Niko Leopold Quartet-Breakdown of Reality
With a name like Breakdown Of Reality, you might expect the latest album by Austria’s Niko Leopold Quartet to be full of Pharaoh Sanders-style cosmic maelstroms. That isn’t quite the case; the album’s eleven-minute title track is a polished, cosmopolitan take on the classical jazz sound. Passages of clean, tumbling piano playing are bookended by a cinematic, brass-heavy intro and outro, making for an energetic and altogether enjoyable listen. It may not launch you into the outer reaches of the universe, but it’ll have your toes tapping at the very least.
Pearl Tottenham-Halloween Island
Anacortes, WA singer-songwriter Pearl Tottenham likes Halloween because of the pumpkins and because the holiday’s emphasis on scares makes her more comfortable experiencing anxiety. Tottenham expresses this melancholy-tinged affection on the titular track of her new EP, Halloween Island. Over the course of four piano-driven minutes, Tottenham’s wistful trill brings to life dancing ghosts, swooping bats, lit jack-o-lanterns and joints, and the moon’s longing for her wife from the reaches of space. A beautiful way to ring in October, actually got me in the mood for Fall even though it was 90 degrees in Pittsburgh today.
Homeless Oakland Heart Collective-Food Not Drugs
Homelessness is on the rise in Oakland, CA; the number of residents without a home has increased by 47% since 2017 on account of the skyrocketing costs of renting/owning property in the area. Homeless Oakland Heart, due out October 11th on Electric Cowbell Records, finds producer and author Ian Brennan collaborating with Oaklanders who are experiencing homelessness to produce a series of raw field recordings and experimental sound collages. The project, which in lesser hands could run the risk of sounding exploitative, resists easy sentimentality due to the placement of the Oaklanders’ voices front and center, along with some stark truths that many people conveniently forget. “Food Not Drugs,” is simply a snippet of a man repeating the phrase, “They think we want drugs, but we want food,” his voice disconcertingly layered and pitch shifted. It is, and should be, uncomfortable to listen to. Proceeds from Homeless Oakland Heart go to Coalition on Homelessness.