Devotion by Tirzah; Bandcamp Link: Devotion

Number 21 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

You got me on this one.

I must be missing some critical United Kingdom cultural context, ‘cos this just sounds like fairly plain lo-fi electronic pop music. I feel like about a million people are recording music pretty similar to this with garageband or on their phones every day.

It’s not bad, per se, I just can’t detect anything of note in the music, beats, lyrics, or production that would place it in this Top 50 releases of 2018.

#Tirzah #Devotion #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Pylon II

Pylon II by Nordra; Bandcamp Link: Pylon II

Number 20 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Odd, as far as I can tell, this album by Nordra was released in October of 2016, strange that it would be in the wire magazine best of 2018. Maybe it was initially released independently and got picked up by a label ?

Well, I missed it back in 2016, so a pleasure to listen to it in 2019.

Nordra is the project of Seattle musician Monika Khot.

This music was composed to accompany a multimedia performance Pylon II (there was a Pylon and there is now a Pylon III).

The music is pretty fascinating, it dances on the jagged edge, tilting between abstract electronic music, film scores, pop music, and dance music.

It is mostly instrumental, with the odd well placed sample. The self slicing brownie pan commercial provided a bit of levity, though it was playing against another slightly disguised home surveillance advertisement.

Another win for the wire magazine top 50 releases.

#Nordra #PylonII #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Imperial Dragon Well

Yunnan Sourcing Imperial Dragon Well Tea From Hangzhou Long Jing Tea 2018.

I believe I’ve mentioned before, there is a classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas”. There’s a bit of waffling about some of the 4-6 Green Teas usually on the list, but one that is always on, and almost always first, is Long Jing Dragonwell from Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate/fear relationship with Dragon Well tea.

I drank it almost exclusively for several years, accidentally super overdosed one time, and now am a bit nervous about trying it again.

The problem with highly regarded, highly produced, highly desired, and often expensive Chinese teas, is, you run the risk that the producers will use chemicals or you will actually not get what you asked for.

Like the fact that far more Olive Oil is sold as Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil than could possibly be produced in Italy, more tea is sold as “Long Jing Dragonwell” than could possibly be produced in that Chinese province. Most often it is simply green tea from another region made in the style of Dragon Well.

I sort of suspect the tea I had such an adverse reaction to may not have been actual Dragon Well and may have been treated with chemicals.

In any case, that is not this Dragon Well.

You can see the typical flattened spear shape and lighter olive green color.

Brewed well with water this tea expresses a wonderful nutty taste, chestnut is the flavor used to describe what it evokes, but I get a little bit of coconut. It has a rich broth, lingering flavor, and re-steepability beyond what you would expect from a green tea. There is a little bit of tannic sensation in the later steeps, but no bitterness at all.

I brewed it in a Gaiwan, though it is more typical to brew Dragon Well Tea in a pitcher or glass, refilling with water as you go along.

I’m glad I overcame my reluctance and renewed my acquaintance with Dragon Well, one of China’s Top Teas.

#Cha #Tea #DragonWell #YunnanSourcing #DrinkTea #GreenTea


IRISIRI by Eartheater; Bandcamp Link: IRISIRI

Number 19 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

I’d heard a couple of Eartheater, (not to be confused with the Swedish Sludge Metal Band Earth Eater,) songs when random shuffling, so I knew to a certain extent what to expect.

And, frankly, after a few disappointing albums, was really looking forward to something I would enjoy.

Thankfully, I did enjoy IRISIRI.

Eartheater, aka Alexandra Drewchin and associates, has a wonderful voice and an eclectic touch on arrangements and sonic environments. With Dub-like production techniques, the album feels alive, it is constantly changing, with sounds and events moving in and out of processing. I was continually surprised by this album, never knowing quite what was going to come next.

I particularly liked one track, which started with a harp solo and the musical track was slowly invaded by a seemingly unrelated electronic dance beat. It almost felt like you were listening to your friend practice their harp as an all night dance party raged in a nearby loft.

#IRISIRI #Eartheater #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50


Bai Hao Yin Zhen

So, one of the fun things about writing about tea on instagram is that there is a pretty active community of tea drinkers and tea marketers.

As I mentioned before, it’s not that unusual to post about a type of tea and have someone message you and say, “If you liked their Baihaoyinzhen, you need to try my Baihaoyinzhen!” Which is pretty fun.

And that is exactly what happened here.

I had posted about the Yunnan Sourcing (@yunnan_sourcing) Fuding “Bai Hao Yin Zhen” Silver Needles White Tea and another user, @yinxianghuaxiatea, immediately messaged me telling I needed to try their White Tea from Fuding.

I was kind of finishing up with White Tea by this point, but I thought, “Why Not?” Plus, they had some other pretty tempting teas listed on their Instagram Account.

Anyway, if you are looking for a very good Fuding White Tea, you should think about ordering from Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea, as this is about the best White Tea of this type I’ve tried. Amazingly clean taste, great re-steepability, and a length of aftertaste that just won’t quit. Not to mention a nice zippy buzz.

#Baihaoyinzhen #FujianTea #FudingTea #WhiteTea #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea


Daytona by Pusha T.

Number 18 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

First, seven songs at around 3 minutes each, isn’t really an album. It’s maybe half an album, or as we used to call it back in the days of physical media, an EP or Extended Play recording.

The songs are occasionally catchy, among them, “Infared” is actually pretty good, especially the instrumental last 15 seconds or so. The beats, samples, and song environments are nothing super special, at least compared to most of the similar albums on the list so far. One song, “Come Back Baby” is almost half extended samples of a James Timothy Shaw, aka The Mighty Hannibal, song of the same name, which seems pretty lazy to me.

The lyrics are pretty much nothing but someone saying, over and over, “I am a shallow, status obsessed, asshole.”

So many products and brands are name checked, it got me wondering if there was some pay-to-play going on.

#Daytona #PushaT #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50


Age Of

Age Of

Age Of by Oneohtrix Point Never; BleepStore Link: Age Of

Number 15 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Over the years I have tried several times to acquire an appreciation for Oneohtrix Point Never’s work.

Every time he/they release a new work, I think, I should give it another chance. Well known music critics like this music. It must be good.

I put on the new album and within a bar or two, it provokes a near physical revulsion. Like an allergy.

I actually listened to nearly 25 minutes of this new album; jaw clenched, teeth grinding, feeling slightly sick.

From the opening baroque-esque harpsichord tinkles to the early music choir. From the multiplexed and digitally manipulated vocals to the banal lyrics. From the sub-top-40 chord changes to the vomit inducing keyboard and guitar solos.

Aside from some somewhat interesting digital manipulation of these ugly primitives, there is absolutely nothing I liked about this album.

It absolutely made my day worse.

#OneohtrixPointNever #AgeOf #TodaysCommuteSoundtrac


Insula by Proc Fiskal; Bandcamp Link: Insula

Number 14 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Proc Fiskal sorts through the sonic detritus of Scotland in the 21st Century to create a collage of this moment in time. Sounds from Anime, Video Games, Movies, street conversations in Edinburgh, you name it, it goes in the mix. And that part of the album is interesting.

Part of the point of this exercise, that is, listening to all 50 albums in last year’s wire magazine top 50 releases, is to hear music I wouldn’t normally hear.

As I understand it, Proc Fiskal is influenced by the music genre called “grime”, which I am not particularly familiar with. But, as I understand grime, it is/was a sort of atmospheric cross between trip hop, rap, and electronic dance music.

This album is supposed to stretch the boundaries of “grime” to nearly the breaking point.

However, the melodic component of the album shows an unfortunate obsession with quasi-Asian modes that has the reek of dilettante exoticism about it. A bit like the poorly aging “Gentlemen Prefer Polaroids” era Japan, or Ryuichi Sakamoto’s badly conceived album with Robin Scott, “Left Handed Dream”. One song with quasi-Asian modes would have been OK, from the Scottish musician, but to base a whole album around them, is just, after a while, kind of weird.

#ProcFiskal #Insula #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

wu dong bai ye

When I first started writing about tea on instagram, I got a message out of the blue from Chao Zhou Tea Growers, aka @wudongtea, asking if I would like to try some Organic Oolong Tea.

Oolong tea is not particularly common in the US. I had tried a few over the years, but didn’t really know much about it. In fact, I had sort of been avoiding it, as from what I had read, Oolong was basically a whole other world of tea and tea terminology from the basics of White, Green, and Black teas. Many Oolong teas are highly coveted and often quite expensive.

But, how could I refuse some samples? The usual rule with these deals, I come to understand, is, you buy some of their teas, and they send along some small samples of their other teas.

The first batch, I bought 100g of their Honey Orchid Oolong, and they sent along samples of their  Ya Shi Xiang, aka Duck Poop Fragrance varietal tea.

I drank all the Honey Orchid, but really liked their Duck Shit Oolong, so decided to re-up my supply of that with my next order.

The previous bunch of teas and samples they had sent had all been in the “Orchid” family of flavors, so I asked them to send me a couple samples that were different varietals/flavors/fragrances.

This is Spring 2018 Chaozhou Old Bush Wudong Bai Ye Oolong Tea. Bai Ye means “White Leaf”. It is called that because the leaves of the tea varietal used to produce it are lighter in color than most other tea trees.

The flavor of the Bai Ye varietal is most often described as “Peach”, but it is more evocative of Peach Blossom scent than the flavor of ripe peaches.

It has just enough grip in the early steeps to keep it interesting, but it is the length that is crazy. This tea haunted me for days after drinking it.



Stadium by Eli Keszler; Bandcamp Link: Stadium

Number 13 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Eli Keszler is a percussionist, composer, and performer in Oneohtrix Point Never.

The percussion here, while mostly acoustic, is interesting in that the patterns have more in common with those which underlie electronic dance music than they do with “Jazz” or even “Rock” music drumming.

They are super fast and often quite repetitive.

The melodic component tends to be more bent than the percussion, composed of loops which are often processed. I heard a brass instrument, bells, and frequently keyboard washes.

There is an interesting contrast between long tones from the melodic component and the skittering, hyperactive percussion.

Somehow, it hypnotized me, and made me very sleepy. But, minimalism often does that to me.

So, if you’re looking for an interesting, modern, cure for insomnia, Stadium might be just the thing.

#EliKeszler #Stadium #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50