Based in Berlin, J. Wiltshire has been active since 2016, producing a string of sometimes complex, always charismatic and memorable club records that incorporate elements of acid, IDM, techno and electro. These occasional transmissions have appeared on labels such as Hypercolour and his own, memorably titled Super Hexagon Records.
For his debut LP released earlier this month, Wiltshire returned to MUSAR Recordings to deliver Resa, “a pure listening experience of ambient soundscapes and forward-thinking sci-fi cuts”, which develops over eleven tracks available on cassette as well as digitally. An evocative soundtrack to an imagined, melancholy sci-fi film, Resa’s beauty is its ability to seamlessly blend moods and textures, encompassing not only the stillness and peace at the heart of the most timeless ambient music, but also the icy tension and friction of an uncertain future when recalling the heady days of Aphex-style IDM.
As such, we’re delighted to welcome J. Wiltshire for the latest installment of #PHANTASYMIX, who has kindly leaned into a vast personal archive of ambient music for a voluminous and sometimes spine-tingling three hour mix. Smoothly traversing multiple moods, eras and genres through it’s duration, Wiltshire’s mix is ideal as the nights draw out as the world begins to gently move towards whatever new normality awaits us. He also took a moment to talk about the mix and his influences below, as well as dropping a tracklist that will surely impress even the best travelled of chillout astronauts.
This is your first album, and despite a string of really great club records, it is very much in the ambient realm. Why so?
I wanted to make something that could be listened to with full cohesion and even something to fall asleep too. A lot of the music I have been listening to over the past few years lives in that world. If I were to make an album of club music I think I would struggle to get that same effect without it feeling more like a collection of tunes. I also wanted to include themes and links between the tracks and this came more naturally to me when going in an ambient direction at the time.
I know you are a big fan of cinema, and the LP's text refers to the record as "a genuine soundtrack to a melancholic, space film". I can't disagree. What are some of the most influential OSTs in the J. Wiltshire library?
That’s tough as there are so many that I love to nerd out about! I would have to point out major influences being Howard Shore on films like Crash, The Fly, The Two Towers, John Carpenter’s Dark Star, and Abigail Mead’s pieces for Full Metal Jacket to name a few. Equally scores for animated films and video games such as Resident Evil and Dark Souls stand out as important influences to me.
You've said the process of the record "was using music composition for a creative release but mainly as a tool for calming anxiety." Can you talk about this a little more, as personally as you'd wish? Is that release an ambient exclusive feeling, or do you feel similarly making 'club' music?
I’ve found that making music has always been a meditative process and a healthy release for me in the same way it can be for others. This is something I am very grateful for, even when there are some very frustrating days. When working on the album it was one of those times where I was fully aware of the importance of this and how I was benefiting personally. I do find that my mood determines the kind of energy in the music I’m working on, but I usually find it therapeutic and enjoyable making any kind of music.
There is a lot of very obscure and interesting music in this three-hour mix. Can you pick a few tracks that are especially interesting or at least interestingly special to you personally?
Sure! There are a fair few tracks from some of my more recent go to chill out records in this mix, including Biosphere - Departed Glories, Fennesz - Live at The Jazz Cafe, Boreal Massif - We All Have an Impact and Nmesh / Telepath - The Path To Lost Eden. There are a lot of pieces that were sent over by friends for this mix, which is nice, including a track from a new cassette by FFT, two tracks by Super Hexagon DJ ASG (Aurangzeb and Home), and a few lovely pieces from my flatmate Lårry. Most of these tunes I think of as atmospheres and spaces with different moods. This helped me when thinking about the track order as there isn’t a lot going on in some of them ha! I really enjoyed putting this together, thanks for reaching out and I hope it's a peaceful listen.
John Thorp, May 2020.