Now summoning the Ghosts of Inessential Music Past, Inessential Music Present, and Inessential Music Yet To Come.
ABJO - Barely Situated
I’m writing less about the banger today and more about where I found it. Sound.xyz is an NFT platform and particularly slick execution of the music monetization model we’ve been talking up since our literal first issue.
Basically, you can pay for a stake in a song when it first drops. In this case, you don’t get a cut of the royalties. (Apparently promise of future profits in crypto projects is greatly frowned upon.) But you do get:
- a special edition MP3 NFT that says you were there first;
- to leave a comment, although it’ll get replaced if you ever resell your stake; and…
- friends with similar music taste you’ve paid to aquire, which, in the status economy, is of equal or greater value, I guess?
ABJO, a San Diego rapper, raised 5eth (~$12k) off ‘Barely Situated’, a song ‘he came up with literally days ago’ and dropped yesterday. It’s not really my taste — a mellow jazz rap banger flowing with frantic wordplay and dizzying non sequiturs by a self-described ‘cannabis enthusiast’, which shows. The vocals are bedded a little too deep, but for the most part, the production is pretty crisp for purposeful lo-fi.
My KC boys should peep, because this guy could murder a Dreezy beat. Or, at least, slide in his DMs, because the first ‘season’ of drops on Sound.xyz is invite only, and it’s not clear how these artists got the call.
I listened to all the most recent songs in the feed, and there’s not a lot of connective tissue, aside from the noisy aesthetic of their vintage-style album art. There’s a range of genres (mostly skewing hip hop and electronic) and locations (mostly skewing major U.S. cities) and while there are a few recognizable names (Pussy Riot, Allan Kingdom, some Diplo production) most have only a few thousand followers, fitting the whole ‘listen to the future’ shtick Sound.xyz’s got going on.
My best guess is these artists are active in the crypto sphere, or earlier adopters of music NFTs. I wasn’t blown away by any of it musically, but I’d donate an anal gland to get listed on here in a heartbeat. If Sound.xyz’s brief history is anything to go off, it’s a simple way to net $6-12k off a single song, regardless of quality. And it’s a strong argument for minting a few songs from your vault now, in hopes our future tastemaking overlords smile upon you next.
GARÇON - What A Year
GARÇON is an artist of endless restraint. Why else would the pornographically named Jean Paul Pantaleon adopt a belittling byword for French waiters as his stage name? He knows how turn a little into a lot… or vice versa. The latter might explain why he’s able to remix vocals from an outfit as notoriously inflammatory as Injury Reserve into smooth avant garde electronica.
The paradox doesn’t stop there — ‘What A Year’ is equally melodic and discordant, groovy and arhythmic, soundscape and bop. Opening on a percussion-less vignette like a xylophone plinking out dial tones, it takes a detour into found footage, before finally dropping the beat proper, under lyrics from the late Stepa Groggs. Finding an inordinate amount of vibes in only 3 minutes, GARÇON’s in typically fine form here, rendering the highs and lows of hustle culture as clear as a video game in 60 fps.
Listen for production as byzantine and balanced as the present moment, per usual.
Fathom - The World To Breathe
The past doesn’t get blastier than this. Fathom is a folk singer songwriter from New Zealand whose latest project almost entirely utilizes homemade / DIY instruments. Inspired by The Beatles and Joni Mitchell — and discovered on a literal blog — I’ve rarely felt connected to so much of music’s history in a single track.
Of course, that’s a loaded phrase. As one commentor notes, the video ‘resurrected an era of YouTube music from over a decade ago’, a compliment in context, but it might also explain the massive cringe factor in the video, which is aggressively DIY, too. (Picture a patent overuse of the front facing camera, if you don’t want to see for yourself, which I wouldn’t entirely recommend.) Don’t get me wrong, it’s sincere and sweet. It just also gives me light trauma flashbacks to the hippie camp / self help cult my family dragged me to every summer until sophomore year, which might be a me problem, but, nevertheless, persists.
Hear it without the visuals, however, and The World To Breathe is a strong Summer of Love era folk rock throwback with a Fetch The Bolt Cutters worthy percussion section. Also, it’s an evolving suite that manages to keep it interesting for almost 7 and a half minutes. Her influences might even be impressed. Not an easy feat.
Lil Aaron - Drugs
El Prof here, phoning in a feature. I doubt anyone who knows or reads me would be surprised to hear that I’m on the spectrum, and one of the clear ways I display this mental predisposition is regarding my auditory consumption habits. Like most, I enjoy working to music to help me groove through to 4:20. I usually skew melancholy — Cudi, Lana — although sometimes I wake up to a blue sky and bright sun and have a Strokes sort of day. But the part that I can’t do is let my songs change. It fucks with my concentration.
So what do I do? I listen to the same song, for hours to days on end. Eventually, the song fades to the background of my mind, while the rhythm, tempo, and message of the track carry me through my work. I’m partial to songs that seem to say: ‘You have a chip on your shoulder for sure, but if you don’t fight through it, you’ll regret it, bitch’. Not sure if audio masochism is a thing, but if so, no kink shaming, please.
This week, I’ve been high on DRUGS. Also, a Lil Aaron song. It’s a sub-two-minute burst of a pop punk banger from 2017. If you can’t tell from the previous artists listed, I’m partial to that sense of nostalgic angst I felt at my middle school dances, and this guy is basically Blink-183. I’m not here to convince you that he’s a good artist (he’s not) or even that you should listen to this song (which, don’t). All I know is that this vocally synthesized meth has been my head’s backing track for at least 8 days now. And, well, I’m too fucked up to give a fuck.