This week on Timely Tunes, we bring you the latest by Helado Negro, Moses Sumney, Weyes Blood, Goat, and John Adams.
Helado Negro “Mi Mano” (From “Private Energy”)
Roberto Carlos Lange crafts quiet, meticulous, initially unassuming tracks in both Spanish and English that unfold further upon each listen. His newest record under the Helado Negro moniker addresses the bisecting nature of being a young American artist born to Ecuadorian immigrants in a society that continues to denigrate the non-white body (see also: the English language tracks “Young, Latin and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin”).
Moses Sumney “Lonely World” (From “Lamentations”)
Moses’ falsetto voice comes in like a midnight psych-soul Shuggie Otis phantom, Thundercat’s bass humming in the background as the song sails to the moon, but it ends in a thrilling burst of clattering sound that you could envision Thom Yorke awkward-shimmying to. Moses Sumney spent his adolescence in Ghana before returning to the U.S., and taught himself to write, record, and perform music only a few years ago. He has slowly been trickling out ever-more-intriguing glimpses of a talent on the cusp of something monumental with this new EP. It probably doesn’t hurt that Solange Knowles, another artist who recently bequeathed us a monument, is one of his mentors.
Weyes Blood “Generation Why” (From “Front Row Seat to Earth”)
Natalie Mering has toured as a member of noise-rock behemoths Jackie-O Motherfucker and sang backup on Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s “Mature Themes”; but her solo work is in an entirely different cosmos. Here she sounds like a lost mystical, folksy Laurel Canyon songstress from the early 1970s. With a stage name adapted from Flannery O’Connor’s novel “Wise Blood” (a story where war veteran Hazel Motes attempts to set up an anti-religious ministry in a strange Southern community), Mering’s music is similarly engaged with Southern Gothic soul searching.
Goat “Try My Robe” (From “Requiem”)
An anonymous Swedish psychedelic band wearing masks and playing a strange fusion of disparate “world music” (such a banal, vanilla genre tag, no?) sounds like pure gimmick. Nonetheless, “Requiem” is their third successful record of such polyglot mysticism. “Try My Robe” imagines what feminist punk heroes The Slits might have sounded like had they been into Malian folk instead of dub reggae.
John Adams “II. A Long Desire (Love Scene)” (From “Scheherazade.2”)
This new work by modern composer John Adams was recorded in February 2016 by the David Robertson-led St. Louis Symphony (the second oldest orchestra in the country), featuring a tour-de-force solo by MacArthur Fellow violinist Leila Josefowicz. Adams is one of the most prominent composers of his generation, famous for the opera “Nixon in China” and the choral piece “On the Transmigration of Souls”, the latter of which commemorated the victims of 9/11. This new work was inspired by Adams’ exposure to an exhibition at Paris’ Institute du Monde Arabe and the history of the “Arabian Nights” folk tales. He imagined this dramatic Berlioz-indebted symphony as a tribute to a modern Scheherazade who is an “empowered, liberated spirit”, with Josefowicz’s solo as the voice against masculine oppression.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 23
1. Eddie Palmieri “Condiciones Que Existen”
2. Helado Negro “Mi Mano”
3. Algodon Egipcio “La Estrella Irregular”
4. Xenia Rubinos “Don’t Wanna Be”
5. Moses Sumney “Lonely World”
6. Bilal “Bury Me Next To You”
7. The Isley Brothers “Harvest for the World”
8. Dave Mason “Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving”
9. Weyes Blood “Generation Why”
10. Joni Mitchell “Just Like This Train”
11. Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder “Bonde”
12. Goat “Try My Robe”
13. Tinariwen “Toumast Tincha”
14. Hector Berlioz “Symphonie Fantastique: Un bal: Valse allego non troppo”
15. John Adams “Scheherazade.2: II. A Long Desire (Love Scene)”
16. Arvo Part “Nunc Dimittis”
Note by Deanna: What are you listening to lately? If you’re on Spotify, leave me a link. I’m always on the lookout for new music.
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