Twenty years ago, Boards of Canada put out Geogaddi, a dark, frightening ambient-electronic classic that seems to embody all the dread secrets of the world. The Scots’ abiding interest in cults, numbers stations, UFOs and secret military projects seems to have less to do with fringe paranoia than the understanding that in a world as vast as ours, you can hide just about anything. If you’re ever driving down a highway past big, mysterious radar dishes, put on this album and let your mind inflame with possibilities.
Stranded in the U.S. during the pandemic, young Kenyan artist Nyokabi Kariuki used field recordings and dramatic vocal layering to create an audio impression of her home country. Peace Places: Kenyan Memories is one of the most idyllic-sounding electronic albums in recent memory, calm and peaceful while still brimming with all manner of life. Dialogue in several Kenyan languages washes together with outdoor ambience, the chirping of local fauna and Kariuki’s whimsical melodic sensibilities.
Yeat might be the only white rapper out of Lane County who sounds like he’s never heard A Tribe Called Quest album—or anything before 2020, when Playboi Carti put out Whole Lotta Red. The 21-year-old’s vocal-frying delivery and grayscale beats are drawn directly from that album, though Yeat’s a little less nihilistic and more of a straight-ahead party-starter. His new album 2 Alivë might not change anyone’s mind who claims “hip-hop doesn’t live in Lake Oswego,” but at least he’s having fun with it.
High school culture meets high culture on Teenage Lotano, comprising two pieces by Marina Rosenfeld performed by teenage vocalists on phones—a much-maligned image that Rosenfeld shows remarkable empathy by centering in her work. The title track adapts Ligeti’s Lontano, with the teenagers’ voices distorted and bounced around by a rotating loudspeaker. “Roygbiv&B,” meanwhile, consists of disembodied lines from R&B songs that these kids might sing to each other in high school hallways.