Cassette: $19.98 Buy
Emerald Sea, the third album from New York-based audiovisual projectSound of Ceres, tells the story of how the universe comes to know itself.Rendered in dynamic, ambitious orchestral passages, it forms the basis of future stage performances intended to draw its half-submerged narrative into the visual sphere. In its dreamlike impressions, it could also be the soundtrack to a long-forgotten early musical film - an experience that delighted and transported audiences and then vanished from record, surviving only in the imprint of memory.
Written in three acts, Emerald Sea follows two deities who trail each other through the furthest reaches of experience. There is the Universe, all that exists, voiced by performance artist Marina Abramović. And there is Venus, transformer of matter and avatar of love, sung by the group's lead vocalist Karen Hover (who goes by k).
Through a dazzling suite of songs inspired by Les Baxter's midcentury exotica, Maurice Ravel's balletDaphnis et Chloé, and Gustav Holst's The Planets, Emerald Sea studies intimacy on both an interpersonal scale and a cosmological one. Connection and severance, joy and grief, wonder and bewilderment all tumble through its scope. In the widest frame, the universe begins, meets itself, and ends. In the closest frame, two people encounter each other, grow close, and then separate. These stories are two views of the same fractal. In every intimacy human beings cultivate, every rush of connection, no matter how fleeting, we reenact the universe for ourselves.
"I envisioned myself journeying through these different realms -- space, the land, the sea, the heavens -- and following Marina's character," says k. "I always saw her as a shadow figure that I couldn’t quite figure out."
In its current cycle, Sound of Ceres is Derrick Bozich, songwriter, harpist, and flautist; Jacob Graham, synthesist, costumer, and light designer; K Hover, vocalist, lyricist, costumer, and choreographer; andRyan Hover, songwriter and producer. They recorded Emerald Sea in collaboration with Jon Sonneberg at Ka-Boom studio in Ohio. It was mixed by Nicholas Principe and mastered by Kramer.
Ryan says, "The album’s story is an allegory for the emergence of mind and meaning from the matter of the universe, and its eventual fading, with a glimmer of hope at the end."
When you receive it, when its sounds in motion light up your mind's eye, it is created in collaboration with you.
Following 2019’s critically-acclaimed sophomore album, I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better, Proper. is making their return with The Great American Novel.
“The Great American Novel is a concept album about how Black genius, specifically my own, goes ignored, is relentlessly contested, or just gets completely snuffed out before it can flourish,” says vocalist Erik Garlington (he/him). “This record is a concept album that’s meant to read like a book; every song is a chapter following the protagonist through their 20s. Imagine a queer, Black Holden Caufield-type coming up in the 2010s.”
The result is an album that is both lyrically and musically heavy, the former something fans have come to expect from Garlington’s unflinchingly honest lyrical content, but the latter something that’s refreshingly new. Channeling the heavier music he listened to during his adolescence—from post-hardcore outfit At the Drive-In to progressive metal band System of a Down—Garlington and the rest of Proper.—bassist Natasha Johnson (she/her) and drummer Elijah Watson (he/they)—push themselves in ways they haven’t before, culminating in an ambitious project that showcases the new sonic territory the band is heading in.
Produced and recorded by Bartees Strange and mixed and mastered by Brian DiMeglio, The Great American Novel clocks in at fifteen tracks including “Huerta,” which explores Garlington’s Mexican heritage, and “Red, White and Blue,” a commentary on the imbalance between the United States’ everyday citizens and elite class. The songs reflect the overall tone of The Great American Novel:abrasive, powerful, and beautifully poignant.
“At the end of the day, what I wanted to do with this record is take Proper. in a direction that would surprise people on first listen, but end up making complete sense on the second or third listen. I think a lot of bands tend to go more pop but I wanted to make something both challenging and undeniably catchy,” Garlington said. “It all goes back to Black genius and how it’s ingested by the predominantly cishet, white male crowd. If they’re going to be a voyeur to the Black experience, I wanted to strip away all the cheeky song titles, lyrical inside jokes, and optimistic singalongs. I want them to hear this record and learn about our identity crises, our aimlessness, how many friends and family we know that are dead or in jail by 25. How, at eight we were told we were gifted but by 11 we were told we’re dangerous.”
Indie Exclusive Cassette w/ alternate cover art
Dawn FM is the fifth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd. The album is narrated by Jim Carrey, and features guest appearances from Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne. The production was handled by The Weeknd himself alongside Oneohtrix Point Never-who produced the majority of the tracks-as well as Max Martin, Oscar Holter, Calvin Harris, and Swedish House Mafia, among others. The album serves as a follow-up to The Weeknd's fourth studio album, After Hours (2020).
Giving the World Away, the sophomore album from Hatchie, is the truest introduction to the songwriter/bassist at the helm of the project, Harriette Pilbeam. Produced by Jorge Elbrecht, Giving the World Away is Hatchie’s most thunderous, sprawling work yet. Featuring input from longtime Hatchie collaborator Joe Agius, it takes the celestial, shimmering shoegaze and pop sensibilities of her earlier releases, but with the volume knob cranked up tenfold. Built out with percussion from Beach House drummer James Barone, it’s synthed-out, sonic opulence, a more structured and ornate musicality with traces of ‘90s trip-hop and acid house influences.
Pilbeam initially intended for these songs to go in a higher-energy direction. She had the distinct vision of a Hatchie show turned dance party, inviting more movement and vibrancy into her live shows. But then, between Covid and the lockdowns in Australia, Pilbeam retreated more into herself, and that introspection and self-discovery served as the true inspiration for the record. Again and again across Giving the World Away, she returns to that same theme of dismantling internalized shame and finding gratitude and steadiness, and finally being able to trust herself.
Giving the World Away is an album about self-confidence, about the strange time in young adulthood where you begin to finally be able to see yourself clearly. Incisive and probing, Giving the World Away is the clearest look at Pilbeam yet, and a relic of the power and bravery that spring forth from embracing vulnerability and putting your heart on the line.
Kadi Yombo, published in 1989, is the most successful album in the quest for a fusion between tradition and modernity in Bwiti harp music of the Tsogho people of Gabon. Combining beating rattles with a layer of synthesizers, Papé Nziengui blends in a contrapuntal dialogue characteristic of harp playing: male song in appeal and female choir in response, male voice of the musical arc and rhythms of female worship. But above all it’s Tsogho ritual music and modern studio orchestration. The result is an initiatory itinerary of 10 musical pieces which are all milestones likely to be simultaneously listened to, danced, meditated on, and soon acclaimed. In the years since, Nziengui has traveled he world from Lagos to Paris, from Tokyo to Cordoba, from Brussels to Mexico City to become a true icon, the emblem of Gabonese music.
Like Bob Dylan, "electrifying" folk and Bob Marley mixing rock with reggae, some purists have criticized Nziengui for having distorted the music of harp by imposing a cross with modern instruments. They even went so far as to claim that Nziengui was just an average harpist covering his shortcomings with stunts that were only good for impressing neophytes; like playing a harp placed upside down behind his back or playing two or three harps simultaneously. Sincere convictions or venomous defamations, in any case, Nziengui never gave in to such attacks, imposing himself on the contrary to pay homage to the elders (Yves Mouenga, Jean Honoré Miabé, Vickoss Ekondo) while instructing the maximum of young people. He is thus the promoter of many young talents, the most prominent of which is certainly his nephew Jean Pierre Mingongué. In a conservative society where the sacred is confused with secrecy, exposing the mysteries of Bwiti in broad daylight can be punished by exclusion or even execution.
Papé Nziengui has always claimed that he faces such risks because he never felt enslaved to a community that governs his life, that regulates his conduct, that has a right of censorship over his activities. Like Ravi Shankar, the famous sitarist, Papé Nziengui is a man of rupture but also of openness, a transmitter of culture. As proof, he has established himself in Libreville, Gabo’s capital, as the main harpist for sessions and concerts, accompanying the greatest national artists (Akendengué, Rompavè, Annie-Flore Batchiellilys, Les Champs sur la Lowé, etc.) as well as foreign artists (Papa Wemba, Manu Dibango, Kassav', Toups Bebey, etc.). In 1988, he was the first harpist to release an album in the form of a cassette produced by the French Cultural Center (Papé Nziengui, Chants et Musiques Tsogho). At the same time, he created his own group (Bovenga), combining traditional music instruments (musical bow, drums, various percussion instruments, etc.) in the framework of a true national orchestra, which gave the first concert and the first tours of a traditional music that was both modern and dynamic, thus "democratizing" the harp, to the dismay of certain purists.
On the other hand, in modern music, dominated by the logic of profit or even commercialism, artistic creation must often be adjusted for a specific audience based on reason rather than heart. But instead of allowing himself to be distorted, Papé Nziengui has always tried to produce music that is not a caricature, worthy in its expression as in its content, of the sacredness and transcendence of the music of the Origins. This is what makes Nziengui—not only the musician, but the man—someone whose age hasn’t altered any of his freshness or authenticity