Last updated on July 7, 2021
1. “Escalator” by FLDPLN. Pronounced “field-plan” (although I was hoping for flood-plain, I miss the rain), this solo artist’s latest electro-pop cut hearkens back to the early days of chillwave: blown-out lead vocals, ping-ponging spoken samples, big washes of synth, heavily reverbed percussion. The screamin’ saxophone solo is new, though! Highly recommended.
2. “Everest” – JuffBass. JuffBass is back with another downtempo tune of intertwining basslines, bass effects, and kit drums. “Everest” is anchored by a notably excellent drum performance, as lines lope and play over the tight rhythms. There are some late-era Red Hot Chili Peppers vibes throughout, which is always a big plus.
3. “Start Sumpthin Up” – J3PO. Instrumental hip-hop with funk-inspired basslines, dreamy keyboards/synths, and jazzy piano runs. What’s not to like?
4. “Orlo” – Timo Lassy. Kickin’ kit drum, flashy jazz saxophone lines, and disco-evoking strings meld together into a clever, punchy cut that leaves me wanting more.
5. “12.14” – Among Leaves. This tender piano rumination with birdsong sounds like that moment in RPG video games when you step out of the long cave into the inexplicably light-dappled, cavernous, open space. It’s beautiful, mysterious, and even reverent regarding the natural world.
6. “Love Exists Everywhere” – Blue Reality Quartet. This spacious jam manages to sound totally comfortable and ominous at the same time. While the drums hold down a steady pace, the saxophone is mournful and eerie. The flute drops in and out. The melodic percussion lends (paradoxically) an air of dreamy miasma and earth-bound connection. The whole piece is enigmatic and yet comforting.
7. “I Am Multiple” – Farewell. A pensive, thoughtful composition that plays like ending credits to a good movie. The vocals here do an excellent job infusing emotion into the piece without going over the top.
8. “Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique 2” – Ballaké Sissoko feat. Vincent Segal and Patrick Messina. Fantastic symphony, indeed. This exquisite kora, flute, and cello performance imagines a Hector Berlioz piece in a celebratory style. It’s smile-inducing and remarkable. Highly recommended.
9. “Tranquilo” – Tim Kobza. Some smooth, guitar-led jazz that goes down easy but still has expansive, adventurous keys performances. The sort of thing that is delivered so precisely and perfectly that it sounds like it’s easy but in reality it is extremely not.
10. “Simple Beauty” – Leo Motta. A rainy-day rumination that has nostalgic low-fi drumming, vintage-sounding keys, and overall good vibes. This one polishes the standard elements of lo-fi instrumental hip-hop to an even finer gleam than usual.