“It’s easy to loosely throw some random music together and call it a DJ mix,” says Edwin Congreave of Foals. “But I wanted to make something more ambitious than that.” So began the process of putting together the third instalment of !K7’s ‘Tapes’ series, the follow-up to releases by ‘The Rapture’ and ‘The Big Pink‘.
The concept is self-explanatory. It’s a selection made along the lines of an old school cassette mix tape. Two sides, with different moods on each–in this case more song-driven on side one and more dance oriented on side two.
Side one starts with a line from a news report: “Most people gave up on cassette tapes years ago”. Maybe, but the love and care that went into compiling cassette mixes is alive and well here. Congreave raided the other band members’ record collections to craft something that projects the Foals collective mindset. Not an easy task given their wide-ranging, some might say clashing tastes. It’s a wildly eclectic mix that veers from delicate electronica to world music, woozy disco and new generation house.
“We wanted it to reflect the taste of the whole band,” says Congreave. “so I picked music from the last five years of shared listening. We used to tour in an ex-royal mail delivery van–the DIY band cliché–and we drove ourselves to shows listening to each others playlists on a ropey old cassette player. 90s math rock, Greek folk music, Kompakt total compilations, early Metronomy demos, endless Arthur Russell… sometimes infuriatingly eclectic, but it stretched our minds wide open. I tried to capture some of that atmosphere here. The Bibio remix of ‘Ted’ by Clark, in particular, sounds like the early days of the band to me, in all its hazy weirdness. It’s hugely nostalgic for all of us.”
Nostalgia brings the vibe: both in the emulation of an old mixtape, and through channelling the band’s shared listening heritage. ‘Confusion (Ma Afrika)’ by Condry Ziqubu is perhaps the biggest curveball in the mix. Congreave explains. “It’s from a tape of Yannis’ that belonged to his mum–a compilation of South African pop from the ’80s. Most of it is, well, not exactly great. But we kept coming back to this brilliant song, ignorant of its context but sucked in by the tune.”
The following tracks are less structured and move fluidly, from the synth-prog-odyssey that is Gatto Fritto’s Remix of ‘Way Savvy’ by JR Seaton, into the modern pop brilliance of Blood Orange and In Flagranti’s immersive dub-disco. That side ends with the Carl Craig remix of ‘Kilode’ by Tony Allen. “I remember Yannis and I both buying it on 12-inch and bringing it to each other saying ‘you have to listen to this!’ It was like nothing we’d ever heard before.”
Edwin has spent the last five years DJing alongside band tours, blending his love of deep house and techno into a populist mould, attempting to build a bridge between the indie disco and the real disco. Its as a DJ that he’s sculpted the second half, a selection of some of the bands favourite dance records, from the bittersweet vocal house of Arnold Jarvis to modern classics by Oni Arhun and Julio Bashmore, spanning 25 years of history – a lifetime for the band members. Although notably different to Foals’ own music, it captures the dancefloor compulsion that informs their live shows.
Konono No. 1 brings the set full circle back to a tour favourite, a life-affirming instrumental jam recorded live in the famous Amsterdam venue that Foals have themselves gone on to play several times. And, finally, a ’60s gospel funk anthem, ripped from the dustier shelves of Yannis’ record collection.
It’s a hugely varied set. And as Foals are one of the most inventive bands of the last five years, they were always going to come up with a genre-jamming mix. And a stunning one to boot.