Thank Your Lucky Stars by Beach House

Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

You soar through a patch of fog, and emerge from the top into the orange of the early evening sunset. As the sun dips below the carpet of clouds, you dive to follow it and the others that plunge into the pillowy haze. You surface just in time to catch a flash of green as the fiery orb dives into the ocean, and the sky is splashed with hues of deep purple. When all is enveloped in stars, you land on a cliff near the sea to rest. You listen to the waves below . . .

We should be so lucky to be gifted with a second album in as many months from a band with a pristine track record, but lo and behold! Thank Your Lucky Stars is the newest full-length from Beach House, a Baltimore-based duo made up of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. Although they employ a great deal of aspects from their refined dream pop formula, they also introduce new elements of darkness and untamed experimentalism.

The glow of the wonderful Depression Cherry is still burning bright, having been released a couple months prior to this record, but the two act as companion pieces and contrast in compelling ways. While the former basks in palatial reverb and contains pristine melodies, the entrancing songs of the latter dwell in an icy haze and show the group’s remarkable ability to create beauty with the inclusion of darker musical components.

Beach House can do no wrong, and just when it seems that there’s no plausible way they could, they somehow miraculously seem to top themselves with each subsequent release. They significantly and successfully altered their golden recipe on this outing, so we can safely assume that these two still have a multitude of fresh ideas up their sleeves. If you’re seeking hazy, enchanting dream-pop, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Thank Your Lucky Stars by Beach House

St Germain by St Germain

St Germain - St Germain

You trudge through scorching desert sand. The sun beats down on you with merciless heat, and there’s no shelter or shade of any kind to be seen. You collapse onto your knees, hang your head low, and close your eyes. The sand begins to vibrate, and you are pulled underneath. Right as your face is covered, you fall a short distance into a small pool of icy, shallow water. Bright colors and vivid sounds surround you in what looks like paradise . . .

An artist’s duty isn’t always to be the exclusive creative source behind their music; sometimes, the true genius flows when an artist steps back and plays more of a “dot-connector” role, bringing together diverse artists of equally premium caliber and facilitating the magic. The self-titled St Germain is the newest full-length from French producer Ludovic Navarre, joined by a collective of incredibly talented Malian musicians.

Navarre’s chameleonic sound is a tad difficult to pin down, but the lush, meditative compositions possess elements of deep house and nu jazz. The subtle ring leader’s electronic grooves are vividly embellished by contributions from Guimba Kouyate’s guitar and n’goni, Mamadou Cherif Soumano’s kora, and the powerful vocals of Fanta Bagayogo. These are rich, comforting atmospheres ripe with compelling ideas.

There’s something to be said about beauty created from mixing seemingly disparate convictions, experiences, and influences. We have to keep moving forward, arm in arm with those that are much different than ourselves. This record is a treasure of gorgeous improvisation, and a firm testament to the power of communal diversity. If you’re seeking meditative, Malian-influenced deep house/nu jazz, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

St Germain by St Germain

Pray For Rain by Pure Bathing Culture

Pure Bathing Culture - Pray For Rain

You stand close to the base of a waterfall. You cast your gaze upward, but you can’t see from where the water spills. Your eyes catch a glimpse of white. Did someone just peak out from behind the roaring tower? You follow a jagged path behind the wall of liquid, and you see a towel on the ground. You place your hand on a stone brighter than the others, and the roaring dissipates. You stand waist-deep in a heated pool surrounded by people, relaxing . . .

Pop music gets a bad rap. Sure, a large amount of it is sterile and devoid of real emotion, but even those radio fodder tracks tend to pack whopping hooks in some form or another. This band flies the banner of pop proudly, and they do so with euphonious beauty and potent, transparent feeling. Pray For Rain is the newest full-length from Portland duo Pure Bathing Culture, made up of Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman.

These songs are blanketed by a sanguine atmosphere of warmth. Hindman’s sun-drenched guitars, pulsing bass, and charming drum/drum-machine rhythm combinations work in tandem to create grooving, tropical environments, and Versprille’s ethereal keyboards fill the compositions with a watery aura, while her dreamy vocals take center stage with crystalline, melodically-superb hooks.

Looking beneath the glossy surface, one discovers the elements that truly set this band apart from the pack. Versprille’s lyrics encompass gloomy, poignant topics, things like navigating adulthood, communication, human connection, and the perils that come with each. These artists delve into difficult subjects with melodious grace, and that should be celebrated. If you’re seeking dreamy, hook-laden pop, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Pray For Rain by Pure Bathing Culture

Harmlessness by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Harmlessness

You sit in a tree, deep in a forest. It’s the last few moments before sunrise. The blackness all around is transitioning to pale blue, the chirping of birds fills the air, and a warmth spreads across the vast greenery, piercing the leaves and waking the living that slumber underneath. Something feels different about today, but you can’t quite place it. Somebody passes below you. You call to her, but she does not hear you. She looks up and cannot see you . . .

Emo is a genre with a particularly divisive history; the songs bearing the descriptor are typically filled to the brim with relentless angst and performed in a distinctly brash manner, things that one either adores or despises. This band is different. Harmlessness is the newest full-length by TWIABP&IANLATD, a group from Willimantic, Connecticut that serve as flag-bearers for the euphonious revamping and revival of emo music.

These compositions are extravagant, and stuffed with compelling lyrical content. There are many highly adept musicians in this band (currently, 9) covering many different roles, so the tracks grow, crash, and span the entire dynamic spectrum with vivid instrumental palettes and emotional intensity. Along with David Bello’s charismatic singing voice, the only “issue” is deciding which fascinating component to focus on.

The downfall of acts in a similar musical vein is that, in order to suffuse sounds with the maximum amount of fervor, usually something is sacrificed in the melodic or production department. Again, this band is different. These artists have created something truly beautiful, something that captivates with both explosive feeling and mellifluous songwriting. If you’re seeking progressive, euphonious indie-rock, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Harmlessness by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

Where All Is Fled by Steve Hauschildt

Steve Hauschildt - Where All Is Fled

All is dark. You see nothing, you hear nothing, you feel nothing. A blinding flash in the distance, and countless bright lights are cast into the blackness like a colony of fireflies set free. You ascend upwards into a nebulous body of deep oranges and reds. You emerge from the top after passing through the galactic fog, and look down upon the vivid beauty. Looking upward, you see blues, yellows, greens, purples, and many more, and all just as beautiful . . .

I’m not certain if this is my favorite record of the year, but it’s the first one that’s had the nerve to make me shed a tear; and it’s an ambient record, wouldn’t ya know it? Where All Is Fled is the newest full-length from producer and Ohio-native Steve Hauschildt, a former member of the band Emeralds and a synth warlock. This record is a massive galaxy filled with lush worlds of progressive ambience, and I want to live in it forever.

Hauschildt’s ability to infuse his compositions with potent emotional content and ripe imagery is uncanny. Soaring synth arpeggios lay down the foundations by moving through entrancing melodic progressions, and sparkling tones ornament the glowing beauty with shimmering detail. There are powerful feelings woven deep in this music, but Hauschildt leaves it to the listener to fill the ambience with their own narratives.

Yes, this record made me cry, but it also made me smile from ear to ear, it made me move (Hauschildt decides to bring in a rare 808 kick drum groove on “Aequus”), it made me think about loved ones, and it made me sad to consider that many individuals may pass it over because it’s just “ambient music.” Give it a chance, and you won’t be disappointed. If you’re seeking progressive melodic ambience, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Where All Is Fled by Steve Hauschildt

so the flies don’t come by milo

milo - so the flies don't come

You climb down a creaky ladder, for what seems like forever, into a massive hole in the earth. When you reach the bottom, you turn around to see a towering palace deep in the cavern ahead. While walking towards the shimmering structure you can’t help but notice the imagery canvassing the catacomb walls, shockingly beautiful in their portrayal of vivid scenes. You enter the palace. A large book upon a pedestal opens in front of you, and rises . . .

Lyrically-focused hip-hop requires an element of spoken-word poetry; they’re inherently one in the same, but when a poet backs his words with instrumentation that compliments and enhances the subtle intricacies, magic is created. so the flies don’t come is the newest full-length by wordsmith Rory Ferreira, known as milo, and producer Kenny Segal. The duo mesh wonderfully, and have birthed a uniquely captivating record.

milo delivers cryptic narratives and turns of phrase with an effortless poise, and revels in the vast spaces that Segal constructs with his woozy, synth-heavy beats. Most other rappers would flounder in the abstract, often cavernous environments of Segal’s oddball conception, but milo rides a similar wavelength and possesses such innate senses of timing and rhythm that he takes control of and flourishes in any kind of surrounding.

I’ve never heard “ambient hip-hop” until this release, specifically two golden highlights in “an encyclopedia” and “napping under the echo tree.” The former is an ethereal intro with synth drones and meandering marimba that falls into a groove a minute in, while the latter zones out in dreamy, acoustic psychedelia. Both are fascinating, just like the rest of this record. If you’re seeking lyrically-focused hip-hop, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

so the flies don’t come by milo

Alma Do Meu Pai by DJ Firmeza

DJ Firmeza - Alma Do Meu Pai

You’re walking through the slums of Lisbon when the faint sound of a conga takes hold of your feet. You subconsciously step in rhythm towards the distant beat, and as you get closer the conga is steadily joined by many other percussive tones and ornamentations. Your entire body is at the mercy of the rhythmic onslaught as you turn down the last dingy corridor, and see one individual surrounded by a multitude of percussion instruments and oddities . . .

I love when an isolated genre crawls its way out of the woodwork and attains its due praise. I especially love when that genre happens to be almost entirely percussion-based. Alma Do Meu Pai is the newest release by Cilio Manuel, known as DJ Firmeza. Manuel produces a specific strain of electronic music birthed in the ghettos surrounding Lisbon, which until recently had only been shared communally. Aren’t we lucky?

It’s called Batida, and it translates to “my beat” in Portuguese. These compositions are anchored by dense, primarily Latin percussion polyrhythms that constantly shift and sway with woozy precision. Sparse melodic loops dance around the towering beats and provide splashes of color, but the drums are the clear centerpiece. The tracks are brief, made for the consumption of dancers, but they contain worlds of captivating ideas.

Ama Do Meu Pai translates to “Soul of My Father” and is dedicated to Manuel’s recently deceased dad. The lively, frantic elements of this record are apparent, but there’s a contemplative vein of melancholy running through it that steps into the light when one considers the unfortunate inspiration and commits to a focused listening. Life is born from tragedy! If you’re seeking percussion-focused electronics, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Alma Do Meu Pai by DJ Firmeza