We Are Not The First features the interstellar ensemble of Marshall Allen, Daniel Carter, Greg Fox, Shelley Hirsch, Shahzad Ismaily, Elliott Levin, Rafael Sanchez, and Ben Vida directed in deep dialogue through humans' hidden sound history by Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being. Hieroglyphic Being & the J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Bul demonstrate that vitality lives in its collectivity and a sonic-consciousness exists somewhere in the primordial ooze.
Sunergy brings together synthesists Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani for the thirteenth installment of FRKWYS, RVNG Intl.'s intergenerational collaboration series. For this edition, a panorama of the Pacific Coast provides the place and head space for exploratory Buchla synthesizer passages that meditate on a life-giving form vast and volatile with change. LP version includes printed inner sleeve and high-quality digital download of album with bonus track ''Retrograde.''
Mikael Seifu's Zelalem is an ode to - and a fearless break from - the storied lineage of Ethiopian music.The literal Amharic translation of Zelalem is "eternity," and through Seifu's conceptual frame it becomes a "vector of light." Seifu shines this light on the music of his home country while guiding us through an uncharted "Ethiopiyawi Electronic" - a coinage Seifu uses to describe the music he and his peers are producing in Ethiopia's capital city of Addis-Ababa. Zelalem spotlights the music of Ethiopia's past as well its future. Mikael Seifu illustrates the potential for reinterpreting sacred and proud sources through energized palettes. His latest effort heralds the future of this new music and signals the genesis of Ethiopian Electronic, where the known and unknown commune.
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For the ninth volume of FRKWYS, a music and film series pairing contemporary artists with those that may have preceded them in style and / or approach, Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras meet legendary dub reggae group The Congos in St. Catherine, Jamaica and create the full-length album, ICON GIVE THANK. In conjunction, RVNG will release ICON EYE, a feature film documenting the young musicians’ time spent living and learning The Congos way. In hindsight, the FRKWYS Vol. 9 timeline takes on dream-like qualities. In a matter of months, the idea for the collaboration was divinely inspired, The Congos reassembled in their original formation, and Sun Araw (earthly name Cameron Stallones), Gengras, alongside filmmakers Tony Lowe and Sam Fleischner, traveled to St. Catherine, Jamaica (45 minutes outside of Kingston) for ten days to undertake the unknown. What events would transpire in the Portmore neighborhood of St. Catherine can only be described as blessed. The gates opened wide and warmly, the musicians and filmmakers ate, slept, and smoked at The Congos headquarters, their mural-emblazoned studio, home, and spiritual compound. An environment steeped in the Ital lifestyle, Rastafarian reflection and meditation, and a rich community bubbling with musical energy, both young and old artist would learn an unspoken creative language. Having recorded some loose musical themes in LA to help inspire the creative process, Stallones and Gengras could only count on the shared respect for the sacrament of music to guide their work with The Congos. This respect is the foundation upon which Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras meet The Congos – ICON GIVE THANK is built. GIVE THANK is not a dub reggae album, though it shares some of the genre’s production characteristics. Rather, it’s an album of Stallones and Gengras’s melodically experimental meditations ornamented with The Congos’ soulful vocal leads and four-part harmonies. The four kings of the The Congos share the vocal throne over the course ofGIVE THANK. “Congo Ashanti” Roy Johnson tenor, Cedric “Bongo” Myton’sfalsetto, Watty Burnett baritone, and Kenroy “Tallash” Fyffe cosmic vocal glue command singularity and create an essence combined. The visual companion to the musical fruit of GIVE THANK is ICON EYE, a feature-length travelogue executively produced by Christine Vachon (Killer Films) and Randall Poster & Gelya Robb (Search Party Music). Shot by Lowe and Fleischner, ICON EYEevokes a musical and cultural intersection through refracted atmospheres and a feeling of magical, rhythmic synchronicity. ICON EYE shares dubbed-out editing techniques inherent in the reggae sub-genre, rendering a visual “version” of the album. Through the diaristic yet cinematic lens of handheld HD cameras, secret moments from the studio, fishing villages, late night dances, abandoned hotels and The Congos’ yard are blended into a strange tapestry. Musicians, computers, children, and food reveal mystical resonance. ICON EYE is the first RVNG Intl. film production. Director / editor / cinematographer Lowe and producer / cinematographer Fleischner previously collaborated on Below the Brain (2011), a documentary about Brooklyn Carnival.
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Visible Cloaks’ Reassemblage is a collection of delicately rendered passages of silence and sound that invokes – and invites - consciousness. The foundation of the duo’s second album is gently poured upon the ground their musical predecessors explored, using the materials of chance operations, MIDI “translation,” and other generative principles that favor inclusive musical environments over the narrowly constrained. In 2010, Spencer Doran, one part of Visible Cloaks alongside Ryan Carlile, prepared the first volume of Fairlights, Mallets, and Bamboo, a mixtape indicated by Doran as “an investigation into fourth-world undercurrents in Japanese ambient and pop music, years 1980 - 1986.” These mixes contextualized the outré orbit of Yellow Magic Orchestra-related solo projects and their abstract, radiant forays as forever futuristic modes of music. Reassemblage evokes similar musical futures celebrated on the Fairlights mixes, but does so observantly rather than reverently. The title Reassemblage, for example, is taken from a film essay by Trinh T. Minh-ha, which explores the impossibility of ascribing meaning to ethnographic images. The author aims to “speak nearby” rather than “speak about.” In other words, to embrace lapses of understanding, and realize that the impulse to map direct meaning across a cultural gap often results in further disconnect. In an effort to “speak nearby” rather than “speak about,” Visible Cloaks filters and forms source material to become young again. Often the duo strip tonal elements of their specificity or randomize melodies so they become stirring and lucid. Essential patterns emerge, conscious experience heightens. In these moments, the musical language of Reassemblage finds unlimited resonance and presents a path to uninhabited realities. The origin of this language could be described as translingual or polyglottal, working within the eastern / western feedback loop of influence, Fourth World ambiguity, and the universality of human emotion. Incorporating an international array of virtual instruments to advance the idea of panglobalism through digital simulation, tones and colors cohere into a living, breathing pool of sensorial experience in Visible Cloaks’ environs. Beyond embracing the fluidity of worldly musical influences, Visible Cloaks works fluently between mediums. The contribution of stalwart digital and installation artist Brenna Murphy’s dream dimensions to Reassemblage’s cover artwork and surrounding videos extends the album’s exploration of global headspace into a visual, visceral reality.
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