This is an excerpt of an article from AdHoc Issue 4. Purchase this issue or a subscription.
I was late to the D’Angelo party. Being the sort of person who puts a lot of stock in an album’s visual aesthetic (don’t judge a book by its cover, I know), I’ll admit that the Voodoo cover was a turn-off. Sure, I had heard good things about the album’s contents, but I had been raised with my mother’s vitriol against needlessly shirtless men, an anger that stemmed from their ability to jaunt around sans top during blistering New York summer heat waves. Voodoo was not initially the sort of album cover that made me swoon, as it likely did scores of other listeners; it merely reminded me of my inherited annoyance at the social acceptance of male nudity—out on street corners, on stoops, on lawns—while I schvitzed under layers of cotton and polyester.
But I digress. I joined the party in college. This musician whom I had dismissed, it turned out, was right up my alley. My friends had casually commented on D’Angelo’s genius, playing him out of desktop speakers while passing 40s around in cramped dorm rooms. In Voodoo I heard heroes new and old: shades of the silly, down-home soul of Outkast's Aquemini; sultry falsettos reminiscent of Marvin Gaye and Al Green; horn sections that borrowed from Stax and Atlantic, then slowed down to the mellow groove of turn-of-the-millenium R&B. It didn’t hurt that I had grown up on the vocally like-minded Usher and K-Ci & JoJo, whose slow jams often soundtracked my car rides to day camp. Initial dismissal be damned—this shit was good.
We waited fourteen years for Black Messiah, a surreptitiously guarded beast if there ever was one. It quietly arrived, finally, on a Sunday evening in December, and the album cover alone suggests that something has changed. D’Angelo is nowhere to be found in the cover’s photo—a still taken from last year’s Afropunk festival, which he headlined. His baby face and now-infamous abs are decidedly absent. In his place are a sea of black hands—some balled in fisted protest, others outstretched as if emanating from the pulpit. Where there was once one, now there are many. In a single image—aided, of course, by the album’s title—we discover a turn to the religious and the political, both key ingredients in the centuries-long history of black protest.
Back in February, Night Slugs co-founder and producer Bok Bok released "Melba's Call," a Kelela-featuring banger with glitchy '90s vibes. "Melba's Call" is set to be the opening track on Bok Bok's forthcomingYour Charizmatic Self EP later this month. Bok Bok has just released another track off of the EP. The instrumental "Howard" is cut from the same cloth as the EP opener: choppy, fresh, and unremittingly funky.
Having been big fans of Fatima Al Qadiri's Desert Strike EP and her subsequent collaborations with Lit City Trax affiliates, we're a little more than psyched for her debut album, which is set to arrive early next week. On the LP, titled Asiatisch, Al Qadiri grapples with Western constructions of the East, using an array of stereotypes as points of entry into her grime compositions. One such composition is the album's single, "Shanghai Freeway." Set to appear towards the end of the album, the track is a beatless weaving of steel drum hits and thick synth lines. The result is a track that is equal parts beautiful and haunting.
Asiatisch is out May 5 via Hyperdub.
Jeremiah Jae is a friend to free music. Last year, Jae dropped a number of free tracks for a series called Black Jungle Radio, as well as his Bad Jokes tape. Jae is now back with his second tape for Warp Records. Taking inspiration from the eponymous sitcom, Good Times features contributions from fellow Black Jungle Squad heads Oliver the 2nd, Isreal, and Tre. The production contributors are just as stacked, with Lord Raja, Jonway, and Knxwledge adding their beat-twiddling expertise. The resulting tracks are incommensurably cool, combining Jae's chilled out affect with warm '70s musical cues.
Good Times is out now via Warp Records. The tape is available for free download at DatPiff.
In the past couple years, the Chicago-based five piece Verma have been perfecting their blend of Kraut-infused psych, quietly releasing a handful of tapes along the way. The band's new album Sunrunner is coming out next month, and on the new track "Hologrammer," the space-rockers stay true to form. "Hologrammer" is a piece of heavy motorik Krautrock, with swirling guitars, synth, and a propulsive bass line leading the way. Also at the forefront are lead singer Whitney Johnson's soaring wails, which accompany the escalating buzzing riffs.
Sunrunner is out May 27 via Trouble in Mind Records.
Brian Chase and Alan Licht are a couple cats who have been around the proverbial block. A few days ago, the experimental jammers announced that they will be releasing a collaborative LP this May, We Thought We Could Do Anything. They also hipped us to a fiery excerpt of a new track. The duo has just released a second track, "Immediate Release," that further showcases their propensity to churn out deliciously abstract pieces. If their previous excerpt was a noisy take on psych rock, then "Immediate Release" is sitting pretty on a more drone-inflected aesthetic.
We Thought We Could Do Anything is out May 5 on New Images Ltd.
April is going to be a big month for Chicago tape label Hausu Mountain. In addition to new releases from Jerry Paper and Moth Cock, a tape from modular synthesist William Selman is set to be released later this month. On the tape's title track "Equatorial Night," Selman offers a dub-infused piece with a consonant rhythm that drifts along. While the backbone of the track is the thumping bass pulses, Selman proves to be an adept synth guru, eking out sonic manipulations that flitter in and out.
Equatorial Night is out April 22 on limited edition cassette via Hausu Mountain.
Since the release of his last album, NYC, HELL 3:00AM, enigmatic producer James Ferraro has kept busy recording tracks in Heathrow Airport and composing elevator music for MoMA PS1. Ferraro has just revealed his latest forthcoming release, a revival of his BODYGUARD project. Last we heard from BODYGUARD was the 2012 mixtape Silica Gel. Being a proponent of channeling futurist detritus into sound, it should be no surprise that Ferraro made the announcement via an understated tweet with a telling hashtag: #NEW_MUZIK. Eerie electronica abounds in the accompanying clip, titled "WĒNQUÁN (EXCERPT)."
Perte D'identite, meaning "Loss of Identity," is the debut album from composer and singer Marie Davidson, following her 2012 self-titled EP. Simultaneously stark and atmospheric, the synths on the album's title track combine elements of cold wave and Italo disco, providing a cinematic backdrop to Davidson's composition. Indeed, the aesthetic recalls a cold wave-inflected Angelo Badalamenti. Perhaps the most useful instrument in Davidson's tool belt, though, is her voice, whose intimate monotone adds a ghostly chill to the track. Though the debut full-length dropped today, Davidson is already busy working on her second LP, which will be out on Holodeck Records in the fall.
Perte D'identite is out now via Weyrd Son Records.
Founded last spring, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks features the eponymous Animal Collective member, Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors), and drummer Jeremy Hyman (Ponytail, Dan Deacon). The trio has a record coming out next month, Enter the Slasher House, for which they've already shared a couple videos. In April the band will also be heading south to Asheville, North Carolina to play at Moogfest, the annual festival that pays tribute to the electronic inventiveness of Bob Moog.
In anticipation of Slasher Flicks' forthcoming record and appearance at Moogfest, Avey Tare has put together an exclusive mix for Ad Hoc. Featuring a smattering of Moog-influenced artists, the mix includes the warbling synth creations of Broadcast, Raymond Scott, and Black Dice, with more unexpected turns from Country Joe and The Fish and Hall and Oates. Though Tare covers a number of genres and eras in 25 minutes, electronic lines creep and crawl throughout, marking the indelibility of Moog's influence.
Check out the mix below. Enter the Slasher House is out April 8 via Domino. Check out the mix's tracklist after the jump.