Soundlab: Fighting against the heat SE01EP05: Music to listen to with an AC on

The recent heatwave which has been scorching Europe for the past few weeks would probably be greeted with a smile by most, if the extremes it reached weren’t  a clear sign of  climate change, rather than just a seasonal occurance. As I have mentioned in the previous installments, I see a strong correlation between music I enjoy and weather conditions. Therefore, I prepared this month’s suggestions by picking the albums that, as far as I can tell, might help cool down both literally and figuratively. AC on and let’s go!

We’ll listen to an unexpected lo-fi songwriter collaboration between a seasoned jazz musician and his young relative; a short sonic tale about Manchester’s night life; a remix album of one of the last year’s best art pop efforts; a skillfully crafted collage of spoken word samples infused with 90s nostalgia, and we’ll finish of with yet another example of minimalist IDM. 

Sam Gendel & Antonia Cytrynowicz – LIVE A LITTLE

Sam Gendel is an LA-based saxophonist, mostly known for his jazz compositions, but he is also no stranger to collaborations with artists working in other genres, be it Vampire Weekend, Moses Sumney or Mach Hommy. His proficiency in instruments other than sax clearly leads him to experimental areas that would otherwise rarely see a trained jazz musician. 

 LIVE A LITTLE is his collaboration with Antonia Cytrynowicz, a younger sibling of his significant other. What’s probably most surprising about this project, is that at the time of its recording Antonia was eleven years old. This obviously yields a dynamic different than a one between adult musicians; the songs are playful, laid back, seemingly crafted as a background to a late summer afternoon. According to the authors, the songs were all recorded on the spur of the moment in one take, rather than as a planned artistic project. Genre-wise, it’s a lo-fi indie record with elements of jazz, and cheerful yet substantial vocals. 

Blackhaine – Armour II

Tom Heyes is a multidisciplinary artist based in Manchester. He mentions the bleakness of his hometown city as his work’s main inspiration .,  Even though this might sound overly vague at first, it all comes together once one gets to know his art. His choreographic work landed him a job with none other but Kanye West himself!

When it comes to his music efforts, the first works he released where mainly focused on noise and frantic spoken word. The singles leading up to this EP have shown a slight turn into more song-like structures allowing for repeated listens, and making it easier to lose oneself in the world Blackhaine pictures via his rapping. The meticulously crafted beats were provided mostly by another Manchester based artist, Rainy Miller, but there are also a lot of guest appearances, including the great Space Afrika. If you liked their last album, you’re definitely going to enjoy Armour II too! 

Tirzah – Highgrade 

Rarely do I deem remix albums interesting enough to listen through them front to back, and I certainly wouldn’t expect to ever recommend one as a part of this series. This one isn’t your run-of-the-mill remix album though. I don’t recall listening to a similar project in at least the last few years  – a remix album with all the tracks from the original one reworked, arranged in a new logical order, and, last but not a least, a cover art cleverly referencing the original one

Colourgrade, which was the “source material” for Highgrade is a downtempo, minimalistic art pop album with reserved but soulful vocals. The remixes range from 10-minute hypnotic outsider-house meditations to high-octane UK Garage influenced bangers. A highly recommended listen, both as a companion piece to the original album, and as a stand-alone project.

Zaumne – Contact

Mateusz Olszewski made his name in the Polish underground scene with the release of Emo Dub back in 2018. The minimalistic textures of his tracks, heavily relying on the use of ASMR samples manage to capture the feelings of insomnia, isolation, and emotional uncertainty, while still remaining surprisingly pleasant to listen to. 

Contact is Zaumne’s follow up to Emo Dub, but it sounds like –  although  still maintained in the 90s nostalgia vibes – with this album he set out to create something even more “beatless”. Hints of percussion sounds can bearly be heard, and spoken-word samples get even more enigmatic and oneiric. The cover art greatly complements the sound design – it genuinely feels like a summer sunset. 

Lowtec – Untitled 

Jens Kuhn is a German techno producer with quite a bit of experience – he was already releasing EPs back in 1997, so he has definitely seen a thing or two when it comes to revolutions in electronic music. It’s always a pleasant surprise when an artist with such an expansive background decides to release an album on a small, independent label, In this case –  Malmö’s Blundar

The 2020s Untitled sounds like a distant memory of 90s WARP releases, albeit with a more modern and polished production. The beats aren’t particularly experimental, but they deliver what they promise. The sounds are well designed, the grooves are hypnotizing, and if you enjoyed Autechre before they went all out with the digital madness, you’ll definitely find this one interesting as well. 

Listen to the full Spotify playlist below:

Piotr Wojnar, a music aficionado, producer and aspiring philosopher presents a series about sonic art, and the way sounds in general combine with other aspects of human creativity. Subsequent monthly entries include album recommendations, descriptions of their tonalities, cultural context and overall vibe.

About The Author


Aspiring philosopher, musician and music aficionado, speciality coffee enthusiast. He holds bachelor degrees in Swedish Linguistics and Philosophy. Interested in all kinds of sonic arts both as a producer and listener. Currently working on the topic of social ontology.

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