Podcast 274: The Crystal Ark

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It's not often that XLR8R receives a podcast that was conceived as a "meditation tape," but Gavin Russom has never exactly been a "normal" artist. Over the years, the veteran NYC producer has taken numerous musical forms, the only constants being his affinity for vintage synths and his affiliation with the seminal DFA label. His current focus is The Crystal Ark, a Latin-tinged collaboration with vocalist Viva Ruiz. Following a pair of initial singles in 2010, the group released its self-titled debut full-length last month, and the activity hasn't stopped there. Just yesterday, the duo premiered a wild new video for album cut "We Came To," and now, there's this exclusive mix for the XLR8R podcast series. True to the "meditation tape" concept, the podcast is full of ocean and rainstorm sounds, and begins by balancing zen vibes with tropical sounds and jazzy excursions. However, within a short time, Russom and Ruiz find the groove, loosely channeling '80s and '90s house in the process. After delivering a solid 30-plus minutes of pumping rhythms, The Crystal Ark cools things down in unique fashion, juxtaposing Patti Smith with Tadd Mullinix and D'Angelo and somehow making it work. All in all, it's certainly not the average DJ mix—some might even call it weird—but given Russom's successful track record operating along the outer fringes of dance music, it's no surprise that The Crystal Ark's entry in the XLR8R podcast series offers such an enjoyable ride.

01 Astarius "Spirit Rap" (Astarius Productions)
02 Lukumi "Auum" (Bell)
03 Albert Ayler "Desert Blood" (Impulse!)
04 The Ones "NY City Jungle" (A Touch of Class)
05 El Nosotros "Mar, Sexo Y Sol" (Bersa Discos)
06 Liz Torres "If You Keep It Up ('Do It Baby' Sexapella Mix)" (Jive)
07 CTI "Dancing Ghosts" (Doublevision)
08 Alberto Lopez and Eduardo Martinez "Chalupa (Example)" (Belu)
09 Armand Van Helden "Work Me! (Gadamit)" (Henry Street)
10 Steve Lawler "Carnival" (Tanzbar)
11 DJ Wild "Soy Libra" (Magnetic)
12 Dario Nunez "Work This Pussy" (Vendetta)
13 Moneoa "Pretty Disaster" (DNH)
14 Tyree "I Fear the Night" (Underground)
15 Nguzunguzu "Strut" (Silverback)
16 Patti Smith Group "Dancing Barefoot" (Arista)
17 Tadd Mullinix "Pomegranate"
18 D'Angelo "Africa" (Virgin)

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