I revived an old music blog at the end of 2021?

Maybe it’s been a foolish endeavor, and maybe I’m the only one who misses the blog ol’ days, but I’ve been giving it a shot. I’ve been working on restoring some of the old content, though much of it was lost. I’ve slowly been rebuilding the old remix sunday archives, and even posting the occasional new edition. And I’ve been writing again.

You can find all the label’s releases here, on bandcamp, or most anywhere you listen to music these days. I’ve still got copies of some of the old vinyl releases, and I recently released the first in a set of charitable cassette compilations to raise awareness about the continued [mis]use of broken windows policing methods.

Plus, I put together a playlists section with a handful of spotify lists that hopefully start to capture a [slightly] updated version of the moods we used to peddle. Give those a listen and a ❤ if you would be so kind. If you want to get in touch, just give me a holler.

– Haldan/Boody

  • Analise Hausmann – seminary

    Even if you don’t know it by name, you know the sound of a Waterphone. It’s that haunting dissonant whimper of delicately vibrating metal that sounds a bit like the call of a whale’s ghost; it’s present in virtually every horror movie since Poltergeist, and many blockbuster thrillers and epics like Aliens, Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and innumerable other films. It’s a sound that Hollywood has ensured is inescapably linked to the feelings of dread and tension. The instrument was created in the 60s by the late artist Richard Waters after he encountered a unique Tibetan tonal instrument that he described as a “water drum” (which has incorrectly been associated by other writers with the Jibara water drum, nothing like what Waters has described playing). The instrument he found—and apparently never saw again—created pre-echoes and bent tones when it was struck, as the result of small amounts of water moving across its flat bronze surface.

    Influenced by his single encounter with this instrument, and other resonant metal percussive instruments like the Kalimba and 16th century nail violin, Waters built the Waterphone, comprising a shallow bronze or steel bowl that holds water, with a resonating tube and handle jutting out from its middle, and a series of metal rods of varying size lining its edge. These rods are then carefully tuned using a combination of micro-tonal and diatonic relationships that Waters came up with, leading not to a unified scale, but instead to multiple integrated scales with both even and odd increments. Until his death in 2013, Waters built each Waterphone by hand and ear, using a metal forging technique he developed over the course of 40 years.

    It’s almost impossible to hear the Waterphone without being transported into a horror film, but that tight association does the instrument somewhat of a disservice. There ought to be room to use its sounds effectively in the context of resonant, pleasant, or even playful music, not only to communicate moments of serious, fearful, dissonance. On her new EP seminary, Vermont-based artist Analise Hausmann seems to make a noble attempt to do so.

    Intended to honor and find holiness in life’s more ordinary parts, seminary vacillates between the meditative choral ambience and found-soundscapes of songs like “cars” and “‘come on, I’ll catch you’”, to disorientingly hypnotic songs like “tuning” or “reflecting headlights” that appear to use the Waterphone heavily, closely in tandem with Hausmann’s violin. I asked her about the choice to use a Waterphone, and it turned out the sounds to which I had been referring were not, in fact, the product of a real Waterphone. Instead, Hausmann had managed to recreate—unintentionally—the sound of the Waterphone through experimentation with the modular synthesizer software VCV Rack. Though unplanned, the distinct sound she stumbled upon can still evoke all the feelings a strike of the Waterphone would, and it seems fitting in the context of her concept for the record. Waters crafted his instruments with a reverence generally reserved for religious objects and high art—imbuing them with a sense of holiness—but they nonetheless became most associated with pop-horror and thrill, reduced to evoking only fear. Hausmann’s record attempts to take mundane moments like the passing of a car and the melting of ice and breathe into them a sense of greater significance.

    I’ve written often about the musical-emotional value of ordinary life and its building blocks. Hausmann does an excellent job recontextualizing not only the sound of the Waterphone, but also the sounds of the forest and everyday winter life in a Vermont college town. At its most serene, seminary evokes pious virtue and a sense of sorrowful profundity. But elsewhere on the record—partly because of Hausmann’s bold use of the pseudo-Waterphone—the record provokes in me a near-maniacal level of oxytocin-response, and instead manages to radiate mischief and whimsy. It’s perhaps inescapable in those moments not to imagine in that Vermont forest something like a witch or a warlock snickering over a bubbling cauldron. But I don’t see those images as if they were from a horror film; instead I’m reminded of how possible it can be to find something unusual in the innocuous.

    Find seminary for streaming all over, or download the record on bandcamp for whatever you wish to pay.

    Analise Hausmann – “‘come on, I’ll catch you’” (mp3)

    Analise Hausmann – “tuning” (mp3)

  • From the Mailbox 10

    I’ve written about Colorado Springs-based producer cupsy before. Where their work in the past has been further into the frenetic side of breakcore, this piece they sent over recently is more tender and contemplative. Still high energy stuff though, which I think is cupsy’s bag (or cup, as the case may be). No bandcamp here, but you can find this on streamers, or grab the mp3 below.

    cupsy – “somewhere, forever” (mp3)

    I’ve also posted a Swimming Paul track before. The London-based French producer seems to have an effective promotion machine behind him—and he seems to have started to catch the wave of success that’s been elevating the post-Fred Again school of producers to great heights. It seems deserved though, his output of singles has been near-constant in the past year or two, and they’re always contemporary and effective tunes, if perhaps a touch straightforward. He doesn’t have a bandcamp, but all of his work is on the streamers, and his team was kind enough to let me provide the mp3 of this track for download below.

    Swimming Paul – “Focus” (mp3)

    Ton Mise is a Nagano-based artist who sent over the title track from his newest EP, Moon Behind the Eyes, out on Chicago label Satellite Era. He describes the track as “quiet drum’n’bass, like being behind the moon” which feels accurate. It’s melodically sweet and pensive stuff, but framed in the context of well-balanced and skeletal DnB. The whole EP is really compelling, and worth checking out. Grab it on bandcamp or for streaming all over.

    Ton Mise – “Moon Behind The Eyelids” (sc)

  • Mailbox: Cesare vs Disorder – Just A Rephlex

    Tight, clustered, wobbly, 2-step undergirded by a ghostly hollow contrabass line on this strong submission from Sao Paolo-based Italian-Polish artist, Cesare vs Disorder (real name Cesare Marchese). Marchese’s been busy for the past couple of decades; you may have encountered him via his label Serialism or his consistent string of releases for other labels including the likes of BPitch Control, but he just released his first full length. Antidote runs the gamut from UK-inspired stuff like this and songs like “Brixton ’98”, to deeper and warmer club fare, all the way to the title track—which is essentially full-on acid jazz. There’s even a Brazilian sunkissed ode to Detroit electro in there too for good measure. The album features collaborations with the likes of Cristi Cons, San Proper, Rockey Washington, and an old personal favorite of mine, poet and emceee Mike Ladd. As varied as the album is, it’s nonetheless a fun and coherent listen front to back, and clearly a sincere and clear-eyed expression of Marchese’s musical personality, as fluid as it might be. Recommended.

    You can grab the whole album on bandcamp, or you can stream it wherever. Marchese has also been kind enough to let me share the mp3 of the focus track, which is my favorite from the album.

    Cesare vs Disorder – “Just a Rephlex” (mp3)

    Cesare vs Disorder – “Brixton ’98” (sc)

    Cesare vs Disorder – “As Vezes” (sc)

  • Visual Velcro 31

    Lyra Valenza – “Joy Divided” (mp3)

    KETTAMA – “Fly Away XTC” (sc)

    Goitia Deitz – “Romance” (Tom Furse House Remix) (bc)

  • Lyra Valenza – Low Gear No Pressure

    I always get a little extra psyched about a new act I discover if I learn they’re from Denmark. I can’t help but have a sense of national pride, even though I’m only half Danish, no longer live there, and have plenty of criticism for the country politically and culturally. It’s just that I love Denmark, and I spent many of my formative adult years trying to uplift the dance music scene there, especially its weirder and less pretentious sides. And since I have friends there still, I end up continuing to promote Danes more than acts from most other countries (case in point, see the previous post about Anders Dixen’s Ndares project). It’s also just simply a small country, so I’m always proud to see it having an outsized (or even appropriately sized) cultural effect in the world.

    Lyra Valenza is a Danish act that ought to have such an impact. When I first heard the duo’s new album Low Gear No Pressure, it was immediately energizing. Without any context at first, I fell right in love with the hyper-modern junglism of “Life on the Line,” a song that sounds to me like what might soundtrack Wave Race 64 if it were released right now, instead of in 1996. My other favorite from the record is “Joy Divided”—which also manages to sound bleeding edge while full of 25+ year old reference points. (Maybe there’s a deeper point to be made here, about how the current musical moment’s quintessence is itself about recurrence and breathing new life into 25-year-old archetypes? I’m not quite able to put the pieces together right now, so you take it the last few yards please, dear reader.) In any case, I was already sold on Lyra Valenza, but when I saw the names Hjalte Lehmann Christensen and Jens Konrad Barrett, and inferred they were Danes, I paid a little extra attention.

    Low Gear No Pressure is a shining example of how dance music can be framed for the album format. Christensen and Barrett span genres so effortlessly, I can’t bring myself to start listing which ones, because doing so would only reduce the album’s personality; it’s palpably unpretentious, friendly, and approachable (which is fitting, since its title is a nod to escaping industry expectations and enjoying friendship); but most importantly, Low Gear No Pressure is just really well written, full of humor and detail, and impeccably produced. I will be listening to this album for a long time.

    Christensen and Barrett have been generous enough to let me share the mp3s of two of my favorite songs on the album, but don’t delay—support them by buying Low Gear No Pressure on bandcamp—or at least throw them a few pennies by streaming the record on your parasitic streamer of choice.

    Lyra Valenza – “Joy Divided” (mp3)

    Lyra Valenza – “Life on the Line” (mp3)

  • Ndares – Randomized Memory Allocation Unit

    It’s always a fuzzy feeling when your friends make your favorite music. I’ve written about—and released music from—my old friend Anders Dixen many times. He’s traded aliases a bunch over his career, but has primarily been releasing as A.dixen in the past years. A few months after I started writing this blog again in 2021, I wrote an effusive review of his stellar Death Tapes series under that name. Then in 2022, he contributed a great song to the End Broken Windows compilation I put out in support of the National Sex Workers Bail Fund. He’s still releasing music as A.dixen, but most recently he put out really strong new album as part of the trio of which he’s a member, AV AV AV (with other Palms Out alum Eloq).

    Anders is just generally a busy guy, so unfortunately sometimes his output ends up flying under the radar, as is the case with the record I’m posting about now. In the middle of last year, he quietly released a quartet of dubby electro tracks under a new alias, Ndares (a sort of phonetic spelling of his first name). They’re all beautifully stripped back dancefloor tools that I expect work a charm on the right floors—and they deserve way more attention.

    Randomized Memory Allocation Unit is exclusive to bandcamp, and it’s up for pay-what-you-wish. It was hard to pick a favorite here, so don’t wait and get to bandcamp right away to download the rest of the EP. I’m also including the first single from AV AV AV’s new album, which you should absolutely also grab on bandcamp or stream.

    (He also found the time to become a father to a beautiful baby boy a year or so ago. Big up Henry and Henry’s mom.)

    Ndares – “Mutate Mutate” (mp3)

    Ndares – “No Funkk” (mp3)

    AV AV AV – “Loving” (sc)

  • Remix Sunday 166

    Now that my ladder’s gone
    I must lie down where all the ladders start
    In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
    W.B. Yeats

    Remix Sunday 166 Zipped Up. (94mb zip)

    Gouldian Finch – “Natas Kaupas” (Lindstrøm Remix)

    Kaytranada – “Vivid Dreams” (kLap Edit)

    Sade – “Is It a Crime” (JC villain Edit)

    Baby D – “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” (Jubilee Bootleg)

    Ice Spice – “Deli” (Bambounou Edit)

    4*Town – “Nobody Like U” (Clearcast Bootleg)

    Craig David – “Rewind” (PTMC Bootleg)

    AJ Tracey – “Ladbroke Grove” (DJ Jackum Bootleg)

    Doja Cat – “Get Into It (Yuh)” (DJ Polo SteamRooms Flip)

    DaBaby – “Suge” (Oblivion Edit)

    Amerie – “1 Thing” (Yolophonik Alt. Remix)

    image/ Buddhilini de Soyza

  • From the Mailbox 9

    Appropriately dark and somber post-dubstep from Ukrainian artist Cosmic Rain. Despite the atrocities of the more recent war in Palestine, the West needs to be careful not to lose sight of the extent of the bloodletting continuing in Ukraine. Only yesterday, Russia unleashed a massive missile strike on Kyiv and targeting energy infrastructure in other cities nearer the front. This war is not over, nor is it evenly fought, and at the very least we need to remember that—even as Western governments’ financial support for Ukraine falters. No bandcamp for Cosmic Rain, but you can stream this song all over, and he’s offered the mp3 for free download below.

    Cosmic Rain – “Oblivion” (mp3)

    Swiss artist Voicheck sent over this strange and lovely bit from their recent EP Atlatl, which intends to explore pre-historic themes through esoteric textural sound design and atypical rhythms. I recommend the whole record, it’s weird in the good way; a painless mind-bender. Unfortunately no bandcamp for some reason, but you can find the EP on any of the streamers, or listen to it on soundcloud.

    Voicheck – Kuramoto (sc)

    This last track, sent over by Sydney-based artist Self Tape, is nicely misdirectional. As it starts, it would have you believe it might well be lost in the growing flood of Fred Again and Bicep ripoff music, much of which is well produced but increasingly anonymous. But when the bassline drops, it’s clear Self Tape is willing to take some sonic risks—the bassline is distorted in such a way that it almost causes it to fall out of phase, but not quiiiite. The song ends up sitting precariously on the edge of sonoral disaster for the rest of its runtime, and that insecurity makes it way more interesting as a listener. I just wonder whether it works on a Funktion One, or if it might make people ill. DJs out there who want to find out, grab it on bandcamp. Others can find it for streaming wherever.

    Self Tape – “Promise (Sun)” (sc)

  • Neil Cowley – Sleep Year

    Neil Cowley is best known as a pianist, and an accomplished one at that, having been treated as a prodigy in his youth, and seeing commercial success in the aughts and 2010s with his Neil Cowley Trio. Even if you aren’t familiar, you’ve probably heard his playing as a session musician for people like Adele and Emeli Sandé.

    In 2018, the Cowley Trio went on hiatus, and Cowley announced he’d be focusing less on piano in his music, in favor of electronic instruments. In 2019, he put out a maxi-single that I loved called DFAM (presumably named after the endlessly inspiring Moog percussive synth). Respect to anyone for branching out sonically, but for as gifted a pianist as he, I’m glad it wasn’t long before the piano reemerged as the central voice in his music. In 2020, he released the first in what became a six-part series called Building Blocks that aimed to chronicle his reconnection with the piano and place it in the context of his broader influences, including electronica and ambient music.

    At the end of February, Cowley released the sixth and final volume of the Building Blocks series. He describes the music on this record as an attempt to bridge the gap between the euphoria of the electronic music he might dance to all night and the personally fulfilling quality of the music he’d listen to on the couch to recover from one of those nights. For many, I think this will strike more as home listening unsuitable for a night out, but nonetheless it’s still a noble attempt to meet in the middle. More importantly, it’s one that has yielded music with an exciting level of detail without becoming academic or particularly noodly. This is music that has a beautifully recuperative quality—it’s intelligent, but gentle—which is exactly what I need lately. The fifth song on the record is titled “Sleep Year.” I just need to say that sleep year is what I want so desperately right now. This past year with a toddler has been awake year.

    Building Blocks pt. 6 is out now on bandcamp, or for streaming.

    Neil Cowley – “Deep Affliction” (bc)

    Neil Cowley – “Herald” (bc)

    Neil Cowley – “Sleep Year” (bc)

  • How To Dress Well – New Confusion

    Hell is where no one has anything in common with anyone else

    I’ve been confused and oversensitive all day. One of those days when the even the smallest slight feels like a personal injury. I’m never sure how best to handle those moments except to try to bridge the gap dividing me from the others in my life, whether my wife or my mechanic or the guy at the bodega. I’m happiest when I feel connected to other people, even those I only encounter once. My wife teases me for making friends with every cab driver, but what kind of life would it be to not find out what you have in common with the people with whom you cross paths? Sometimes it doesn’t work—people don’t always want to be found—but usually it does, and I walk away from the interaction feeling like my shoes fit better than they did beforehand.

    When I was making music full-time in the 2010s, I crossed paths with Tom Krell a few times. I was briefly signed to the label on which he released one of his first records, and If I remember correctly, he liked some of the music I had been making at the time with Kalifa (fka Le1f); we found ourselves in the same room a handful of times. His music has always had an earnestness, even in spite of some of its more academic qualities. I appreciate both sides, and I’ve always gotten the sense that Krell was actually the person he put into his music, for better or worse. My sense now is that’s what he’s looking to [re]capture on his upcoming album I Am Toward You. After releasing a string of relatively high profile records on Domino, he’s been quiet for the past six years (save for a couple of remix albums). Following 2018’s The Anteroom, he apparently burned out in the wake of a debilitating tour schedule and disillusionment with the cynicism of the business of music. Fair.

    The first two songs from this new record have a clear-eyed immediacy to them. I haven’t heard the rest of the album, but both sides of the lead single seem distinctly less cool than the songs on The Anteroom or the preceding releases on Domino—both in substance and in style—and I truly say that as a good thing. Neither seem contrived, nor do they feel overly stylized. Krell’s production is always pretty immaculate, and that’s still true here, but the songs have a bit more room to float to the surface, and they’re better for it. As an artist with such natural vocal and songwriting talent, sometimes his fondness for intricate flavor-of-the-day production has worked against his favor in the past. That no longer seems to be the case, despite working with folks like CFCF and Joel Ford on the new album. Sometimes when we’re trying to connect with other people, we just need to get out there without trying to gussy ourselves up. Saying what we have to say is usually more important than making sure we look cool saying it.

    How To Dress Well‘s I Am Toward You is out May 10th on Sargent House. You can get access to two songs when you preorder the record on bandcamp. You can also stream it.

    How To Dress Well – “New Confusion” (bc)

  • From the Mailbox 8

    Dreamy 168bpm love-song-jungle meets elegant wordplay on this superbly produced track from UK emcee and producer Felts, who I know virtually nothing about. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I’ll take a guess as to what part of the country he’s from based on accent alone, and say Sussex(?). Felts’ previous work is mostly drill, and it’s all strong, but this track is a big upgrade and fits his pseudonym much better. No bandcamp here, but grab the mp3 below, and playlist this on all the streamers.

    Felts – “Bunches” (mp3)

    More vocals over jazzy breakbeats north of 160bpm, this time from Gothenberg-based art pop band SYND (Swedish for “sin”). It was just another dream that didn’t come true / but I don’t really mind, I’ve gotten used to it goes the song’s refrain. I get that—and not just from a place of feeling sorry for oneself; it’s just part of getting older to recognize that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Strong stuff here, definitely worth checking the rest of the band’s catalog. (And some of their old videos are really fun). No bandcamp for this, but the band has offered up the mp3 below — streamers, go stream it wherever you stream.

    SYND – “Stella” (mp3)

    Rounding out the dream theme today is a nice slice of melodic breakbeat house from Stuttgart-based collaborators Dejago and Dentso. All the usual ingredients of big room sad are here, but they’re all neatly assembled to be greater than the sum of the parts. The artists have generously provided the mp3 below, but you can also grab the EP on bandcamp, and it’s of course available on all the typical streaming outlets.

    Dejago & Densto – “Dream of You” (mp3)

  • MELO-X – Wake n Bake Vol. 1

    You probably know Sean Rhoden, professionally known as MELO-X, from his work on Beyoncé’s Lemonade–having produced and co-written “Hold Up” and “Sorry.” More recently, he co-wrote “Move” on Bey’s 2022 album Renaissance, and provided background vocals. He also put out a phenomenal collaborative album with frequent collaborator Jesse Boykins III back in 2012, and a string of singles a few years ago as half of Electric Punanny—a duo with Jasmine Solano. His latest release, Wake n Bake Vol. 1, is his first substantial solo effort since 2015’s Curate EP, following two bootleg remix EPs he released for free during the pandemic (one of all Adele songs, the other more Beyoncé).

    Wake n Bake is not a reference to weed, at least not overtly. It’s meant as a directive to listeners to meet the dawn with intention and purpose—whether through mediation, cooking, or other forms of creation. The music itself speaks to that purpose. All nine songs on the record are instrumental, and purely contemplative in spirit. It reads more like a thoughtful, near-ambient beat tape than an album or mixtape, with each song—most under 2 minutes—functioning like a vignette to soundtrack a piece of a healthy morning routine. “Rise n Shine” (Sunrise Demo) is the moment when your eyes open and you hear the dulcet tones of birds and beach; “Green BABA Riddim” is rolling over to see your loved one; “Papi Cooks the Best Breakfast” is for just that; “Happy Smiles Take 1” is meditative digestion.

    Wake n Bake‘s aesthetic is all potions, satin sheets, cinnamon leaf tea, and bammy cake; its message is all about nurturing self-love. For someone like me who’s scraping through a two-year-old’s sleep regression, the record feels deeply aspirational, if perhaps totally out of reach. I can only pine for enough sleep to have the occasional peaceful morning; and self-care for me right now is finding an hour every night to pay bills. But notwithstanding the dissonance between my own life and the tone of this record, these songs have a beautifully healing quality that manages to reverberate even over here in the land of a toddler’s fire and brimstone. I recommend this record for anyone who needs a reprieve from that kind of chaos, and to those who simply need a reminder of how valuable a peaceful morning can be.

    To listen to the record, I recommend purchasing it directly from Melo’s website, but you can also grab it on bandcamp, or stream it on the usual outlets.

    MELO-X – “Rise n Shine” (Sunrise demo) (bc)

    MELO-X – “Green BABA Riddim” (bc)

    MELO-X – “Papi Cooks the Best Breakfast” (bc)

    MELO-X – “Happy Smiles Take 1” (bc)

  • Mailbox: Big in Borneo – Sertraline

    But when this volcano starts inside of you, can’t you stop it?
    If it starts, there’s no stopping it, really.

    Big in Borneo is Michael Pybus, an artist from London making serene and sincere electronica and dance music. The record he sent over is named from the drug Sertraline, an antidepressant branded in the United States as Zoloft. Pybus credits the drug with helping him overcome debilitating anxiety and allowing him to regain a creative foothold. I have very close loved ones who have benefitted enormously from the same drug, so I appreciate Pybus’s willingness to name it and make himself vulnerable by putting his experience with it on display. None of this should be taboo, so hats off to anyone willing to share their own experiences navigating mental illness and seeking to improve their health.

    The music Pybus made inspired by Sertraline is graceful and sublime stuff, as if it was made in the midst of a long exhale, which in a way it may have been. My pick is “How it Feels” — a gentle, shimmering slice of 2-step that’s anchored by samples of kids in Belfast in the 1960s being interviewed about their feelings; asked to describe those overwhelming feelings like love. It’s such a sweet scene that gets set by those kids, and such a simple and essential demonstration of why it’s so vital to have a verbal outlet for your feelings. My nearly-two-year-old daughter is starting to be able to string more complicated sentences together now, and the satisfaction she feels when she can manage to express a big feeling is so palpable. She’s so proud (as am I), but she’s also so relieved. Those feelings gotta go somewhere, and almost never a better place but out.

    In addition to two of the three tracks from Sertraline, I’m also posting another excellent track from Pybus’s previous EP, which is also well worth checking for. No bandcamp for any of these, unfortunately, but Pybus was kind enough to let me post the mp3s — for all the iPod warriors and those who might want to include them in a mix or set. They’re also available at the typical streaming outlets.

    Big in Borneo – “How it Feels” (mp3)

    Big in Borneo – “Sertraline” (mp3)

    Big in Borneo – “Control” (mp3)

  • Macro/micro – Clicks

    I’ve written about Los Angeles native Tommy Simpson a couple of times before. Most recently, I wrote about the excellent scores he did for the short film R.A.E.R BETA 0027 and the VoE collection for Lever Couture, respectively. And in 2022, I covered his brilliant album Things Will Never Be The Same Again, which was on heavy rotation for me last year.

    His latest is Clicks, an EP that is without doubt my favorite work from him thus far. As song titles like “Follow” and “Like and Subscribe” allude to, it’s a refreshingly direct tongue-in-cheek comment on what Simpson describes as the “hellscape of our social media dystopia.” Initially written as a single 9 min+ composition, Simpson chose to then break the song into four smaller movements—a reasonable choice given the subject matter, where short-form is king. He’s also included a compressed edit of the whole record, which he names the TLDR edit (though it might have been more fitting to say TLDL).

    On each of the movements of Clicks, Simpson repeats a set of incantations, voiced through a guttural vocoder:

    Just click on the screen, it’s so easy to be, someone else’s dream / just click on the screen, it’s so easy, no need for agency / just click on the screen, you can’t disagree, there is no resisting

    I’m someone who really wants to avoid social media, but nonetheless gets pulled into its dopamine loop. I’m also someone who prides myself on my willpower, having managed to set down most of my vices in mid-adulthood, but I find it agonizingly hard to keep myself off socials. It’s so easy as a creative person to justify succumbing to its continued pull in the name of self-promotion, but actually promoting myself and my work is the easiest part to avoid. It’s the consumption that’s so seductive. Anything from sex, to GAS, to DIY, to inspiration/tragedy porn and Mr. Beast-style charity porn, even to enjoying legitimately wonderful individual expressions of art that deserve a place in our collective consciousness—it all gets reduced and distilled, presented as if it’s all of equal value.

    None of my hip-fire thoughts here are novel or particularly original, but Simpson’s take on this subject is resonant. He seems to be framing the tragedy of web 2.0 less as a 1984-type dystopia where our data is harvested, and we lose our sense of (or actual) privacy in service of some behemothic Brother. Instead, the aesthetic tone of the record—which sounds like it was written inside a sewer tunnel by manipulating the natural resonances of cast iron pipes and rat footsteps—seems more of a comment on the diminution of our sense of self (or at least the extent to which our sense of self is actually self-generated). There’s no real enemy pointed to here, what’s important is illustrating the comic/tragedy of our individually sad, separate, and ultimately lonely experiences under the dull light of our devices.

    Support Simpson’s work by purchasing the record on bandcamp (after all, we must still monetize our “product” for maximum profit, we have little choice). You can also stream it on spotify or whatever, and help him earn a few fractions of a penny.

    Macro/micro – “Like and Subscribe” (sc)

    Macro/micro – “Clicks” (all four movements) (bc)

  • Visual Velcro 30

    Tyler, The Creator – “WHAT A DAY” (prod. Madlib) (sc)

    Luke RV – “Great Advice”

    Mattr – “Eno” (sc)

  • From the Mailbox 7

    Epic exuberance from Oslo’s Future Daughter, a trio that has previously released on old Palms Out fav, Ben Aqua’s #FEELINGS label. This one is out on wonderfully named Oslo label Kropp uten Grenser (“Body without Borders”). I don’t mean to reduce a country and its music to its most clichéd characteristics, but listening to this, I can absolutely imagine myself standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking Aurlandsfjord ready to embrace life with both arms. Grab this on bandcamp now, and stay tuned for the upcoming LP Mythic Rues, out later this year.

    Future Daughter – “Tronada” (sc)

    Perfectly harmonious and blissful ambient explorations from Austin’s Six Missing (real name TJ Dumser), in collaboration with avant-garde clarinetist Ruby Lulham, aka Clariloops. Where the last song had me imagining myself in the most epic of settings, this song is where you go after descending the summit, cozy under a blanket in front of a fire with your people. Grab this on bandcamp, or stream it all over — and check Dumser’s bandcamp for another beautiful collaboration with Lulham.

    Six Missing & Clariloops – “Balloons” (sc)

    Another gorgeous piece of delicate electronica from Birmingham-born Matthew Clugston, aka Mattr. I’ve covered Clugston a couple of times before, and his work becomes more refined with each release, this one sharpened nearly to a needle point. In addition to a knack for musical precision, he’s been doing some great animation work using SDXL and AnimatedDiff, most of which you can find on his instagram. This is out now on bandcamp and for streaming, but he’s also been generous to let me share with you all the mp3.

    Mattr – “Llam” (mp3)

  • Mailbox: autom8 – Bad Selecta

    autom8 is an artist from Portland, OR, writing uncompromising hi-NRG jungle. Authentic jungle vibes from the Pacific Northwest—hard to imagine writing that phrase so casually in 1994. I don’t know a whole lot else about automat8, but they’re clearly a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the genre; so much so that they even chose for themselves the kind of pseudonym you might have seen scribbled on a dub plate cut at Music House 30 years ago.

    A few years ago, during the first lock-down, I stumbled across the 1994 BBC documentary Jungle Fever. The film has its high points and low, but in addition to serving as a nice piece of an important historical record, it features some interviews with novelist Koushik Banerjea (then a lecturer at Goldsmiths). At one point in the film, in response to a question about criticism of jungle as glamorizing violence, he explains the following:

    If it’s a reflection on the reality which an individual seeks to portray through his or her music, then I cannot see how it can be a negative thing. [Jungle artists] feed a mainstream, predominantly white fantasy about the lifestyles and the primary definers of Blackness in Britain; the way in which young black men are seen to be running wild. And if, by feeding into this fantasy, artists embracing the so-called gangster genre can make money, then that is deeply subversive.

    Later in the film, Banerjea continues:

    It goes back to my argument about the redefinition of Britishness. The sense of Britishness, the British nation, and British culture. For the first time, you’re probably seeing all of those things being redefined on Black terms. That in itself is a radical departure from what you’ve witnessed before.

    I imagine it would be jarring for the originators in that film like Shy FX, Gunsmoke, MC Lenny, and UK Apachi, had they been given a window into the future to be able to witness the nature and breadth of jungle’s current popular resurgence. I corresponded a little with him after I saw the film, and while we didn’t discuss this directly, I suspect the Banerjea of 1994 might not have found it totally surprising had he been told that jungle would become fully international (or globalized) music with virtually none of the associations of “gangster music” remaining; that it would be sound-tracking American Grammy Award winners, and its building blocks used by some in a manner transcending even the pastiche. After all, this isn’t jungle’s first spell in the mainstream.

    For as much as jungle was synonymous with Britishness, having indeed redefined those notions on Black terms much in the way that hip hop had a decade earlier for the US, it was itself already a product of a global imperial diaspora. As Simon Reynolds has noted, jungle may be best described stylistically as the convergence of UK rave and Jamaican dub, with its “spatialised production, bass quake pressure and battery of extreme sonic effects.” Perhaps as a genre born of globalization, it was nearly inevitable that it would be adopted and readopted by one generation after another, with little regard to geography, or eventually even to race and culture. It’s not unique in that way, obviously (see nearly any other genre of dance music, all owing their very existence to the hyper creativity of Black youth sharing sensibilities with their immediate neighbors in one city or another), but maybe it again serves as a reminder that nothing can be contained in the post-internet age, and maybe embracing that futility is the only way to ensure the originators of a genre at least get some flowers.

    autom8 has generously provided a free download of one of their tracks, “Bad Selecta”. The song’s name may be a gentle acknowledgement that they are borrowing from a culture in which they weren’t around to participate, but of which they mean to be a diligent student.

    Find all of autom8’s admiring tributes on bandcamp or on streaming platforms.

    autom8 – “Bad Selecta” (mp3)

    autom8 – “Show U” (bc)

    autom8 – “B4DB0Y S0UND” (bc)

  • Mailbox: Casha Mour – Never Want Someone

    Foggy, legless, halftime electronica from London’s Casha Mour. This song feels to me like the last song you hear in your head after a long night of jovial drunkenness and playful flirtation, right before your head hits the pillow and you drift off with a smile. To me, it’s mostly an articulation of the inherent optimism of nights like that, and the way those loosest of friendly human interactions can stoke the heart embers. But there’s a touch of sorrow there too, as there often is in a night like that—for all the warmth of those nights, the platonic or superficial nature of those encounters and relationships is also often a reflection of the absence of intimacy.

    Fittingly, this is from an EP named Dreamware, Casha Mour’s latest, out now on bandcamp, or for streaming. I’ve also included a gloomier, witchier tune of his from last year, the lead melody of which has been stuck in my head for days. No bandcamp for that one, unfortunately.

    Casha Mour – “Never Want Someone” (sc)

    Casha Mour – “First Life” (sc)

  • Wealstarcks – NA PRAIA Vol​.​1

    Parisian producer Wealstarcks (formerly known as Wealstarr) has that kind of talent that is almost counterproductive. You can trace back his career a decade or two, and it becomes evident he’s basically capable of effortlessly executing any style he wants to. That sort of talent is impressive, sure, but it also means that it can be that much harder to distill one’s tastes into output that really conveys the content of one’s soul. He’s produced for the likes of Booba and Tory Lanez, but with his latest few releases, including this most recent record, an EP called NA PRAIA Vol. 1 (Portuguese for “on the beach”), it feels as if he’s really touched the nerve.

    Although he’s from France, he’s an unabashed Brazilophile. NA PRAIA is a confluence of a half dozen Brazilian genres, old and new, all delivered with the sort of modern production precision and clarity that’s made Kaytranada a household name. I don’t mean to say there’s something derivative here—this does feel like properly authentic music—but I can’t help but think some of these songs sound like what might result if Kaytra fell deeply in love with Samba, Chorro, Carioca and Bossa. Top notch stuff.

    Grab NA PRAIA Vol. 1 on bandcamp, or stream wherever streams are streamed.

    Wealstarcks – “Na Praia” (bc)

    Wealstarcks – “Gostoso” (bc)

    Wealstarcks – “Divine” (bc)

  • From the Mailbox 6

    Refined hybrid club music from SlowRolla and NovTheKID that hits somewhere between jersey club, juke, and breakbeat, all filtered through the sieve of a buttery RnB croon. This is from the Hybrid Pulse compilation, the inaugural release on Sonora Destroy Records, a new label based in Bogotá. The whole record is really solid, and covers a ton of ground — truly a global effort. Grab it on bandcamp, or stream it all over.

    SlowRolla & NovTheKid – “DNR” (mp3)

    Puerto Rico’s Katan Roman blends NY rap, reggaeton, Sandungueo, and Funk Carioca on this absolute brutal bop. This deserves to be playing at deafening volumes from every Slingshot parked in front of a Borinqueño or Dominicano bodega in the Bronx. Asicalao. No bandcamp for this, unfortunately, but stream it all over, or grab it below.

    Katan Roman – “Crazy” (mp3)

    Remix of Hatis Noit, the Japanese experimental voice artist on Erased Tapes whose wild video I featured a couple of months ago. Following excellent reworks by the likes of Matthew Herbert and William Basinski, this version is delivered by DJ Preservation, who’s produced for the likes of Yasiin Bey, Roc Marciano, DOOM, and RZA, GZA, and Raekwon. I also know him from Afu Ra’s “Dynamite” which might not be that well known to many, but was on heavy rotation at a formative moment in my life. For the remix, Preservation brought on billy woods and ELUCID, collectively known as Armand Hammer, one of the acts that’s been valiantly buttressing underground NY rap from constantly threatening tides. Grab this on bandcamp or stream it all over.

    Hatis Noit – “Jomon” (Preservation Rework ft. Armand Hammer) (bc)

  • LOOR – In The Dark

    Melancholy-in-the-club from Bristol’s LOOR, the dance project from former alt-J member Gwil Sainsbury. This song is from LOOR’s latest record, Sings In Japanese: We’re Sad Because We’re Alive, which explores the potential for cultural resonance and emotional self-exploration in the use of royalty-free samples, particularly from the Splice platform. It’s an interesting tact to take, and Sainsbury makes a good point in describing how emotionally productive it has been for him to shed his cynicism about where a sound is sourced:

    [W]hat I’ve found is that by using these samples—quite shamelessly—I have been able to enhance the emotional resonance of my own electronic productions beyond my original intentions- it’s opened doors that I didn’t realise existed. These emotional spaces have in turn allowed me to explore my own emotional life in ways I couldn’t have done before.

    This makes a lot of sense. The emotional value of a piece of music is in the ear of the beholder, so to speak—why should it matter if the building blocks of that music are available to everyone? Is it really that different from other forms of sampling? Or from using a I-vi-IV-V chord progression? Probably not, except for the fact that Splice is a VC-backed startup built on Goldman Sachs dollars and with an estimated worth of over half a billion dollars. To what extent do the investments flowing to companies like Splice actually benefit creators? Sainsbury recognizes this inherent conflict too:

    In a way, I’m not entirely comfortable with this. I think that the commodification of music is a serious problem and, in a way, a for-profit company like Splice is part of a general wealth extraction from musicians. […] Despite the rotten core of capitalism at the heart of the EP—there is a small, beautiful mushroom growing out of it that is simultaneously joyful and yet deeply sad in its own existence.

    He seems to be saying that out of something ugly, we may as well try to grow something beautiful, if for no other reason than we are essentially powerless to avoid the greed upon which the creative industries are reliant. This is a sentiment I can get behind, even reluctantly; perhaps our power is in the lasting value of what we build on the backs of the powerful. Without Velasquez having dutifully painted his portraits of Philip IV and members of that court, history wouldn’t have recorded his emotionally rich examinations of the working class and disabled.

    Sings In Japanese: We’re Sad Because We’re Alive is available now on bandcamp, or wherever streams are offered. There’s also a lovely remix from 1-800 GIRLS on the record that you ought not to miss.

    LOOR – “In The Dark” (bc)

  • Mailbox: IDDO & OKADOSH – Erokanji

    Desert esoterica from IDDO and OKADOSH. Hard to pin down these songs, but they feel to me like what Cristobal Tapia de Veer might create if he was a Burner and he accidentally took a hit from the wrong person in a chill out tent (gosh, maybe he actually is a Burner?). All the songs on the pair’s collaborative EP Erokanji, have that same sort of warbling dissonant sweetness that de Veer’s music captures, but here they feel like they’re behind some sort of veil—as if the DMT’s haze is making it impossible to quite zero in on a central motif. The whole record is quite lovely in its distinctiveness, so don’t take my tongue-in-cheek descriptions as anything but a somewhat reductive attempt to describe something for which I lack quite the right words. Just have a listen. My favorite is definitely the EP’s closer, “Momentum.”

    Erokanji is available now on bandcamp, or for streaming, wherever you do that sort of thing. The image I’ve featured above isn’t actually the record’s cover art, but I would be remiss if I hadn’t featured some of IDDO’s portraiture, more of which you can find on his instagram.

  • Visual Velcro 29

    Shygirl & Cosha – “thicc” (sc)

    Oneohtrix Point Never – “On an Axis” (sc)

    Lord Spikeheart – “REM FODDER” ft. James Ginzburg & Koenraad Ecker (sc)

  • From the Mailbox 5

    Tongue-in-cheek outsider house from German Guetta Thunberg, who clearly doesn’t take themselves all too seriously. They describe themselves as “making the world a better place,” which I’m not sure is a reference to Greta or David, or both. But for all the irreverence of their name and presentation, the music’s definitely good. No bandcamp for this, so grab the mp3 below, or find it for streaming wherever.

    Guetta Thunberg – “The Music’s Good” (mp3)

    Sharp and effective lofi house/UKG hybrid from So Only. I’m not sure where in the UK So Only is based, but perhaps Lancashire, as he’s been getting robust support from BBC North West, despite having only released a handful of songs so far (all of them quite good). Strong showing here though, a promising sign of what’s to come. No bandcamp, so grab the mp3, or stream it all over.

    So Only – “Belle” (mp3)

    Simple but solid emotive breakbeat done the LA way, from newcomer Soki. This is definitely in the vein of what Shawn Reynaldo has been calling big room sad, which feels like a slightly derisive descriptor, but honestly it works. Mainstream melodramatic tears in the club for zoomers, what can you do? I like it. No bandcamp for this, but it’s available for streaming wherever you may prefer to do that.

    Soki – “Without You” (sc)

  • Wil Bolton – Null Point

    Wil Bolton is an East London-based artist who’s been releasing textural ambient music for the past fifteen years. His latest album is Null Point, out on The Slow Music Movement. It continues Bolton’s focus on found sound, granularity, and deliberate melodic gradation; however, where much of his previous work has been less concerned with rhythmic elements, this record makes liberal use of organic percussive elements, apparently some of which were sampled from an old 7″ of sounds of the human heart. While these thuds, rumbles, and clanks are present throughout the album’s six songs, it would be inaccurate to describe this as a rhythmically focused record; it’s not. The foci in each song are without doubt the meandering and intersecting melodic lines, and the carefully carved sounds delivering those patterns.

    When the label sent me the record, it referenced Boards of Canada in its press release. That’s always a surefire way to get me to pay attention (I’m one of those who wakes up at least a couple times a month wondering if BoC will ever release again), but when I listened to Null Point, I didn’t hear the reference at first. But I was drawn in nonetheless, and after a few listens, I think I hear the connection. I found myself thinking about Null Point as what it might sound like if the brothers Sandison/Eoin got really into Norwegian Slow TV, or perhaps my personal favorite youtube channel, Kand Hayati (sometimes the only thing that can get my toddler to calm down). I suppose this is a particularly fitting reference, given the name of the label releasing Null Point, but I swear it’s really true. Some of Bolton’s synth patches feel like a shimmering suspended BoC line was taken and timestretched, then chopped, resampled, and reshaped into a pluck or a stab, and then sequenced into a delicate dulcet melody. But where there is often the presence of anxiety in the Edinburgh duo’s music, Bolton seems to have shed that while maintaining all of their penchant for nostalgia. Like if gazing out the window on a rainy autumn morning was simply replaced by a summer afternoon nap in the backyard under a cherry tree.

    You can find the album for streaming all over, or for purchase on bandcamp (support the artist, do the latter).

  • Mailbox: Haven – I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love

    Haven is a singer-songwriter from New York, and she’s current with I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love, her second EP, following 2023’s Panacea and a string of singles before that. The record is unabashedly pop, but sits comfortably among the new class of pop and R&B artists choosing uptempo double time UK production styles over the weathered half-time quasi-trap stuff that’s been unavoidable for over a decade.

    The lead single on I Write… is “Better Run”—a pearly two-step romper that evokes early Shygirl records. Vocally, Haven seems to be embracing her youth and femininity, with a lilting cadence that often sits near-falsetto. Lyrically, it seems at first as if Haven is treading familiar woman scorned territory, with a simple chorus in which she repeats simply “you got me missing you” and describes a lover who never really appreciated her (“you never liked me / never thought highly of my face”). But the second verse takes a darker turn, with Haven’s character revealed to be more vengeful than the song’s pink champagne mood would first have indicated. “Don’t run from what you’ve done / I hope your life turns into dust, pass me the knife, this is getting fun” Haven croons, with what one can only suspect is a twinkle in her eye.

    At first blush, Haven comes off as an artist exploring largely straightforward pop, but with a little interrogation, it becomes clear she’s seeking to imbue her music with more than just the conventional female pop narratives, and trying to imagine herself in the shoes of characters with richer emotional lives. That creative modesty is worth attention. I look forward to hearing what she does next.

    I Write Music For Those Who’ve Never Been In Love isn’t available on bandcamp, unfortunately, but you can stream it at all the usual outlets, which you can access here.

    Haven – “Better Run” (sc)


    This review was written in support of the artist’s promotional campaign.

  • From the Mailbox 4

    Strong early showing from Leeds-based producer Fine. A cyclical piano motif and the distant sounds of a theme park undergird Molly Rymer’s lulling vocal on this first single from Fine’s debut record, Then, Now, Until due out in May. Pre-order the album on bandcamp, and grab the song below, or find it for streaming all over.

    Fine – “Empty Space” (ft. Molly Rymer and Jonah Evans) (mp3)

    This is the closing track on the latest record from Melbourne’s re:abel. I wrote about the previous single from this record a couple of months ago. Where that one was all deep red crushed velvet 2-step, “Otherside” is more cerulean fogged glass electronica. But no less evocative. No bandcamp for this unfortunately, but grab the mp3 below, and stream the EP at all the usual outlets.

    re:abel – “Otherside” (mp3)

    Dublin’s XXXX In Stereo sent over this smoldering jungle roller, made in honor of Northern Ireland and Man U legendary winger George Best, who some call the best dribbler of all time (debatable obviously, but damn, he was no slouch). This is a free download, but support the artist on bandcamp, or stream this anywhere you do that sort of thing.

    XXXX In Stereo – “Ode to Best” (mp3)

  • Remix Sunday 165

    You look at any poetic creature: muslin, ether, demigoddess, millions of delights; then you look into the soul and find the most ordinary crocodile!
    Anton Chekhov

    Remix Sunday 165 Zipped Up. (119mb zip)

    Manuel Göttsching – “E2-E4” (Om Unit Edit)

    Caroline Polachek – “Pretty In Possible” (Tom VR Edit)

    Tom Dell – “Burn” (Tom Dell Hyperspace Instrumental Edit)

    Jill Scott – “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” (Wilhelmina Bootleg)

    Shenseea x Trini – “Pon Mi Brazil” (Sinjin Hawke Edit)

    Bola de Fogo & As Foguentas – “Atoladinha” (Beltran 7am Dub)

    Sho Madjozi – “Sena Ala” (Morwell Remix)

    Ariana Grande – “Positions” (Jukaa Bootleg)

    Kid Sister – “Lipgloss” (Lo5ive Remix)

    Guido YZ – “Real Lo” (4am Kru Remix)

    Peggy Gou – “Nanana” (Eloquin Bootleg)

    Basement Jaxx – “Wheres Your Head At” (Joku Bootleg)

    image/ Diana Markosian

  • Mailbox: Aatocaster – Pendant / Exp

    Aatocaster is LA-based Alex Lubeck. His latest release is this pair of bright rays of delicate electronica. According to the artist, both songs are about gratitude. “Pendant” tells of a talisman—either object, person, place, or being—that can be relied upon to save you in your moments of greatest need. However amorphous, it’s so important to have emotional and psychological backup, a support system of some sort, even if not in the form of friends and family. I shudder to think what would have happened to me in the past were it not for the support of my personal outlets, my favorite places, my people. “Exp” is meant to illustrate the result of that support — what one can then contribute to the world as a result of having survived it.

    These songs are out now on bandcamp or for streaming, and will apparently be part of a larger release coming later this year.

    Aatocaster – “Pendant” (sc)

    Aatocaster – “Exp” (sc)

  • From the Mailbox 3

    Fluttery drum-n-pop from Malaysian artist Lunadira. The most obvious reference here is PinkPantheress, but this song also really brings to mind that Sassy 009 song I wrote about a couple of years ago, “Blue Racecar” — that’s a good reference coming from me; I constantly have that song stuck in my head. No bandcamp for this, but catch it on streaming.

    Lunadira – “crying over nothing (wah wah)” (sc)

    Tightly-knit drum patterns, staccato synth shimmers, and indecipherable vocal sample dust on this sharp percussion workout from Madrid’s frankydrama. I can see this going off on the right floor. Grab it on bandcamp or for streaming.

    frankydrama – “Y.E.I.S.” (sc)

    Icy North Sea-inspired breakbeat angst from Drive to Tears, about whom I don’t know much except that this is the third song he’s made public. But he’s open about the fact that he’s using his music as a direct outlet for his depression, which is more than respectable. Strong early showing. No bandcamp, so find it on streaming.

    Drive to Tears – “Running” (sc)