Listen up. 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. Every now and again we get a nice collection of producers who come along and put a modernized touch on the idiom of soul.
We love the retro dynamics of Colemine, Daptone, and Athens of the North. They all rock. But sometimes it helps to hear new takes from upcoming artists.
So that’s what we have today. Let’s get it!
ASH WALKER, ‘TIME GETS WASTED’ FEATURING DENITIA & SLY5THAVE ASTRONAUT (NIGHT TIME STORIES)
Aquamarine, Ash Walker’s grand soundscape album from 2019, was full of trip-hop ideas and R&B actions that twisted up dub-meets-Radiohead frequencies like no other. It infused the insightful low-end sound palette with Jacque Cousteau and Steve Zissou-style density.
Fans of Walker’s fusion moods can rejoice once more after a four-year wait.
The first single from the upcoming Astronaut album, “Time Gets Wasted,” features Bill Evans-style piano chops with reeds, woodwinds, and slump-figured drum arrangements, putting a modern spin on rhythm and blues. Walker picks up where he left off, and this track is stunning.
The album guarantees more than just promise, with collaborations from Andrew Ashong, Amp Fiddler, Joe Armon-Jones, and many, others its soul for a hybrid world.
BUSCRATES, “BUCKIN’’ FEAT. DJ EPIK FROM CONTROL CENTER (BASTARD JAZZ)
Orlando “Buscrates” Marshall, a DJ/musician/producer from Pittsburgh, Pa, self-described “’90s hip-hop dude who grew up on that ’80s funk stuff,” is back with a new single, an album on the way, and more funk/R&B vibes than several Herbie Hancock album covers from the ’70s. Google up Hancock’s rekkid Sunlight, Scottie. That back cover to the 1978 album features a level six smash-up of gear-nerd obsessiveness and cool points for the analog enthusiast.
It’s basically Herbie saying “You can never have too many synths.” But back to my man Bus.
His how-to mastery of spinning 45s or working that trusty Roland SP-404SX sampler has led him to produce for Phonte, Wiz Khalifa, and the late great Mac Miller.
At two and a half minutes, “Buckin’,” the first single from Buscrates sophomore full-length Control Center, packs that whole summertime vacation days and sweaty nights type of get-down.
You know. Roller skating in the park or gettin’ cozy on the beach in the midnite sun….
Put Mister Crates on your summertime, well, anytime, listening playlist for that hybrid of breezy grooves and undulating riffs. Expect to hear more of his music at an upcoming Sweater Funk edition.
Pre-order the Buscrates album here.
HARRISON, BIRDS, BEES, THE CLOUDS & THE TREES (LAST GANG RECORDS)
Harrison, a Toronto producer, has been making synthy funk earworm jams for a while now.
But you can hear optimism in his arrangements as well. In the jazz arrangements “A View From The Sky” and “7PM” on his new self-produced third album Birds, Bees, The Clouds & The Trees, he recreated this modernized Vince Guaraldi-type energy. “Float” feat. Kadhja Bonet is watercolored soul of the dreamy kind: Intimate jawns for the after-hours is the best way to describe it, and that’s fine.
This cool collection of songs—Kaytranada for the turn-down set—is a get-in where-you-fit-in record that casts a wide net with open and warm confections.
Purchase it here.
JAZZ IS DEAD PRESENTS HERMETO PASCOAL TOUR AT UC THEATER, JUNE 4
The idea of touring, major and legendary acts getting back out there, continues to present “no, you’re freaking kidding me” results as the world continues to unfold from a couple of years of being wrapped up in sheltering down.
Gandalf doesn’t visit these parts very often.
Hermeto Pascoal is a Brazilian legend who has collaborated with Milton Nascimento, Tim Maia, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and a plethora of other artists. He rose to prominence in 1971 after performing and recording with Miles Davis on the Live/Evil album, about which Miles said, “Hermeto is one of the most important musicians on the planet.”
He looks like a wizard, he plays like Gawd. This multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger makes songs and compositions with unusual objects such as teapots, children’s toys, and animals, as well as keyboards, button accordions, melodica, saxophones, guitars, and a variety of other objects and folkloric instruments.
This true master will perform at The UC Theater in Berkeley for one night only, and it promises to be epic.
Grab tickets here.