Kim Jung Mi – Haenim

As legend tells it, Kim Jung Mi was a quiet student in the early 1970s when renowned songwriter, composer, producer, and South Korean legend Shin Joong Hyun brought her on to sing on Now. Kim, Shin, and their backing group taped a 10 song record together, with Haenim as the opening track.

The result was a soft psychedelic folk number that’s simple and warm. Listening to Haenim, I imagine it may stand out more now, in an era of Chainsmokers and Ed Sheeran, than it ever did amidst the release of The Rolling Stone’s Angie and The Allman Brother’s Ramblin’ Man.

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Nick Hakim – Lift Me Up

Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim. I kept seeing the name everywhere. Cymbal. Spotify. @nprmusic. The New Yorker. A Pitchfork article “The Eclectic Soul Music of Nick Hakim” gave me a sense of the man, but not the music.

Like anyone who’s late to the party, I quickly took stock to see if there was anything I could grapple onto. Some way of staking my claim.

I half-listened to Hakim’s top three songs on Spotify (I Don’t Know, Cuffed, Papas Fritas), skipping ahead more than once. The aesthetic was tantalizing but the sound didn’t connect. I dropped it.

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Pre-Outside Lands (a wonderful and hedonistic blur of beer, trampled grass and Future Islands), I flopped onto my bed, fully clothed, shoes dangling over the edge.

Work was done for the week. Music, loud and all-encompassing was streaming off my girlfriend’s phone. I listened to whatever was playing, and began to drift, my face scrunched into the crisp, white sheets.

The lack of control was freeing. I hovered for a few minutes. Nothing spiritual about it. Just an absence of mental chatter –  freewheeling space – Aladin hovering over a city of lights, absorbed in the current of whatever was playing, which upon stretching to turn over her phone was Nick Hakim’s soul music.

Ruby Haunt – Freeway Crush (Nutrition Remix)

At the heart of Nutrition’s remix of Ruby Haunt’s Freeway Crush is a feeling of vulnerability. An audible yearning for something majestic. Something lasting.

The original, by Laguna based Ruby Haunt, is in fact full of heart-ache. With a drum kit, Stranger Things-esque keyboard, and plodding bass line, Ruby Haunt creates a watery landscape. We’re a child kicking a pebble on a rainy day, contemplating something larger than homework.

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Nutrition lays on the accelerator a bit, adding the tap tap of a cymbal, draws out the synths and pulls the song out of adolescence and into the present – to focus on the person drifting next to you. The romance of driving at night. Hugging turns. Flashing lights. The odd notion that, “driving is a spectacular form of amnesia.”

Thor Rixon – The Clown

Five years ago I interviewed a young South African musician named Thor Rixon at a cafe in Cape Town. We’d been set up by a young woman in my music journalism class who was eager to introduce me to her friend and lead man of Sun-Do Q’lisi.

As I set up my GoPro for the interview, I felt a nervous energy run through my gut. I doubted my ability to interpret Sun-Do Q’lisi’s most recent project, an experiment with costumes, exaggerated grins, and synths that hummed like buzz saws.

“At the center of Sun-Do Q’lisi’s music is the desire for creativity and the pursuit of fun.  Unlike many young bands that seem desperate to find a niche, Sun-Do Q’lisi dares to avoid being confined to any label. It may not even be out of rebellious defiance, but simply out of the pursuit of groundbreaking and thought provoking sound.” – BeatsForDinner (April 8, 2012)

**

Five years later, Thor reappeared in my news feed with his release, The Clown. Crammed into a soundproof cylinder with three other band mates, I watched Thor tap his way through a Get Physical live session.

It’s surreal to hear the development. Thor’s sound is more refined, spacious and light footed. He does more with less, allowing the music to settle into a nocturnal groove.

Looking back at my old South African blog post, I’m inspired by two things… Thor’s dedicated vision and the fact that we’re both still doing what we love.

“I challenged the plausibility of his funky music being accepted by a mainstream audience, Thor responded by saying ‘Obviously, we want to make this our career, but we don’t really have a plan like in two years time we want to be here or there.  Lets put as much effort and time into it and see where it takes us.'”BeatsForDinner (April 8, 2012)

Sibylle Baier

As hunters of good music, it’s eerie to think of all the great music we’ll never hear. Of course, we’ll never be able to scan every corner of the internet. We’ll also never be able to pore over every rare vinyl. We’ll never listen to the mix tape that was forced on us in Times Square before we learned “how to not look them in the eye.”

That’s really fine – with the exponential growth of recordings over the past few decades, we’re in no shortage of great tunes.

What is eerie to imagine though, is that in the attic of some house in a small town in Germany, a heart-wrenching masterpiece gathers dust because an artist never thought about showing it to people or didn’t believe it was good enough. Songs that were not just undiscovered, but never even put out there. It was enough for the artist to just enjoy making them.

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Sibylle Baier wrote Colour Green between 1970 and 1973. Thirty years later her son found the recordings, sharing them with family members and a few others. Eventually, the tracks found their way to Orange Twin Records and in 2006 Colour Green was released.

It’s a beautiful album.

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You made me forget about
have, want and exert
and all of the sudden I feel proud
for being without saying a word