The Pollyseeds, "Sounds of Crenshaw, Vol. 1" (Sounds of Crenshaw). According to notes advancing this groove-based new album by producer and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin, best known for his work with Kendrick Lamar, "Sounds of Crenshaw" takes cues from acts including early Steely Dan, Philadelphia funk band T.S.O.P., Motown backing unit the Funk Brothers and L.A. session players the Wrecking Crew — without at all straying from its creator’s Crenshaw.
Joined by expert jazz, funk and soul players including keyboardist Robert Glasper, guitarist Marlon Williams, sax player Kamasi Washington, drummer Curlee Martin, vocalist Rose Gold and others, the 13 tracks further confirm Martin's limitless inspiration.
It also highlights his synthesizer collection. "Reprise of Us" features Martin playing Prophet and Mini Moog synthesizers, LM1 drum machine and Vocoder. Whether he’s producing hip-hop or composing off-kilter instrumental soul songs, Martin and his peers account for every inventive measure.
“Chef E Dubble,” co-produced by Glasper, weaves a gentle Fender Rhodes run of notes through an understated wash of percussion (courtesy Robert Searlight) and a Washington-blown tenor sax melody. Through it all, Martin entangles it with Mini Moog and Prophet.
He conveys the vibe of ’70s instrumental soul across the five minutes of “Mama D/Leimart Park,” a truly funky midtempo exploration that feels designed for candlelit nights and lovers. “Intentions” too is a seducer, and features the singer Chachi explaining to a would-be partner the many reasons he’s the perfect man.
Sudan Archives, "Paid" (Stones Throw). The Los Angeles-based, Cincinnati-raised singer, songwriter and violinist just issued her first EP on the inventive Highland Park label Stones Throw, and in a single bound leaps into the contemporary conversation with a percussive set of beat tracks.
Born Brittney Denise Parks, the classically trained musician draws on African fiddle techniques and mixes them with deep, echoed rhythms. If her brash 2016 track "Queen Kunta," a rework of Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta," was a warning shot, the new EP fires laser-guided missiles.
"Come Meh Way," which teased the EP in late June, is thick with layers of bells, claps, snaps and Parks' urgent maneuvers on the violin.
She chants simple phrases of devotion as the drums bang, with each new set of bars driving deeper. "Paid" hums with tones that suggest British trip hop creators such as Massive Attack and Portishead.
Moses Sumney, "Doomed" (Jagjaguar). The Los Angeles singer has been on tastemakers' radar for the past few years due to his beguilingly sparse vocal songs. Sumney, though, took his time prepping a long-player, issuing his minimal weepers one by one.
He has finally committed to releasing a set, is doing so via the Midwest label Jagjaguar and the first track from it is called "Doomed." If it's a portent, we should take it seriously.
Like much of Sumney's work, “Doomed” is built more on emotion — and the singer's dynamic falsetto — than on standard pop structures. Accompanied mostly by a humming organ and layers of manipulated voice, his elastic style conveys lines that ponder lovelessness and godlessness. When he asks to be cast into the wasteland, he really seems to mean it.