Stadiums & Shrines

 

Sui Zhen sent us this mix last month; we have migrated inside since then, and are finding ways to exist, to create, to adapt and hopefully thrive within limited and uncertain formats. May this mix offer a spacious place to lean into.

Sui Zhen is a musician and performance artist based in Melbourne. Her latest album, Losing, Linda (released last fall on Cascine), examines the disembodiment of digital life and internalizes loss across a series of surreal and highly inventive experimental pop songs. Zhen has a knack for arranging myriad musical ideas into singular moments while never losing hold of the rhythm. Like the way flute & clarinet mingle with bossa-nova bass lines on “Being A Woman,” emphasizing her candid questions about gender expectations, which toggle between melodic phrases, self-harmonies, and robotic sing-speak.

Behind the AI alter-ego preface of Losing, Linda, it is deeply human. As is the message of this mix, presented in her words below. She also penned a piece today on resetting expectations in the age of isolation.

“Over the last couple of years my listening tastes have moved toward more textural, expansive, contemplative soundscapes that could accompany me whilst I am thinking & reflecting about all manner of things at home. Or whilst I am preparing my studio space. Trying to quiet the mind. This could be because I’ve been creating soundscapes and music for listening in art galleries for work in this time period. But I think it also has to do with the rise of internet radio and mix series reaching a point where there is so much choice. Mixes can be life-changing or just a really positive way to collect musical ideas and references into an hour-long listening experience. Ambient is not the right word, but there is a sparseness and fragmentation to a lot of the pieces here in this mix. I love to try and continue a thread and draw links between other artists working with similar sounds or techniques. For me, this kind of music is highly evocative and good for the soul. It doesn’t always sound familiar and you might not know where it is leading you, but it can open the mind and be a cleanse of sorts to all the noise elsewhere in the world. I am always so impressed and in awe of the power of sound and music. What a privilege to have my hearing and to be able to participate in this way.”



FM3 & Dou Wei – 四
Meredith Monk – clusters 2
Félicia Atkinson – The Flower And The Vessel
FM3 & Dou Wei – Fallen Flowers 落花
Sam Mallet – Wetlands
Log(M) & Laraaji – Sundog Suite
Ana Roxanne – Slowness
Meredith Monk – strand (gathering)
Sosena Gebre Eyesus – 03 ባየነውም ጊዜ – Bayenewem Gize
FM3 & Dou Wei – 八
Brenda Ray & Scientist – Rejoice For The New Born
Hydroplanes – Grand Central
Pontiac Streator & Ulla Straus – Chat Two
Primal Astrology – Primal Astrology
Log(M) & Laraaji – Sruthi Dub Resonance
Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell – From The Earth To The Ceiling (Part 07)
Sheila Chandra – Not a Word in the Sky
SQÜRL – Blue and Grey
A Gethsémani – Cheree

S&S Radio broadcasts every now and then on Newtown Radio.

 

Since closing the metaphorical doors to Patient Sounds Intl. on the last day of the decade, Chicago-based “ambient humorist” Matthew J. Sage has refocused his open hours into a new hobby: ceramics. Somewhere around the edges of spinning clay, recording, and teaching college students about cinema, he put some time towards this somnolent turntable set designed for winter. As he frames it:

“This mix — 100% vinyl — is a postmeridian fantasy suite built to transport you, fair listeners, out of your bundled days and woolen dens through your ears and into an after-hours reverie. The holidays are long over, but we are still in the throes of winter here in Chicago — Late-January/February is by far the cruelest time in the Midwest, having just wrapped a record-challenging stretch without the sun breaking through cloudcover, and now descending into a week of cold and snow — so I created what could be considered a fairytale. A story built to be heard near a crackling hearth (or the 4k facsimile of a hearth). This is what narrative is for in some cases, a flash of escapism. Consider it starting in a leather-couched living space where, after a rich meal of fresh bread and baked root vegetables from the cellar, and maybe a strong glass of wine or two, you float off into the words of a kind friend about their wanderings in the woods of those past warmer months. You spiral into an unfamiliar kingdom that is still uncannily comfortable. Light from those flames in the hearth dance about the room, throwing shadows like flitting fairies into your drooping eyelids.”

“Again, if you don’t have a real fireplace, I highly recommend cueing up a little crackling birchwood while you listen (we run this video in our house quite often in the winter and it has become a much loved cold-season tradition!). Stay warm and imaginative out there (or in there), and have a good tale on me.”


Emily A. Sprague – Piano 1
Josh Mason – Cracking the Juice Code
Billy Gomberg – Openness
Nick Butcher – Cozy Kitchen
Rene Hell – Metaconcrete
Charlie Morrow – Wave Music III – 60 Clarinets and a Boat
Wendy Carlos – Variations for Flute & Electronic Sound
Forest Management – A Smell so Sweet
Robert Casadesus (Faure) – Prelude in Gmin by Gabriel Faure
Sean McCann – Nightfall
Theodore Cale Schafer – Hunter
Tomita – Dawn at Bermuda
Tom Van Der Geld and Children at Play – Alison
Ernest Hood – Saturday Morning Doze

S&S Radio broadcasts every now and then on Newtown Radio.

 

In lieu of lists, I’ll start Episode 73 by saying that my favorite album of 2019 is Nina Keith’s arresting MARANASATI 19111, released in the late summer by Grind Select. It carries a kind of emotional sway unique in the sprawl of contemporary wordless music. To me, these arrangements — classical piano conversing with found sounds and textured traces of vocals, flute, and electronics — render the sense of impermanence found in listening with palpable awareness, intention, and pause, be it for the clouds or passing thoughts. The album never ceases to surprise in its utility, its choices to bloom sounds in certain moments, its ability to regenerate and turn corners, between melancholy, bliss, and revelation, seamlessly.


This music is deeply personal to the Philadelphia-based composer and trans woman — built around specific memory networks dealing with her experiences with tragedy, trauma, EMDR therapy, paranormal incidents — while also wildly inviting; it lets listeners in. She recently spoke with Whitney Wei of Bandcamp Daily about the concept of groundlessness, with respect to mortality as well as artistic expression and improvisation. It’s an enlightening read and makes her mix for us that much more effective. As do her accompanying words for u own the water, below:

“A couple months ago I was recovering from surgery and my friends were all sitting on this bed together when I admitted to them I had just learned that my birth time was actually 4 hours off from what I had previously thought. My friend immediately pulled out her phone to figure out my birth chart again (double libra, capricorn rising). My girlfriend exclaimed, ‘There has to be something wrong, how is there no water in her chart? She’s the soggiest bitch I know.’

“This mix began as a playlist on my phone to soundtrack my self care routine. Most of those nights aren’t really planned but rather surrendered to. Usually they come about from being at a sort of low desperate place often reeling from woes of existing in hostile, patriarchal and transphobic environments. After mindlessly adding songs to that playlist I realized it was somehow unintentionally but explicitly aquatic themed and didn’t have many cis men on it. I decided to make this mix expanding on that theme.

“I think about water as a conduit between myself and the world. An aid to soothe and dissolve the disconnect with the world that I might be feeling. My ideal self care routine involves sitting in a candlelit bath and/or crying completely for the sake of crying without needing to find a reason. There’s a gentle exchange with water. It’s the same water that evaporates into clouds and rains on everyone.

(*Not trying to make any kind of statement here. I love music made by boys, just not what I listen to during my bath-cry.)”

~~~


Kelly Moran – Water Music
Felicia Atkinson – To This Island
Emily A. Sprague – Water Memory 1
Colleen – A Swimming Pool Down The Railway Track
Katie Dey – Waves
Mary Lattimore – Wawa by the Ocean
Kara-Lis Coverdale – Splash 144
Nina Keith – I’m In The Water
Tujiko Noriko – The Flood
Yohuna – Lake
Ana Roxanne – It’s a Rainy Day on the Cosmic Shore
Resina – Dark Sky White Water
El Perro Del Mar – Inner Island
Julia Kent – Acquario
Julianna Barwick – Crystal Lake
Anna Luisa – Liquid Memory
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Wetlands
Meredith Monk – Cloud Code
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch – The Only Water
Astrid Sonne – Water Creates Swimmers
Floating Spectrum – Inner Island
Holly Herndon – SWIM

S&S Radio broadcasts every now and then on Newtown Radio.

 

The music of Bill Lee (né Gillim) has changed considerably since the dark devotional tones of his experimental project, Megafortress. If Believer, his last record in 2014, glimpsed a songwriter inching out from the abstract, Lee’s debut under his married name reveals him coming into absolute focus, unflinchingly vulnerable, steeped in family life and Americana’s past. His falsetto has grounded down to his chest; his instrument of choice is the guitar; its immediacy shapes to his schedule as a stay-at-home father. Believer’s psychic searching has now settled quietly in a living room in upstate New York. Lee’s mind hasn’t rested, though.

It’s a natural and charming musical pivot, performed across Songs For The Family, his new collection of finger-picked, band-backed noir folk/country songs “populated by lost fathers, exhausted mothers, wayward children, and fearful lovers.” There is a crucial tenderness — as Lora Mathis coins it, “radical softness” — to these songs. Mathis says, “be close to your friends and make sure they know you love them and will fight for them.” These songs are fighting for love. A 21st-century troubadour’s document of what could and should be championed; narratives about dynamic families accessing diverse emotions, flawed characters embracing failures and learning how to “stick close to (their) tenderness.”

In advance of his release show this weekend, Lee shares a slow-moving picture for the sweet generational hymn “Family.”



He also compiles and presents episode 72:

“These are some of the songs that really struck me during the three years I was making Songs For The Family. I found myself returning to them again and again. As you can see from the names on the list, I wasn’t really digging into the obscure. They’re just some of the most beautiful, melancholy songs by some pretty big names.

There’s Elvis’s ode to his recently departed mother. Sinatra’s tale of a small town husband left alone to raise his two young sons. And Willie Nelson’s phone call to his ex detailing the ruins of the happy family life they once shared. There’s a wonderful, heartbreaking melodrama in many of these songs that, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get enough of.”

J.J. Cale – Starbound
Elvis Presley – That’s Someone You Never Forget
Bobbie Gentry – Courtyard
Mickey Newbury – I Don’t Think Much About Her Anymore
Waylon Jennings – Dreaming My Dreams With You
Willie Nelson – Little Things
John Prine – Sabu Visits The Twin Cities Alone
Fred Neil – A Little Bit Of Rain
Frank Sinatra – For A While
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind
Tammy Wynette – My Arms Stay Open Late
Merle Haggard – Train Of Life
Tom T. Hall – Homecoming
Michael Nesmith – Keep On
Willie Nelson – Some Other World
Neil Young – Little Wing
The Neville Brothers – A Change Is Gonna Come

S&S Radio broadcasts every now and then on Newtown Radio.