Here’s the November mix for The Lot Radio. A few things on mind:
-I was in the midst of writing about the Peak Oil label -Getting stoked about a new Kelela album -Lamenting the passing of Gal Costa -Penning liner notes for a forthcoming Ryuichi Sakamoto reissue -Falling upwards into the majesty of Surya Botofasina’s debut album -Musing about lounge-y compilations that double-down on the weirdness of “Old, Weird America”
I’d like to think that a little bit of all of that shows up here.
“I felt like if we were going to do a label that would exist solely as a labor of love, it should exist as a conceptual whole. I had been reading a lot about ‘peak oil’ theory, the moment when society—predicated on infinite growth of a finite resource, petroleum—is in collapse, and how petroleum is in everything, even records. It seemed to ‘click.'”
For the past ten years, Los Angeles-based label Peak Oil has been sketching the parameters of the city’s underground electronic scene, as well as drifting off to some new, still-unseen vista of the scene. I got to speak to label heads Brian and Brion –as well as vital players like M. Geddes Gengras and Lamin Fofana– about the past decade and the perils of creating petroleum-based consumer products for Bandcamp.
There’s a Pharoah Sanders feature forthcoming in Maggot Brain, but in the wake of his passing, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the great saxophonist’s sound world, tracing through lines, shared sensibilities, similar resonances, following the trajectories and interconnectedness with the man’s many legendary bandmates. I presented a mix for The Lot Radio last weekend, using the man’s horn to spring into these other realms. Enjoy. Track listing below:
Maleem Mahmoud Ghania – Peace in Essaouria Pharoah Sanders – Wisdom Through Music Hannibal – The Voyage Idris Muhammad – Peace Lonnie Liston Smith – Meditations Woody Shaw – New World Pharoah Sanders – Japan Joe Bonner – Celebration Michael White – The Blessing Song Lonnie Liston Smith – Floating Through Space Norman Connors – Morning Change Larry Young – Sunshine Fly Away Gary Bartz – Etoiles Des Neiges Sonny Fortune – Long Before Our Mothers Cried Michael White – Fiesta Dominical Pharoah Sanders – The Golden Lamp
There are plenty of big names, cred-boosting producers, and luminaries to be found on Beyoncé’s Renaissance, but Kelman Duran’s name is one of the first you’ll encounter. While still ensconced in the electronic music underground, his handiwork is apparent from the opening seconds of “I’m That Girl.” It encapsulates his qualities in an instant: body-moving, haunted, heavyweight, ethereal.
I had the chance back in the winter of 2019 to review his standout album 13th Month and also profile him. When I met up with him out at Nowadays around that time, he had just finished a set full of ghostly ambient tracks, which he told me later were the rejected tracks he had presented to Kanye. All the drums had been stripped out. Later in the week, he was meeting with Bey’s management, so knew that there was a chance he was about to breakout. A lot of his work since then has vanished from the web, so keep an eye on his Bandcamp page (and also check out Sangre Nueva). Happy that in the wake of this album, more folks might now seek out Kelman’s work.
Earlier this week, I did a set for The Lot Radio. Call it a mid-summer mid-morning moody affair, but for once, it wasn’t overcast and raining. Started slow and dubby before moving towards something bright, vibrant, bouncy.
“People often only think of Mood Hut as a record label, but we are foremost a collective, and for a long time we did free park parties in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. For me, those nights reached close to the potential of what dances can be. When none of the usual constraints are put upon you, and when everyone is present in a beautiful place, willing to give themselves over to the whole thing. That’s when things can really ascend.”
Back in 2014, Andrew Morgan dosed me with a jam called “Openin’ Up,” which opened me up to the curious incubatory sound emanating from Vancouver and a span of cryptic 12″s on the nascent Mood Hut label. Over the years, the label/ collective have remained elusive: going ambient instead of clubby, dropping an album of diffuse disco edits, and other unexpected left turns.
Nearly ten years along, Jack J drops the first proper artist album for Mood Hut, a lovely, effervescent, contemplative album which a certain music website lamented as having “no obvious epic or clear highlight.” As a longtime fan, I took the opportunity to chat with Jack (as well as Chris Wang and Yu Su) and to dip a toe into the Mood Hut mystique and “that sound.”
Been a minute, but I made a new Buy Music Club mix. It’s origins lie in a mix originally conceived at the nadir of February (working title “OOF/ebruary”), focused on new releases and recent listening. I was touched that artists like Woo and the Havels both reached out to me to share their new works and included some of that here. Other highlights include Joseph Shabason’s dreamy interpretation of Satie, the new Batu, and Eiko Ishibashi’s Drive My Car score.
Last month, I did a special Sunday morning set for The Lot Radio. That day was thick with chilly clouds, so I leaned into that sort of ambience, starting off with some chorale clouds, gradually adding a little sprinkle of some more spring-beckoning sounds on the back half of the set.
“I was playing around with a radio transmitter I’d made when I heard something from outside the house and, fascinated, followed the sound outdoors. Striding off down the path between the rice fields, I paused halfway along the expanse of paddies to listen, and heard a chorus of thousands, tens of thousands of insects, like a wave of electronic sound washing over me. It was this experience that sparked my interest in sound and space, and which inspired me to begin exploring the many different sides of what we call sound.”