The Best New Soul on Bandcamp: June 2017

Best New Soul

Quentin Moore. Illustration by Gabriel Alcala.

Breaking news: It’s getting hot outside and, depending on where you live, you’ve already spent half your check on popsicles and Freezies. In a way, though, it’s also a good time for soul music—it’s always perfect for stoop hangs, cookouts, and poolsides. In this month’s roundup, we dive into a seasonally appropriate release from the Pacific Northwest and catch up with a jazz luminary whose recent album has a considerable R&B slant. Continue reading

How Japan’s Landscape Inspired a New Kind of Electronic Music

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Nicole Ginelli

Japan’s ever-changing, contrasting landscapes have influenced its culture for centuries, through both technological advancement and natural phenomena. The awe-inspiring wonder of Mount Fuji is just a 30-minute train ride from the Blade Runner-like high-rises of Tokyo. New volcanic islands surrounding Japan have been formed as recently as 2013. The crashing seas of Kanagawa, in the east of Japan, became a muse for Hokusai famous 1830s woodblock painting, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

While Japan’s role in the evolution of contemporary music cannot be understated, much of the popular music we commonly associate with the country is created by machines. The Osaka-based Roland Corporation’s legendary line of synthesizers and drum machines have continued to reinvent everything from dub to DnB ever since its first release, the TR-77 rhythm box, in 1972. The hyperbolic madness of J-Pop is defined by the hi-NRG kicks and kaleidoscopic synth lines that soundtrack Tokyo’s neon-lit walkways and fill its arenas. And let’s not forget the massive contribution of 8-bit composers like Koji Kondo, and the video game music he and his contemporaries pioneered. But away from computer music or button-bashing classics, the natural sounds of Japan are equally encapsulating sources of inspiration for those who search them out.

Put simply, “field recording” is the act of capturing sound outside of a recording studio; it’s closer to being a method of production than any type of marketable music “genre.” Toshiya Tsunoda, Minoru Sato, and the late noise artist Akifumi Nakajima (aka Aube) are pioneering names in contemporary Japanese field recording. The 1996 collaborative Tsunoda/Sato LP Ful and Nakajima’s Water 1991 were largely slept-on at the time they were released, but have since become cult classics. Today, thanks to cheaper field recording technologies, what was once an endeavor available to those who could afford the expensive equipment has now been democratized. Anyone who owns an iPhone has a half-decent recording device in their hands, and because of that, bedroom beatmakers and electronic musicians can now bend field recordings of natural sound into whatever shape they like.

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U.K. Dance Label Rhythm Section’s Guiding Rule: “Good Parties, Good Music”

Bradley Zero

Bradley Zero

Exiting Peckham Rye train station isn’t for the faint of heart. Within seconds of leaving its marbled arches, you’re on Rye Lane, a permanently bustling, consistently overwhelming half-mile patchwork of butcher shops, bars, and bodies. It’s the lifeblood of South East London, a mishmash of cultures swarming its sidewalks at all hours. A similar eclecticism flows through every release on local dance label Rhythm Section International.

Renowned for their genre-fluid approach, Rhythm Section International’s releases wind their way through jazz, R&B, house, disco, and countless other styles. The label, which grew out of a series of parties, gigs, and club nights on Rye Lane’s dingy Canavan’s Peckham Pool Hall that started in 2012, began taking shape when founder Bradley Zero’s crossed paths with an artist named Al Dobson Jr. during Zero’s day job at Boiler Room. Zero was adamant that Dobson’s free-spirited, jazzy works needed to be released, and in June 2014, he took it upon himself to do so. The diverse ethos of those Rhythm Section London parties went international with the release of Dobson’s Rye Lane Volume One LP.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Metal, Soul, Hip-Hop, Electronic & More

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Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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