California Sounds: new music from Phoebe Bridgers, Karriem Riggins, Gonjasufi and L.A. Takedown

California Sounds: new music from Phoebe Bridgers, Karriem Riggins, Gonjasufi and L.A. Takedown
Phoebe Bridgers has released a new song, "Smoke Signals." (High Road Touring)

Gonjasufi, "Mandela Effect" (Warp). As a follow-up to his noteworthy 2016 album "Callus," the San Diego singer and beat producer has gathered a selection of remixed tracks and new work that use as their source material his syrupy blend of beat music, Jamaican dub and hip-hop.

Born Sumach Ecks in Chula Vista, Gonjasufi earned early attention as yelper on Flying Lotus' album "Los Angeles," and the two seem to vibe off similarly bass-heavy frequencies. A yogi by day, Gonjasufi brings a meditative spirit to his work. And, as his stage name implies, the producer's music pairs well with your favorite weed strain.


"Mandela Effect" features remixes by beat music luminaries including Daddy G of Massive Attack, Beth Gibbons (Portishead) and King Britt. Lesser-known voices, including Anna Wise, who has worked with Kendrick Lamar; the Los Angeles beat futurist Ras G and Seattle hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, also offer new versions.

Phoebe Bridgers, "Smoke Signals" (Phoebe Bridgers). The new song by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Bridgers is delicate and earthen. Affiliated with songwriter Ryan Adams' Pax Am imprint, she's of the school that prefers well-phrased whispers to melodramatic screams.

The first song from her forthcoming album is written in the form of a letter written from her L.A. home to someone with whom she's just spent time in the woods: "Just long enough to Walden it with you/ Any longer it would have got old," Bridgers sings as a softly strummed electric guitar backs her.

As the song progresses, the lyricist offers evocative images of circling pelicans and sleeping "in an '80s sedan," precise moments gracefully recollected with tranquility. Strings swell, and as they do, Bridgers' song seems to achieve liftoff. If this song is any indication, her ascent is just beginning.

Karriem Riggins, "Headnod Suite" (Stones Throw). Drummer Riggins pays his bills as part of vocalist Diana Krall's backing band, but over the course of an astounding career as a session man and producer, the Detroit-born, Los Angeles based musician has earned his bona fides.

This new album of instrumentals, issued by the Highland Park label Stones Throw, mixes his skills with rhythms with his ear for groove, and the result is a record with so much swing it may make you loopy.

"Bahia Dreaming," like many of the 29 tracks on "Headnod Suite," begs for a lyricist to turn it into an innovative rap song but by itself stands as sturdy as a pit bull. "Sista Moves" jerks in rhythm as snippets of a vocal track cut in and out, and a series of songs titled "Cheap Suite" tackles an idea from five angles.

L.A. Takedown, "Night Skiing" (Ribbon Music). The Los Angeles-based artist Aaron M. Olson seems to have an affection for the 1970s and '80s TV soundtrack music that scored shows like "Miami Vice," "The Rockford Files" and "The Bionic Woman." For his forthcoming album, "L.A. Takedown II," he and six musicians built instrumental songs that suggest such scores.

The result is music that one of Olson's peers has described as "Baywatch Krautrock." That's apt. Olson said the sessions consisted of "seven goofballs eating snacks and watching Columbo and making music."

"II" doesn't come out until early May, but last week L.A. Takedown issued its first video. It's for the song "Night Skiing," and across its four-plus minutes the band seems to traverse various slopes with aerodynamic glee. Time signatures shift and sonic landscapes melt, as though the band has been transported into Roger Dean's cover on the Yes album "Tales From the Topographic Ocean."

For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email: