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El Michels Affair mark the start of Yeti Season

A couple years ago I got a chance to see Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century on the big screen—a film first released in 1977 to capitalize on the recent hit King Kong remake starring Jessica Lange—and boy I'm glad I did. An Italian film production shot in Canada and then poorly dubbed into English, Yeti: Got2C tells the familiar story of what happens when boy meets Yeti, grandfather of boy attempts to exploit Yeti as corporate mascot, sister of boy inadvertently seduces Yeti after brushing up against his gigantic nipple, gang of miscreants frame Yeti for murder and get the public to call for his head, Yeti gets fed up and ransacks Toronto, dog belonging to boy saves Yeti from gang of miscreants, boy and dog run across field towards each other in slow motion and meet in final ecstatic embrace. The End.

I'm sharing this absurd movie synopsis not only because the album discussed here also has “Yeti” in its name or because now I know you want to watch it immediately, but also because I bet that if El Michels Affair could go back in time that they would end up happy and well-compensated by writing soundtracks for movies just like this one--tho' not only Yeti-sploitation movies of course but also Spaghetti Westerns and Italo giallo shockers and conspiracy thrillers and Kung-Fu/martial arts movies of course, plus writing music to go with whatever other movie genres and trends are popular at the drive-in at the time. And conversely I could see the 70s Italian Yeti entering the El Michels Affair universe because if you took the super funky opening theme song to Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (called "Yeti" and credited to The Yetians, naturally) and slipped it onto an El Michels Affair album then I think I'd probably be none the wiser and you could even do that with some of the other music from the soundtrack too.

Likewise, if you took the cover image from the 1977 "Yeti" 45-rpm promotional vinyl single (thank you, Internet) which features our hulking hero positioned in such a way that he appears either to be dancing or to be squatting and about to take a Yeti sized dump (the weird almost sheepish expression I dunno) with the words “funky disco sound” superimposed over his hairy crotch (talk about potentially funky in more way than one) all set against the backdrop of a blue-tinted, badly blown-up photograph of the Yeti's ancestral home on a rocky mountain somewhere, and then if you told me this was the cover image to the new EMA album I would totally believe you because the soundtrack song cover image fits so perfectly with the playful cut-and-paste aesthetic of EMA's music plus it's vaguely psychedelic feel (on this new album especially) and equally with EMA's sly sense of humor and the pure kick-assitude of the band's "funky disco sound," so that when you peep the real cover below it's more than a little uncanny how there's a blueish, cartoonish backdrop there too with yellow lettering and how the Yetis are both in a similarly off-center foregrounded position and how in both images it clearly looks like a man in a Yeti suit. The only major difference I see between the two record covers is that the Yeti in the EMA version has a kid in his arms and its the kid who is possibly dancing. 

Really and truly, I'm trying to avoid spreading conspiracy theories in this space about purported connections between this film and this album, but it's not easy when you find so much overwhelming evidence and plus you know how people today love their conspiracies so maybe I should write a book or something.

And sure ok, the band's namesake leader, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels has shared an origin story for the album’s title with another magazine that shall remain nameless and the story doesn't involve Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century. Still, I’m not convinced, because who tells the truth in the pages of the Rolling Stone anyway? But even if Leon Michels isn't a time-traveler in real life I can see why he would call his music "cinematic soul" because there's such a kinship to my ears between the sounds on the album and some of the sounds I've heard not only in Italian film music but also in soundtracks from Bollywood and Nollywood and other global film industries making productions designed to be polyglot, and aimed at multi-lingual and multi-ethnic audiences. So perhaps no mistake that from around the late '60s to maybe the early '80s a good number of these soundtracks pointed the way to a nascent "world music" sensibliity based on globe-spanning eclecticism, but at the same time equally based on a bedrock of melodic hooks and funk grooves and tight arrangements.

And so thank goodness that El Michels Affair is out here in 2021 making cinematic soul soundtracks for these modern times, because I'm not really quite comfortable going back to the movies yet, and EMA's music makes it easy to create movies in your head. Like on the 2020 release Adult Themes which--fair warning, be prepared to take its title literally--provides the listener with a series of sweeping, pulsing musical themes to an imaginary film of the sexy variety, probably quite similar to the movies that would run for months on end in Times Square until Deep Throat came along and got the mafia involved, that could provoke your mind to make some movies that will fully solve the mind-body paradox once and for all. But if that sounds too taxing then I'd recommendYeti Season instead, because to my ears it aspires to a more spiritually-inclined form of elevation that's ideal for creating critical-hit Oscar-bait movies in your head. But just to be clear, the funk is still in effect on Yeti Season. It's just a little more mellow overall and also the funk gets mixed to intriguing effect with everything from a stately overture played by Turkish-American qanun master Tamer Pinarbasi ("Fazed Out") to some exquisite and emotive singing by Piya Malik (Say She She) on four tracks to some strong doses of the Turkish psych pop and folk rock styles that served as one of the musical inspirations to the project according to Michels himself.

So in closing this all makes me think that fake soundtrack music should be more widespread today--not only for the benefit of movie-in-our-heads makers but also for composers because the fake soundtrack is a great concept to inspire stretching out and exploring new sounds and new creative pathways and who knows maybe new career opportunities too. For even if El Michels Affair has a lock on not-faking-the-funk on film right now, it can't last forever. And when it ends, who will write disco funk anthems for future generations and for future sad-eyed Yetis if not you? (Jason Lee)





Stas THEE Boss shares new content

Stas THEE Boss kept impressively busy in 2020 by releasing two impressive EPs, guesting on the most recent single (“Mega Church”) by space-rap commanders Shabazz Palaces, and oh yeah moving from her native Seattle to Brooklyn. Pretty impressive for a year otherwise marked by pestilence, political and social turmoil, soy sauce challenges and toilet paper wars. 

As one half of the now defunct THEESatisfaction—whose legacy includes 2 LPs on Sub Pop and a truly slept on EP called Sandra Bollocks Black Baby—the rapper, producer, beatmaker, and Black Constellation collectivist has continued her explorations across a range of musical territories ranging from breakup albums to instrumental records, but never straying too far from her trademark futurist vibes and polysyllabic rhymes (well, not on the instrumental records) and sharp sense of humor. 

On her first EP of 2020, On the Quarner, Stas THEE Boss gifts the listener with a Miles Davis-referencing tone poem weaving together 12 miniature compositions into one seamless piece of music chock full of blissed out beats and head spinning bars and livestreaming memes and Liquid Swords samples and Earl Sweatshirt song quotations and unsolicited invitations to a blind date at the Cheesecake Factory, and on her second EP, recorded after moving to Brooklyn, the listener is presented with woozy psychedelic-soul grooves and seductive vocals, mostly sung rather than rapped as indicated by its exclamatory title, Sang Stasia! 

While you may expect all this activity to merit a day off come 2021, on New Years Day she posted a new single which I’m going to go ahead and declare the party jam of the year called “Pandemy Stimmy.” Rapping alongside Nappy Nina and over a pared down steel drum and drum machine beat Stas lays out her demands to the new administration: “Joe Biden better run the bag / the cabinet better be black” then goes on to advocate that they “abolish the prisons and feds” plus the “Nazis and Confederates” and who can argue with any of this. And also, who can say romance and politics don’t mix when Stas pulls off “politicking for bread [with] a poly bitch in my bed.”

Even now Stas THEE Boss is still out on the campaign trail—dropping a new track on Bandcamp just the week before last called “Pretty Boy in Spring Colors” which sounds to my ears ready made for On the Quarner 2 (hey, I can dream) and then earlier this week a new video appeared for one of the mini-compositions from Quarner itself called “Penny” featuring Stas as an astronaut floating in space (see video at top of page) or perhaps on a soundstage in St. Petersburg, Russia if its closing credits are on the level. So here’s to wishing Stas THEE Boss safe travels both to and from other spheres and a continued busy 2021 and welcome to Brooklyn... (Jason Lee)

 





IAMGAWD & Custom Made "The Eternal Reflection"

The duo of emcee IAMGAWD and producer Custom Made have released a third single, "Chosen", from their forthcoming album, The Eternal Reflection, which is due out April 2nd. This single, which follows “From Chicago with Hate” (with Philmore Greene and Skooda Chose) and "The Ghost of Cavalier Mitchell", features contributions from Brittney Carter and Oliv Blu.

This album highlights the highs and lows of the inner city Chicago streets. The cover photo of the album is the eleven year old Robert "Yummy" Sandifer who was killed in 1994, and the album explores how little has changed over the last three decades.

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Ric Wilson "Woo Woo Woo"

Ric Wilson has released a new single called "Woo Woo Woo". This is Wilson's fifth single since the release of his 2020 EP "They Call Me Disco". The new single is accompanied by a B-Side called "Everybody Red In The Face" and a fun and innovated A Solo Vision directed video.

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Monobody "Harvester"

Monobody has released the first two single, "Harvester" and "Atala", from their forthcoming album, Comma, which is due out on April 23rd via Sooper Records.

This is the unique blend of Jazz and Math Rock from Al Costis (Bass and Synths), Collin Clauson (Keyboards), Conor Mackey (Guitar and Synths), Nnamdi Ogbonnaya (Drums), and Steve Marek (Bass).

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