Last year electro stalwarts Shadow Dancer surprised us all with an ambient mix put together to mark the summer solstice. Named “Al’s 4.43am Mix”, the hour-long ambient journey sat perfectly with the annual moment of sunrise on the longest day of the year. At turns elegiac and wistful, heartbreaking and uplifting, it showed a side of the Shadow Dancer name often forgotten – the side as inspired by soundscapes as video games. Just over a year later, Al has put together a second mix of similar stature. Darker and even more introspective – if that were possible – it’s another glimpse down a dark and ominous rabbit hole that opens up with a brand new dawn. As that first mix was tragically removed from Soundcloud (the dreaded copyright issue), Shadow Dancer have kindly offered us the chance to share the mix with you.
First off, thanks for a great mix! It’s always great to get a mix that’s not just wall-to-wall exclusives (though of course these mixes serve their own special purpose in our world too) – did you enjoy putting it together? ”Cheers, yeah I really enjoyed it!” You made a similar mix last year, what was it that drew you to do something so seemingly uncharacteristic – for those that don’t know your taste I mean? ”I grew up listening to lots of ambient music and I just think sometimes I need it. When you’ve been making a track and listening to a kick drum for 12 hours straight you need a break. Takes me back to the womb or something…”
Are there any other mixes or works that inspired the way these two were assembled? ”No actually, It just started as an experiment last summer I’d see if it worked to make a DJ mix that had no beats at all, and I’m going to try and make one every summer until I die!”
While the first mix was not without its dark points, the second takes us down a more sinister path – one more menacing than mournful – was that a conscious decision? ”No, the only rules I set myself was that I couldn’t take a track from the same album as any track featured on the first mix, and to try and include as many different artists from the original mix as possible. I didn’t realise ’til afterwards that it has a bit more of a creepy vibe than Vol.1!”
Can you tell us about the process you went through when recording the mix? ”I made a big shortlist of tracks I thought might be suitable in my iTunes, then created a big Ableton live file in which I shifted tracks round over a period of months until I felt the transitions sounded right. You can lay some of these tracks over each other for 5 minutes straight but I wanted to make the links brief as I think each track stands out in its own right.”