Hidden Gems I: Scott Zanassi collects some of the finest recent music you likely haven’t heard

One of the best aspects of listening to seldom heard music is sharing with friends, and, as fellow lovers of great tunes, I consider all of you my friends.

Hopefully, there’s a little bit of something here for everyone to enjoy.

Click on the links to get a little listen, and remember, please support our musicians who haven’t hit the mainstream yet, the artists who make music solely out of a passion for creating.

Nikolay Kozlov – 20 Segment

It’s like a combination of DMT and salvia. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but I can’t stop listening. Imagine the salvia spirit and the machine elves tried to bake a chocolate cake but included fish heads in the recipe for some unknown reason. This is definitely an acquired taste and I love it. It’s robotic on the surface, but with a creamy, organic center, like a Cadbury Creme Egg dipped in molten aluminum and cooled, but not the Creme Eggs of today, I’m talking about the original recipe from decades ago. Sorry kiddies, they were just better back in the olden times; they taste like shit nowadays. This music though, it’s as if the composer has set a heart arrhythmia to music. If you’re ready and open to it, it’s an amazingly textured and oddly groovy experience.

Floog – Toolmeric EP

This is such a fabulous little tech house EP. Dirty, grimy, greasy bass lines and hard techno beats are submerged under beautiful synth washes and other sounds from the outer region of the solar system. Listening to this, I just can’t help letting the beat move and control me. It’s a hypnotic trip for sure. I started listening to it and just got totally lost. 29 minutes later when it finished, I realized I didn’t remember anything at all. It’s the kind of music that takes over your brain and controls important aspects of your consciousness. If certain government agencies had complete control over us, this music would be made illegal, schedule 1 type music in the USA. This music has a high potential for abuse and offers no currently accepted medical benefits. Listen at your own risk. 

Purchase Toolmeric EP here.

Paradise Cinema – Paradise Cinema

African instruments and tribal beats pounding through my headphones that give way to ambient textures and jazz really make this one stand out. This is one of those albums that you can listen to and know that future miraculous things await us from Jack Wyllie of Portico Quartet and Szun Waves fame. This is God tier music and should be on numerous best-of 2020 lists all over the western world. 2020 might go down in history as the year everything got really messed up, but Jack Wyllie and his Paradise Cinema project has given me a little glimmer of hope of better things to come. It’s the truth that the worse the world gets, the better the music gets. Don’t ask me why because I’m not a smart man and I wouldn’t be able to tell you anyway, but it’s a legit fact. 

Minuit Machine – Don’t Run from the Fire

Whoa man this EP is full-on 80’s-90’s EBM techno/industrial goodness. For someone who grew up listening to Front 242 and the like, this is pure nostalgia. This stuff hits like a sledgehammer and my only gripe is that it’s over in a mere 20 minutes. I’ve never considered myself a masochist, but being pummeled by this beautiful and near borderline viciousness is all I want right now. It’s dangerous and sexual, and simultaneously tender as a butterfly. There’s an urgency in the music that can only be quenched by physical means. Dance it into dust; schtup it into submission. Whatever you choose, the only way to expel this energy is to move your body to the pounding rhythms.

Dengue Dengue Dengue! – Fiebre

I honestly can say that I’ve never felt anything like this before. This is primal and aboriginal. This music taps into ancient memories from the collective unconscious. These sounds originate from a time before civilization, before Christ stories, before the discovery of fire. It’s very unsettling because of the fact that as I’m listening, I’m thinking to myself “yeah I remember now, I remember this time,” like I was fully alive during prehistory. The music sounds, I don’t know, African? The beats and the instrumentation are from far away places, but like I said, it’s all too familiar, as familiar as the street I live on. What sort of voodoo magick is this? I’m totally under its spell by the time “Honduras” begins. I’m in the ceremony and the ceremony is in me. There is a oneness and a kinship I experience with this strange music as I feel the regression into past lives. I don’t even know if I’m human anymore at this point but I don’t even care.

I:Cube – Cubo Live Sessions Volume 1

Another dark and heavy club banger that needs to be heard. Personally, I haven’t really listened to as much techno/house as I’d like to, but this brings me right back. This music is sure to get your lazy asses off your couches and get moving. Since Covid messed everything up, this is the next best thing to actually being there. Here in the U.S. everything is still pretty much closed. I haven’t even been able to see a movie at a theater in months. Things are slowly opening up here, but who knows when live music that packs the floor with sweaty grooving bodies will happen again. I’m feeling the need to go back in time or at least phone a friend and complain, “hey bud, remember the good old days back in January?” Covid be damned, we need our live music back. We need I:Cube doing his thing again, especially here in California.

Earl Grey – French Exit

Once in a while I’m in the mood for some good drum and bass to really rattle my noodle. There’s something about those fast breakbeats that just untie all the stress inside my mind like an enchanted elixir. Earl Grey really has the magic touch and with this EP he just nails it. The music he layers on top of those beats is juicy and sweet like tangerine lemonade. Those soothing synth sounds accompanied by the chaos of the syncopated beats shouldn’t feel this good, but for some crazy reason it feels like going home. I can’t even pick a favorite track from this 31 minute offering, every song is just so right on, it’s really incredible. If I had an unlimited amount of money, I’d give this dude a million bucks so he could hang out and make more music. I need these tunes like I need bánh mì sandwiches regularly.

Sophia Loizou – Untold

This one is a slow burn. From the opening track “Anima” it sizzles and glows like a red hot ember and I’m just dying to break into it with my fireplace poker. Imagine for a minute that you’re asleep in your bed one night and you’re dreaming of wandering down some hauntingly beautiful secret street in Paris, and the rain falls slowly, like a fractal drizzle chopped by the first dawn rays of a new day. The hot fresh baked bread scent from the boulangerie that overtakes your thinking — that’s what this album feels like. It’s exotic yet familiar but utterly bizarre in a way my best dreams make perfect sense but absolutely no sense. This music shouldn’t exist in our reality, but here we are with Sophia Loizou, a human lightning rod channeling angels and devils and conjuring long forgotten spirits in an age when people don’t even believe in anything that their eyes can’t see.

DJ Lostboi – CM Mix

If you’re into ambient music then you must give this one a listen. It’s one long one hour track and it’s just the most beautiful soundscape that I’ve heard in weeks. There’s a feeling of loneliness and longing to these sounds that I find to be overpowering. As I listen to this, I feel sorrow and mourning welling up inside me. Was this the intent of the musician or am I merely projecting my own unconscious thoughts into the music? I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a raging sea that would swallow me completely if I only took one more step toward it. I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat anything, so I’ll just come right out with it. This is a tough listen, it’s almost grueling getting through the hour, but I love every minute of it. Music isn’t always happy and it doesn’t always have to give the listener a warm fuzzy feeling. DJ Lostboi has created a sound so simple yet so cathartic. I’d be a better man if I took one day out of my life and spent every minute of that day listening to this album on repeat.

The Dead C – Unknowns

Holy shit these guys have been around since 1986 and this is the first time I’ve ever listened to them or even heard about them. This album reminds me of really early Sonic Youth if Thurston was about one shot of smack away from certain death. The cacophony is palatable — I can actually taste it in the back of my mouth. These dudes are so loose it feels like things are going to fall apart at any moment, but somehow they keep it all together. One time I read that the Velvet Underground played the kind of music that made every kid who was fortunate enough to listen to them go out and start their own band. This band, this Dead C, whatever the fuck that means, is that kind of band. Every high school and college student who stumbles upon this band is going to go out and gather up some friends and begin playing. I guarantee it.

ASC – Subliminal Flow State

There’s really nothing subliminal about this one besides the name. I feel like I’m being pummeled by a young Mike Tyson who’s out to literally destroy me. If you like your techno sharp like a razor blade that cuts deeply but also feels like a full-on body massage, then this might be something you’ll enjoy. There seems to be a fine line between pain and pleasure, and ASC can do cartwheels back and forth along the tightrope that divides the two. In my opinion, this dude is a genius and deserves all the recognition he can get.

Holy Motors – Horse

This album is about as American as you can get. Don’t mind that the band hails from Estonia. Yeah, I had to look it up too. Estonia is just north of Latvia and south of Finland, but whatever, this is the kind music you can put on while you’re sitting on your back porch watching mosquitoes and moths fry in the bug zapper. I love this album, it reminds me of my youth when I’d listen to early Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star albums. Really a terrific album in every way. It’s lush, slow, deep, and about as American as hot dogs and apple pie. Tonight is election night too, and although this album is a real beauty, it does make me pine for the better earlier days when the United States wasn’t so absolutely bat-shit crazy. Perhaps I’ll check out Estonia and see what it has to offer. I could be completely wrong as to the author of this quote, but I remember it being William Burroughs of Naked Lunch fame, who said that “Americans love to travel, but they tend to find other Americans and complain about how hard it is to find a decent cheese burger.” Hey, Holy Motors, how them cheese burgers in Estonia? I’ve got my passport and I’m on my way.

I hope you found something to dig into! See you next time, folks.