Burial – Archangel

William Emmanuel Bevan grew up in the UK, properly. As he tells it, he’s never been to a festival, warehouse, or illegal party. Instead, he experienced the jungle and garage scene through the stories and records of his older brother.

But as the scene shifted toward a pump-up, happy-go-lucky, often cheesy sound, William was fixated on a darker tone: “like finding a body in a lift shaft” [Wire Interview]. By the time William had become Burial, hardly anyone was listening to that type of music anymore.

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Today, Burial seems to be an unspoken yet widely known name. That would be surprising, considering he’s not much of a self-promoter and stayed anonymous for much of his career.

Instead, he’s driven by a deeply passionate fan base. At odd corners of the internet and deep sections of Reddit, you might find ornate anthologies discussing his music, story, and incredibly low-tech production setup.

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I started to get Burial while traveling Europe alone in the rainy winter (I know). In between adventures, a short-lived love, train crises, and overdue reunions, I recall walking dark European towns and clubs with the crushing weight of self-indulgent existential feelings. The setting was perfect. But really, I was just lonely.

Sad music, dark music, is hard for most to connect to and easy to roll your eyes at. Why intentionally impose a negative emotion on yourself? I’ll say this: take Burial’s music, save it in a playlist named “Dark Days,” and listen to it when you need to.

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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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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

Serengeti – Dennehy

Every music lover reaches a point where they look through their library and realize the selections are far too serious: deep house, city punk, shoegaze, rare ambient, minimal techno.

We forget that before we devoured song after song and wedged ourselves into the deep wormholes of sound, we all used to rage to whatever was on the radio. Top 40s, classic rock, and Shania Twain. Of course, it’s hard to have more than a surface appreciation for radio hits once you’ve traveled the deep.

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Serengeti is a weird rapper who writes about normal stuff. Chicago native David Cohn’s act is centered around the everyday life of Kenny Dennis (KD).

The idea originated when Cohn was watching little league baseball. “Any time that they introduce a kid they ask him what’s your favorite actor? What’s your favorite athlete? Well what if someone’s favorite actor was Brian Dennehy? What would that guy be like?”

The rest of Kenny Dennis was fleshed out from there. And eventually we were given “Dennehy,” a laundry list of things KD does, likes, and deals with.

Play softball with the guys, wife made curly fries
Drink about four O’Doul’s, grounded out, two pop flies
In the Buick down Western, stop and get some more brats
On sale: chicken, Italian sausages, and orange pop

Crumb

Trans-Pecos was once an electronic venue. The kind of place you’d enter and immediately lose your friends in a suffocating overdose of fog machine and lasers. On occasion, a human pterodactyl might sweep into view, their frisbee-sized pupils a stark contrast to the grey clouds that surrounded you. It was amazing – also horrifying.

But when Crumb came to play on Thursday, the scene was entirely different. At first, a sparse crowd of hipsters stood around, nodding emotionally to the opener’s punk song and staring glassy-eyed at the female lead wearing an orange cap.

Honestly, it looked like it was gonna be a night of shitty music. Fortunately, it didn’t sound like it.

Crumb’s lead, Lila Ramani, looked entranced and weird, her head rotating around the beat and her eyes rolling around their sockets. She had a look of quiet confidence.

The rest of the band was tight. Much more technical than I’d expected. Jesse Brotter (bassist) bopped along with sharp notes, while Jonathan Gilad (drums) impressed with intricate and diverse rhythms.

Then there was the sideshow. Brian Aranow’s amalgam of keyboard and synth sounds were what made Crumb sound psychedelic: the spice in an already good dish. But what truly grabbed me was his Mary Poppins bag of instruments that he maintained mastery over. Very rarely will I pay homage to a tambourinist – but he knew how to shake it. Near the end, just when I felt I had a good grasp of Crumb’s sound, he turned around with sax in arms and belted a funky, trippy, and smooth solo. The audience was ecstatic – everyone’s a sucker for the sax.

Crumb’s show at Trans Pecos felt like a moment to remember. They probably have some developing to do still, but I wouldn’t be surprised if two years down the line there won’t be a chance to see them at the likes of Trans-Pecos.