The month of October is shrouded in chills, mystery, and even darkness. Our days become shorter, darkness looms longer, and the cooler temperatures sneak up on us like a ghostly ghoul. There’s an element of “letting go” as the trees let go of their leaves for fall, alongside the stillness as a full moon floats in the nighttime sky.
Designer Alex Flores walks us through the darkness with his newest Spire on Spotify Playlist called Vol. 30: Mystic Places. It’s a melancholy mix of autumn audio with a hit of haunting just in time for Halloween. It’s also a milestone for this agency as Spire unveils its 30th playlist since beginning the series in February 2021.
Alex, what is the name of your album?
The name of this album is Mystic Places. Despite Halloween being right around the corner and the word “mystic” being in the title, this is not your traditional October playlist. This one goes a little deeper than fall thrills and tells broader tales of mystery and wonder.
How would you describe this mix?
This mix is a string of sweeping melodies that feel big yet soft, a melancholic rollercoaster of sound that follows lyrics about places in life, whether physical locations or emotions. It’s a unique playlist to listen to when you’re looking to discover a few lesser-known bands and songs that stay with you.
What was the inspiration behind it?
We all know the pull that music has to take you to different places. Sometimes it can inspire you to visit a physical location, but if it’s compelling, music always takes you to an emotional place. An experience or a feeling that transports you somewhere is at the center of Mystic Places. Most of the songs gravitate towards lyrics that paint a vivid picture in the mind of the listener with topics often surrounding the idea of a struggle, love, or escaping dull routines.
What is your favorite song, and why?
My favorite song is “Afternoon With The Axolotls” by Hum, which brings it all to a close as the last song on the playlist. At a hefty run-time of 6:27, it almost plays like a well-directed movie, or an impactful full-course meal. The first third sets you up with melodic tones, only to drop you into a sea of gritty riffs that come in waves. The lyrics are in stark contrast to the riffs but are not drowned out despite the lead singer’s soft and melancholy voice. The middle of the song gives you a brief reprieve before building you up for the last leg of the journey of sweeping sounds. If you were to Google the lyrics, they do not seem to make logical sense but do a great job at keeping you wondering and mystified. All of these details come together to make a symphony of sounds that make for a wild ride of a song.
If your playlist was a brand, what would it be and why?
The brand that might share the likeness of this playlist would be Faber-Castell, and more specifically what they produce: art supplies. They are top-shelf creators of tools for artists to express their own thoughts and observations. Visual creativity and musical art often take us to the same destination.
Any specific memory that comes to mind when you listen?
One memory that comes to mind is getting my first car as a teenager. The feeling of freedom to go “anywhere” I pleased was amplified by the fact that I could control the music blasting from my speakers. I remember listening to many of these songs on repeat with my windows down so that everyone could hear. This was a time before Spotify and smartphones were in their infancy, so I listened to CDs. I wonder where many of those albums went off to.
What makes your playlist unique?
It’s unique in the way that each song has its own flavor, but they come together because of the common thread of subject matter, or overall tone. You would think that new wave Talking Heads would clash with someone like indie folk Ben Howard, but they seem to live just fine as neighbors in this playlist.