Ryley Walker Compiles Far-Reaching Compilation for Tompkins Square
Guitarist and songwriter Ryley Walker has compiled the forthcoming ninth volume of Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem series — working once more with the label who released his 2014 debut LP, All Kinds Of You. The series began in 2005, with in-house curators placing ‘first-gen American Primitive guitar legends’ alongside new guitar talents, but it has since turned its focus to the work of contemporary artists, selected by guest curators.
The label feels that Walker’s 11-track compilation is ‘probably the most diverse of the series’, with it containing music from the fingerstyle magician Shane Parish (a must-hear for Pentangle fans), singer-songwriter Kendra Amalie, and New York-based jazz player Dida Pelled. The compilation will be released on 20th September, but to coincide with this week’s announcement, Tompkins Square have made all eight antecedent volumes available digitally.
“If you’re reading this, you’ve cracked open a deep fried black hole to some of the most far out guitarists on the planet.” Walker states in an accompanying press release. “My hope is that you’ll continue to support all the artists here by going to their gigs and buying the music. Music biz is a sh*t biz but guitar players are pretty intuitive at making it work.”
Listen to Kendra Amalie’s Boat Ride below and find the full compilation on Bandcamp.
The Repeat Listen: YUNGMORPHEUS & Fumitake Tamura — Mazal
Tasting notes: Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition, Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands of Love, Captain Murphy – Duality, Jeremiah Jae – Raw Money Raps, $uicideboy$ – Dark Side Of The Clouds
One of the beauties of present day technology is the way it enables remote collaboration and creative exchange. An entire project can be conceived, developed and completed without two or more collaborators ever sharing the same space. While the Los Angeles-based rapper YUNGMORPHEUS and Tokyo-based producer Fumitake Tamura have indeed met in person, their first exchanges came online, through mutual respect for one another’s work. Their subsequent workflow involved a two-year creative exchange, in which instrumentals and bars were passed from artist to artist, leading to the twenty-track project (ten full tracks and their instrumental versions) we see before us.
The collaborative record begins with Blunted, which showcases YUNGMORPHEUS’ psychedelic flow and Tamura’s dynamic production. From undulating pads and rolled-off kicks in the intro, to sub-heavy bass surges and delay-drenched snares in the verse, Tamura develops the beat nicely, adding emphasis to YUNGMORPHEUS decisive delivery.
The L.A. rapper makes his first reference to Police brutality almost immediately — a lyrical theme which is recurrent throughout the record. With his emotionally dense delivery: at times dispirited, cool, hazy, menacing, energised — YUNGMORPHEUS conveys the erosion of trust between US law enforcement and African-Americans such as he. He conveys despair and anger without his delivery becoming overly animated. His feelings are amplified on Last Days // Ashtrays, when he ruminates upon retaliation, then again on Stray Thoughts, where he unequivocally outlines an ‘eye for an eye’ outlook.
Elsewhere, YUNGMORPHEUS hits upon smoking, his peers fronting, and sends indiscriminately for mumble rappers lacking his dexterity and flow. All the while, Tamura is switching up the instrumental styles: from a spacious, minimal beat with random chimes on Combustion, to an old school joint with jubilant brass and guitar samples in General Barca, to some dark, gritty electronica on closing cut Samson, Tamura looks far and wide for inspiration.
The fact that YUNGMORPHEUS’ recorded this LPs vocals on a sub £200 Tascam DR-40 leaves less of an audible impression than a conceptual one. It’s a reminder that in the modern age, thousands of pounds worth of studio equipment aren’t essential, and that a robustness can be desirable for artists speaking from the heart, seizing the inspiration when it strikes and generally working behind closed doors, privately processing the madness they see around them. YUNGMORPHEUS and Fumitake Tamura weren’t striving for perfection with Mazal— they were exchanging ideas, keeping things varied and seeing where the process took them. It results in a really cool, unassuming underground rap record, packed with strong bars and strong production.
New Sounds and Visuals
2018 KBS Korean Classical Music Award winner Ha Yun-ju exquisitelycombines a traditional Korean vocal style with impressionistic, minimal acoustic piano on her new album,Chu-Sun (Autumn Fan). Standout track Bright Moon Reflecting on the Lonely Mountain encapsulates her phenomenal diction and control, appreciation for nature and overarching ‘Garden of Sound’ aesthetic.
In the week that he secured seven nominations at the AFRIMMA awards, including Best Male West African act and Song of the Year, we have been revelling in Burna Boy’s new collaborative cut Different, featuring contributions from Damian Marley and Angelique Kidjo. The track hears Marley and Burna exploring humanity’s differences and similarities, maintaining a neutral stance while still conveying deep emotion. Kidjo’s emotive bridge seals what is a perfect, international collaboration.
Funk guitarist, songwriter and Vulfpeck member Cory Wong released his new studio album, Motivational Music for the Syncopated Soul, last week. The Minneapolis native followed it up with a new video, accompanying the record’s third track, Lunchtime. The cut sees bassist Sonny T playing some frankly outrageous licks, alongside Wong and his trusted studio band.
The Bug dropped a new track in collaboration with Burial on their PRESSURE label this week. Working as Flame 2, they craft a menacing, sub-heavy and gritty piece of dark, ambient electronica, with spaced out hats, claps and kicks, persistent bass and cacophonous feedback. Beauty, insanity, darkness and light are linger within this haunting work.
Moon Duo’s dreamy new cut Lost Heads is laden with pulsing synths and a percussive 4/4 groove, calling to mind classic German psych of the early seventies. The slow-burning cut is lifted from their forthcoming LP Stars Are the Light, which drops on27th September.
OkayAfrica picked the new Kirani AYAT banger Shugah 2xas one of their tracks of the week, and we can’t get enough of its squelchy bass line, ethereal vocal pads and irresistible hook. Its video, directed Andy Madjitey, celebrates the human form, with energetic choreography and dimly-lit artistic shots. Fans of Okzharp & Manthe Ribane, classic house and future beats, take note.