Kompys2000 is a mystery, a connoisseur, a shrewd cookie, and an always-welcome voice of reason.
Welcome to their Digbox!
As is custom for this series, list is, in fact, digs. No real theme or throughline, I don’t have the mental capacity to get cute about it right now. Tried to cover a good variety of sounds and styles so hopefully there’s something here for everyone. Also tried to keep things at least nominally “obscure”, if for no other reason than because I spend quite enough time already writing about music everyone has heard a million times. Here we go!
[“Digbox” – reimagined by SandwichBubble, 2021]
#1: Car Seat Headrest- Hey, Space Cadet (Beast Monster Thing in Space)
At this point, it seems your Dream Ons and November Rains and Champagne Supernovas are destined to become relics of a time when the music industry was willing to pour a lot more money and/or cocaine into guitar music… but that doesn’t mean there’s no one still trying. “Hey, Space Cadet” is a stadium-rock anthem for an era where bands have to record albums in their bedrooms and most of the fans will only ever hear those albums in their bedrooms. It’s a climactic, adrenaline-fueled victory lap squeezed into the confines of a shabby studio apartment, and it is glorious. As it turns out, a songwriter as erudite and discursive as Will Toledo can be just as convincing when he’s delivering rousing broad strokes like “it’s time to show them what you can do / what can you do, man, what can you do?”, and that outro section rocks out with a wild abandon that I never expected from this band, or frankly any of their contemporaries either. Who knows, maybe rock isn’t dead.
#2: Hannah Peel- Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula
Hannah Peel sits at the intersection of modern classical and progressive electronic music, and to me, her music’s appeal lies less in any kind of novel addition to the conventions of either genre, and more in the way that she uses each genre to approach the conventions of the other from interesting angles. Peel crafts “Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula” with a deliberate eye towards the studio; where most orchestral recordings aim only to capture the instruments accurately and without interference, the mix here feels markedly more robust and complete, the work of a genuine producer. The track patiently unfolds into exaltive fanfares the way a classic James Horner theme might, but underneath the triumphant horns lies only layers of buzzing modular synths, and the occasional vocal accent. The overall effect is that of a scaled-down grandeur, the viewing of a cinematic journey into the cosmos through a very personal and intimate lens.
#3: Open Mike Eagle- Sweatpants Spiderman
As “The Pandemic” begins moving from the present to the past tense, I could hardly have picked a better time to dive into Open Mike Eagle’s excellent album Anime, Trauma and Divorce, which is largely about the long, painful process of picking oneself back up and assessing the damage after a turbulent time in one’s life. “Sweatpants Spiderman”, one of the obvious standout cuts, is perfectly relatable exactly because of how unglamorous and mundane it is. I think a lot of us have recently been finding ourselves on the tail end of an extended period of crisis, and as the dust settles we realize we’re a little fatter and a little scruffier and a little older than we were before. The road back to our best selves is going to sound a lot like this song: those first few embarrassingly lame workout sessions, those first awkward attempts to restore a sense of normalcy. If we’re lucky, we might even be able to pick up a couple of old creature comforts along the way. Tattoos, haircuts, gold chains, anime.
#4: Bent Knee- Battle Creek
Okay so I’m actually writing this a few days after I wrote all these other blurbs, and in the interim I had to move a new couch into my apartment… and massively injured my wrist in the process! So, given that I can now barely type, I’ll keep this short ‘n’ sweet: “Battle Creek” is vocalist Courtney Swain’s finest hour on an album packed full of moments that outshine the finest hours of almost every other singer working today. Sure, she unleashes some of the most unhinged belting you’ll ever hear on a tune this pretty, but what brings it home is the contrast between the apocalyptic power of the chorus and the tenderness she brings to the more subdued verses. Here, Swain captures both the rage and the stunned sadness being confronted with the horror of war can bring out in someone, and her bandmates back it up with a fitting sense of drama.
#5: Nightmares on Wax- Les Nuits
Making good electronic music is a lot like cooking. You need fresh, high-quality ingredients, sure, but the real key is combining those ingredients in a way that brings out the unique and vibrant flavor in each one, using your palate and expertise to mix it all into something harmonious and cohesive. The ingredients in “Les Nuits” are all great in their own right- that lush string section that opens the track, the playful organ, the crisp boom-bap percussion- but the real brilliance of the track is how beautifully all these elements intertwine and complement each other. The strings give the beat a more retro feel almost reminiscent of philly soul, the organ leads offer a jazzier counterpoint to the more straightforward funk bassline, and the wordless cooing vocals provide a sultry edge that rounds out the effortlessly cool, nocturnal vibe of the track. The result is downtempo that’s both relaxing and heady, a laid-back mood-setter with enough shades of complexity to feel like so much more than just empty calories. Is anyone else getting hungry?
#6: Pelt- Pearls from the River
Given my actual musical diet as of late, it would be inexcusable to not put at least one hulking slab of raw as fuck drone on here, and this 20-minute aural exorcism is as good a candidate as anything else of this stripe I’ve been jamming lately. If you’re sick of the same old washes of synths and delay pedal-drenched guitar in your drone music, then this one’s for you. You might think it would take more than just a 12-string guitar, a double bass, and an indian esraj to make such a beautiful cacophony, but such is the sheer virtuosity and creativity of this criminally underappreciated trio. Although the late, great Jack Rose’s nimble and expressive fingerpicking is the clear-cut star of the show here (any Kottke or Fahey fans out there? Meet your new favorite guitarist), lately I’ve found myself just as entranced by the sheer loving detail with which Patrick Best’s bowed contrabass is rendered; it might legitimately be the best the instrument has ever sounded on record. Get a nice pair of headphones, crank this up to full volume, and let yourself be carried away.
Thank you Kompys2000 for your digs and tunes and musings! Cannot wait to peruse!
Please volunteer your Digbox! Keep the dig going! Hit me up with 3-9 blurbs, Spotify links, and an introduction paragraph at your convenience.