Unleash your inner synth wizard at Gray Area's monthly Synth Sessions
Spell-binding indie ballads from Kathryn Mohr; post-punk majesty by FOG LAMP; plus more from Royal Oakie, Toro y Moi, Chrissy, Ripped to Shreds, and Shutups
Do you love the sounds of synths? Do you sometimes wish you could… touch one?
Allow me to introduce you to a monthly event called Synth Sessions. Hosted at Gray Area along with ZERO1 and Crowbar Corner, this free, small-group session gives anyone and everyone a chance to play with oscillators, effects modules, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, and beyond! I attended the latest session this past Thursday and had a blast twiddling knobs, exploring patches, and making a ton of noise with a bunch of beautiful strangers. Admittedly, the session was a bit chaotic, so it’s nice to have at least some basic knowledge of synths before attending. But even if you know nothing, instructors are on hand to guide you through the fundamentals.
Possibly even more amazing? The Grand Creative Resource Library. A collaborative resource offered by the same groups mentioned above, this is literally a synth library, lending out modular synths, computers, and other electronic music making devices to the general public. Tell a friend.
SPELL-BINDING INDIE BALLADS
“I feel like I stumbled upon this song somewhere in my mind, like finding something to cherish on a littered shoreline… Lost media, analog artifacts, forgotten things by the bay, memories just out reach.”
Cast in sepia mystique, Kathryn Mohr’s sophomore album Holly explores a yearning that steeps into forgotten crevices of the mind, increasing in potency long after the first listen. Understated with just a touch of the avant-garde, Mohr nestles instrumental, time-defying vignettes of both whimsical melodies and field recordings within spell-binding indie ballads, reflecting on loss, memory, and other things intangible and precious. Poignant and captivating.
— Elise Mills
TIMELESS DARK SYNTH ANTHEMS
Enjoy the pleasantly discordant, industrial, post-punk energy of Conversation?, brought to you by FOG LAMP on SF-based Willow House Records. Packed with timeless dark synth anthems one after another, the seasoned goth as well as newly-initiated heads will be pleased to hear the call of familiar motifs from olden days, a nostalgia that’s been successfully resurrected in 2022 (and with even better production). With this album, FOG LAMP showcases that the majesty of post-punk is far from dead and absolutely welcome.
— Elise Mills
CROWN OF CALIFORNIA SOUL
Oakland-based Royal Oakie Records is celebrating 10 years of California soul with an anniversary compilation, featuring Oliver Ray, Patti Smith, Shadowgraphs, Kelly McFarling, Whiskerman, Michael James Tapscott, Jeff Moller, Sugar Candy Mountain, and many more artists local and afar. As the label has done since its founding by producer David Glasebrook, the comp is country and folk-forward, while allowing the artists to stretch out and explore their own tastes. They just last week released Credit Electric’s out of love and into the shadow, uniting rustic folk with a panoply of post-modern pop sounds. Pick up a limited edition cassette of the comp on Bandcamp and then check out the 10th Anniversary Festival at the Balboa Theater in SF this Sunday.
— Ronny Kerr
“Condition” by Nosaj Thing ft. Toro y Moi
electronic, hip hop, Los Angeles, Oakland
Dreams by Chrissy
electronic, dance, deep house, San Francisco
Sisyphus Happy by M. Lockwood Porter
americana, country, rock, Oakland
劇變 (Jubian) by Ripped to Shreds was featured as Bandcamp’s Album of the Day. Colin Williams writes: “A hell-raising death metal LP. It’s musically ambitious, splitting the difference between thrash-paced ferocity and soaring melodic guitar work. Beyond this record’s raw power, however, Ripped to Shreds uses these 33 minutes to examine history, identity, and the Chinese diaspora’s relationship with America. Masterminded as ever by Bay Area polymath Andrew Lee, 劇變 (Jubian) takes Ripped to Shreds’ sound beyond its previous parameters.”
death metal, grindcore, San Jose
indie, punk, rock, Oakland
Our top show recommendations for the coming week:
[experimental] ONO: Sacred Rights for the Godless — Oct 21-22 at the Lab
[rock] Music City Songwriters Festival — Oct 22 on Polk St at Bush/Sutter
[beats] Produce Aisle: Beats, Loops, Scratches — Oct 22 at Mission Synths
[hip hop] Grand-O (album release), Ozer, Dave Steezy — Oct 22 at District Six
[hip hop] Andre Nickatina Reimagined by Symphony — Oct 22 at Herbst Theatre
[indie] ONIKHO x tsktsk — Oct 22 at Warehouse416
[club] Boiler Room ft. DJ Chaotic Ugly, Farsight, Kingdom, Kreayshawn, Lil Ze, Lobsta B, Murderclub, RP Boo, Tall CEO, Technopagan — Oct 22 at Club Six
[latin] La Doña, Kawayan Folk Arts, Simorgh Dance Collective, Ensamble Folklórico Colibrí, and Grupo Puyakan — Oct 23 at Levitt Pavilion San Jose
[indie] Royal Oakie 10th Anniversary Show ft. Whiskerman, Sandy’s, Tan Cologne, Michael James Tapscott, Natural Bridges, Go By Ocean — Oct 23 at Balboa Theater
[rock] Chameleon, Vision Video, TREASVRE — Oct 24 at Bottom of the Hill
[rock] Kelley Stoltz, The Mommyheads, Oh Baby — Oct 27 at the Chapel
[club] Luke Vibert, Posthuman, Tyrel Williams, Little John, RITCHRD — Oct 27 at Public Works