Posted by: Jeff | May 3, 2010

Monday Mixtape IX

It’s gloomy and gray out today, which means that a mixtape is needed to fit the mood.  This week I bring you a series of tracks from the trip-hop and dubstep genres – sample-heavy gloomy breakbeats with light vocals delicately laid on top.  These are the artists that have helped define the darker regions of the musical realm between hip-hop, jazz, and dance (the anti-Ke$ha’s of the world, if you will).

DJ Shadow – Midnight in a Perfect World (1996)

DJ Shadow is an absolute genius – a master of turntable beats and sampled elements.  His 1996 album, Endtroducing, is one of the most unique records of the past 20 years and a must-own, encompassing movie soundscapes, R&B, hip-hop, funk, and gospel.  “Midnight in a Perfect World” was his magnum opus – the highlight of Shadow’s best album, and the pinnacle of a career that also saw collaborations with Mos Def, the Beastie Boys, Ian Brown (of The Stone Roses), and fellow sample extraordinaire James Lavelle (as U.N.K.L.E.).

Buy here.

Moby – Porcelain (1999)

At the turn of the century, Moby was suddenly everywhere, on every advertisement, television show, and end of year (and decade) best-of list.  His sample-heavy gospel styling was to be the future of commercial music, though while he certainly inspired plenty of artists, 1999’s Play album is unique even in Moby’s discography.  Porcelain is restrained, with hushed vocals breathed over subdued synthesized strings and a prominent minimalistic piano riff.  It sounds like nostalgia, and even though the lyrics are more comprehensible than most in the genre, it encapsulates the emotive connections solicited by dubby trip-hop.

Buy here (at $9.99 for both Play and Play’s B-Sides – which alone would constitute Moby’s second best album – this is a deal to take advantage of).

Burial – Archangel (2007)

Few artists truly encapsulate the entire genre from within they work.  And while Burial’s William Bevan may borrow from multiple genres in order to create his dub-laden music, he embodies, to me, the entire genre of dubstep.  Bevan released Burial’s first two albums anonymously, and when his identity was finally revealed in 2008, he remarked that only about five of his friends even knew he made music.  And he makes it very well – his self-titled 2006 release topped many album of the year honors, and 2007’s Untrue was the second most critically-acclaimed album of the year according to review aggregator Metacritic (yes, ahead of In Rainbows).  But the most amazing thing about William Bevan?  He’s an alumnus of London’s Elliott School, also the alma mater of Four Tet, Hot Chip, and The xx.

Buy here.

Four Tet – Angel Echoes (2010)

The gentle rhythmic pulse underlying the tracks on Four Tet’s latest release, There Is Love in You, isn’t exactly dance music, but it isn’t really conducive to sitting still either.  Four Tet makes meditative music to move to, and in that way the haunting repetitive vocal sample on “Angel Echoes” propels the track forward.  The use of dubbed vocals and a sparse instrumental toolkit lend an atmospheric to the track, making it both evocative and moving.

Buy here.

Prefuse 73 – Perverted Undertone (2003)

Prefuse 73 is an instrumental hip hop artist who occasionally drops vocal samples or invites guest vocalists to rhyme over his electronica-oriented beats.  Not so on this track, which prominently samples a funky retro saxophone riff and repeats it over a sad wash of synth and a limping breakbeat.  Known more for creating glitchy distorted noise, this track is more personal, offering a glimpse at an artist that typically uses sound as a shield.

Buy here.



  1. My God, that’s excellent. If I had that mix-tape in my back pocket I’d be sure to listen to it all the time. Brilliant.

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