4 out of 5
Produced by: Thackery Earwicket (edits and field recordings by)
While I’m still admittedly a bit perplexed as to the legality of how mixtapes are released by labels, when I’d suspect much of the music still falls under copyright, a good mix can maybe offset some of its reuse by crediting the material, and also by – understanding this is subjective – selecting good material that makes us track down the source and direct funds to that artist as well.
Setting aside those concerns, there are a couple of other throughlines of enjoyment: that an ideal mixtape offers up a nice sense of, y’know, a mix – different styles, different moods – and presents the material to us in a way that makes for an ideal listen as a blend, and, as above, maybe leads us to new discoveries or rediscoveries.
Thackery Earwicket, working again to recontextualize a bevy of selections for another Un-je-nes-sais-quoi mixtape, is rather skilled at the above, at least when it comes to my ears. Skewing French – it’s a French label – this sixth UJNSQ mix makes me hesitate with its roster of some typical names like Jacques Brel, and others for whose specific genre I may not care, like Stan Getz, but take something out of context, or just boil it down to a representative track or moment, and you can hear such music anew. Chaleur does that across its 20-minute A-side and B-sides, with Earwicket letting some tracks play out in near full, some as snippets, all (I think) minimally stepped on except to blend them with some field recordings, which slink in and out in such a way as to seem like natural inclusions before the actual track takes over. While the A-side tends toward pop and the B is more symphonic, there’s a good sense of pace maintained, keeping things engaging throughout so that the mix never just slinks to the background – you’ll want to check the list of artists to get an idea as to whose music is playing.
There are some pacing hiccups, where Thackery may’ve just wanted to include something because – I, too, would try to jam some Francois de Roubaix into any French-music mix – and the symphonic side is, by nature of that theme, a lot more spaced out like separate songs as opposed to the slick blends on side A, but regardless: a new Jacques Brel song I can appreciate, alongside a small handful of other artists I definitely would’ve otherwise skipped or never have heard.