Tag: Sun Ra

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Shabazz Palaces Return with a Lysergic and Hypnotic Visuals for Futuristic “Chocolate Soufflé

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine what hip hop should and could sound like while boldly proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. Interestingly, as a result, Butler has collaborated with an eclectic collection of like-minded, critically applauded and forward-thinking experimentalist including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping. and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Now. as you may recall, the act’s forthcoming Don of Diamond Dreams is slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune and alien-like synthesizers while drums speak the universal language. The end result is material that meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, Afro-pop, experimental and ambient music and even pop. And although their forthcoming album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation and creative process was centered around improvisation and instinct, balancing the cerebral with the automatic: Butler would jot down phrases and ideas on his phone and eventually started to shape them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. 

Some of the album’s material is shaped by Butler’s reflection on being a parent and watching his son Jazz receive international renown as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s  interplay between father and son, with Butler absorbing the sound of today but filtered through his own unique, fractured lens, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age — and the passion of someone, who believes (and knows) that he still has something to prove to those youngins. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Earlier this month, I wrote about “Fast Learner,” the album’s glittering and thumping first single. Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track was centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s continues the duo’s forward-thinking 37th century hanging out around Juptier’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop. “Chocolate Soufflé,” Don of Diamond Dreams’ second and latest single is another lysergic and 37th century take on synth funk and trap centered around shuffling beats, glistening and wobbling synths paired with Butler’s wildly inventive and complex wordplay. 

Directed by David Shields and James Nugent, the equally lysergic and retro-futuristic visuals for “Chocolate Soufflé” features a series of trippy video collages created by David Shields, James Nugent and Ishmael Butler, Snapchat and Instagram-filtered footage of Butler. Much like the accompanying track, the visuals take you into a different universe — one full of wild possibilities. 

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New Video: Shabazz Palaces’ Gorgeous and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Fast Learner”

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.

Directed by Stephan Gray, the recently released video for “Fast Leaner” is a gorgeously shot, hallucinogenic-fueled take on the prototypical hip-hop video that’s one part Italian art film, one part trap shit, one part street shit, shot at dusk and at night in various locations, including the desert, the studio, the streets, artist-like lofts. If this the sound and look  of our soon-to-be dystopian future in which our society collapses, the poor get sick and the rich get richer, then it fucking slaps. 

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.

New Audio: Combo Chimbita’s Propulsive and Psychedelic New Single

Throughout JOVM’s eight-plus year history, I’ve covered Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)’s annual conference in some fashion or another. As a national service, advocacy and membership organization for those within the performing arts — particularly within dance and theater, APAP over the years has developed a reputation for their role in assisting musicians and groups, who specialize in “world music.” Along with the annual conference, which features discussion panels, lectures, networking sessions and the like for artists producing, recording and creating artwork in our extremely complicated and confusing political landscape, there are a number of carefully curated showcases hosted and/or sponsored by this city’s best known “world music” venues.  Now, as you may recall, the Lower East Side world music venue DROM hosts Barbes’ and Electric Cowbell’s annual Secret Planet APAP showcase — and earlier this year, their wildly eclectic showcase featured the New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio; the Brooklyn-based act Drunken Foreigner, which specializes in a sprawling, psych rock-like iteration of the Akha and Lam Lao musics of Thailand and Laos; the Cleveland, OH-based Afro-futuristic soul act Mourning [A] BLKSTAR; the New York-based Afro-futuristic-inspired, psychedelic cumbia act Combo Chimbita; the New York-based Ethiopian funk and jazz-inspired septet Anabessa Orchestra; and the New York-based act Hearing Things which specializes in a sound that draws from Middle Eastern music, surf rock, and 60s soul and R&B.

Featuring Bulla en el Barrio’s Carolina Oliveros (vocals) along with Prince of Queens (synths and bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta (drums), Combo Chimbita began experimenting with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Barbes — much of this experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that eventually lead to their thunderous 2016 self-recorded debut, El Corridor del Jaguar. Interestingly, much like Mourning [A] BLKSTR, the New York-based act is deeply inspired by Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism — while championing their own take on it, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. As the band says “the idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future. It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

Their Lily Wen-produced sophomore full-length album Abya Yala was released through Figure & Ground Records was released back in 2016, and the album further established the band’s unique futuristic take on cumbia. And along with an incredible live show, led by Oliveros powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, the New York-based act has begun to receive quite a bit of buzz. In fact, renowned Los Angeles-based label ANTI- Records, a label known for having a roster of wildly eclectic array of artists that includes the legendary Mavis Staples, recently signed the band. As the band’s Prince of Queens says in press notes, “ANTI- is a special label. It is crazy to be part of such a diverse pool of artists, feels extra special being an immigrant band singing in Spanish. I grew up in Bogota listening to a lot of bands on Epitaph and not understanding a word they were singing but it made me want to be in a band and learn music. It feels like full circle working with [Epitaph’s sister label] ANTI-.”

The members of Combo Chimbita will be closing out a big year with a series of live shows the include sets at Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s PhilaMOCA before joining Parquet Courts for the Midwestern leg of the indie rock’s current tour. You can check out the tour dates below. But before that, the band has released a trippy new single “Testigo,” a track centered by a looping Afro pop-like guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, rolling and propulsive percussion, a sinuous bass line and Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals. Sonically speaking, their sound serves as a power reminder of how much contemporary music — particularly Latin American music — draws from Africa, as much as it does from their own native traditions, and they do so in a wildly anachronistic yet dance floor friendly fashion. 

New Video: The Cinematic and Psychedelic Visuals for Golden Dawn Arkestra’s Anthemic “Wings of Ra”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Austin, TX psychedelic collective The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and as you may recall, collective’s founder, the Washington, DC-born, Austin,TX-based musician Zapot Mgwana, was told by his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy that his father was Herman Poole Blount, more famously known to musicians, fans and critics as Sun Ra.  When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. As an adult, Mgwana returned to the States and founded The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and much like Sun Ra’s work, Mgwana’s collective focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. Album single “Lovely Day,” found the band sonically drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone to create a wildly expansive, globalist and forward-thinking take on the large band format that managed to be both mischievously retro-futuristic and kaleidoscopic. “Wings of Ra,’ Children of the Sun’s latest single finds the band drawing from anthemic, power chord-based psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings to mind JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Jethro Tull and others but with a cosmic glow. 

Directed by Ben Blanchard and Vanessa Pla, the recently released video for “Wings of Ra” is an incredibly cinematic and wildly psychedelic (and symbolic)_ romp that references  the work of Dario Argento, biblical scenery and biblical-inspired paintings (Last Supper anyone?) with its cast dressed in costumes that nod at the traditions of India, Africa and China to further emphasize the band’s globalist leanings. But perhaps more important, the video is pretty fucking trippy. 

New Video: The Mischievous Silent Film-Inspired Visuals for Barrence Whitfield and The Savages’ “Let’s Go to Mars”

Formed by founding members Barrance Whitfield, Peter Greenberg, who has also played with Lyres and DMZ and Phil Lenker in the mid 80s, the Boston-based blues and soul act Barrence Whitfield and The Savages quickly developed a reputation for crafting primal and soulful blues, centered around Whitfield’s full-throttle soul screaming (in the spirit of Little Richard, Solomon Burke, and others), and for sweaty, dance party-like live shows. With their original lineup, the band released several attention grabbing records through Rounder Records, and as a result they toured with Bo Diddley, Tina Turner and George Thorogood, were a favorite of BBC DJ Andy Kershaw and won seven Boston Music Awards. The band reunited in 2011 with a new lineup that features Whitfield, along with Andy Jody (drums) and Tom Quartulli (sax), which has released three albums Savage Kings, Dig Thy Savage Soul and Under the Savage Sky and building upon their long held reputation, the band has toured with The Sonics, played at SXSW and have played on the BBC’s Later . . . with Jools Holland. 

Released earlier this year, Soul Flowers of Titan is Barrence Whitfield and The Savages fourth full-length album since reforming after a 25 year hiatus, and the album, which derives its name from the largest moon of Saturn, a planet which astrologically symbolizes pain and struggle was recorded in Ultrasuede Studio in Cincinnati, a town that was home to a number of classic and somewhat unknown independent labels, including King Records and Federal Records that were best known for a fostering a frayed and raucous sound during the 50s and 60s. Of course, knowing that history, the band couldn’t resist the urge to celebrate and expand on that legacy — with the album finding the band sonically meshing blues, punk, rock, garage rock and soul while thematically, the album’s material focuses on people shooting guns, separating, coming home (someday), falling in love, running around, leaving earth in search of someplace better, going crazy, drinking way too much coffee and thinking about the legendary Sun Ra. As a result, the material features a much heavier sound, B3 and Rheem organ playing from the band’s newest member Brian Olive and a live-in-the-studio urgency. 

Soul Flowers of Titan’s latest single “Let’s Go To Mars” is centered around a boozy, and shuffling power chord riff that brings Howlin’ Wolf and George Thorogood to mind but paired with lyrics inspired by an early 70s documentary on Sun Ra that its songwriters Peter Greenberg and Phil Lenker saw multiple times, and as a result there’s a mischievous yet plaintive ache to go off someplace that may be better than Earth — or least someplace, where you can live freely and not be bothered by the cruelty and viciousness of humanity. Directed by Eric Baconstrip, the recently released, animated video further emphasizes the song’s mischievous vibes while nodding at classic, silent films. 

Born in Washington, DC and currently based in Austin, TX, Zapot Mgwana never knew his father, but his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy always told him that Herman Poole Blount (a.k.a. Sun Ra) was his father. When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. Recently Mgwana returned to the States and formed his musical project The Golden Dawn Arkestra — and much like the work of Sun Ra, Mgwana’s Arkestra focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. In fact, Children of the Sun‘s latest single “Lovely Day” sounds as though the band were drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone — it’s an expansive, global and forward looking take on the large band format that manages to be mischievously retro-futuristic and with a kaleidoscopic vibe. 

 

Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a voyager, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spent his life there, before being cruelly dragged back to reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake, currently comprised of Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates received attention with their 2014 self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that found the Irish pop act juxtaposing dark, despairing lyrics with a euphoric catharsis that’s largely influenced by the work of  Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. Adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for touring acts such as GlasserLisa Hanningan and Ultraisa.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you’d recall that late last year, I wrote about the Dublin, Ireland-based act’s breathtakingly gorgeous Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like single “Bonfire,” and the cinematic, Tales of Us-era Goldfrapp and Ennio Morricone soundtrack-like “Twins” off the band’s forthcoming, highly anticipated-Rob Kirwan-produced debut album, Malingerer both of which prominently feature McAuley’s achingly tender falsetto. Slated for an April 20, 2018 release through Bright Antenna Records, Cloud Castle Lake’s full-length debut reveals an act writing their most ambitious and thought provoking material to date, making the album a gorgeous and transcendent statement of intent, and the album’s first official single, album title track “Malingerer,” which was released earlier this year is a cinematic and expansive track that draws from from the cosmic jazz explorations of John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders and Sun RaAmnesiac-era Radiohead and Sigur Ros — but with an unusual song structure that features several sections that manage to simultaneously be discordant yet flow into each other.

“Genuflect,” Malingerer‘s latest single continues in a similar, stunningly gorgeous and cinematic vein as its predecessors, as it’s based around McAuley’s aching and tender falsetto and an arrangement featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular yet propulsive rhythm section, and a jazz-like horn section wailing along with McAuley towards the song’s cathartic conclusion. Certainly, this single will further cement the Irish band’s growing reputation for crafting transcendent (and otherworldly) material, centered around a unique and profound artistic vision.