2017: Third Quarter Favorites From Avey Tare & Angelo Badalamenti to White Suns & White Poppy

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For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series



[Outside Insight]


An album gets called cinematic when the music elicits the feeling of a wide shot, of a soundtracked scene, of prestigious drama. SHELL is cinematic because it’s a movie. Vestigial, footgazing, inflammable, SHELL is a movie with no stars, a movie with no film, that unfolds in unfolding, getting ahead of itself. Even the pronoun is in the can before she means to. So you hear SADAF: just trust your eyes. Audition requires participation, and here, off the top of her head, participation means filmmaking. The unmaking of, in stereo. Although there are no bangers, there’s still the magic of SADAF’s multiplying VOICE, playing over scripts. (Little fires, drowning onscreen, disowned from the spark that lit the faucet. Its instructions crossing themselves out, the skipping noise and scraping strings roll like credits, hand in hand, like the tide, a substitute for reaching through to the other side.) “Though there is stillness, I can feel your heartbeat. Though I can’t see you, I can hear a sound.” Fear that you hear yourself, but you don’t listen.

Various Artists

Sounds of Sisso

[Nyege Nyege Tapes]


It’s fair to say that Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes has left a rather sizeable imprint on the TMT hivemind this year (see: Otim Alpha, Mysterians, and first-quarter fave Riddlore <3), and if the only M.O. is “outsider music from around the region and beyond,” why not? Yet those archival gems still couldn’t prepare us for Sounds of Sisso. A truly graceless anthology of the Dar Es Salaam underground, the Sisso sound is one of urgency and defiance, an afromutation that wrenches its influences from the midst of local traditions and spits them back out as garbled dispatches from the field — haphazardly arranged, intensely-paced, but something altogether anew. Between the discordant pitch-jamming of Csso’s “Shobo” and the propulsive insistence of MC Dogo Niga’s choicest cuts, Sounds of Sisso is a strident finger on the pulse of another way, a better way, to move in the ever-expanding, rapidly disseminating dance music movement the world over. No amount of theoretical body talk could ever explain this, so don’t bother. Take C’s lead and “let the relentlessness sink in.” These Sounds do the moving for you.

White Poppy

The Pink Haze of Love



Love applied a conceptual naïveté to the human world, as...

...is the man behind a girl half his size telling her she's the biggest person on the subway, to keep pushing her way through hoards of people crowing and entering that train-car, calling her, "Sis."

...it fills an elevator of three ladies who don't speak the same language but are all laughing at one of their dogs jumping around in circles because "She's waiting for a treat."

...a toddler in her stroller sandwiched by two older ladies on park benches, joking with the little girl until a lull happens, and she leans back on her pillow, out of site of the benches, squinting her eyes and smiling big, completely quiet.

...absolute infinity in willful dumbfoundedness.

Listeners are blessed to bare the blissful struggle of love in White Poppy's therapeutic-pop release of The Pink Haze of Love. Feel her feels of feeling all the facets of love gleefully out of sync, without all the frill and pom, but the deceitful charm of Earth’s enchantment. And most importantly: let’s get over it together!

Bill Orcutt

Bill Orcutt



Where have I heard this before? For most, it’s from Pinocchio or from before sports games where players kneel in protest against a nation that’s betrayed its promises of freedom. White Christmas for America’s first white president. A Shape of [Blues] to Come. For Bill Orcutt fans (people who read TMT), it’s from his last acoustic release, A History of Every One, plus a few more for good measure. This is a patient, patience-testing variation on a theme that’s been reproduced again and again and again for generations, but this time, it’s plugged in and ringing with feedback. Through steady, clenched teeth, this is Orcutt pleading that it’s time we plug in too and notice which notes are missing, which have been replaced by screams or by silence. Where have I heard this before? I think it’s from some 1930s musical, but I don’t remember it sounding this… vehement, this… irrepressible.

Lingua Ignota

All Bitches Die



If signifiers of evil and harshness for their own sake are all played out, Lingua Ignota is the place they’ve come to die. And to be reborn. Kristin Hayter’s project explores her own experiences of abuse at the hands of a partner and of self-punishment, and she believes in salvation though suffering. The act of listening to her music, which lies somewhere between power electronics and Catholic liturgy, may therefore be salvific in itself. She’s selling indulgences, but paradoxically, it’s a Faustian bargain. Tim Holmes, in the liner notes for Teenage Jesus And The Jerks’ Everything, recounts “the parable of the ‘seven minute shows’: ‘…not a minute too short…’ according to a putative witness, ‘but worth every dollar…’” Similarly, I couldn’t bear to listen to All Bitches Die a second time. It’s an album that offers no mercy. But “where, then, the voice of the unheard language?” These are female martyrs refusing martyrdom, singing murder ballads de- and re-sacralizing their own deaths. Aileen Wuornos’s interstitial presence signifies the way in which these victims become monsters, become killers. All Bitches Die plumbs the depths of the cauldrons of pitch, lead, oil, and brimstone in which innumerable legions of female saints were plunged. Their metal-lipped mouths conduct to a submerged cathedralic space, in which Hayter intones prayers vast, un/listenable, and terrifying.

Young Thug

Beautiful Thugger Girls

[300 Entertainment]


Beautiful Thugger Girls is Thug’s sheer hellish melisma — his automatic writing and his deranged far side — an irreducible golden putty of Year of the Cock vocal resilience. We know well that his voice can be boundless, cascading, ascendant — a force we can’t reckon with (*spit*). The album is a series of hybrid Thugger songs that have drifted into mutation, triumphs of human intonation and modulation pitched and thrown in ecstatic measures: playing to the gallery, but lost in the riffraff. A bona fide snake-in-the-boot thriller, Thugger Girls is a cataract of every funny-but-insane gibberish joke you’ve ever dribbled out in moments of absurd delusion, a humorous moment-of-clarity revealing itself as a violent, genius vision. I’ll let slip a threadbare phrase from the ol critic’s notebook: the album is a “tour de force” of human vocalization, a transcendental smackdown featuring the loose letting loose, unfurling great octave leaps and glissandos peaking in sharp cries, projecting a beautifully unfettered freedom while “Riding on a bike/ On a very late night,” face to the moonlight, the yeehaw rising.

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series

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