Now Hear This: September 2021 edition

Lowkey collaborations, Gothic chamber-folk, Neo-psychedelia

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 lowkey collaborations, Gothic chamber-folk, Neo-psychedelia, and plenty more–just in time for Bandcamp’s next Fee Free First Friday.

Toranpetto & Farnell Newton, Music Circles

Despite all evidence to the contrary, social media can sometimes be a force for good in the world. It was through one such network—Instagram—that local jazz trumpeter Farnell Newton connected with Tokyo-based artist Toranpetto and decided to work together on a project. The product of this online meet-up is Music Circles, a lowkey gem that combines downtempo beats and productions with Newton’s searching, soulful melodies. The ideal soundtrack for your next masked up meet-cute or Zoom cocktail party. 

Maximus, HowYouFeel

Pair Music Circles with this equally jazzy and lowkey funky collection from rapper/producer Maximus. For this project, Max has ceded control of the music to a gaggle of beatmakers who seem to instinctively understand the rhymer’s quiet cadence and delivery. The whole product has a leisurely feel that tempers the anxiety, longing, and bitter humor in Maximus’ words. 

Boys Don’t Cry, MODEL

Details are few about the person or persons behind this instrumental project. What we can glean from their Bandcamp page is that they are fans of The Cure and ’80s/Nagel-like aesthetics. The music, though, tells a different story. One that evokes images of Blade Runner-type sci-fi with its noir-ish synth melodies, trip hop beats, and smoky atmospherics. 

Disemballerina, Fawn

Gothic chamber-folk ensemble Disemballerina explains that their latest EP was inspired by the way we humans deal with stressful and dangerous situations. The three beautiful compositions on this release “represent the diverse and extreme survival modes of Fight, Flight and Freeze.” A heady concept that the trio executes masterfully, the calm yet dramatic music floating gently downward like black silk ribbon unspooling in slow motion. 

Mouth Painter, Tropicale Moon

Neo-psychedelic trio Mouth Painter has been one of the secret treasures of the Portland music scene for the past few years. But their dusky, twangy brilliance may become public knowledge with the release of the group’s second full-length Tropicale Moon. As ever, the music is spare and simple—a Zen garden of drum loops, flute, bass guitar, and pedal steel, augmented just so by Valerie Osterberg’s vocals, which tills a melodic path somewhere between Margo Timmins and Catherine Ribiero. 

Mat Randol, What Are You Afraid Of?

Where Mat Randol’s other 2021 release, the YoungShirtMane collab Why Are You Like This?, was all flex and braggadocio, the Portland rapper’s latest solo joint turns his lyrical gaze within. The new LP explores Randol’s skills as a father, his spiritual struggles, and mental health with cutting, diamond sharp rhymes. He’s given a lift throughout with some equally introspective guest spots from Westside Boogie, Brill, and Randol’s own son Knox. 

Quickly, Quickly, The Long and Short of It

Graham Johnson, the artist who records as Quickly, Quickly, may not be old enough to buy a beer yet, but on his new album The Long and Short of It, he sounds exceptionally seasoned and mature. The young Portlander’s latest—and his first for vaunted label Ghostly International—works a variety of angles, revealing his facility for woozy future-pop, broken beat jazz, and wide open heart on sleeve anthemic R&B. 

Olc-Glas, Component Objects

If trance is your musical drug of choice, you’ll want to take a big hit off this collection from local producer Olc-Glas. The seven tracks on Component Objects are short, direct bangers that make their throbbing, head spinning point quickly and then move out of the way. I’d love to hear these expanded upon or surrounded by similar material in a long DJ set, but for now I’ll gladly take these little bumps of dancefloor joy as they are.

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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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