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Trailblazing artists are usually better-remembered than Vess L. Ossman. The first musician to make a ragtime record, the ‘King of the Banjo’, and one of the biggest names of the Edwardian era, Sylvester’s reputation suffered three blows in the post-WW1 era – his genre (ragtime) was superseded by a more inventive one (jazz) , his reign as the ‘King of the Banjo’ was cut short by the rapid rise of a rival, and most importantly perhaps, his instrument fell out of fashion, except in bluegrass music, where it was played in a very different way.
Vess was born in Hudson, New York in 1868, and spent the entirity of his adult life as a professional musician, recording for 25 years, and touring America and further afield for more than 30. His final recordings were made in 1917, but he continued to tour with his son, Vess L. Ossman Jr., until his death from an on-stage heart attack in 1923 at the age of 55.
Vess L. Ossman was the first musican I felt I’d “discovered” in my research – a bit of an arrogant framing, I’m afraid. In his lifetime Vess achieved international fame and recorded plenty of good music, much of it of great historical importance, but the ragtime banjo now seems like it should be an obscure footnote. it isn’t. With this compilation I hope to do a little to spread awareness of his legacy.
Centuries of Sound is two years old now. I have made mixtapes / soundscapes for the years 1859 to 1909, plus 2016 and 2017. All of these will remain freely accessible without any advertising. But from the first of next month there will be a huge amount of other material available for anyone who becomes a member of Centuries of Sound on Patreon.
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So, were you expecting 1910? Well the bad news is that it’s going to be another month until that’s ready. The good news is that I have finally finished this mix for 2017. It has been a bit of a monster, or a menace, is 45 minutes over my supposed maximum running time of two hours, and contains around 150 sound samples, including the 76 tracks listed below.
How was 2017? It seems like a year of readjustment after the shocks of 2016. There is a lot going on in here, but I didn’t find that a single thread emerged this time. In a decade or so, when I get around to this year again, some of this will still seem worthwhile, some probably will not, we will just have to see.
One perhaps important thing also to note – there is a lot of rude language in this mix, and I mean a lot. I’m working on a family-friendly version, which should be out in a week or two.
The start of 2019 sees some changes at Centuries of Sound. The monthly mix will stay as it is, free to download, and without any advertisements, but there will be a variety of rewards available for anyone signing up to our Patreon. The page is up already, the rewards will start to become available in the next month. Your support can get me some half-decent microphones, proper hosting, and, most importantly, justify to my family the amount of time I spend making this thing. Our page is here.
And finally, of course, the tracklist:
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Undoing a Luciferian Towers 0:00:00
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Deadly Valentine (Soulwax Remix) 0:01:16
Jeff Beal – House of Cards S05E03 Closing Titles 0:04:00
Danny Brown – Ain’t it Funny 0:05:27
Zimpel-Ziolek – Wrens 0:06:28
Superorganism – Something for Your M.I.N.D. 0:09:08
Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot 0:10:57
Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) 0:13:15
Kendrick Lamar – FEEL. 0:15:31
Blanck Mass – Hive Mind 0:18:57
Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet – Lila Bambo 0:21:50
The Horrors – Something To Remember Me By 0:25:13
Self Esteem – Your Wife 0:27:16
Roger Robinson – Welcome to Dog Heart City 0:29:11
Caroline Spence – Softball 0:31:16
Leif – July V 0:34:20
Cardi B – Bodak Yellow 0:37:49
Avelino (feat. Stormzy & Skepta) – Energy 0:39:05
Orbital – Copenhagen 0:40:26
Strobes – OK Please 0:42:25
Tom Zanetti featuring Sadie Ama – You Want Me 0:44:20
Justin Adams ft. Anneli Drecker – Wassoulou 0:45:34
Denzel Curry, Lil Ugly Mane – Zeltron 6 Billion 0:47:18
CCFX – The One to Wait 0:48:50
Kero Kero Bonito – Rock & Roll Star 0:52:20
Yaeji – Raingurl 0:55:15
Nite Jewel – 2 Good 2 Be True 0:58:01
Colin Stetson – Spindrift 0:59:48
Vince Staples – Crabs in a Bucket 1:01:40
Tove Lo – Disco Tits 1:03:32
Special Request – Stairfoot Lane Bunker (Minor Science Remix) 1:05:22
Baxter Dury – Porcelain 1:08:03
Antwood – Disable Ad Blocker / Sublingual 1:09:30
Chino Amobi – Eigengrau (Children of Hell II) 1:11:06
Hammock – When The Body Breaks 1:12:17
James Holden & The Animal Spirits – Thunder Moon Gathering 1:14:22
The Jungle Giants – Bad Dream 1:16:31
Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular 1:18:08
Grace Mitchell – Now 1:20:15
Lindstrøm – Tensions 1:21:30
The Seven Fields of Aphelion – Drift (Losing Light) 1:22:57
Young Fathers – Only God Knows 1:23:30
Bjork – Arisen My Senses 1:25:53
clipping. – The Deep 1:28:23
Kelly Lee Owens – Anxi 1:30:22
Photay – Off-Piste 1:32:22
Lost Souls of Saturn vs. Mashrou’ Leila – Bint El Khandaq 1:34:43
Alessandro Cortini – Vincere 1:36:36
Nilüfer Yanya – Baby Luv 1:39:07
Kesha ft. The Dap-Kings Horns – Woman 1:41:42
KIASMOS – Blurred 1:44:03
Oliver – Chemicals (feat. MNDR) 1:46:27
Lingua Ignota – Woe to All (On the Day of My Wrath) 1:48:09
Jlin – Kyanite 1:49:32
Migos – T-Shirt 1:51:16
Ghostpoet – Freakshow 1:53:44
Meridian Brothers – Yo Soy Tu Padre, Yo Te Fabrique 1:55:33
Lanark Artefax – Touch Absence 1:57:49
Aldous Harding – Imagining My Man 2:01:06
Moses Sumney – Doomed 2:04:11
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Who I Am And Why I Am Where I Am 2:05:59
Lorde – Green Light 2:07:49
Visible Cloaks – Screen 2:10:18
Ibibio Sound Machine – Give Me a Reason 2:11:45
Mondo Grosso – Labyrinth 2:13:50
Bing & Ruth – Starwood Choker 2:15:55
Brian Eno & Kevin Shields – Only Once Away My Son 2:17:53
Rapsody feat. Lance Skiiiwalker – Power 2:20:00
Susanne Sundf›r – The Sound of War 2:23:13
SZA – Supermodel 2:25:57
Sinkane – U’Huh 2:27:55
Bicep – Glue 2:29:46
Leif Vollebekk – Elegy 2:33:36
Tornado Wallace – Voices 2:36:45
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Life, Life 2:39:27
Pippa Murphy – Small Consolation 2:40:35
James and Sean continue their voyage into the distant history of sound recording. This time we cover the years 1894 and 1895, a time of popular unrest, great literature, and a burgeoning wax cylinder market, with at least two songs bound to be familiar to listeners in 2018. Also, as ever, plenty of Americans with moustaches, middle initials and banjos.