Elza Soares, who died Jan. 20 at 91, spent her 60-year-career at the vanguard of Brazilian music. The singer’s 1960 debut, Se Acaso Você Chegasse, is so confident it’s almost unsettling, and the records she made in her 80s, starting with 2015′s A Mulher do Fim do Mundo, found her absorbing sounds from the Brazilian underground and reinventing herself as a sort of elder arch-punk. Some of her final performances were delivered from a throne, and she deserved no less.
Shinichi Atobe put out one brilliant EP in 2001, disappeared for more than a decade, and since 2014 has released nearly an album a year of eerie, crudely assembled, corroded, and hauntingly beautiful electronic music. Love of Plastic is his most accessible album yet, leaning toward the pianos and pistoning chords of early Chicago house music. It’s also his best-sounding work by miles; while his earlier music felt thrown together by the elements, this stuff was produced.
Portland producer Whysopod is releasing a beat tape every day this month, each named for the date, and most of them over in a few minutes. Whysopod’s rugged style is less “chill beats” and more akin to pre-algorithm tapes like Metal Fingers’ Special Herbs—all right angles and nuts and bolts. And by releasing them in three- or four-track packages, there’s no way to just put them on in the background and vibe into oblivion. You have to pay attention.
Jake Muir brings a squishy tactility to his ambient music, and his new album Mana is his spongiest and spermiest release yet, slithering right up the listener’s ear like a tongue. Muir sampled pieces from the short-lived NYC “illbient” scene of the ‘90s, and while Mana has little to do with illbient’s fusion of hip-hop and zero-gravity atmosphere, it does have a peculiar rhythm of its own, always fiercely present, prodding and poking the listener rather than simply floating in the distance.