Samoyed is the recording name of Scottish producer Andrew Cook. He makes music that sounds like falling snow, and I've been stanning hard since I first stumbled upon a couple of his tracks on YouTube back in 2012. Proving good things really do come to those that wait, this Friday, December 4, will see the release of his new album Saturday on Flask Records, and it's a beaut (order it here). To celebrate both its release and the start of this crisp new month, Cook has made us a very special mix that skates down frozen rivers, scooping up the sounds of the forest and curling them around music by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and London producer Lukid, amongst others. It's a salve to the spirit. Thanks Samoyed.
Where are you right now? Describe your surroundings.
I’m in my living room. It’s totally wild outside and the wind is wheezing in through my old windows. It’s black outside, but I think it’s snowing. The stove is burning. Some German people tried to set up a Christmas market in here but I kicked them out.
Tell us a bit about this mix—what do you imagine people doing while listening to it?
I had a particular walk in mind whilst putting this together. It goes in a loop, starting at Aberlour, following forestry tracks and the river Spey for about an hour. It’s at its best in the winter, when it’s unusually still, and the bare trees give you a clearer view of the landscape and wildlife. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another human on it. It really is something else.
So the mix is all music and sound that recalls the feel of that route in December. Frozen, still and overcast, nearing dusk, alone and uncanny, surrounded by deer and siskin and blackbirds. So that’s what people should do as they listen. Go to the highlands of Scotland and do a walk, ok?
There's a lot of field recordings in the mix too. What's the loveliest sound you've ever field-recorded?
As you can probably tell, I like birds. I’m not what you would call a birdwatcher, I don’t have a little pad or binoculars. I just like the little blighters. I like the songs of the thrush family best of all, especially blackbirds and robins. The robin in this mix (starting at the end of the Mark Hollis track) was singing at dusk in February, the first real birdsong I’d heard for months. I always think that recording sounds like the first glimpse of spring, a reminder that change is always imminent. It makes me think of a poem, I think it’s by Bashō: Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself. I think that’s a lovely thought, and such a beautiful sound.
Saturday is your long-awaited and very beautiful new album as Samoyed. What does it mean to you?
It's been five years in the making, so it's odd and sometimes embarrassing hearing five years of your life replayed over 40-odd minutes. There's so much tangled up in that album. I'm hugely, uncharacteristically, proud of it. But mostly I'm glad that it's finally coming out, so I can move on with my life and never have to fix another broken 80s synthesizer or try to work out how Dolby noise reduction works ever again.
What's the last book you read that had a big impact on you? And why?
The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. I’ve read plenty other books about Zen, before and since, but Alan Watts had such a lucid way of explaining concepts that are quite alien to our culture. Everything that I thought I understood came sharply into focus as I read it. Reading that book for me was a hundred tiny revelations that changed my whole understanding of life. I’ve reread it every few months since.
And finally, what's your favorite dish to cook and how do you make it?
Nasu Dengaku—aubergine grilled with a miso glaze. It’s incredibly tasty for something so straightforward.
Cut an aubergine into 1/2” slices lengthways and score each slice with a crisscross pattern. Brush lightly with oil and bake in a hot oven until they're soft all the way through. Meanwhile make the glaze; in a saucepan mix 2 tbsp shiro miso with 4 tbsp mirin, a little sugar and some very thinly sliced ginger and heat and whisk over a low heat until it’s thickened. Spread it thinly over one side of the aubergine slices once they’re done and put them under a hot grill for a minute or two.
Sprinkle them with thinly sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds and serve with steamed rice. It’s really good with umeboshi pickled plums.
Easter Elchies wood
Pascale Comelade & David Cunningham - Musique Par Correspondance I
Lapwings and curlews
Lukid - End Melody
Talk Talk - Piano
藤真利子 - どんな春が
Cleaners From Venus - Stars Are Cold
Andrew Bird - Sloe Eyed Seasons
Mark Hollis - The Gift
Béla Bartók - Concerto No.2
Severed Heads - Lamborghini
Lukid - Ghost Radio
Ryuichi Sakamoto - National Defence Department
Samoyed - Fawn
Gigi Masin - Tears of a Clown
Samoyed - Making Snow
Fripp & Eno - Evensong
Tape - A Spire
Benôit Pioulard - Brown Bess
Oval - IV
Erik Satie - Enfantillages Pittoresques: 2. Berceuse
Blackbirds and distant river