• Brad Loving – Things I enjoyed listening to in 2018

  • I suppose the title of this post says it all. Here are a few things that I think are worth your time. Hope you will give them a spin.

    Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan:
    I’m a little jaded when it comes to reissues of African music. I spent so much time poring through them when I was deejaying constantly, that I started to notice a lot of redundant and uninspired material. It feels good to be able to wholeheartedly recommend this compilation on Ostinato Records. It’s fascinating to hear what was coming out of late-20th-century Khartoum, Sudan. It’s a region of Africa that I haven’t had much exposure to culturally. There’s not a single track I had ever heard before. I’d like to do some more research and find out how label owner Vik Sohonie and co-curator Tamador Sheikh Eldin Gibreel compiled this material. The album is such a great combination of true scholarship and irresistible grooves.


    Tom Richards – Pink Nothing:
    One of my favorite sensations is that moment when you’re passively listening to music and something in the landscape reveals itself, causing your ears to echolocate on your surroundings. Pink Nothing imparts this sensation, but to speak too much about it, oddly, feels like a spoiler. I don’t think I am giving too much away by saying that Richards’ analog synthesis and crystalline beats seem to have all impurities removed. Queue up the track below and see whether you too feel like a bat flying through the desert on a moonless night.


    Tirzah – Devotion:
    Tirzah’s Devotion is probably the LP that has gotten the most airtime in my apartment this year. It best inhabits the Venn diagram where my wife’s and my musical tastes overlap. That is, it is one part Sade-touched smooth jam [my wife] and one part brilliant abstract studio album [yours truly]. It manages not to compromise on either account with Mica Levi (aka Micachu) at the controls. Also, there’s not a bad (or even mediocre) track on the album.


    Ali Akbar Khan – Sarod Recital:
    Just thinking about this record makes me happy. I was listening to this on the way to work a week or so ago, and I blissed out so completely that I missed my subway stop. This recording is from 1961 and to my ear, it starts off in a fairly traditional Hindustani classical form, but it builds to the point where something really unique and ecstatic happens. Shout-out to MusicRepublic for turning me on to this record. I would strongly suggest exploring their entire catalog. It’s one of the most meticulously and lovingly curated blogs I’ve seen on the internet. It’s worth a click to just to browse photos. I couldn’t find a sample to stream online, but if you click the link above you can download the album.

    Rezzett – Rezzett LP:
    Rezzett is an anonymous electronic music duo from London who cook up a unique variant of experimental house music. There is a thick layer of distortion that permeates Rezzett LP that is reminiscent of a worn-out cassette tape. Unlike those cassettes, however, repeated listens of Rezzett’s latest effort provide more detail not less. They seem to be in complete command of their own distinct sonic palette. I might even go out on a limb here and say there’s a little something that doesn’t feel like music. It’s akin to a synesthetic experience in which vibration and texture transform into smoke.


    油屋訓辞 – (no title):
    I think it’s probably a healthy mental exercise to try to put words to things that resist them. Writing about (no title) is just such an exercise. I discovered this CD on losapson.shop-pro.jp. I can’t read Japanese, but there doesn’t seem to be much info online about this album’s origins. What can speak to is that (no title) is one the most compelling pop records I’ve heard in ages. (Maybe since Baby Bird?) By using the pop idiom, 油屋訓辞 lulls you into thinking everything might be simple and straightforward, but an out of tune guitar strum or delayed drum hit starts to pull at your expectations, and before you know it you’re encased in 23 tracks of pure blissed-out carbonite. Here’s a link to track 12 from (no title) titled “ナイアガラ”, which I believe translates to “Niagara.”

    Ammar 808 – Maghreb United:
    Maghreb United is another record for which I’d really like to know more about the backstory. It’s a giant of a record that somehow seemed to sneak up on me. Ammar 808 is an alias of Sofyann Ben Youssef, who is from Brussels by way of Tunisia. He pulls off something a million folks have tried to do, but very few have done successfully: He skillfully combines traditional folk forms with legit 21st-century production. Youssef is joined by Mehdi Nassouli (Morocco), Sofiane Saidi (Algeria) and Cheb Hassen Tej (Tunisia) as well as Lassaed Bougalmi (Tunisia) on vocals and various traditional instruments. One of the reviews I read of this record referred to it as a “full-tilt affair.” I think that’s well put. I confess that I’m not sure whether I’ve listened to this record from front to back in one sitting because it’s so intense. But please don’t let that dissuade you. A little bit of a giant can sometimes suffice.


    Civilistjävel! – 1:
    This record is so subtle and minimal. It’s like listening to a snowstorm. Everything is white. It’s not a record for all occasions, but if you were going to a James Turrell retrospective, this the record I would recommend. This is the only link I could find. It is excerpts from each of the tracks, which might interrupt the zen a bit. [update] I found the album posted on YouTube. Zen restored!


    Lori Scacco – Desire Loop:
    Lori is a friend of mine, so there may be a touch of nepotism here, but I suspect this record would be one of my favorites regardless. In my biased opinion, she’s put together a superb electronic album that is varied enough to keep me fully engaged while still sounding cohesive – superb in regard to composition, execution and texture. My wife chimed in, “It’s just a good album”. Enough said.


    Longform Podcast:
    I thought I’d include a shout-out to a few podcasts that I really enjoy. The first is Longform Podcast. It’s a simple premise – extended interviews with people who produce long-form journalism. Sometimes the focus will be on a single article, but often they trace the entire career of their guests. It has a few things going for it that make it exceptional. It has brilliant guests who are devoted to the craft and capacity of journalism. Secondly, the hosts, Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff do their homework and ask astute questions. Lastly, they actually listen to the answers and come up with even better follow-up questions. Depending on the arc of the journalist’s path, the interviews frequently lead to insightful and inspired conversations.

    The Daily:
    The Daily podcast from the New York Times has a format somewhat similar to the Longform Podcast’s in that it is primarily interviews with journalists, but instead of focusing on the craft of journalism, they focus on the news of the day. The host, Michael Barbaro, frequently interviews fellow Times journalists on a particular beat. The journalists are so well informed – plus the audio format offers more off-the-cuff remarks and insight into the tone of the stories. This podcast has transformed the way I ingest news.

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent:
    One of the things that has made my daily commute into Manhattan much more pleasant lately is being able to download audiobooks from the New York Public Library (for free!) My favorite download of the year was “My Absolute Darling,” a novel about a survivalist and his sage daughter. This is heavy, heavy stuff, but if you can bear the suffering, the prose and plot are enthralling.

    NTS Radio:
    If you have already consumed all of the above, I have one last recommendation that should keep you going well into 2019: NTS Radio. NTS is a web-based radio station out of London, and the breadth of music it has available is a thing of maximalists’ dreams. At its inception, most of the DJs were based in London, but recently NTS has started to attract DJs for all over the world. To give you a sense, I listened to an hour set of 8os-era underground Latvian electronic music the other night. NTS also just launched an iOS app so you can make sure to take your Soviet-era Latvian underground music on the go.

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