Fanmix: Warren Ellis, Gun Machine
Fan mixes: collections of music created as both soundtrack and illustration for other works, usually works of fiction, intended as both appreciation of and enticement to read the work of fiction.
This one is for Gun Machine by Warren Ellis, who is author of, among other things, Transmetropolitan and Crooked Little Vein, and is NOT the dude who plays music with Nick Cave.
Gun Machine is a murder mystery set in New York. But not the New York you usually see on cop shows; the Financial District, which is older and darker. Down there you’re off the grid. The streets are narrow and twisty and reality can be very thin. Depending on how the wind is blowing off the water, it does feel like you could walk around a corner today and stumble into the 17th century, 1926 could be tomorrow and 2018 was last week.
“Off the grid” would actually sum up the book as a whole. It is also bloody, startling, deeply lonely, occasionally bitingly funny, like watching my own city from the wrong end of a telescope, a complex puzzle, and very, very good. If you pick it up, be sure to both read and listen carefully; Ellis uses music and sounds much like Nathaniel Hawthorne used light, that is, as both text and subtext.
The mix below is my attempt at capturing the spirit of the work. The songs chosen are intended to trace the outline of the narrative in broad strokes. All of them, save for two, are available for sale and/or free download from the artist.
The exceptions are Panic! at the Disco’s cover of Karma Police, which is a fan bootleg of a live performance, chosen for the quality of the static, and Kasey Anderson and the Honkies’ Abbaddon Blues, because it is from Let the Bloody Moon Rise, a record which saw only limited release before Anderson went on indefinite-but-hopefully-not-permanent hiatus and which is now (almost) out of circulation.
7. Jane’s Addiction, Chip Away
8. Firewater, A Little Revolution
12. Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, Abbaddon Blues
13. Cage the Elephant, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked