PRINT December 2018


Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste

Still from Tirzah feat. Colby Sey’s 2018 video Devotion, directed by Akinola Davies Jr.

TIRZAH, DEVOTION (Domino) Devotion is refreshingly tender and an exciting departure from Tirzah’s more club-forward work. Repeat listening reveals the intimate complexities of her understated voice, a perfect pairing for Mica Levi’s restrained production.

Julia Santoli (with Zach Rowden), Siren Sore: burning body of love, 2018. Performance view, Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY, July 13, 2018. Julia Santoli. Photo: Cameron Kelly.

JULIA SANTOLI’S PERFORMANCE OF SIREN SORE: BURNING BODY OF LOVE WITH ZACH ROWDEN (Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY, July 13) Santoli and Rowden really did something special that evening in July. When Santoli dragged a metal ring across Issue’s marble floor, creating otherworldly feedback, my hair stood on end. The frisson of sonic potential between simple objects!

GROWING (Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY, March 28) I’ve followed Growing since 2005. I’ve seen them many times in their various incarnations. But this show stood out. Through sheer amplification, Growing’s drones made Union Pool quake around me until I melted into the architecture and became pure vibration.

MUGGY VOL. 1 (World Music Group) This compilation, released on Dean Blunt’s label World Music Group, feels like a spiritual successor to his pseudonymous Blue Iverson record Hotep (2017). The extremely vibey nine-track mix, which foregrounds the voices of women across numerous sonic traditions, drips with what seem to be Stones Throw’s sound and Blunt’s production, yet no label, producer, or performer is actually credited. I took
this as an intentional gesture: a glorious twenty-two-minute-long dip into the ambient power of voice that emphasized collective anonymity over the glib frame of celebrity. 

Still from Nina’s 2018 video Dead Horse, directed by Nina Cristante.

NINA, “DEAD HORSE” (Self-released) “Dead Horse” is a smart tune with a bitter sense of humor. Nina contorts Staind’s miserable 2001 single “It’s Been Awhile” and adds some distantly catchy vocals to craft a dreamy, grungy jam that’s not exactly comfortable but still bops.

LARRY B, 5 SAD SONGS (Abrons Arts Center, New York, February 2) As I watched Larry B saunter toward the piano, trailed by long, golden locks, I knew something powerful was about to take place. Five songs later, I left in tears.

Serena Jara performing with Discwoman at Warm Up, MoMA PS1, Queens, NY, September 1, 2018. Photo: Ryan Muir.

SERENA JARA WITH DISCWOMAN AT WARM UP (MoMA PS1, Queens, NY, September 1) Jara’s Warm Up set abducted my spirit and dropped it into another body in another space at another time. The combination of the crowd and the summer heat and heavy bass made MoMA PS1’s courtyard feel like one of those basement parties where people are so close together their condensed sweat drips back down on them from the ceiling. A sort of circle of life, really.

Klein, 2018. Photo: Bernice Mulenga.

KLEIN, CC (Self-released) Klein takes her listeners on a wild tour through a constantly expanding collective memory. As dark and wry as her world gets, I remain grounded in her barely there rhythms and implacable yet evocative samples. 

KEPLA & DEFORREST BROWN JR., THE WAGES OF BEING BLACK IS DEATH ]](PTP) TWOBBID gives me visions. Really. It’s intensely optically engaging; an all-in-my-head performance of known knowns and unknown unknowns. Kepla’s collapsing, constantly shifting club music is the ideal companion to Brown’s potent language. Together, they make a mess of the “spoken word” record, which is perfectly fine by me.

10 GDFX, YOUNG OX RESTRAINT (Mondoj)_ Young Ox Restraint is the perfect record for long runs. Its complex, alternating cycles of intensity and relief mirror my physical and mental experiences of endurance running.

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste is an artist, composer, and performer based in New York. In 2018, he received a Bessie Award for Outstanding Music Composition and Sound Design.