Toking Tunes

  • Sail Beyond the Sunset: Psych-jams with Elephant 6

    This week, we bring you the sounds of American millenium-era collective The Elephant 6 Recording Company.

    October 20, 2017

    Few songs manage to capture the feeling of a drowsy head-high properly; the sensation of your brain lifting away from your body and taking you someplace else is hard to express. But Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Engine’ pulls it off through meandering lyrics drifting atop an otherworldly theremin.

    ‘Engine’ kicks off this week’s playlist,

  • Soul Bearings: Explorations in contemporary jazz

    This week, we focus on jazz emerging in the past decade, including a range of experimental and traditional approaches.

    October 13, 2017

    Opening Toking Tunes this week is Esperanza Spalding’s ‘I Know You Know,’ from her eponymous 2008 release Esperanza. It’s followed by a tune by Soweto Kinch, a British saxophonist and rapper, from his 2016 release Nonagram.

    Also included are tunes from Kamasi Washington’s 2017 follow up to the incredible 2016 release The Epic,

  • Flesh Barbie: Exploring noise through grime and distortion

    This week's playlist takes its name from Julie Rousse’s ‘Flesh Barbie Techno Fuck,’ a Paris-based artist whose work goes beyond sound.

    October 6, 2017

    This week’s playlist opens with ‘3’ by Pita — a beautifully noisy and distorted track from 1999’s Get Out — and closes with ‘Hail to Thee, Everlasting Pain’ by The Body. The tracks offer distinctly different takes on noise, though they’re both thoroughly consuming. Much has been written on the relationship between cannabis and aural perception,

  • A Rainbow in Curved Air: Hues of minimalism

    This week we bring you a playlist of minimalist sounds, mostly from the 20th century, but with a few contemporary excursions into the tradition

    September 29, 2017

    Breaking from the tone of the past few playlists, this week we offer one of calming of minimalist music. From precursors such as Erik Satie’s now-iconic Gymnopedies to recent ventures such as Claire M Singer’s ‘The Molendinar’ and Laraaji’s ‘Zither Dance,’ the playlist stretches from 1888 to 2016.


    This week's playlist features hyper-saturated sounds from around the world, including a range of pop artists from the eclectic to mainstream.

    September 15, 2017

    Opening this week’s playlist is the bright and flashy ‘PONPONPON’ from J-pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Catch the fantastically trippy video here if you haven’t already.

    Also featured this week are a range of pop sounds. On the weirder end of things we have the eclectic Róisín Murphy with ‘Night of the Dancing Flame’ from her excellent 2005 album Ruby Blue,

  • Heart It Races: Sounds of indie rock

    This week we feature everything from the indie-pop sounds of Stars to folkier tunes from Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes

    September 8, 2017

    Many tunes from the noughties make up this week’s playlist, complete with a few more recent ventures in indie rock. We kick it off with a few feel-good tracks from the likes of Dr. Dog, Rilo Kiley, and Bombay Bicycle Club.

    In between features some folkier sounds from Fleet Foxes,

  • Devil’s Gateway: Exploring industrial sounds of the ‘80s

    A journey to the noisier side of the decade, from post-punk to synthpop

    September 1, 2017

    This week’s playlist features tunes from post-punk’s vicinity, from noisier, industrial tracks to songs that veer towards synthpop. Based on releases solely from the ‘80s, it includes many sounds from the U.K., but also artists from the U.S., Slovenia, and Japan.

    Opening the playlist is a growling tune from industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle,

  • Herbsman Hustling: From classics to experimental dub tunes

    This week's playlist features highlights of the genre, including King Tubby, Mad Professor, and Dokkebi Q.

    August 28, 2017

    It goes without saying that there are more than a few weed-related dub tunes out there — a few of which appear in this week’s playlist alongside classics and more experimental tracks.

    Essential sounds from time-honored artists include King Tubby’s ‘King Tubb’s Big Big Dub’ and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s ‘Rude Boy’

  • Lucy In The Sky: Hidden and not-so-hidden references to drugs in popular music

    For some pop songs, the drug references are pretty blatant. For others, a tribute to favorite substances came with a wink and a nod.

    August 18, 2017

    Since the early 1990s, it’s been on- and off-trend to blatantly reference drugs in popular music. From Cyprus Hill’s ‘I Wanna Get High’ to Lana Del Rey’s ‘High By The Beach,’ many tunes are unabashed in their enthusiasm for altered states. But in the earlier days of recorded music, drug references were more often in-group phrases that non-consumers wouldn’t understand.

  • Under the Influence: Weed-related tunes for inspiration

    Pet Grotesque collects stoner-related tracks from bands that have offered valuable musical inspiration over the years.

    August 11, 2017

    This week’s Toking Tunes playlist comes from Calum Armstrong aka Pet Grotesque. A former editor at Volteface (where Word on the Tree’s founder and editor has freelanced), Armstrong left his full-time gig to pursue music. His debut album Good Egg is available at Bandcamp and you can find out more at Facebook.