Our Bandcamp column for the second quarter of 2020, with new releases by MICHAELBRAILEY, Bergonsist, Nídia, and more
We’re halfway through 2020, and the global news cycle seems to throw up some previously unthinkable scenario daily. Amidst the global pandemic, unprecedented times have become thoroughly precedented, and on every continent of Earth, people have been marching as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding police and prison abolition and sweeping social reform.
Despite the difficult setting right now – the economic damage of the pandemic has hugely affected the arts, with those already struggling financially being hit the hardest – new and under-discussed talents in the world of underground music are still finding a way. For the second edition of our quarterly roundup for 2020, we’re continuing to acknowledge the lower-profile musicians, artists, and producers with strong communities, real visions, and important statements to make. Here are 10 essential Q2 releases, all available on Bandcamp.
WHO: The Moroccan New Yorker investigating social resonance through electronic music and visual art.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Part of an ongoing series of Bandcamp releases named after HTML colour codes, #001a4a sees Bergsonist looping machine rhythms, soothing incantations, and hypnotic melodies until they become liminal zones. If you enjoy what’s on display over #001a4a’s concise four-track running time, check out the eight other EPs she’s released in recent months.
FOR FANS OF: Machine Woman, Air Max ’97
CLAIRE ROUSAY, I’LL GIVE YOU ALL OF MY LOVE
WHO: A wry experimental musician who invests texture and rhythm with meaning and humour.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Claire Rousay is a rising star within the worlds of noise, sound art and free jazz – or at least, as much as you can be a ‘rising star’ right now. A mixture of sound collage from her life, whispered monologues, and subtle electronics, i’ll give you all of my love sees Rousay using the everyday to craft new rhythmic modes. You might hear your world differently after spending some time with this.
FOR FANS OF: William Basinski, Lucrecia Dalt, Midori Takada
DREAMCRUSHER, ANOTHER COUNTRY
WHO: An iconoclastic, hyper-prolific noise artist exploring the distance between what is and what could be.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Somewhere between a mixtape and a project, Another Country is the 39th release from Kansas-born, New York-based experimentalist known as Dreamcrusher. Immersive in the best way possible, across it’s 43-minute running time, Dreamcrusher atomises new jack swing, classical, rock, rap, and soundtrack music into a euphoric and soothing sea of noise.
FOR FANS OF: Dean Blunt, Puce Mary, Mhysa
KATE NV, ROOM FOR THE MOON
WHO: A style-shifting multi-hyphenate paying homage to her love of Russian and Japanese pop music from the 70s and 80s.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: In interviews, Moscow’s Kate NV has described the experience of discovering old Japanese techno-pop and boogie as feeling like a musical homecoming of sorts. She sees connections between the sounds of 1980s Tokyo and the Russian fairy tales, fantasy films, and folk music she was raised on, and with Room for the Moon, she threads them together into a comforting and beautiful cycle of trilingual (Russian, French, English) pop songs.
FOR FANS OF: Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Miharu Koshi, Ann Steel
MICHAELBRAILEY, THE BROKEN HEART IS MORE THAN A METAPHOR IT IS TERRAFORMING IN ACTION
WHO: The Manchester-based composer and producer reframing love songs for our hyperlinked times.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: On its surface, MICHAELBRAILEY’s digitised vocals and woozy, pixelated beatscapes recall the early cyberspace sonics of Lapalux and the deconstructed club production sound of the 2010s. That said, beneath the post-internet aesthetic of his latest lies a soul bearing exploration of the expression of love. Listen by listen, The Broken Heart is More Than a Metaphor It is Terraforming in Action reveals layers of subtleties and depth.
FOR FANS OF: Jai Paul, Holly Herndon, Jesse Kanda
NICK LEÓN, AGUACERO
WHO: The NAAFI producer making percussive club music that mirrors the growing unease in Miami, the city he calls home.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: ‘Aguacero’ is Spanish for ‘downpour’, or ‘rainstorm’, which is fitting considering the climate change fears that lie at the heart of Nick León’s new EP. León trades in textures that can be haunting or serene, and programmed rhythms that make you move. His instrumentals are filmic, and they’re soundtracking a coastal city where the sea levels continue to rise.
FOR FANS OF: Siete Catorce, Lila Tirando a Violeta, Florentino
NÍDIA, NÃO FALES NELA QUE A MENTES
WHO: A Lisbon/Bordeaux club producer and DJ remaking trap and grime instrumentals in her own image.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes is the sound of Príncipe Discos’ Nídia Borges returning to Portugal with a wealth of experience from touring internationally, and working with popular electronic stars like Kelela, Yaeji, and Fever Ray. This time, her 808s, hi-hats, and handclaps heave with the heft of southern rap, but the bittersweet melodies and sweeping synths are still all hers.
FOR FANS OF: DJ Python, Nazar, Yaeji
SPACE AFRIKA, HYBTWIBT?
WHO: The Manchester production and DJ duo making ambient music that sounds like the world feels.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As Space Afrika, Joshua Inyang and Joshua Reid adopt the frameworks of dub techno, ambient, field recordings, and found sound in a journey to make sense of the world around them. Adapted from a May NTS mix of their own productions and edits, their hybtwibt? mixtape/project uses perfectly placed and manipulated samples to capture the energy and mood of 2020 in all it’s emotional complexities and contradictions.
FOR FANS OF: Chino Amobi, Hype Williams, Elysia Crampton Chuquimia
VARIOUS ARTISTS, NEW YORK DANCE MUSIC VOL. III
WHO: A collection of New York’s finest new generation dance music artists banding together to support vital causes.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With this one, the title is self-explanatory. What you read is what you’ll hear. Kush Jones, AceMo, Swisha, MoMa Ready, and 18 other producers operating in the tri-state area band together again, this time to fundraise for Black Visions Collective and National Bail Out. All killer, no filler, New York Dance Music Vol. III is another vital missive from the talents driving an exciting and distinct new era for dance music from the city that never sleeps. The musical generosity of these genre-blending artists is marked. There are no offcuts among the jungle, techno, and footwork on display here.
FOR FANS OF: RP Boo, Metalheadz, LSDXOXO
WESTERMAN, YOUR HERO IS NOT DEAD
WHO: The London-based singer-songwriter recasting 80s lounge rock and AOR in a fittingly 21st century light.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Across Your Hero is Not Dead, Will Westerman explores the instabilities and uncertainties of modern life through resplendent vocal melodies and questioning lyrics. Supported by luxurious electronic production from British avant-pop genius Bullion, and a rich tapestry of backing vocals, piano, guitar, strings, and woodwind, it’s an album full of wonder and yearning; a temporary escape.
FOR FANS OF: Talk Talk, Kate Bush, Arthur Russell