Icarus Redux, Gretchen Korsmo, Daytimers, Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist, Violet, Photonz, Echevarian, Chuck Pee, Escaflowne, Morwell, Abby Lee Tee, Kundai, Polygonia, Patrick Cowley and more
And I’m back. Today Bandcamp is donating its cut to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund “to support their ongoing efforts to promote racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education”. An imperfect effort.
Quick refresher for you if needed. Enslaved persons in Texas were only truly freed on June 19, 1865. The USA Congress is currently voting on making Juneteenth, as it’s known, a federal holiday. As has been pointed out, this is an empty gesture while history is being rewritten and black people still face huge obstacles in everyday life and things like, you know, voting for Congress etc.
Today RVNG is donating all the label’s portion of Bandcamp sales to Black Art Futures Fund (BAFF), which provides operating support for small and community-based Black-led and Black-benefitting arts and culture organisations in the US.
In other news, I’m back on Dublin Digital Radio on Sunday night. 9pm Irish time. I hope you can find the time to listen in.
This is a private track that the artist has kindly let me share here. It’s a recording of his set at a recent gig in Minneapolis. Last year everyone talked about the kind of thing they’d like to hear at the “first party back” and this sums up the best approach to that scenario. It features glorious 90s sounds from an artist called Sasha (no, not the Welsh one), Mr YT, a stupendous garage rework of Hackney Parrot (Champion’s ‘Haggerston Parrot’), a load of breaks, classic house, melodic electro-pop, jazzy breakbeat, that Kraftwerk x Whitney blend, a big stompy banger from Nautiluss that I missed somehow (???) and a Night Slugs double whammy to close, with L-Vis’s ‘Bring in the Katz’ dub running into one of Jam City’s brightest moments. Quite a party.
I was alerted to this by the wonderful claire rousay (ps check my interview with her for Truants if you missed it). The first track, with the wonderful title ‘Really Good at Digging Holes’, is a breathy delight. Gentle tones, brushed open spaces, hushed vocals. ‘Cloud Juice’ (rain? Something else?) sits on a bed of ever-growing keyboard drones, with dainty abstract melodies floating in space.
Daytimers are back with another compilation, this time raising money for COVID efforts in India. There’s ambience (indeed, a track called ‘Ambience’ from Kindness), raucous club sounds, ominous sonic territories, experimental wonder, acid electro, straight-up party business and more. There’s also a glitched-out ballroom take on ‘Ain’t Nobody’. Shout out to Anu for the art and her contributions to Nahi Mitti’s ‘Mitti Attar’!
Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist last featured here in February with Still, a release on Glacial Movements. This release is on Rostami’s own Drift label and is a kind of snapshot of their own experience of 2020 and beyond. Working remotely, like many of us, they sent pieces of music back and forth. Blomquist would create organ improvisations, Rostami would then process, edit and amend those sounds, supplementing them with new music from synthesisers and other instruments and so on and so on. Each track is simply titled ‘Month 1’, ‘Month 2’ etc, and as befits THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES there are a lot of deeply melancholy sounds at play from month to month. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting and enriching and generally fascinating material.
An entirely different remote collaboration here, a collaboration stretching from Wisconsin, USA, all the way to Lisbon, Portugal. US-based Echevarian credits the original track here as being something that grew out of Ableton lessons provided by Lisbon’s Violet and Photonz, which “eventually got to the point where it was primarily their music with my input here and there”. There are definite shades of the latter two’s previous work but it’s definitely and audibly a team effort. Speaking of teams, there are five different remixes on offer, from Badiou, SJAYY, Davis Galvin, DJ Ecchi and DJ GIRL. My own favourites are from Badiou and Davis Galvin, whose respective takes are crunchily banging and hypnotically atmospheric, but they’re all excellent. PS If you’re wondering about the title, the track features samples of Echevarian’s son playing with a small plastic toy truck. Lovely!
The verifiable legend that is Chuck Pee shared this radio show with me, as he describes it, “sort of a traditional cumbia sound system clash between Fania 97 & La Changa”. I am totally unfamiliar with these sounds but it’s got an infectious bounce and the MC’s chanting is hugely engaging even if I don’t understand a word of it. The second hour features some classic hip-hop sounds revisited and revitalised.
Escaflowne presents four very different but equally excellent “looseys” for us, ranging from the UK garage sounds of ‘I Won’t Tell’ to the full-on techno laser vibes of the J Lo-sampling ‘Waiting for 2nite’.
Morwell has featured here a number of times before. At last, here we have a full-length debut. Not that making “an album” means anything in terms of one’s value as an artist (just ask Burial c. 2011-2021) but it’s a statement and a big step etc etc. Like a lot of his work, it’s driven by large electronic spaces and sounds, delicately crafted beats that become utterly galactic, samples taken from unlikely places and rendered wholly new and unrecognisable. It’s not all fast-paced breaks, showing his breadth and experimental nature. ‘Delirium’ is a standout though, I’ll say that much!
Well this is interminably cute. Field recordings of beavers and “beaver vocalistaions”!!! And the title suggests that there will be more such sounds to come!!! Some of it sounds a bit like Drake singing “no new friends” but that’s probably just me.
Kundai created this release to reflect the sound of tropical flowers brushing your ears as you walk through the jungle. The gorgeously playful synths really do capture that sound, offering melody that is both ethereal and palpable at once. It’s club music, properly so, but inspired by the natural world in a way that’s refreshing.
I was listening to Polygonia’s rather stunning 2020 release Leaves and Ghosts when I realised she had a brand new one. The former is incredibly deep, somewhere between uptempo dub techno (if that’s possible) and the intricate abstractions of Persuasion. Deformed Human Nature is more colourful, melodic patterns swirling around soft yet powerful percussion. These tracks could easily fit alongside Ron Trent or anything on Livity Sound. I featured ‘The Desire For Mechanization’ a few weeks back but the release is so good that I need to highlight the whole thing.
If you ever needed an introduction to the work of Patrick Cowley, you could do a lot worse than this special here. Put together by Jordan Hearns for his We Just Used To Like show on Dublin Digital Radio, it celebrates the late Cowley, who died in 1982 at just 32 yet left behind an incredible legacy. He’s perhaps best known for his uptempo, hi-nrg synth belters, best exemplified by a 15-minute rework of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and his work with Sylvester, such as ‘Do You Wanna Funk?’ That said, he also wrote incredibly weird and brilliantly fascinating instrumental music, some of it for soundtracks for gay porn. You can read about that here, in an interview with Josh Cheon of Dark Entries, the label that’s been archiving and releasing Cowley’s music in recent years. Anyway! this mix features a lot of that weirder stuff, dark and sleazy sounds that gurgle with tension and sex, synths squealing and screaming from start to finish.
Finally this week! A gloriously enlivening track from Trinidadiandeep aka Native Bush. House at its brightest and best.