Bklyn Sounds 7/25/2023 - 7/31/2023 + Favorite NYC Albums of 2023 (Thus Far)
Dada Strain's mid-year list of #BklynSounds + The Shows: King Britt's Blacktronika / Zoh Amba's The Stone Residency / Naama Tsabar / Damon Locks & Rob Mazurek / "The Rub" finale / Omar Ahmad / + more
A few weeks ago, while preparing an installment of the hopefully-monthly Dada Music post (that this time never ended up arriving - my apologies, things have been difficult around here), I was also contemplating shouting-out my favorite music from the first half of 2023. Kind of… The approach is really fucking basic — in a “content gonna content” mode of constant production. Yet as Dada Strain and BklynSounds evolve, it also feels useful; not simply to create and ape expected packages (more posts does equal more subscribers), but to give more examples of Dada Strain’s intentions. Call it constant purposeful differentiation.
When I first did Bklyn Sounds at Bklyner in 2021, I tried to do a “Best New Bklyn Music” column every damn month — and that sh*t got a little messy with quality control. But it had a point: elevate excellent work by local artists to potential audiences outside of its genre parameters, but inside the rhythm-improvisation-community borders. So maybe an occasional round-up of great recordings by NYC artists can prove useful. So here’s a recent dozen:
79.5, 79.5 (Razor N Tape) - The second full-length by girl-group duo, Kate Mattison and Lola Adanna, is a phenomenal grower. The starting point is a kind of laid-back, contemporary disco vibe that is NYC’s forever bread-and-butter, but the more you live with it, the more the classic songcraft comes out. Feminism, endurance, soulful smiles and hope for happy endings.
Brahja, Watermelancholia (cortizona) - A little cheating, as this actually dropped in December 2022. The first great thing about saxophonist Devin Waldman’s second Brahja album are the tunes, their contours in classic “spiritual jazz,” rough harmonies of conversing horns and synths. Of course that can only happen if the spirituality is truly embedded in the work, and the players are at the level exhibited here.
Brent Cordero & Peter Kerlin, A Sublime Madness (Astral Spirits) - My favorite krautrock-meets-psychedelic-improvisation record of the year, made by bringing together members from various NYC undergrounds. This group needs a multi-set Mama Tried (or Union Pool) show. (Initial thoughts part of May’s Dada Music.)
Eli Escobar, “The Beach Album” (Off Track) - I hate to be the motherf*cker that puts a vinyl-only release on this list, but this is an incredible work of listening and dancing music, low-key intensity, instrumental lines, samples, programming, and disco dub values. An album-length return from behind the pandemic curtain to a less effusive dance-floor. A masterpiece.
Jentlemen, Soundwords (Voluminous Arts) - Narrative electronic full-lengths are usually not my thing, especially with electronics that veer this hard into proto-industrial territory and away from “house.” But these pieces are emo AF, so maybe that’s why it’s in constant rotation. (Initial thoughts part of May’s Dada Music.)
Kalia Vandever, We Fell In Turn (AKP Recordings) - Another kind of emo, this one with solo trombone and lo-fi electronics, and not a beat in sight. I know that it’s partly the recording mix, but the lushness and strength of these tones are to die for. Bonus points for learning that Vandever is in Harry Styles’ band. (Initial thoughts part of May’s Dada Music.)
Liturgy, 93696 (Thrill Jockey) - I’m nobody’s idea of a metal-head, and only flit in-out of Hunter Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix’s work. (i.e Take the recommendation with contextual salt.) But these machine-fed slabs of symphonic explosion, and angelic choir, organ and string interludes, soundtrack my 2023 tears. Their performance with a dancer at 24 Hours of Drone was a crazy inspiration.
Mark Trecka, Loping/gestures (Beacon Sound) - A curio noise-and-sound collage tape I initially listened to after noticing that among the sounds used were recordings of jaimie branch and Raven Chacon. Both original contributions, I later learned. A soothing bit of hauntological experimentation, a pastoral work for the “why is the sky outside yellow?” generation.
Meshell Ndegeocello, The Omnichord Real Book (Blue Note) - A sprawling guest-heavy major-label LP that actually works as an "album"? The bassist/songwriter’s first set of original songs in a decade is a precise, philosophical jazz-funk-rock-soul wonder. Grooves, feels and stories worth repeatedly unpacking. Album of the Year-type shizz.
Michael Blake & Chrome Nova, Dance of the Mystic Bliss (P&M) - There are many ways to build a dance-jazz record. This one constantly points to an Afro-Caribbean vibe without ever getting stuck in a “Latin jazz,” gringo-polyglot or exotic-party-percussion rut. Great tunes. Incredible playing. String player Skye Steele is a revelation. (Initial thoughts part of May’s Dada Music.)
Nu Jazz, Vol. 1 (self-released) - Excellent document of another kind of post-hardcore punk-dub-jazz union taking place in Bklyn and Queens. It’s no-fancy lo-fi, whose “jazz” comes in spurts — more like a screamo, post-MBV indie-rock — but when the sections coalesce and Ryan Easter’s trumpet is flying, another future us readily apparent.
VA, “People of Eternity: BDS Mixtape, vol.1” (Amplify Palestine) - A “Support Palestine” mixtape compiled and produced by Sanna Almajedi Gavilán Rayna Russom. All-original contributions from New York’s rhythm and improvisation community familiar to readers. Including stand-outs by Rayna, Anteloper, Speaker Music, Amir Elsaffar, Elder Ones and others. Trust a thoughtful, community compilation album.
(Feedback and submissions are open in the social DMs, or in the comments below, though these are limited to paid subscribers only.)
THIS WEEK’s SHOWS:
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