BC046 - Five Mixes: NTS Radio—New Residents, Autumn 2023, Pt. 1
Guns a-blazin', aleatory sound-daubing, Arabic Shakira covers, and more!
Oops, I did it again. I listened to a bunch of Rinse FM sets in March, and have a bunch of stuff as yet earmarked from a trawl through RA’s Mixes of the Day. But when I saw the graphic above on Instagram, I wanted to dive in, and so I have. Not only did it enable me to make lists to my OCD heart’s desire, it threw me in the path of a whole bunch of music I didn’t know about at all (and some I did) and now want to know about a lot more. That’s the whole idea, so far as I can see.
Here’s what’s going to be different about how I approach NTS’s new autumn residents: I’m going to at least try to hear one set by each of the above-named, from the fall of 2023, before I’m through. That doesn’t mean I’ll write about all of them, and it also doesn’t mean that not writing about someone indicates their show is bad. For example, I started Agathe Rousselle’s episode of Scoring Machine from September 21—all tracks from Italian soundtracks. Not bad! But not quite what I’m looking for, which isn’t her fault. So, like that. Other DJs—roughly 20—have sets available on NTS, but they predate September, my cutoff for any kind of “new autumn resident.” My eyes and ears remain open for them, as well as a handful with no shows up on NTS yet at all. So yes, this will be a good faith effort going forward to try and hear them all at least once. The ones I like may not always appear in an NTS grouping, but most will, and those groupings will intersperse with other kinds. Lots else on the agenda, rest assured.
Here are all five sets as a SoundCloud playlist.
Cheb Mimo, Shakshouka (September 1)
Pop songs—who doesn’t love those? (Plenty of people who would dote on the sets below this one, obviously, but you know what I mean.) I don’t hear a lot of those sung in North African tongues, but this exuberant hour of Raï hits helps to sets that right. It helps that I recognize a couple of tunes, in particular a cover of “Whenever, Wherever” (@ 47:20) that’s tasty like cheese popcorn. Moreover, I recognize a lot of samples, particularly “Back to Life” and the “Ashley’s Roachclip” beat (more than once). Most of these predate the millennium, and I’m OK with that, too.
Lawrence Kumpf, Harpocrates Seated on a Lotus (September 9)
AKA Blank Forms, and I can well imagine you not being in the mood for this shit, because sometimes I’m not either. It’s ostentatiously out, an hour of avant-jazz and aleatory sound-daubing that will likely make the song-oriented throw a fit. But when I’m up for it, it sings to me—a perfect companion to the below, though I heard them in the reverse order of their appearance here (chronological, always.) If things like words and instrumental soloing appeal to you—not to mention things such as shape and coherence—you’ll prefer it.
3XL w/Special Guest DJ (September 18)
“Insanely mellow and trippy and weird,” I importuned a friend not halfway through my first play-through. Yes, this is even more out there than the Kumpf set above, and it is even more memorable an experience (note term) as a result. Scaring away the plebes with rambunctious sound art is a longstanding practice that yields iffy results most of the time by me, but this one repelled and attracted me in equal measure; it never does what you think it’s going to. A few times, I had to check to see if I’d opened another tab with music in it by accident. It may be the most purely dissociative hour of sound I’ve encountered this year. It offers no harm, yet I’m almost afraid of it.
DJ Amir, The Kronicles (September 23)
The story the DJ tells midway through this hour, of the police showing up at the New York rap 12-inch emporium Fat Beats, “with guns a-blazin’,” in order to get them to take their unlicensed hip-hop mixtapes off the sales floor, is incredible. This is why people listen to the radio—for a moment that felt, that real. (Amir mentions on the show that he is working on a book about this period with the writer Dart Adams.) Equally superb is the music that surrounds it—an unfettered tour through funk, jazz, disco, and house with rubber in its joins.
James McNew (Yo La Tengo) (September 29)
No surprise here—McNew is a known record hound, in a band of known record hounds. An hour from his collection is a sure shot—and despite the announcement above, he’s been doing it every month since July—this, as he says, is episode five, in fact. But do the others include a segue from “I Close My Eyes” into “Ooodles of O’s” into “Do Do Wap Is Strong in Here”? Neither does anything else. Every segue sprouts a new flower. Casually amazing.