Pharoah Sanders – “Astral Traveling” (1971)
This is jazz that escapes the entrenched dichotomy one might associate with 1971. It’s neither “traditional” nor “fusion” or “experimental” per se. It has a compositional feeling and an exploratory vibe that feels “astral” indeed, but it’s not necessarily head music, and there’s no funk or rock foundation. It is contemplative in a way that feels like a classic jazz ballad, but there’s no piano here, and the instrumentation is small-group but not strictly standard. It’s simply rich, beautiful, spiritually resonant music, effortlessly both accessible and experimental. [Sanders is featured in a Sensory Replication Series mix at Musicophilia.]
Les Attaques – “Deth” (2005)
Since 2000, Les Attaques have been drawing from the scuzzier side of the well from which Portland/NYC’s Italians Do It Better collective draw today, and with equal success. They pull together ice-queen vocals, DNW/Italo synths, Factory Records bass, earlier motorik German sensibilities, and bones-exposed disco-house beats with aplomb, crafting something that is definitely homage, not facsimile, imbued with a ghost of the past but not aping it. This track is the definition of a slow burn, sonically strip-teasing you with one slowly revealed element after another, achieving a dirty-beautiful ecstasy.
9th Scientist – “Do You Love Me?” (2004)
9th Scientist is carrying the torch strong for those who love mid-school sample-based hip-hop, but he’s not living in a DA.I.S.Y. retro world. He takes it Southern slow (Atlanta, not Houston or New Orleans), with an unhurried delivery, and for him “consciousness” is not an aesthetic, but a life’s pursuit. Musically his strongest suite is production, where he’ll appeal to fans of Dilla, with simply utilized, unpolished soul/funk loops. This track uses a perfect sample, sounding almost like a heartbeat echoing the intensity of an ode to a lifelong (possibly estranged) friend. Check him out here, pick up a new album here.