Eskimoh - Untitled 01 (Self Release)
Marker Starling - Silk Rock (Tin Angle Records)
Sasso - Sometimes I get It (Northern Life Records)
Holy Tongue - Holy Tongue (Amidah)
Lonnie Holley - I'm A Suspect, Galcher LustwerK Rmx (Jagjahuwar)
Blessed are the Hearts that Bend - Palace (Bandcamp)
Baba Stiltz - Running To Chad, DJ Python Rmx (Bandcamp)
Miljon - Callin' It Quits (Studio Barnhus)
Calabashed - Behold A Black Wave
WHAT THE RELEASE NOTES SAY:
Since debuting his Khotin project in 2014, Edmonton’s Dylan Khotin-Foote has fine-tuned an impressionistic, dream-like style of music that straddles multiple sonic worlds. His output often sways from gentle synthesized atmospherics to hypnotic, dance-minded frameworks. His self-released 2018 LP, Beautiful You, offered a study on melody and memory; the album’s nostalgia-nudging use of passing environments, voices, and abstractions captivated a cult following, a rare 4.5 review in Resident Advisor and the attention of Ghostly International, who pressed the cassette on vinyl for wider circulation in 2019. Now, Khotin reveals his first collection of new material since the signing. The album is a fluid continuation of his blissful and melancholic songcraft, extended humbly and warmly, Finds You Well.
As tongue-in-cheek as the title may appear, the phrase has haunted the producer for some time. Most often seen at the start of correspondence, the words “I hope this email finds you well” can land with varying levels of sincerity, depending on context and mood. Khotin-Foote started to read the line more ominously during the onset of the pandemic. So, this set of music winks at both possibilities, mixing a platitude’s opaque optimism with lurking uncertainty.
Finds You Well can be heard in near-symmetrical halves: its 10 tracks represent the selections from a bounty of demos that, with less modesty, could have filled two records, one active and the other ambient. The resulting set isn’t an even split but it’s close. The A-side centers on the album’s steadiest sequence of beat-centric material. “Ivory Tower” is inextricably tied to benchmarks set by late ‘90s downtempo forerunners, spilling lucious and narcotic synth modulations across a sprinkler’s spray of breakbeats. Khotin’s sprightly melodic noodling brings that touchstone sound into vogue, bubbling up in free-form spurts. The sequence continues through the propulsive “Heavyball,” into “Groove 32,” which begins with a funky bit-clipped drum and bongo boogie. A tight bass-line plugs into place, building a grid for square-wave pads, shimmering melodic textures, and stuttering vocal samples to percolate in.
Khotin’s tone stabilizes on the B-side, balancing decidedly bucolic terrain with suspiciously eerie melancholy. Voices wander in the sprawling frequency sweeps. Organic textures sizzle and sputter in the clouds. “WEM Lagoon Jump” references local West Edmonton folklore, the time a kid jumped from a shopping mall's second-floor balcony into the main pavilion’s fountain. After the splash, we land in the record’s most satisfying stasis, “Your Favorite Building.” A brittle clave and muffled kick hover in a wobbly mist of organ chords; the building is gorgeous, but seen at night, and empty, and from this angle, those shadows seem to crop up more of those subdued tremors, those nostalgic creeps, those droll musings. From behind a wall of melody, a kid peeks their head and softly sings, “you must love the world because it’s wonderful,” the vocal snippet comes courtesy of Khotin-Foote’s sister, Amaris.
For much of Find You Well’s second half, Khotin dabbles in a dusty and slightly detuned piano sound, revealing an artist unafraid to change shapes but maintain course. This set of chimeric visions sidesteps the subdued bombast that fills the A-side; instead, it suggests a counterpoint emphasizing the uncanny overlap between well wishes and empty promises.
WHAT THE COVER LOOKS LIKE:
WHAT THE RELEASE NOTES SAY:
The music of multi-instrumentalist Spencer Zahn is marked by openness: spacious sonic landscapes, rich with contributions from his creative community. Zahn’s newest album, Sunday Painter, is a refined step forward for the New York City-based musician — a lush collection of instrumental songs that undulate along waves of jazz, ambient pop, Americana, and neo-classical — pulling from Zahn’s established musical background and collaborative ethos.
Born in Massachusetts, Zahn started playing the bass at age 12. Since moving to New York in the mid-2000s, he has worked as a touring musician, performing live with a range of acts across the genre spectrum. Zahn’s career as a solo artist began later, around the same time he started playing with like-minded guitarist Dave Harrington, in 2015. "I felt really inspired to get back into the world of instrumental music," he explains, following the spark of inspiration that Harrington ignited. "Dave is central to everything I've done with my solo recordings. We both trust each other’s instincts."
Zahn’s first two solo albums, 2018’s People of the Dawn and 2019’s When We Were Brand New, were born out of solitary synth experiments, melding his jazz background with a warm electronic pulse. For his new record, Zahn opted for something more organic and cooperative, relying both on intuition and interplay. After sketching out the form of an album in Massachusetts, Spencer decided to make Sunday Painter a full-band affair, leaning into some of his favorite players to fill in the emergent album’s contours. "I didn't want to do overdubs," he explains. "I wanted to put together a group of people that I knew would be sensitive to playing together in a room and using the room as the extra member of the band.”
Inspired by the music of Keith Jarrett and the catalog of legendary jazz label ECM, as well as Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way, Sunday Painter thrives on collaboration. Players Spencer Ludwig (trumpet), Mauro Refosco (percussion), Kenny Wollesen (drums), Andy Highmore (piano/Rhodes/organ), Jacob Bergson (piano/Rhodes), Mike McGarril (soprano saxophone), and Dave Harrington (guitar/electronics) all contribute to the album's ebbing layers and radiant sheen.
Sunday Painter emerges as a showcase for Zahn’s community of musicians, the ensemble providing a masterclass in interplay. The results are a gorgeous testament to in-the-moment music making, free of any physical or mental trappings: the gossamer clouds of opener "Key Biscayne" channel the title’s serene setting with lush layers of horns and gentle piano, before the dark-hued instruments of “The Mist” begin to swell. Even the album’s softer moments, like the meditative “Roya” and the languorous “At High Tide,” are ripe with interplay.
The album’s title track — a gorgeous, amber-hued moment of Americana with drifting guitar and cascading piano — serves as an apt summary of Zahn’s musical ethos. “The track ‘Sunday Painter’ is about finding solace in not having to make your living doing what you love," Zahn explains. "A lot of the people in my life are often touring and recording with a range of artists and then get to create their own music in their ‘off-time.’ That’s how this album was created — in between touring with different artists, I'd get in the studio and write a bunch of music. ‘Sunday Painter’ is an important song on the record to me for that reason."
Sunday Painter comes into view as a focused, yet intuitive next step in the career of a musician unafraid to break his own boundaries.
"I've been able to build a great community of caring people who are open-minded and want to create something together," he continues, channeling the all-hands attitude that made Sunday Painter the album it is now. “I’ve always liked improvised music and music that feels very alive. It's freeing, to be able to record music that's a snapshot of a moment in time."
Written and produced by Spencer Zahn
Mixed by Chris Tabron
Recorded by Nate Odden
Assisted by Augusto Sanchez, Jr.
Mastered by Heba Kadry
Recorded at Red Bull Studios NYC on May 28 & 29, 2019
Jacob Bergson - Fender Rhodes/piano
Dave Harrington - guitar/electronics
Andy Highmore - piano/organ/Fender Rhodes
Spencer Ludwig - trumpet
Mike McGarril - soprano saxophone
Mauro Refosco - percussion
Kenny Wollesen - drums
Spencer Zahn - upright bass
Album design by Hana Tajima
Photography by Landon Speers
WHAT THE RELEASE NOTES SAY:
Max Ananyev is a composer and classical guitarist originally from Far Eastern-Russia, who currently resides in Saint-Petersburg. Max began studying and playing classical guitar in music school as a child, composing his own pieces from this early age. In the last 10 years, he has become increasingly focused in his work as a composer, with numerous albums and EPs, released on British labels Serein and Preserved Sound as well as Moscow’s Fancymusic.
His process for creating music is to schedule some time specifically to compose. He does not wait for inspiration to strike, instead allowing this to take place once his studio sessions begin. Time is all that is needed for the work to develop and it is timbre which is the target, so that specific sounds can be achieved. He prefers his recordings to flow into an album or record, rather than selecting the best sounds from a large pool of material.
Thematically, anything from the sunlight beaming onto the wall in a room, chance communications with people and traveling can influence Max as an artist. His unrelated studies at the time of recording subconsciously feel linked to this body of work somehow, with lectures on Renaissance alchemists, mythology, death and human evolution having been an area of research during this album’s production period. Nietzsche’s tightrope walker was also a poignant read at the time and purely by coincidence, the person in the cover image appears to be walking a tightrope.
However, conceptually there is not a neatly mapped-out journey for the listener. Instead the asymmetric shapes of atmospheric sound and the names they have inherited, along with the cover artwork tell different stories as each track passes. Introductions, codes, different parts and moods unfurl carefully in the lightest breeze, like classical music. Midday creates a warm and restful environment for the listener to make sense of this collection of moods; a task made all too easy thanks to its shimmeringly adherent gathering of light sounds.
Written, Produced and Mastered by Max Ananyev
Photography by Natalia Poluyanova and Dmitriy Ratushniy
Packaging design by Harry Towell
WHAT THE COVER LOOKS LIKE:
WHAT THE RELEASE NOTES SAY:
Music by Andrew Tasselmyer & Brad Deschamps
Artwork by April Suen
Mastered by Ian Hawgood
OUR MISSION STATEMENT GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS
Lazy Days, Hazy Moments & Dancing to a Slower Groove