On the surface, nothing about Whit Dickey’s decision to start his new record label, Tao Forms, makes much sense. It’s the drummer’s first time leading such a venture, and he’s doing so in his mid-60s, right around the time most impresarios are looking toward retirement. Too, he’s using Tao Forms as outlet for free jazz (his own as well as music by Mathew Shipp). Not the soundest of commercial moves—especially amid a global pandemic—but that has never seemed to be his concern.
Laraaji began his musical life at the piano and with his new lp, Sun Piano, he returns to it. He joined Aquarium Drunkard’s Jennifer Kelly to discuss his long musical career, laughter meditation, and the role that music can play in very difficult times.
Inspired in equal parts by some simple, monophonic jams on modular synths and his passion for living in harmony with the natural world, All Things Being Equal, is a brightly colored, buoyantly upbeat meditation on simplicity, tranquility and living lightly on the planet. Here Kember talks about his love of electronic instruments and ancient drones, his gorgeous natural surroundings in Sintra, Portugal, his long friendship with synthesizer pioneer Delia Darbyshire and his hopes for inspiring humanity for the steep climb ahead if we are to continue to live on a healthy planet earth.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith wrote her new album The Mosaic of Transformation as a spiritual process, trying to understand the mental blocks that made music, life, and everything else feel impossible. “This album was a tool for me to heal this mental block by finding a way to embody the music,” she explains.
Ripley Johnson has carved out a niche in psychedelic drone and motorik repetition, helming Wooden Shjips, the long-running experiment in lysergic primitivism, and Moon Duo, likewise mind-expanding but slanted towards electronics. But a lifelong affection for classic rock and country and a newly reawakened appreciation for the seasons led him recently to form the new Rose City Band. A mostly solo endeavor despite the name, Rose City Band’s sophomore lp, Summerlong, employs lap steel and mandolin as well as the usual rock band instruments to create a warm, buoyant, sunny Saturday morning vibe.
In May, Nace releases his first full-length studio album of solo material in Both, a riveting collection of long fractured drones, altered tones and insistent, nearly subliminal rhythms. Yet even though he’s the only player on the disc, the new record is still a collaboration. Bitchin Bajas’ Cooper Crain mixed and produced these tracks, playing an integral role in the way the finished product sounds.
For all its visionary put-ons, Stephen Malkmus’ Traditional Techniques hums with sincerity. Aquarium Drunkard caught up with Malkmus on a typical quarantine day to discuss the new record, punks finding their various freak flags, and the status of the upcoming Pavement reunion.
As the world seemingly draws to a stop, Portner finds himself quarantined at home in Western North Carolina amidst work on Animal Collective’s eleventh studio album, the first album since 2012 to feature all four original band members.
On the apocalyptic Good Souls Better Angels, Lucinda Williams grapples with pain, mortality, and the devil. She joins us to discuss the album’s apocalyptic themes, breaking with the familiar, and how she stays in touch with the sense of mystery that has always fueled her work.
The Mother Stone is a collection of fifteen tracks entirely out of step with whatever modern trends are currently gripping independent music. It feels peerless, out of time, from a different dimension. It isn’t a record you can play quietly in the background as you respond to emails. It requires headphones. Focus. Attention. Which isn’t to say it isn’t any fun. Because it is.
On his new lp Third Album, Montreal’s Markus Floats rewards deep listens with emotive electronic melodies, granular textures, and mesmerizing arpeggios. It’s the culmination of Markus’s work so far, but like the hyper-prolific artists he cites as influences—Prince and Fennesz—also just one drop in his deep pool.
Like his mentor Sun Ra, Ahmed Abdullah understands the power and significance of a name. Diaspora, the combo he leads with Monique Ngozi Nri, stands for “Dispersions of the Spirt of Ra,” and they joined AD to discuss the continual recreation of Ra’s music, Afrofuturism, and the possibilities of the future.
M. Ward’s sprawling and reflective tenth studio album, Migration Stories, bears its influence with mid-19th century migration folklore and Pax Americana folk, sung to the rustic hum of heavy guitar strings and vintage Americana. We caught up with Ward amidst our own cross-coastal quarantines to talk Migration Stories, bloodlines, the magic of first-takes, recurring earthquake dreams, and the insanity of modern times.
New York’s Ben Hozie has become best known in recent years as the singer/guitarist of BODEGA, a band fusing darkly hilarious critiques of online culture and late-stage capitalism with an equally sharp post-punk urgency. It may be less common knowledge that he has carried on a parallel practice as a filmmaker with Pretorius Pictures …
Haley Fohr is feeling the collapse. “I have this character I’ve created that has yet to get out of the internet,” she observes glumly from her quarantined apartment in Chicago. “She’s stuck inside of the internet.” She’s referring to Jackie Lynn, her country-glam outlaw alter ego. Keeping a hyper-femme, truck driving drug kingpin like Jackie Lynn locked behind a screen is like storing an exotic animal in a dank basement: its unbounded soul decays with each passing day void of any primeval thrill. “But we’re going forward with the campaign,” she continues. “We’re excited to release this [album].”