As a medium, the mixtape occupies an interesting space in the musical world. Less formal than an album, but more fleshed out as a cohesive body of work than, say, an EP, the mixtape has evolved to be a pretty open-ended format whether it consists of entirely original material or a curated collection of others' works arranged in a way intended to contextualize and enhance the auteur's vision. Anyone that's ever painstaking poured over the tracklist of the mixtape they made for a friend or crush or significant will understand, the mixtape can be incredibly intimate and highly personal expression of the creator's vision making the expression all the more revealing.
Berlin duo, Modeselektor, have had their fair share albums and EPs tucked under their belts over the course of their career but a proper mixtape had somehow still eluded them. Then the pandemic hit and suddenly the pair found themselves with all the time in the world and the perfect chance to finally put together the mixtape they had always wanted.
Related | India Jordan Keeps the Momentum Going
Digging through their own archives and revisiting song ideas they had amassed over the years, as well as constructing entirely new tracks and undergoing roughly 10 different iterations, the end result was "Extended." A sprawling 27-track collection, the mixtape covers a lot of ground over the course of its 66 minute runtime ranging from sweaty thunderous techno to dark moody riddim, spacious ambient interludes and experimental detours that tumble into heated dance floor drops.
Featuring guest appearances by Jackson & His Computer Band and the legendary dub vocalist and past collaborator, Paul St. Hilaire, "Extended" feels like a nice mid-career retrospective spanning the wide breadth of sounds Modeselektor has explored over the years both in and out of the club, while giving a glimpse of where things might be headed.
Carrying on in the same spirit of the project's name, Modeselektor have followed up Extended with a series of EPs built around fleshed out versions of some of the mixtape's highlights bringing in more collaborators like Flohio and Blixa Bargeld into the fold as well. Their most recent EP, Dating is in China, sees Modeselektor team up with Argentinian artist Catnapp to rework "Disc" into a shimmering pop gem. Adding in a glitchy amped up "Speed Dating Version" and a drone version called "Dated in China" to round out EP along with remixes from Aasthma, UNIIQU3 and Timtim, Modeselektor further broadens the sonic horizons of Extended world in new and exciting ways.
In honor of the release of Extended and the subsequent series of EPs, we asked Modeselektor to fish out some of their own favorite mixtapes and tell us a little bit more about them.
Lil Wayne - Dedication 2
It's a masterfully hosted mixtape by Lil Wayne and DJ Drama. Although it includes a lot of uncleared beats and samples by very well known producers, the mixtape hadn't been rejected by the copyright owners back then. Therefore, it's also a very good example of a sociocritical and political contemporary document.
Berlin No.1 Volume 2 (Royal Bunker)
Another great mixtape rooted in Rap music comes from Berlin, with the very simple title "Berlin No.1 Volume 2." It's a great contemporary document of the rap scene in Berlin back in 2000. The local scene in Berlin at that time was known for their sense of humor, mixed with raw productions and a courage to improvise — both rhymes and beats.
Laurent Garnier - X-Mix-2 Destination Planet Dream 1994
The X-Mix-series was originally thought as a audio-visual mixtape. Inspired by the DJ mix, psychedelic visuals were createtd and released as a VHS mixtape. Vol. 1 was hosted by the back then (1993) still innovative Paul van Dyk. Vol. 2 was produced by Laurent Garnier and already shows his extremely tasteful selection and it is masterfully mixed as well.
It's not really a mixtape in the original sense, but Alejandra Ghersi, aka Arca, has kicked off something special with this extremely radical and genius single-track-file in 2013, that is still continuing to have an effect to this day. It's a showcase for snippets of ideas. Each of the fourteen tracks is so impertinent short in the mix, that it almost physically hurts when it's over. A unique and successful experiment.
Bogdan Raczynski x 8Ball - We Used To Corrupt Each Other With Art And Coffee
Bogdan Raczynski earns so much more attention. Born in Poland, lost in Japan, surfaced again in Canada. Together with the producer 8Ball, he created a mixtape with a very high entertainment factor which is extremely diverse as well. This mix focuses on Bogdans early works which were released on Aphex Twins label Rephlex. Ambient meets Amen Breaks. This is just perfect in every sense and there were even two singles released from the mixtape, "Art" and "Coffee".
Photography: Birgit Kaulfuss