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.
From Valentines Day, Beer Week (hello my pretty), and legendary house god DJ Tony Humphries in town to Noise Pop just fidgeting to kick off. And those pesky Niners in the Super Bowl.
Wait.. lemme pull that one back. But you get it. It’s The Best Time to Be In The Bay. So let us get into it!
DAVE AJU & THE INVISIBLE ART TRIO, GLOSSOLALIA + SUN/12 RECORD RELEASE PARTIES
Dave Aju, who grew up in the Bay Area, reunites with The Invisible Art Trio for his upcoming fifth full-length album, which picks up sonically where 2007’s oddball house anthem “Be Like The Sun” left off.
“It is everything that dance music should be,” said Pitchfork about that release at the time: linear and focused in the groove department, hooky without choking on its own riffs, and sonically eccentric as all get-out.
So hold on to your butts. Sixteen years later, he’s still slinging. “Kilanala,” the first track on the new record, built on the bones of Talking Heads snippets and dipped in that way-out-in-the-streets atmosphere. Aju credits inspiration to the arrangements of Italian pop star Adriano Celentano, whose knack for writing lyrics that actually mean nothing will keep listeners focused on the presentation and mood of Glossolalia, a heavy vibes all-day document.
Think, Omit The Logic, to quote a Richard Pryor documentary title. Dave is channeling the sociopolitical density in the air. “Blessing us with spell-casting and sensual/nonsensical lyrical lines over tech-funk motherlode tracks,” according to the liner notes.
What could have been a club anthem in the aughts, with horn blasts picking up where “Sun” left off, has now evolved into a charge.
As George Clinton has always believed and Dave continues to advocate, anything is possible “in collaborative and devoted noise-making, booty-shaking.”
Pre-order Glossolalia here and celebrate the release Sun/12 at Vinyl Dreams, SF, 2pm-6pm, then at UndergroundSF, 6pm-midnight)
ALFA MIST, VARIABLES (ANTI-)
A new album from East London artist and producer Alfa Mist means another chance to catch this in-demand musician when he performs in SF at August Hall on May 5. According to the album selections, this game changer meanders between two poles: low-slung grooves with head-nodding boom-bap rhythms and drum and bass bpms, where these wild and alive jazz transfigurations can take off—evidenced by the high-flying seven-minute free improvised “BC.”
Originally from East London’s Newham, Alfa began his musical journey as a grime & hip-hop producer. Alfa’s sample digging, like that of many contemporary beatmakers, opened up a world of vintage sounds, including soundtracks and jazz. That sound of his can be traced through Dilla and The Roots back to Thelonius Monk and Avishai Cohen.
V/A BENEFIT COMPILATION: DEAR JOHNNY (AS YOU LIKE IT RECORDINGS)
Let’s be clear about something. The “Dear Johnny” compilation of San Francisco’s underground artists, with proceeds going to the National Federation of Abortion Funds, is a tribute to Johnny Igaz, an As You Like It party crew DJ and social justice activist who died in the Ghost Ship Fire, and was an inspiration for this label’s creation.
But this comp, which does, in fact, mourn a great loss as a result of a horrific tragedy, not only bumps but also proceeds at the various bpms that we as a Bay Area creative community move to on a dancefloor, or in the bedroom studio.
From Farsights’ bass-bin (wait I say bass-bin too much) horn-cabinet pop-can wobble on the drunk and wonky “Same Letter Seven Times” to Indy Nyles’ not-quite peak-time minimal creeper “Catching Up From Being Left Behind,” Mark Slee’s dub-house crawl on “Wormwood” to the jiggly dark mastery of The Rhythmist’s “Four Plus Eight”—Johnny Igaz would be more than pleased. He’d be dancin’. This comp slaps.
You can get it right here.
JARED MATTSON OF (THE MATTSON 2), PEANUT (COMPANY RECORDS)
Toro y Moi’s extended musical network is a varied community of talented creatives who enjoy reworking genres and pushing friends. Giving them that focus.
Jared Mattson, best known as one half of the psychedelic jazz fusion duo The Mattson 2 (his twin brother Jonathan makes pop the other half), co-wrote the single “Millenium” from Toro y Moi’s 2022 album MAHAL. Since 2017, the duo has collaborated with Toro Y Moi aka Chaz Bundick aka Chaz Bear.
Peanut, Jared Mattison’s solo debut, will be released in late March on Company Records, Chaz Bear’s Carpark Records imprint, and the lead single “Please Come Here,” sung in Japanese and accompanied by a racing car-themed video, feels adjacent. With those fusion blends you’d expect from a Bundick arrangement, we now know Mattson has a handle on stylized psych-rock coolness.
Pre-order Peanut here.