Now Hear This: August edition

Vibrant hip-hop, contemporary classical, and data music for Bandcamp's Free Friday

Now Hear This is a monthly column that scours the pages of music distributor Bandcamp, looking for new work from local artists that would make fine additions to your digital library. This time around, that includes some vibrant hip-hop, contemporary classical vocal pieces, and experimental work inspired by a score made up of reams of raw data.

Rasheed Jamal, High Tech. Low Life

Local rapper Rasheed Jamal has slipped quietly in to take over the lane that Kanye has abandoned in favor of his spiritual reawakening and his absurd Presidential ambitions. The bite and urgency of Jamal’s delivery and the rock-leaning boom of his productions evoke the same full body joy of West’s best. This new three song collection closes out a summer series of releases that Jamal has been slipping into the world through Bandcamp and, as it should, ends it on a high note. 

House of Warmth, <3

House of Warmth sounds exactly as their moniker suggests: cozy, clambering, synth-dusted folk-pop songs that feel like they were constructed in the afterglow of a boisterous communal meal and a shared bottle of wine.

1beatman, Shadow EP

The tagline for all of rapper/producer 1beatman’s work is “We let the beats carry the burden.” Feels like a lot for one tune to shoulder, but his new EP of title-less tracks feels worthy of the task. All profits go to Mudbone Grown, a Black-owned farm.

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Moon Shy, Further Whispers EP

Three fresh tracks from this garage rock group, all castoffs from sessions for a new full-length. If these glorious frug-ready songs are the ones that didn’t make the cut, I daresay we need to prepare ourselves to have their forthcoming album blow our damn minds.

We Like Chops, We Like Chops Vol. 1: Indonesia

A baker’s dozen of local beat makers were given a simple task: construct an instrumental using samples of music recorded in Indonesia. And, as expected, the results of their work vary wildly and wonderfully. My favorites so far are OLDBOY’s bouncy “Got Beef,” SOL’s acid rock-tinged “The Brim,” and lo-tek’s rubber limbed “Koalas In… Indonesia.” Proceeds from the sale of this release go to the Bali Street Kids Project, a nonprofit that runs two orphanages and a school for disadvantaged young people. 

Patricia Wolf, Sotto Le Stelle

Synth explorer and multifaceted sound artist Patricia Wolf premiered a new set of material at the end of March, recorded live and then broadcast as part of the Ferrara Sotto Le Stelle  Festival. The four pieces are gorgeous and watery oases of calm that pair well with long gazes upon the horizon or a lazy afternoon watching clouds float overhead. 

Pure Bathing Culture, Carrido EP

Dream pop duo Pure Bathing Culture had a lasting friendship with producer and fellow musician Richard Swift that they hoped to honor in some way after his death in 2018. The opportunity came at the behest of Swift’s widow, who invited the group to make use of her late husband’s studio in Cottage Grove. The resulting EP is imbued with a nostalgic glow and tinges of sadness that resonate a little too well with the current uneasy state of our world. 

J$Fur, DATA // Sourced

The material on this new album from Portland experimental artist Juliana Furioso, aka J$Fur (pronounced “jay-money-fur”), was performed all over Baltimore as part of a project that used a master score made up of data that, according to their notes for the work, underscored “the widening wealth gap in the US.” Through Furioso’s hands and collection of electronics and instruments, that data takes on a haunting musical form with thrumming microtones and washed out melodies that prick and soothe. 

Blossom, Things I Whispered In The Dark EP

One of the great mysteries of time is why Blossom is not a global sensation. The R&B/soul artist has a luminous voice that spreads like liquid over every track on which she appears. And in her own work, like this new EP, she challenges herself and her collaborators to push further out into new territory. That accounts for the psychedelicized tone of these new tunes and their unabashedly political timbre. 

In Mulieribus, Cycles of Eternity

The all-female vocal ensemble In Mulieribus (Latin for “amongst women”) primarily sing work written in the years before 1750, but for their fifth album, the group has chosen pieces written by contemporary composers, including Tarik O’Regan, Kay Rhie, and Nicola LeFanu. Much of the work here pays homage or builds off the work of Hildegard von Bingen or Kassia and feels of a piece with the ensemble’s usual remit. But as with everything In Mulieribus records and performs, there’s a vitality and urgency to these selections that feels completely contemporary. 

Robert Ham is an arts/culture journalist and critic whose work has appeared in the physical and virtual pages of Pitchfork, The Oregonian, DownBeat, and Aquarium Drunkard.

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About the author

Robert Ham is a critic and journalist living in Portland, Oregon’s outer reaches. During his time in the Rose City, he has contributed to The OregonianWillamette WeekPortland Mercury, and Portland Monthly, while also amassing a healthy amount of clips for print and online publications including PitchforkDownBeatBandcamp, and Village Voice. In 2019, he was the recipient of the SPJ Award for Best Sports Feature. In addition, Robert produces and hosts Double Bummer, a radio show focusing on new and newly reissued experimental music from around the world that airs every Tuesday night at 11pm PT on XRAY-FM. To read more of his work, visit his portfolio site or follow him on Twitter at @roberthamwriter.

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