Not feeling great about the human race? Blast "Procreate Inverse" by Black Fucking Cancer
A 90s jazz classic from SF saxophonist Joe Henderson; diverse and supreme dance music from jarradcleofé; a live experimental drone performance by silo homes
Yesterday marked two years since the first day of shelter in place in the San Francisco Bay Area. And while the human toll of the pandemic has been incalculable, we have reasons to be hopeful. One, of course, is the speed at which vaccines have been developed and delivered, blunting the danger of contracting the virus. Second, cases and hospitalizations have steadily dropped, though we all know how that story goes.
“This will be our new normal — celebrate when the going is good, be flexible and more austere when less so,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UCSF infectious disease expert.
Yeah, I’m celebrating.
In local live music, last weekend’s highlight was Berkeley producer Kush Arora playing a mystical, dubbed out ambient techno set at the Lab, opening up before Nairobi grindcore duo Duma shook the room with love and terror. The next day, deep in the heart of an unassuming warehouse in West Oakland, Filipino-American guitarist Karl Evangelista led a trio through an hour of wild, noodling free jazz.
And last night? The place to be was Bandcamp’s Record Store & Performance Space in downtown Oakland, which reopened after two years with a free show featuring JOY (smiling ear to ear through a three-song set), Diz (pleading with the hip hop spirits), Jada Imani (who handed the crowd the mic for an impromptu cypher), Michael Sneed (powering through an emotional workout), and Ovrkast (proving that live shows may have shut down during the pandemic, but Oakland rappers never slept).
THAT NEW NEW
Black Fucking Cancer. With a name like that, what more can be said? Well, the Bay Area black metal band has a new album—Procreate Inverse—out today on Sentient Ruin Laboratories, and it’s a fitting time for it. After all, the COVID anniversary mentioned earlier (see opening note) is not a cheerful one: At least six million people have died as a result of the pandemic and many more millions have had their lives upended either through ongoing symptoms of long COVID, the crushing economic effects of widening wealth disparity, or just good old fashioned political stupidity, neglect, and maliciousness.
Early in the pandemic, starry-eyed idealists like myself may have hoped and wished the pandemic would serve as something like an alien invasion, uniting all people across the planet to set aside insignificant differences to fight together against this common scourge. Instead, two years into this thing, we have Russia launching a full-scale invasion in Ukraine, threatening a nuclear world war between superpowers while dozens of other violent struggles, apartheid states, and injustices with less or no press coverage silently go on. And so, what better soundtrack for this dark place and time, than a cynical sting of an album from a band called Black Fucking Cancer?
“Let Me” is the first single from Growth Mindset, the upcoming album by SF producer Baghead. Anyone who rocked the producer’s 2021 full-length instrumental hip hop journey Dedicated to Those Who or Don’t Forget You’re Welcome by the Watershed—two of the best Bay Area hip hop albums of 2021—know this won’t be one to miss. You can catch the producer presenting sounds tonight along DJSAY plus TrayDogg, YERM, Frisco Baby, TYSF, YUNGxEMMY, JaayStayTrue, and Tajín for Friday Night Fights at the Knockout.
Heels and headwraps, candles and blades, sage and champagne. Splitting the spiritual and the street in a holy hip hop anthem, Fillmore rapper Don John Davinci dropped a new single and music video for “Divine Purpose”, produced by Monk HTS. If you haven’t already, also check out their short film Black Privilege, “sharing stories of survival and triumph through one of California’s most legendary neighborhoods.”
Promising to release a new song every two weeks this year, Nevan is joined by fellow Bay Area artist White Dave on “for less”, a poppy hip hop chiller based around a little electric guitar loop and a simple beat.
“While trying to organize a bunch of files a few months back I found this old set from a show with Gabby Wen and Hauras […] and was surprisingly happy with how it held up.” SF artist silo homes released valise, a 20-min experimental drone performance recorded live in 2018 at the Luggage Store—an art gallery in SF right off Market & 6th. A slow, peaceful piece that could work as background music, but just as well deserves your full, undivided attention.
“Frontman Joel Cusumano plays the role of the tongue-in-cheek/ heart-on-the-sleeve troubadour as he weaves through a dozen broken hearted love loren [sic] laments.” Love-lorn? Listen to “Fair Shakes”, the new full-length by four-piece band Sob Stories via Oakland’s Dandy Boy Records. Cusumano, who also plays guitar for Cocktails and Body Double, delivers a dozen short, catchy, jangly rockers guaranteed to get your head bopping.
Drum and bass. No, not that one. Talking about an actual drum kit and electric bass. Do we really need anything else? Guitars, keyboards, synths, violins, whatever, it’s all just icing. But the cake itself is always just drum and bass. Possibly one of the most underlooked in a long, rich legacy of drum and bass duos—Lightning Bolt, Om, godheadSilo, etc.—and emerging from the dense fog of the SF-Daly City border, Spurs just released six-track EP Sequel. It’s heavy, rocking, and never takes itself too seriously. (Full disclosure: I play with these guys in their other band, Hafner.)
“A view to what may have come.” Seen/Unseen is a 50-song, 3.5-hour compilation by Sweet Trip, an indie electronic and shoegaze group that has been making music in SF since 1993. Made up of both rough demos and polished-but-previously-unreleased tracks, the album traverses sweet pop sensibility, psychedelic IDM, and grungy twee, presenting both a portrait of Sweet Trip’s past as well as possible directions as to where their sound might have headed in the future.
Set to appear on the deluxe version of their debut EP i hope u see this, “Inhibitions” is the newest single from Bay Area R&B artist thuy (pronounced “twee”). A collaboration with Filipino-American rapper P-Lo (HBK Gang), the sweet poolside-ready banger is giving everyone Ariana Grande vibes, perfect for the longer, warm days ahead.
“Hundred thousand on me cash, I'm in Oakland buyin' chicken.” Yup, 22nd Jim (fka Offset Jim) is back with Baby Money and BabyTron on the single “Ocean Blue Tints”, another dark and dirty dip through American cities, from the Bay to Detroit to New York. Turn it up.
“This album’s been two years in the making, and you can expect genres spanning techno, ambient, downtempo, progressive type stuff. So yeah, you’re in for a treat.” Released last month, self soothe is a new album fully produced, mastered, and released by SF artist jarradcleofé. As promised in its intro track, the tracks explore a variety of dance worlds, including acid-infused two-step on “some space,” uptempo techno hype on “after the show,” and even a tiptoe into drilling hardcore on “got u by my side.” Thank you DJ Cira for the tip!
“I’m 57 years old, and I’ve been here all the time. It may be a little arrogant of me to say this, and I really mean it on a humble level: Whatever it is that’s happening now could have just as well have happened a long time ago.”
So said SF saxophonist Joe Henderson in an early 1990s interview in response to a Grammy win, major venue headlining gigs, and more than 200,000 copies sold of his album Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn. While the musician had been playing small clubs for decades, had released recordings on storied jazz label Blue Note, and was highly regarded in jazz circles for his post-bop performances and compositions, he finally captured wider attention with an album that focused on the music of Duke Ellington’s chief collaborator Billy Strayhorn. Last month, the album turned 30 years old, so it’s a great time to revisit it. Read the full story on Datebook.