Well here’s a new music discovery just in time to become your next definite summer jam. Meet Oakland based producer Broke For Free. Tom Cascino makes pleasantly chill, instrumental focused, sun dappled tunes in a similar vein to fellow California artist Monster Rally. That’s not to say that Broke For Free is at all reductive of Monster Rally, rather it’s nice to have a welcome addition to the style of tunefully melodic electronic music.
“Summer Spliffs”, from Cascino’s recently released album Petal is a delightful display of layering prowess and drawing songcraft. A guitar makes itself known almost immediately before jumpstarting the deluge of electronic sounds. It’s a song that expands rather quickly and for the track’s duration, Cascino fiddles around with the addition/reduction of its various parts all without betraying a sense of free flowing effortless ease.
Broke For Free’s latest record Petal is out now and available to stream/download at his Bandcamp.
There is arguably a certain mental image that comes to mind when you think of the one man band – of laborious hours spent mastering loop patterns, hopping from instrument to instrument, of such a precise sort of musicianship required that it almost seems overtly mathematical, of hopes and prayers that that same precision comes off in the live set. And for what it’s worth Atlanta multi-instrumentalist David Courtright’s Suno Deko project embodies that. But fortunately that’s not all.
With a lot of loop based production, the central conceit is that of subversion of expectations; that the one man band doesn’t sound like one man at all. On “Bluets”, the first peek of Suno Deko’s upcoming Thrown Color EP, Courtright takes his time establishing the necessary layers, building much like he would in his live set instead of offering up a preconstructed polished sound. The thrill of it is with each subsequent layer added, you’re still never quite certain the route “Bluets” will take as it goes from pleasant stone-skipped melodies to rocky guitar roars. The end result is firmly in the middle: melodic guitar pop with just the right amount of punch.
Suno Deko’s Thrown Colors EP is out on No Fear of Pop imprint Stratosfear on July 22nd.
It’s a sort of wonderful treat when an artist you like gets to reveal their own musical tastes and said revealed musical taste match up with yours. Such is the case with electro pop duo Sylvan Esso who’ve taken to performing a cover of Porches. “The Cosmos” on their current batch of shows. It’s delightful to say the least as the band leave behind their dancefloor ready jams in favor of a more intimate kind of number. Their take on “The Cosmos” is surprisingly sparse – a blanket of synthy hum while Amelia Randall Meath’s vocals arc and glide (and Nicholas Sanborn adds a bit of flavor with backing vocals). It’s appropriately chill, an enjoyable homage that highlight’s Aaron Maine’s quirky but intelligent songwriting talents while also showcasing Meath’s powerful vocal ability.
Brooklyn experimentalists Salt Cathedral continue their genre switch up and the results are a lot more infectious than previous venture “Good Winds”. That’s fair, considering the newly trimmed down quartet have already established they very much know what they’re doing with b-side/first dip into electronica “Rainy Days”.
“Tease”, another peek at their upcoming EP, is a good example of the type of brilliance their previous characteristics can bring to the electro pop arena: Juliana Ronderos’ vocals still remarkably alluring over the surging beats while Salt Cathedral employ their complex rhythms/textural interplay on a much smaller scale, with many of the intricate layering reserved for cool background effects. Aside from a bit of it at the track’s introduction – Salt Cathedral avoid the stuttering glitchy approach towards dance and instead make full use of beautifully flowing melodies aided no doubt by Ronderos’ magnificently fluid delivery.
Los Angeles experimentalist Robin Nydal aka Mirage manages to blend bedroom pop intimacy with technicolor psychedelic deviations and that’s just the starting point. With songs that function more or less like sound collages, Mirage’s songs run the range of everything from orchestral pop flights of fancy to jittery electronic pop all stitched together with the consistency of a ransom letter crafted from newspaper scraps. The same skill for small scale musical metamorphoses applies not only to Nydal’s production but the man himself – vocals going from svelte whisper to warbling croon at the drop of the hat when Nydal requires another timbre to throw into his impressive textural play. “Something” is one of the rare cuts on Blood For The Return that blunts its abrasive edge in favor of the crisp elegance string arrangements. And yet, it’s not without an obvious air of whimsy and certainly doesn’t sideline Nydal during its forays into beauty – the track’s true lushness comes from Nydal’s machinations at the helm- harmonies and various effects swirling around the sweeping string ornaments. “Something” is a work of surprising tension release – swinging with ease between sections while never losing its off-kilter footing.
Mirage’s Blood For the Return is out in August on Olde English Spelling Bee but available to stream via Bandcamp.