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Radiolab Mixtape Volume #1, Summer '14

by Jad Abumrad


Hello. You have landed on this page because you are a Podcast Warrior. Part of an elite special unit of Radio Rebels. Or as our membership department would say: a sustaining member.

This mixtape is my humble way of saying thank you for supporting Radiolab. I hope you like it. Maybe I’ll even make another one soon.  (That's why I called this one Vol. 1) Hat tip and high five to Wendy MacNaughton for the killer cover art -- below -- which is practical and useful, too. You can print out, and once you've dubbed your mp3 to cassette, you may use this as your cassette label.

Radiolab mixtape


The following songs mean a lot to the show and to me personally.   I’m very grateful to all the artists and labels for graciously allowing us to include their work.

There's lot in here. Weird notes, bits from the show. Here’s a quick rundown of the music you'll hear...

• Glenn Kotche, Mobile, Mobile, Pts. 1 & 2 Glenn Kotche may be best known as the drummer of Wilco (or the guy who drummed on kitchen faucets in that commercial). But that only captures about seven percent.  In the course of a week, he’ll premier experimental percussion pieces at Carnegie Hall, play for ten thousand drunk fans in a stadium...and, on the occasional Wednesday - at least in 2014 - join Radiolab on tour. He is a force of nature. This brief excerpt comes from Glenn's first album of solo percussion pieces, Mobiles. You'll also hear Jenny Hollowell reading from her short story “The History of Everything Including You."

• Grimes, Visions, Genesis Maybe the catchiest song ever? 

• Nuages Gris, Colin Campbell on drums, Michelle Campbell on Harp Colin was Glenn’s understudy on our Apocalyptical tour.  He travels the world repairing harps and is also married to a harpist, Michelle Campbell.  The two of them made this recording of a Franz List piece entitled Nuages Gris (Gray Clouds). It was written in the final years of Liszt's life, a period in which he had abandoned his flamboyant, virtuosic style in favor of a much sparser and atmospheric approach. Liszt said during this period of his life that he was "looking into the future" of music.

• Buke and Gass, Riposte, Medulla Oblongata I won’t expound too much on Buke and Gass here (cause I've already done that here).  They just amaze me.  How is it that I’ve listened to this song maybe a hundred times and I still can’t quite figure out the meter? 

• Zoe Keating, Into the Trees, Optimist Zoe probably needs no introduction at this point. (In case she does). She is a one woman cello orchestra who makes music to get people through tough times. Just a few months ago, her husband was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer.   I include this piece in honor of their fight. If you'd like to know more about Zoe's situation, click here.

• Quiet American, Mental State Quiet American is sound artist and gentleman Aaron Ximm. For many years, Aaron traveled the world, capturing sounds on a minidisc recorder and then turning those sounds into meditative washes that quieted the world. I hear this song and I think of the very beginning of Radiolab. We used it in Season 1, Episode 1.    

• Snowblink, Blue Moon Not long ago, we produced a show on Colors. As part of that hour, we worked with dozens of musicians to produce a "Covers of the Rainbow" series. One of my favorite submissions came in from Snowblink, a Toronto based band. Daniela Gesundheit' voice…damn. If there were a Karaoke version of Fantasy Football, I'd draft her in the first round.

• Homeboy Sandman and Jonti, Brown Homeboy Sandman and Jonti sent us this track. I wish I could sprinkle this track like pixie dust on the garden of hip hop and watch a thousand similar flowers bloom.  

• Lost in the Trees, Pink Moon An amazing band. And this song is also from "Covers of the Rainbow”. It’s hard to top Nick Drake's original. And yet, when Emma Nadeau's voice enters and soars to the rafters, that's exactly what happens.

• School of Seven Bells, Put Your Sad Down, Painting a Memory These days, the music that ends up meaning the most to me is music my kids also like (as you can imagine, the overlap in tastes is small). But about two years ago, my oldest son developed a deep attachment to this song. We played it constantly. In a way, it became kinda the soundtrack to our relationship. In 2013, SVIIB announced that founder Benjamin Curtis lost his fight to cancer. Benjamin, wherever you are: your music has inspired a thousand memories. Thank you.

• Noveller, Fighting Sleep, No Dreams Noveller (aka Sarah Lipstate) is a brilliant solo musician, film composer and a dark soul. She is a defining member of "Team Sad," the musical trio (with bassist Darrin Gray and Glenn Kotche/Colin Campbell) that accompanied Radiolab on our Apocalyptical tour.

• Juana Molina, Wed 21, La Rata Try describing Juana Molina's music to someone whose never heard it. I tried. It's really hard but in exactly the right way. This track is from her latest, Wed 21. I could have included about twenty different songs of hers.

• Dengue Fever, Sleep Walking Through the Mekong, One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula I heard this in a bar right after Robert and I appeared on Colbert. My adrenaline was still high and it sounded perfect.

• Jad Abumrad, Vierne Couldn't resist throwing in a tiny excerpt of one of my own compositions.

• Hundred Waters, The Moon Rang Like a Bell, Cavity I discovered Hundred Waters through following Grimes (AKA Claire Boucher) on Twitter.

• Soltero, You're No Dream, Honey Say It Radiolab producer Tim Howard does not save soccer goals but he does save tortoises (well, not really that either, but he makes great radio about them). Tim also makes music under the name Soltero and occasionally sneaks out of the office to tour Europe.

• National, High Violet, Sorrow The National is always a great band. But sometimes they offer up a song that gets to the highest plane a song can get to. My oldest son latched on to this too. When he was 3, he'd sing himself to sleep with it, thankfully not quite understanding the lyrics.

• Dawn of Midi, Dysphonia, Nix Another band that's also impossible to describe (though I tried, in a recent podcast). It's music that speaks to the benevolent machines inside us all. Their album, Dysnomia, is one long, immersive 47 minute composition. It breaks my heart to excerpt just this piece, so I'd encourage you to check out the entire album.

• Reggie Watts, from Apocalyptical, Radiolab Live at The Paramount Theater in Seattle Reggie is to improv what relativity is to a grandfather clock. Do you see how that makes no sense? That's exactly my point. Reggie makes no rational sense in our world. He is his own universe with his own laws of physics. This is a few minutes of a set he performed with us in Seattle last year.

• Lucius, Wildewoman, Don't Just Sit There We got a chance to see Lucius perform live at 2013's Solid Sound Festival at  MASS MoCA and were were blown away. Pat Benatar times two. So many goose pimples.  

• Glenn Kotche, Mobiles, Mobile, Pt. 3 Another foot-stomper percussion piece from the Great Kotche.



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