Playlist 05.13.18 : Five Songs for the Weekend

Playlist 05.13.18 : Five Songs for the Weekend
Playlist 05.13.18 : Five Songs for the Weekend
Playlist 05.13.18 : Five Songs for the Weekend

Childish Gambino – This Is America

In recent years, Childish Gambino has moved from main act to bit player in the sprawling Donald Glover portfolio. Gambino, originally a jokey rap vehicle, found mainstream success with the P-Funk pastiche of his 2016 album “Awaken, My Love!”, but that wider recognition coincided with Glover himself being increasingly praised for his skill set in full, rather than his individual talents. In his opening monologue for “SNL” this past weekend, even Glover veiled his own rapping past: “It all kinda worked out for me, I was on a show called ‘Community,’ I play Lando Calrissian in the new Star Wars movie Solo, and if you’re black, I made ‘Atlanta’ and ‘Redbone,’” he joked. “I’m an actor, writer, and a singer,” he summarized. It’s hard to parse the value or intent of this constant omission of rap, especially given “Atlanta”’s deft focus on the rap industry, but one thing is clear: Childish Gambino, the rapper, has become an anachronism.

“This Is America,” then, is a bit of a reset. Here, he uses the ambivalent reception of black art to represent the tightrope of being black. Built on the sharp contrast between jolly, syncretic melodies and menacing trap cadences, the song presents Childish Gambino as confident and cutting. “This is America!” he chants as the song swings between harmony and discord. Choice background vocals embellish both moods: cherubic hums and ecstatic screams for the singing sections; and manic ad-libs for the rap verses, often provided by other rappers (21 Savage, Young Thug, Quavo, Slim Jxmmi, and Blocboy JB). Glover’s voice bridges the two worlds, dropping to an austere deadpan for his rapping and ascending to a syrupy coo for his singing. “Don’t catch you slippin’ up,” Glover warns as he pulls off the balancing act with ease. In his past music, this versatility would have been a humblebrag; here it becomes conflict.

The video for “This Is America,” directed by Glover’s frequent collaborator Hiro Murai, turns this tension into satire. Bare-chested and sprightly, Glover trots through a warehouse dancing and gunning people down; seamlessly transitioning between these activities, his face is inscrutable, hidden behind a smile. The video and song use the candor of trap to ground the rapture of black joy, and thus the ambivalence of the United States’ relation to blackness. “Are we your blessing or your bane?” Glover seems to ask. It’s an urgent and worthwhile question.

The bulk of Childish Gambino’s work trafficks in iconoclasm, distinction from the rest of the rap pack; hearing him adopt such Atlantan sensibilities, backed mostly by Atlanta rappers, almost feels like revisionism. He is fromAtlanta, but that connection has only recently migrated into his work and has often felt transactional, a trend that continues here. It’s hard not to wonder what he gains from this reclaiming of his hometown. “This Is America” works without such self-examination, but Glover’s stake in this conversation is noticeably absent. Glover powerfully invokes America’s testy relationship with blackness, but what about his own?

Read the rest of this article at Pitchfork

Maribou State – Turnmills

In 1990s London, rave was king of the night, and Turnmill was the first club to get a 24-hour operation license. The warehouse operation became a must-attend hotspot for fashionable nightcrawlers of the dancing kind. Themed nights with names including Xanadu and Trade took over its nonstop programming, filling the foggy walls with revelers and electronic grooves no matter the hour.

In 2008, Turnmill was closed for good. Its lease had expired and would not be renewed. The warehouse was destroyed and turned into an office building, but its legacy lives on in the hearts of London’s artists and musicians, including Maribou State‘s Chris Davids and Liam Ivory.

“Turnmills was where we first experienced electronic music in a club setting,” Ivory is quoted in a press release. “It’s a totally different and transformative listening experience and that communal spirit, atmosphere and feeling has inspired the way we’ve made music. Clubs are such important hubs for music discovery, especially of songs that you might have overlooked in a different setting. Partly through the feeling in the room and also through the memories attached to the records you hear.”

The electronic duo breaks a three-year silence with a new song inspired by and named after the iconic club. It’s a chill groove that attempts to capture the feeling the friends once felt dancing all night in its hallowed spaces.

“We wrote ‘Turnmills’ the day after a Dama Dama label party at the East London club Shapes (shut down in 2016),” Maribou State’s Chris is quoted. “Our studio is housed in the same building actually … The vibe of the night brought back memories of our formative clubbing experiences, and that energy ended up being channeled straight back into the studio the next day.”

Read the rest of this article at Billboard

Colin Magalong- Bodies In A Room

A few months ago we posted a track from newcomer Colin Magalong. “Blossom,” a funky dance floor starter was followed by, “Melo,” a downtempo pop tune, and this week the LA-based singer songwriter has dropped the stunning “Bodies In A Room.”

Reminding me of Daft Punk at their climactic best, “Bodies In a Room” is a disco-infused pop record with Magalong’s lively vocals giving it an added touch of class.

There’s a real feel-good vibe going on with this one, “Bodies In A Room” is the type of track ideal for playing loud on a warm summer evening.

Colin Magalong is one to watch in 2018.

Read the rest of this article at Indieshuffle

Westerman – Edison

London musician Westerman has undergone something of a transformation in the last year. Where once he was making pastoral folk music in the vein of Nick Drake his more recent material, including the excellent single “Confirmation,” has buzzed with a more contemporary, Arthur Russell-eque sound. New track “Edison” continues this period of growth, adding a fizzy synth and electronic drum machine to his melodic work.

“Edison” takes place inside the head of a megalomaniac and is a suitable mix of moments of clarity and petulance. “They say pride comes before a fall, well I can almost taste it” he sings as the song reaches its highest point. Speaking to The FADER about the song via email, Westerman said: “This song came when I was working around the subject of absolute power. It happened quite fast. I hope it translates well.

Read the rest of this article at Fader

Beach House – Dark Spring

Over six albums, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House have offered the same enticement: There’s a place I want to take youhelp me to name it. The implicit promise has always been that if you opened up entirely, gave enough of yourself, the nameless sensation they evoke would finally come into focus, and the shapes moving beneath the surface of their music would resolve. You would finally understand if you came closer, stayed longer, looked deeper.

You could sense the now-venerable Baltimore duo playing this game in advance of their seventh album, simply called 7. The first single, Scally noted slyly to Pitchfork, came out on February 14—2/14, or two plus one plus four equals seven. The album brought their catalog to 77 songs, and the record’s initial issue number was 777. What did all this mystical numerology amount to when you squinted at it? Nothing of course, except to set the stage, light the incense. It’s the magician’s pre-trick pantomime, where he turns up his palms and rolls up his sleeves, for no other purpose than to make you lean in closer and grin harder. “We spend a lot of time creatively making mountains out of nothingness,” Scally added.

Inducing indefinable yearnings, tracing patterns in the air—this is the essence of Beach House’s art. They usher us repeatedly into familiar territory and encourage us to notice the same things within it: the way a dim glow never surges or abates, how sensations burrow into the mind and color our memories. But with each album, they somehow render this terrain alien again, allowing us to run our hands over the same irregularities in fresh astonishment.

With 7, they’ve parted ways with longtime producer Chris Coady and teamed with Panda Bear and MGMT producer and former Spacemen 3 member Peter Kember, who goes by Sonic Boom. The result is their heaviest and most immersive-sounding album. It’s darker, thicker, set at a deeper spot in the woods. The gentle drum programming of earlier records has been swept aside for thunderous crashes: The drums on opener “Dark Spring” have the resounding weight of My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Shallow,” and the mix has a smeared, heat-sick quality that brings all of Loveless to mind. Low-end sounds, like the thrumming guitar that pierces “Dive” have real menace: The insistent thud inside “Drunk in LA” is like a hand tapping your solar plexus. This is the first Beach House record that, in headphones, will make you feel buffeted.

You are never quite sure about the size of the sounds on a Beach House song; intimate moments are massive, and vice versa. Most of the record feels recorded and mixed from a low spot gazing up, with sounds looming above, but then grass-blade details resolve themselves in the foreground. Legrand’s voice doubles on the chorus of “Pay No Mind,” transforming her from wisp to leviathan in an instant. On “Dive,” she sounds as imposing as the thumping drums, but a humming synth the size of a music box runs alongside her, confusing your sense of scale. On “L’Inconnue,” her vocal lines pan from left to right and pool in on themselves. Her breath fills every corner of space. When the track fills out—some guitars, resonant drums, a choral patch—they appear as if from inside her rib cage. She’s never sounded bigger, or less mortal, than she does here.

These perspective tricks are the tools of film-making as much as of music, and Beach House’s music is full of cuts, dissolves, fades, super-imposures. You enter their records the way you settle into a movie seat, asking to be subsumed and bathed in light. Even Legrand’s lyrics function like rapturous, lingering takes. “Rolling clouds over cement,” she sings on “Drunk in LA” Like Stevie Nicks, to whom she is often compared, or Orson Welles, to whom she is nevercompared, she grasps how readily we latch onto rich, intoning voices, how we can’t help but find ourselves believing in what they say. A voice like hers is its own kind of authority, and she luxuriates in the sound of words leaving her mouth.

Measuring Beach House albums against one another is tricky—how do you compare daydreams? But on a sensory level, you feel whether the spell is working, and how potent it remains. On 7, all the contrasts that mark their music are dialed up to blinding; you are plunged into darkness and then showered in light. The experience is so enveloping that you find yourself contending, once again, with that familiar itch to locate meaning. The secret at the heart of Beach House’s evocative music remains the same—there is no specific place Legrand wants to take you. But there will always be… someplace you’d rather be. Beach House will always help you dream of it.

Read the rest of this article at Pitchfork

P.S. previous PLAYLISTS & more by P.F.M.