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Monday, April 15, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Strap yourself in for the C.I.A.

Under the Stars: Strap yourself in for the C.I.A.

Plus: Broken beats return with New Sector Movements, and don't miss the Pharcyde reunion and Big Joanie live

Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins. In this edition, we humbly remind you that Black History Month is every month and the sentiments attached to MLK Day can be used everyday.

We now proceed.


Musician and producer IG Culture is more than just a broken beat movement pioneer in the UK. No. He sets the bar for extending rhythms and fusing genres into a contemporary translation. Jazz-fusion, funk, and soul were tweaked into these futuristic, space-age arrangements during the 1990s in his productions under the pseudonym New Sector Movements, which kids of the electronic music generation could dance to.

Recognize without using words. By combining drum and bass rumble, slumped house beats, that hip-hop swag, and a particular Herbie Hancock electronic style that utilized multiple synthesizers, the connective tissue outlined, accented with massive bump.

Here in San Francisco, those Afro-futurist fusions got played by the city’s progressive DJs, who hunted down the highly sought-after white label records by NSM and created a space at The Top, now known as Underground SF, for that sound.

After a 15-year hiatus, IG Culture returns to the alias in February with the eagerly anticipated These Times EP from First Word Records. Allysha Joy, Mike City, and Natalie May contribute vocals to the brand new semi-collaborative release, which also features additional augmentation from artists Wonky Logic, Wayne Francis, Alex Phountzi, and the NSM Fusion Starship.

The five-track EP extends the NSM legacy further, and the inclusion of Joy’s voice on two of the tracks makes this return all the more noteworthy. Witness the sidwinding gait of the lead track “These Times” featuring Joy on vocals. The EP, built with chest out street soul, hip hop, jazz, and bruk arrangements, can be pre-ordered here.


Slimkid3, Imani, and Fatlip of essential Cali rap group Pharcyde have come back together after spending a long time apart. They are currently on tour and looking forward to the future. Bootie Brown declines to attend the reunion. While that may be a little disappointing for ardent Pharcyde fans. What we can get, we’ll take.

After the publication of Dilla Time, Dan Charnas’ extensive and wildly acclaimed biography of late Detroit producer J Dilla (also known as Jay Dee), who produced several crucial early Pharcyde songs, is there a new critical and popular perspective on the renowned hip-hop act?

Might be.

The reunion alone is sufficient cause to revisit the group’s seminal early-’90s two-album discography and commend them for challenging various hip-hop clichés and creating room for the sublime side of genius.

Want proof?

First record Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde was massive. It got listed on Pitchfork Media’s “Top 100 Favorite Records of the ’90s.” Labcabincalifornia, released three years later, received mixed reviews (Muzik, a British dance music magazine, gave it a rare five stars at the time of release). But it has since received rear-window critical acclaim in recognition of its consistent smooth production—and reassessment of Dilla’s production work and the slept-on arrangements by Diamond D.

Check out the jaw-dropping music video for “Drop,” directed by Spike Jonze. It features cameos by Ad-Rock and Mike D of the Beastie Boys. The song repurposes “The New Style” by the Beastie Boys, using the line “mmm….. drop,” and the Beasties appear as to say, Pharcyde is next. 

It’s uncommon for one group to release two classics, back to back, in hip-hop or any other genre of music. Pharcyde did just that. Catch some hip-hop history and grab tickets here.


When it comes to live performances, this fantastic, hectic, perplexing, knee-jerk, Twitter-finger, perpetually-in-flux, big town of a City by the Bay gets the best of the best. 

Now? We get to add Big Joanie to that list. Oh, you weren’t informed?

In March, the self-described “Black Feminist Sistah Punk band” will perform at Rickshaw Stop in support of their most recent album Back Home, released last year on the legendary Kill Rock Stars label. The landmark outfit was formed in the DIY punk scene of London and first gained international recognition by turning the Solange classic “Cranes in the Sky” into a heavy, muddy leaning anthem of its own. 

On Back Home the trio expands their repertoire into synth-pop environs that just travels and sound so vast, it’s a lovely, natural-sounding pivot. Big Joanie chose to come here, on their first tour of the United States mind you, so “Ess Eff” damn well better show up and represent. Get tickets here.


The trio of Denée & Ty Segall and Emmett Kelly (of Cairo Gang) is known as the outfit C.I.A.

Garage rock revivalist Segall, who releases albums like the Niners injure quarterbacks—all the time—plays bass in this roiling power trio, while his wife Denée’s cold, impersonal vocals send immediate chills down your spine. Emmett’s modular synthesizer conveys the emotionless, abrasive vision of mechanical objects.

Is what I’m putting down being picked up?

The group and their captivating approach creates metallic punk music that attacks without the jarring edges and squalls typically heard in the boisterous genre. It’s a dope approach. Similiar to a pot of boiling water with the lid left on, Surgery Channel is an excellent transmission of social commentary and catharsis through controlled intensity. Pick it up here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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