Glass Beams, "Snake Oil" (Ninja Tune)

Unlike most musicians today, Melbourne, Australia trio Glass Beams understand the power of mystery. At a time when everyone in the biz is hustling overtime for increasingly diminishing revenues and fans seek access to and info about their fave bands on social media 24/7, Glass Beams remain an enigma—a very popular enigma, garnering over one million monthly $p0t1fy listeners and selling out shows worldwide. They achieved all this despite rejecting the modern playbook for entertainment-industry success. (Only founding member Rajan Silva's name is known. A web search yields one interview with him—in Rolling Stone India.) You gotta love Glass Beams' quiet rebellion... and their fantastic music, too. 

Citing Indian luminaries Ananda Shankar (Ravi's nephew), R.D. Burman, and Kalyanji-Anandji as inspirations, Silva and band debuted with 2021's Mirage EP, a mesmerizing strain of psychedelic funk that hits with more mystical force than obvious sonic cousins Khruangbin. Glass Beams don't have a vocalist, per se, but they do incorporate chants and glossolalia as yet another instrument and mysterious layer in their rich aural tapestries. 

Their newest release, Mahal, elevates Glass Beams' sound to even higher levels of righteousness. The title track is an ultra-cool slice of head-nodding funk with filigreed acoustic guitar (or is it an oud or a sarod?), chimes, high-pitched chants, and a serpentine bass line. Fans of Sven Wunder's sublime 2020 album Eastern Flowers will dig it. "Orb" is a faster-paced, wickedly syncopated funk nugget festooned with subtle psychedelic elements such as flute wisps, synth zaps, and (faux?) didgeridoo bellows. "Black Sand" epitomizes clipped funk with its wah-wah-powered guitar riff of stoned beauty and its sinuous bass line that's as resonant as anything you'll hear on a KPM library record. 

My favorite track here is "Snake Oil," whose understated sitar-like snarls augment a rimshot-heavy beat recalling early-'70s Al Green, chants that split the difference between devotional and erotic, and a guitar riff of delicate ornateness, as if Gábor Szabó had grown up in India instead of Hungary. 

If, like me, you partially judge a record's worth by how many tracks you want to spin in DJ sets, then Mahal is a 5/5-star release. Can't wait to get this on vinyl—which will be available on May 17. 

Glass Beams perform at the Crocodile May 21, 8:30 pm, SOLD OUT, 21+. 

Bobbyy, "It Knows the Bliss Is Treacherous" (Stone Pixels) 

LA-via-Seattle musician/producer Robert Granfelt (aka Bobbyy) drums for the excellent, eclectic groups High Pulp and sunking. With them, he's a whirlwind of limbs, gracefully guiding his bandmates through complex jazz, funk, fusion, and hip-hop maneuvers.

On his debut solo album under the handle Bobbyy, Buckets, Granfelt manifests a sensual, heavy-lidded vibe throughout while creating genre-fluid tracks that you wish would last longer. An unexpected submersion into hip-house, the low-riding "Thence I Arrived on a Foreign Shore" glazes and blazes with sotto-voce, raunchy raps by Pink Siifu and STAS Thee Boss. "Movement" is chill-inducing, funky dub with metallic percussion and earth-moving bass pressure, giving off ominous tremors reminiscent of illbient producers Sub Dub.

The lo-fi jazz-funk fantasia "Future Landlords" should make Flying Lotus and Madlib take note. The mutedly radiant "I Was at the Fence" proves that Bobbyy can do R&B, too, bolstered by a hushed, pretty vocal by Rachel Lime. "The Mother, the Child, & the Magazine" manifests oneiric funkadelia that'll make your neurons breakdance. 

The new single "It Knows the Bliss Is Treacherous" reflects Bobbyy's knack for engendering keyboard swirls beneath sensuous, intricate beats. Sly seduction's the overarching theme here and elsewhere on Buckets, where whispers resonate harder than screams and every rhythm beckons you to the bedroom. If you can't get laid to this foxy, fusion-y music, it's not Bobbyy's fault.