Long ago, when I was a boy, my Grandfather had a kaleidoscope. He told me it was magic and it certainly looked it, with strange wards and sigils carved into its brass tube. “To contain its power,” Grandfather said. Later I would realise they were the kaleidoscope maker’s name and mark, etched with pride in the Cyrillic script. For the whole of the inter-war period, he had traveled back and forth through the turmoil of the Balkans, Central Europe, and South Russia and the kaleidoscope was one of the treasures he brought back with him on the eve of the Second World War. Grandfather was an old man when I would spend the school holidays at his house. On occasion, he would tell me bed-time stories and while he talked, I was allowed to use the kaleidoscope.
Grandfather recounted wild tales of his ‘adventuring’, of the peoples he met and their folk tales, of days lost in endless forests, of nights camped out on a sea of grasslands when the frost was so hard that his blanket twinkled in the moonlight as brightly as the myriad stars above. He told of feasting with mountain goat herders and with Orthodox Bishops, of shape-shifting shaman and of beautiful Princesses, of demons and of angels in human form. All the while I turned the cylinder slowly, the patterns forming and dissolving to match the pace of Grandfather’s voice and the intensity of his words. After a while, I would be lost, transported to the magical world of his descriptions and the kaleidoscope’s images. Grandfather would lower his voice, he would wander from the story into more philosophical byways and soon, soon, I would fall asleep.
These reminisces were the inspiration for this mix and I have tried to create a slightly hallucinatory, woozy patchwork, a pattern of shifting images which, as the mix progresses, get vaguer, gentler and quieter and hopefully the listener will be drawn into my Grandfather’s strange and long gone world.
The track selection is kaleidoscopic.. Some vinyl, some tape, some digital. Many limited independent releases, some tracks lightly remixed for this mix, some from labels long gone but at least also one wildly commercial track too.
Best listened to on your headphones way past your bed-time