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Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa

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Trance music isn’t just for ravers. The past two decades have seen that term attached to a specific type of electronic music, but you can’t deny that other types of music serve the same purpose. I recently saw Omar Souleyman perform, and damn, the entire crowd was undeniably in a trance – eyes rolling back, arms waving wildly, feet flying – the whole shebang.

The concept of “the trance” goes way back. Ancient shamanic figures assumed such states, as did the famed Oracle at Delphi, to predict the future or commune with spirits. Warriors, including the Viking Berserkers, threw themselves into a blind frenzy in which they could feel no pain and see nothing but rage. Each and every one of us drifts into daydreams, losing touch with the present moment and settling into the unconscious.

Music was born with humanity. The earliest thumping beat inspired movement. A few million years later, we aren’t so different. Sonic repetition and tonal consistency still bring us out of our shells and into a freer state. Consider vedic chanting: the voices of one or many, looping rhythmic and sonorous. After a while, you cease to hear yourself or the others, and the concept of time that controls our lives fades to unimportance. After a time, you wake up, without ever sleeping.

One of my favorite types of trance music is Afrobeat, popularized by Fela Kuti but practiced by many others, including the Cameroonian Manu Dibango. “Soul Makossa” feels over before starting, even though it runs over six minutes. The key to trance, I think, is a steady beat paired with an uncommon treble (in this case, the group chanting and plucky horns). The electronic version offers the 4×4 beat with synthesized sounds that our brains force into a natural order. The Afrobeat strain, however, offers a more human element, a wild desire that brings sweat to the brow of any listener.

Embrace that humanity, join your primate ancestors, and step into the trance.

Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa 

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Emoh Instead – Why Can’t You (Say So…)

At first I didn’t know what to think of Emoh Instead’s “Why Can’t You (Say So…)”. At first, you’re exposed to a voice manipulated to become low-pitched and slow-tempoed, accompanied by a highly contrasting woman’s soprano whining in the background. Quickly thereafter, the mood is flipped as trappy horns hit you right in the face. Horns are all the rage these days, but Emoh has his unique twist on it. Short, accented trombone works really well with the woman’s vocals. For some reason, the abrupt stops and starts are quite appealing to me in this instance.

I really don’t know what to classify this song as. I’ve noticed that a lot lately about eclectic songs in general. How does one classify new genres of music other than “different”, or “a little bit of this and a little bit of that”. It’s pretty awesome to live in an age where unique style is embraced rather than frowned upon. As the world continues to grow its diversity, who knows what obscure, cool, catchy genres will reveal themselves! As long as you have an open mind (and ears!), you should be reveling in this genre-renaissance.

Emoh Instead has collaborated and learned from Flume for the past couple of years. They formed What So Not, of which I’m a definitely a fan. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Emoh’s work in the near future.

Emoh Instead – Why Can’t You (Say So…)

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Treasure Fingers & BOSCO – Names

Fresh.

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The Juan MacLean – You Were A Runaway

Something that seems to be the norm more than ever is declaring a need to escape, to take holidays, to runaway. There is something we hold to be romantic and the highest form of freedom – being away from our lives.

I was feeling sad,
Can’t help looking back
Highways flew by…
Run, run, run away
No sense of time
I’d like you to stay,
Want keep you inside” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

When I first started moving around more, by sister used to sing the “when you’re coming home Dad I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then…” song. There was something so haunting about that. I have wanted to be a traveller for as soon as I knew it was an option. My car at 16 was always stocked with a to-go bag that was packed with enough stuff to get me through a few days, a week if needed although I never really needed it. I knew I had to find something that would let me get out. I thought that was where comfort was, or home.

R-r-ru-ru-ru-run away
Run away from me, baby- Kanye West

Whether it is a business trip or well planned escape, we all have our reasons for wanting to grab the bag and go. But so often now, it is such a documented event. Pictures of feet up with the beach in the distance, shots from 12A or 34F as you take off or pass through clouds, we see these pictures as confirmation of exiting.

Why, why, why, why, why
She ran away

And I wonder
Where she will stay
My little runaway
A-run, run, run, run, runaway- Del Shannon

Your character, the things that really scare you, what you do in the 4th day alone in a foreign place, who you call when you have enough money and time for one phone call, that is who you find. There is a hunger to be less connected, go away and leave for a bit, and I think as much as we are excited for the ability to give away so much and go explore a new place, you never really know who you will find. But travellers are selfish in a way. The real reason you go is for yourself, for your mind. You meet people and see things and it is to fill your head with more, fill holes you feel are in your life, create and disconnect connections. We are told to be selfish and to question norms though, and then we are set out. My sister used to say since we moved so much that we were bred for it. Like there are people who just feel better with a trip planned or a bag ready to go in their trunk, but really it appears be something more. Like a human rite of passage and one that we all crave.

This track, an nod to ’80s dance hall and deep lady vocals, give you that movement. The recent release can be found on the new album ‘In A Dream’ that was just released.

The Juan MacLean – You Were A Runaway

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Panama — Stay Forever

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I don’t get it man. As a writer I look forward to my day on here because the page I open up and start writing on is one of the most beautiful blank canvases I get to see. I love filling these canvases with words. I get such a high off of knowing that somewhere in this giant planet of ours someone will be reading this and connecting with the letters that I have strategically placed together; words becoming phrases and phrases becoming culture. That’s how our society lives these days, for the moment, and it is within those moments when we choose to let loose that we find the most bliss.

I would complain about my EMPT comrades missing their days and cheating the world of words that inspire, but what would be the point when you can’t force anyone to care about anything in life—and we shouldn’t. I won’t complain about finding new music to write about only to find out that it wasn’t placed into the used folder, again. I won’t complain about the rain today in New York, and I won’t complain about these allergies that I have that are completely fucking me because I have learned that life is so much better when we choose to be positive. There it is boys and girls. There is the answer that you have all been looking for these past few weeks, days, months and years. The answer to any and all questions in life is the fact that we have one choice to make from the moment we wake up in the mornings, and that choice is to either be positive about everything regardless of what that day may bring, or, to be negative.

Stay Forever by Panama is like listening to M83‘s Midnight City all over again. That feeling in your gut when you immediately know that you’ll love a song. That feeling of knowing that you will be raising a hand up in the air and chanting along at some point soon, as if no one is watching and as if the rain on a busy city street becomes more of a welcomed shower than a wet annoyance. Stay Forever is my version of singing in the rain today, and I love it for that because it is my version of my choice to remain positive no matter what petty shit is happening all around me. Yea, I know that the world is in chaos. I know that climate change is serious, and that ISIS  threatens the very fabrics of our freedom, and that our financial facade of a system is on the brink of melting down, and that domestic violence and child abuse and the militarization of our police are all very horrendous things that are a reality in our worlds, but I choose to remain positive because that, is quite simply, my, choice.

Anyway, maybe my words here make you change your mind about how your day is going to go and how the rest of your week will transpire, or maybe it’s just Panama‘s airy vocals, bright synths and cool progressions that add that shimmer to your step and pave a brightly lit path to your next dance floor.

It did for me.

Panama — Stay Forever

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Kaytranada – Leave Me Alone ft. Shay Lia

Foggy city from Bernal Heights

He’s been hot for a minute already, but if you haven’t yet booked your ticket on the overnight bus to the netherworld that is the Kaytranada bandwagon, step right up. It isn’t that the songs are downers – in fact, they all feature an inignorable positivity – but rather that they are down. They don’t take you soaring through the clouds, blasting towards the stars in blinding flashed of energy; they slither you through the settled fog, close to the wet, living earth. The bass is organic, the samples (his music is heavily sample centric) soulful. It’s as if an ancient griot stumbled across RZA’s EPS16+.

One thing Kaytranada is not, at least in my eyes, is an EDM artist. EDM has come to connote a specific type of electronic music, and in many ways has become a super-subgenre that no one applies correctly. I’m not saying I know what it is, but this isn’t it. In interviews, Kaytranada cites Flying Lotus as a contemporary influence, and you can really hear it: the jazzy undertones, unsyncopated drums and late-nite vocals. If he’d been performing in the 30’s, Kevin would have been one cool cat.

And not only because of his music. This guy is clearly very cool and original. Born in Haiti and raised in Montreal, he had this to say about living in Canada: “I usually chill around at the part or I’ll just go to bars because I don’t really go to clubs. The bars play the best music. I see finer girls in there. Clubs aren’t that cool but bars are awesome.” And this to say on “trap music”: “I think it’s kinda corny…all of that kind of cliché trap stuff is so annoying. But, I ain’t gonna lie, I was hot on that shit before, but now it’s turned out to be corny.” (both quotes from an interview with Noisey)

Voice of a generation? I’m kidding, but seriously, who doesn’t agree with both of those statements.

“Leave Me Alone” is a fair representation of his music. It is both dense and spatial, allowing the listener to breath but not catch a breath. As we transition into the autumn, it’s songs like this that begin to take hold, leading us away from the sunny skies and into a contemplative realm.

 

Kaytranada – Leave Me Alone ft. Shay Lia

 

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Sylvan Esso – Coffee

This song is a paradox. It’s the type that can chill your mind while at the same time making you want to jig with it. The subtle synth and soft female vocals with occasional dings of bells come together quite nicely.

Get up, get down

Sylvan Esso is comprised of Amelia Meath on vocals and Nick Sanborn on instrumentals. I love the way Amelia sings these 4 words above. After listening to the song and having it stuck in my head, I’ve often finding myself singing this sentence almost subconsciously. Catchy! Get up and dance, get down to the beat.

This song speaks to me because I love dancing! Bouncing on my feet to feel-good music is a great way to spend an evening. Although this song isn’t likely one I’d be moving to, it does a good job of making me want to get up at the next opportunity. Perhaps a type of gateway song to a dancing mood. Enjoy!

Sylvan Esso – Coffee

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Angus & Julia Stone – Grizzly Bear (Lakechild Edit)

There is a shift in many of the psyches of this, our, younger generation. It is not cool to be elitist. It is frowned upon to judge others, to act a class above or oblivious to the cultures of our fellow humans. Arguably due to the accessibility of information, the ease of traveling now to places far away or making friends or following people across the world.

I am blessed with a job that allows me to travel and nearly forces us to submerge ourselves in the culture, to talk to everyone we meet and to experience the places we visit so we become not only a source there, but build connections here. But even after multiple trips to these places and people, I am still always surprised by the people and how similar we all really are. Currently in India, I had that moment again and again. Here, there is a more recent shift from the arranged marriages we all see in film and TV that, from a western perspective, seems archaic still. Which had me thinking about love.

I was in a cab and the driver asked me about my love. His first question was “is it a love marriage or a set marriage”. I explained about my love (leaving out the back story of meeting in a pub over a beer and football on Halloween) but he was very concerned about this arrangement I was in. What would my parents think? How could I be with someone my family hadn’t met? I hadn’t been home in a long time and my parents meeting my boyfriend was not a big deal, but I felt judged in it. I felt what we had put out there for so long. This was a normal situation of love to be in in my mind, but saying it out loud here felt like I was in a lesser love for a moment. And I could see there are places in the world where this not normal. This is irresponsible love. That we are still different in many ways.

A few days later, I met up with a girlfriend. Oddly, I found myself drinking wine in a Mexican restaurant listening to a country music song covered in a very thick, Indian accent over candlelight in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. I can’t explain this situation other than it was a twilight zone sort of moment where I just laughed at it. Everything was a juxtaposition here to everything in the room. The conversation turned in to talking about boys. What else do 26 year old girls talk about. And it was then I realized that we are not really different at all. The things she worried about in her relationship where what I did in mine. Are we going anywhere? Where do we want to end up? And then after more wine, we reminisced about the first time we met our significant others. And again, the stories were similar. Nervous, attraction, long talks, and how much we adored them immediately.

Underneath all of this and between the decades and centuries of cultural divides, we now have understanding and can see the common grounds. I realized we all feel butterflies when we meet them, when we talk about love, we are nervous and excited, we get set up or we meet by chance.

It is a fun, exciting time to be alive and to experience people and have those conversations in dark bars in India over Mexican food listening to Sam Smith and Tim McGraw cover songs, because somehow, we are all human.

This song reminds me of the bar talks. Of the butterflies and being blissfully taken far away with a stranger who knows you all too well.

Angus & Julia Stone – Grizzly Bear (Lakechild Edit)

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Redlight – 9TS (90s Baby)

Biggie Smalls, Versace shades, Moschino jeans & Alize. ODB, Brooklyn Zoo, DJ Randall on the 1’s & 2’s.”

Nostalgia never gets old.

Redlight – 9TS (90s Baby)

 

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Crystal Fighters — Love Alight (Jean Tonique Remix)

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I fell in love with words the moment I began to read. It was through the words that I read in books that I began to see how much power letters put together had. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a writer.

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” —Ernesto Che Guevara

Had you asked any kid my age at the time, “what power they could have if they could pick any power”, most would have answered that they wanted to fly, be invisible at will, or stretch any part of their bodies out. Me? I knew that if I had asked for and received anyone of those powers, I wasn’t real. If I had asked for and received any one of those powers, ‘well than I was just a character in an animated film, or some type of cartoon series on television'; I knew that the only forms of any real power existed in guns, or, in words.

Today, my passion for writing is inspired and fueled by the sounds of music. It is through music and words that the Earth, as it exists in my head, has become so beautiful. If writing were a perfectly beautiful day, music would be the perfect breeze that dropped in out of nowhere to accompany that memory and make a seemingly impossible-to-perfect moment: perfect. 

NYC is at its peak today. As Fashion Week (#NYFW) began last week and Summer’s stronghold was not letting up with its intense heat and humidity, Autumn has chimed in full-fledged to save the day, and Jean Tonique‘s Remix of Love Alight by Crystal Fighters is that perfect breeze stepping in to make another seemingly impossible-to-perfect moment just that much more perfect.

Funky synths, high-pitched hooks, swaggy vocals and a non-stop groove to keep the Fashion Week models from missing a step, Jean Tonique has perfected a perfect tune in order to make sure that the ride for the next few days is seamless. The remix is as worthy of any runway as it is of any of the most exclusive after parties taking place as Fashion Week comes to its end. From early morning fittings to late-night champagne toasts, turn this tune on and be ready to dance because your feet and body will simply command it.

 Crystal Fighters — Love Alight (Jean Tonique Remix)

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