June 2020

Album releases

Covet — Technicolor

Yvette Young and her crew arrive with a new album of introspective and complex math-rock. Although the tempo picks up in places, I wouldn't call this "heavy" music. There's a lot of detail and dynamics for active listening, but I think it's also great work music; put it on in the background and let your subconscious absorb it.

Library Tapes — Patterns (Revisited)

Pulling apart time like taffy; stretching out the moments and staring at them through a microscope, zooming in again and again until you can see the microseconds. A gorgeous listen for fans of minimalism or modern classical.

Singles & EPs

Roman Rofalski — Loophole

Loophole deconstructs jazz/piano sounds into four mysterious and complex experimental tracks. My favorite track here is Alpha, with its tantalizing whirl of minimalist processed piano. Sea features detailed percussion textures à la Eli Keszler, Nagging is a bit more sparse and ominous, and Redemption wraps up with a gradual build from gentle to frantic and insistent. It's a very interesting EP, adventurous without being too challenging, and definitely worth a listen.

Rubio — La Existencia

This EP is hard to pin down. I'm allowed to say it has "lush" arrangements because I hear a harp! But it also features very modern electronic production (Compañera works equally as pop or deep house), a sprinkling of South American sound and a lovely, subdued lyricism.

New to Me

Black Chamber — S/T (2016) Highly recommended!

Now this is right up my alley. It's a very noir, jazz/trip-hop fusion that stays maybe 80% or so on the jazz side; it has just enough extra texture and processing to kick up the haunting factor, but it avoids the fate of your average "downtempo" electronic record by staying focused on real instruments, real improvisation and real emotion.

Bixiga 70 — Quebra Cabeça (2018) Highly recommended!

Bixiga 70 are a phenomenally fun band from Brazil who pull influences from funk and soul traditions all over the globe. The record is an absolute delight and never fails to improve my mood, no matter how much ridiculousness 2020 tries to throw at me.

Mux Mool — Implied Lines (2017)

"Head-nodding" is too casual to describe the weight of the production on this instrumental hip-hop joint. It's heavier, more exotic, more alien.

Superposition — A00/ No Mind (2019)

Shimmering, quiet and crystalline: the perfect music for a cool night on the deck, letting the slow breeze brush across your skin, staring up into the inky sky.

Mantra & Grey Ghost — Soundtrack to the End of the World (2019)

Yet another excellent record from the Australian hip-hop scene crosses my plate this year. But where Hash Butta Synergy felt more like a classic b-boy showdown, Soundtrack reminds me of a Run the Jewels cut, with bracingly futuristic production and dystopian lyricism (isn't it frustrating that topical lyrics these days are necessarily dystopian?).

Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics — It's About Time (2012)

I guess I've slept on Ruby Velle and her crew for quite a while. This record is brilliant, though, a perfect example of the modern funk/soul/Motown sound. If the title track here doesn't make you groove, I don't know what will.