2023 Music Rewind

Another year, another blog post. The trend continues wherein I lament how far behind I am on listening to new releases. My “listen later” list has exceeded 1000 tracks and 89 hours of material to confront. I really wonder if I will ever catch up and it’s not for lack of trying. From the stuff I did manage to listen to, I have four favorites (presented here in alphabetical order).

This post is dedicated to the memory of my best friend from middle school and high school, Christian Cabañero. He was one of the most passionate and unique souls I have known and I will treasure the memories of surviving our goofiest years together.

Arovane – Seismograf

Crystalline and scratchy digital sound design that manages to feel cold and warm simultaneously. It evokes in me a nostalgic feeling similar to my first experience with Arovane, Tides.

El Michels Affair & Black Thought – Glorious Game

This is an amazing pairing. I’m used to hearing a hip-hop informed live band sound from El Michels Affair but here we get a lo-fi gritty sound with plenty of sample-based production. Black Thought continues to set an extremely high standard for lyrics and delivery. Far from stagnating, he seems to get sharper and hungrier as he ages. He somehow stays unpredictable in his wordplay without sounding forced or flashy.

Horse Lords – Comradely Object

This album begins with a polyrhythmic poly-tempo labyrinth of a track, with the guitar slicing across the groove with double-time, half-time, third-time(?) arpeggios. Elsewhere, I hear the influence of Fred Frith, Massacre, and On the Corner-era Miles Davis. The oblong angular Prog grooves are balanced by austere piercing drones, built out of amplifier feedback and saxophone multiphonics (and a dash of synth), that are equally captivating.

Jalen Ngonda – Come Around and Love Me

Classic Motown vibes, both melodically and sonically. Strong influences of Marvin Gaye (specifically What’s Goin’ On), Smokey Robinson, and maybe a touch of The Tempations in a psychedelic fuzz guitar mood.

Rest in peace, “Crischon.”

In this first video, me and my friends are playing a guitar instrumental called “Bested” that Chris wrote and dedicated to me (“Best Ed”/bastard). I have always been blown away by the EVH/Cathedral-esque ending that he composed. Incredible, especially since he was only 18 years old.

In the next video, Chris is playing a piece that I composed and dedicated to him (ildg = I love day glo). He transcribed and learned it by ear and surprised me by playing it in front of our entire high school.

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