What the hell is going on out there? Here are some great releases for you to experience while you’re stuck inside. And if you’re not able to stay inside — perhaps you work in the service or medical industries — may these tunes be here for you when you do get home.
Cliff Martinez – Contagion (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
It was 2011. A week before Drive came out and changed everything, Steven Soderbergh’s prescient and expertly executed outbreak picture, Contagion, hit theatres. The inimitable Cliff Martinez scored both — specifically, while Martinez and associates Mac Quayle and Greg Tripi were on a hiatus from Contagion, they created the Drive score.
My wife and I recently re-watched the well made (and terrifying) Contagion, obviously catalyzed by the growing outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It struck me how great Martinez’s score is for this picture. Through piano sounds, a real orchestra, synthesis, drum machines, and other electronics, Martinez cultivates a poignant and potent sense of foreboding that bubbles up into outright terror as the film’s virus takes increasingly more lives. At times we get the warm arps and tempered, crystalline synth pads you’ll find in Drive and other Martinez fare, but we also get a taste of some dissonant and abrasive passages amid the increasingly quasi-apocalyptic scenario unfolding in the story. This is a can’t-miss Martinez score.
Released by Watertower Music originally and in 2017 Real Gone Music unleashed two vinyl variants.
Mothermary – “Catch Fire”
Bushwick, Brooklyn-based twins Larena and Elyse are among the newest additions to the Italians Do It Better family, and they sound quite different from the rest of the roster. “Catch Fire” is a vapor-tinged, electro-pop number laced with Samantha Urbani vibes — the twins’ low-register melodies flowing smoothly over a plush bed of minimalist, kinetic synths and gated snares. The duo are named after Mary, Mother of Jesus, and are seeking to rewrite her story, according to press materials. Through that they want to challenge the double standards that religion places on women, including the idea that women need to be sexy enough to “have children to procreate but [can’t] be sexual beings,” they said in a statement. (You know, the oppressive madonna/whore dichotomy.)
I’m rather excited to hear more of what these ex-Mormons from Montana have to offer.
(The digital streaming release of this song also has a sick Johnny Jewel remix and other variants.)
Y Balloon – “Careless”
Y BALLOON created this mesmerizing and beautiful electronic cut in the middle of Angeles National Forest one day. This isn’t a Bon Iver-esque, man-in-a-cabin number, though. It’s a captivating groover with a care-free majesty. “Careless” is the second single off Y BALLOON’s upcoming debut EP, JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).
Pilotpriest – “Don’t Let The Dark Times Get You Down”
Pilotpriest (AKA Anthony Scott Burns) has a preternatural ability to create music that hits you just right. His latest, the poignantly titled “Don’t Let The Dark Times Get You Down,” is indeed a comforting release for a time when we need it the most. Its hypnotic rhythm section and almost medicinal melodies are glued together with the compositional talent and sonic vision of Toronto’s own Renaissance Man. (Keep an eye out for the upcoming film he directed, Come True, which he also scored.)
Tess Roby – “Glimpse”
I’m a huge fan of IDIB artist Tess Roby, but I missed this previously unreleased number. (Or, perhaps, she played it live and I’m just not remembering.) It’s an intricately woven, contemplative synthesizer piece. Hit play and let it lull you into a deep sense of security at a time of great uncertainty. Tess is an international treasure. (BTW, buy her awesome t-shirt.)
Tommy ’86 – Disco Machine 2
In the five years since the first Disco Machine, French synthwave artist Tommy ’86 went heavy and dark, spun off a lighter side project called Acidulé that remixed Cassius, disappeared, and has returned with a sequel that is as exciting as that first release. I’ve been spinning this Sally Shapiro affiliate’s EP quite a bit since it was released a couple weeks ago.
Breakbot – “Be Mine Tonight (feat. Delafleur)”
Ed Banger’s resident disco revivalist is back with a glittery strut, the instruments covered in butter so as to smoothly move around each other without creating any friction. Out now.
(Editor’s Note: As established in this post, the One-Liners column is a concise but meaningful way to highlight Vehlinggo-recommended releases. It’s not exactly weekly, but it can be. Entries are almost never one line, but they could be. Check out last week’s post.)