling of warmth crashed over me, this was the voice of the music, forget the lyrics, the way it forced her around the floor spoke more directly than Dylan and connected closer than a Hedrick’s solo.
She was attuned to the sound and had the whole bar transfixed. Love, passion, freedom, fun. This was what the music was saying, translated by her energy for all to understand. Unrehearsed, free-flowing right from the soul. Each ending of the bar an invisible force that pushed her body into new space with a grace and ease that showcased a life dedicated to the art. The music commanded her and in turn she had commanded the room - we were now unwittingly all slaves to these sounds.
Crescendo’s built in intensity before pulling us all back to earth and into the groove once more as we continued on our unexpected journey. This felt like a far cry from the escapades in Bristolian warehouses that had previously encapsulated me, yet the level of immersion was just the same, with the moves now set to expert. Locked into the sound of percussive beats, I could see where our worlds now collided. There was a mutual understanding as volume faded and our eyes met.
The ethereal buzz of the Saturday night crowd was combined with static from the amp as the final bass note slowly droned out. Everything dropped instantly back to normality with the stopping of the music; there was a nervous smile, a thank you. She may have danced but I was moved. For those minutes I truly saw her, I saw Broadway, I saw what music ‘looked like’. Back under the arch, exploring the streets again where there was now a glint in my eye.
Cycling Sugar Glider was a couple of months away from completing their second lap of the world - raising money for OTR Bristol - when Corona pulled them back home. They recently wrote a gorgeous playlist article that fleshes out the music surrounding these experiences.
Where do I start with this track? The structure? The gradual build? I mean, it is a long one but every moment is golden. That bit where the kick drops and breaks come in? The drop outs? The jungle rhythms combine perfectly with the uplifting ethereal synths, everything drops out and comes back in at exactly the right time. I still have to do pub sets sometimes to pay my bills, but no matter where I am I normally finish on a couple of ambient breakbeat / techno tracks, this is one of my favourites.
I'm an enormous fan of Krautrock and I guess this track hits all of the same spots for me. I like tracks that have builds and dynamics. I am also a fan of repetition (just take a look at how few lyrics my tracks have), as long as there are builds, with a hypnotic element. That’s what meditation is - concentrating on a repetitive action. It’s something I definitely incorporate a lot into my own music. I have a very Kraut-y release coming out in a couple of months on Höga Nord in fact which would be a good example of this. I’m a big fan of ‘chug’ which I guess is a direct derivative of Kraut, but with a techno kick to it.
It would have been impossible to write this piece without mentioning the Guv’nor, Andrew Weatherall. I didn’t know which track to choose but decided to include the last thing he released before he passed away, Unknown Plunderer [19:20 in the mix]. I feel like it’s a great one to choose as it has a lot of styles of different eras of AW blended into one song. I don’t think I will ever become bored of it. He left this world on a high with this perfect track. Manfredas’ remix of this track is also outstanding. Really did him proud with that one.
A very cold night in January changed my life, because it completely changed what my idea of what DJing is. My friends Snap, Crackle & Pop had a night on at Bloc. The evening’s proceedings were Ivan Smagghe, Lena Willikens & Vladimir Ivovic going back to back to back all night long. I was a bit early for the club so I went to meet some friends for some pre-club drinks at our friend’s tattoo studio around the corner. When we arrived it seemed that pretty much everyone had decided to arrive at 1am. I went to the front of the queue to try and get in but was told that guest list and ticket holders must queue in the same place (despite the fact that I actually work for the promoter - I do their airport pick ups).
I decided I couldn’t be bothered to argue and that I’d wait with everyone else as we would all be together so it would be fine. We must have waited in the cold for nearly two hours. During the queuing time some friends passed us and tried to do exactly what I had tried to do earlier, but our friend Nick managed to somehow talk the security guys into letting them all in. We knew he’d try and do this from the moment we saw him so found it hilarious to watch it unfold and see if he’d manage to succeed. After what I’m pretty certain was almost 2 hours in the freezing cold, we were eventually let in and it was worth the wait.
There was a great moment when this track was playing (it took me a little while to find out what it was but I got there in the end) when myself and my friend Stella turned to each other and simply said “this music’s incredible.” Every track played that evening was pretty much a hybrid of more than one genre of music and there were barely any, if any tracks at all, above 130 BPM. I really took a lot from this night and incorporated to my very own style of DJing. I had to take Vlad and Lena and their agent, Meri back to the airport the next day on barely any sleep but it was very much worth it. I also ended up buying the Harmonious Thelonious record on Discogs from a buyer who turned out to already be a friend of mine, which was pretty funny too. I like coincidences like that.
Thomas Richardson & Will Soer
facebook messenger conversation, beginning at 00:34, 15/08/19
W: You know how you were saying that the sound of Justin Vernon [from Bon Iver]’s voice is just super emotional for you
Are any other specific sounds like that for you too?
T: Hm good question
Parts of this track [25:56 in the mix]
The strings here do it for me
Similar kind of emotion too, like Justin could get down to these tracks
T: A classic
The acid line in the one too
Oo and the arps in this one
Crazy crazy track
W: Do you have it with anything other than music?
Like visual elements of a film / painting
T: Defo nothing visual that springs to mind
I have poster and art and stuff in my room
Photographs of me younger
Photographs of dead friends
But that’s pretty obvious
W: Pretty big compliment to the spirituality of music
If that’s where your mind goes
T: The only emotions there are sadness and regret at not spending more time with people I loved
It’s less defined with music
More just raw emotion
T: More positive generally but not always
W: More like just a level of intensity
T: Yeah or like a planar thing, it’s on another plane of experience
T: More all consuming in a sense
Could we put this conversation in Deep Cuts
Or something built off it
T: Feel free man
I like this line of questioning /discussion
W: I haven’t done an interview as a submission yet
But actually gets right to what I’m trying to achieve, just genuine responses
T: Think Frank Ocean makes me feel similar types of ways to Bon Iver
And Kevin Parker from tame impala
But Kevin is more to do with melody and lyrical context
W: Feels like we only go backwards
Frank is my favourite artist
T: I could have cried at Glastonbury
If I wasn’t so gobsmacked
And desperately trying to remember every single moment
He has such a special voice, like at points it’s almost cheesy with emption, like neeyo usher levels
Thomas Richardson DJs under the name Tem, and has organized events series in Bristol including Double Vision (disco/techno + diffraction glasses) and Freedom of Groovement. The latter is based on his amazing radio show, each episode of which traces the sound of dance music in a certain country.
[34:06 in the mix]
The track above and the following writing are symbiotic, the writing isn't a full piece without the music.
17th October 2072
I'm 82, I've opened my lungs, they're filling with water. My wet hair weighing me down, as is my coat, pulling me to the bottom. I'm frail, there is no way I am going to fight it, plus the heavy stones in my coat pockets are turning this into a losing battle. ACCEPT IT. It'll be over shortly, I have a front-row view to the greatest visual light show in the universe. Oxygen starts to leave my brain, cold fire enflames my lungs, the last thing I'll ever feel. Actually, no it's not. The pain leaves me, I'm suspended. Bliss, I feel bliss. Swirling patterns engulf my vision, fractals swarm my peripheries, infinite shapes of infinite colour, morphing and shifting. Euphoria hits me. The feeling of everything and oblivion washes across me, all or nothing, infinite to the finite. My synapses are firing across my brain like crazy trying to find somewhere to run, to hide from the inevitable. I'm no longer aware of my surroundings, the world has slipped away. Stuck floating in a white room with a whirlpool of palette above my vision, sending a warm blanket of reassurance across me, senses shot, nothing makes sense, oh the bliss, the bliss is heaven, it’s all I can compute, I don't remember any previous thought, but there is one thing I know, I haven't felt happiness like this as far as my short firing brain could stretch, Something flashes across my mind in my suspended animation, its sharp, intense, my brain and body fight the bitter feeling, I don't want the bliss to leave. I stay with it, it wraps its warm touch around me, blanketing me with its pleasant, motherly embrace. I am ready. I am eyes close. I am slip. I am no more.
Jake Leins is studies of creative writing and music production at Falmouth, he is currently in the process of combining the two into a new format, whilst also making up one part of a duo on the Threads radio show DnB Flavours with Dark Vibin & Babu Yaga. Jake has been writing underground hip hop reviews for the past decade and is now moving on to explore more creative pieces.
It sounds like a dream. A few words are said throughout Lone and Machinedrum’s As A Child [37:35 in the mix] but the hypnotic melody captures my mind. It has the ability to take me to an open space, somewhere unknown but familiar. It almost sounds nostalgic, wild and free but in the middle of it all something present. The sounds melt and reform different textures, textures that are only seen when two producers merge and the listener gets to hear it. I find it colourful at least, at most it’s so much more than colourful.
Bevna is a music geek.
Mashita - Mansur Brown
Something Blue – Hiroshi Yoshimura
Down To The Moon – Andreas Vollenweider
Preludio (Orchestra) – Maria Callas
Introvert – Duval Timothy
Drown In Pale Light – Andreas Vollenweider
Demo – Angus
Dans La Nuit – Horror Inc.
Unknown Plunderer – Andrew Weatherall
The Age Of Compassion (House Mix) – Tevo Howard
Lightyears From You – McGregor
Ak-Do 5 – Robag Wruhme
Aether (Give It 2 Me) – Jet§am
As A Child (ft. Machinedrum) – Lone