Ayshay — WARN-U
by Ben Bieser
electronic, ethereal, deconstructivist, a capella, hymnal, minimalist
Layering digitally altered strata of her voice, Ayshay — better known as New York-based grime deconstructivist Fatima Al Qadiri — conjures the process of exhalation. Composed of reverberatory breath yet suggestive of the bodily function producing breathlessness, "WARN-U" inhabits an unstable space circumscribed by its diaphanous vocal layers. In this tense zone, negotiating physicality and immateriality, structure and formlessness, religiosity and sensuality (the only English lyrics a longing “I want to be near you”), heft and weightlessness, Ayshay captures a moving yet subtle fragility.
In contrast with the physical force of Al Qadiri's 2013 single "Wanna Party," "WARN-U" lacks much in the way of instrumental weight — the only sound distinguishing it from an a capella performance a quietly thumping drum. More surprising, though, is Al Qadiri’s ability to imbue the sonic sparsity of WARN-U with the corporeal tangibility of her more outwardly potent bangers. But as it fades out, the wisps of voice and breath and solidity dissolve, a convincing magic trick completed.
"Warn-U" is out on TriAngle Records. Link to their Soundcloud here.
Guerilla Toss — "Diamond Girls"
by Anna Hennigan
punk, noise, dance punk, shit-wave, James Murphy, thrash, LCD Soundsystem
Opening with drummer Peter Negroponte’s wild sense of rhythm, the track immediately channels intensity with singer Kassie Carlson’s impudent opening call, “Who do you know?” Throughout, “Diamond Girls” negotiates punk and groove, occasionally dropping into a smooth bass line before bursting back into riotous sound. Carlson makes disparagement of “diamond girls,” those “strategically sexless, wide-eyed” types, so fun it’s almost euphoric.
Once an active member of the Boston DIY scene, Guerilla Toss is now based out of Brooklyn and has become known for their energetic, almost ecstatic performances. "Diamond Girls" is the first single off Eraser Stargazer, their newest LP since 2013's Gay Disco.
Eraser Stargazer will be released by DFA Records on March 4th and can be pre-ordered at Guerilla Toss's Bandcamp.
Roly Porter — “4101”
by Salmaan Amin
electronic, dystopian, soundscape, drone, industrial, instrumental
Roly Porter is a British electronic musician whose work consists primarily of epic orchestration and lush, percussive arrangements. Since the disbandment of his previous project Vex’d, Porter has continued further down a post-apocalyptic, dystopian sonic vein. His most recent EP, The Third Law, is a vivid recollection of uneven and distorted atmospheres, each one based off a range of pulsating bass frequencies and capitulations into sinister, heart-deadening silence.
Released in advance of the full album, the track “4101” builds with an incessant deliberation. At first stoic and solemn, it persists with an industrial glitchy-ness and a repetition of Haxan Cloak-typified, portentous instrumentals. There is a measured subtlety that characterizes the track, in the way the breathtaking cacophony of high-pitched buzzing routinely dissipates into the barely sentient. And then it begins again, effectively resulting in a system of repeated dilation and collapse, every time more captivating than the last. “4101” is a pressure cooker that lurches emphatically from full throttle to contained bubbling, ultimately unearthing a final product both haunting and transcendent.
Like Ashay's "WARN-U," "4101" was release this year on TriAngle Records. Link to their Soundcloud here.
Simon Joyner — Nostalgia Blues
by Caravaggio Caniglia
acoustic, folk, Americana, Dylan, Nebraska
If “nostalgia’s a South-O waitress,” (“South-O” being South Omaha), then there's something to a diner's leather seats and mismatched coffee cups, owners clapping regulars over the shoulder before heading outside to watch cars roll by, that invokes a past which never really existed. Besides the ever-aging staff of such establishments, the surprising thing about South Omaha diners, and perhaps the personal relationships that fuel Simon Joyner’s songwriting, is that they change even less than might already be expected. The staff and the regulars age, but they act just the same, dress just the same, and walk through the same photo-coated rooms; the only real difference from one year to the next is that everyone realizes they have one year less to keep or change habits, or move on to something else entirely.
“Nostalgia Blues” is a lengthy, frustrated contemplation. It acknowledges how sweet it can be to romanticize late nights spent trying to get at the heart of things with cigarettes and booze, meandering conversations and The Brothers Karamazov, while still remaining agitated at the inability of “guitar-poets” to realize the ways that their “neat rhymes” only obscure what little truth can be gleaned from their time in this world. Nostalgia seems to feature prominently in Joyner’s thoughts, only to be discarded as a useless escape, the sort of distraction his 1993 character “Double Joe” might have entertained twenty years ago, never making it through his traffic light to somewhere or something greater.
Stream on Soundcloud.