The Mastery of Consciousness, Side A

Year: 1999
Original Format: cassette

This pretentious title is a reference to The Mystery of Consciousness, my first “official” mixtape, which dates back to the Eighties. In the 21st century I would pivot (mostly) to CDs, which makes this sort of the end of an oeuvre. I put a lot of work into it and I still like it.

At the time I was fascinated by the idea of self-programming. I wondered, is it possible to use the power of suggestion to make yourself a happier, stronger, better person?

24 years later I think: Sort of? In very limited ways? You have to be careful how you do it, though; otherwise you end up with something like this:

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Satori in Babylon, Side A

Year: 1999
Original Format: cassette

1999 was a weird year. I never expected the world to end in Y2K, as we called it then, but I expected something to happen — some kind of sea change, which as it turns out did occur, but not in the way anyone expected and not right away. In the lead-up there was a fair amount of anxiety, which has become much more noticeable in retrospect.

This mix is heavy on the hip-hop, which I was belatedly discovering at the time. It also displays a preoccupation with righteousness, which — as anyone who listens to reggae will tell you — is one of the side effects of smoking too much weed. If my lifetime usage were charted it would spike, I think, in 1986 and 1999.

As for the cover art: That was an actual door I used to walk by in Oakland on my way to BART. It is long gone now, but fondly remembered.

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33 1/3 Revolutions per Minute, Side B

Year: 1999
Original Format: cassette

Everything here was originally recorded onto some kind of magnetic tape in the studio, then pressed onto vinyl. I recorded that vinyl onto a cassette in 1999; converted the cassette to mp3 a few weeks ago; then uploaded it to the miraculous Mixcloud. You’d think after all that it would sound tired, but it still sounds pretty great to me.

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33 1/3 Revolutions per Minute, Side A

Year: 1999
Original Format: cassette

This was my tribute to vinyl and also, I thought, a fond farewell. At the time CDs had been the dominant medium for a decade, and there was no way of knowing vinyl would make the comeback it has. I’m happy for it, though I find the whole phenomenon surprising and a little confusing.

As for the artwork: I honestly can’t remember. I was smoking a lot of weed at the time, that may have had something to do with it.

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It’s Happening, Side B

Year: 1996
Original Format: cassette

There’s a sort of narrative here: an extraterrestrial lands; is initially welcomed; meets a woman; is pursued by sinister forces; and in the end decides to return whence he came. It bears some resemblance to the plot of the John Carpenter/Jeff Bridges movie Starman, which I haven’t seen for many, many years. Apparently the Starman comes in response to the Voyager Golden Record, but at no point is he heard to say “Send more Chuck Berry.”

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