On the first Friday of every month since March 2020, local music platform Bandcamp has waived its fees to help support the many artists who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic. Over that time, fans paid artists and labels $56 million dollars, helping cover rents, mortgages, groceries, medications, and much more. If you are one of the 800,000 fans who’ve participated, cheers to you for providing support.
The next Bandcamp Friday is August 6, and 48hills will continue to make suggestions, reminding readers and fans of music that on the first Friday of every month for the rest of 2021, your help makes a significant difference.
AFRIKAN SCIENCES, ASCENT SONGS
I’ve been (happily) covering Eric Porter aka Afrikan Sciences for a while now, past his Oakland days, and true to form, not one project sounds like the previous or the next. With a panache for extending the boundaries of what tempo and culture can cook up time and time again, he’s aptly nicknamed the Rhythm Czar. Need a visual? Imagine a SP–1200 sampler, bassist Ron Carter, James Brown, and Frances Taylor Davis (dancer and first wife of Miles Davis) boarding the USS Enterprise, heading back in time to pick up Harriet Tubman. We can start there.
Ascent Songs, dedicated to the late David Durrah, a spiritual jazz forefather-go search for the jazz holy-grail album Reflections In The Sea Of Nurnen to get an idea about that artist and exquisite keyboardist. Ascent Songs feels a bit more like ambient electronic blues. It’s a different hue on the Brooklyn artist, quite regal I may add. Anyone interested in progressive electronic music that’s rooted in history and curated in color, needs to add Afrikan Sciences to their life. There is a track here, “Reading of The Tee,” that moves omnidirectional, feels ethereal, but still lays that hammer down, communicating by the mighty drum what is next on the horizon. God bless ya, Eric Porter. Purchase here.
ADI MEYERSON, I WANT TO SING MY HEART OUT IN PRAISE OF LIFE
So full transparency, I’m not all that familiar with the work of Adi Meyerson, I just happened to come across the bassist and composer recently. But my interest peaked. Her sophomore release, I Want To Sing My Heart Out In Praise of Life, is inspired by the life and work of iconic avant-garde visual artist Yayoi Kusama.
Meyerson’s latest release first gained legs in late 2017, when she and a friend attended an exhibit featuring the work of Yayoi Kusama in downtown New York City. She was moved by Kusama’s artist statement and personal story; notably how her art provides a utopian place for people, as well as the artist, to spiritually and mentally escape to. The art itself resonated with Meyerson too. Meyerson has synesthesia—a neurological condition in which two senses overlap and trigger each other (also commonly called “crossing of the senses”)—and in her case, she sees color when she hears certain pitches. To Meyerson’s surprise, much of Kasama’s color palette matched her own visual perception when she heard certain pitches, giving way to an unconventional but creative compositional process that involves Meyerson deriving melodies from the colors she sees.
Listening to this, it’s funky and nimble, moving at times with big band orchestration, but somehow still feels free. That’s the mood, with spoken word stretches, intricate arrangements, stellar scatting from Camille Thurman. “Caged Bird” is a stand-out selection where Meyerson pays tribute to two of her favorite literary pillars: Angela Davis and Maya Angelou. Featuring Marquis Hill on trumpet, Anne Drummond on flute, Lucas Pino on bass clarinet and saxophone, Sam Towse on keys, Kush Abadey on drums, spoken word artist Eden Girma and vocalists Sabeth Perez and Camille Thurman, this cunning new album will be available everywhere on August 6. It’s a wonderful project. Purchase here.
COLD BEAT, “MANDELBROT FALL“
San Francisco band Cold Beat (dope name) will release their new album War Garden this fall. Their new video, “Mandelbrot Fall”, on the heels of their lead single “See You Again,” directed and edited by Luciano Talpini Aita, is a colorblocked collage of VHS-shot footage run through video synthesizers by Mike Stoltz. “‘Mandelbrot Fall’ is about embracing change & surrendering to uncertainty. There’s no fighting time or gravity. This song is about submission to those forces,” explains band member Hannah Lew in a press release. “This process of deterioration was cathartic, just like the making of the song.”
Their album comes out September 17 and they will be performing at the Great American Music Hall November 18 in support of Black Marble. Pre-order here.
THE JENNY THING, AMERICAN CANYON
Berkeley band The Jenny Thing, a top-selling draw at Amoeba back in the day—first album Me became the best-selling independent album of the year at Berkeley’s Rasputin Records early in the decade—have a notable ‘nowstalgia’ release after a prolonged break. Formed on the Berkeley Cal campus in 1991, three records from the band drew on the sensibilities of The Cure, The Smiths, and New Order. Success found them making it through one round of “Star Search.” Now back with American Canyon, the band says this new project “has a cinematic sweep.” Utilizing synthesizers, sampled and real drums, vocal processing and unexpected tempo shifts, the project adds something new to their legacy. Purchase here.