Jon Hassell, “Dreaming” (Ndeya). Hallelujah, Jon Hassell is back! One of the most innovative and influential musicians of the last 40 years, Hassell returns with his first new music since 2009's Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes.... "Dreaming"—an archetypal Hassell title and sonic evocation, to be sure—is just what the surgeon of the nightsky who restores dead things ordered: The track begins with a relatively uptempo thrust for the 81-year-old trumpeter, sounding a bit like Can's "She Brings the Rain," before the man's trumpet subsumes the rhythm about halfway through and turns everything in a shimmering, opiated phantasm of jazz-ambient air. I don't know about you, but I'm born aloft to a state of hallucinatory tranquility by "Dreaming," and I hereby declare it the comeback and track of the year so far. "Dreaming" appears on Hassell's Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) album, out June 8 on his own Ndeya label.
OCnotes, “Huh! Hah!” (self-released). 2015 Stranger Genius nominee OCnotes is now based in Tucson, Arizona, and he's as prolific and restlessly inventive as ever down there. "Huh! Hah!" comes from a new collection of remixes and originals called 40 Acres, and it bustles with an energy that's too manic to make it into sets full of contemporary hiphop's sluggish modes—and that's one reason to love it. There's something of Jungle Brothers' frenetic hip-house funkiness here, bolstered by the same yell that punctuated Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock's "It Takes Two" (that would be Soul Brother No. 1 James Brown in Lyn Collins's "Think [About It]"). Otis Calvin III refuses to stop ranging all over the stylistic map with his electronic productions, and his storehouse of clever ideas seems to be in no danger of diminishing. And that's comforting.
Samara Lubelski, “Black Dots” (Drawing Room). Underground-music multi-instrumentalist MVP Samara Lubelski returns to the fray in solo guise with perhaps her most accessible work on her forthcoming album, Flickers at the Station. Best known for her violin, guitar, bass, and vocal contributions to Thurston Moore's Chelsea Light Moving group as well as for aiding freak-folk magi Jackie-O Motherfucker, MV & EE, and Sunburned Hand of the Man, Lubelski is operating in a more conventional, song-oriented style on this record. But she's not exactly going to storm the pop charts—though she may dent those tallied by CMJ. Singing in the hushed, dulcet style of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lubelski manifests a perfumed cloud of baroque pop that takes about three listens to become ensconced in your mind. But when it does, deeply pleasurable sighs ensue. "Black Dots" might be the zenith of this album, swinging with easy-going joie de vivre like prime-time Broadcast. It doesn't hurt that the guitar sounds like CAN's Michael Karoli in a contemplative mood.
Mind Over Mirrors, “Zeitgebers” (Paradise of Bachelors). Here's the deal: I'm an eternal sucker for any artist who takes inspiration from the cream of '70s krautrock. Doesn't matter how slavisly derivative the song is, I'm here for it. That's because the sounds blueprinted by groups like Can, Faust, Neu!, Cluster/Harmonia, Kraftwerk, Agitation Free, Ash Ra Tempel, Et Cetera, et al. were so fresh and interesting, they can withstand infinite iterations without sounding played out. Which brings us to Mind Over Mirrors' "Zeitgebers," whose title ("timers" in English) telegraphs his intentions—to achieve the majestic, kosmsiche pulsations of Harmonia's "Sonnenschein" and "Watussi." At this, Mind Over Mirrors (led by former Seattleite Jaime Fennelly) succeeds smashingly, while injecting a swifter rhythm into the rich synth, harmonium, and violin tapestries. He does an amazing job of convincing you it's 1974 Köln instead of 2018 USA and, as I said, emulating klassik krautrock is always a winning move—especially if it's done with the nuance and ear for sublime tones possessed by Mind Over Mirrors. You can find "Zeitgebers" on MOM's excellent Bellowing Sun album, out today.
Zuider Zee, "Haunter of the Darkness" (Light in the Attic). Memphis' Zuider Zee released one overlooked power-pop gem in 1975 before fading into obscurity—despite being championed by estimable peers like Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen. As is Light in the Attic's wont, the Seattle/LA reissue label excavated some choice previously unreleased material from before Zuider Zee's self-titled debut that's just as glorious as the official release. Titled Zeenith, this collection of songs from 1972-1974 finds lead singer/guitarist Richard Orange and company filigreeing their effusive and melancholy pop songs with prog flourishes and occasional flashes of funky glam-rock. "Haunter of the Darkness" flaunts righteous clavinet riffs and a subliminally funky groove while up top the vocals, guitar, and organ swirl in the viscous gene pool where solo Badfinger, Thin Lizzy, and Steppenwolf commingle. I don't know about you, but I'm gonna spin this joint in DJ sets as soon as I grip the vinyl (Zeenith comes out June 8).
Noteworthy April 6 album releases: Dr. Octagon, Moosebumps: An Exploration into Modern Day Horripilation (Bulk); Hinds, I Don't Run (Mom + Pop Music); Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs (Merge); Mind Over Mirrors, Bellowing Sun (Paradise of Bachelors); Daniel Avery, Song for Alpha (Mute/Phantasy); Wreckless Eric, Construction Time & Demolition (Southern Domestic); Kylie Minogue, Golden (BMG/Bug); Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food (Jagjaguwar); Eels, The Deconstruction (E Works); En Vogue, Electric Café (eOne); Triptides, Visitors (Requiem for a Twister); Paul de Jong, You Fucken Sucker (Temporary Residence); Goat Girl, Goat Girl (Rough Trade); En Attendant Ana, Lost and Found (Trouble in Mind); Makeness, Loud Patterns (Secretly Canadian);