April 2020 | Albums

These recommendations are carefully ‘ear’-picked each month from a selection of bold, contemporary artists who are experimenting at the boundaries of genre and sound. Some of what we’ve been listening to, some that’s kept us moving, inspired. A few even offering a pertinent lens through which to view issues of identity & belonging within the geopolitics of our fragmenting world. With each complete album, there’s a story waiting to be told – offering a holistic peak into the artists ruminations.

This month we began with the alleged final Childish Gambino album, mysteriously titled 3.15.20 (the date it was streamed without much fanfare on a the website donaldgloverpresents.com). Some have argued that the dissonant sounds, lurching hip-hop bars, and funk falsetto make an album that feels rushed and not all together there. However, we also see all of Gambino’s cards on the table: growth from previous studio albums, Camp and Because the Internet, and subtle references to other artists like Daft Punk or Kavinksy – an appropriate progression of his work as Childish Gambino.

Moving back to Riz Ahmed (but of an older time) alongside Heems and Redinho – their group Swet Shop Boys’ project, Cashmere. Here we’re greeted with effortless production that blends in beats that wouldn’t be out of place in Karachi, Bombay, or Brooklyn. It doesn’t stop there: we’re treated heavy-hitting bars from both rappers on varying issues of life as brown men in the US and the UK. It’s bold, brash, and full of truth

Next, the second album by British hip-hop artist Loyle Carner – Not Waving, but Drowning. There needs to be a phrase for when a sophomore album is even more complete a representation of an artist – if that existed, it would be incredibly appropriate for Carner’s second outing. A bracingly honest album, we see more of Loyle’s influence from the food world (with tracks titled Ottolenghi and Carluccio), as well as the familiar faces of Tom Misch, Jorja Smith, Sampha, and guest poet extraordinaire, Jean Coyle-Larner. If you haven’t heard any of Loyle’s music – now is the time.

Finally, this month’s journey ends closer to home with Kartik Pillai’s (of Peter Cat Recording Co.) solo project Jamblu and the EP, Gone Swimming. This is a project that doesn’t hold back in its experimentation but is clearly so rooted in its influences of hazy hip-hop, ambient, as well as jazz and electronic music. An experience that is best taken from start to finish as tracks move from one to the other seamlessly.

Let the music take over!

Childish Gambino – 3.15.20

Donald McKinley Glover Jr. is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, director, musician, and DJ. He performs music under the stage name Childish Gambino.

Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere

Swet Shop Boys is an Indian-American/British-Pakistani hip hop group, consisting of rappers Heems and Riz MC, with producer Redinho.

Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, known professionally as Loyle Carner, is an English hip hop musician. His sound has been described by NME as “sensitive and eloquent” and by The Guardian as “confessional hip-hop”. His debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, was nominated for the 2017 Mercury Prize.

Jamblu – Gone Swimming

Jamblu is the solo project of Kartik Pillai, a multi-instrumentalist from New Delhi, India.With two releases under his belt since inaugurating Jamblu in 2014. Jamblu’s sound mines the influence of hazy hip hop instrumentals and slow-building ambient music, interjecting these passages with unsettling rhythms that cut across melodic textures. – A Closer Liste

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