Jayson Greene's omnivorous musical appetite makes a lot of sense given his background: he's Managing Editor for eMusic, a writer for Pitchfork and the Village Voice, a classically trained musician and the former associate editor for Symphony magazine. He also played violin in the Brooklyn-based folk outfit The Instruments.
Jayson Greene writes the following of his Mixtape:
Growing up, music-listening had almost no social component for me; it was all a palace in my head, a place with doors locked. For many years, I had no friends that I talked about or discovered music with, which sounds lonely but was mostly a choice; I was a happy, friendly kid, but always very content to play in my own sandbox, literally or otherwise. I quietly absorbed the impact of albums I read about in Rolling Stone or SPIN while munching post-school bowls of cereal – alt-rock touchstones like My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless," say, or Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation," hip-hop records like "It Takes A Nation of Millions" or "Straight Outta Compton" – or I deliberated over which recording of Beethoven late string quartets from my parents' CD collection to put on for dinner.
I never thought to share much of this with the outside world. As a result, I think, I drew my own crude map on the back of what normal people use as their signposts through genres.
I'm not some music-critic Nell, obviously, inventing my own language and taste in a vacuum, but I think I thought a little less about the kind of music I liked than other kids did. If something latched on, there was often no accounting for it, and I didn't bother to try. Hence: Suicidal Tendencies, Built to Spill, Circle Jerks, AC/DC, Stravinsky, Schumann, Illmatic, the cast recording of Cabaret – no one really stepped in to mock or redirect.
Now that I'm a grown-up who writes about what he likes, I spend a lot of time accounting-in-reverse. This playlist is a sliver of that, I guess. For instance, I included a single movement from the Debussy String Quartet: the Andantino doucement expressif. You are not technically "supposed" to do this, but I have loved and listened to this movement as a discrete piece of music since I was 15 years old, so here it is.
This is the great thing about the privacy of headphones: No one can catch you doing what you want. I also included a piece by the composer Suzanne Ciani, an early pioneer of synthesizer music whose works will feel uncannily familiar to anyone who sat in front of a television in the beginning of the '80s. Her synth sounds always feel like gently glowing extraterrestrial beings to me, like if I were able to reach out and touch them, the would somehow detoxify my blood.
I think my mind likes odd textures, jutting corners: Derek Bermel's opening movement of his Canzonas Americanas tumbles from Dvorak to Gershwin to Joplin and tips into Miles Davis "On The Corner" squelch-funk, all in its first minute and a half. It's an odd piece, and I keep returning to it for that reason. Daniel Felsenfeld's "The Cohen Variations" pulls off the unlikely trick of teasing out the music-box quality of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" descending melody while sending inner voices rambling in and around it, blurring its edges. And then, of course, there's Elliott Carter's Triple Duo, the first piece that showed me just how fiendishly playful this supposed extreme, forbidding modernist's music could be. Like everything else on this playlist, it caught in a crevice of my mind, and I worried away at it abstractedly until I couldn't live without it. I apologize if any of this playlist is taxing to the nerves; this is what my mind sounds like.
Nico Muhly – Etude 1a (Nadia Sirota, violin; Clarice Jensen, cello)
Joseph Byrd – Animals (American Contemporary Music Ensemble)
Elena Ruehr – The Evening Star (Trinity Choir)
Suzanne Ciani – Clean Room (ITT TV Spot)
Don Byron – Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye: III (ETHEL)
David Lang – Have Mercy, My God (Theatre of Voices)
Elliott Carter – Triple Duo (New York New Music Ensemble)
Patrick Burke – Unravel (Michael Mizrahi, piano)
Derek Bermel – Canzonas Americanas: Mvt. I (Alarm Will Sound)
Daniel Felsenfeld/Leonard Cohen – The Cohen Variations (Simone Dinnerstein, piano; from the upcoming album "Night" by Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt)
Herbert Deusch – 2 Songs Without Words: Longing (Darryl Kubian, theremin; Nancy Deutsche, piano)
Arvo Part – Silouans Song (Tallinn Chamber Orchestra)
*Not all compositions from the original streaming playlist appear on Spotify.