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.
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.
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.
2021 marked the first year I didn’t really submit a “Best of 2021” list anywhere. I stopped writing for Pitchfork after 19 years (the past few years, I was relegated to the sidelines in terms of EOY writing anyhow so no great loss). I did a ballot for Jazz Critics Poll and always ignore those Uproxx emails about ballots. Last year, I got to contribute a Boomkat list, but wasn’t asked this year Anyhow, in filing away some records, I posted a batch of them on IG and thought I may as well type them out now:
“You had three Anglo guys and a Hispanic guy, and we were looking to play at [what] was essentially an all-Black nightclub. But that was the music we were playing.”
Imagine my surprise at learning there was a brief blip of boogie-funk in my hometown. Not that I was hip to anything funky at the age of 5. There’s traces of Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire to be sure, some stompers that could have been looped by Daft Punk, but also some breezy AOR numbers that bring to mind Ned Doheny. Thanks to the Still Music label for this handy compilation of San Antonio’s Horizon.
Last Friday, right after the Mayor was on-air, I appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss an album very close to my heart, Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Ten years ago, few people would have slotted it in canon alongside well-established albums like Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, so perception and recognition of Alice’s genius is slowly growing. As you can imagine, I was honored to be able to discuss this profound piece of music.
“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it paved the way for Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, which opened the floodgates for Western capitalism. And yet the Havels somehow floated above the influx of new modern sounds, sounding as out of time then as they do now—still and serene in our manic era.”
One of my last reviews for Pitchfork was about a tidy little compilation from Melodies as Truth documenting nearly three decades of Irena and Vojtěch Havlovi’s haunting music. Melodies in the Sand serves as a great introduction to the couple’s bewitching way with the viola da gamba. A new listener myself, I soon realized that a great amount of their discography is also available on Bandcamp. A few months on, I dove into it for a more in-depth primer.
In honor of what would have been Larry Levan’s 67th birthday, I’m posting an article that originally ran at Pitchfork about Levan’s lasting influence, which emanated far beyond the parking garage walls of the Paradise Garage to the wastelands of suburbia.
The Larry Levan Bump: How the Legendary Paradise Garage DJ Ignited Some of the ‘80s Biggest Hits
Before songs like Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” became era-defining hits, they were favorites at Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage. By Andy Beta.
In March 2013, followers of the Paradise Garage Bot were baffled. The Twitter account, which sends out links to singles that sainted DJ Larry Levan once spun at the hallowed New York City club, had just posted Rick Astley’s infamous “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which hit #1 in the U.S. in March 1988—six months after the Paradise Garage closed its doors in September 1987. Was this automatic bot Rickrolling its followers all of a sudden?