The Amalgams of Brown + Scienide

On Drum Machine Tape Cassette

The great beatcrafter Kev Brown teamed up with his regional neighbor J Scienide (Brown is in Maryland, Scienide in Washington, D.C.) for last month’s excellent Drum Machine Tape Cassette (Instrumentals). It’s a baker’s dozen of throwback hip-hop, dense with dusty samples (I hear Crosby, Stills, and Nash doing “Dark Star” at one point, and what seems to be James Brown’s “Give Me Some Skin” later on). It’s all atmospherically downtempo, beautiful hodgepodge 4/4 mood music, amalgams of disparate elements, like raspy cymbals against choral vocals on “Vibrations Good,” and the swaggery funk of “Buck Rogers,” the chopped up piano and horns of “Duck Dynasty.” The best moments use tiny snippets to build something large and imposing, like how “Steroids” begins with nearly granular locked groove psychedelia before crunching a hard bit of echoed piano against a rigorous little trap set motif.

Album originally posted at It was released on October 29, 2021. A Rage in Open Source Background Sound Lockscreens

From the past week

I do this manually each Saturday, collating recent tweets I made at, my public notebook. Some tweets pop up (in expanded form or otherwise) on sooner. It’s personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud.

▰ Now this is news I can use. (via Bruce Levenstein)

▰ This weekend I watched a video about how AI can make games Grand Theft Auto more photorealistic, and I saw an ad for software that makes footage more artfully pixelated. The valley between them isn’t uncanny. It’s something else. I don’t know what but it’s apparently where I am.

▰ Current status:

▰ Yes, I enjoyed Chester Himes’ A Rage in Harlem:

▰ Diggle is coming back to the Arrowverse. Sinéad O’Connor is recording a record with David Holmes. Aside from Atlanta announcing the premiere date of a new TV season, my pop culture card feels full. I’ll go back to PDFs on experimental recording techniques.

▰ Woke with the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” in my head. This surfacing could hold some deep psychological meaning. More than likely, though, the song was probably just playing at low volume in the background of some TV show I was watching last night.

▰ Ooh, got the Kindle Paperwhite update that shows the cover of your current read when the device is in sleep mode.

▰ There are days when all I need is the instrumental version of “It’s All About the Benjamins.” Today is, apparently, such a day.

Current Favorites: Guitar Samples, Instrumental Hip-Hop, Surround Keyboards

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ There’s one track up thus far from the self-titled Sweepsculp, the remainder due out on the Nous’klaer Audio label May 7 (I’ve seen it listed as late April elsewhere; May 7 is the date on the Bandcamp page). Sweepsculp is a pseudonym for Dutch musician Thessa Torsing, best known as Upsammy. Apparently the EP is “using only an acoustic guitar besides drums.” The first track, “Plaudable,” is laudable for its tight groove, its punchy, low-key beats, and its playful exploration of slight variations amid minimalist repetition.

▰ On Bandcamp Day, Los Angeles producer Jansport J uploaded the instrumental tracks to rapper Quadry’s mid-2020 album Don’t You Weep. It’s seven soulful cuts, the tidy beats rich with backing vocals, old-school electric keyboard, dubby percussive effects, and occasional double-speed samples.

▰ Vancouver, B.C.-based musician Scott Morgan, aka Loscil, has a new record, Clara, due out on May 28. The production process is fascinating: “[It was] sourced from a single three-minute composition performed by a 22-piece string orchestra in Budapest. The subsequent recording was lathe-cut on to a 7-inch, then ‘scratched and abused to add texture and color,’ from which the entirety of Clara was sampled, shape-shifted, and sculpted.” The first track is all glimmering grainy heavens above a scratchy rhythm.

▰ If you dig Nils Frahms’ live setup, an indie-studio reimgaining of Rick Wakeman’s surround-keyboard mode, then this video of Hania Rani may appeal, especially when, at 7:15, she puts a stone on her Prophet sythesizer to hold a note.

▰ The dental drill wind tunnel noise of “Exhalation” and the lost, dubbed-out spaciousness of “Lost Race” were our first two tastes of the 13 tracks that will comprise End of Trilogy, before it was released this past Friday. Now out on the excellent Room40 label, it collects pummeling sounds from Yuko Araki. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

2020 HindSight

An instrumental hip-hop set from Philadelphia's Nex Millen

February, July, September, and December were my favorite months this year. Not this year meaning this year, but this year as memorialized in a dozen tracks, one for each month, on Philadelphia producer Nex Millen’s 2020 HindSight Millennium Beat EP. From tightly clasped hi-hats to loungey keys, jittery atmospheres to nearly subaural bass line melodies, refracted guitar samples to vocal playfulness, stereo hijinks to ratatatat percussion, those four tracks are among the album’s moodiest. Each, presumably, map’s Millen’s state of mind over the course of 2020’s countless horrors. Now his instrumental hip-hop is something to relax to, to recuperate to. There’s much more to 2020 HindSight than just those four tracks, but they’re the ones helping me make it through the last few weeks of the year.

Album originally posted at More from Nex Millen at

Current Listens: Instrumental Hip-Hop, Non-Performance Samples

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

This is my weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. In the interest of conversation, let me know what you’re listening to in the comments below. Just please don’t promote your own work (or that of your label/client). This isn’t the right venue. (Just use email.)

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Caminauta collaborates, on “ambient piano,” with cellist Federico Motta for the lilting “Distance Memories.”

Chris Herbert reworked the non-musical moments from live performances into a pair of extended atmospheric tracks: “transformations of fragments of dead air, non-performance squeaks, hiss, hum, and stray organ notes.” (Available for free download, too.)

Anwar HighSign (formerly known as Has-Lo) did listeners the favor of including the instrumentals on their recent hip-hop EP, Fleece, two of which were instant favorites, both downtempo tracks featuring beats from cut-up organ and drums (“Whole Lotta Trouble,” “When I Write”).

Carl Stone renders two very different avant-pop tracks (“Ganci” and “Figli”) from the same set of samples, both heavily altering a pre-existing vocal line.

A highlight of Olivia Block’s three untitled tracks of music for piano, organ, and unspecified objects is the first, its spare chords bringing to mind Morton Feldman. The album was made available as a digital download this past week, though it was first released back in 2017 (on the Another Timbre label).