hugo manuel’s work as chad valley tugged at heartstrings earlier this fall via an excellent sophomore full-length, entirely new blue. one of the album’s focal points is “arms away,” an infectious cut about shifting perspectives. its new video, directed by lauren sieczkowski, plays on that shift visually with interactions between a dance troupe, manuel, and his adolescent alter-ego. the video, along with a short interview with manuel, premiered this morning over at the line of best fit; check out the clip for “arms away” below.
the dimestore headquarters has moved yet again, and every long-haul endeavor needs a soundtrack. this collection of songs is representative of what made the drive more bearable, the unpacking more enjoyable. click the play button above to hear cuts from tycho, st. vincent, mick jenkins, and more.
astronauts, etc. – “sadie”
mick jenkins – “your love”
lana del rey – “diet mountain dew”
chet faker – “1998”
st. vincent – “neutered fruit”
tycho – “ascension”
pillar point – “echoes”
vince staples – “earth science”
an album this intimate needs only a few choice words of context.
port st. willow will forever occupy an important plot point on my musical development chart. nick principe’s first full-length under said moniker, holiday, was the first album i discovered via twitter recommendation, thanks to a dutiful tweet from the antlers, and it was one i physically rediscovered eighteen months later in a bin at my local record store on the cusp of a particularly brutal midwestern winter.
i marveled at the cohesion of holiday, at principe’s mournful falsetto, at how percussion could be titanic yet somehow not impede the development of a beautiful soundscape. it’s also one of the few albums i own that actually irritates me, but only because i have to get up and flip the record so many times instead of being able to listen to it uninterrupted.
syncope follows the basic formula of its predecessor closely: it’s an album best-digested in a single session, and principe continues to favorably manipulate what should be a dichotomous relationship between thundering rhythms and tender melodies. yet syncope feels strikingly more improvisatory than holiday; discernible songs eventually materialize, but they’re routinely padded by and birthed from extended passages of patient ambience.
moments of wandering and moments of clarity are both executed beautifully. lead single “ordinary pleasure” dissolves into an aqueous solution aptly titled “an ocean we both know,” which in turn gradually morphs into “atlas.” principe’s meticulous attention to the growth and detail of his ambient interludes is commendable, and he reaps the benefits of his work on “motion,” the pulsating centerpiece of syncope replete with a whistled motif that may be the closest thing to a hook that principe has ever offered.
the explicit momentum of “motion” quickly recedes back into the guarded textures from which it originated, setting the stage for the album’s second half. the b-side of syncope feels even more exposed and vulnerable than its counterpart; acoustic piano peeks through the textures of “orbit back, my garden home” for a brief but prominent feature, its sparseness and preciseness juxtaposing the white noise that eventually resorbs it, while the discernible words amidst principe’s fluid cooing on closing number “opal” are decidedly lonely, a longing gaze out of a window.
syncope has had a relatively quiet rollout, but it’s already proving to be an integral component in the port st. willow canon. navigate away from the dimestore and immerse yourself in this beautiful piece of art.
london newcomer couros is flourishing despite relative obscurity. after flirting with stuttering misdirections on his dance-heavy debut “never be,” the producer returned yesterday with “turning,” a comparatively warm exploration of resonant synth pads that gently fold into one another. smooth bell tones subtly accent the track’s most important off-beats, a sign that couros could be more indebted to the intimate bedroom aesthetic than he first appeared. this song is best experienced on a continuous loop; take a listen to “turning” below.
south korean singer-songwriter neon bunny drew influence from jazz pillars like dinah washington and ella fitzgerald for her new single, “romance in seoul,” an atmospheric, downtempo approximation of a trajectory in which the genre could have convincingly invested. pillowy vibraphone tones rest gently beneath neon bunny’s ethereal contour, providing crucial, guarded counter-melodies in tandem with plucked strings that dictate the track’s breath-taking peaks and introspective valleys. “romance in seoul” is out today via cscn, the singles sub-label of cascine; take a listen below.
elohim’s brief career has been marked by a slew of songs that read like peaks and troughs of a waveform. after the contrasting one-two punch of “she talks too much” and “xanax” earlier this year, elohim returns today with “bridge and the wall,” the first cut from her upcoming aa-side for b3sci records. on “bridge and the wall,” elohim again demonstrates an adroitness for meaningful synth-pop construction; darker verses cascade into effervescent choruses that abstain from mid-range textures in favor of resonant bass lines and brief, infectious treble motifs. take a listen to “bridge and the wall” below.
gabe donnay and adam boukis have been crafting dreamy electronic soundscapes populated by pulsing drums and soothing vocals as satchmode for awhile now; a handful of eps – including this summer’s afterglow – have helped to lay a solid foundation for the los angeles duo’s debut full-length album, due out sometime in early 2016. satchmode recently teased the untitled album’s lead single, “further away,” a cinematic synth-pop gem with melancholic undertones congruous to its absolutely gorgeous cover art. take a listen to “further away” below.
last month, canadian duo memoryhouse dropped “dream shake,” the first single from their forthcoming full-length soft hate. the track is the most unabashed, pure slice of pop that denise nouvion and evan abeele have offered up to this point in their career, and today the pair released its accompanying music video. nouvion hops behind the camera with samantha cardow to direct the clip, which features an amalgamation of bucolic nature scenes and florescent close-ups. keep an eye peeled for a topical crewneck sweatshirt as well. check out the video for “dream shake” below.
two very strong albums released last friday – goldlink’s and after that, we didn’t talk and busdriver’s thumbs – contained guest verses from anderson paak, the young multi-faceted producer and singer who also featured prominently on dr. dre’s compton this past summer. paak is also prepping solo material of his own; a new full-length, malibu, is reportedly due out before the year’s end, and this weekend he debuted a new song on dr. dre’s radio show “the pharmacy.”
“the season / carry me” is a two-part narrative that finds paak fluidly flipping between arresting hooks and gravelly verses while cyclical samples allow glorious layered harmonies to unfurl underneath. no word on if “the season / carry me” will appear on malibu, but the song’s quality is indicative of a potentially superb album waiting in the wings. take a listen to “the season / carry me” below.
copenhagen trio chinah are three for three so far in their brief career. their latest track, “minds,” follows previous singles “we go back” and “away from me,” but it’s devoid of the introspective tones of its predecessors. “minds” instead moves forward resolutely, grounded first in an ostinato synth declaration that eventually gives way to a massive chorus with purposeful, stuttering off-beat jabs of texture. the melancholic content is still there; “minds” is a song about indecisiveness, after all, but its comparatively sunny demeanor is a welcomed about face for the band. all three of chinah’s tracks will appear on their debut ep, out in january via no. 3. take a listen to “minds” below.