Last updated on April 1, 2020
Five Years of Modern Funk – Austin Boogie Crew Records. This is right what it says on the tin: five years’ worth of new funk. It’s mostly instrumental work, but there’s some tracks with smooth vocals. Funk is always a bass-player’s delight, and this collection delivers on that front. The vibes are strong, and the groove is long. Good job, everyone!
The Gamins – Nimrawd. This is electronica that doesn’t sound all that much like contemporary electronica. It’s not quite Fatboy Slim-style Big Beat, but it’s got some resonances there. It’s got live bass to give the tunes texture, and the synths are more up-front and punchy than atmospheric. The hip-hop influences are all there, but the maximalist, jam-packed feel gives it a different take than an instrumental hip-hop album. Opener and first single “How Much Homework” is well-picked, as it makes a big statement about what the rest of the record is going to be like, covering almost all the territory I mentioned above.
The minor key tunes like “Ocean Song” and “My Game” are weirdly ominous; much too big and bold to be traditionally eerie, but still off-kilter in a satisfyingly odd way. Closer “Fast Break” is the biggest and beat-est of the tracks, streamlining the project down to hammering percussion and tag-teaming big fat synths. It’s a lot of fun, just like the whole record. Not a whole lot of projects right now making ’em like Nimrawd does.
A Separation of Being – JOYFULTALK. JOYFULTALK’s influences are all things I’ve never heard ( x, y, z), and so as a result this music sounds like almost nothing I’ve ever heard. The only points of reference for me are very long and repetitive mid-century modern pieces like “Canto Ostinato”, marimba, and beat driven techno.
The three pieces that form the thirty-three minute whole of this record are long, highly structured pieces that interweave electronic beats, marimba, strings, synths and gentle percussion in long, interlocking loops. All of the instruments play only short notes in patterns; there are almost no chords to be spoken of and no single note is held beyond two or three beats. The music is all major-key and sounds impressively organic, making this sound like a semi-classical zen rave or the world’s most beautiful sonic popcorn.
My increasingly strange explanations belie the excellence of this record: it’s one of my favorites of the year so far, and my best way to do it justice is to just implore you to go listen to it. Highly recommended.