Sweatbox Dynasty by Tobacco

Tobacco - Sweatbox Dynasty

An airlock slams shut, enclosing you in a metallic chamber. Modules canvas the wall in front of you. After sitting in front of the control panel, you notice one glowing button in the far corner. You press it, and the modules whirr with life. Orbs of varying sizes and colors populate the largest screen. You select one with your cursor, and the room is filled with unfamiliar sounds. Your eyes are drawn to the words at the very top of the modules: “Interplanetary Radio” . . .

Artists tend to fall under one of two categories: those that transparently pour themselves into their creations, and those that obscure their personas in ways that allow the art to take on a personality of its own. The latter is admirable, requiring a degree of selflessness, and is practiced by none more so than the Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman. Sweatbox Dynasty is the newest full-length from Thomas Fec as Tobacco.

Fec specializes in a woozy, off-kilter breed of psychedelic pop with sinister flavors. These songs expertly ride the threshold between the mellifluous and the deranged, with mechanical rhythms, bubbling arpeggiators, and glossy synth melodies awash in cascades of distortion. At the core is Fec himself, with vocals processed by vocoder, talk box, and so many effects and filters that they resemble computerized alien incantations.

When listening to the radio, have you ever tuned the dial betwixt disparate-sounding stations, producing something uniquely strange and beautiful at the same time? Sweatbox Dynasty is akin to this experience. Abrupt transitions, transmission static, and otherworldly atmosphere never sounded so mysteriously inviting, so enticing, so individualistic. If you’re seeking off-kilter, psychedelic pop, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

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Sweatbox Dynasty by Tobacco

Sketches From An Island 2 by Mark Barrott

Mark Barrott - Sketches From An Island 2

You sit behind the wheel of a Jeep with the top down, driving leisurely along the coast. Three Scarlet Macaws drift on a warm breeze above you. Luxuriant flora cover both sides of the road, until a break in the greenery to your right reveals the ocean’s endless expanse. You pull over on a small dirt road, park your vehicle, and walk down to the emerald-kissed beach. You sit down, lean into the embrace of a shady palm tree, close your eyes, and breathe deeply . . .

Within an archipelago off the Spanish coast in the western Mediterranean Sea, a portrait of heaven can be found. Balearic beat, a genre born on the island of Ibiza, is a blissful combination of sultry tropical house and the relaxed sounds of downtempo, a musical reflection of the lush environments that canvas the miniature paradise. Enter Sketches From An Island 2, the newest full-length by producer Mark Barrott.

Turning his focus away from Ibiza’s boisterous party scenes, Barrott draws inspiration from the island’s breathtaking scenery, vibrant wildlife, and easygoing mentalities. Laid-back percussion rhythms, warm bass lines, ethereal synths, sun-drenched guitar riffs, and whimsical woodwind melodies are sprinkled with field recordings and samples of local fauna, creating the ideal soundtrack for an escape to euphoric tranquility.

Currently holding a weekly residency at Ibiza restaurant La Torre, where he plays the role of accompanying DJ to each sunset, Barrott is an embodiment of the Balearic lifestyle. With track titles like “Brunch With Suki” and “Driving To Cap Negret”, Sketches From An Island 2 feels like more than just a collection of songs; it’s a meditative, transportive experience. If you’re seeking blissful Balearic music, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Sketches From An Island 2 by Mark Barrott

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Rain patters on asphalt, rinsing blood and oil that canvasses the streets into nearby gutters. Hooded individuals crouch in alleys, holding cups with shaky, outstretched hands. You pass them by, and head for a boisterous congregation of people two blocks away. A chorus of singing voices, accompanied by somber piano chords, grows louder as you approach. A woman strides into the center of the crowd, raises her face to the sky, and speaks . . . 

Sound is a vessel, a medium through which meaning is dispersed, and one of the most effective methods of influencing change in a world oversaturated with corrupt media. Our world is battered and bruised, infected with rampant violence, institutional racism, and gender inequality. We must listen to the voices that promote unification. Enter Freetown Sound, the newest full-length from Dev Hynes as Blood Orange.

Strung together by powerful spoken word samples ranging from forthright beat poetry to inward contemplation, these seventeen songs unpack a wealth of potent topics — racial injustice, police brutality, female empowerment — and do so via pristine funk/r&b grooves and colorful melodies. Hynes’ soothing baritone is accompanied by a plethora of guests, such as Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Nelly Furtado.

Evocative in similar ways as D’Angelo’s Black Messiah and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A ButterflyFreetown Sound is a record birthed from the souls of the oppressed, one that calls for drastic shifts in action and thinking alike. We possess the ability to avert ourselves from the dark path our species currently walks, and it starts with us dancing together in unison. If you’re seeking resonant, soulful funk/r&b, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

Indigo by River Tiber

River Tiber - Indigo

The countless candles adorning an altar ignite with purple fire. A lush chord from an organ breathes life into every nook within the massive temple. An aroma of lavender wafts through the hallowed chamber. A choir of voices descend from on high. You climb the steps leading to the altar, elegant in its design. You kneel before an unknown idol, and speak words from a language unknown to you. Billowing smoke surrounds you, transporting you elsewhere . . .

“I don’t even know what is going on in Toronto right now, but I know that the music sounds like the city looks,” spoke Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio. It’s a statement indicative of the codeine-soaked sounds trickling down from the city in the north, a land where chilly instrumentation, sultry voices, and mopey mentalities reign. Enter Indigo, the newest full-length from singer/producer Tommy Paxton-Beesley as River Tiber.

Utilizing a wide-ranging assortment of equipment, including synths, Rhodes organ, violin, cello, trombone, tuba, and a plethora of both acoustic and digital percussive elements, Paxton-Beesley transports listeners to an otherworldly dimension inhabited by shadowy, off-kilter r&b. His hypnotic voice, laden with effects and dripping with emotion, guides the record with melodies as grandiose as haunted cathedrals.

Embodying the seductiveness of dvsn and the sensuality of How To Dress Well, although much more peculiar, Indigo rides the threshold between sweet-spot soul and exploratory electronic music. Having collaborated with BADBADNOTGOOD, Kaytranada, Freddie Gibbs, Mac Miller, and Pusha T, it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing a lot more from this mastermind. If you’re seeking chilly, experimental r&b, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Indigo by River Tiber

Secretly Susan by Sui Zhen

Sui Zhen - Secretly Susan

You dig your toes into the warm sand, as you sit and stare at the azure horizon. Something compels you to begin walking towards the waves that swathe the shore with foam. The water overtakes your ankles, and still you walk. You keep walking when the liquid covers everything under your waste, under your neck, under your chin. You inhale deeply below the surface before opening your eyes, filled with vivid color. Melodies of the ocean fill your ears . . .

The face of pop music has received countless makeovers, each more perplexing and divisive than the last. It’s reached a point where artists create the saccharine sounds typical of the “genre” while simultaneously parodying it, resulting in concoctions of both the satirical and the sincere. Perfecting this formula is a tightrope walk, but it’s nailed down on this record. Secretly Susan is the newest full-length from Melbourne’s Sui Zhen.

The tone is set by the shore-lapping waves that kick off the album’s intro track. Aqueous synths and billowing subterranean basslines envelop the listener in watery, bossa nova/dub-flavored worlds, pulsating with balearic hand percussion and soft electronic rhythms. At the core of the compositions are Becky Sui Zhen’s breathy, playfully featherlight vocal melodies, floating throughout the songs like candy-coated jellyfish.

Although not necessary to fully enjoy the music, it is recommended that the listener view Sui Zhen’s accompanying visual elements. Self-directed, her videos feature seductive brain-smashing, egg-caressing, fern-fondling, and other activities that meld the sensual and the repulsive in charming ways. Secretly Susan is gorgeous, uncanny, and completely entrancing. If you’re seeking aquatic, bossa nova/dub-flavored pop, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Secretly Susan by Sui Zhen

You Will Never Be One Of Us by NAILS

NAILS - You Will Never Be One Of Us

Sirens blaring; skyscrapers crumbling into ashen heaps; towers of fire bursting from the earth’s surface; ravenous beasts stampeding through streets; planets exploding among the stars; jagged meteors falling from the red sky; blood raining down from clouds of smoke; screams of the living dissolving into nothingness; howls of the undead shaking the cragged ground, crawling up from their graves. The end of everything is here, and it is loud . . .

Beware, ye who enter here. Abrasive music is a cultural divider that polarizes listeners, depending on their tolerance/craving for aggressive passion. Hardcore certainly isn’t for everyone, and this record in particular does not cater to the faint of heart in the slightest, as it thrashes about in the darkest, most unapologetically vile realms of the genre. You Will Never Be One Of Us is the newest full-length from Oxnard, CA trio NAILS.

With not a single second of filler content, these ten songs (most of which run under two minutes) roar at breakneck speed with pummeling blast-beats, earth-scorching guitar riffs, and inhuman, throat-shredding vocals. Fans of d-beat, grindcore, and powerviolence will revel in the chaotic rampage, refined to apocalyptic perfection by producer and Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. It’s an onslaught of awe-inspiring brutality.

Off-putting at an initial glance, the record title is actually a message of inclusion. The “us” is in reference to anybody who’s ever found sanctuary in a musty basement overflowing with deafening distortion and flailing limbs. It’s an invitation to participate in the band’s bitter ritual; a celebration of isolation, atheism, ferocious masochism, and life’s utter meaninglessness. If you’re seeking chaotic hardcore, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

You Will Never Be One Of Us by NAILS

Red Sky by Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch - Red Sky

A circle of towering trees surrounds you. A fire in the center of the clearing illuminates the darkness of the night. The flames rise from a pile of glistening brass instruments, slowly melting in the heat. A cold wind dances across your face and feeds the fire. The fiery pillar explodes, rising into the sky with an unearthly tone that shakes the earth. The molten instruments ascend out of the fire and into the air. They are played by an unseen force . . . 

The saxophone is undoubtably one of the most versatile instruments in existence. Equally capable of virtuosic solos, foundational melodies, and otherworldly textures, it’s one of those rare tools that can be contorted in any which way to complement the given context. However, there are far too few circumstances in which it’s granted the leading role. Red Sky is the newest full-length from the Brooklyn trio known as Moon Hooch.

These thirteen songs are crafted by a deceptively simple recipe: a couple of dueling saxophonists in Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen, with percussion held down by James Muschler. The three classically trained musicians blast through compositions ranging from rollicking funk rock to subdued psychedelia. The chemistry between Wilbur and McGowen is exuberant and intoxicating, often resulting in sweat-drenched euphoria.

Having met at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and spent vast amounts of time refining their creative formula by busking in New York City Subway stations, these guys know exactly how to play to each other’s strengths. Red Sky is a record stuffed to the brim with ebullient melodies, fresh ideas, and exhilarating energy. If you’re seeking exuberant, saxophone-centered rock, this album is for you.

– stasi (@stasisphere)

Red Sky by Moon Hooch