Le Commandant Couche-Tôt

🏷 Synth and vintage keyboard project by Berlin-based French musician

This is Listen ∞ An email of eclectic music for curious ears. Here is today’s recommendation.

"S.O.S." by Le Commandant Couche-Tôt
🗓 2020

Enter our latest musical superhero, alias Le Commandant Couche-Tôt and his magnificent keyboard orchestra, who embark on a dreamy synth and vintage keyboard-laden journey to new shores. Le Commandant Couche-Tôt is Berlin-based French keyboard player and record collector Anthony Malka's latest brainchild, that is now brought to fruition on a sonically dense, self-entitled, six-track debut EP [released] via Black Milk Music. Recorded alongside some of "Berlin's finest groovers, [i.e. Hervé Salters from General Elektriks or jazz guitarist Paul Audoynaud] each track skillfully illustrates a chapter of Le Commandant Couche-Tôt’s discovery of a mysterious island and risky encounter with its inhabitants."

This soundtrack, reminiscent of late '60s/early '70s film noir soundtracks, combining cinematic themes with psychoactive instrumentation and equally trippy companion art, was quick to revive our inner 'Tintins' as we set sail, following the siren's call, further and further down the rabbit hole. 

📄 Read the whole write-up by Lev Nordstrom on Greedy for Best Music

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Leyla McCalla

🏷 New York-born Haitian-American multi-instrumentalist and singer living in New Orleans

This is Listen ∞ An email of eclectic music for curious ears. Here is today’s recommendation.

 "The Capitalist Blues" by Leyla McCalla
🗓 2019

With a provocative title like The Capitalist Blues one might expect the in-your-face intensity of The Clash or perhaps the didactic shaming of Bob Dylan, but instead we find [Leyla] McCalla emerging more as a unique world music artist more akin to Cesaria Evora or Angelique Kidjo; her music resonates with profound lyricism. The songs flow from folk jazz to calypso, zydeco to Cajun, R&B with gospel overtones, Haitian Creole, ballads, to exuberant rock ’n’ roll. It’s a lot, but producer Jimmy Horn was hell-bent on pushing McCalla’s range to the limit, and it pays off handsomely here. The title track commences with a slow drag trad jazz feel that laments the hardships of being on the downside of the capitalist trickle-down blues, served with a judicious side of resistance. 

📄 Read the whole review by Michael Dominici in Offbeat Magazine

🔊 Because you enjoy the music you discover via these Listen emails, click here to become a paid subscriber and support the work I put into them. Paid subscriber or not, you’re here and I’m grateful. –Armando

Renee

🏷 Indie pop singer from Monterrey in México

This is Listen ∞ An email of eclectic music for curious ears. Here is today’s recommendation.

"Cohete" by Renee
🗓 2020

Este es tu primer álbum y tu proyecto musical no tiene más de dos años. ¿Cómo te ves a futuro con todo esto?

Breve espacio es una promesa que me hice a mí misma, un trabajo con mucho sacrificio, también porque he tenido una carrera musical un poco complicada, es algo a lo que le debo dedicar 24/7 para poder proyectar las ideas, dedicarme plenamente a la música es algo que necesita de toda tu entrega, pasión, tiempo y trabajo. Por primera vez en mi vida siento que puedo decir que he concluido algo y me he llevado un gran aprendizaje porque estas son canciones muy personales y muy honestas, me acompañaron en mis primero acercamientos a la composición entonces para mí se vuelve muy importante que se encuentren en un álbum porque se vuelve mi carta de presentación ante el mundo, los productores, las disqueras, este álbum me representa como compositora, estoy muy feliz.

¿Cómo definirías Breve espacio? ¿Cuál es su estilo o esencia?

Yo lo definiría como un espejo porque la gente que se logra reflejar en él se encuentra, son canciones que cuentan las historias de las personas, la gente se logra proyectar y me doy cuenta de que soy una persona más normal de lo que creía, soy una persona con aficiones y sentimientos, entonces este álbum además de ser un primer capítulo en mi carrera, es un espejo donde la gente se puede reflejar.

📄 Read the whole short interview with Renee by Miguel Vergara on Onda Guanabi

🔊 Because you enjoy the music you discover via these Listen emails, click here to become a paid subscriber and support the work I put into them. Paid subscriber or not, you’re here and I’m grateful. –Armando

Erykah Badu

🏷 Neo-soul singer from Dallas, Texas

This is Listen ∞ An email of eclectic music for curious ears. Here is today’s recommendation.

"Didn't Cha Know" by Erykah Badu
🗓 2000

If Erykah Badu’s era-defining debut Baduizm (1997) helped create a new box to put artists in (“neo-soul”), then her follow-up Mama’s Gun (2000) picked that box up, threw it to the floor and stamped all over it, smashing it to smithereens. Created at the end of one century and the beginning of another, it both reflects her past endeavor and forges a new direction for her artistry, allowing others to follow in her wake.

Further context is provided by the community that contributed to its mastery—one of a triptych of towering monuments to the power and creativity of soul and hip hop music (D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Common’s Like Water For Chocolate), it was nurtured and encouraged by the vanguard of a new golden era of black music. With Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, James “J Dilla” Yancey, James Poyser, Roy Hargrove and the engineer Russell Elevado all in attendance in support roles, Badu was able to express herself on a canvas that shifted constantly and beguiled easily.

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The abiding theme of the album is the search for freedom—freedom to love, freedom to pursue pleasure, freedom to love oneself and freedom from pain.

Freedom from having to know the answers permeates on “Didn’t Cha Know” alongside Badu’s customary honesty. To the accompaniment of a sumptuous bassline and a reassuring rimshot clack, she sings: “Trying to decide / Which way to go / Think I took a wrong turn up there somewhere.”

In addition to being honest enough to admit to mistakes, she may be momentarily lost but is ultimately happy for the journey, seeing happiness as the road, rather than the destination.

📄 Read the whole feature on this album’s twentieth anniversary by Patrick Corcoran at Albumism

🔊 Because you enjoy the music you discover via these Listen emails, click here to become a paid subscriber and support the work I put into them. Paid subscriber or not, you’re here and I’m grateful. –Armando

Josiah Steinbrick

🏷 Ambient multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Los Angeles

This is Listen ∞ An email of eclectic music for curious ears. Here is today’s recommendation.

"Full Bloom" by Josiah Steinbrick
🗓 2020

On Liquid / Devotion & Tongue Street Blue, the new album from Josiah Steinbrick, the composer continues his explorative saga of Fourth world neoclassicism. Ever the adventurist, Steinbrick gleefully, and not without a hint of mischief, hops around a sandbox of his own prism-defying distortions. Whether ringing out like church bells or submerging deep into amorphous caverns, these new pieces run the gamut from crystalline ambience, 8-bit arcade aqua-beats, and misty Donkey Kong Country tones to minimalist tribal percussion, languid glistening soundscapes, and droning industrial hymns. Think of a head-on collision between Wally Badarou’s Echoes and Wayne Horvitz’s This New Generation. Or just press play.

📄 Chad Depasquale on Aquarium Drunkard

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