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The other day a woman stopped me to compliment son’s good looks. He’s 18 months old and we were holding hands walking down the sidewalk. I thanked her on his behalf and we began chatting as we walked towards the intersection. As we parted ways, she told me to enjoy this age, and that until he turns seven every moment will be tinged with magic as he absorbs life bit by bit. “It’s all downhill after that,” she said. “What happens after seven?” I asked her. “They become like us,” she said. “Socialized.”
At first I considered this to be some kind of movie moment, wherein I learned the secrets of the universe from a redheaded messenger on a random Saturday afternoon. Appreciate the next few years, because after that life sets in and the color goes out. Good advice, I thought at first. And then I was like, wait a minute, fuck off lady! Learning doesn’t end at seven years old. New experiences never stop. Growing doesn’t stop. Beauty and wonder and impossible depths of feeling don’t stop. Seven years old! Can you imagine how miserable she must be?
While I, like everyone, has had my own share of misery, my life's common thread of joy, as I have written over and over, always with the same unrelenting astonishment and gratitude, is music. If you’re reading this, there’s a solid chance you feel the same way. And so, on the occasion of the 50th* Deep Voices, I was hoping to hear from you readers/listeners about the music you’ve discovered here, the music you’ve loved. Comment here or reply to this email and send me a note with what song, artist, album, genre, etc. Deep Voices has turned you on to. I’ll use your submissions for a future newsletter and playlist, a people’s choice edition. To my readers above the age of seven: I hope you can muster the modicum of enthusiasm it takes to get in touch.
*Technically 51st because I didn’t number the Best of 2020 edition.
I just decided to look up the origin of the sample, in Junky Palms’ song “Ego Death,” of someone saying, “I did DMT three times in one day.” It’s a kind of stupid, kind of charming ramble about how psychedelic trips make you realize you don’t matter that the producer interlaces through the song. It’s a good song without the DMT talk, but that gives it a good sense of lightness, a sense or humor, but also a sense of attempting to engage with the world. It “It doesn’t matter, because you’re just gonna live and die,” the last sample says. True enough. Turns out the speaker is Joe Rogan. Kill me.
One of the coolest pieces of music I’ve stumbled onto in some time is the 30-track album Broken Breaths by Israeli musician Latifa Punk. It’s deeply lo-fi, a scrappy collage of sounds. The whole thing sounds anxious, sometimes excitably, sometimes nervously. The song “Other Side of Time” is loop of a woman laughing tensely over what sounds like a RZA beat. “Jungle” sounds like garbage truck crushing up trash while a woman does vocal warm ups over it. “I’m the Light” is a pensive orchestral moment. “Search,” the song I included here, is the most seductive, with a sitar-like riff undergirded by a wonky drum loop and eventually accompanied by some tinkly sounds. Doesn’t get any weirder and, obviously therefore, better.
I’ve waited 50 editions of this newsletter to include “Magwaza,” this week’s closer, a transportive jazz track from 1978 by South African jazz bassist Johnny Dyani, that features (impressively tall) Danish saxophonist John Tchicai and South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, as well as a few Brazilian musicians who lend the song vocals, bells, and an acoustic guitar. There are a few moments of free jazz honking, but the melody, for the most part, is gloriously serpentine. Dyani’s bass is bulbous and ecstatic. Towards the end, someone blows a whistle. The drummer, a relatively unknown Luiz Carlos “Chuim” De Siqueira, starts showing off with some flair, and then the singing starts. The vocals, a brief chant, sound like they were recorded from a different room than the rest of the instruments, like someone passing by simply couldn’t stop themselves from joining in. There are yips of passion. The song fades out, probably because it never really ends. What really is there to say about a perfect song? Listen, I suppose.