Hey, hi, hello 👋
Welcome to a special rainy day edition of Attack & Flux! In the last week I've seen more rain in LA than I've seen in the last four years combined. Naturally it has contributed to a lot of tenderly-paced days inside watching films, reading side by side with my wife, Liza (lots of pausing to read each other our favorite passages), and of course, lots of writing. I recently got a typewriter and have been spending a lot of time glued in front of it while I feverishly whack away, spilling my stream of consciousness out before me. The following piece is from an early morning sunrise session. Enjoy!
January 5th, 2023, 6:53 AM
It's incredible how quickly the brain can quiet itself down in the absence of distraction. Your sense of curiosity floods back to you as if a longstanding dam has finally come undone. As the torrent lurches forward, each fold in your gray matter sucks in and siphons its overdue refreshment deep into reserves unseen. You naturally begin to let your eyes linger in places longer, aware that this may be the first time you are actively looking at what's in front of you without having the itch to one-up it with a trip to the digital candy factory.
Cleaning becomes a simple and reliable act of restoration, music returns to being a synesthetic medium instead of taking the nebulous form of environmental ambiance, the colors; the deeper shades that lie between Aqua and Cyan begin to introduce themselves, with names like Cerulean and Spruce. You may wander up to the window on a rainy day, and instead of looking right through it, you can't help but to look at it. You begin to notice the drops beaded on the surface tumbling down the pane like contemporary dancers caught in acts of tension and release. Look closely and you begin to see that within each raindrop lies its own universe, a once assumed crystal-clear dew holds within it debris and color - inhabited by billions of microbes, forever chemicals, and whatever else it absorbs on its journey to becoming ground-water.
Past the window stands the tree, maybe one day you'll learn which type it is, its needles radiate a verdant glow you don't have a name for. I'm afraid this hue only exists on rainy days like this, where the green looks especially radioactive in contrast to its muted surroundings. The once sturdy and weightless spider-webs that twined its expanse now sag as their silk threads become oversaturated with that cold and glistening liquid. Where do spiders go when the rain falls? Do they sense it in advance like birds who fly south for the winter?
Even further out, the avenue glints with its freshly slicked black-top. At this hour, with the air caught between black and blue, and blue and clear, the road can still paint itself with the faint colors of warm street lamps. As the day brightens, those comforting orange reflections will stretch, strain, and spatter until eventually they return into the spectrum from whence they were birthed.
It's a rare rainy day in LA. Soak it up.
Also, if anyone wants to exchange letters please reply with your address and I'll send something your way, let's be pen pals!
I've been sitting on sharing this one with y'all for some time now. At this newsletter's conception I made a short list of songs I knew I absolutely had to recommend for an extended listening session, this was one of the first songs that I eagerly jotted down for this sonic étude. I wouldn't be surprised if this full album made its way into the queue one day, in fact, I heavily debated making this the first edition with a Song To Study off of the week's Album To Live In.
So why do I feel so strongly about this tune?
Some Strange Rain is peculiar. The foundation of the track is built by a droning organ that flickers in the background like a candle burning the very last of its midnight oil, threatening to extinguish with a moments notice. The organ fluctuates gently between ascendent and descendent tones, its arc resembles that of a car traveling lonely country roads at night, rolling quietly in the distance over a hilly expanse. From a far off hill-top you can just track it from the warm incandescent bulbs burning through the deep blue light of the evening's onset. The organ is accompanied by deliciously hypnotic finger picking paired with a see-sawing bass-line. The full image comes together and plays out like a dream laced in thick night, and just when you've gotten accustomed to the the lull, Cotton Jones' front-man, Michael Nau, arrives 2 minutes in and delivers a hopelessly romantic set of lyrics referencing sitting in a park while being drenched under a down-pour, longing for a far off lover.
Honey, when you gonna come back, back?
Tell me when you're gonna come back, back
He appears out of nowhere like a Cheshire cat peeking through the aforementioned thick night, he tugs at your heart strings before playfully dancing back into the black curtain from which he approached. This is a track that I can shamelessly play on repeat for hours. It's a friendly and low stakes entry into a refreshing state of melancholy. You won't drown in sadness here but instead sit in that spot between bitter and sweet - sorry that something has been lost, but happy that it was found at any point. Enjoy.
Further backpacking on the idea of thick nights and black curtains, I find Nick Hakim's Cometa dwells in the same domain that spawned the likes of Cotton Jones' cosmically infused sound. The soundscapes here are mysterious and brooding like the clouded horizon of a great gas giant. Nick's voice drifts out from the haze like a bird of prey emerging from that thick blanket, skimming the surface, dragging his talons beneath him.
Nick Hakim is in a league of his own, he boasts a near perfect discography that could run up against the best of the best. He presents like a Darth D'Angelo, a master of manipulating all the elements of hip-hop, jazz, and funk into a format where he can seance with his ghosts - past and present. If other people sing about their demons, Nick Hakim has perfected the art of singing with his demons. He becomes a musical channel for all the odd shades that inhabit any given human being. These demons escape from time to time in the form of cathartic shrieks, distorted, sometimes dragon-like vocals, and dazzling clashes of instrumentation. Don't be surprised if Nick Hakim jumps the register as if he is compelled by some inner force to reach a point of necessary catharsis. It's almost as if he has to make music, this comes through even more with his live shows where it feels like he goes back to the moment of creation with each performance, eyes rolling back into his head as he searches for a new and novel way to deliver tired lines.
If all of that scares you away, fear not, Cometa is his most approachable and digestible album yet. While other records of his may have dealt in tougher and more challenging subjects, Cometa is a surprising bright spot - you see, Cometa is a love record. It's packed to the brim with tracks that detail the discovery of a love that lifts you out of what you once thought was an insurmountable darkness. Use this one as an introduction to Nick Hakim, who to me, is one of my top 5 artists, dead or alive. Expect a tour of his other projects at some point along our journey together. Enjoy!
👋 Until next time...
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