PRINT December 2017

Music: Best of 2017

Adam Bainbridge

1 SAMPHA, PROCESS (Young Turks) This and Kelela’s Take Me Apart tie as the albums of the year for me. Sampha’s feels so close—the proximity to the listener can be startling at times. Kahlil Joseph’s eponymous companion film, shot mainly in London and Freetown, Sierra Leone, is enjoyably ambiguous. It’s rewarding to see intensely personal music partnered with lush filmmaking such as this. Here’s hoping more artists will be able to find the funding to make similarly ambitious work.

Kahlil Joseph and Sampha, Process, 2017, 35 mm and 2Km video, color, sound, 37 minutes.

2 SOLANGE (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, May 18) Every time A Seat at the Table is performed live, it grows even more visionary and intricate. This staging at the Guggenheim, titled An Ode To, was replete with a huge mobile brass section and an enormous team of dancers. The audience was visibly moved by the intensity and scale of the performance. There will be few comparable live shows in the museum’s spiral.

Solange Knowles, An Ode To, 2017. Performance view, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, May 18, 2017. Photo: Stacy

3 ALISHA CHINAI AND VIJAY BENEDICT, “ZINDAGI MERI DANCE DANCE” (T-Series) A Norwegian DJ (Olefonken) remixes a Bollywood song from 1987, posts it to SoundCloud, and somehow it ends up back in Bollywood in 2017 as the main theme of Daddy, Ashim Ahluwalia’s biopic of Mumbai crime boss Arun Gawli. It’s a really good remix, but I’m particularly fascinated by the journey the song took around the world—only to return to its point of origin thirty years later.

Ashim Ahluwalia, Daddy, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 123 minutes. Asha Gawli (Aishwarya Rajesh).

4 KELELA, “ALTADENA” (Warp) Generous softness and Jackson family–inspired harmonies make this my favorite track from the stunning Take Me Apart—a record that should be performed and received in sweatboxes and concert halls alike. There need to be at least a couple of orchestral shows in 2018!

Still from Kelela’s 2017 video LMK, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang. Kelela.

5 PAPI JUICE (Various venues, New York) This New York party is one of my favorite communal spaces. Not only does QTPoC solidarity exist, it’s beautifully dressed and has incredible taste in music.

“It’s Okay Squirrel” party hosted by Papi Juice, Baby’s All Right, New York, June 24, 2017. Photo: Cristobal Guerra Naranjo.

6 “FORBIDDEN COLOURS: RYUICHI SAKAMOTO AT THE MOVIES” (Quad Cinema, New York, May 12–15) This year saw the release of Sakamoto’s sixteenth solo album, async, and his return to health after a battle with oropharyngeal cancer. Quad Cinema showed a selection of films for which Sakamoto composed music; he was in attendance for Q&As after the screenings. His talk following Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) was touching, insightful, and funny.

7 SHELTER ANNIVERSARY PART 1 (Output, New York, March 19) Timmy Regisford is still doing incredible things with soulful house music. Caron Wheeler and Jazzie B of Soul II Soul and a string quartet joined him onstage for this party, which was held on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the opening of Manhattan’s legendary Club Shelter. Felt so good to enjoy this music with dancers who’ve been dancing to house since its inception.

8 MANARA BOILER ROOM SET (Bloc., London, September 5) Mashallah! Manara’s blends are outrageous! The remix of Wiley’s 2003 track “Igloo” that was featured in this set is infamous in London—watch the full thing online for grime, Bollywood songs, and bashment mixed effortlessly. The best British DJ out there.

9 THE LAST BASEMENT BHANGRA (Central Park SummerStage, New York, August 6) DJ Rekha ran Basement Bhangra at S.O.B.’s in downtown New York for twenty years, winding up the party this past August. At a moment when queer brown spaces are happily flourishing, it’s worth recognizing the originators and innovators who created the foundations that we build on today.

10 ARTHUR RUSSELL PAPERS (New York Public Library for the Performing Arts) For all those with a New York City library card and an afternoon to spare, this collection provides an eerily intimate glimpse into the mind of a genius, gone before his time. It is an incredible record of Russell’s creative process and life. Can’t wait for the audio transfers of the archive’s cassettes, VHS tapes, and other materials to become available in the not-too-distant future.

Adam Bainbridge (AKA Kindness) is a British-Asian musician, producer, and radio host. Their most recent production work was on Solange's Grammy award–winning A Seat at The Table. They have a monthly show on Red Bull radio, which has featured guests including Asma Maroof, Honey Dijon, Scraaatch, and Fatima al Qadiri, among others. They live and work in New York.