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Ambient Pop MP3 Mega Mix

What do electronica maven Aphex Twin, rap trio De La Soul, and Roedelius, of the ambient-prog band Cluster, have in common? They all fit into the latest free mix tape (well, lengthy MP3 file) from the Corewatch netlabel, at corewatch.net/corewatch. The mix is titled Autopilot, and it is credited to Amok, whose previous Corewatch mix found common ground between Autechre, Cocteau Twins (also heard here) and Nurse with Wound. But whereas that early mix spread its 18 tracks out leisurely, for a CD-filling nearly 74 minutes, Autopilot (here) packs its 33 tracks in under an hour.

Whether or not you choose to do that math assignment, the result is a collision of impulses. On the one hand, the music is easy like a Sunday morning spent listening to a college radio show (at 120kbps, this is not CD-quality sound) of several generations of spacey pop musics; on the other hand, it shifts gears at a good clip. Sometimes, despite the intently lackadaisical sound palette, the individual tracks rub up against each other in vaguely unsettling ways: slurry phone chatter goofiness leads into Elizabeth Fraser’s elfin glossolalia into Plaid’s blippy computer pop into a bit of Moebius-strip plunderphonics courtesy of the Tape Beatles.

The artful hodgepodge of a set list notwithstanding, the most peculiar thing about this mix is that its DJ, this Amok, has decided to divide each segment from the next with a second or so of silence, which in the end makes this less of a mix tape and more of a charm bracelet of audio curios. It might have been more interesting to provide the 33 tracks as individual MP3 files, allowing the listener to drop them into a player with shuffle control and a two-second crossfade, and put Autopilot‘s contents on actual autopilot.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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