Damon Locks & Rob Mazurek, “Yes!” (International Anthem)

Damon Locks and Rob Mazurek came up in Chicago's fertile music scene in the '90s, in which post-rock and jazz musicians collaborated in many rewarding combinations—a situation that continues to this day. A keen lyricist and electronics tinkerer, Locks was the vocalist in underground-rock heavies Trenchmouth with future comedy star Fred Armisen, as well as part of the Eternals, Super E.S.P., Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, and other units, before surfacing in 2019 with his own soulful, fire-music troupe, Black Monument Ensemble.

Cornetist/electronics manipulator Mazurek's led several galvanizing groups that operated in the nexus between experimental-rock and out-jazz, including SĂŁo Paolo Underground, Mandarin Movie, and more. So, it makes all kinds of sense that these two vets of boundary-pushing music would link up under the auspices of International Anthem, perhaps America's preeminent avant-jazz company.

The forthcoming New Future City Radio full-length (due July 28) plays out like a mind-scrambling pirate-radio broadcast. Most of the sonically unpredictable tracks run under two minutes and contain snippets of spoken-word declarations and manifestos, or masquerade as jarring, pseudo advertisements. A month of intense daily listening might yield the overall meaning of the album's enigmatic word-sound mosaic. It's one of the weirdest releases in International Anthem's history.

Some highlights: “The Sun Returns” boasts absurdly ballistic beats and a haunting melody from some unplaceable spot on the globe—it's a total dance-floor-baffler. “Breeze of Time” is a riveting confluence of motorized bass synth, bell-tree tintinnabulation, and poignant cornet wails. “The Concord Hour” is one of the pair's strangest pieces, a warped choral mantra with snake-charming synth and mesmerizing acoustic guitar riffs, exotic marimba patter, and a beautifully desolate cornet solo. “Flitting Splits Reverb Adage” splutters and glitches like an Aphex Twin B-side from 1997; it's doubtful that Locks and Mazurek's fans saw this coming. The nearly 10-minute ambient-jazz-birdsong zoner “Twilight Shimmer” is a bewitching respite amid the record's prevailing jagged clamor.

New Future City Radio's first single, “Yes!” repurposes infectious go-go percussion within the framework of bombastic industrial-dub. Locks proclaims, “If you really break it down, the loss is immeasurable/For every move you make, they got three moves that negate anything that you might have even thought of doing/I'm living in darkness, you're living in darkness, but you don't even know it/...They got you where they want you—nowhere/Shrouded in confusion, grasping at straws/....You ask me if I can form myself into a giant robot and swallow up this black hole and free the entire universe/My answer to you is 'YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!”

It's unlikely that radio will know what to do with this madness, but you should put it in heavy rotation.

PJS, “Floating Duvet” (Hush Hush)

Out in Carnation, Washington, Alex Ruder is quietly building an ambient/electronic-music empire with his Hush Hush label and as host of the Sunday morning Pacific Notions show on KEXP. Over the last 11 years, Hush Hush has accumulated a discography full of quality excursions in peace-inducing ambient and soft-cushioned beat science from a globally diverse roster of artists. Given all of these activities, Ruder deserves an honorary doctorate in mental health facilitation.

Hush Hush's latest release is by PJS—Coast Salish-based musicians Patrick Dique and Jordan Christoff. Previously, they've created computer-free, hardware-based electronic music for respected labels such as Muzan Editions, Leaving, and Shimmering Moods. Their debut for Hush Hush, Rainbow Fusion, contains four epic aural clouds of tranquility.

Now, I listen to a lot of ambient music—maybe not as much as Ruder, but still, more than the average headphone commando. Consequently, it takes something special to trigger a response beyond a shrug. And Rainbow Fusion hits that elusive sweet spot of meditative and engrossing over its 65 minutes.

PJS boldly open with the album's longest track, “Psychic Architecture,” a 21-minute treatise in treating us like royalty. The slow-motion expansiveness and Elysian vortex summoned here makes the Orb sound earthbound. A relative blip at 11:44, “Hints and Cues” murmurs in a more introspective vein, coming off like a less somnolent Stars of the Lid. “Potpourri” is a calming drone adorned with subtle sparkles of what sounds like treated electric guitar. It's as full of wonder as a constellation.

“Floating Duvet” coasts on the most vaporous, calming undulations you'll hear outside of a Laraaji or Joanna Brouk record. At 14:33, it's a tease; one could recline in its pacific drift for hours and come out the other side feeling like a billion bucks. Bottle this music and sell it at Capitol Hill's New Age-friendly wellness mecca, Rainbow Natural Remedies.