The third annual TUF FEST happens Saturday July 14 at Judkins Park. [Read Anna Kaplan's review of last year's event here.] With its emphasis on female/nonbinary/trans electronic musicians and educational panels, it's been a huge boon to Seattle's musical ecosphere by centering and empowering traditionally marginalized folks. One of the standouts on this year's bill is Brooklyn, New York producer/vocalist Bamban (aka Alexis Howell). Her new mini-album Balikbayan reveals inventive melodic and rhythmic ideas in the service of deeply emotional songs.
There's not a weak cut on Balikbayan, but my favorite is "Fields," which sounds as if it could be on the excellent German label PAN. Bamban sets angelic choral voices and her own sweet, dreamy tones (think Rotary Connection's Minnie Riperton) over staccato, nail-gun beats, industrial-accident percussion accents, and growling bass frequencies that are at once menacing and erotic. "Fields" is a study in stark sonic contrasts, suggesting an intimate, nocturnal splendor. It should be interesting to see how it translates to an outdoor setting on a hot summer day.