Louis Cole, “I'm Tight” (Brainfeeder)

In the lineage of 21st-century white soul singer/producers such as Jamie Lidell and Jeremy Ellis, Louis Cole has earned respect from the coterie of musicians orbiting LA stars Flying Lotus and Thundercat; hence his appearance on the former's Brainfeeder label. Like those fellow quasi-geeky Caucasians, Cole can flex a feisty falsetto to tenderize a ballad or toughen up the cords for coiled funkfests. On top of all this, Cole is a drummer with legit jazz and funk chops.

Cole's 2018 album, Time, exhibited his exquisite songwriting, arranging, and instrumental skills. There's a slickness in the sounds that could make Cole's winsome songs appeal to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson fans, but Cole's chords carry more complexity and richness than those popular artists'.

The new 20-track Quality Over Opinion features contributions from Cole's main collaborator, Genevieve Artadi, saxophonist Sam Gendel, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and others. Cole cites Miles Davis, György Ligeti, Gustav Mahler, Meshuggah, and, uh, Super Mario Kart as reference points. Those disparate influences coalesce into a quirky party platter, with plenty of effervescent bangers that make fall feel like summer.

“Dead Inside Shuffle” belies its bummer title with incredibly springy-legged funk and enough positivity to match the wattage of Stevie Wonder's smile. “Not Needed Anymore” also subverts its negative title; it's a zippy acoustic-guitar-laced ditty with a stomping beat that almost scans as emo. The Gendel-assisted “Bitches” rambles with madly complex beats and heavy, intricate bass synth riffs, like a West Coast take on Squarepusher. The nuttily jittery “Failing in a Cool Way” is a rare specimen of song-based techno. A pattern of down lyrics and up music courses throughout Quality.

The album's longest song, “I'm Tight” boasts some of the fattest beats you may ever hear, a bass line that nags you into glorious submission, and creamy falsetto and backing vox that contrast well with the gripping sexual tension generated by the instruments. I hear a club smash... that will lead to a lot of smashing. Cole's balancing act between cheesiness and filthiness is next level.

Louis Cole performs Sat Oct 22 at Town Hall as part of Earshot Jazz Festival.

Domenica Diavoleria, “Celluloid” (Obscure & Terrible)

Heretofore, Domenica Diavoleria (aka Domenica Clark) was best known around the region as a DJ with Hollow Earth Radio, co-hosting the show “The Buoy and the Bellow,” and for DJ stints at KAOS 89.3 in Olympia. She's also helped to organize events such as Magma Fest, the Olympia Experimental Music Festival, and Ladyfest 2005. For a short time in 2015, she co-ran a DJ night called Gentlemen Take Polaroids, which focused on melodramatic, elegant pop music. 

When the pandemic hit, Clark—now back in Olympia—put the abundant downtime to good use, creating minimal ambient music of great desolation and eeriness. For someone who entered the music-creation world relatively late in the game, Clark has proved to be extremely adept at forging evocative atmospheres and compelling dynamics within an ambient framework. The excellent Archipelago and the night is my world EPs make UK TikTok phenomenon the Caretaker sound a bit bombastic, so surreptitious are their haunting charms.

Her newest recording, Forever Your Salesgirl (released on cassette October 28 via local indie label Obscure & Terrible), continues Clark's journey into the heart of chilling chillness and riveting stillness. An alternate title for the album could be Music for Abandoned Malls—perhaps an unintentional threnody for failed capitalistic ventures, or a subdued celebration of the same.

Whatever the case, the depopulated sonic vistas on Forever Your Salesgirl captivate with a few rigorously chosen elements: aquatic and foghorn-y drones; gentle, metallic percussive accents; smudged, tender melodies wafting in the distance. “Celluloid” stealthily whirs into earshot and emits an aural sea spray that's positively invigorating amid the album's pervasive, interiorized moods. The drones on “Celluloid” swell and sparkle into what sounds like a muted signifier for hope. Given the current state of the world, that's about as much as we deserve right now.