This has been a long time in coming, but I am proud to present the first volume of the Pound for Pound Mix Series. I can't think of anyone I would rather have had kick things off than Sean Conrad, whose work has been a catalyst for this site in so many ways. For those that don't know, Sean is the Oakland-based musician and photographer behind a variety of musical projects we love—Channelers, Ashan, Orra, gkfoes vjgoaf, Nearone, River Spirit Dragon—and the current head of our favorite label, Inner Islands. We have written quite a bit about both his work and the label's, which you can look back at here here here and here. While he has been at the forefront of the recent development of the New New Age, he far exceeds that lazy classification; his work is not retro or nostalgic, but a vital rethinking of our relationships to nature, landscape, time, space and spirituality through the exploration of both quiet and ecstatic music.
I can't think of a better mix to kick things off and help define what this series will become. For our inaugural mix, Sean, under his Mist Connections moniker, brings together nearly 43 minutes of music that create a wonderful space where beauty, relaxation, presence, melancholy and hope emerge and interact. It builds this space from many of the sounds that we feature here, from blissful New Age to pulsing drones, from heartbreaking strings to gaseous ambient. It is a journey that spans the globe and decades and I think will evoke images of both peaceful and serene physical and mental spaces.
The mix's title, Approaching Stillness, suggests the direction this blog has been striving for from its first post. Stillness is defined as "quiet; absence of noise or disturbance, release, relaxation; silence, abstention from speech; absence of disturbance or molestation, tranquility, peace, security; that which appeases.” What I think resonates most for me is that modifying gerund that captures the simultaneous feelings of desire and impossibility. It harkens to Eduardo Galeano's brilliant definition of utopia: "Utopia lies at the horizon. / When I draw nearer by two steps, / it retreats two steps. / If I proceed ten steps forward, it / swiftly slips ten steps ahead. / No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. / What, then, is the purpose of utopia? / It is to cause us to advance." We still need to make the case for why these concepts are important, but I think that this mix is a great opening statement.
Head to poundforpound.us/mixes to download, read a short interview with Sean and get the tracklist!