SONICICONOCLASM starts off its new single “Dead Air Zone,” the third from its forthcoming album, with sentiments of disassociation and references to different aspects of oneself in the third person and of being a fainting memory, repeated , as though convincing oneself to stay emotionally paralyzed. The vocals at times almost synthesized as befitting the aforementioned but also expressively emotional like the voice resisting the feelings of depersonalization like the side of your brain that isn’t stuck but has empathy for the side that is. Musically its within the realm of downtempo with the beautiful low end tones, brooding pace and sense of echoing space and motion. But it’s sonic lines are a little too clear and stark to be trip-hop. Though moody and brimming with emotional murk there is a clarity of tempo and tonality and even though the song doesn’t come to clean cut conclusions there is a sense that a will to go somewhere out of the mental stasis suggested in the song is very much present and gives the piece its languid momentum. Listen to “Dead Air Zone,” an apt title for a song if ever there was one to suggest a sense of stasis and stark dissatisfaction, on Soundcloud and follow SONICICONOCLASM at the links below.
On his new single “Saltwater” Salt Lake City based hip-hop artist Heather Grey recruited Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated peoples to rap and therein there are references to Bob Ross and Skin Walker Ranch in lyrics that sound like musings offered during a stroll through the neighborhood, reflecting on recent journeys to the coast with the concept of salt water as a trigger for memory and reflection, something tangible that can take you out of a moment or transport you to another. The song with its offhand delivery speaks to the things in our everyday lives that keep us inspired and nourish our imaginations. The shifting tones of Heather Grey’s production and Rakaa’s cadence are at times reminiscent of Cannibal Ox but the mood and vibe are hazier and dreamy perhaps hinting at the melding of styles with DJ Juggy throwing some scratching for texture on the edges. West Coast imagery alongside SLC references give the track a unique flavor that is chill but not lacking in a casual swagger. The music video features choice graffiti that seem to obliquely narrate the journey outlined in the song and enhances a sense of complimentary aesthetic between Rakaa’s Los Angeles roots and Heather Grey’s own from the middle of the country. Listen to the song and check out the video on YouTube and follow Heather Grey at the links provided.
“Lil’ Flicker,” the first single from Sinnet’s new EP Tennis Elbow Club is about those flashes in life where you are taken out of the current moment and forget that someone you knew is gone and they remain a presence in your conscious mind. The lyrics of the song describe this experience like a psychological ghost mixed with a yearning of reconnecting. The line “just a break in the nothingness” captures well this desire within us to transcend the strictures of everyday mundane experience and to embrace the kind of nostalgia born of your living memory of someone or something that reminds you that life is more than a mundane ho hum existence. The gorgeous synth melody repeating like a hypnotic metronome of memory trickling in like the gentle pulse and flow of the Aurora Borealis draws you in a rhythm of mind in which you’re able to hold onto those better memories for longer than the fleeting moments captured so well in the song. Listen to “Lil’ Flicker” on Soundcloud and follow Sinnet at the links provided.
Jai Discord’s track “All4wan” (working with Xamax and produced by and with contributions from BlueBayou) sounds like both a cry for help, a personal exorcism and the utter breakdown of the psyche once you’ve run yourself down through the prison of your own mind after self-medication has long since failed to salve the psychic pain. The vocals strain against the drag of personal darkness in the lyrics and the synth and beats set out a cadence like one might imagine being awake during an alien medical examination wherein even those advanced scientists schooled in more than purely physical medical science hit a conundrum in treatment, the background sounds of their instruments monitoring vitals and brainwaves counting time in tones and texture. The descending bass line mid-song is menacing and in perfect sync with the desperation of the tortured vocals that precede the slow warping that serves as the surreal outro. Fans of Doseone, Busdriver and Clipping. will find much to appreciate about the relentless and creative flow of ideas and sound and the experimental spirit of this song. But the whole of Jai Discord’s new EP Why Lie? Is rife with unusual sounds and wonderfully left field musical ideas, soundscapes and imagery. It’s the kind of record that puts you through some tough headspaces but by evoking them so well and pairing them with imaginative beats that mirror those feelings well you get the sense that no matter how bad a place you’ve been in your mind that you’re definitely not alone in being there and that you too can get through this time with the help of creativity and patience with yourself. Listen to “All4wan” on YouTube and check out the rest of Why Lie? on Spotify.
Charcoal Burners described their new single “Time’s Informers” as “an unlikely marriage of Hüsker Dü and Pet Shop Boys.” Fair enough considering the mix of distorted pop hooks and acerbic wit is actually like a latter day, more slackery “Could You Be The One.” But at times it also oddly reminds one of “Living After Midnight” by Judas Priest in its changes and dynamics. All this combines to make for a song that touches upon familiar places in your brain. But overall its sweet synth sheen and back beat-driven rhythm and introspective yet pointed lyrics delivered in laid back, almost disengaged, fashion give the single fascinating contrasts that add another dynamic dimension to the song but one more emotional than purely sonic. For a band that has a single called “The Verlaines and Hüsker Dü” name-checking its most obvious influences, this song isn’t as crackling with inspired cheek but it is informed by a similarly wonderful sardonic humor. Listen to “Time’s Informers” on Bandcamp and follow New Zeland’s Charcoal Burners at the links provided.
Iñigo Montoya’s animated video for “MDTG” traces the band’s journey since releasing its debut EP in 2015. The triumphs signified by green and frustrations by red. Natural disasters both benefit and throw stumbling blocks. Nuclear waste and warplanes represent the active and passive conflict that plagues everyone’s lives making them more dramatic than need be but also enervating at times that aren’t always obvious. All the while the playful yet sometimes frantic melody and almost sing-song-y vocals give the surreal imagery their emotional context as an expression of perversity of our lives in the developed world as we are encouraged to indulge our whims even in the face of impending global disaster. Follow Iñigo Montoya at the links below.
Senegal born, Kuwaiti raised composer Fatima Al Qadiri brings the gravity of her experience with war and post-colonial history to her darkly evocative soundtrack for the critically acclaimed 2019 movie Atlantics. The movie, marking the directorial debut of Mati Diop, is the story of a woman in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal who falls in love with one of the construction workers that have been building a futuristic-looking tower although she is betrothed to another man. The track “Boys in the Mirror” is imbued with that sense of melancholic longing, conflicted emotions and portents of tragic endings. The linger keyboard melody is reminiscent of Eduard Artemiev’s beautifully brooding and desolate work for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979). The depth of tone, the suggestion of texture and an organic flow that courses through your mind, haunting it long after. Listen to “Boys in the Mirror” on YouTube, stream Atlantics on Netflix from November 29 onward and follow Al Qadiri at the links provided.