In his book Every Song Ever, jazz and pop critic Ben Ratliff talks a lot about repetition, retracing the wide range of music history to engage new ways of listening—in the age of musical plenty—that are more open, beyond subdivisions like genre. (It’s a great read). One passage deeply considers the 1947 song “Thelonious,” where Thelonious Monk plays one note, over and over, for eight bars. A phenomenal display of stubbornness, “an example of taking the idea of the drone or pedal point, which usually lies beneath a piece of music, and putting it on top instead,” says Ratliff. “He is getting up and walking around that note, just as he would get up from the piano during gigs and turn in circles. He is sounding it until it finds accordance with his own interior rhythms and he is playing it both as a musician and listener.”
Anyway, that scene suspended ahead of episode 54. We open with the maiden release from RVNG Intl. imprint Freedom To Spend, a thoughtful iteration of Michele Mercure’s 1986 human voice & synthesizer study, Eye Chant. One track—and thirty years—later, the mode echoes through Portland-based duo Visible Cloaks, then bounces back again, three decades or so, to the late Japanese composer Susumu Yokota.
Separately, also of RVNG note, just copped the “private press” edition of Helado Negro’s essential 2016 LP Private Energy (Expanded) at the MoMA PS1 + Other Music label fair. Find an interstitial compilation video arranged by Roberto himself, embedded down below.
Further into the broadcast, an active sequence begins with Los Angeles pianist and beatmaker Kiefer Shackelford, whose debut is out now on Leaving Records. Later there’s a Strategy reset, then a highlight from the new PAN compilation (Yves Tumor). London’s Ed Dowie released a charming, exploratory pop album with Lost Map earlier this year, his song “Red or Grey” appears. The set rests on ten minutes from producer Kelly Lee Owens, and twenty from pioneering composer Joanna Broak (via Healing Music, a collection of her 1970s-80s recordings released on archival label Numero Group).
Returning to, the space between, wherever Thelonious reached through repeated keys… maybe it’s a monotone realm not unlike what Celia Hollander aka $3.33 unlocked in 2014, with DRAFT. The series of piano sketches, which stunned us upon upload and in-person, was given cassette tape treatment last Friday by Leaving Records, alongside a video screening event in Los Angeles (Miko Revereza’s visual, at the bottom).
Michele Mercure – Eyechant
Visible Cloaks – Valve (ft. Miyako Coda)
Susumu Yokota – Kawano Hotorino Kinoshitade
Mary Lattimore – Wawa By The Ocean
Thelonious Monk – Thelonious
Kiefer – Kickinit Alone
Drugdealer – Were You Saying Something?
She-Devils – Hey Boy
The Sweet Inspirations – Sweets for My Sweet
Strategy – Occurrence at the Triple Door
Yves Tumor – Limerence
Olivia Summer – Moons
Ed Dowie – Red or Grey
TVO – Piano 5
Cremation Lily – Presence of Light
Justin Walter – It’s Not What You Think
Kelly Lee Owens – 8
Joanna Brouk – The Space Between
S&S Radio broadcasts every other Tuesday night on Newtown Radio.