Music for 1/13/23!!! Black Flower

@@@ Black Flower: Magma (SDBan Ultra, 2022) I’m a bit surprised to see this blend of electronic music and jazz on highbrow critic Ted Gioia’s honorable mention list for 2022. While this release tilts to normies, it’s got a lot going for it including a fresh blend of sounds, space organ and walking bassline in the first tune being high up on the list for me. I’m doing a bit of reading on this outfit’s bandcamp page and they are from Belgium and aspire to be rocking a blend of jazz, afrobeat and dub. I can get with that and let’s peep a bit more. It’s also got a bit of old school Doors type jam band swirled up in there. The second tune O Fogo brings on the afrobeat with some stanky drums colliding with the space organ and a circular flute part. Not the most amazing shit ever but solid and I am feeling the rhythm section here bigly. Nice tight snare sound and a popping bass player, this dude or lady or them/they is smackin’ it around. Shit starts to fall apart in a more interesting way in the third track as they come with the messy intro that fuses into some very stylish groove playing.

Music for 12/14/22!!! Little Simz, Danakil Meets Ondubground

@@@ Little Simz: Who Even Cares (AWAL, 2022) Off an email from Australian music mag Happy. Fresh out of the oven meaning just released, I think I heard a pre-release track from this record. This is track 9 on the record and it sports a slightly retro, soft and medium funky attitude. She’s more than solid on the microphone here. Slotted as hip hop she’s more straddling r&b and hip hop. I’m checking out the second track Gorilla and it’s more raucous and more hip hop with an upright bass, splashy hi hats and sassy rhymes. I’m on the third track and she’s got spot on production and she’s skilled microphonically but I don’t find myself pulled in by the tunes.

@@@ Danakil Meets Ondubground Part 2 (Baco Records, 2022) I got to this big fat modern sounding dub record with trap hats, dub and blunted feels via the WRIR playlist email. There are a ton of guest singers on this record from loverboy to dancehall toast to rough boys. The sounds are very new with drum machines and synth basses. I’m on the fourth tune and it’s an interesting blend of sounds, a lot of which I like and some I don’t like as much. It’s cool to take sounds that are central to other genres and then put them into a genre I super dig but I wish it hit harder and had more classic reggae funk. Not funk from classic reggae but the overall funkiness of reggae is a main draw for me.

Music for 8/31/22!!! BKO, Death By Dub

@@@ BKO | Djine Bora (Bongo Joe, 2022) A coupla tasty listens off this week’s WRIR playlist email. I tend to like the rocking African records more than the epic, soaring styles presented by major labels. What’s most interesting here the amplified string instrument here — I don’t think it’s a guitar and by the time they’re done distorting it I’m super into it. Add to that the hand drumming and the singing and boom, you got a rocking fucking piece of music that is gonna end up on my year end list. The string playing here is off the fucking hook. Interesting, fresh, creative, etc. It feels ironic to tell folks that enjoy rock to head on over to an African record, but you gotta go where the music leads you. This is some high end rocking shit with great performances, check it out.

@@@ DEATH BY DUB | Abundance (Color Red, 2022) These guys, whoever they be, are an homage to the golden era of dub. These guys are crazy prolific and after clicking around to a bunch of their releases they are all above average in quality with firm rhythms and sweet hornline action. Their latest record is an EP called (it’s a bit confusing because ITunes/Apple Music is such a dysfunctional piece of shit) and the track below has a vocalist if that’s how you roll. There’s not a lot to say here except that the guitar playing is up to the quality of the rhythm section and the horns and I give my seal of approval to this roots record.

Music for 3/22/22!!! King Jammy, Lala

@@@ King Jammy: Closed Border Dub (Greensleeves, 2022) A coupla listens off the WRIR weekly playlist from last week. King Jammy brings back the dubwise flavors for the post Covid party. Well maybe post Covid, and maybe a party. Some newer dub records don’t have that trippy grit of the classic ones and though this opening track is no murky Lee Perry business, it feels dubby and not all cleaned up. All the titles are pandemic related with titles such as Dub for All Hospital Workers and Track and Trace Dub. Most dub records don’t contain much in the way of guitar shredding but there was a nice Funkadelic style guitar shred towards the end of the first track and the second track has it as well. Let me google who this guitar player might be, ah shit I can’t find anything. Whoever you are I honor you. There is some tasty shit on this record, this might make my year end list, so check it out, King Jammy 74 years young and kickin’ it!!!

@@@ LALALAR: Abla Deme Lazim Olur (Bongo Joe/Dunganga, 2022) This is a pre-release track from a Turkish outfit that I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email. Gruff, low key male vocals, some rock bass, world music flavored synths and overall a sly party track. A little shreddy electric guitar, is the rock guitar making a comeback??? This is a pretty slammin’ track to be hitting for the onset of spring, lucky to be alive and kickin’ some party music, you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a bit hard to describe this track as it’s a mash of a lot of different sounds, but thank God we have the interwebz and you can hear it for yourself if you click on tracks you don’t know. Good listens today, get your world music on.

Music for 2/11/22!!!! Black Am I, 3Head

@@@ Black Am I: Jah in My Corner (Ghetto Youth Int’l, 2022) Some modern, drum machine reggae with a pumped up vocal arrangement. 2 dudes leading the singing with additional background vocalists. Thick thick bass, bass is not an issue and what you don’t get with a drum machine you get with a rootsy uplifiting vocal performance. The rest of the arrangement is pretty standard to my ears.

@@@ 3Head: Afnaz (Dubmission, 2022) This track is also off the WRIR weekly playlist email and it’s a Dennis Bovell remix of a track by these guys 3Head I’ve never heard of. The tune appears on a compilation of dubs called Sub Signals Vol. 2 and it contains work by some pretty well known names other than Dennis Bovell including Adrian Sherwood and African Head Charge. The production is pretty modern but gets into sticky dubwise echo action. This particular track sports an epic almost rock feel without including almost any rock sounds to it. There is one spot where they have synth going off like a guitar power chord sequence (maybe it’s a processed guitar) but that’s it. I’ve peeped excerpts of a couple of other tracks and there’s some variety here, some dancefloor sounds snuck into the dub arena, more modern sounds reworked into the dub spirit of things. Check it out if you roll that way, if you’re on the variety tip.

Music for 11/16/21!!!! New Age Doom/Lee Scratch Perry, Mortiferum

@@@ New Age Doom/Lee Scratch Perry: Holy Wings (We are Busy Bodies, 2021) I guess this will go down as Lee Scratch Perry’s last recorded work. Or one of them. I don’t know anything about this New Age Doom outfit but the overall effect of this track is if a Radiohead had a baby with a classic dub record. I like the vibe here, I’m not sure I super love it. It’s got a very swirly feel to it, with guitar feedback, horn snippets and Lee going on about his things that he goes on about. I like the bass and wouldn’t call it super dubby bass. I’m giving a quick listen to another track Holy Dub and it’s most likely a dub of Holy Wings. It’s dubbier than the previous track which makes sense as it’s called Holy Dub. There’s also a little undercover jazz feel up in here.

@@@ Mortiferum: Eternal Procession (Profound Lore, 2021) Today’s listens off this week’s 10 most reviewed Pitchfork releases. The video clipped below is the first track of the record and it opens up with big drums, a caveman on the microphone and threedly guitars. I like the guitars but the drums, oy the drums, this guy (or gal or they) is all hopped up on Red Bull of some such. This is an almost 7 minute banger with sections and an overriding and pleasant epic aggro feel. The outro goes full epic with a big guitar shred but they’re all guests in the drummer’s world. The second track, Incubus of bloodstained visions is pretty sweet.

Music for 4/15/21!!! Yaadcore/Jah9, Ben Aylon, Les Filles de Illighadad

@@@ YAADCORE, JAH9 AND SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM: Police In Helicopter (Yard Birdz-Subatomic Sound, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. Sticky roots reggae with thick bass and old school drum sounds. The vocal hook is ‘if you continue to burn down the herb, we’re gonna burn down the cane field’ so I’m guessing these folks are in the Caribbean. I did some googling and see that sugar cane is grown in Florida, Louisiana and Texas so maybe they’re growing collyweed alongside the sugar cane and the police are chasing down the weed farmers. Regardless of location the sounds are tight and the vibe is all right. Check this out for some dubwise flavors.

@@@ Ben Aylon: Hulem Belibe (Riverboat, 2021) Some world music in the Israel area that manages to capture an epic rock vibe. It’s a pretty restrained and grooved out track til there’s a distorted traditional stringed instrument solo they run through a distortion box, a move I’ve heard before and whole heartedly approve of. The vocal arrangement gets stacked up and widened out as the track progresses and a swell-y keyboard is introduced. I’m torn on the epic rock vibe.

@@@ Les Filles de Illighadad: Surbajo (Sahel Sounds/Pioneer, 2021) I dont’ go to many shows but I was at this show in Brooklyn! This is a pre release track from an upcoming live record from this female trio out of I can’t remember which country in Africa. My almost 13 year old referred to the guitar as Lil’ Jimi Hendrix because there was a pretty short dude tearing up the guitar at this show. The recording is really nice and if you don’t know this outfit you should check them out as they have flavor. It’s three singers, a guitar (maybe 2) and a hand drummer.

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.

Music for 8/20/20!!! Paul Grabowsky, Dubmatix, Kamaal Williams, All We Are

@@@ Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky: True to You (Cooking Vinyl, 2020) Off this week’s All Music notable release email.  Retro jazz vocals with just a piano.  Certainly not as croony and Vegas-y as Tony Bennett but still polished in its way.  It is interesting to hear how far our culture has travelled — from lightly cheesy romantic poetic ballad anthems to love all the way to Wet Ass Pussy by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion.  That is a journey!  Mr. Kelly is the gruff singer here and Grabowsky the piano player.  The sound is modern and intimate. Modern production is about soaring spaces but this thankfully is not one of them.  The piano is pretty epic here but there are no Celine Dion reverb patches at play here.  It’s a nostalgic club set of original straight piano jazz tunes for the Covid era.

@@@ Dubmatix: Rub a Dub (Kingston Express, 2020) Off a reggae compilation I got to via the WRIR weekly charts email.  A bit retro and a bit modern with some low and rough side of town toasting style.  He’s all about the rub a dub style with some tasty guitar and bubbling organ sounds with additional dub spaceship action.  If you Google rub a dub style what do you think it would return?  Rub a dub refers to the transition between reggae and dancehall.  Exactly.  This is a really solid compilation out in 2020 referring back to musics that went down a long time ago.

@@@ Kamaal Williams: Street Dreams (Black Focus, 2020) The opening track on a record entitled Wu Hen, which makes you wonder if this musician was inspired at all by the Wu Han virus.  Probably not but you never know.  Prominent New Age/fusion-y feels as this tune opens.  Soft jazz melody, some harp (yes!), swolled strings, I want to take a nap in the clouds!  It’s a table setter, that’s how I hear it, it’s bringing you into the record so I will check a bit of the second track to see if it switches up.  The second tune goes electro, also with a Brit spoken word making threats, and some pretty chopped up funky drums.  Proggy Prince, that’s how I hear it.  Super clean production and jazz fusion/prog is a tough sell for me.  It comes off nerdy to my ears and I prefer fire.

@@@ All We Are: Providence (Domino, 2020) Also off this week’s All Music notable release email, this time in the indie electronic part of town.  You never know what you’re gonna get with Domino — it could be pleasantly weird, it could be whacky, it could be art school dreck.  This is pretty straightforward ’80s inspired white people dancefloor business with a slight shout out to the ’70s.  After the falsetto chorus you do get an atypical thick guitar solo sound, and other unique garnishes.  I like the bass sound, a tad rocky and funky in a first grade sorta way, and I like the vocal harmonizing as you get the males and the females and everything in between and not that and I like the Prince feels.  It’s pretty straight rhythmically, it could use some swing or drag or something.  Oh boy, the second tune clicked on and it’s an ’80s flavored guitar ballad, oy.

YTD recordings listened to: 636
Good music, not list worthy: 331
Not good music: 286

Best: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Tarek Atoui, Saicobab, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik, Moodymann, Pharmakon, Alefa Madagascar, Janjao, Luge, Wiki, Mick Jenkins, Jeremiah Jae, Fera, Gambian Griot Kora Duets, Drama, Beatrice Dillon, Mass Worship, mmmonika, Les Deuxluxes, Tony Allen, Fra Fra, Nihiloxica, Hailu Mergia, Pokey LaFarge, Nico Gomez, Nohe and Sus Santos, schroothoop, Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood, Pole, Naeem, Mekons, Santrofi, DJ Nigga Fox, Flor do Toloache, Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid, STORMLIGHT, Venomous Concept, Chezidek, Shy One, Muqata’a, Protomartyr

Music for 11/11/19!!! King Midas Sound, Jay Glass Dubs, Moor Mother

@@@ King Midas Sound: Solitude (Cosmo Rhythmatic, 2019) The Guardian published a music article about a resurgence of dub poetry going on in the UK.  I’m up for that!  The Apple Music blurb compares this dub influenced music to dancehall produced by The Bug which is similar to Madd Again, which is dub-reggae influenced music I love.  This first track is much slower and a bit darker.  There is a Caribbean voice heavily echoed talking about how ‘you disappeared’.  For this genre, I could use some beats.  There are a lot of delicious drones and the voice is heavy with emotion and I super love the lyrics but I could use some beats goddammit.  This record is quite stark and beautiful in its raw honesty but to my ears it does not connect to dub music as much as I would like to hear.  I think more rhythm would get it there but duder decided to go another way, which is cool.

@@@ Jay Glass Dubs: Nyx EP (Berceuse Heroique, 2019)  Also from the Guardian article.  It is slotted as techno on Apple Music so who knows what this record will bring us.  I would say a delay effect does not a dub track make.  When the beats come they are more world music beats than dubwise and the bass is more of a rock sounding bass.  The stereo field is full and pumping with a nice blend of the beats and some electro-techno trippy synth patches.  I like this, it’s got a nice stuck in a washing machine feel to it.  I don’t really like the vocals brough in, they sort of Kate Bush the proceedings so I went to the next track.  I’m on the third tune and while it’s influenced by dub I find the big arena rock, Kate Bush, quasi-Radiohead influences not working for me.  Always listen for yourself.

@@@ Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes (Don Giovanni, 2019)  Moor Mother is from Philly, Philly is a tough ass town, I’m expecting Moor Mother to bring it.  I think I grooved on a record she did some work on.  The first tune is a swirling, dark, almost Shakespearean bigness.  When she says ‘I hope you get what you’ve been handing out’ I wanted to stand up and cheer.  The second tune, the 1:57, is a combination of a rock beat, some strange spoken word business and an electro loop.  I’m starting to feel that I have no problem with these three records as they all have positive qualities, but it’s a stretch to group these together and talk about a resurgence of dub poetry in the tradition of Lynton Kwesi Johnson.  It’s not supposed to sound like him (I get that!), but if I heard this record outside of the Guardian article I would slot it as an electronic record with an interesting spoken word component.  I’m not sure I would think of dub at all.  I’m feeling this third tune, After Images, and I like this record but I’m not jumping up and down.  I want to jump up and down.

YTD recordings listened to: 589
Good music, not list worthy: 350
Not good music: 201

Best: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Horndal, Wyxz, Tarek Atoui, Hawktail, Saicobab, Shannon and the Clams, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Emma Louise, Andre Bratten, Nathan Corder/Tom Weeks, Oli XL, Buzzherd, Logistic Slaughter, The Muslims, Tobe Nwigwe, Saint Abdullah, Bug Martin, Kaleta and the Super Yamba Band, Toko Telo, Brittany Howard, The Garifuna Collective, Mariachi El Bronx, Bonnie Baxter, Danny Brown, clipping., Deafkids, Michael Kiwanuka, Kelly Moran, Canalon de Timbiqui, Pour Me a Grog