Stadiums & Shrines

 

“This is my comfy place,” sings Shoko Igarashi, as if touring listeners through the charming hybrid-styled utopia of her full-length debut. Simple Sentences, released last spring on Tigersushi Records and among the year’s most underrated albums, forms a remarkably refreshing paragraph from the fragmented influences of the Tsuruoka-born, Brussels-based musician and composer.

Japanese city pop sheen and the playful wonder of anime meet the pulse of Brussels, where she plays saxophone and keys in the electronic trio Maniac Maison, and the jazzy flair she picked up studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Bold, unpretentious, and open-minded songcraft; the general feeling is that she’s having fun.

Over the bubbling synth lines of “Comfy Place,” she details the interior life she’s grown to appreciate in recent years, like watering plants, drinking tea, and other micro-joys. On “CASH OK,” a softly askew dream funk number, she nods to her time playing jazz gigs in New York City. The flute-led “Happy Kid” (the meaning of her name, Shoko) sweetly flashes back to her childhood in Japan; with a blissful psych-kitsch evoking Yellow Magic Orchestra, it could easily double as a golden era sitcom theme song.

Igarashi’s mix for S&S echoes this sense of movement and discovery, traversing vibrant sounds familiar and new to her, from spacey folk and new age to prog rock, electro-funk, beat music, and beyond.

“I made this mix with the idea I got when I was hanging out with my friends in Japan (I was in Japan for 1 month from May to June), we played each other’s favorite tracks or recent discoveries. It’s like, one play and when it’s done, the next person plays what they like and rotate. It was amazing to know what my friends were listening to and it was totally fresh music for me because they live in Japan and I live in Brussels. The usual taste of what music we listen to is different, I felt. Also, I got to know them more deeply from knowing their musical tastes. So I took some of the tracks from my friends, and I put my favorites as well.”

J Todd – Aaaa
空中泥棒 – なぜ?/ Mid-Air Thief – Why?
Suzanne Ciani – Prince with Orange Feet
Juana Molina – Cálculos y oráculos
Kobeta Piano – Itodo
The Tuss – Shiz Ko E M
Bruno Pernadas – Lafeta Uti
Suzanne Ciani – Tenth Voice-Sound of a Lighted Window
The SOS band – Finest
Toulouse Low Trax – Geo Scan
King Crimson – Thela Hun Ginjeet
Shoko Igarashi – AppleBanana
RX-101 – Saiph
Casimir Liberski – Chill New Year’s Eve (unreleased)

Simple Sentences is out now on Tigersushi Records.

 

Episode eighty-two came together in the morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2022. The set runs softy through favorites of the last year, like an excerpt from the larger playlist below. Artwork by our daughter, Bowie.

Salamanda – Offertorio (Sphere, Métron Records)
Rosie Lowe & Duval Timothy – Son (Son, Carrying Colour)
Li Yilei – CHU / 處 (之 / OF, Métron Records)
KMRU – Und (Logue, Injazero Records)
M. Sage With The Spinnaker Ensemble – Zephyr Ponderosa Pollen (The Wind of Things, Geographic North)
Nala Sinephro – Space 4 (Space 1.8, Warp)
John Glacier – Some Other Thing (SHILOH: Lost For Words, PLZ Make It Ruins)
Lael Neale – Every Star Shivers in the Dark (Acquainted with Night, Sub Pop)
Jeff Parker – Four Folks (Forfolks, International Anthem)
Wau Wau Collectif – Mouhamodou Lo and His Children (Yaral Sa Doom, Sahel Sounds)
L’Rain – Blame Me (Fatigue, Mexican Summer)
Elori Saxl – Wave I (The Blue of Distance, Western Vinyl)
HTRK – Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones (Rhinestones, N & J Blueberries)
Arooj Aftab – Inayaat (Vulture Prince, New Amsterdam)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Emile Mosseri – Moon In Your Eye (I Could Be Your Dog (Prequel), Ghostly International)
Tonstartssbandht – What Has Happened (Petunia, Mexican Summer)
Myriam Gendron – Le tueur de femmes (Ma délire – Songs of love, lost & found, Feeding Tube)
Grouper – Promise (Shade, Kranky)

Thanks for being here and moving slowly with this site (halfway through its second decade). As always, support artists by buying their music — Merch Table and Buy Music Club make it easier than ever to do that via Bandcamp.

 

Brooklyn-based composer and filmmaker Elori Saxl named her 2021 LP after the phenomenon when mountains appear blue from afar (due to diminishing light particles). The Blue of Distance reflects on memory, the distortion of recollections and emotions across time and technology. Saxl wrote the record’s first half in the summer, surrounded by the lakes and rivers of the Adirondack mountains, and assembled its second half in the winter on a frozen Lake Superior island. To mimic the intrinsic frameworks of electronic music, she extracted the natural pulses of flowing water and wind, bending and pitching their movements in concert with various string and woodwind instruments and analog synthesizers. The music is vast, wondrous, and sensorial, some of the year’s finest.

Elori Saxl took our open-ended mix invitation as a chance to frame a study that leans further into this shared realm, where orchestral arrangements meet dance-minded sensibilities. Here she’s identified and fused a series of classical performances that elicit a similar response to her experience with club music. In her words:

“Fast interlocking woodwinds, vocals that sound chopped and screwed, slow beats that evoke 808 kicks and snares, spazzy strings, ping pong violin plucks, polyrhythmic octave strings, arpeggiator-like melodies, strings that ascend into huge key change drops, quarter note delayed vocals, slow syrupy beats, harmonics that sound like filter sweeps, and stuttering syncopated late night grooves–these pieces just have that club feel.”

Marcos Balter – Bladed Stance – yMusic
David Lang – Just (After Song of Songs) – Trio Mediæval, Agnès Vesterman, Garth Knox & Sylvain Lemêtre
John Adams – Road Movies: I. Relaxed Groove – John Novacek & Leila Josefowicz
Maurice Ravel – String Quartet in F Major (1903): II. Assez vif. Très rythmé (Club Edit) – Emerson String Quartet
Jessie Montgomery – Break Away: III. Smoke – PUBLIQuartet
David Lang – Light Moving – Hilary Hahn & Cory Smythe
Donnacha Dennehy – Pushpulling – Jasper String Quartet
Caroline Shaw – Its Motion Keeps – Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Caroline Shaw & Dianne Berkun Menaker
Nico Muhly – Etude No. 3: Etude 3 – Paul Evans, Valgeir Sigurðsson, James McVinnie & Nadia Sirota
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Won’t Be a Thing to Become
big dog little dog – Panorama
Caleb Burhans – Contritus – JACK Quartet

The Blue of Distance is out now on Western Vinyl. This episode, along with other recent mixes, is also available to stream via Apple.

 

Episode eighty is dedicated to the late Eric Littmann. A dear friend and a dreamer, Eric’s unbound enthusiasm and prolific nature impacted the music community in ways we’re still processing; reading all the tributes is proof his gifts were vast and understated, wrapped in modesty and a truly singular sense of humor. Ten years ago I met Eric through a mixtape and from there we’d put together backyard and basement shows (he performed and often doubled as a very kind sound person). In 2016, following one of his night walks around Manhattan, he signed off our thread with “it’s ok to be underground, forever even.” That’s the message Eric kept at the heart of Phantom Posse and his various aliases (heard in E80 as Steve Sobs and Eric Reuss). His work as a collaborator, co-producer, and engineer (including albums with Emily Yacina, Foxes in Fiction, GABI, Julie Byrne, Nadine’s Nadia Hulett, Tasha, Vagabon, and Yohuna) speaks to the trust others had for his instincts — his ability to encourage, lift up, and surface the best out of us — and also casts an immense what-if for what was still to come. In recent weeks, friends have collected Eric’s far-reaching output at this Tumblr, playlist, and Bandcamp.

This set also spans the temporal impressions of LA-based electro-acoustic composer Celia Hollander, the ‘heaven metal’ of Denver’s Madeline Johnston aka Midwife (who once took over E58), a ‘small outer space’ envisioned by Japanese ambient folk artist Satomimagae, Nighttime’s ode to longer, sunnier days in upstate New York, and much more.




(Bowie and a bunch of the rocks)
Eric Reuss – meeting in a dream in the mall food court
Joseph Shabason – Gymnopedie No. 1
Elori Saxl – The Blue Of Distance
Weekend – Nostalgia
Celia Hollander – 5:59 PM
Steve Sobs – Empty Streets
Perila – Fallin Into Space
Green-House – Soft Coral
Lucy Gooch – It Brings Me Back To You
Cheval Sombre – It’s Not Time
Midwife – Enemy
Nailah Hunter – Bassin Bleu
Yu Su – Dusty
Dougie Stu – Free Their Ghosts
Lucinda Chua – Until I Fall
Rachika Nayar – No Future
L’Rain – Take Two
Satomimagae – Kouji
Phantom Posse – [RISE4 outta here]
Nighttime – Toward the Light