2018: First Quarter Favorites From sheaves of harsh noise & asphalt batida to trap-rap hybridity & obscure Japanese video game music

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


Prurient

Rainbow Mirror

[Profound Lore]

[LISTEN · READ]

At 3.5 hours, it takes just a little bit longer to drive from New York to Boston than it does to listen to Rainbow Mirror. You don’t go through the rust belt that the album claims to represent, per se, but the hollowed-out shells of post-industrial Connecticut and Western Massachusetts aren’t so far away. The album feels like a journey, one as harsh, raw, and sickly as you’d hope from Prurient (presented here as a three-piece), but unusually open, improvisatory, and fluid by Dominick Fernow’s standards. I jump between two urban poles, insulated by a car, something I’m not usually in. Rainbow Mirror keeps me awake, present, uneasy. The relation between this “in-between space” that I’m in (an urbanist lie, it’s a Real Place, with people and houses) and these two cities is mutually sustaining, creating an image of polarity where there is actually simply a broken but required feedback loop of production and transportation. This relation, this road, these spaces that I travel in are teeming, voluptuous, open, which in no way cancels out the fact that it’s an area of intense income disparity, post-industrial collapse, and racism. These forces feel delimited to this space, but that too is a lie; they lurk within and behind the urban poles. This seems to resonate in the opening screaming expanses of this music. I feel like this is “not where I’m from,” because I’ve been told this by a narrative I don’t understand. Between shivers, electronic pings, sheaves of harsh noise (walls/roads), something opens up.


Cucina Povera

Hilja

[Night School]

[LISTEN]

I can’t even quite remember how I discovered Hilja, Maria Rossi’s debut album as Cucina Povera; it just kind of entered my life, frosty and simple, yet utterly spellbinding. And it hasn’t left since. The project’s name — a style of southern Italian traditional cooking associated with making-do and simplicity — reflects Hilja as an album perfectly: within, you’ll find deeply affecting, emotional music crafted using a very limited sound palette. Rossi usually self-samples her voice to create soundscapes and choirs or makes use of cryptic field recordings, only occasionally reaching for a synthesizer. This is ambient music rooted in Rossi’s immediate surroundings and an enchanting meditation on finding beauty in the ordinary.


P. Adrix

Álbum Desconhecido

[Príncipe]

[LISTEN · READ]

As in dream: “feeling the music from the words.” With our ears to the terrain, we sought footing in the percussion of shells snapping and plates shifting. We prepared for finite worlds in this flanging earth. We thought these sounds would be like all the others, an archipelago to be turned cartographic. But this terra infirma, this collection unfamiliar is not for knowing. In asphalt batida and slurred footworks, the jungle takes back the city. A de-bodied voice, a woozed intonation: “Adrix.” In turbulent Annihilation, as if in dream: “a rising sense of heat and weight and a kind of licking, a lapping wetness, as if the thick light was transforming into the sea itself.” We thought, as bodies do, that we could hear these sounds in this world but these sounds slough descriptors like rain off flesh. “Cut me open. Are my insides going to move like my fingerprints?” P. Adrix, sonhos unraveled and the sea itself, knows already: our insides run like sounds. Move for life. Transform or die.


Jam City

Earthly 000

[Self-Released]

[LISTEN · READ]

What good is there in skulking in the shadows? Lately, lots. The noise is overwhelming. Nauseous, even. I mean, when is the last time you didn’t want to pick a fight with someone on social media for one thing or another? When you had to restrain yourself because someone ran their hands off? When you got called out for offending someone without intending to? Sometimes it’s best to keep chill, keep quiet, say little. Walk in the shadows, have a buffer from the noise. These be autistic times, even when we don’t realize it. Jam City knows the score. Trap the sound, warp it to deny the overload. You can step back a bit, not stick your head out as much. It’s not the worst thing in the world. Maybe it’ll even make you less stressed.


03 Greedo

The Wolf of Grape Street

[Alamo]

[LISTEN]

The era of the overstuffed rap album is upon us, all disrespect to Spotify. Major labels have rushed to exploit the botched integration of streaming numbers into Billboard’s chart methodology, loading down a hot single with as much filler as it can bear and loosing the result onto sponsored playlists everywhere. Not so with 03 Greedo; throughout The Wolf of Grape Street (and his previous releases, which often reach 30-40 tracks in length), he remains reliably excellent across a myriad of styles, re-shaping himself seemingly without limit. Handling much of his own production and having never needed another rapper to carry a track, the vast majority of Greedo’s work to date has been a solo effort; with features including Yhung T.O., OMB Peezy, and PNB Rock, Grape Street offers a glimpse of how his sound might infiltrate the broader rap consciousness, if not yet the mainstream. Regardless, he’s the same Greedo as ever; whatever form he takes, his appeal remains rooted in his ambassadorship for L.A.’s Watts neighborhood — as album closer “Never Bend” begins, “if these project walls could talk, they’d be just like 03.”

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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