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Songs for Watching the World Burn

Playlist by Tim Maughan

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A Playlist for Tim Maughan’s Ghost Hardware

In Ghost Hardware, Tim Maughan takes us deeper into the lives of the characters from his prescient debut novel, Infinite Detail. We asked him to make a playlist to serve as the backdrop to the all-too-real imagined alternate reality of that book.

This is part two, Tim’s soundtrack to the beginning of the end world in Ghost Hardware.

Burial: “Ghost Hardware”

Burial: “In McDonalds”

It feels like Burial’s music has been a constant throughout my fiction writing career—his dark yet soulful, drizzle-soaked yet optimistic lo-fi collages of disjointed garage beats and melancholic textures always there as the perfect soundtrack to my stories. There’s something about his urban soundscapes and pop/underground culture references that feel so perfectly British. He also has the best titles, which is why I borrowed “Ghost Hardware”—both as homage and because it fits the story so perfectly.

Materia/Forsaken: “Ruins”

People like to talk about “the Bristol sound,” but it’s unsurprisingly a lot more complex and varied than it might look at first glance. What it often does share is a sense of a smoked out, dubby, almost regretful ambience that seems to sum up the city perfectly. This collaboration is a prime example—both moving and paralyzing it remains exquisite. Though, I would say that—I’m biased. They’re friends of mine, with Forsaken contributing incidental music and experimental sound design to the Infinite Detail audio book.

Mike Huckaby: “The Deep House World”

Mike Huckaby: “The Tresor Track”

Detroit legend Mike Huckaby passed away just a couple weeks ago at just 54 years old, another victiom of the covid-19 pandemic that has hit the city so hard. His loss, even in these terrible times, was felt by house music fans around the world. When he wasn’t in the studio or DJing he was usually running community projects where he taught some of the cities poorest kids how to make electronic music. The two tracks here demonstrate his versatility—the soulful, smokey Detroit house of “The Deep House World” just as perfectly and subtly constructed as the Berlin basement dub techno of “The Tresor Track.” It’s an overused word but he was a true musical genius, and we’ll always miss him.

Source Direct: “Call & Response”

Source Direct: “Web of Sin”

One of the understandable misconceptions about jungle and drum and bass is that it’s a purely urban music, but the reality is that it largely sprang from the suburban sprawls around cities like London, and often with the most surprising results. Take Source Direct for example, two bored teenagers from leafy St. Albans that redefined the sound in the mid ’90s with tracks that sound like the missing link between illicit open air jungle raves and the soundtracks to unmade future-noir movies.

Nolay: “Unorthodox Chick”

I can usually only listen to instrumental music when writing, but “Limited Edition” was penned to a soundtrack of rolling news coverage of the 2011 UK riots and the grime compilation album Run The Road. It was already a few years old by then, but the album, including Nolay’s “Unorthodox Chick,” feels like it predicted that moment coming.

Dizzee Rascal: “Sittin’ Here”

Dizzee Rascal: “Brand New Day”

Long before he was a UK pop-rap superstar and the surprise headliner of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, Dizzee Rascal was making underground grime classics on equipment borrowed from his school music teacher and a Playstation 2. His first alum, the award winning Boy In Da Corner is full of cuts like these: his own brand of council estate poetry flowing over stark, crystalline, and desolate beats full of almost Detroit-esque synth hits and distorted sub bass.

Ruffige Kru: “Shutting You Down”

Ruffige Kru: “Special Request”

’90s jungle and movie superstar Goldie hit back hard in 2007 with a new production team and the killer Malice in Wonderland album, a full blown land-assault of sound system shaking breakbeats, vocal snippets, and digital distortion. One for the true dnb soldiers.

4hero: “Better Place (4hero remix)”

4hero’s career saw them grow from underground rave innovators to reinventing the British soul sound through by blending it with breakbeats, heavy bass, and experimental jazz. This early cut—featuring the late Diane Charlemagne on vocals—gives an early indicator of the soulful drum and bass sound they would come to be associated with.

Robert Hood: “Chase”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s impossible for me to put a playlist together and not include a Robert Hood track.

The Future Sound of London: “While Others Cry”

The Future Sound of London: “Clear Light of Reality”

Again, FSOL are a constant feature in my writing soundtracks. Here they are from two different eras in their career, and with two very different sounds—the early ’90s, Detroit-tinged deep techno of “While Others Cry” slipping gently into the minimal, Eno-tinged ambience of “Clear Light of Reality” from 2012.

Visit Motherboard for an excerpt from Infinte Detail, the debut novel from Tim Maughan.

Ghost Hardware book cover

Ghost Hardware

MCD × FSG, 2020

From the author of Infinite Detail, The Guardian's Pick for Best Science Fiction Book of 2019!

Three short stories set in the near-future dystopia of
Infinite Detail

After an act of anonymous cyberterrorism has permanently switched off the internet, causing global trade, travel, and communication to collapse and modern luxuries to become scarce, life in the Croft and beyond . . . carries on.

In “Ghost Hardware,” we meet Anika, an artist who uses VR to uncover layers of street art in pursuit of...

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