Late Night Tales (Midlake)
The beginning of this "decade of austerity" has been marked by a boom of vintage fashion and philosophy of upcycling. Perhaps, in that respect, it is not surprising that LateNightTales have chosen the vintage rock band Midlake as connoisseurs for their 2011 compilation, following the successful and varied in style compilation series by Belle & Sebastian, Four Tet, Flaming Lips, Air et al.
Creating the perfect mixtape is an art. Nick Hornby compares it to writing a letter - "there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again." This late night tales letter by Midlake to us, at times reads like a long-lost letter from the early 70s, starting with the rare Silent Passage by Canadian singer-songwriter Bob Carpenter, through better known British pop-embroidered folk gems by Bread Love & Dreams and legends Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.
The steady hand, writing the letter in haunting melancholic acoustic guitars and vocals, starts slightly quivering as the letter progresses through Comus and Jimmie Spheeris to Scott Walker; and thus slowly and uncannily takes us back to the present with Midlake's exclusive cover (or "upcycling") of Black Sabbath's Am I Going Insane; followed by Bjork's masterpiece Unravel and Beach House's 2010 single Silver Soul, all placed cleverly in the centre of the compilation. Additionally, in Unravel, Bjork uses Old Icelandic choir-men technique of half-singing, half-speaking; while Beach House are passionate about their vintage and second-hand keyboards that echo dreamy nostalgic melodies.
After this dip into the present, Fairport Convention's lead singer Sandy Denny's Carnival takes us back to the early 70s folk rock, getting progressively more psychedelic through The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jan Duindam, a collaboration between Twice as Much and Vashti Bunyan, and Nico. Finally, the letter concludes with the folk rock classics Whispering Pines by The Band and Crucify your Mind by Rodriguez.
The post scriptum is the standard special spoken word story of the Late Night Tales series, in this case, Part 4 of The Happy Detective by Will Self; a piece on a serial killer who grates his victims, and has used a nutmeg grater. This confusing and open ended mysterious finish adds to the post-modern dimension of Midlake's Late Night Tales, a mix-tape which feels like a second-hand 70s jacket that looks just as hip today, while bearing a mysterious story about its previous owner.
01 Bob Carpenter: "Silent Passage"
02 Bread Love & Dreams: "Time's the Thief"
03 Fairport Convention: "Genesis Hall"
04 Steeleye Span: "The Blacksmith"
05 Lazarus: "Warmth of Your Eyes"
06 Espers: "Caroline"
07 Jimmie Spheeris: "Esmaria"
08 Scott Walker: "Copenhagen"
09 Midlake: "Am I Going Insane" (Black Sabbath cover)
10 Björk: "Unravel"
11 Beach House: "Silver Soul"
12 Sandy Denny: "Carnival"
13 The Flying Burrito Brothers: "Christine's Tune"
14 Jan Duindam: "Happiness & Tears"
15 Twice as Much and Vashti: "Coldest Night of the Year"
16 Rodriguez: "Crucify Your Mind"
17 Nico: "These Days"
18 The Band: "Whispering Pines"
19 Will Self: "The Happy Detective - Part 4"