I’ll try and keep this tight: here’s five releases I’ve been listening to a lot since January. Thanks to the ongoing phenomenon of Bandcamp Fridays I’ve bought way too much music over the past year – you can always go look at my Bandcamp fan account for the whole damn list.
Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia (Anti-)
One that came up from end of year lists, specifically Pitchfork’s The 22 Best Songs by Latinx Artists in 2020. I was blown away by the single Eso Que Tu Haces, and the more I dug into the album the more I found to enjoy. Many songs are cumbia of some flavour, but also arranged with layers of woodwind, brass, steel drums, and more. I’d love to understand more of the lyrics, but apparently Duolingo only gets me as far. Who woulda thunk?
I enjoyed this little documentary too.
Beatrice Dillon – Workaround (PAN)
Another one from lots of 2020 end of year lists. I’d love to know what Dillon was working around here, if we’re to take her track titles as being at all descriptive, because these sparse rhythm workouts sound like they were definitely always supposed to be this way. Synth stabs and drum machines suggest the lineage of house and techno, but the beats here never sit still. No extraneous stuff, often just a few chords and a drum machine, sometimes with an unadorned acoustic instrument playing alongside. And best of all, while the beats are often on the move, they don’t sound complicated or virtuosic. Just naturally roaming about with plenty of variety. The standout tracks for me are the ones with live tabla, such as the opening Workaround One.
LCM – Signal Quest (Orange Milk Records)
This trio create an otherworldly combo of sax with meandering keys and electronics. More like quiet fusion moments than the other releases on Orange Milk are. Really affecting and has rewarded repeat listens. I don’t have more to say on it, but if you like kinda new age-y things or quiet jazz fusion you may well enjoy this.
Picnic – Picnic (Daisart)
A beautiful thing from a duo associated with c-, some kind of social group of ambient music makers from Kansas, USA that includes exael, uon, Ulla Straus, Perila, Huerco S, and so on. As per some of those other acts, the music tends to involve floating synth chords and ASMR crackles. There are sometimes rhythmic bits but it’d be a stretch to say there are beats. Often things feel quite small and delicate – neither washed out in reverb like a drone record, nor covered in dub fx either.
The four different guest remixes bring more rhythmic takes, particularly Huerco S’s version of Folds and Rips.
Jonnine – Blue Hills (Boomkat Editions | Documenting Sound)
I’ve been quietly plugging my way through the Boomkat Editions | Documenting Sound releases, which were a collection of releases the webshop put out from musicians responding to COVID and 2020 and the rest. So far this album from HTRK’s Jonnine is a real standout. It might be the weirdest of the 5 albums I’m writing about here, but on the other hand it’s the most retro. Moody guitar, bass, drum machines, and layered vocals could all be from the 80s. Songs sometimes feel like just strange sketches, but almost always in a good way! The advertising copy refers to The Cure circa The Top, which is not what I would’ve thought of immediately, but I get it.