JB: The human voice is the most glorious, most emotional, most expressive of all the instruments. The music has so much to do with my life that I always have to mention personal things: for a few years I was with a woman who sang in a very famous choir. And each time she came home there would be this glow on her face. I have seen this same glow on the faces of many choir singers. In really good choir singing what you experience is that you overcome separation. We all are separated—me from you, me from the earth, from most things. And there are just a few experiences we can make to overcome this separation.
RM: So you feel that the solo voice is more Shamanistic and hence more about the individual than the chorus.
JB: Yes. It’s an experience most people have in love. You can find it in meditation, but not so many people meditate. You also have it in choir singing—this experience that you are one. And you have it in a very beautiful way, because it’s connected with art, with music. This is one reason why I choose the voice of choirs. And the second reason is that choirs are a model of society.
Whether it’s reviewing Fortnight’s extremely brilliant subscription model or the steady rise of Spotifycore, the end of the year brings more and more opportunities to think about the changing way we consume media. Personally, I tend to hone in on trends in what YouTube’s algorithm recommends as it relates to the reissue market (a robust segment of online music consumption that gave Midori Takada a whole new phase in her career). From the woozy Redlight Radio/Music For Memory-adjacent synth jams of Joan Bibloni or Rare Silk to Haruomi Hosono’s perennial popularity amongst the vaporwave set, the tributaries of retroactive taste continue to push an endless stream of new fans to the countless reissue labels seeking to “cash in” (lol) on this latest iteration of ‘buying music in the streaming age’ (re: everything that We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want reissues). And at least with older experimental music, the algorithmic suggestions are a bit more varied than the dance music recommendations. Hey listener, have you heard this mediocre-ass breakbeat house track?
Anyway. Been binging on the ‘scogs the past few weeks—well, more so than usual, I guess—to cast one last net across the bloated reissue market. Today’s it’s a groove-addled selection of post-ESG punk funk, Belgian minimalwave, Eurojazz head nodders, and a Timbaland-adjacent banger.
I threw my arms up when I came across the Mind Records-released compilation of early 80s post-punk dance duo Onyx. A pairing between the Boston-based musician Judd Stone and British vocalist Beveur, they released just two seven inches on their own Nu-Age Records. With a muscular and minimalist sound of just drums and synths, which sounds not unlike a band that might have influenced nineties math-funk darlings Trans Am, the seven-minute-long “Robot World” is a masterclass in dancefloor-informed rock music. It makes the most of mixing board artistry with Beveur’s just-interested-enough vocals sending the whole thing through the stratosphere. RIPPER.
As much as I enjoy both minimalwave, the reissue-resuscitated genre, and Minimal Wave, the label run by Veronica Vasicka, I can’t say I was familiar with the term “selftape” until reading this mad informative bio on Belgian producer Henk Wallays. As far as I can deduce, “selftape” refers to the self-released cassettes that were the media res of the American and European synth scenes, of which Wallays was a committed journalist, label owner, and artist. Taken from the Kontakt Group-issued compilation Synthetic Solitude, “Dit Is Pas Het Begin” is a perfectly-proportioned dance pop morsel built around a charming proto-house synth couplet, icily detached vocals, and a soulful warmth that ultimately feels predestined for the edit treatment. So icy.
There has been no shortage of ECM-friendly/inspired albums and reissues this year, though
Incidental Music‘s repressing of American jazz vibraphonist Larry Chernicoff’s 1983 platter of smooth outré jazz-funk Gallery Of Air offered up a unique wrinkle on a fast-tiring trend. Album highlight “Heart of the City” takes the circa-eighties downbeat of a Pat Metheney and plies it with a healthy variety of acoustic and electric keyboards for an extended walkabout on the margins. ‘Tis a groover.
Yet another absolute treat culled from the year-end list deluge. If you’re like me and quite enjoyed that Netflix doc on Atlanta’s Organized Noize, then you’ll be more than stoked on this reissue from Be With Records of Sleepy Brown’s post-Aquemeni opus of 90s soul music, The Vinyl Room by his Sleepys Theme quartet. Boasting a hefty, neck-snapping beat and vaporous synths, “Choked Out Saturday Night” is an album highlight that pairs interlocking male-and-female vocal exchanges with a Saturday night parlor room party vibe for maximal chilled-out ebullience. And if you want to learn more about this truly special album, scope this interview with Sleepy that contains countless brain-blowers (who knew his Dad was in Brick?! Not this guy.) Tonight’s the night, indeed.
If the previous four tracks didn’t convince you that I crush hard on sub-100bpm barnburners, then please allow me to direct your attention to Kalahari Oyster’s ace collection of static-flecked hardware jam-aping heat. The whole thing is a compelling collection documenting just one of the countless cross-continental scenes coursing throughout underground dance music, focusing in particular on shamanic-electronic hypnosis. "Rony & Suzy’s “Einstellung” is mid-range monster, interpolating chunky, snaking riffs with focused drum machine sorcery. Delightful.
OK, and now to close things out with some moves…