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Music

California Sounds: New music from Amon Tobin, Chelsea Wolfe and Salaam Remi & Terrace Martin

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 6, 2017: Producer and musician Terrace Martin walks through a Crenshaw ne
Producer and musician Terrace Martin walks through the Crenshaw neighborhood. He just released a new collaboration with Salaam Remi.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Salaam Remi & Terrace Martin, “Northside of Linden, Westside of Slauson” (Flying Buddha / Louder than Life). At seven songs and 24 minutes, the new instrumental jazz collaboration between Los Angeles producer and multi-instrumentalist Martin and the Bronx-bred Remi is a taut, fat-free affair. There’s no time for self-indulgence or wasted energy.

Martin, who is known for his work with Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder and YG, has been an unstoppable force since Jay Leno bought Martin his first professional sax as a kid. Remi over the past three-plus decades has produced or written crucial tracks for dozens of artists including Biz Markie, Amy Winehouse, Fugees, Nas and Miguel.

All of that is a roundabout way of saying that Remi and Martin have some sophisticated, well-tended muses, and when they merged in the studio for “Northside of Linden, Westside of Slauson,” something special happened.

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On “Nautical Mile,” a Fender Rhodes keyboard traces a winding melody while drum-rolled snares skitter nervously. The boom-bap beat propelling “ChickenNWaffles Baptist Church” drives Martin’s alto sax through a concise set of solos. At just under five minutes, “Carrot Juice,” the EP’s longest song, glides with a casual, cool-jazz energy. Combined, the songs demand attention and reward focused, high-volume listening.

Only Child Tyrant, “Monkey Box” (Nomark). Since his rise in the late 1990s, the Brazilian-born, northeast L.A.-based producer Amon Tobin has sped and swerved through the electronic music universe with the recklessness of a car thief during a televised pursuit.

Whether with his cavernous, big-beat-driven work under his own name, his early experimental drum ’n’ bass work as Cujo, his scores for high-profile video games or his theme song for “Orphan Black” (as part of his collaborative hip-hop project Two Fingers), Tobin has roamed with a gleeful sense of experimental abandon.

Tobin released his ninth studio album earlier this year, but he’s already headed elsewhere under a new pseudonym, Only Child Tyrant. The teaser track is called “Monkey Box,” and it hits with a bruising hard-rock punch.

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The music dictated the name change. In release notes, Tobin explained that he built the Only Child Tyrant tracks as a kind of diversion “over a period of time between things I may well have been overthinking.”

Adding that he found it “fun to program drums that sound live and fake at the same time, to make synths sound like guitars and have guitars played by robots,” Tobin seems to have reveled in the challenge.

Characterized on his Bandcamp page as “the punked-up kid brother of Two Fingers,” Tobin’s titular child tyrant is a brat who’s been “listening to his uncle’s collection of rock (from Beefheart and Zeppelin to Fugazi via Dick Dale and beyond) and stealing his brother’s ’90s mixtapes and it’s all gone to his head.” Sounds awesome. The full-length comes out on July 26.

Chelsea Wolfe, “The Mother Road” (Sargent House). The first song from Wolfe’s forthcoming album “Birth of Violence” contains a metaphor that accurately describes her band’s place in the world: “Building a broken but precious web / like a spider at Chernobyl.”

Wolfe, who came up in Sacramento and is signed to the L.A.-based imprint Sargent House, wanders a desolate, genre-fluid land where goth, metal, folk and post-rock mingle. Along with her longtime collaborator Ben Chisolm — the band is called Chelsea Wolfe too — the artist in the song’s opening minute sets her sturdy, menacing voice within softened acoustic guitar strums. The instrumentation builds across the next four minutes as Wolfe sings of being “afraid to live and afraid to die.”

The production climaxes when the hum of faraway orchestration drifts into the center and blows through everything in its way. “Bloom and eclipse them, wake up and transform,” Wolfe sings, repeating the line as the music heaves. “Birth of Violence” comes out Sept. 13.

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


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