Mix Tape

Dream Sequence -- November 2009

Play this month's Mix Tape:

I've been having trouble sleeping...or maybe I should say, I've been having trouble once I'm asleep. Ever since it started getting darker earlier, I've been beset by bizarre dreams that leave me feeling more exhausted when I wake up than when I went to bed. So, naturally, I wikipediad the subject and learned it's not just me: studies show that switching back and forth for Daylight Savings Time causes disruptions to our sleep patterns that manifest themselves in our everyday lives for weeks (e.g. increased traffic fatalities and workplace injuries, among other effects).

With my circadian rhythms all upset, I went looking for some ambient music to set them back in order. The pursuit inspired this month's Mix Tape -- a compilation of songs that could serve as the soundtrack to a particularly strange and wonderful dream.
This month's Mix Tape compiled by Tessa Stuart.

The name Monsters of Folk may be meant as ironic, but the fact that it's a pretty accurate description makes it less so. The group consists of a stable of indie-rock luminaries -- Jim James of My Morning Jacket, M. Ward of She and Him, and Conor Oberst and producer Mike Mogis (who previously collaborated as Bright Eyes) The soft and sweet harmonizing on this track, about falling asleep on a train, makes this lullaby better than a glass of warm milk (or an ambien).

I have to admit, I'm playing favorites here -- both my favorite album and my favorite live performance (at Treasure Island) of the year. It seems like every article written about the band mentions the singular joy of seeing them live (Rolling Stone called their shows "more like shamanistic tent revivals than rock concerts") and watching lead singers Alexander Ebert and Jade Castrinos serenade each other. A number of the songs from the band's debut album, Up From Below, were inspired by their whirlwind romance, including this one, in which Ebert sings, "she's got jumper cable lips, she's got sunset on her breath..."

I don't know if it's lead singer Hayden Thorpe's eerie falsetto, or the chanting refrain about the tastes dancing on his tongue, but every time I hear it, this song reminds of me of the terrifying, psychadelic boat ride in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The song appears on Two Dancers, Wild Beast's sophomore effort, which was released in September. The band recently announced the dates for their first U.S tour -- you can catch them at the Independent on February 11.

A version of this song first appeared on the band's Wave Like Home in 2008. This remix, featuring Victoria Legrand of Beach House, is one of a number of re-workings of the Future Islands' songs on their newest release Post Office Wave Chapel, out mid-December. Rich layers of vocals, curtains of synthesizer, and a dancey beat were added to make it an alternate-universe version of the original, which you can hear on the band's myspace.

For this song, off the newest album of her solo project, Taken By Trees, Victoria Bergsman of The Concretes (also known for lending her voice to the Peter, Bjorn and John song "Young Folks") collaborated with Sufi musician Sain Muhammad Ali. Bergsman has said that he is singing about going to visit a friend who refuses to open the door to him, but the affective weight of his voice almost defies the need for translation.

The Scottish duo Boards of Canada record predominantly in analog, sampling every day sounds, like the seagull calls featured on this track, mixing them up and laying them back down in transcendent loops with an almost hypnotic effect. This song is from their 2005 album, The Campfire Headphase.

You might have heard Kid Cudi featured on number of songs by Kanye West, who discovered and signed the rapper to G.O.O.D. Music last year. His first full-length studio album, Man on the Moon: End of the Day, dropped in September and features some unlikely collaborations, like this track, produced by Ratatat with vocals by MGMT.

The eerie music video for "Marrow," seems like it could have been excerpted from a David Lynch film. Annie Clark walks with a blank, wide-eyed stare down a desolate country road, collecting followers like a post-apocalyptic pied piper -- a family, a group of disaffected youths, construction workers, policemen and a herd of goats--singing "H-E-L-P, help me, help me."

Nad Navillus is a palindromatic alias of Chicago-based musician Dan Sullivan, who recorded this song, and the eponymous album, in 2002. Sullivan, who also played with Songs: Ohia, has since recorded two more records with other bands, but I think the beautiful brooding tone of the vocals and the violin on this song prove he's at his best solo.

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Please Note: Some songs may contain explicit lyrics.