Winter 2022//recorded syntax

This mixtape was crafted for my friend and elder whom I am very grateful for in the field of music journalism, Marc Masters.

It was interesting to make a winter mixtape for Marc, because he had just officially graduated from winter and moved to Arizona. I was really excited to make a tape for him, and obviously wanted it to be the Absolute Greatest Tape Ever Made, but due to work scheduling stuff over the month I worked on this, I did not have a lot of the long stretches of free time I usually use to get deep into a zone when I make tapes. Additionally, I had a lot of other projects going on for the first time ever in my career as a music journalist: I was working on two broadcast extensions of my 90s Boston scene report for WFMU and two feature-length articles for Bandcamp on Credentials and Norman W. Long. So, this tape really is a sort of document of me going from year one into year two of being an Official Music Writer and all the different things I was starting to manage listening to, thinking about, and discussing at one time!

It feels less certain or cohesive than previous tapes—an outcome steered perhaps by how little I actually know Marc and how chaotic and exhausting my life was while I was making it—but it led me to my next steps (a Lifetime Achievement article on Mark Edwards) and one of my favorite things about my seasonal mixtape series is how it seems to manifest the future. It also exists to document my life, and the period it encapsulates was chaotic and exhausting, so…it is what it is, yeah? A reflection of my thoughts, feelings, and listening as I move through the world in this particular season.

This tape is about the darkness and stillness of winter, its spacious emptiness…but there is also a big narrative going on here around the title, “Recorded Syntax.” The work on 90s Boston I had been doing was reconnecting old friends and even estranged siblings and creating this sense of the underground still being connected and strong, so many of the songs relate to ideas of artistic community, the underground, and going back to the beginning of your love for this shit. Mixtapes are a big part of the beginning of my love for this shit, and “Recorded Syntax” also seems like a great metaphor for what crafting a proper mixtape is. I record fire tracks syntactically, to conjure feeling, narrative…often even crafting arguments, playing with tensions both sonic and lyrical.

One thing I found really exciting about making a tape for Marc Masters is that he has an insane musical attention span! I wanted to take full advantage of that, so this tape contains one 16+ minute song on either side–I think they both do a great job of communicating the general slowness, quiet, and difficulty of winter.

There is a funny moment in the Mike Weis track where my text notification comes through super prominently–I forgot to silence my phone before I started recording from the Bandcamp app on my phone, and I didn’t notice until we were digitizing the tape. Unintentional, but perhaps a message there about “staying connected”–I definitely wasn’t going to make the whole tape over again or bring my whole stereo over to Victor’s a second time to get rid of it! It’s also kind of…the mark of a 21st century mixtape maybe? Back in the day, you didn’t have to worry about recording sounds from your phone, because no one was recording music they streamed through a smart phone.

I had a really specific vision for the mixtape art on this one, with the dictionary definitions of the words in the title on the cover. Last year, I made all of my mixtape art with copies of the New Yorker, so I decided maybe each year of mixtapes could have some kind of aesthetic unity happening. I decided to make reference books the aesthetic unifier of 2022–Marc’s tape features clips from an Australian Oxford English Dictionary, a book about weather, and the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States.

Let it be known now and forever that my greatest regret of this mixtape was not including “Not to Call the Police” by Karate. Here it is, so that you may hear it anyway. It is 100% definitely going on next winter’s mixtape. This Seasonal Mixtape project is deeply indebted to Geoff Farina, Emo Jazz Meteorologist, who always lets you know what the season and the vibe are within the first verse of a song.

Download it here:

Side A

Side B


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