Mixtape for a 25 Year Old's 29th Birthday

Mixtapes… the nerd's favoured method of seduction and surely the most awkward form of communication between lovers, next to the lazy and unfair question, «What are you thinking?»

But then I knew you loved music. And now, every once in a while, I hear music I think would've tickled your bubbly and contagious fancy. Stuff you never got to dig. Here's some of it:

There's your beloved wild style delinquent juvenile rockabilly 'tudesilly lyricsvitriolic lyricssing-along melodies… wretched fuzz scuzz… kitsch psych & '70s riffsgo-go syncopation… rugged male voices… sultry female voicesChris-Isaak-making-sandy-love-to-Helena-Christensen style surf lounge guitarhead bobbing rhythms… at least one hippie punk Manson Family reference… the odd pop hook—even a soft hearted ballad. (You weren't fooling anyone, with your stinging wit and feisty opinions.) There are some of your trusty heroes—the boys and girls who fired your imagination (amongst other things)—and some songs and artists you'd never heard… A couple of your favourite melodies, in new renditions… A couple of songs that, quite frankly, make for guilty pleasures for me—but then you always recommended not being guilty about any kind of pleasure.

This comp encapsulates the joy you taught: It's OK to have fun, your mind doesn't have to be switched on all the fucking time, and happiness is allowed. So, with these insignificant little songs old memories stay alive, even when the songs are new. They invoke instant images, questions («What would you have made of this?») and the old in-jokes, so in now that only I am still in on them.

You're not all gone, then. Let's celebrate the day you came in to the world. Chin-chin…


Friendship vs. Music!

Better than Friends—A Sampler for Friends of Toilet Guppies [.zip]

Are you ever awoken at night by calls from friends with thoughts of suicide? Or some impossibly drunk friend cursing you and telling you, amid the unintelligible sounds barely qualifying as syllables, that she hates you, only to call you up the next day to apologise for anything she might have said or done that she can't remember anyway? Do you have some arsehole friend who is, after all, your friend, but who nonetheless needs to be endured as he disrespects your friends and everyone and possibly even you? Or worse, up to several friends too stupid to be liars as such, their disappointing untruths and rash, unkept promises based on lack of insight into self rather than devious cunning (which at least would've hinted at some intelligence)… One friend who dares you to «take it outside», another threatening to kill you? Maybe you visit an old friend, only to find an alcoholic shell of the charismatic, handsome daredevil you used to know? Or see a past soulmate, fat from medication and for some reason toothless now, spending his days riding the bus, trying to pick up the 14 year old girls with incoherent sentences punctuated by unnervingly unmotivated bursts of ecstatic laughter?

People come and go. All those people… Cleaning out your things, maybe you come across an old letter by someone you once had a crush on, a lifetime ago, but whose existence you're reminded of only now. Or someone tells you about the recent activities of some long estranged friend. Or chance throws you into the path of some stranger, soon to be calling you at all times of the day and night with their nervous breakdown. Maybe you're wondering if you should call that person who once used to be so terribly close to you, but who both of you know is better off without you? Or perhaps you are the one to receive a cold call? Perhaps you're nursing a guilt for not making that one phone call to your friend in need, all those weeks ago already? (Everything just seemed to «get in the way».)

Can you keep track of all the people entering and exiting your life? Is there even any point in trying to hold on to anyone, when this door just keeps revolving? Friends that drop away and friends that won't go away, friends that annoy, friends that cheer you up, friends that sacrifice, friends that abandon, friends that just can't help it, friends that die, friends that cling, friends that use, friends that give, friends that can't, friends that forget, friends that are forgotten, friends that misunderstand and friends that are misunderstood. Strangers who step up, acquaintances who bring grace, professionals who help out. Friendship is a concept, but people are real, and in abundant supply. You'll never be alone, though you'll always be alone.

This is the secret allure of music, forgotten by fame whores, but understood by those who know to truly appreciate the medium: Whether you're all by your lonesome self or you're surrounded by people and somehow it still doesn't take, the right music can always bring you home. Music is more reliable, forgiving and giving than people. (Than the people who make it.) It's more understanding—and comforting, if need be. The other day, I saw a mother putting her wailing baby to sleep, a spontaneous melody slipping unthinkingly from her throat. And it worked!

So, to all friends present, past and future, here's something no friend and at least not this one could ever give you: The languid, almost mystical solace—when most of the people populating your life are sources of drama and upheaval and you have no one to turn to who isn't already a stone—of one of the most soothing, yet in no way escapist voices Toilet Guppies knows of. She used to sing in a legendary cult outfit of the '90s, and has been the go-to voice of the Jesus And Mary Chain, Massive Attack, the Chemical Brothers, Death In Vegas, Air, Vetiver, Bert Jansch and Le Volume Courbe. But where many of those artists foil the intimacy she's capable of with layers of grandiose and alienating strings, samples and beats, her own two-man band with her husband (the drummer in an equally legendary '90s band) is the perfect antidote to a restless, wallowing mind. A helping hand for whenever you should raise your mitt up from under the choppy sea of all this consciousness.

This is music for when you're coming down at sunrise, everyone too tired to converse… road music for when you don't feel like dealing with the fellow passengers anymore and all those questions and bad jokes… music to transform a desperately lonely night into much needed alone time, whichever bed you're sleeping in this time into a womb, rendering the past and the future into something entirely OK to just leave where they are, and do you really need anyone anyway?

This music could be your BFF. Get it here, now.


Mp3 Killed the Vinyl DJ 11: Sister Grimm

Larkin Grimm: Selections from «Time Is a Spiral #2» 10" [.zip]

Here's a vinyl rip of the highlights from an obscure, vinyl-only EP by Larkin Grimm, recorded live in studio for the Dutch radio station VPRO in 2006. I've already written too many words, words, words about Grimm on this blog. Enjoy the songs:
3. «Little Weeper»
5. «Bollweevil»