Hey there. It’s been a long week, and a short week as well. I have no idea how we survive loss, and yet we seem to (in general) keep surviving it. It’s unreal to think that you can run into a friend of twenty eight years walking in dog, the next day find out he just scored his dream job as a jewelry maker; and then a further day later, learn he died the night before. The news of death quickly (if you’re lucky, or so it seems) leads to a funerals. Funerals lead to conversations, grief lingers (perhaps for a lifetime), and yet we move forward, or perhaps cosplay moving forward. It’s not great to think about, but it is clarifying. In other news, this week’s photos were taken with Ilford Delta 3200 Professional Black and White Negative Film on an Olympus MJU II point and shoot camera. And with that preamble out of the way, we begin.
WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING:
I profiled the longstanding London DJ, producer, broadcaster, Hyperdub Records affiliate and all-round music enthusiast Scratcha DVA aka Scratchclart for Mixmag. You can read the story here.
I also filed the third 2021 edition of my 10 under-the-radar releases you may have missed in the last three months column for Dazed. Check it out here.
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING:
Bandcamp: Resonance - I Feel As If I Might Be Vanishing: The Caretaker’s “An empty bliss beyond this World”, by Matt Mitchell.
I am the grandson of a social butterfly who died because the cells in her brain stopped talking to each other, after which I was forced to watch starvation patiently strip away the parts of her that a decade-long bout with dementia hadn’t. I don’t know what was written on her death certificate.
In this installment of Resonance, Matt Mitchell explores his emotional relationship to The Caretaker’s “An empty bliss beyond this World.” Read more here.
Gal Dem: Am I going to die if people don’t like my work?’ Kelis on getting comfortable with herself, by Kemi Alemoru.
“I tell my kids, I have one chance to do this. Whatever the date is today, you’re never going to get another one. There’s a sense of romance and beauty in cherishing each day and time and not zombie-ing through, missing moments, being afraid. You can have fun doing the most mundane regular stuff. There’s a self-confidence in that and it’s a choice. Nobody can take that from me and no one can give it either.”
To kick off their Kelis guest edit week, the singer talks Gal Dem through her new song Midnight Snacks and the art of being carefree. Read here.
Dazed: Radio Alhara: the online station that prompted a global movement, by Günseli Yalcinkaya.
“The lockdown in the West Bank looked very similar to curfew contexts that we faced during the last decades in Palestine… Maybe what was special this time was that the lockdown wasn’t only happening here, but globally. It was the first time we didn’t feel lonely – the whole world shared the lockdown with us.”
A project meant to stave off quarantine boredom, the Bethlehem-based station is on a community-building mission, amassing a following with its offbeat mix of Iranian pop, Afro-funk, Bahraini wedding songs, talk shows, news, and debates. Read more over at Dazed here.
WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO:
Dujon Cullingford has created a Youtube channel focused on soul, funk, disco, garage rock and various other wonderful bits and pieces of music recorded in Aotearoa New Zealand during the 70s and 80s. If you’d like a bit of that, head over here and have a browse.
Once a month (I think?), Anna Rankin has been reviewing books for Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan on Radio New Zealand. This week Anna joined them to review Amia Srinivasan's book of essays: The Right To Sex. Listen here.
CLAIR, Earth Mothers (HotGem)
This one snuck up on me within my direct line of sight, and it is a genuine delight. Having spent a lifetime living with - and working in - music, Glasgow promoter-turned-record label boss-turned-music producer CLAIR delivers the debut album of a lifetime. Ostensibly existing within a similar constellation to the minimalist compositional work of Philip Glass and the tinted ambient hues of Brian Eno, but refracted though the spectral lens of neo-classical, psychedelic folk, kankyō ongaku and a veritable multiverse of additional forms. Earth Mothers is environmental music, journey music, relaxation music, but without any of the snake oil new age pretensions these reference points are sometimes linked with.
Jas, Ritmo Y Blues (Self-released)
A Spanish new jack swing album from 1997. What more do I need to say? Full disclosure: I’m not saying much because I don’t really know anything about this album or artist, and I’m pretty much convinced I don’t need to, because these songs are very very enjoyable.
Careless Hands, When Dreams Slip Through (Smiling C)
70s/80s private press (previously unreleased?) Liverpool art-pop turned post-punk. Brian Keaney and Jim Halson met during their student years, bonded over the city’s post-Beatles multimedia arts scene, a healthy love of music from Trinidad, and the revelatory wonders of early home recording gear. Naïve, sweet and innocent music that unfolds with the logic and wonder of a dream.