Bandcamp Picks of the Week 3/2/16
The Editor-in-Chief squeaks in for a lil’ Bandcamp Picks of the Week action.
Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – HOME AFTER THREE MONTHS AWAY
Genre: Midwest Emo
Favorite Tracks: “The Loneliness Inside Me Is a Place,” “Everything Rests On Your Small Shoulders”
Midwest Emo is one of my favorite genres, so its difficult to recommend specific albums of particular merit, as all of it sounds peachy keen to me. To be completely honest, HOME AFTER THREE MONTHS AWAY isn’t even my favorite release by Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate); that honor would probably have to go to their excellent debut, WHAT IT TAKES TO MOVE FORWARD. However, this is the rare emo EP that dares to do something different, and for that alone it deserves attention. We’re going to get a little esoteric here, but whereas most emo records distinctly line up with a general aesthetic pointing to the fall, HOME AFTER THREE MONTHS AWAY is unequivocally winter-oriented. Using a more minimalist approach to instrumentation and mixing the vocals in such a way that they border uncomfortably on the precipice of Auto-Tune (not that Auto-Tune is a bad thing, but it’s a surprising genre decision), this EP is short, concise, and emotionally devastating, a winning formula for all incarnations of emo and music in general. Easily deserving of 10 minutes of your time, you can listen to it here.
Pheno S. – KANI
Genre: Cloud Rap, Shangaan Electro
Favorite Tracks: “Alazalika,” “Wangaro”
Well, this is another one you have only have the internet to thank/blame for. Taking the South African brand of dance music known as shangaan and filtering it through the claustrophobic interiority of the internet’s modern swath of basement-dwelling musical auteurs, KANI feels strangely transnational and transcultural, as captivating as it is occasionally frustrating. Auto-Tuned vocal hooks lounge over instrumentation from consumer-grade keyboards, occasionally yielding to minimalist, percussive raps of an aggressive timbre. Although the Lil B reference that the self-description employs is a bit ambitious, the “cloud rap” tag is spot on, and the overall milieu is a comparable one of the vaguely unsettling uncanny valley. In the Sahara region of Africa, cellular phones are used as an alternative for high speed internet and computers. As such, music is shared directly through Bluetooth; Pheno S. emerged from a study of such tunes, and KANI is a perfect manifestation of that context in sound. You can listen to it here.