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VIDEO: On “Habit,” Angelnumber 8 Draws Us Like A Moth To A Flame

photo credit @jeralddjohnson 

 

L.A.-based singer-songwriter Angelnumber 8 today releases “Habit,” the first single from his upcoming project Digital Tribal, along with an accompanying music video, released via CashApp Studios.

The track begins with Angelnumber 8’s crisp, double-tracked vocals accompanied for a couple measures by echoing synth keyboards, until the beat (complete with itchy-sounding snare) enters, alongside delicately arpeggiated, tropical-sounding electric guitar and deep, rounded synth bass. At points, Angelnumber 8’s voice is transformed with clever use of tremolo, lending a hypnotic quality to his voice and blurring the lines between vocal and instrument. When he chooses to bypass the effect, it’s in favor of double-tracking his vocals using the low bass range of his voice, which lends an additional pleasant depth to the soundscape. The track ends just as quickly as it starts, with mischievous vocal hiccups and gentle yelps seeing the drums and bass out until, at last, all that’s left is the electric guitar.

Lyrically, Angelnumber 8 seems to address some unnamed romantic interest in terms of his addiction to them, but also laments their neglect of him in favor of other distractions, including those that earn them money, but not artistic or creative output. “Breathless/I am again,/Like jeans ripped from the hem/Holding on to a thread/Bending,/Twisting,/With limbs,” he sings, describing his strung-out state of mind after bing neglected by the person he’s addressing.

The ingenious music video (directed by the artist and with visual effects by Zach Beech) finds Angelnumber 8 in an idyllic romance with a glitch-ridden, technicolor digital moth. They cavort together in the wilderness, they have dinner at a “fancy” restaurant (although she goes unnoticed, at first, by the waiter), but their time together takes an unfortunate turn toward the morbid, as well as the surreal. The final sequence is startlingly Lynchian in both its banality and its chilling effect. This writer expects bigger and better work to come soon from this artist on the rise. Gabe Hernandez





VIDEO: INNER WAVE’s “Take 3” Is A Surreal Take On Covid Life

photo courtesy of the artist

 

L.A.-based band Inner Wave has announced the coming release of their fourth and latest album, Appotosis, on September 30th by releasing a music video for album track “Take 3.” Inner Wave are managed by Cosmica Artists + Records.

The track begins with a thick, honky, effortlessly funky bass line rolling alongside a languid but insistent four-on-the-floor drumbeat, both sharing space with polished, delayed synth mallets. Frontman Pablo Sotelo’s vocals are pleasingly lethargic in the way his syllables land in the pocket with the four-on-the-floor groove. Sotelo’s vocals are accompanied by delicate, echoed guitar strums and mournful, siren-like, infinitely stretched synth lines that seem to underline the melancholy and emotional fatigue of his vocals. Plucked synths that dominate during the chorus add an extra layer of dancefloor gloss that wouldn’t be out of step at a local club some night this weekend. The icing on the cake is the lush middle section that leads the song into it’s conclusion, which has an “everything but the kitchen sink” feel, while managing to remain stately in its unraveling.

The track is special in that its music video also marks Sotelo’s directorial debut. It’s a fairly simple affair, but full of symbolism for covid quarantiners. The singer spends the bulk of the video standing camera center, viewable only from the waist up, and wearing a simple white tank top. Footage of vintage road scenes are projected onto the upper part of his face (an enigmatic but potent visual, to be sure), which alternate with multi-exposed versions of himself. Some are lit from the front with a blood-red glow, some from behind with a single blinding white light, revealing a sea of fog at his feet. It’s definitely a pick for best use of minimal prop resources, and the shot where Sotelo slowly struts across the multicolored stage wearing a full military gas mask apparatus is a not-too-subtle nod to the Covid pandemic. It’s an effectively narcotic video for a lush and hypnotic track that accurately reflects the breakdown of time and space that the covid crisis created, and another artistic document to note the events of the past year and a half. Gabe Hernandez





FRESH CUTS: On “Goosebumps,” Gregory Uhlmann Stretches Time

photo credit: Jacob Boll

L.A.-based art-folk auteur Gregory Uhlmann (guitarist and vocalist with local act Fell Runner) has today released “Goosebumps,” an atmospheric one-off single—following up on his Neighborhood Watch album of last July—on Topshelf Records.

 

The art-folk track begins humbly with a simple muted acoustic drum fill, announcing the entry of two strummed nylon-string guitars and an hypnotic, elliptic bass line. The atmosphere of the recording is warm and open, quickly inviting the listener into its center.

Uhlmann’s voice is alternately deeply resonant and choir-boy pure, with a bit of breathiness, especially during the chorus, where his voice fades into a deep ocean of reverb on a single syllable. The addition of a gooey, tremoloed synth about halfway through the song changes the flavor but does so tastefully, as does the entrance of plucked instruments, pitched somewhere between mallets and a ticking clock, along with oceanic synth pads that resemble a school of shimmering sea creatures.

By the time the swelling single-note guitar lines double Uhlmann’s vocal melody and a lone, perfectly-timed cymbal crash signals the conclusion of the song, the listener has been taken on a unique aural journey, where contrasting timbres that shouldn’t fit well together still somehow manage to do so. Gabe Hernandez





L'Rain "Find It" in mesmerizing live set

After lighting up a thick stick of incense Taja Cheek a/k/a L’Rain (by day Ms. Cheek is a curatorial assistant at the MoMA PS1 contemporary art center) turns to manipulating a number of electronic modules alongside her bandmates and their guitars/keyboards/drums/digital thingymebobs (taken together the collective itis also named L'Rain, try to keep up here!) as they ease into a musical piece called “Find It” weaving together a sonic tapestry that's built layer-by-layer starting with celestial washes of synth and other ambient clouds of sound eventually joined by percussion with brushed cymbals and tom rolls and then some guitar harmonics produced by hitting the backside of his instrument with a drum mallet and then some cresting waves of saxophone with its trilling tones fed through a swampy layer of echo—with the band enmeshed in a spider’s web of electronic gear, effects pedals, and wiring which they manage to engage in tandem with their more conventional instruments—and then five minutes into the whole thing of building up an entire sonic sculpture, L’Rain, the woman, not the band, leans into the microphone and sings a short vocal line going on to loop her voice in harmony with itself as she continues singing which creates a spinning/spiraling Spirograph-like pattern against which L'rain adds bass into the mix with a melodic winding line (all this twisting and turning is mirrored in the POV camerawork winding in and out of the individual players) and the opening lyric: 

“How did I collect these clouds / from rain that fell for days / feel bad just to feel sane / my mother told me / make a way out of no way / make a way out of no way” and that’s exactly what the musical composition itself does as it builds out its own structure from the inside out, starting from the barest bones and building to criss-crossing patterns of polyrhythms, like an bug spinning a cocoon from within before emerging fully-formed. And it this isn't the perfect musical representation of “making a way out of no way” then I don't know what is. 

And this is just the start of L’Rain’s mini-set, taped for Seattle's KEXP as part of their KEXP At Home series, recorded live in L’Rain’s own Brooklyn environs. The album “Find It” is taken from is called Fatigue and it was released late last month and it’s interesting to compare the two versions studio vs. live. But never mind that because you’ll wanna listen to the album in its entirety asap whether for comparative purposes or not because it’s a heavy, heady, head-spinningly immersive album co-produced between Taja and fellow L'Rainer Andrew Lappin). And it also contains “Two Face” which is the other song heard in the live set above. Returning to the notion of making “a way out of no way” the whole record is a sonic and poetic exploration of the struggle to make sense of the senselessness of the preceding months or years or centuries (take your pick) and to emerge out the other side with something of beauty that's ready to take flight. 

So whether you're already into SAULT or Solange or simply music that's both soulful and boundary-breaking in equal measure then here you have another one for the listening queue. And then for more L’Rain in audiovisual form you can check out some of the clips below, but most of all go listen to Fatigue in its entirety because somewhat contrary to its name it's a galvanizing ride even while taking listeners into the heart of darkness. (Jason Lee)





FRESH CUTS: “nwts” Has Amindi Making Big Sounds Out Of Little Pieces

photo credit: vinny nolan

L.A.-based Alternative R&B singer/songwriter Amindi has released “nwts,” a track from her upcoming EP debut, nice, out July 28th through label Human Re-sources.

The track begins with muffled—but angelic—vocals slowly coming into focus, along with the lightest touch of bass, before a compressed, possibly sampled, drumbeat lands with assertive force, balanced by a more active bass line, a sprinkling of guitar (or keyboard?) ornamentation, and Amindi’s casually sung lead vocal. It’s an impressively minimal soundscape that still sounds full of activity, and sports a deadly, hypnotic groove.

Lyrically, the track appears to be a kiss-off to a relationship with someone who lacks the narrator’s self-motivated, “DIY” mindset (note the recurring lyrics: “I’m still me without you/You ain’t made shit/Self-made bitch/DIY, makeshift/Buzz so big I could sell a blank disc”) while also being a reminiscence of the artist’s aesthetic development from early school days to their current status as a formidable songwriter, oozing with talent and undeniable cool in their presentation (“And I paid my dues/Since them days in school/Since them payless shoes/I was way less cool/Now I done bossed up/“).

"nwts" comes alongside an announcement that Amindi will be presenting an innovative live album experience with OkiDoki on July 15th. During the event, fans will be able to see Amindi perform the EP for the first time and to interact with visual stories that bring her words to life via animations from artists behind novel works, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gumby, and Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. Gabe Hernandez

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