The Roots of Invisible Oranges

Not long after his retirement from writing about music, Invisible Oranges’ founding father, Cosmo Lee, was contacted by the excellent blog Cryogenic Husk and asked to create a mixtape that might help illustrate how this site came to be. And like Michael Jordan lacing up for the Washington Wizards, Cosmo temporarily came out of retirement to fulfill that request. (Unlike Jordan, Cosmo can still ball.) We’re posting Cosmo’s intro here, along with a link to the full post (and downloadable mixtape) at Cryogenic Husk. Enjoy!

It’s strange to do this mixtape because I started Invisible Oranges solely for myself. What you’ll hear probably only has meaning for me. The site has grown to mean something for many. But in 2006, it was just another writing outlet for me. I was writing for print and web zines, including PopMatters and Stylus. I got more promos than I could review for others, and I wanted to write more about metal. It was also the season for MP3 blogs (remember them?). From what I could tell, there wasn’t any MP3 blog for metal. So I started one.

[A bit of trivia: The inspiration for Invisible Oranges' original logo header was Yngwie Malmsteen's Trilogy. I wanted its cover's fiery sky, but couldn't find a sufficiently large image. So I settled for a stock sky image. The Internet now yields a gloriously large scan of Trilogy's cover. So this mixtape's cover reflects my original vision for Invisible Oranges' look.]

This mixtape is a snapshot of my music tastes in fall 2006. They were products of circumstance. I had moved to Berlin, DE earlier that year. I was tired of working and had some money saved up. Berlin was cheap and allowed me time to write. I was going to techno clubs a lot. You could go clubbing any night in Berlin and have a good time. Clubs there open at midnight, no one gets there until 2, peak time is 4, and you leave at 6 or 7. Breakfast after clubbing is typical. So my hours flipped. I went to bed at 7 a.m. and got up at 3 p.m. Not knowing German, I had no friends. It was a weird time.

My tastes reflected my lifestyle. I listened to a lot of dark ambient and depressive black metal. (That was probably the “golden era” for the subgenre.) MySpace was how I discovered new music. Much of Invisible Oranges’ early content came from reaching out on MySpace and getting artists to send me CDs. Due to my location, I got lots of European demos. Berlin’s record stores were great for scoring used and obscure metal CDs. And, of course, I got promos from labels.

Because everything was on CD then, I remember much more about releases then than I do now. For example, I still remember the paper quality of Insomnium’s CD booklet, and Mick Kenney’s liner notes artwork for Napalm Death. Paper and plastic packaging is wasteful, and I don’t think we should go back to it. But I think we should rediscover — or discover — how to treasure music. That means knowing every note, every word, every detail of artwork. Alone in Berlin, I had time to do that. My memories from then are still strong. You can hear some of them here.

— Cosmo Lee

. . .

To download The Roots of Invisible Oranges and read Cosmo’s extensive song-by-song breakdown of the mix, go to Cryogenic Husk!