California Sounds: A new Earl Sweatshirt album, Cooper Saver’s ‘cosmic disco’ and Adam Goldberg’s ‘Home’
Earl Sweatshirt, “Some Rap Songs” (Tan Cressida/Columbia). The most promising L.A. rapper of his generation has, at 24, mastered the art of the fade. Gliding in and out of the spotlight whenever he’s got something to say, the artist born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile has maneuvered away from his teenage Odd Future beginnings, when his lyrical skills prompted a near maniacal search for his true identity, to a place where he’s able to explore the outer reaches of his musical muse with little regard for mainstream acceptance.
To open his new album, Sweatshirt samples a 1962 James Baldwin lecture on the role of the artist in contemporary society, and in one opening footnote reveals the depth of his curiosities.
Short, minimal and experimental — 15 songs in 24 minutes — with wobbly, stuttering beats that slip in and out of meter, loop at odd intervals and trip over themselves, “Some Rap Songs” is thematically focused on familial ties. Most crucially, Sweatshirt’s absorbing the January death of his father, Keorapetse Kgositsile, who was a renowned South African poet and scholar. (Warning, the below video contains cussing.)
That’s especially true on “Peanut,” which finds the son visiting South Africa after his dad’s death, “Flushin’ through the pain, depression / This is not a phase / Picking out his grave / Couldn’t help but feel out of place / Try and catch some rays / Death, it has the sour taste.”
Musically, Sweatshirt couples the words with rhythmically skewed, sampled loops of vintage soul artists including singer Linda Clifford, funk band the Endeavors and Stax Records group the Soul Children. Unlike the boom-bap producers who did the same in the ’90s, though, Sweatshirt busts the bars into cubist, Earl-descending-a-staircase increments.
Cooper Saver, “Forest Theme” (Soundcloud). The new minimal dance track by the DJ, “cosmic disco” producer and promoter of the monthly Los Angeles party Far Away sounds recorded in a dungeon 10 stories underground, with a steady tech-house rhythm and cascading noises that pop and lock at mathematically precise intervals. It was issued as the fifth installment in Mixmag’s “Permanent Vacation” series of compilations.
In his own work, the artist explores the connections among Chicago house, Detroit and Berlin techno and various synthesizer-generated music, but he also plays the good stuff during his regular show, also called “Far Away,” on the online L.A. music hub Dublab.
The Goldberg Sisters, “Home: A Nice Place to Visit” LP/book (ApologyMusic/Hat & Beard Press). For more than a decade, artist Adam Goldberg spent days and nights between his main job as an actor holed up in his Los Feliz home studio making music.
Under the pseudonym the Goldberg Sisters, he and his “twin sister” Celeste wrote and recorded the work on “Home: A Nice Place to Visit,” and the best of it has been compiled into a combination LP and hard-bound book. The album-sized object features Goldberg’s photos, lyrics to the record’s 10 songs and (perhaps best) a printed download card featuring a tattooed “Celeste,” who does indeed seem identical to her/his/their “sibling” Adam, posing tastefully in what looks to be a jockstrap.
Musically, Goldberg has long revealed a bent toward jangly psychedelia — see his previous act, LANDy — and revels in studio effects and experimentation. And although in his busy career he has specialized in sharp-witted, oft-conniving characters who know how to work the angles, as a musician he seems humbly focused on harmonious self-expression.
He reveals one influence in the title of the opening song, “Dear Mr. Nilsson.” Written in the form of a letter, Goldberg across the twang-tinged minutes has a lyrical conversation with the titular songwriter (presumably) Harry Nilsson. “School” homes in on a high-schooler who takes acid and drops “her phone into a sink / Watched it melt into a pool of bleeding ink.”
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