Mystery Mini Mix is a shiny new feature dredged up from somewhere within the collective imagination of the WTD crew. Basically, we’ve made a huge list of song prompts (eg. Song with a colour in the title) and are getting our favourite writers and music people to curate a list of songs according to the randomly-assigned prompts they receive. It’s then up to them to craft their very own ‘EP’, and if they want to write a little bit about their choices then that’s cool too.

Today we welcome Fredrick Arnold, the face behind Future Oak Records, a producer of some of the most careful, well-crafted releases you’ll ever care to see. As the ‘About’ page on their website reads: “Future Oak is wood panelled, it smells like a dry attic. The world is a brief and unfathomable experience and thus is our music. Swaddled in art, printed by hand and born of a moment. Limited releases, lathecuts, and hand printed ephemera”.

In addition, and while we only get to see it via intermittent guest post, Fredrick also has a way with words and an array of stories to tell. I think you’ll agree he has taken the Mystery Mix to a whole new level, not least thanks to the fantastic artwork.

A L L   I S   L O S T

by Fredrick Arnold

Song you’d play during the apocalypse

Califone – 3 Legged Animals

December 20th, 2012. We had just recently moved to Pittsburgh, a brand new city with zero ties, zero history. It’s late, I’m walking to the 24 hour Sunoco gas station to buy a candy bar, contemplating the listless trajectory of my life. I pay the cashier, he says, from behind a sheet of plexiglass, “Call your mom when you get home, the world is going to end tonight”. You believe that, and this is where you’re spending your last hours? I think, curious as to why he even charged me for the King-Sized Nutrageous. The thought of surviving an apocalypse is the most horrifying thought; what a cruel joke — to toil around in the ruins of humanity with a bunch of gun-toting survivalists or mutated what-nots. No thanks. If I wake up to end days then I’m going to put on this Califone track and see to my end.

Song with an animal in the title

Bonnie Prince Billy – The Signifying Wolf

You know, when you look at an animal and they’re looking back at you with those primitive eyes that seem to look through your flesh and into your soul? I think Will Oldham sees the world with those eyes. The eyes of a wolf. He’s got some sort of primal wisdom that he croons to us, unenlightened civilization. There’s so much to be said for batting your paws in the dirt, burying your snout in wet leaves. You can see someone so much clearer when you see through them.

Song that reminds you of school

Blur – Caravan

School was essentially several long lifetimes ago. I’m old now, some sort of man. School wasn’t a good time for me, I don’t like thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I was a tortured and sensitive boy, or maybe because thinking back puts into clear focus the reality that I have failed, as an adult, to outgrow the faults of my youth. The best thing about school, though, is that Dave Quackenbush used to let me pick the music in homeroom. I would not have graduated if it wasn’t for him, for what it’s work I owe him for that piece of paper. At the time we were both really into this Blur record, so it was on heavy rotation.

Song with the most startling lyric(s)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Loverman

I’ve listened to Let Love In countless times, it’s a brilliant record. Maybe the best from an artist with a catalog of bests. From one end to the next it is a tangled mess of raw emotion. There are moments of tenderness and extended periods of rage, anger and lust. As a whole, it’s hard to pick apart any moment as being more deranged than any other, however, I was driving home the other day and Loveman came on over the eternal shuffle and it hit me like a poison dagger.

It doesn’t hurt that Cave’s voice could make a Madonna song sound sinister, or that it comes after the record’s most gentle track, Nobody’s Baby Now, but the unfettered evil of Loverman stands even when stripped of context and voice. It’s easy to read the lyrics of this song like a ransom note; a threat of impending sexual aggression. Demons, monsters — the most troubling aspect is that this song is unrelentingly human.

Song that reminds you of someone special

Mississippi John Hurt – You are my Sunshine

My little sister took guitar lessons with Arthur Elliot; an old man she befriended in the Corning Dunkin’ Donuts. In an instant he became a part of our family. He died before she learned the one song he was trying to teach her, but she was really just taking the lessons as an excuse to be near him. There was a moment right before he died when all of us were together. He asked for his guitar with a voice so faint he could have been a ghost and weakly picked out a couple of verses of You are my Sunshine. My sister cried in his kitchen afterwards; he never got to play that song at my mother’s wedding.

For those of you who would prefer to listen to the mix in its entirety, here’s just the thing:

Follow Future Oak Records on Facebook and Twitter, and keep an eye on their website for news. You can find all of the entries so far in the Mystery Mini Mix series here, and be sure to check back next week for the next instalment.