Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blog update

Instead of doing a full-length post this week, I’ve been working on my series lists, which I’ve now posted over there in the sidebar.  I started last week with my series listing for my music mixes.  This week, I polished off the rest: my series listing for The Barefoot Philosophy, my series listing for Saladosity, and the listing for my infrequent “Guides” series.

Then, just for completeness, I put together a page for my “informal” (meaning, mostly accidental) series, and another which outlines those series which appeared on my Other Blog.

Mostly these are just listings of links, but there’s a bit of writing here and there.  Most especially in the music mix series listing, where I added a glossary of terms I use in those posts.  I plan to keep these updated with any new posts in those series which are still ongoing.


Series Listing: The Other Blog

I have two blogs: this one, and a technical, Perl-based blog.  When I refer to “my Other Blog”, it just means whichever one you happen not to be on at the moment.  I occasionally do series over on the Other Blog as well, so here’s a listing of those.

YAPC Reports

The first one of these was actually posted on this blog, as it was written before The Other Blog was created.  The remainder are over there though.

These are not terribly technical; mostly what I talk about are traveling, the social interaction, dragging family members along for the ride, etc.

Perl and Me

This is probably the series that I’m proudest of (and the one that more people have actually read than any other, I would guess).  It’s moderately technical, in spots, but it also contains a lot of philosophical ponderings and more abstract points.

Not part of the series proper, but perhaps a fun read nonetheless: this post (not on the Other Blog) discusses the origin of all the titles I chose for this series.

A Date with CPAN

This describes my attempts to design a new Perl module to make dealing with dates easier for most Perl scripts.  It won’t work for every possible use of dates, but it should suffice for the most common cases.  It’s more technical than “Perl and Me,” but I think it has value for just about anyone who is a programmer, even if Perl is not their primary language.  It has a lot about general design that will apply in any language, and a lot about dates that is also language-agnostic.

Series Listing: The Informals

An “informal series” is when I don’t really set out to make a post series but end up doing it sort of accidentally.  Generally it comes from revisiting a certain theme periodically.

The Mother

Meaning “the mother of my children” rather than my own mother, I often write posts about The Mother on, appropriately enough, Mother’s Day.

Happy Holidays

Often times around the end of December I wish you a “merry whatever” or occasionally a merry “christmahannukwanzaakah.”*  Usually these are labeled “partial,” meaning that they’re not what I consider a full-length post.  But some of them have interesting tidbits in them anyway (especially that second one there).  So they may be worth checking out anyway.

Nothing to Say

Sometimes I don’t do a full blog post because Real Life got busy and I ran out of time.  But, occasionally, rarely, I find that I just can’t think of anything good to write about.  I often use these opportunities to reflect on the blog so far (e.g. number of posts, number of words, is anyone really reading it, that sort of thing).  These are all partial posts, but I think they’re interesting nonetheless.

Agile Development

There are 3 posts in this 2-part series, which is sort of about agile software development, but also sort of an open letter to managers and other businesspeople who are trying to implement some form of agile at their company (and mostly not succeeding).

This series is completed.


* As always, thank you to Jon Sime for inventing that excellent word.

Series Listing: Saladosity

This a list of posts in my series about salad: why I’m eating it more often, how I manage to keep it interesting enough to eat several times a week, and what specific salads I’m eating.

This series is currently unfinished, but it has a definitive stopping point.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Nutritional Tribes
  3. My Chosen Path
  4. Choose Your Veggies
  5. Further Adventures in Produce
  6. Picking Nuts
  7. The Savory Proteins
  8. Some Condiments, You Just Want to Buy
  9. The Rest of the Cold Stuff
  10. Dry, but Good

Although not technically part of the series, I also did a one-shot post on salad way back when.  You might also find it interesting:

Series Listing: The Barefoot Philosophy

Barefoot Software was the business I ran for 12 years.  This series explains the culture of Barefoot, why it was radically divergent from most other businesses of its time, and how it dovetails with many of the newer business philosophies we’re seeing emerging today (in particular, comparing and contrasting to Netflix and Valve).

This series is completed.

Series Listing: Guides

This a list of posts in my series about people who have influenced my life in some way, whom I refer to as “guides.”  From the intro:

But the point is, these are the people who were my guideposts, my compasses, whether from exerting a strong magnetic force on me, or just from jerking a thumb over their shoulder and indicating a better road.  Both are important.  Both have had significant impacts on my life.  Both make interesting stories, and that’s what it’s really all about.

This series is an ongoing one, meaning it will never be truly “finished.”  I sincerely doubt I’m ever going to run out of people who’ve influenced my life in one way or another.  I also do these very infrequently: basically whenever I’m reminded of a particular person from my past.  So be prepared for long gaps in between installments.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tenderhearted Nightshade I

"You Bleed Just to Know You're Alive"

[This is one post in a series about my music mixes.  The series list has links to all posts in the series and also definitions of many of the terms I use.  You may wish to read the introduction for more background.

Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

As I said back when I talked about Rose-Coloured Brainpan, one of the first mixes I ever made was Depression.  I was your typical angst-ridden teenager,1 not cool enough to be goth and emo hadn’t been invented yet, but I could still put on some decent wrist-slitting music when I felt down.  And the centerpiece of every depression-related mix I ever did back in those days was “Somebody,” by Depeche Mode.2  This is a beautiful song, full of heart-wrenching longing, and it can make me cry nearly every time.  It’s an awesome track, no doubt, if a bit heavy.  Still, in many ways it’s completely fair to give the honor of “mix starter” to this song.

But this mix didn’t really exist until I heard “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie.  That’s another beautiful song, but very different from the Depeche Mode track.  This one is very touching as well, but not really in a sad way.  It’s a song about death, sure, but it’s still in some fundamental way ... hopeful.  The singer (Ben Gibbard) is saying, there may be no heaven, there may even be no hell, but no matter where you go when you die, I’ll be coming with you.  A little thing like death is not going to keep us apart.

This got me started thinking about songs that have a certain poignancy to them.  They might be sad, or hopeful, or touching, or some combination of all three, but what they have in common is they all have a certain emotional impact that affects the listener, if they’re paying attention to the words (and sometimes even if they’re not).  Once I framed the parameters like that, all sorts of songs began suggesting themselves, and this mix was truly born.

Probably the first two tracks to come along after I decided to compile this mix were “Troy” by Sinéad O’Connor, which became the volume opener, and “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which became its centerpiece.  The former, also from an album I absolutely love,3 I always thought was just vaguely nifty, until I listened to it with a (female) friend of mine, for whom it apparently struck far closer to home.4  Ever since then, I’ve only been able to hear real pain in Sinéad’s amazing voice.  The dynamics in this song—the way it goes from breathy whisper to anguished scream—is especially electric.

As for “Iris” ... I don’t know if I can express how this song affects me.  The classic line from this track is of course the volume title, and it’s one of those lines from a song that feels like it’s speaking directly to me, like it was written especially for me and no one else can really get it.  I tried to explain what it meant to The Mother once, but I fell short.  The song is ostensibly a love song, containing lines such as “I’d give up forever to touch you” and “you’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be,” but to me it says nothing about love at all.  It’s something about growing up, and something about the pain of just being alive, and something about coping in the face of despair.  It’s not exactly sad, but it’s not really hopeful either.  The couplet in question is of course:

When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive

And I think this means something about how life feels fake sometimes, like you’re just going through the motions and reading somebody else’s script, and pain is the thing that lets you know it’s actually real.  Or maybe that’s not quite it.  It’s very difficult for me to describe.  But I know I love the song, even though it makes me a bit sad, and I know it belongs firmly in this mix.

There aren’t really any artists that epitomize this mix, but there are two that got repeated in this volume nonetheless.  The first are my old pals emmet swimming, a local band from the DC suburb where I lived for about 15 years, and to whom I have a few personal connections.5  So of course I have all their albums.  Todd can write a rollicking good song with the best of them, but he can also write quiet, tender songs, and I chose two of them for this volume, off two different albums, “You’re So Pretty”6 and “Boston,” which is the closing track on what was probably their closest album to a hit, Arlington to Boston.7  The second repeated artist is Ben Folds, whose haunting classic “Brick” shows up first, to be followed by the quiet gem “Gracie” near the end of this volume.  “Gracie” is one of the two compositions written by a father to his daughter that instantly makes me feel a very visceral love for my own girl.8

But those two artists aren’t repeated because they specialize in this sort of fare.  I don’t think anyone does, really: it would be too heavy to make this your entire output.  A lot of the songs here are more introspective turns from generally upbeat bands.  Like “Hackensack” by Fountains of Wayne, off the insanely good Welcome Interstate Managers.  There’s plenty of FoW’s trademark tongue-in-cheek lyrics here, but the song is surprisingly touching too.  Similarly, Kirsty MacColl is noted for gentle alt-pop, à la the Smiths,9 and Chris Isaak is most often considered alt-country, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put out a song with a little depth to it.  “Wicked Game,” which you’ve probably heard, is a gently chiding love song (“what a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you”), and “You and Me Baby,” which you probably haven’t, seems more to be a song about a friendship that evolves from a love that never happened (“I’ll be your sister if you’ll be my brother”).

And then there’s my vaguely country-tinged 3-song spree in the second half, coming off the Cranberries’ “I Still Do,” which is a pretty song in its own right, and a nice segue coming off of “Iris.”  I actually despise proper country music, but I can enjoy things with country influences: R.E.M., or Camper Van Beethoven, or the three bands showcased here: Timbuk 3, the Weepies, and Sister Hazel.  Timbuk 3 is an old favorite of mine; most people think of them as one-hit-wonders for “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” but they’re so much more than that one song.10  Their first album, Greetings from Timbuk 3, displays a surprising depth, which would only be developed further in their follow-up, Eden Alley.11  “I Love You in the Strangest Way” is the closer of the former album, and is a sweet little 3-minute slice of perfection which flows beautifully into “Somebody Loved.”  The Weepies are a band that I discovered due to The Mother.  She asked me to pick up two of their albums,12 and of course I decided to burn copies for myself.  They share a lot of Timbuk 3’s sensibilities, although they’re a bit sunnier overall.  “Somebody Loved” is not a sad song at all, but it is very tender.  Closing out this foray into folk rock and its immediate environs is “All for You” by Sister Hazel.  This is the non-acoustic version, off their second album, which I think has a fuller sound that better suits this declaration of devotion.  Although I knew of Sister Hazel (and this song in particular) before I met The Mother, I’ll admit that this version comes from an album I stole from her.

Of course, some artists are really well-suited to this type of song.  Certainly Counting Crows does it well, and “Raining in Baltimore” just drips a longing and maybe even regret that is almost palpable.  Tori Amos too is no stranger to songs that really touch the listener, and “Silent All These Years” is one my favorites: I can feel a certain amount of pain in those words, even if I don’t really know what all of them mean.  Ed’s Redeeming Qualities can do silly—and they often do—but even their more amusing tunes often have a surprising emotional depth, and when Carrie Bradley takes over the vocals, they often come out quite serious and touching, such as with “The Letter,” another song whose feeling is clear even if the lyrics are somewhat opaque.

Tenderhearted Nightshade I
    [You Bleed Just to Know You're Alive]

        “Troy” by Sinéad O'Connor, off The Lion and the Cobra
        “A Strange Kind of Love” by Peter Murphy, off Deep
        “Pearls” by Sade, off Love Deluxe
        “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie, off Plans
        “Hackensack” by Fountains of Wayne, off Welcome Interstate Managers
        “Somebody” by Depeche Mode, off Some Great Reward
        “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos, off Little Earthquakes
        “Raining in Baltimore” by Counting Crows, off August and Everything After
        “You're So Pretty” by emmet swimming, off Wake
        “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, off Whatever and Ever Amen
        “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, off Dizzy Up the Girl
        “I Still Do” by The Cranberries, off Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?
        “I Love You in the Strangest Way” by Timbuk 3, off Greetings from Timbuk 3
        “Somebody Loved” by The Weepies, off Happiness
        “All for You” by Sister Hazel, off ... Somewhere More Familiar
        “You and Me Baby” by Kirsty MacColl, off Kite
        “Boston” by emmet swimming, off Arlington to Boston
        “The Letter” by Ed's Redeeming Qualities, off It's All Good News
        “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, off Heart Shaped World
        “Gracie” by Ben Folds, off Songs for Silverman
        “Circle” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, off Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars
Total:  21 tracks,  79:55

The remaining tracks are from artists which are neither surprising nor inevitable.  Peter Murphy’s “A Strange Kind of Love” is another tune whose lyrics are hard to parse but whose depth is undeniable.  Contrasting with that, “Pearls” by Sade is a perfectly coherent portrait of a struggling mother that should melt the stoniest of hearts.  Finally, we close with “Circle,” by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians.  It wasn’t the hit that “What I Am” was, but it got some radio play, and I always found it a clean, simple depiction of the loss associated with gradual isolation.

Next time, to counter the borderline bleakness of this mix, we’ll go in a completely different direction and look at one of my very first party mixes.


1 Weren’t we all, once?

2 Off Some Great Reward, which is one of my all-time favorite albums.

3 In this case The Lion and the Cobra.

4 For the record, this had nothing to do with me.  Honest.

5 As I mentioned briefly the first time we encountered them in this series, back in Salsatic Vibrato.

6 Which I’ve always been convinced is about an actual person who I probably know, but I can’t quite figure out who.

7 And it also contains some amazing backing vocals from my friend Erik, who was the first employee of my old company.

8 The other being Blueberry Girl, by Neil Gaiman.

9 For whom she sung backup on several songs, probably most notably on “Golden Lights.”

10 Although that one song is pretty hip too.

11 We’ll hear more from both albums on other mixes.

12 Specifically, Happiness, their first, and Be My Thrill, their latest at the time (although they have a newer one at the time I’m writing this).

Friday, July 17, 2015

Series Listing: Music Mixes

This a list of posts in my series about my music mixes.  You should probably start with the introduction.  The mixes themselves are listed in a spectrum order from most upbeat to most downbeat, although of course these are generalizations and indidivual tracks may buck the trend.  As explained in the introduction, each mix is divided into several volumes, and each post covers one volume.  So the volume subtitles are the links.  Where a mix has no volumes listed, that means I haven’t gotten around to doing a post on it yet, so the includsion of it here is just a tease.  I’m cruel like that.

Here are some phrases I use in these posts, their definitions, and links to the posts where I talk more about them (if any):

mix:  A collection of songs, arranged in a particular order, that share a common theme.  Can be infinitely long.  Has a name which I invented.

volume:  A subdivision of a mix, usually 60 to 80 minutes long.  Has a title, generally drawn from one track in the volume.

mix starter:  The song that inspired a particular mix.

transition:  The flow from the end of one song to the beginning of the next.  Very important to a mix’s integrity.  The reason why you must never touch the “Shuffle” button on your player.

bridge: A short song, almost always under two minutes, interposed between two other songs that don’t have a very good transition.

hardening:  The process by which the transitions of a mix, while perhaps not perfect at first, grow ingrained over time through repeated listening, until I can’t imagine breaking them.  Contrasted with transitions that are perfect out of the gate.

No Reuse Rule:  The rule that says that any given song can only ever appear on one mix.  Well, not a rule so much as a guideline, really.  There are, naturally, exceptions:
  • If I make mixes for other people, they are not subject to the No Reuse Rule.  For instance, my Mother’s Day mix may very well contain songs on one of the mixes here; likewise for any of the mixes I made for my eldest child when they were younger.
  • Also, if I were to make two different mixes for The Mother or any of my kids, I might be willing to use the same track as a previous mix for that person.  Which is subtly different from the above exception (and probably worse, so then again I might not).
  • Every once in a while I just screw up and accidentally break the No Reuse Rule.  Generally I try to rerrange things in order to fix the mistake once I find it.  Sometimes this can be difficult if the song has “hardened” (see above) in both mixes.
  • Certain mixes are just different, and they’re not considered part of the main series, so they’re allowed to use the same track as one of the main mixes (but not to repeat a track on that mix, no matter how many volumes it goes).  The prime example of this is the 80s My Way mix.  I also have 3 “mood” mixes (which is a dumb name for them, as all of my mixes are really mood mixes) called Dreamtime, Darktime, and Pasttime which used to fall under this exception.  Lately, however, I’ve been re-examining that decision, and starting to move some things around so that those mixes will also follow the No Reuse Rule.  I also have a “gaming” mix (currently unnamed) which I don’t really consider part of the main mix series.  But for the most part gaming music isn’t likely to want to show up on other mixes, so that one will probably follow the No Reuse Rule whether it really means to or not.
  • “Bonin’ in the Boneyard” by Fishbone is exempt from the No Reuse Rule.  It can be on as many mixes as it wants.  It’s just that good.

modern mix:  A mix that was developed as a digital playlist.

pre-modern mix:  A mix that was developed as a mix tape.  Any pre-modern mix in this series is actually a recreation of the original.

proto-mix: A collection of songs that was sort of randomly jumbled together on a mix tape; proto-mixes were what preceded pre-modern mixes.  There are no proto-mixes in this list because they were all crap.

moderately obscure band:  An artist with an entry on AllMusic but no bio, and either no page or a stub page on Wikipedia.

really obscure band:  An artist that can’t be found on either AllMusic or Wikipedia.

cover image:  A faux CD cover generated for a mix volume out of my fevered imagination using the Gimp.  Only a few volumes have this.

The mixes are arranged from most upbeat to most downbeat.  I’ve tried to provide a super-short summation of what each mix conveys; these are necessarily oversimplifications and may not capture the full range of emotion the mix provides.  Mixes with no descriptions or volumes listed are still under construction.

Most Upbeat

⇓      Thrashomatic Danger Mix

     loud and hardcore, to work out your aggression

⇓      Cumulonimbus Eleven

⇓      Funkadelic Bonethumper

⇓      Creeping Rageaholic

⇓      Totally Different Head

     punk meets new wave

⇓      FasterHarderDarker

⇓      Distaff Attitude

⇓      HipHop Bottlerocket

     party mix

⇓      Salsatic Vibrato

     brassy and upbeat

⇓      Apparently World

     upbeat worldmusic

⇓      Snaptone Glimmerbeam

⇓      Yuletidal Pools

     Happy Christmahannukwanzaakah!

⇓      Tripping Flibbertigibbet

⇓      Honeysuckle Bubblegum

⇓      Stumbling Locomotive

⇓      Sirenexiv Cola

     female-fronted alterna-pop

⇓      80s My Way

     my tribute to 80s music

⇓      Fulminant Cadenza

⇓      Cantosphere Eversion

     inside-out songs

⇓      Paradoxically Sized World

     inspired by LittleBigPlanet

⇓      Bleeding Salvador

     mid-tempo featuring surreal lyrics

⇓      Penumbral Phosphorescence

     mid-to-high-energy goth music

⇓      Moonside by Riverlight

     jazzy lounge

⇓      Pasttime

⇓      Slithy Toves

     slinky, sinuous tunes ranging from mellow to mildly upbeat

⇓      Zephyrous Aquamarine

     desert island inspired chill-out

⇓      Dreamtime

⇓      Smokelit Flashback

     druggy trip-hop and dreampop

⇓      Incanto Liturgica

⇓      Mars de la Morte

⇓      Irie Vibrations

⇓      Porchwell Firetime

     folksy songs which tell a story

⇓      Tumbledown Flatland

⇓      Dreamscape Perturbation

⇓      Smooth as Whispercats

     alterna-pop with a smooth jazz feel

⇓      Mystical Memoriam

⇓      Plutonian Velvet

⇓      Phantasma Chorale

     creepy, childlike music inspired by the soundtrack to Coraline

⇓      Darktime

⇓      Rose-Coloured Brainpan

     downbeat with a nostalgic feel

⇓      Darkling Embrace

     love songs with dark overtones

⇓      Shadowfall Equinox

     contemplative and autumnal

⇓      Numeric Driftwood

     to drift off to sleep by

⇓      Wisty Mysteria

     wistful, with a touch of mysterious

⇓      Tenderhearted Nightshade

     poignant and contemplative

Most Downbeat

Special Mixes for Other People

Mother’s Day

     for The Mother

In the P!nk

     the Church of P!nk

Numeric Princess

     Disney music for my little princess

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Perl blog post #41

Occasionally my geek worlds collide: being simultaneously a technogeek and a gaming geek often means writing code to do things for games.  I’ve mentioned here that one of my games is Heroscape, and I’ve also mentioned that I’m part of something called the C3V, which attempts to create new units for this now discontinued game.  I don’t know if I specifically mentioned what I do for that group ... I’m one of the Editors, which means I help make sure that the wording for any new cards we create are just as official as the existing cards.  To that end, I have a file with all the text from all the official cards in it, and I have a script which lets me search that file in interesting ways in order to look at all the different official ways to say something.

So this past week or so I’ve had occasion to ponder a way to make this script even more useful.  It turned out to be a bit tricky, though, and evolved into a mini-programming-project.  So I decided to write it up for my Other Blog.  You’ll find this particular article technical, as per usual, but if you know anything about Heroscape I think you’ll still be able to glean some interesting tidbits nonetheless.  If you know neither gaming nor coding, well ... you know the drill by now.  Just look up a couple of inches.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shadowfall Equinox I

"Mystery Dwells Deep"

[This is one post in a series about my music mixes.  The series list has links to all posts in the series and also definitions of many of the terms I use.  You may wish to read the introduction for more background.

Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

It wasn’t the first Hearts of Space program I ever heard,1 but “Shadowfall II” was probably the one which most cemented my love for that show.  To quote Stephen Hill:

No matter where you are in the United States, the arrival of autumn reveals the inescapable retreat of the sun.  Colors decline to the somber, and the music of the season is darker as well.

Slowing down after the active days of summer, we hang, suspended, for a moment, waiting for the feast and festival days to come.  On this transmission of Hearts of Space, we look for the sound of the season on a program called “Shadowfall II.”

I don’t know that I can describe this mix any better than that.  I loved that episode: I hunted it down somewhere on the Internet and downloaded it and burned it to a CD and wore that sucker out.  The music is somber, as Stephen Hill says, but it’s not actually depressing.  It’s the perfect mood music for contemplative thought, for creative endeavor, for living in the background while you go on living, not dragging you down but not lifting you up either; it doesn’t fade into the wallpaper, but rather makes you think; it doesn’t engage your brain actively, but somehow sneaks in under the radar, making your subconscious race and your dreaming self wake up and take notice.

Given how much I was influenced by Hearts of Space in general in terms of mix creation,2 and given how much I love this program in particular, I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I would try to create my own version.  Although I resisted for quite a long time: I didn’t want to bother unless I could improve on the original.  Well, I’m not saying that Shadowfall Equinox—and now that you’ve read the words that inspired this mix, I’m sure you see where the name comes from—is definitely an improvement, but I do think it has something to offer, and I’m happy to present it here today.

What this mix has most in common with its namesake is a predominating artist: Jeff Greinke.  Both have three tracks from Greinke,3 although not the same three.  They are all from the same album though, and I even open my mix with the same track that opens “Shadowfall II”: “One September.”  You don’t argue with the perfect opening track just to be different.  The two I didn’t use in this volume will no doubt show up on future volumes—in fact, realistically, this mix will eventually use nearly every track off this excellent album (Wide View).  It’s just too perfect for this mix.4

Other than the Greinke tracks, I stayed away from recycling artists from the Hearts of Space program, at least for this volume.  This meant finding some stray tracks on unlikely albums, and exploring some other artists that I’d discovered via Hearts of Space, such as darkwave icons Black Tape for a Blue Girl5 and Falling You,6 or cello guru David Darling.7

The darkwave bands are a good place to find tracks like these.  Most of them are fond of instrumentals, and even their vocal tracks are often muted enough to fit well here.  So Black Tape for a Blue Girl gives us “The Scavenger Bride” (from the album of the same name, possibly their best) and “I Have No More Answers,” Love Spirals Downwards provides “Sidhe” (from Ardor, one of their best), and Falling You contributes “hope thrown down” off Touch (which is absolutely their best).  These bands also give us our only 3 songs with words (except for the formless vocals we’ll get from Amber Asylum), so “hope thrown down” is also our volume namer.

I’m pretty sure I discovered Falling You via Hearts of Space, and I’m pretty sure that’s how I ended up finding Magnatune.8  The “we are not evil” folks contribute 3 artists to this mix (above and beyond Falling You), including the two that give us our worldmusic vibe.  Shiva in Exile is mostly electro-world, like Transglobal Underground or Thievery Corporation, with a focus on India and slight gothic tendencies.  Most of his9 tracks are more energetic than will fit here, but “Aldebaran” is a more contemplative piece that works well.  On the other hand, Stellamara is mostly world with a Turkish bent and medieval meanderings, but quite a lot of it has an ambient feel that is part of what this mix is all about.  “Persephone” is one of their beautifully dark, mellow pieces, and it serves as an excellent closer here.  We’ll hear more from them on future volumes as well.

Also from Magnatune is Lisa DeBenedictis, generally a purveyor of anti-folk, but “Cello Song” is a darkly pretty piece given its gravity by the titular instrument.  The cello is in fact a fantastic instrument for conveying the mood that this mix embodies, and you’ll hear it over and over again throughout the mix.  Besides this song, and probably both of the Black Tape for a Blue Girl tracks, there is of course Amber Asylum, whose music is often described as “dark ambient,” which basically means classical/ambient jammed sideways into goth.10  I think I found them by accident, from clicking on one of those “similar albums” or “if you liked that, you’ll probably like this” type links.  Not all of their albums are gold, but this one (The Natural Philosophy of Love) is a winner.  With just a touch of dream mixed in, AllMusic’s description of them as a combination of the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Julee Cruise, and Lisa Germano is pretty spot-on.

And speaking of a bunch of 4AD superstars, we also have an instrumental track from This Mortal Coil, the supergroup composed of an ever-shifting lineup of 4AD band members.  This track is “Ivy and Neet,” featuring Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins on guitar and bass, Richard Thomas of Dif Juz on saxophone, and what is almost certainly Martin McCarrick, who bowed the wood for several Siouxsie albums, on cello.11  McCarrick isn’t quite my favorite cello player,12 but he’s pretty high up there.

Shadowfall Equinox I
    [Mystery Dwells Deep]

        “One September” by Jeff Greinke, off Wide View
        “Winter” by Bent, off Ibiza by Day [DJ Mix]
        “Clementina” by Xymox, off Twist of Shadows
        “The Scavenger Bride” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl, off The Scavenger Bride
        “Interlude” by Jeff Greinke, off Wide View
        “Cello Song” by Lisa DeBenedictis, off Fruitless
        “Looking Glass Reprise” by Amber Asylum, off The Natural Philosophy of Love
        “hope thrown down” by Falling You, off Touch
        “Aldebaran” by Shiva In Exile, off Ethnic
        “Io - Moon of Jupiter” by Anugama, off The Lightness of Being [Compilation]
        “I Have No More Answers” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl, off Remnants of a Deeper Purity
        “Twin Peaks Theme” by Angelo Badalamenti, off Twin Peaks [Soundtrack]
        “Slow Circles” by Jeff Greinke, off Wide View
        “Ivy and Neet” by This Mortal Coil, off Filigree & Shadow
        “Sidhe” by Love Spirals Downwards, off Ardor
        “Persephone” by Stellamara, off The Seven Valleys
Total:  16 tracks,  75:36

The remaining 4 tracks are a bit of a hodgepodge.  We get a bit of electronica via Bent’s “Winter,” which is ostensibly a downtempo tune, but seems to be trying to break out of that mold and resonate a little darker, at least to me.  A touch of new age comes via “Io – Moon of Jupiter” by Anugama, which purports to be a meditative piece,13 but again goes beyond.  From Angelo Badalamenti’s insanely good soundtrack to Twin Peaks we have “Twin Peaks Theme,” which infuses a bit of shadowfall into dream pop.14  And, finally, from true goth genius Ronny Moorings, we have “Clementina.”  This is from the Xymox period (as opposed to the Clan of Xymox periods), which means it’s from an album that’s a bit poppier than most of their ouevre.  Specifically, it’s off of Twist of Shadows, which I understand some hardcore (Clan of) Xymox fans detest, as they feel it’s a sellout disc.15  However, I’ve always loved it, and find it quite relaxing, with just enough dark undertones to make it interesting.  Being an instrumental, “Clementina” slides perfectly into this mix.

Next time, I’ll explore yet another of the pieces that Depression fragmented into.


1 I’m pretty sure that was either “Africa West” or “Multiculti.”

2 I discussed this way back in the beginning, remember?

3 This was a mistake I made in the original post; actually “Shadowfall II” contains four tracks from Greinke’s Wide View.

4 The only other artist to be repeated in “Shadowfall II” was Kevin Keller, but we won’t see him until volume II (and later).  I did restrain myself a little.

5 “Liquid Desires”

6 “Funeral Songs”

7 “Shadowplay,” although we won’t actually see tracks from Cello Blue until Shadowfall Equinox II.

8 I.e. because I then went looking for places to download Falling You albums.

9 Like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Falling You, Shiva in Exile is mostly one guy, specifically Stefan Hertrich.

10 We’ll hear from other dark ambient artists, such as Dark Sanctuary, in future volumes.

11 As well as Gini Ball on violin, who provided strings for Siouxsie, Psychic TV, Wolfgang Press, Big Country, Peter Murphy, and Nick Cave, just to name a few.

12 That would probably be Jami Sieber.

13 In fact, it’s from Anugama’s collection The Lightness of Being, which he “designed specifically for meditation and relaxation,” according to AllMusic.

14 And we’ll hear more off this album on future volumes.

15 Whereas I would reserve that appellation for the following album, Phoenix.