The sun peaks through the leafy canopy above, pouring droplets of light onto the forest floor below. Flowers of every color begin to bloom as they’re kissed by the sunlight, and water starts to flow through the dry streams. Creatures chirp and buzz about as the warmth invades their slumber, filling the world with euphonious noise. You drop down from your tree branch, and let your feet carry you along a path that clears as you take each step . . .
The Buchla Music Easel is a mystifying instrument, capable of concocting lush, entrancing soundscapes via modular synthesis. It’s a piece of equipment that requires a large amount of time, effort, and loads of experimentation in order to get a grasp on its bountiful capabilities, making it predominantly off limits for many and an obsession for few. EARS is the newest full-length from LA-based singer/composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
Rather than completely relying upon the colorful (figuratively and literally) synthesizer for the entire makeup of these compositions, Smith utilizes its looping arpeggios as backdrops for her aural canvasses containing organic classical instrumentation. The key ingredient here is Smith’s voice, effected and multiplied to create communal harmonies that mesmerize. It’s the sonic equivalent of exploring a vivid forest teeming with life.
Although Smith excels at drawing compelling sounds from her chosen instrument, the real feat is adapting those sounds to a format that’s enjoyable for those listeners that tend to avoid the experimental side of music. This is where she shines the brightest, as both an accomplished songwriter and an ambassador for this delightfully obscure piece of equipment. If you’re seeking lush, synthesized folk, this album is for you.
You stand within a glass chamber, surrounded by pulsing fluorescent lights of every color. Hanging on strings above you are translucent cubes filled with glowing insects. These bug-like creatures are all that you see when you look through the transparent glass floor beneath you. A cube falls and shatters on the ground, releasing the flying creatures into the air. More cubes fall, and the chamber is steadily filled with a buzzing swarm of colored lights . . .
The beauty of composing via electronic instrumentation is that producers are able to indulge every creative whim they conceive, no matter how outside-the-box or off-kilter they may be. Even with this bountiful freedom, many artists constrain their output by attempting to squeeze inside genre-specific boxes, but that certainly isn’t the case here. Not For Press is the newest release from New Yorker Drew Lustman as Tenant.
Shedding his FaltyDL moniker for this EP, Lustman continues to craft the electronic eclecticism for which he’s known. Each of these six tracks possesses a unique personality that simply cannot be classified under individual genre descriptors. Instead, they constantly contort and delve through elements of house, electro, acid, IDM, breakcore, and more, all while maintaining playfully melodic and glitchy atmospheres.
These songs can easily be consumed as disparate, bite-size pieces, but they also function surprisingly well as one cohesive whole. Even though the differences between the compositions may be abundant, they are threaded together by singular themes: Lustman’s undeniable talent and his irresistibly exuberant, no-holds-barred unpredictability. If you’re seeking eclectic, glitchy electronics, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)
You fall back into a plush beanbag chair, in the middle of a dark room, engulfed in a purple-tinged haze. Silhouettes of writhing bodies fill your altered field of vision, to where you can’t discern where limbs begin or end. A bright purple light emanates from one side of the room, and bass vibrates the carpeted ground. You sink further into your cushiony chamber, and multiple bodies crawl in your direction. You are overcome with a sense of euphoria . . .
Restraint is integral to the spirit of r&b. The silence envelops listeners, planting them in an environment filled with whispers and barely perceptible body movements, where every rhythm and tone accentuates the sultry, perspiration-filled atmosphere. The issue with modern r&b is gender-divisive insensitivity, and that’s where things differ with these guys. Sept. 5th is the newest full-length from Canadian trio dvsn, pronounced “division.”
The three components of the group are vocalist Daniel Daley, and prominent Drake collaborators Paul “Nineteen85” Jefferies and Noah “40” Shebib. This collection contains spacious, hard-hitting arrangements inhabited by one of the most compelling r&b singers of this generation. Sex is most certainly on the brain within these songs, but the group honor the carnal act with delicacy, poise, and a rare melodic maturity.
You won’t find the word “bitch” in this lyric sheet; no rappers make emphatic appearances. Sure, this is music coming from a male perspective, but infallible respect for women is maintained throughout, and Daley is joined by multiple female choruses that harmonize and bolster his performances. This is music celebrating the connection between man and woman. If you’re seeking sultry, graceful r&b, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)
Massive hangar doors slowly rise in front of you, releasing a humid gust that blows your hair back. Inside of the large opening are three black-clothed individuals slumped over their instruments, like deactivated robots. A hooded fourth figure pulls a giant lever behind them before disappearing into the vast darkness of the hangar, and machinery adorning the walls of the enclosure whirrs to life. The three musicians steadily stand erect, and begin to play . . .
“Beauty can be found in madness,” as they say. Elements that seem like they would clash with cacophonous results occasionally surprise and delight, especially when those elements are in the hands of innovative, highly talented individuals that have spent copious amounts of time honing their crafts in many different environments, just like these guys. Pussy’s Dead is the newest full-length from eclectic American band Autolux.
The versatile trio consists of bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist/keyboardist Greg Edwards (also known for his cult rock band Failure), and drummer Carla Azar, who plays for Jack White’s all-female solo group The Peacocks. They all sing, and they’re joined and produced by Beyoncé/Run The Jewels collaborator Boots. The result is a delightfully mystifying collection of dreamy psychedelic garage rock/electronic IDM song hybrids.
The level of songwriting prowess contained in these tracks is of a caliber never before heard from this group, and their unique ability to weave disparate influences into something cohesive, disorienting, and compelling is masterful. Autolux have always infused fresh ideas into their releases, but Pussy’s Dead is their clear career apex thus far. If you’re seeking psychedelic, IDM-tinged garage rock, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)
All is utter darkness, yet your ears are engulfed in mechanistic sounds. The sounds are foreign, almost frightening initially, but they adopt a certain charm with the passing of time. The pulsating tones and rhythms are all that you have in the impenetrable blackness, and you learn to love their presence. They contort in minuscule ways, and your ears grow accustom to the small changes in their character. You start to feel like a family, just the loops and you . . .
Life is built from loops, patterns recurring with subtle alterations to keep people mesmerized by repetition. We grow fond of what we know well, and therein lies the secret to the allure of loops in music. Loops have the opportunity to sink deep into a listener’s mind, and the perfect collection of loops could entrance a listener forever. The Follower is the newest full-length from Swedish producer Axel Willner as The Field.
Willner has made his name by hypnotizing listeners with ethereally expansive techno/ambient concoctions. He is a master with subtlety, wringing every drop of feeling from each loop in his arsenal by gradually warping and adding slight accentuations to them. These are dreamy compositions, consisting of warm synth melodies, omnipresent basslines, and pulsing rhythms showered in sublime samples and misty auras.
Like all of Willner’s releases, The Follower is a record to lose yourself in, and it stands as a highlight within a stellar catalogue. These are some of the most flawlessly paced, patient, and melodically rewarding songs to be birthed by this artist, and that’s saying a whole lot when we’re talking about someone like The Field. Loops make the world go ’round. If you’re seeking hypnotic, loop-based techno/ambient, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)
You slide into the backseat of a black cadillac, smoke billowing out of the rolled-down windows. Hooded individuals sit in the front seats, bobbing their heads to the sounds that pulse out of the speakers. The engine roars to life, and the car takes off down the street. Suddenly, all movement surrounding you slows to a molasses crawl, and every color is draped in a purple hue. The music slows, and your head begins to sway back and forth . . .
Hip-hop always flourishes in moments of refined subtlety, as each tone is granted its own space to make the most significant impact possible. Sparse compositions leave ample room for a vocalist to revel in, but what if no vocalist is present to fill the void? Mavericks is the newest release from Turkish producer Sami Baha, an artist that needs no vocal presence to craft the most hype-inducing tracks to drop this year.
Having recently moved to London and absorbing the UK bass scenes, Baha is exposed to and well-versed in the art of the low end. These six songs sound gigantic, stuffed to the brim with ground-shaking 808s, skittery trap rhythms, and whimsical synth melodies, all encased in cavernous, bass-heavy atmospheres that swallow the listener whole. Not a note is wasted here, and every second of the fourteen brief minutes is captivating.
These are the kinds of instrumentals that you typically find hidden behind boisterous emcees like Future, Drake, or Young Thug, and the spotlight is usually cast upon their antics. However, when voices are removed from the music, real melodic beauty can be found betwixt the monstrous, club-ready beats, and these sounds take on a whole new meaning. If you’re seeking melodic, bass-heavy hip-hop/trap, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)
Dried sweat clings to your face as the surrounding crowd settles down, resting after the opening act has left the smoke-filled, beer-soaked room. Patrons head towards the bar to grab drink refills, but most inch forward to obtain that sought-after spot against the front of the stage. You’ve heard legends about this band’s energy, but have yet to experience their live performance. You stretch to prepare for the imminent movement, and the room goes dark . . .
Somewhere along the way, pop-punk artists lost their ability to communicate angst in a way that emphasizes instrumental quality to a similar degree as what’s contained in the lyrics. The words aren’t as sharp either, containing topical cliches without a trace of that sweet tongue-in-cheek charm we all know and love. However, this group is an outlier in these senses. EP is the newest release from Los Angeles-based band Must Go Faster.
Across four brief tracks, this foursome (two guitarists, a bassist, and one supremely talented drummer/lead singer) remind listeners how fun, and how clever pop-punk music can be when all the elements work together in tandem. These songs overflow with shout-along choruses, humorous turns of phrase, and lead melodies that embed themselves so deep into the listener’s mind they’ll be humming them for weeks.
Despite what many naysayers claim, this genre is far from dead, and we can thank groups like these for sticking to their guns and reinvigorating the style. The beauty of youth is the lifeblood of this music, and it’s when artists match that universal spirit with compelling musicianship and stellar songwriting that magic is created. Turn it up and lose yourself. If you’re seeking melodic, tongue-in-cheek pop-punk, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)