Mixtapes focusing on hip hop, mash-ups, rock, indie and the many combinations thereof are plentiful. Less bountiful, but just as packed with potential, are selections that focus on softer R&B, as Tom Krell, known to fans under the moniker How To Dress Well, does on his recent FACT mix.
How To Dress Well recently released its second full-length album, "Total Loss," a forlorn, spooky mix of modern R&B and gentle gothic noise. Drawing on a similar emotional palette as James Blake and pushing a soft but evocative falsetto through curtains of echo, Krell on "Total Loss" displays an affection for sound that's both lusty and sophisticated. "Running Back" is one of my favorite R&B tracks of the year.
And with this mix, released by the online hub FACT, Krell illustrates the depth of his skills by weaving intricate layers of voices both sung and spoken through the gauze of his creativity. Beginning with a quick sample of Britney Spears speaking to Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" and moving through seductive, gently reworked music from, among others, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Maxwell, Prince and Grimes, Krell connects dots and shifts tempos seamlessly.
Krell gets bonus points for conjoining a trippy remix of Chief Keef's "KayKay" with an ethereal riff on minimalist composer Steve Reich's classic "Clapping Music." Combined, the 60-minute mix from the always essential FACT mix series will bend your weekend listening sessions in a fascinating new direction.