Music for 1/28/23!!! altopalo

@@@ altopalo: Frenemy (N/A, 2023) At first blush this is a happy marriage of indie feels and electronic sounds, with bedroom lofi but not lofi colliding with a computer. On this first track I dig the strange reverb on the voice and the bass player, the drummer is not there to be killing it. The second track featuring a guest singer takes a guitar and turns it percussive. I’m on the third track now and the ambience rules here. Lotsa space on the sounds most notably the voice which gives the whole thing an alienated feel to mix in with the prettiness. The title track is in slot 4 and it’s a peak for the formula. If you’re a fan of rawk and rock and rockin’ this is not for you. I don’t love all of it, it’s a lot of feelings and prettiness but I respect how it’s put together.

Music for 9/6/22!!! Pahua, Emeralds

@@@ Pahua: La Cura (Nacional, 2021) Off this week’s WRIR playlist email. An epic remix of a Latin music track. I have not heard the original but I’m guessing they’s taken acoustic elements and replaced them with electro ones. Not all, but the bass in places, and they kept the cowbell. Fuckin’ A, just when I thought the music community abandoned the cowbell here it is. I like it most just shy of two minutes when it reaches full instrumentation including a reggae-ish guitar that drives the track. I like it a whole bunch, it has a measured feel to it and regular readers know I’m a fan of unexpected sounds and wildness. I don’t love the whoa ho vocals, in fact they’re the deciding factor in tilting me a bit against the track.

@@@ Emeralds: Photosphere (Ghostly, 2022) This is a pre-release track I got to via the Twatter. I got banned for a week from the Twatter for hoping that a building would collapse underneath some Russian soldiers hoisting the Russian flag in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. So fuck Twitter bigly. This is a big 17 minute drone banger with some fluffy cloud action, a little South Asian-ish drone, and other modulated synth. I haven’t like anything out of Ghostly for a long while but I dig this. I don’t know if I will hang for the full 17 minutes, we shall see. I keep waiting for the big fat techno beat to come in but it hasn’t and I don’t think it will, I hope not, please Jesus I love me a techno beat but let’s keep this plain. I’m 12 minutes in and Imma finish this banger. No beats, I like it, check it out, I would listen to more of this.

Music for 7/31/22!!! Tom Prekop/John McEntire, Chat Pile

@@@ Tom Prekop/John McEntire: Crossing at the Shallow (Thrill Jockey , 2022) A coupla listens off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums via Pitchfork email. Slotted as ambient on Apple Music this is the second track on the album and it comes out grooving with a classic techno beat. It’s not the only beat happenin’ (great!) and there’s some interesting shit going on in here — to reduce them to squiggles and sheets of sound is a bit degrading but there’s there’s some melodic funk/junk on top that really breaks the rigidity of the beat. This is a record with four tracks and the shortest banger on here is just shy of 9 minutes so buckle in as they’re gonna stretch you shit out. I’m checking out the first track, A Ghost at Noon, and it comes on with some nice sci-fi/space synths. I will hang for the full flowering of the track as I hear the hi hat coming, now the kick. Not a lot of ambient dancefloor music is gonna have this level of melodic development so get with that.

@@@ Chat Pile: Slaughterhouse (The Flenser, 2022) Slotted as rock on the Apple Music it’s got more of a punk/metal flow to my ears but we don’t want to harm the delicate sensibilities of the mainstream listeners. Medium big mess here, slicing guitar notes, grizzy bass guitar and thick ka-chunky drums, it’s more muscular rock than I’ve hear in a bit. I skipped the second track Why and it’s uglier and I like it, it’s just a foul bucket of distortion and bashing. I wish more people would get into this rough stuff, it really helps get the bad feels out. Big ups not only to the sounds, but this second track Why is a really creative lyrical smash in the face.

Music for 4/27/22!!! Jerry Paper, Earthen Sea

@@@ Jerry Paper: Just Say Play (Stones Throw, 2022) Stones Throw is a label I try to check out as it releases a variety of stuff usually centered around beats. You need beats to be on Stones Throw and here Paper brings a brisk funk rock beat that he does a nerdy funk/fusion thing over. A little white boy falsetto, some janky guitar, and some humourous background vocals that he’s putting a bit of humor into. Then a flute solo, nothin’ says kick back and chill more than a flute solo. It’s a tightly knit sweater here, lots of small parts put together really well. I’m checking a little bit of the fourth track, Shaking Ass, and it’s a samba flavored thing with a huge synth right up in your grill. I like the humor and a bunch of the sounds but I could use some harder sounds to give it some whoomph. Others may feel quite differently about it. Maybe a little more variety and creativity in the guitars would make this more appealing to me.

@@@ Earthen Sea: Deep Sky (Kranky, 2022) I got to to today’s listens via this week’s All Music notable release email. This track is the last track on the record and it’s a chill synth sitch with some insect-y hi hats and swirling synth patches, cloudy and marimbe-esque in turns and combined. There’s a kick drum and a solid sense of long motion that floats out there against the kick and overall I like a bunch of the sounds, don’t like a few and find the track to be a solid outro to a record. Lemme give a quick peep to Rough Air, the starred track and oooh, that’s a quiet, intimate storm so Imma guessing when they say Deep Sky they mean it. Also some water drops here and big echoes with long feedback settings to generate the epicness.

Music for 4/2/22!!!! Plastikman & Chilly Gonzales

@@@ Plastikman & Chilly Gonzales: Contain (Turbo Recordings, 2022) I got to this electronic recording via this week’s just off the press All Music notable release email. It opens pulsing, with a bit of delayed click/static, and it’s pretty dark. Oooh comes the kick and the slow descending keyboard, then vamp. They swirl in what I consider some dark ambient sounds and the contrast between the loose, down low in the mix piano noodling and the blade runner-y backdrop is interesting and very different. It’s a groove with small additions at various points so the thing changing mostly is the keyboard playing. I’m just under jumping for joy, I don’t know what it’s missing for me, but it needs just a little bit more to make me consider it for my year end list. I think if the piano playing was more powerful it would be a very unique mash of electronic and acoustic sounds. Some Cecil Taylor action? Some slick improvised shit? Oh yeah. It’s still very good, but it doesn’t blow the roof off for me.

Music for 9/21/21!!! Sarah Davachi, Nala Sinephro

@@@ Sarah Davachi: Border of Mind (Late Music, 2021) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums via the Pitchfork. It’s electronic business and the track clipped below is the fifth tune on the record. It opens lo fi with what may be dirty cello bowing or a synth. And a lot of tape hiss, or hiss, who knows if it’s tape, I don’t know what it would be if it’s not tape. It’s probably tape hiss. I did a bit of google pimping around and I think this is a pipe organ recorded pretty distantly. I switched over to the album opener because I was getting a little nappy and the opener is a plucked string thing with some really nice and minimal processing in places. A sort of streaky, cloudy remnant after the plucks. I like this a whole bunch more than the first tune I checked out. It’s called Chorus Scene if yer interested. I like minimalist music but I’m not sure why I’m not connecting to this much.

@@@ Nala Sinephro: Space 1 (Warp, 2021) Slotted as jazz but Warp usually traffics in the electronic business. I hear harp which I like, but then the bird chirps, oy the bird chirps. I don’t think that’s a pitch shifted harp, that’s a synth bass and that’s my favorite element of the tune thus far. There’s a fair amount of glitching and processing and the harp is mixed pretty low in the mix and not recorded in a super high def manner. It’s basically a bed of mellow ambient sounds with harp noodling over the top. I like the elements, it’s pretty background-y. The next tune brings a straight jazz flow with a drummer and a piano player while the harp continues to be processed. It’s okay.

Music for 8/4/21!!! The Narcotix, PDP III

@@@ The Narcotix: Adam (Self-released, 2021) I’m checking this out as this is supposed to be music that comes out of a lot of Afrobeat listened to by the two female leaders of this group. I hear it a bit, but I also hear a lot of indie conceits and a lot of nerd rock which aren’t my favorite flavors. I’m checking out a little bit of the second track and the Afrobeat rhythm is more present but the overall flavor here is one of proggy nerdism. I could use more fire and a better guitar tone. On the plus side I dig their vocal delivery, it’s off kilter and I dig that.

@@@ PDP III: 49 Days (Shelter Press, 2021) An improvised ambient record I got to via the Pitchfork looking back on Spring 2021 releases. This is the last track of the record and it’s a lot of cymbal washes and gongs right now. Could be worse than cymbal washes and gonges as far as I’m concerned. Other waves of sound enter the picture including a cello drone. I like the tempo of this and I like the sounds. This is an almost 16 minute banger that I will not be fully peeping but I will check another track to see how it compares to this one. This one is a long unfolding piece of business that I like. I’m checking the first track and it’s a lot more chatter-y with some mechanical rain sounds, typewriter type stuff but also the waves of drones and metallic strings that is the key to the big banger I checked out the front of. I like this a whole bunch — interesting sounds, the right amount of sounds, a nice spread of sounds. Sounds, sounds, sounds, check it out.

Music for 8/3/21!!! Taqbir, Maria Arnal i Marcel Bages

@@@ Taqbir: Victory Belongs To Those Who Fight For a Cause (Taqbir, 2021) I got to today’s listens via a list from Pitchfork looking back at the hot jams of spring 2021 when shit was just a bit less Covid-y than now. And optimistic! Here we have some revved up Japanese riot grrrrrl punk, sizzly and dirty as fuck. Female singers shouting out mostly individual words, this is a highly concentrated blast of a branch of the punk rock tree. I like the second track Aisha Qandisha the best of what I heard and the overall effect here is to scrape the inside of your skull to break up any congestion building up in there. I can get down with that mission.

@@@ Maria Arnal i Marcel Bag├ęs: CLAMOR (Fina Estampa, 2021) I thought this was an ambient record, but it’s not and I don’t know where I got that fake news from. It’s ambient production with drum machine beats, synth centric arrangements and very earnest female vocals sung in Spanish. Production is quite arch with large reverb patches and overall a bit of an epic feel. More than a bit of an epic feel. I like the production, but I don’t like the overall mission going on here. It’s a bit self-serious and art school-y and I’m not a big fan of that, it’s like a big ol’ U2 arena rock jam. I know tons of folks like that flow, that big statement, but not me!

Music for 2/12/21!!! Nonconnah, Lil Tjay

@@@ Nonconnah: To Follow Us Through Fields of Lightning (Ernest Jenning, 2021) I got to this track via a music publicist email. I thought it was going to be a full ambient tune but it looks from the beginning of this 12 minute banger that there will be elements added to the ambient tempo and foundation. Most notable in the opening of the track is a chorus of voices which is a little jarring and I’m agnostic on the overall results of adding it. It settles down into a collection of glitch, reversed and even a strummed guitar (I think), a few space bleeps, etc. A more typical ambient setup. I think the guitar is a negative here, it distracts from the ambient sounds. The tune morphs again into a medium wall of distorted guitar not recognizable as melodic playing before moving into a section with a collection of reversed sounds. I’m feeling like this is more of a sonic slideshow and not a slow ambient tune. I don’t hate it for being that but I’m finding these jumps between sections sorta random and a tad disorienting.

@@@ Lil Tjay: Calling My Phone (feat. 6LACK) (Sony, 2021) A drawl-y, purple drank-ish post booty sadness track with suprisingly tender piano stylings for a trap track. I like the repeating, pitch shifted line ‘I can’t get you off my mind’ and then 6LACK comes in and man I like his voice and his delivery, he smokes Lil Tjay. Lil Tjay should turn his microphone in or at least hand the track off to 6LACK who slays it. The beat is not designed to catch your ear, I like the piano playing in spots and am distracted by it in other spots, I don’t like the Autotune on Tjay’s voice and I like 6LACK here. That’s the score.

Best of 2020


@@@ Matt Wilson: Hug! (Palmetto, 2020) A straight jazz record led by drummer Matt Wilson. The recording sounds great and the sound of it pushes you further into the music. The drumming is enthusiastic and the playing is equally up to the drummer’s flow, but overall it’s how all the elements combine to make some jazz you will want to return to.

@@@ Pokey Lafarge: Rock Bottom Rhapsody (New West Records, 2020) I found this record earlier this year and gave it a fair number of spins. It’s a pretty familiar formula but he’s got it all going on here — smart lyrics, pretty great delivery and a lively band. He does this old school gent thing that I find humorous and entertaining.

@@@ Insolito Universo: La Canda Del Rio (Insolito Universo, 2018) Outstanding sonics, arrangements and energy here as Venezuelan and French energy combine for fresh ass hipster world music. Both retro and new at the same time with outstanding musicians at every position. Special shout to the organ and the bass player.

@@@ Naeem: Startisha (37d03d, 2020) This smashup of dancefloor, r&b, and hip hop might be too raw and in your face for a lot of listeners. Exquisite sonics, fresh arrangements, and lyrically it hangs out there funky and booty shakin’ in places while graphic and longing in other spots. A lot of passion here and I celebrate that.

@@@ Nihiloxica: Kaloli (Crammed Discs, 2020) This outfit dropped some blazing hot singles earlier in the year but as I was assembling my best of 2020, I see they put a full length out. It’s a blend of kit drumming, hand drumming and big washes of electronic sounds, it’s hypnotic as shit. Start with song 2 Tewali Sukali and go from there.

@@@ schoothroop: Klein Gevaarlijk Kovfal (Rebel Up, 2020) Combining old school reggae-ish production with world music-y grooves and improvised horn and flute playing creates a compelling listen. The sound of the record drew me in. Check out the track Asbest in Huis towards the end of the record and tell me that’s not sticky as fuck.

@@@ Pole: Fading (Mute, 2020) This is no set it and forget it electronic record. It’s got funk in places, a lot of space and ambience throughout; a mostly chill vibe but with small details and changes all over the place. Talk about a manicured but not uptight thing, this is it, straight headphone candy.

@@@ Tony Allen/Hugh Masekela: Rejoice (World Circuit, 2020) Add Tony Allen’s death to the list of awful shit from 2020. This came out before his passing and it’s a 2010 session that’s been reconstructed/expanded following a duo trumpet/drumming session with Hugh Masekela. The world lost one of its best drummers this year and it’s on display here.

@@@ Oh Sees: Protean Threat (Castle Face, 2020) There are a lot of rock and punk bands referenced in this record — Captain Beefheart, Led Zeppelin, a bit of Frank Zappa but the record is tied together by the drummer who is off the hook with his brisk tempos. There’s no need for Red Bull in the studio with these guys and this is no sleepytime tea action.

@@@ Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid: Shards and Constellations (Intakt, 2020) A high quality free session between pianist Hawkins and outstanding cellist Ms. Reid. There are points where I wish the cello was higher in the mix but that’s because her playing is so good.

@@@ 25,000 Kittens: 25,000 Kittens (Ginjoha, 2014) Two ten minute ambient pieces dedicated to cats that have passed on to the next world. The first piece opens with ice cream truck bells and when they fall away the listener just enters into a layered ambient piece that is many things — mournful, beautiful, hypnotic etc. Just the right tempo and combination of morphs and sounds that make me

@@@ A Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood: Gigantosaur (Jumbo Records, 2020) A simultaneous sendup/homage to glam rock. Exquisitely pornographic arrangements, they nail every detail of the over the top genre while the lyrics are quite acidic.

@@@ Fra Fra: Funeral Songs (Glitterbeat, 2020) A very relevant record for this year full of death. You can hear a bunch of genres in this music — some blues, improvised music, and even rhythmic dance music. The use of a vocal chorus as a rhythmic unit is very rare in my listening and creates a moving listen.

@@@ Gwenifer Raymond: Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain (Tompkins Square, 2020) This young woman has both techical skills and passion. She plays some trick stuff on this solo and multi-tracked guitar record but she plays hard with some mustard. A compelling solo record is not an easy thing to pull off but she more than does that here.

@@@ Homeboy Sandman: Don’t Feed the Monster (Mello, 2020) Kicking off with a stunner called Trauma, Sandman goes deep and mental on this record with retro-ish sounds. His delivery of these lyrics entrances the listener — the seventh tune ‘Shorty Heights’ is far from a throwaway tune.

@@@ Ellen Jewell: Gypsy (Signature, 2019) Jewell takes a familiar formula and elevates with smart lyrics, pointed lyrics and some razor sharp guitar playing from somebody. You Cared Enough to Lie and 79 Cents (Meow) are good places to start.

@@@ DJ Nigga Fox: Cartas Na Manga (Principe, 2020) This electronic music will keep you on your toes — sometimes chill, sometimes a lot of layers of rhythms pushing up against each other, and sort of tribal (for want of a better word) at points, sometimes undercover dancefloor. Lots of ideas well presented.