Panasonic – Kulma, 1997

Minimalist classic. Originally released under Panasonic, and then later as Pan Sonic for legal reasons. Not the most original thing to say, but this feels distinctly like people taking backseat and allowing machines to do the work. Ecstatic beats, long stretches of whirring, and surprisingly little abrasion. Good speakers, headphones, or not at all, since there’s nothing to hide behind here.

Arto Lindsay – Noon Chill, 1997

Arto Lindsay made a name for himself as a founding father of the New York no wave scene with his project DNA. He went on to work with the Lounge Lizards, Ambitious Lovers, and the Golden Palominos before producing a slew of solo records. Though American, Lindsay’s parents were missionaries and he spent his teenage years in Brazil at the height of the tropicália movement. This Brazilian influence emerged more and more throughout his 40 year long career, spawning a trilogy of records dense with Brazilian sound: O Corpo Sutil (1996), Mundo Civilizado (1996), and finally, Noon Chill. Lindsay has also done production work for Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé, Gal Costa, Vinicius Cantuária, and Carlinhos Brown, to name a few. (Side note: he’s also responsible for the weirdest/best cover ever of Prince’s “Erotic City.”)
Noon Chill sounds like a well-intentioned poolside afternoon gone on a codeine bender. Most of the songs are bossa nova at heart, but they continuously slip down dark, trip-hoppy rabbit holes and spiral off into ominous drum and bass riffs. It’s like Tanto Tempo‘s sinister older brother. Combined with Lindsay’s trademark disinterested vocals and lyrics like “I do love your lack of all expression/I find it not at all distressing,” you can’t help but see Noon Chill through heavy eyelids.

Brenda Ray – Walatta, 2005

A personal favorite. Brenda Ray rolled around with a handful of musical projects in the UK post punk scene, where she explored African rhythms, dub, hip hop, and electro grooves. After hitting it off with the legendary Roy Cousins in the early 90’s, she helped him remaster and reissue titles from his label, Tamoki Wambesi. Legend has it that it was Cousins’ idea that she make an album using original tapes of Tamoki Wambesi roots reggae tracks. I think this was mostly recorded in the late 90s, released in limited numbers via Tamoki Wambesi, and reissued by Japan’s EM Records (we’re still working our way through their catalog, because holy cow it is good).
Unlike anything else. Ray draped her breathy, 60’s-chanteuse vocals all over some of the best dub and reggae tracks ever made (tracks which she quite literally jazzed up), resulting in what Forced Exposure called “very disturbing slices of psycho-dub/doo-wop/jazz-fusion/exotica music.” Grooving all over Turkey, West Africa, and of course, Jamaica. Alternately shimmery, bossa-nova-flecked, and funky, with appearances by Prince Far I and Knowledge. The sonic equivalent of pink plastic palm trees. A salve for a brutally cold February day. Enjoy!

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