Monday, March 8 2021

let's try that again

Sorry! You’re getting this twice because the first one was entirely screwed up. Not today, Satan!

There’s a softness in records now, even the hard ones. The urge to seek comfort is universal, and it’s never at odds with intense work. Two rap records I love—Pink Siifu’s $mokebreak EP and Gabe ‘Nandez’s Ox—both have a luxurious edge, a layer of air in the frame.

Leon Vynehall’s upcoming album Rare, Forever is with me almost all the time when I bike through the city. Just listen to this track, “Ecce! Ego!” because it is too gorgeous, a broken romance, a demobbed A train galumphing into the stations of the elevated.

Rare, Forever feels related to the Eiko Ishibashi album I mention below, as there is improvised music in its system, surrounded by a casing of filtered digital source material. There are links to James Blake and Burial and also Jon Hassell, who you can find in this mix by Maxmillion Dunbar. It’s eight years old but my word, it is good.

There are three new EPs that do significant work with beats: ZULI’s All Caps, Al Wootton’s Maenads and Jurango’s Retreat Ites EP. The synthesis here makes it feel like a new beat pattern is coming in, and the softness may be pushing that.

I don’t suppose anybody loves their job more than George “Porky” Peckham, who has mastered the vinyl editions of a thousand fire records. He apparently started with The Beatles (news to me) but the first time I saw his name etched into the runoff grooves of an LP was when I bought Joy Divison’s Still in 1981. Twenty years later, you can see him cutting a brutal drum and bass 12-inch for No U-Turn Records. He talks in this video about working with Slade, an artist he approached no differently than Nico and Ed Rush. The record he’s mastering here is “We’re Into That,” a whomping track by The Visitors. I had such a good time listening to the pure lemon aggression of this style that I busted out (lol) my copy of Torque, the No-U Turn compilation from 1997. Momentum and texture and nothing fucking else.

A year ago, at the very beginning of pandemic, Edward George of the Black Audio Film Collective debuted a podcast called The Strangeness of Dub. Over seven episodes (and possibly more?), George wanders through the musical and theoretical aspects of dub, which often doesn’t involve playing that much dub music. It’s completely engrossing and not like anything else I’ve read or heard on this topic.

Here’s a brilliant piece of mail art, courtesy of my friend, Sachar. (Her name is pronounced exactly like mine.) Whether or not it was intended as such, we don’t know.

Maury in Portland, A+++ Seller, 2021, ink on paper and book in plastic, 8.5 x 9 in. Brooklyn, collection of Sachar Mathias.

Recent TikTok accounts that have promoted sanity? Zamsire’s eggdogs, animated and elastic and tubular. Papi Chulo’s Cholo Cooking, friendly, with cursing, and onions, and a dog. Maybe the most consistent, non-chaotic pandemic friend? Petey USA. There are many of him, and they are all him. He writes songs, co-brands with the NFL, and makes the most of his house in LA.

Eiko Ishibashi’s new album, For McCoy, has that shuffling screens vibe of hers, where tonalities and spaces and methods link, in perpetual rotation, connected but not synced, drunk on someone else’s memories. A chunk of it is fully arranged horn charts, like a Gramavision jazz album from the Eighties, and another chunk is like early musique concrète being squeezed between two statues. A slapper.

This Spotify playlist of James Baldwin’s record collection draws from the LPs he kept in his Saint-Paul-de-Vence home, from 1970 on. It lasts more than 24 hours and features almost 500 songs, most of them powered by a woman’s voice, with exceptions made for Stevie, Sonny, Bill, and Frank. No surprise that it’s good but more than a little surprised it works so well and for so long.

No matter what happens with rap in the ambassador suite of abstraction, things stay quick like rats with releases. Since Y2K, songs have pretty much just come out all the time, agnostic to anything but themselves. To that point, a new Rick Ross and Drake track, “Lemon Pepper Freestyle,” came out Friday as part of the Scary Hours 2 EP. Rap has used its organic commercial audiences to maintain a spiritual vibe better than any other genre, aside from K-Pop. The discourse has literally never caught up with rap—it remains unwritten. This is also a good song.

How good is Birch Cooper’s artwork? This is for the back cover of the forthcoming CD version of the Body Meπa album. Stay tuned!