Soul Bearings: Explorations in contemporary jazz

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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, Laura Jurd’s fantastic and eccentric Human Spirit, as well as a live recording of the Kokoroko ensemble performing at the EFG London Jazz Festival.

Snarky Puppy’s ‘Thing of Gold’ also appears from their 2012 record groundUP. A redditor asked Michael League, a composer, producer, guitarist, and bassist for the band, if he had any secrets to creativity like using cannabis during a Reddit AMA. “No secrets, no,” League replied. “I just try to write things that I would want to listen to… imagine what you would want to hear next if you were in the audience.”

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

Flesh Barbie: Exploring noise through grime and distortion

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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, and while white noise is more often associated with meditative listening, we at WOTT think noise music offers a valuable experience too.

Pita is followed by a more recent venture in noise music from New York’s Pharmakon, aka Margaret Chardiet. ‘Nakedness of Need’ is the opening track from Contact. Released earlier this year, Chardiet’s screams and cries are accompanied by grimey growls.

Also featured are tracks from Pan Daijing’s debut full-length album Lack, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s project with Philippe Petit, and Puce Mary’s 2016 release, The Spiral.

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

A Rainbow in Curved Air: Hues of minimalism

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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.

It opens with the psychedelic tones of minimalist pioneer Terry Riley’s ‘A Rainbow in Curved Air.’ Though he’s most famed for the piece ‘In C,’ we at WOTT think ‘Rainbow’ is far better suited to our purposes — a sentiment echoed by online commenters: “I first listened to ‘Rainbow in Curved Air’ along with The Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus… I was with friends drinking Rougemont Castle wine and smoking home-grown herbs at the time… such were the joys of a 16-year-old in the early 70’s!”

Minimalist pioneer Steve Reich makes an appearance with a movement from orchestral work ‘The Four Sections.’ Christian Petrowsky’s recording of Ann Southam’s piece ‘Glass Houses’ is also included, as well as a more experimental composition from Barbara Benary called ‘Aural Shoehorning: Plainsong.’

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

PONPONPON: POP!

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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, as well as Mhysa’s catchy ‘Strobe’ from Fantasii.

On the more mainstream end, we feature Gwen Stefani and Eve with ‘Rich Girl,’ Robyn with ‘With Every Heartbeat,’ and Grimes with ‘Kill V. Maim.’ The latter is also accompanied by a music video that makes for excellent couch-lock stimulation, though Grimes herself isn’t a big smoker. Rounding out the playlist are two saccharine tunes from London label PC Music.

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

Heart It Races: Sounds of indie rock

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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, Father John Misty, and Andrew Bird. The Father John Misty tune — ‘Funtimes in Babylon’ — is taken from the record Fear Fun — one inspired by psychedelic mushrooms. He tried to write the album in an honest way, “not trying to pull one over that this 22-year-old dude is some sad wizard… ‘I drive around in a van and eat pizza and smoke weed. That’s true.'”

The playlist returns to a cheerful mood on closing, with the catchy ‘Courage’ from The Whitest Boy Alive’s Rules, and a pop-veering track from Stars’ 2014 album No One is Lost, entitled ‘No Better Place.’

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

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

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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, followed by the Cocteau Twins’ melancholy ‘Persephone.’ Showcasing Elizabeth Fraser’s stunning vocal work, the tune comes from their 1984 release Treasure and was recorded before the culmination of Guthrie’s drug problems. This was also before Fraser had gotten into smoking pot, which she later said she regretted, especially as a vocalist.

‘Sex, Money, Freaks’ from Cabaret Voltaire’s C.O.D.E. also makes an appearance, as well as post-punk icons Siouxsie and the Banshees with ‘Spellbound, EBM sounds of Nitzer Ebb with ‘Join the Chant,’ and the hazy, dreamlike sounds of Tomo Akikawabaya in ‘Mars.’

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

Herbsman Hustling: From classics to experimental dub tunes

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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’ (with Prince Jammy). From the influential Mad Professor is a tune from Mad Professor Meets Channel One, ‘Cornmeal Dub.’ Also featured is the Japanese duo Dokkebi Q, with their take on the genre in the upbeat ‘Black Vomit.’

As far as classic toking tunes go, Billy Boyo’s ‘One Spliff a Day’ and Sugar Minot’s ‘Herbsman Hustling’ make appearances, before the playlist closes out with the ever-welcome sounds of Jah Shaka.

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

Highly Flammable: 'Someone roll them blunts'

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We bring you heavy sounds originating from East London in this week’s playlist. It features a host of Grime pioneers and essentials, from Skepta’s iconic ‘That’s Not Me’ to ‘I Luv U’ from Dizzee Rascal’s seminal Boy in Da Corner.

Stefflon Don’s infectious, reggaeton-tinged ’16 Shots’ makes an appearance from her Real Ting Mixtape, as well as the high-energy ‘Rari Workout’ from Lethal Bizzle and the ever-sharp ‘Queen’s Speech 4’ from Lady Leshurr.

The title of this week’s playlist is taken from Nadia Rose’s album of the same name, from which we feature ‘Skwod.’ The tune has received even more hype since being played at an anti-fascist protest in the London borough of Croydon in recent months. As Rose herself raps, “Someone roll them blunts, so we can turn shit up.”

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

I Wanna Be Down: Smooth sounds of rhythm and blues

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After our brief hiatus, we return with a soulful, R&B-tinged playlist. Opening with ‘I Wanna Be Down’ from Brandy’s 1994 eponymous album, the playlist traverses ’90s essentials, as well as more recent ventures.

The playlist also features tunes from contemporary artists like Alexandria and Childish Gambino and the classic title tune from Aaliyah’s 1994 Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Jill Scott’s smooth ‘Can’t Wait’ from 2015’s Woman makes an appearance too.

Following Brandy’s opening track is one from SZA’s recent debut LP, Ctrl. The singer herself is open about being an avid cannabis smoker and advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana. She fears that legalization would mean “people just get to make a whole bunch of money off of it, synthesize it and ruin it.” Her recent LA Weekly interview was conducted while smoking up on the beach — a suitable setting for hearing this week’s playlist.

Happy toking!

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.

Spiritual State: Hip-hop-infused electronic sounds from Koop, Tokimonsta, and more

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Nujabes’ ‘Spiritual State’ opens this week’s playlist — the first track from the eponymous album. Released posthumously, it’s a beautiful release from a producer gone far too soon. Enjoy part of his influential soundtrack for the anime Samurai Champloo here.

The rest of this week’s selections follow a similar tangent. Swedish duo Koop make an appearance with their mellow, jazzy tune ‘Waltz for Koop,’ featuring impossibly light vocals by Cecilia Stalin. Tokimonsta also appears with ‘Fallen Arches’ from 2011’s Creature Dreams. The playlist veers towards hip-hop with Five Deez and then towards house with Hird, exploring a range of dreamy tracks.

Kaytranada’s catchy ‘BUS RIDE’ from 99.9% rounds out the playlist. This instrumental is pleasantly suited to toking — marijuana.com recommends pairing the album with Lemon Haze.

For more Toking Tunes, follow Word on the Tree on Spotify.