Hip Priest: Post-punk sounds that baffle and delight

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While I was never a fan of punk, I found the musical reaction to the genre both strange and delightful. Post-punk was one of the most exciting times for guitar music — both in the mainstream and underground. A lot of it was pretty fucking weird.

Unfortunately my favorite post-punk band This Heat isn’t on Spotify. Nonetheless, I’ve tried to compile a thorough playlist without them. Lap up that huge slap bass on Pop Group’s ‘Thief of Fire,’ and the eerie sounds of the opener of Joy Division’s superior sophomore album. Lose yourself in the haze and almost-proto-shoegaze Siouxsie and the Banshees tune ‘Monitor,’ or even the freakish banger ‘What a Day’ by industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle!

Happy toking!

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

Kicker Conspiracy: Hype-conducive tracks for sports fans

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It’s Summer 2018 and most the world’s screens are now dominated by the greatest sports spectacle on earth. If you’re rolling up, smoking, and also have a tendency to watch TV while doing so, the World Cup is pretty much unavoidable. Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to avoid getting sucked into all the excitement and drama it brings.

With this week’s playlist, I’ve attempted to capture the seductiveness of soccer in just 10 tracks. All of the songs on the playlist are connected to the beautiful game in one way or another. These connections can be as loose as a tune from former player Actress, or East Man reference to former Newcastle and West Brom manager Alan Pardew. Take the playlist as an interval before the imminent semi-finals — a schooling in the esoteric sound of football anthems.

Happy toking!

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

Age Of: Strange sounds that warp time

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Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley’s 2013 film A Field In England is as psychedelic for the viewer as it is for the characters. Set during the English Civil War, an ensemble of Roundheads and Cavaliers accidentally take magic mushrooms after deserting a battle. The rest is as strange as you’d expect.

The treatment of time in this film inspired something in me. I felt a need to reconnect to the past through music — and tripping.

This week’s playlist is a compilation of weird and obtuse music that holds a sort of medieval aesthetic, such as tunes from the wonderful scores in A Field in England and The Wicker Man. It also includes some of beautiful sounds of David Tibet’s seminal neo-folk group and Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent excursion to Earth’s past in Age Of. While I can’t include films in this playlist, I’d sincerely recommend The Witch, Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Devils, if the playlist leaves you wanting more.

Happy toking!

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

Haze.Boogie.Life: Queer artists craft sounds to escape to

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California’s gay community may have spearheaded the state’s pioneering medical marijuana initiative in 1996. But today’s cannabis industry has been criticized for betraying its LGBTQ roots: “The homophobia in the weed community is severely real,” Arend Richard, who is known as the “The Gay Stoner” on YouTube, told Slate.

But a growing number of advocates are pushing for diversity in the overwhelmingly white, male, cis space. Laganja Estranja of of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame has partnered with The Hepburns for “the first cannabis pre-roll brand specifically celebrating LGBTQ pride.” Trans icon Buck Angel started his marijuana company Pride Wellness in hopes of bringing the cannabis community back to its roots: “The queer community, specifically gay men and the HIV/AIDS crisis, are why we even have legal cannabis today,” he told Them.

For Pride month, our latest playlist explores themes of queerness, empowerment, and escapism — escaping stereotypes, escaping oppression, escaping homophobia. A post-Pride march joint set to the backdrop of Arca’s ‘Sad Bitch’ is essential for any gay electronic goths like myself.

Happy toking!

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

I Only Have Eyes for You: Hazy sounds to disappear into

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Since I started writing this column, I’ve been wondering whether I’d ever succumb to the idea of making a typical stoner playlist. If I were going to, it wouldn’t consist of jangly indie dirge like Mac Demarco — I’ve never really understood that kind of stuff. Instead, I wanted to compile some tracks that, despite not being crafted with narcotics in mind, are unintentionally stoner-ish.

The Flamingos’ 1959 hit ‘I Only Have Eyes for You,’ which opens the playlist, is the epitome of sounding inadvertently stoney. Echo and reverb drench the sound design, making the song feel decades ahead of its time. Equally incomprehensible is ‘Love In Outer Space,’ the closest Sun Ra has come to a pop song. Taken from Singles: The Definitive 45s Collection, the tune is an essential starting point for people who want to delve into his work.

This week’s playlist is a warped take on a stereotypical smoking playlist. The only cohesion you’ll find is a dreamy, hazy atmosphere.

Happy toking!

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

Vapor Trails: Mellow songs to soundtrack moments of solitude

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A state of bliss is something I find most often in solitude. Moments of peace and tranquillity can be hard to come by in a world seemingly defined by hectic situations and noise. Constant connectivity can feel inescapable.

Any state of bliss is obviously special, but when it arrives in a drug-infused state, it’s a moment to treasure. These seconds should be complemented by ambience. This week’s playlist begins with pivotal ambient musicians like Oval and Wolfgang Voigt (GAS), and then harkens back to the seminal Eno, Visconti and Bowie work ‘Moss Garden.’ It also highlights some of the 21st century’s most innovative ambient producers, like Liz Harris (Grouper) and Julianna Barwick.

Happy toking!

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

In Dreams: Leathery techno and sexy R&B to soundtrack high sex

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about love and sex and the ensuing conflicting feelings. When it comes to intoxication, drugs can completely distort my feelings toward others.

Making love while high often heightens my devotion towards someone. Even if I’m not in love with the other person, weed can make me feel like I am. Weirdly enough, it has the opposite effect in non-sexual social situations: I end up feeling detached from those around me.

It all feels quite contradictory, and these thoughts probably come down to the beauty and persuasive nature of seduction itself more than drug use. I’m always perplexed by marijuana’s ability to color my affection towards those I desire. This week’s playlist is a venture into the prettiest and ugliest corners of intoxicated sex. From the leathery techno of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft to the sexy R&B of Frank Ocean, these songs all recall memories of infatuation.

Happy toking!

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

Limerence: Songs that walk the edge between pleasant and uncomfortable

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I don’t recall the first time I got high – but I do have some (not so) fond memories of the first time I “whitied.” A combination of no food, excessive alcohol, and a fair amount of weed led to some pretty intense hallucinations, involving me falling into a black hole and eventually emerging, unable to separate my wrists from my ribs. I was convinced I was a dinosaur – one self-conscious of its looks, to be precise. I’ve never had an experience that intense on any drug since.

This playlist is an attempt to ease that feeling of disconnect from my own self, particularly my body. These tracks all make me feel the right amount of embodied and disconnect, not only to my body and people, but also to the nature and technology around me. Although most of the voices on these songs are manipulated or tone-deaf, and the textures synthetic, there are innate, human characteristics throughout.

Happy toking!

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

Edges Fall Away: Listen to the experimental sounds of instrumental grime

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Springing largely from the London-based record label Boxed, instrumental grime has taken up a niche position within the U.K. music scene. The genre delivers grime tunes driven not by vocals from MCs, but instead by internal sonic narratives. In recent years, the scene has quietly mutated into various strains, all subtly stranger and more outré than the original form. We’ve collected some of these glazed-over tracks with indisputable drive and energy; it’s perfect music for smoking up to.

Starting us off this week is Iglew and Gundam’s ‘Illuminated,’ taken from Boxed’s most recent compilation album. It moves at the traditional grime tempo of 140 beats per minute, but fleshes a sonic world out through sparse percussion and new-age synthesizers that almost recall Brian Eno’s seminal Ambient 4: On Land. On ‘Blue Sheet,’ producer Slackk brings video game music to the fore, marrying humming 8-bit notes to crisp drum machines. Close your eyes and you could be in the most genteel beat-em-up game of all time.

Visionist has pushed himself far outside the bounds of conventional classification by now, but the remnants of grime can be heard on ‘Tired Tears, Awake Fears’ from his 2015 album Safe. Ripped apart and dissected, the ghost of what could have once been an R&B sample hauntingly floats between the dying gasps of some alien supercomputer.

Dark0 has moved away from the scene and now works more loosely in the realm of trance-indebted atmospherics. Yet on ‘StripGlo,’ he reintroduces the familiar throbbing kick drum of grime’s past, breathing new life into it by adorning its skeleton with convulsing sheets of noise and complex percussion programming. Combine that endorphin overload with some quality green, and you’ll be glowing too.

Happy toking!

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

 

From Centre to Wave: The strange and heavy sound of space rock

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Whether you call it psychedelia, psych rock, or even just ‘stoner music,’ a genre defined by lengthy tracks, flanged-out guitars, and groovy rhythm sections has gone hand-in-hand with cannabis culture since the first summer of love. This week, we’re turning our attention to space rock – psychedelia’s heavier, weirder offshoot.

Space rock experienced a resurgence in the early ’90s, so we’re going to start there. Opening the playlist is Loop’s ‘From Centre to Wave.’ With the shadow of the nascent shoegaze scene hanging over it, the tune features pummeling drums and a circular guitar melody, drawing a fascinating influence from krautrock. ‘From Centre’ is simultaneously inward-looking and star-gazing, perfect for head-highs.

We’ll also jump back in time to the ’70s with Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine.’ It smashes together a mind-boggling amount of styles, pitting a glam-rock stomp against whirring synthesizers and solo galore — a real journey to a faraway cosmic body (in an appropriately shaky vessel).

Leaping forward in time, we close with Spiritualized’s ‘Out of Sigh.’ Best known for their tragic yet epic 1997 album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, the band also put out Let it Come Down in 2001. It slices between expansive orchestral sounds and a slew of damaged gospel proclamations (from an aptly named frontman, J Spaceman). Crescendos bubble constantly under the surface, upsetting one another as they arise and blast off.

Load up the shuttle and the pipe… and happy toking!

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