Underground Lexington Sounds
Desperate Spirits – June 23, 2017
Desperate Spirits follows up their first Lexington-based compilation with another – this time one of all female-identifying artists, with label co-founder, Kim Smith, at the curating helm. Spanning eighteen tracks, the compilation collects many of Lexington’s finest, as well as artists with ties to Lexington now living elsewhere.
Like the music on White Power is for Dummies, the sounds on Lady Parts! span a wide range of musical sounds. The compilation opens with “Hold On,” contributed by Reva Dawn Salon – it mostly features an uptempo string band, save for a colorfully contrasting bridge. Coralee’s “Kick My Heart” is a beautiful, low-key track with lots of atmosphere; soon after, For the Crown mixes their clear voices over a funk-tinged industrial-synth track on “Hands Where I Can See Them.” Jeanne Vomit-Terror’s “The Author and His Egg” is a quick, dizzyingly heavy electronic punk track; the rich string arrangements of “Moon Song” by Kate Wakefield provide an aural contrast a couple songs later. Powder Room’s “I Watch You Sleep” is an infectious listen, toeing the line between calm and unsettling; following that, “Resolve” by Italian Beaches features Reva Williams’ voice on top of an always great mix of dense synthesizers and behind-the-beat drums.
Compilations are a great way of finding new music you might not have heard otherwise – I’d never heard of several artists on this compilation, and I’d been meaning to hear many others. Lexington is fortunate to have an abundance of talented female artists, and Lady Parts! gives you only taste of many musicians who have much more to listen to. Purchase a copy on Desperate Spirits’ Bandcamp, and 100% of proceeds go to the Kentucky Health Justice Network, whose mission includes supporting direct services to healthcare access, education and advocacy for reproductive health in the Commonwealth.
Tracks I Liked: (All of them, but especially) Reva Dawn Salon (“Hold On”)!!, Coralee (“Kick My Heart”)!, For the Crown (“Hands Where I Can See Them”)!!, Jeanne Vomit-Terror (“The Author and His Egg”)!, Kate Wakefield (“Moon Song”)!!, Oh My Me (“Where the Red One Goes”)!, Powder Room (“I Watch You Sleep”)!!, Italian Beaches (“Resolve”)!!!
Ben Southworth – July 2, 2017 – Post Road
Driftless Recordings – November 17, 2016
Lexington’s Ellie Herring has become an increasingly popular part of the electronic music community over the course of the last few years. Her sounds have evolved over that time, leaving us here with What a Joy, an entrancing collection of five songs. The tracks here inhabit a space somehow shared by thudding kick drums and bass lines, while remaining relaxing and tranquil. “Wheels On” – the first track released as a single – is a mid-tempo track that slowly builds from heavy drums and syncopated bass, adding sparse, echoey notes in the upper octaves. My favorite on the EP is “Penelope,” a track that is fun in the same way Todd Terje is fun (though, without sounding quite like his music). It’s outfitted with sampled hand drums, warped lush synth chords, and a heavy groove – it’s just a really fun track. “Forgot Right” turns the beat around onto the latter half of each bar, samples some distorted male vocals, and pulses with buzzing synthesizer chords. The intro to “Swim Me” is very spacey and calm, allowing you to hear the bass line slowly sneak up into the mix until it stands out as the skeleton of the song – Yaeji’s vocals on the track almost feel like an instrument, timed metronomically with the drums and bass to add to the trance. “Seaport at Night” is a palette-cleansingly atmospheric track, and a great way to close out the EP, waiting patiently to add the drums and a soft harmonic progression. What a Joy is a great, atmospheric, feel-good experience – take a good listen, and enjoy.
Tracks I Liked: Penelope!!!, Forgot Right!, Swim Me!!, Seaport at Night
Ben Southworth – November 20, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Genre: Ambient Electronica
It’s been a great summer for producing music if you happen to be Ellie Herring. After first releasing her eleven-song collection of remixes last month (a very strong release in itself,) she’s put out another cluster of previously unheard tracks. Kite Day is named for a day in her elementary school years where students were allowed to go outside and fly kites, but more importantly refers to her father’s taking of time the day before to teach her how to fly one. The music, too, has a feeling of the fogginess that surround my own – and perhaps your – childhood memories, flowing around lazily from section to section, song to song. She traverses every texture available – putting massive amounts of reverb with the vocals, panning synths and pads with precise intention, and stirring in sharp drum beats to give a certain amount of busyness to the sound that that borders on, sometimes stumbling into the territory of trance music. Unlike Potion Shop, Kite Day originates entirely from music she wrote herself – though it is tail-ended with three remixes of songs from this album. Not surprisingly, the songs chosen to be remixed are also the ones that stick out initially as most accessible, and are done well themselves. This is the kind of music that necessitates sitting down with a decent pair of headphones or speakers and simply allowing oneself to get lost – Ellie has made that an easy thing to do here.
Ben Southworth – July 30th, 2013 – Cedar Creek
Genre: Trance-y Electronic Remixing
I’ll admit, this is my first experience listening through an entire Ellie Herring album, and this isn’t even her music. Or is it? Without much experience with her stuff to compare it to, it’s tough to say – with some experience with the music that has been remixed, it sounds like it’s got to be her music, at least in part. The album takes upbeat songs that were meant to be danced to – music from tUnE-yArDs, Le1f (who was in town for last year’s Boomslang Festival,) even Janet Jackson – and turns them into breezy sequences that make them sound much more like trance music than they did in their original states. That said, the hooks from the original songs are largely retained and the personalities of each artist is allowed to shine through – each song does this in a way unique to the artist whose music is being remixed. Herring, then, just adds her own style – largely by attaching tastefully-busy drums, cascading synthesizers – taking out some of the intensity, and leaving the listener in a trance. Potion Shop is a collection of remixes that Herring has done in the last couple years, but with an upcoming album of original material coming next month, its release is admittedly well-timed. As one of Lexington’s favorite artists, the sounds on this album bode well for what’s coming up in July with Kite Day.
Give these tracks a listen – Janet Jackson’s If, Social Studies’ Terracur, Le1f’s Wut, tUnE-yArDs’ Gangsta, and Ladytron’s Melting Ice.
– Ben Southworth – June 18th, 2013