After tentative vocal experiments on 2016’s R M H Q, the New Zealand guitarist crafts an entire album around guest singers, all women, in which he progressively blurs the traces of his own handiwork.
The backstory to Bloom is that Somni labored over its sound, drafting three years worth of revisions and reinventions. Maybe that’s why the music feels exact, purposeful, and studious. The San Francisco-based producer was originally born in the U.K., but moved to the U.S. at age eight. In a sense the production carries that same dual citizenship. One can hear as much Four Tet or Boards of Canada as Baths and Teebs. Somni’s Bloom pulls from all these different sounds without relying too heavily on one; his aim is to illuminate every last detail within his electronic beat-driven music.
The song titles could suggest arcadian escape or simply the front stoop, like on “Girl,” in which he pairs dutiful whistling with twinkling porch chimes and soft wind. And while the outset of “Spaces” feels tauntingly familiar, Somni transitions to a deeper state of calm, using layered vocal arrangements with strong psychedelic effects. On this song and others, Somni always brings the listener back safely, navigating the unknown until he comes back to his starting point. To that end, Bloom achieves peace of mind without pushing the listener too much into full-on, blissed-out exotic escapism. As the album teaches us, we can achieve nirvana by simply closing our eyes.
Hating your own singing voice might be an issue for some solo artists. However, New Zealand’s Roy Montgomery has managed to create a sense of character so distinct via his droning, churning, echoing layers of guitars that the shimmering dream world he creates often sings louder than any voice could. On his latest album, Suffuse, he brings in a series of collaborators—Liz Harris of Grouper, Circuit Des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Julianna Barwick, She Keeps Bees, Purple Pilgrims, and Katie Von Schleicher—to sing lead vocals.
Montgomery’s incandescent guitar parts stack on top of one another to create an engulfing fog of ambience that almost feels palpable, such are the density of its textures. Crackling ambience bubbles underneath as the guest vocalists glide in and hover above. Fohr’s Scott Walker-esque tone on “Apparition” cries above the incessant and propulsive twang of strings, whilst on “Mirage” Barwick offers almost mini-operatic bursts. On the closing “Landfall,” Harris’s voice almost magically intersperses with the guitars, becoming a ghostly yet stirring presence.
The most remarkable accomplishment of this record is in taking such inimitable voices and managing to create something that feels like six individual chapters from the same book; each track is unique in its character but all of them weave together to form a sonic coherence that’s seamless throughout the record.
The record features collaborations with Eminem, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd
Billy Joel was joined by Peter Wolf of The J. Geils Band and Def Leppard lead singer Elliott last night in Boston.
The post Billy Joel Welcomes Multiple Guests At Fenway Park appeared first on JamBase.
On the Berkeley rapper’s second album, he struggles with depression in stark, evocative terms, confirming his stature as one of the most intensely cathartic narrators out there.
It’s been a week of big releases. Travis Scott dropped his much-hyped album Astroworld and lo and behold Nicki Minaj is back with Queen. It’s going to take some time to parse that one but fortunately we have a whole weekend to get into it. Check out the five best songs … More »
Few bands make angst sound as joyous as the Beths do on their debut LP. As its title suggests, the album is full of songs of both regret and self-doubt, but the group deliver them with some of the strongest power-pop this side of Weezer’s Blue Album. The New Zealand quartet—who studied jazz together in Auckland—have a penchant for writing massive choruses that crash like tidal waves, and their songs are as tightly-wrought as they are relentless. On the belligerent breakup track “Uptown Girl,” frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes calls down the wrath of the gods (and a glass of poisoned wine) on a crummy ex as her band yank her from one full-octane hook to another, emphasizing her own frenzied urge to “drink the whole town dry.” Later, in “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” a sunny doo-wop arrangement and crisp backup vocals serve as a foil for Stokes’s harshest self-indictment: “You wouldn’t like me if you saw what was inside me.”
But Future Me Hates Me isn’t all doom and gloom. Stokes knows that falling in love is a gamble, and on the album’s title track in particular, she acknowledges that it’s better to have loved and lost than to be, as she deftly puts it, “happy unhappy.” The Beths know how to dig up both the wounds and the sugar-rush that accompany new romance; on their debut they do so with exceptional gusto.
-Max Savage Levenson
Hello! I’m Mark Olsen. Welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.
Recently, no less an expert in the field that Reese Witherspoon asked on Twitter: “Why aren’t there more romantic movies?” The Times’ Amy Kaufman takes a look at the state of the rom-com…
July’s crop of very necessary hip-hop includes an iconic Juice Crew pioneer reasserting his street rep, a rerelease of a firebrand underground Detroit rap album, and a project built around the humble embrace of working-class values. It’s also proved to be a banner month on the production tip, with legendary figures like DJ Premier, J Dilla, and Pete Rock contributing beats to various outings.
Kool G Rap & 38 Spesh
Son Of G Rap
Kool G Rap is a golden age hip-hop icon who helped lay down a template for the sort of poetic East Coast rap that would later be embraced by Nas and Mobb Deep. For Son Of G Rap, he’s teamed up with Rochester representer 38 Spesh to blitz through 15 tracks of heavy-hitting, gangsta-inspired raps that tap DJ Premier, Alchemist, and Showbiz for beats. Head to “Flow Gods” to witness the street chemistry in action as Freddie Gibbs and Meyhem Lauren join the summit over dusky Pete Rock production.
Detroit spitter Phat Kat’s Carte Blanche was originally released back in 2007—and listening to it now feels like a flashback snapshot of the rich wave of hip-hop talent that sprouted up from the city’s underground. Elzhi, T3, Guilty Simpson, and underrated heavyweight Fat Ray round out Phat Kat’s taut flows on the mic, while Black Milk and J Dilla split the bulk of the production work. The funky and intimidating standout “Don’t Nobody Care About Us,” which was originally released as part of the Dedication To The Suckers 12” back in 1999, is simply one of the most brutal beats J Dilla ever conceived.
ELUCID x Haj of Dumhi
No Edge Ups In Uganda
Over the course of the last year, Brooklyn-based artist ELUCID has been releasing some of the most progressive hip-hop music around. Recorded in cahoots with the Philadelphia-based beatmaker Haj of Dumhi, No Edge Ups In Uganda is another essential addition to the vault. The simmering bass on the title track acts as a bed for ELUCID to recite a verse that eyeballs ICE checkpoints in Flatbush, and casts himself as “CDs skipping in the busted whip—I’m the glitch.” Elsewhere, “No Redemption” begins with a lyrical prompt from O.C.’s classic call to hip-hop ethics “Time’s Up” and features a bluesy beat infused with blasts of sax.
Lost Files *Un Mixed/Mastered*
These five deliberately unmixed tracks pair the voice of Long Beach, California MC and singer Nesma Jones with production by MUSIKAL. The fluid “II” is rippled with spacey synth tones and celestial accents and includes a short interpolation of Faith Evans’s ’90s R&B hit “You Used To Love Me” before ending with an a cappella spoken word segment. Demonstrating Jones’s conceptual side, “IV” throws up a series of worldly questions that includes her wondering, “How in God’s good name are we still overrated, overstated, misrepresented, and miseducated?”
FARMA & SON
Farma has long roots in the U.K. hip-hop scene, dating back to his days in the influential Task Force group and the Mud Fam collective in the late ’90s. Teaming up with Remus, EST.92 is a moody and atmospheric five-track demonstration of his talent. The woozy, jazz-based “GuLLy GoRGe” features our hosts rhyme-traveling to lands filled with dinosaur footprints and troglodytes, before they issue a timeless challenge to vacant MCs over the dystopian, sci-fi vibes of “AttaCK oN TitAN”: “Empty lyrics claiming some revolution—just repetition, talk about it / I’d rather be about it.” Closing cut “KRyPtonITe GuNZ” is notable for some monstrous speaker-busting bass tones.
Ankhle John & Big Ghost
Big Ghost has been quietly pumping out some of the tensest and most dramatic hip-hop beats for a minute now. In tandem with the gravel-voiced DC spitter Ankhle John, Van Ghost excels at creating a shadowy, noir-rap atmosphere. The pensive piano notes on “The Night Cafe” bring the album into life before wavering guitar lines prompt the MC to relay vignettes starring Colombian mob bosses overseeing coke fields while sporting cummerbunds. Keeping with the nefarious global connections, guest rapper Hus Kingpin claims topical “politicians in my email from Russia” on the bass-saturated, low-slung “Almond Blossoms.”
Raw Proof — Eddie B
Blue Collar Music
The sampled dialogue that opens this collaboration between Eddie B and Raw Proof gets right to the heart of the album: “The American dream. If you’re rich you can buy it; if you’re anything else, you’ve got to fight for it.” What follows is 11 tracks of soul-packed boom bap beats topped with smart lyrics that embrace a humble, working-class mentality toward life. Cornerstones of the project include “Seeking,” a self-determination manifesto over rousing brass samples, and the lilting, guitar-infused “Let It Go,” which features the two MCs pondering relationship issues.
Arsonists alumni Q-Unique can always be counted on to bring through the amped-up mic skills. The Brooklyn MC’s fourth solo project starts with the booming “Look Up In The Sky,” where he bigs up his rap-rock connections—“I’m tatted up and I’m on the road with Korn”—before signing off in superhero terms: “Capital Q, Brooklyn, look up in the sky!” The energy and intensity continue via a couple of collaborations with Ill Bill—the eerie “No Country For Old Men” and the dramatic, string-powered “Cult Leader & Capital”—along with the discordant modern borough shoutout “Brooklyn Stomp.”
Mr. Al Pete
Mister Peterson’s Neighborhood
Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, Mr. Al Pete proudly tags himself as a “hip-hop elitist.” It’s a stance he conveys over nine tracks that match socially aware lyrics with melodic soul and jazz-based production. Standout moments include “For My Neighbors,” which repurposes the sample from KMD’s “Plumskinzz” into a bed for Mr. Al Pete’s community-focussed rhymes, and the upbeat “Check Respect,” which is themed around saluting all those “being faithful and working legit.” Sharing the artist’s local knowledge, “Ice Man” is a homage to a Jacksonville store that prospered in the ’80s and ’90s.
A Minus & Chanes
Paying dues in the Detroit rap scene, producer Chanes has notched up his beat credits with MCs like Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, and the late Sean Price. This full-album hook-up with the rapper A Minus steers the music in a laidback direction, with the project ostensibly pitched as, “the spirit of the smoke sesh in the best way.” While the vibe might veer towards the blunted, the beats and lyrics stay sharp: Witness the headrush of the ’80s soul-influenced “Propane,” which is bolstered by a livewire guest rap from Nolan The Ninja that could have come straight out of a ’90s Hit Squad posse cut.