In 2004, I started an audio trading game with friends: Par Avian.
The goal was to make a mix about an hour long with a theme. The list could only be 50 people long, because of bandwidth issues. If you made a mix you got to nominate some of your friends and you were moved to the top of the list. If you sat on the fence you were weeded out. The goal was to find 50 people that felt strongly enough about music to give back. Finally though, I wound down the project as the advent of digital music become the norm – when this project began, there was no App Store.
A few years on now, and I’ve decided to find a way to archive Par Avian in a way that might be accessible beyond our original group. Included here are a few selections from the history of the project. With highlights chosen by myself or the original authors. Hope you enjoy.
A number of these mixes are now hosted on Mixcloud. You can find an additional number of mixes at Par Avian Mixcloud.
Prior to Mixcloud, Par Avian mixes were hosted at a couple of sites including my own server, to the extent that I could. Here are additional links to find some of the mixes. But, you can find everything at the above.
Par Avian 101: Return to Sender – The Breakup Album
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 2h43 minutes[Originally published: 10/25/13]
“Gentlemen, that’s as far as I can take you” – guide Conrad Kain to his clients on the summit of Mt. Robson, 1913.
Et tu, Par Avian? With this 100th release (there never was a no.13) I close the books on Par Avian with this massive 2 1/2 hour mix that took 2 1/2 years to make. My masterpiece, Magnum opus, my Galatea and Titanic. Bye-bye, miss american pie. This is not only the final Par Avian album; It’s the last mixtape that I will ever do.
This final mix breaks with tradition, in that I include a couple of tracks I’ve used in the past and take the length out to a couple of hours. Forgive me my rampant sentimentality in this audio swan song. Parts of the mix have been planned for years. Chunks of it have been extant for the past few years. And about 50% of it was cobbled together over the past year. At times it has been two or three times longer. Because the theme is “end-ing” it had a penchant to run towards morose. There are a slew of great song runs that i had to pull to keep the tone even. And through it all, a center holds. I hope you will enjoy the juxtapositions and segues. But at the end of it all, I hope you enjoy the mix.
Welcome to Par Avian 101 – Return to Sender, the breakup album. All my best. Now, kindly get out!
Thank you for lending me an ear. It’s been my privilege to be the Master of Ceremonies here.
Par Avian 100, in four parts[Original release: December 12, 2012]
For this penultimate edition, the 100th release, I’ve asked the four top contributors to Par Avian to return (myself, Tuffy, Cosmo Jones, and Dutch) and to each make a mix of 25 tracks each. 100 tracks for the 100th release, which will net you about 6.5 hours of awesome music. Mixed by people who really really care about music. Favorite tracks/greatest hits/etc. The mandate was the blow the roof off. I hope you enjoy.
Par Avian 100 – Cosmo Jones – Code Name: Magic Is Real
By Cosmo Jones
Run Time: 1h30min
Magic Is Real, so sayeth the 30 foot high mural on the studio wall. This mix is a juxtaposition of up and coming bands from Bedrock Studios next to other bands that have made it to the next rung. Everything is within the last 3 years give or take a year. Along with a reminder that Alicia Keys is a silly goose. She totally is.
Par Avian 100 – Levi – Code Name: Is New Again
By Levi “Tuffy” Elder
Run Time 1.7h[An awesome collection of contemporary artists doing covers. The theme was “everything old is new again”. – Ed.]
Par Avian 100 – Dutch
Run Time 1.7h
Years ago when this all began, it was a strange transitional time, the notion that was, of passing cassettes (something that’s recently become vogue again due to their silly lo-fi sensibility), was possible again, but to more people, and in a more meaningful way. The thought that people through an invite, never having met, could share music and sensibilities so easily and so removed, well, at the time, seemed so revolutionary.
What proved out was much more, and though at times disconnected, in some ways, that was the point. I have the pleasure of knowing some of you, some of us never have, nor will meet and either way, I hope you dig the mix, if not…
I had a hoot doing this, I always have. The notion of sharing music has been something that’s run deep and always will. I’ve given up on wondering if people dig it or not, just hope that one lands home with someone and they pass it on, or just enjoy it on their own.
When e and I graduated from high school, we all traded mixtapes (four of us) of the music that influenced and informed us through the years of that weird and formative space. What came from that, was a collection of music from people that was completely the in step, yet totally different. I cherished those mixes for years.
What you have now is something very similar, four people, all associated in different ways, sharing music from different perspectives, yet, the same. The music from PA has influenced me and the way I think about sharing and community, and in a way, I’ve watched the world evolve around that, or catch up to it, or just it has become what we hoped it would in some ways…
Music builds community and relations, and I will continue to cherish these for the years to come.
Fuck the po-leese
Par Avian 100 – E. Tage Larsen – Code Name: Caliban
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 1h23m minutes
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
Caliban is the hideously deformed, wild-man antagonist of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Prospero encounters Caliban as the wretched sole proprietor of an island. And after the incredibly shitty year i’ve had topped with the Kill Storm that visited my little island… Caliban seemed an apt avatar for this hour and a half penultimate murder of sound. It is part eclectic and part progressive and a splash of secret ricky sauce to let you know who’s serving you dinner.
This mix has three phases with a very gentle and slow burn. It’s certainly amongst the best mixes i’ve done; i hope you enjoy. Side note, the cover of the album is a snapshot of the Harlem River crawling to within a block of my house as it drowns a local park and playground.
Par Avian 96 – Night and the Blind
Theme: Wandering through the Late of Night
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 1h13m minutes[Originally release 06/15/10]
“They constantly try to escape from the darkness outside and within By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good, ” – T. S. Eliot
This mix has been “ready to go” for a couple of months. And then i’d shuffle a few songs around. Make a couple of variations. Fuss with it some more. Repeat. As the days grow longer, it seemed somewhat, i don’t know… urgent?… that a set of tracks that are wrapped in a sort of somnambulant context should get out of Dodge sooner rather than wait any further. Back to the grist mill i went last week and the wrestling benefited with new additions from recent Morcheeba and Trentemoller albums.
Hope you enjoy. Let the day’s light wane; your eyes grow heavy and your speakers get loud. Even your confusion and frustration shall be rewarded.
Par Avian 94 – 32 Hours
Theme: fog and damnation
By: Tokyo Jo
Run Time: 51 mins
[Original release 02/18/10] 32 Hours tells the story of a strong and mercurial woman and her survival and search for love, success and happiness in post-metropolis New York. Wintertime poster Tokyo Jo’ rouses from her slumber and breaks through the cold air with a dazzling mix of downtempo tunes and oily electronica.
I forgot to keep my mouth shut;
I sat on my bathroom floor in a stupor at one in the morning, staring at the shower curtain;
I glided through consciousness, I walked through doors and walls;
I felt literally beside myself: I was standing here, yet I was also in the next room.
Par Avian 89 – US/LES
Theme: Dusting Yourself Off, Bit by Bit
By: Levi “Tuffy” Elder
Run Time: 58 minutes[Originally release 03/18/09] A good year for fires. First the PA hard drive takes a hit, and then i learn that Tuffy’s storage goes belly up. From the ashes rises a banging mix of pieces of Tuffy.
The sun may refuse to shine in the great outdoors but the fires burn strong in the speakers. S’been a good while since i heard the Smithereens. Gonna fire that bad boy up right now, I think…
as la Tuffy says:
I built this playlist out of the wreckage of my burned out hard drive. I decided to give it a listen when I was in town (when I say ‘in town’ I mean Manhattan) running errands. It was a big sun-shiny day in the middle of February. It was seriously in the mid 50’s. I put this mix on and probably listened to it on a loop for at least three hours. The last listen was on the last errand: a walk from Union Square to The Magician for happy hour. A lot of old friends and memories in this group, and it’s all good times my buddies, good times.
My friend Susan Garbett did the cover drawing. Works best with an 8 second xfade. Some of the compression on these is not great. I would definitely import at whatever your ‘best’ or ‘loss less’ encoding choice. Regardless it will sound pretty good on headphones and small speaks.
download zipped files at:
Par Avian 84 – Incide
Theme: loss of self
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 1 hour 14 minutes[Original release 10/13/08]
“If I could start again, a million miles away… I would keep myself. I would find a way.”
Difficult year. If catharsis can tap its foot, then this is the tune it would carry.
Sandwiched deep in this mix is an old Dramatics track “I Was Checking Out…” that is of rather terrible quality. Unfortunately, this was the only version i could come up with. Other covers of the same track don’t have the same soulful gravitas that is crackling here. So, apologies. Funny how alien an old 45 can sound.
Another side note, the Tim Hardin version of “Morning Dew” immediately follows. I’m not certain why i put it here. I’m not sure that i didn’t think that it wasn’t about making love on a farm. It wasn’t until a few weeks after it got placed in the mix that i read somewhere that “Morning Dew” was supposed to be some sort of post-Apocalypse anti-nuclear song. I suppose that if i was a few years older i might have known that. That song is followed by a track from the newer Spiritualized, “Songs from A&E” which i think is one of the most under-appreciated albums of the year. If you’re remotely interested in the track here, it was one of four that could have slipped into this mix. Likewise, if you like the opening guitar piece, “Skylark Herald’s Dawn” make sure to check out the James Blackshaw album “Sunshrine” because the trans-coding of the mp3 file here really doesn’t do the instrument justice from its original recording.
Par Avian 79: I Am Honey
Theme: the buzz, buzz, buzz. the buzzing in your eardrum.
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 1 hour 12 minutes
Late in the sky, Anamithra lays midst piles of drunken silks and abyssal velvet. Along side her swarm millions of little lights. Like tiny bees they dot the heavens and shiver with a chalky drone that drifts through the miles and years to create the static that informs all our senses. Our perception is thus colored by her servants in a fog of light and sound. When you squint into the night sky, with a smile on your face and belief in that deep, infinite call, you will hear her voice like a fine instrument on an old victrola. So clear and full of love, you strain on your tip toes and lean into the void.
Once a year, i create a PA that is buoyant and deprived of the sort of emo, shoe staring sombre that most of my mixes are known for. this then is that mix. Happy Summer, y’all.
here’s to the valentines i never knew; the friday night charades of youth…
Par Avian 76: Why You Gotta Be Messin’ Wif My Bass?
Theme: bassy blowback to tiny speaker/headphone hell
Run Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
[originally released: April 5th, 2008]
This small town kid dusts off his speakers and joins our ranks as an active member. Way to show up and be counted citizen Ajax. Lovely mix, ifn heavy, catchy throb music can be described as lovely. It’s like caffeine without all the messy hot beverage! It’s like hotpants without the legs!
Rest in Peace, Ajax.
Dave (Ajax) Lee (1962-2019)
Par Avian 75 – Mr. Tomorrow
By: E. Tage Larsen
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
-W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
How to explain Mr. Tomorrow to you. From the outside it will simply seem like another candy bar dressed up in a PA wrapper. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, PA owes at least 30% of its existence to UNKLE and a series of rockblock hour long mixes that James Lavelle did a few years ago. Some day i’ll upload my favorite but this isn’t that day. PA is also, in part my father making tapes from his favorite albums; and then finally the cassettes we exchanged amongst friends as teenagers and into our early 20s. Those of you too young… google “maxell” or “tdk”. The closest thing you’re likely to get to a high-bias 120 minutes these days is one of those strap-on Sadie Hawkins dances they refer to as a Democratic Party debate. But i digress.
About three years ago, i got my hands on a few singles by the euro band M. You will know M from his one-hit wonder of Pop Musik from the very early 80s. When it was new, i remember buying the 45 of “Pop Musik” and “Horse with no Name” (Amerika). My early teen hours in Mpls were colored with flipping those fucking little vinyl discs every 3m44 to my heart’s content. The flip-side to “Pop Musik” was this truly odd song called “M Factor” which is a cold war love song to a nuclear reactor. I’m not sure why it hit a chord with me at such a young age but it certainly had a greater longevity than “Pop Musik”. “I hear them talking ’bout my reactor, ooooh she comes, the M Factor.” Terrible song. But that was the early 80s for you. I dare you to make sense of some of those Black Flag songs. So forgive me my euro-fag dalliances (once again.) It’s all an old man has – he says stroking his cat in a Blofeld like manner whilst twirling around in his chair staring at a checklist of why Bond must die.
Second and perhaps more importantly was this little game i would play with myself in the shower. No, a different one. A few years ago i came up with this terrible superhero called Mr. Tomorrow. Possibly Capt. Tomorrow. Anyway. The old Superman TV show trumpets would well-up and it would be all RKO fab and the Walter Winchell voiceover would come on and say, “Mr. Tomorrow, Here from tomorrow to save yesterday!!” A soapy play on time where the future’s past is our present. Get it? I’m sorta like that in the shower. All temporal n’such. So our hero and his faithful ward would save the world by essentially reading tomorrow’s newspapers today. He would swoop in and stop Mr. Crocodile by saying something like “Stop the presses!” and his ward would say in a high pitched voice, “Say, Mr. Tomorrow, how come…” Well, you get the idea. It was a lot of fun… and then the soap would get in my eyes and it would be time to exfoliate and then really, who has the time for fantasy and ohmygod how long has it been since i shaved my legs?
So. That’s why i bombard you with this wall of futuristic fantasy. There was a time when we learned how to hide under our desks at school. I invite you to step forward into yesterday. What did you learn today?
Par Avian 73 – UV Depletion
Theme: Cabin Fever
Run Time: 1 hour 4 minutes[Originally released 02/25/08]
download zipped files at:
Par Avian 68: Soften the Rain
By: E. Tage Larsen
Running Time: 70 minutes[Originally released 11/27/07] With gales of November, i ask, “does anyone know where the love of god goes when the waves turn minutes into hours?” Perhaps into the Age of Me and its embarrassment of riches – where it’s bathed in its own filthy reflection. When you’re staring into that empty lucre that you worship, reach out and pull the level for redemption. Not on the ballot? No, it’s not. The hardest things can be the most simple. Be thankful for the penitent.
My mother said to me as a boy, she said, “Edmund,” she always called me Edmund, she said, “Edmund, you can either be Smart or you can be Kind. All I can tell you is that I’ve been smart and I’d rather be kind.”
I wish i’d been any good at either.
The follow-up to “Your Smile So Loud” retains some of its introspective autumnal core but has in the last few weeks become its own machine. No longer the bastard child of late-Summer, our new “Soften the Rain” shares little structure with the prior. Though, both still finish on Bettye Lavette, as originally planned. About half of the original StR was stripped out to make way for some last minute changes. Funny how these things evolve: The neighbors are banging on the walls because of my late night Shirley Bassey sessions and a few weeks ago the Alpha song, at about 15mins, became the focal point for the entire thing.
I am nothing if not a beast of the weather. This then would be more gun-cleaning music. The rain falls down up on this ugly town where even the weeds drink champagne.download at:
Par Avian 61: Wolf Comes Home
By E. Tage Larsen
Running Time: 1h3min[Originally released 05/31/07] [Enter wolf] Hat in hand. Sweat beaten into the band. Poorly and in need of a good blocking. In his other hand is his valise. Pigs not home. No bother. He sets his case down. The stone no longer cool. Just worn. Like Loman, his back is crooked forward. Some would call it a lupine gesture, that arch, others would recognize it for the all the miles traveling in the main cabin of some major carrier. Never mind the brand, they’re all the same. A floating box. Thin air. No silverware. Yes, yes… What big eyes. Thank you. Madame, please control your child.
He makes his way across the threshold to the living room. Straw smattered on a plate. He sits in a bare lounger. Sinking in nicely. He reaches for the remote. Click. Nothing. Click click. Nothing. Shake. Shake. No fucking batteries.
There’s a scratching at the screen door. No, not the pigs. They wouldn’t be home so soon and besides: they have keys. It’s his driver. Smiling balefully with just the porch light catching on a doughy smile.
Rather clumsy of me to fob this off on you all. My apologies. I know you all know me too well.
Have a dram and a draught, and raise your mug for me. Me? I’m champagne. I’m champagne.
Par Avian 52 – Lullabies from Browntown
Theme: Cold and Lonely Hearts
By: Levi “Tuffy” Elder
Run Time: 1 hour 6 minutes[Originally released 01/03/07] I should perhaps start by stating that “Browntown” is the name that a friend always used to call Salt Lake City. It’s a fitting descriptor for that bleak little slice of middleclass “normalcy” which is locked in by lake smog in the winter or burnt to a crisp for the better part of the summer. Anyway, the term fits.
Somebody asked me about this next PA and I said with much excitement that it was like listening to somebody drive a truck through a prom. With that I’m so very happy to kick off the new year with Tuffy’s brilliant “Lullabies from Browntown.”
The economy of this list is such that they are all divine tracks. Go get your pout on!!
In La Tuffy’s words himself:
what can i say? these song are like so many cliched icicles on so many cold and lonely hearts. the nights are cold and long and lonely. and so are these songs. all exquisitely painful and haunting in their own way. so many boys. so many broken hearts. so many icy black tears. i should rename each of these songs. kiger, shane, jack. it would be like a puzzle. an icy dead puzzle. black necrotic pieces of the pieces from the time before.
that is if your broken heart needs to put on some eyeliner and dance it off at a club called the bat cave and find itself a dude with a black leather trench coat and capped incisors. but updated for 2007.
my first one within the allotted time frame will withstand the full 12 second crossfade. i strongly encourage you to smoke a dube, pop a val, whatever you like, turn the lights down plug the phones and plot your voodoo revenge or cry your eyes out. i do all of these things.
A track list is within in txt and xml included in file.
download zipped files at:
Par Avian 44 – Pinhole Architecture
Theme: Hard Sad
Run Time: 47 minutes[Originally released 10/07/06]
Designed to be played with heavy crossfade in itunes. Nothing better than a big box of sour happy from Portland. As it claims, this winsome little dirge of a list is very capable of making your hooves clatter with pagan desire - get a little boom in your doom. Put that in your anhinga and smoke it. In Dutch's own words:
Pinhole Architecture, born on the wings of the anhinga, is a bit of melancholic up jump mofo. the anhinga, being considered by most as, the bird of doom, really means sumpthin sunshine(y) don't it? this mix was put together out of the inevitability of the seasonal change and the knowing that it's going to get dark soon in many ways. there's nothing lying down in this mix, and even though it has its tongue firmly implanted in it's cheek, with turns of sarcasm, jibes and anger, you still have to shake thine booty or let yer converse do the twist. pinhole architecture is a nod to the camera obscura and everything getting turned on it's head, while recreating a life-like substitute. "Nothing is true; everything is permissible" - Hassan Al Bin Sabbah this dark bird of chaos is part of a series within Par Avian that will be rearing its head over the course of the next few months. "God Save the Queen, Chaos is not dead" - The Monks of Doom
... First comes the doomy chaos, then comes the promise of additional gloomy chaos. If this be the end then I raise my rusty hulk and shake a quivery quiver to the great sea of time.
download zipped files at:
Par Avian 9 – Egg Hunter
Run Time: 52 minutes[Originally released 03/23/05]
Jesus, no pun intended, but it's always Montreal somewhere. Just when things were beginning to look moderate in New York we get hit with another bout of snow cum slush cum snow. I'm just getting over the halcyon reminders of Kevin Lo's mix tape from last time around... and the frostbite that those people call a city. Last year, once I gave up on the conference, Montreal was all a preamble for Easter. So now It's cold and miserable in Metropolis and my dear friend Dutch has stepped into the fray again with a soundtrack to a holiday gone awry. A few links, air kisses, and off he jets to sunny California: no doubt to enjoy some cocktails on the beach.
Leaving me with an hour of music to dance the holy week away, praying that I don't slip on ice. Have you ever slipped in Harlem? I think not. Don't mind me, I'm just back from surgery and in a vicodin haze. Don't be fooled, even Easter can break your heart. But straight from the mouth of Dutch himself:
So here it is, the idea initially was to make a soundtrack that you could play while having and easter egg hunt. due to my many moods this turned into something slightly other -- a bit of a movie plot, and this is the soundtrack for it.
'Egg hunter' is about a young precocious boy that lives for Easter. Nothing else matters to him; he doesn't care. nothing has the import that the hunt brings. His grandparents have a farm, and the whole family converges on easter sunday after church, to get the party started. While the adults relax and catch up, the children are out, in the back forty on the hunt. The grandparents spend weeks setting up the hunt, actually hiding, obscuring, burying eggs and gifts.
Our hero, armed with implements he's fashioned himself, or gathered that his parents have forgotten about: pen light from a dentist's office, small plastic trowel, a cloth grocery shopping bag, etc, is ready. it's a blustery day, more windy than usual, but due to the children's protestations, the hunt is on. The storm reaches a bit of a pitch, the sky starts to turn green and the parents, afraid of tornado, attempt to gather the children. alone, in his one man mission, the egg hunter will not be deterred. He evades the adults, all the while finding the treasure, digging, hiding in bushes, tearing his clothes, crawling under logs the egg hunter will prevail in his search for the big treasure... well, something like that. happy equinox cheers Dutch
download zipped files at: