New Year’s has “Auld Lang Syne”, the Fourth of July has “The Star Spangled Banner”, Halloween has “Halloween” by the Misfits, and Christmas has…something (it’s probably written down somewhere), and now Thanksgiving has Tryptophan Jams.
Internationally amorphous music blog Earmilk has pieced together a cunning amalgam of tracks curated by its contributors that is meant to evoke all of the emotions associated with eating way, way too much fat and sodium – namely, lazy joy and elevated heart rate. The mixes and remixes compiled hereunder are characterized by dreamy tones and langorous sustained chords that will keep listeners soaked in the quiet contentment that should be attendant unto a holiday. Various underpinnings of thrumming bass lines, however, will keep the audience awake enough to watch the Lions lose again.
Wake up on Thanksgiving morning with Falcons, as the Los Angeles-based DJ opens the Earmilk set with a preview from his nascent Birdcall EP. The sample mix mixes samples from a tight profile of laid-back artists; the opening section, a heavily produced but faithful reimagining of Chloe Martini’s breathy seduction, segues into a slightly more uptempo pull from Missy Elliot before the sound plateaus into an instrumental that channels the virtues of both.
Middle Eastern mashup king DJ AA nudges the energy up with a lively plate of Kanye West served on a bed created by Australian producer Thomas Jack. “Touch the Sky” is perfectly prepared with bouncing arpeggiated acoustic guitar chords that offer a whiff of the secret ingredient. Those who bite will be surprised to find a smooth filling of English folk singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich nested inside of Ye’s exuberant exhortations. The morsel is packed with enough energy to fuel some government-mandated Thanksgiving pigskin lobs in the backyard.
Once the turkey is stripped of its flesh and looks like the remains of a shipwreck, bodies laden with tryptophan begin to shut down organ systems one by one in order to divert power to the stomach. Sebastian Carter serves up a course that allows luxuriation in the near-slumber without allowing listeners to fall unconscious and miss a well-deserved day off. Carter creates a delicate dessert by blending Nicole Millar’s “Fall” with the Viennese electronic pair of Klangkarussel and the organic American flow of Druid Cloak to coat the palate with ethereal ganache.
Did digestion shift the center of gravity a bit? Good. French producer EFIX grasps the listener by the arms and pulls him back up out of the Barcalounger – but not too quickly. “Wild Boy” eases slowly from a tapping African drum and ascending phased chords into rousing guitar triplets and squeaky sax flourishes. The four-on-the-floor is like an alarm clock to bring the turkey-addled back to the living.
Colorado thumper Option4 is ready to greet those who were safely brought back from the tryptophan coma (Tur-Koma ®) and are ready to start the evening’s festivities. On “Deep Diamonds”, a sparse bass guitar gives way to a crescendo of subterranean hits and synth flow as Option4 adds punch to Deep Dish’s “Diamond Life”. If this track doesn’t get every head in the room bobbing, then the terrorists have truly won.
Tryptophan Jams might have a less conventional sound than the seasonal carols to which celebrants are accustomed, but, really, it’s Thanksgiving’s fault for leaving the position vacant for so long. Earmilk’s selection of offerings shows a deep respect for tradition by showcasing attitudes finely calibrated to the arc of a typical turkey day. Give it a listen and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
By Daniel Annear