It's that time again. What time? Guest mix time. It's a bit of a different guest mix this time around because the tracklist isn't so much a tracklist as a set of "ingredients" – it's not in order, I'm not 100% certain that enough of each and every track was used to warrant it being listed as a "track", and I don't know if some of the sounds in the mix were even listed. Instead, elements are spliced and mixed together, just like ingredients. Flour and eggs and sugar and butter kinda stop being those things when you make them into a cake. And so it is with this mix, courtesy of London band Stats – in particular, from just one of its members who is called Ed.
I stopped trying to dissect this mix after a while and just enjoyed it, trying to guess which parts came from where on the ingredients list was just getting to be impossible. To use the cake metaphor again, it's like digging into your favourite cake to try and find the original components that came together to create it. Well, it's obviously not as impossible to discern which sound comes from which song, but it definitely does show the abilities of Ed, who is the actual frontman of Stats.
Filled with meaningful snippets from documentaries and interviews – the voices of people as diverse as Werner Herzog and the digitised female voice of the Narrator for Windows (I think?) – the mix moves through a wormhole lined with pulsing disco basslines and fragmentary electronica, the groovesome nature of the mix clear at the very outset as 'Beam Me Up' by modern-but-authentic disco outfit from Brooklyn, Midnight Magic, moves into Stats' own 'Where is the Money'.
Music contains everything, and you can make a song about anything, so it’s like the world but bigger. Once you’re doing it, it’s difficult to remember how you first started, like when you learn to talk. It becomes second nature, which is more interesting than first nature because it’s not strictly necessary, but it feels like it is.
The jaunty poetry (check out 'D'you wanna eat') and art-pop sound of Stats, inspired by acts like Talking Heads, is as clean-cut as it is angular; they incorporate funk grooves and rock noise into their songs, coupled with catchy vocals and spoken word quirks that suit the urban environment in which they exist. Frontman Ed also says, "Stats songs often try to look at what’s specific about how we live right now, especially in cities." So there you go.
Taking inspiration from the opening line to Bryan Ferry's version of 'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall' (Bob Dylan), the mix is called Oh Where Have You Been? "And that," confirms Ed, "is loosely its theme."
Playing for La Roux (whom Stats remixed a couple of months ago) on tour recently, he tells me about the experience of travelling the world, having not really been anywhere apart from the UK. "Songs people write about touring often complain about [it], on the grounds that it’s repetitive and alienating - but I really enjoy everything about it," he tells me. "Because you have so little time and control, you are under no illusions about discovering the 'real' St Petersburg or Los Angeles or wherever: your experience of a city is guaranteed to be short, incomplete and highly subjective."
With much of Stats' lyrical output dedicated to contemporary living, traveling to many different cities was eye-opening for Ed. "One thing common to pretty much every city I’ve seen, from Berlin to Boulder, Colorado, is people saying they can’t afford to live in them any more because property is impossibly expensive," he explains, relating it back to 'Where is the Money', adding, "Many of the songs and films and stories in this mix stay in my head because they seem to relate to things like that."
So, in conclusion: please enjoy the dreamy disco feels running through this mix. I hope you like it. Thank you to Ed, who also would like to thank William Bowerman, Tom Hatfield and Ali Staton.
Stats are a minimal pop band.
Stats are six people.
Stats can’t dance and Stats don’t take drugs.
Stats are a grown-up thing to do.
Stats have big plans tomorrow.
Stats are all over the place."
1. It is a journey to the end of the world
2. Remember the future (beam me up)
1. You have to keep moving out, but remain in orbit
2. Happy man, happy man, that's me
1. This green world of God’s
2. You can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell
1. Nature here is vile and base
2. When I’m working, or washing my hair
1. Oh, where have you been?
2. It was lots of fun, the mechanics of getting together
1. Well go on, tell me something
2. There’s a big building, that's me.
• I N G R E D I E N T S •
- Laurie Anderson - Sharkey’s Day
- Laurie Anderson - Walking and Falling
- Caress - Love Spell
- Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf - Tell You Something
- Chic - Happy Man
- Bryan Ferry - A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
- The Flirtations - Nothing But A Heartache
- Werner Herzog - speech from Les Blank’s ‘Burden of Dreams’ (speech)
- Patrick Keiller/Paul Scofield - London (speech)
- Klein & MBO - Dirty Talk
- La Roux - Cruel Seuxality
- Carson McCullers - Interview (speech)
- Jonathan Meades - Remember the Future (speech)
- Midnight Magic - Beam Me Up
- Gaz Nevada - Special Agent Man (12” Female Mix)
- Notown - Cannon
- Flannery O’Connor reading A Good Man Is Hard To Find (speech)
- Steve Reich - Piano Counterpoint Arranged From Six Pianos By Vincent Corver
- Laurie Spiegel - Patchwork
- Stats - Bring Me The Stats
- Stats - Do It On The Weekend
- Stats - Where is the Money
- Stats - D’you wanna eat?
- Stats - You Have To Say So
- Stats - Private Party Stats - 2 Minds
- Talk Talk - Happiness Is Easy
- Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere
- Tom Tom Club - Under The Boardwalk
- The Walker Brothers - Nite Flights