Jamila Woods breaks down BALDWIN for Song Exploder
Chicago-based vocalist and songwriter Jamila Woods made an appearance on the Song Exploder podcast this week, breaking down her recently released single, BALDWIN. In the twenty-minute podcast, she explains how James Baldwin’s letter to his nephew informed the track’s lyrical content, while producer Slot-A hits upon how Stevie Wonder’s use of Moog bass directly informed his application of the instrument. Woods also explained how she began crafting the track using a sample from SWV’s‘90s RnB hit, I’m So Into You— demonstrating just how far the song developed from its inception, to the final master. Listen to the insightful podcast here.
The Repeat Listen: Modern Studies and Tommy Perman – Emergent Slow Arcs
Tasting notes: The Caretaker – A Stairway To The Stars, Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians, Actress – Ghettoville, Roll the Dice meets Pole – In Dubs, Mohammad Reza Mortazavi – Focus
Released last May, Modern Studies’ sophomore album, Welcome Strangers, is an understated and mature work: its dark, other-wordly aura, beautiful arrangements and assured songcraft intriguing and captivating those fortunate enough to have encountered it. When designer and sound artist Tommy Perman heard the record, his appreciation for the music blossomed in tandem with a desire to interact with it: to edit, manipulate and transform the source material into sound art that reflected his emotional reaction to the record.
Thankfully, his working relationship with multi-instrumentalist and band member Rob St John made that possible. He took the source material and crafted from it eight enveloping pieces of electronic music — minimal, atmospheric soundscapes that bare little resemblance to the songs they were developed from. As you may’ve recognised, Emergent Slow Arcsis an anagram of Welcome Stranger, and while the new title is wholly appropriate for this slowly-shifting music, it is also a literal representation of the extensive rearrangement Perman has masterminded.
Opening track Ephemeris Mist is a dynamic, frequency packed piece of electronic pulse music — its rhythm reminiscent of the dizzying micro-shifts heard on Music for 18 Musicians. While Perman puts four on the floor in Faraway Hills, it is only to provide stability to the many polyrhythmic offshoots he teases out of the audio. Fans of the percussionist Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, whose remarkable hand control enables him to simulate echo and delay on his instruments, will appreciate the organic-feeling percussive repetition in this track, which gives it a layered, trance-inducing quality. Ghost Skies exhibits the comforting yet challenging randomness many enjoy in Aphex Twin’s productions, while Spectral Cannon and Sunup Shutdown are less percussive numbers, referencing the styles of dub techno and ambient music respectively. The latter hears Perman create metallic, shimmering drones from downsampled string parts, with crisp swells and full-bodied and chords.
These new compositions feel somehow connected with Hauntological music; somehow evocative of a disjunction between reality and our understanding of ourselves within the world. The music can be simultaneously disconcerting and comforting. Welcome Strangers has the possibility of making the Scottish Album of the Year award longlist tonight. Should it fail to make the cut, its creators should seek solace in the fact that it has inspired a new, altogether different work of art in Emergent Slow Arcs, one which is a testament to the strong underlying aesthetic of their original recording.
New Sounds and Visuals
Having recently inked a deal with Melodic records, Strawberry Guy dropped Mrs Magic via Notion this week. Just like Without You, the dreamy DIY production is certain to evoke all sorts of feels: his hushed vocals, watery lead synths and low-mixed drums hitting that textural sweet spot every songwriter shoots for.
Teaming up with pianist Jon Batiste, solo artist and anchor of the Late Show house band, Cory Wong bares his sensitive side on Home. The new video includes a heart-warming post-take exchange between the guitarist and pianist, as Wong enthusiastically praises Batiste for taking well-judged ‘harmonic chances’.
A new record is on the way from Ghanian artist Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu Area Band. Strut records shared the opening track from Obiaa on Bandcamp earlier this week, which contains lyrical guitar lines, powerful horns and an assortment of grooving percussion.