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
Phantom Posse’s Be True, one of the year’s finest albums, is the expression of ten friends, a true collaboration that flows with impressive cohesion. The sound—languid, faded, somnolent—is shaped by Posse’s producer and overall connective thread, Eric Littmann. Since his early releases as Phantom Power (and later as Steve Sobs), Eric has approached home recording as an outlet free of expectations, uploading introspective, stream-of-thought vignettes (roaming guitar, subdued beats, occasional vocals) driven by experience and mood. As those projects matured, they also expanded in scope, documenting not just one artistic path, but the many zigs and zags of the musicians in his orbit. The dynamic came to culmination with last year’s Home, and is perfected on this self-described travel diary, Be True.
Last summer Eric took me on one of his semi-regular night walks around New York City, along with Posse member Thomas Beddoe (aka Cheetah Lamp). There was much to talk about—existentialism, identity, creative process, science (the latter especially fascinating given Eric’s profession and passion)—but our general mode became one of observation… how the city looks when you’ve got the time to really look. Metropolitan qualities romanticized to the point of cliché, often taken for granted in our day-to-day. The hypnotic calm in watching the movement of masses from afar, the muffled sound bites pouring out as restaurants give way to bars, the glow of a billion windows, lights, and signs bouncing off the waterfront. In the span of roughly four hours, we looped around the West Side before crossing the bridge to Brooklyn. It felt like we shared something, difficult to articulate. And it’s just like Eric to compile a little sense from it, sending over two iPhone videos shot low-key that evening, and the words below:
“When Phantom Posse started I was mixing on a pair of computer speakers that came with a 2003 Dell Desktop computer… nowadays we have some better gear and more experience, but everything else is the same. For me Phantom Posse has always been friendship and joy—thank you to everyone who has listened over the years.
It’s ok to be niche; it’s ok to be underground, forever even (-phantom power). Remember who you are, remember where you came from, who made you who you are—oh and be true.”