Kanye West Dips a Toe in the Moment, and 10 More New Songs


Anxiety permeates “Wash Us in the Blood,” the first song from a forthcoming Kanye West album, and one that harmonizes some of his various dissonant threads. It’s a “Yeezus”-era take on “Jesus Is King” subject matter that’s lyrically impressionistic, with nods to mass incarceration and other moral concerns. (Even Travis Scott chimes in with some lines about the death penalty). Produced by West with BoogzDaBeast, Ronny J and FnZ, the song is tense, moody, urgent and purposely sloppy at the edges. The video was directed by the artist Arthur Jafa, who used West’s “Ultralight Beam” to soundtrack his devastating short film “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death.” Jafa’s video collage of trauma and exuberance remains effective here, but where “Ultralight Beam” had a swinging, tragic grandeur, “Wash Us in the Blood” feels like a shrieking alarm. JON CARAMANICA

An eccentric, electric jolt of house music that deepens the catalog of Ty Dolla Sign, one of the richest R&B talents of the last decade. “Ego Death” is fleet and free, featuring astral, calm singing from Ty Dolla Sign; tart vocals from FKA twigs; and a frisky verse from West that touches on the fragility of unnamed political movements, the emptiness of the Grammys and voter suppression. CARAMANICA

A kiln-refined take on the elements that vaulted Blackpink to wild acclaim a few years ago, “How You Like That” is punchy and intense, but also tightly controlled. The first single from the K-pop group’s forthcoming debut full length (following various EPs and singles) zigs and zags between melodrama, feistiness, sensuality and abandon, boosted by appealingly springy rapping from Lisa and raw vocal vigor from Rosé. CARAMANICA

“Rose Rouge” is from the coming album “Blue Note Re:imagined,” a collection of younger British musicians remaking songs from the Blue Note catalog. St. Germain’s “Rose Rouge” was already a reworking, full of samples: shivering cymbals from the Dave Brubeck Quartet and vocal phrases from Marlena Shaw’s live version of her protest song “Woman of the Ghetto.” Jorja Smith’s update is both more pensive and more insistent, as she swaps in a crisp hip-hop-tinged beat and brings a bluesy determination to the words she repeats: “I want you to get together/Put your hands together one time.” Her tone dovetails precisely with Samona Olanipekun’s video, a montage of worldwide anti-racism protests — a compelling reason to get together. PARELES

A stew of sounds, from synths to hand drums to spectral backing vocals; grooves that twist together eras and lineages; shrugging, semi-whispered singing — some in English, some in Portuguese — that feels like an indictment, no matter what the words are: The music of Thiago Nassif, a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Rio de Janeiro, has a lot in common with that of Arto Lindsay, the Brazilin-American experimental music idol, who co-produced Nassif’s new album, “Mente.” But like Lindsay’s work in the 1980s and ’90s, there’s a mysterious singularity to the hodgepodge here. It’s music of nowhere and everywhere, disappearance and arrival, the archive becoming the now. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

“Time To Walk Away” harks back, with its craftsmanship blurred, to the mid-1990s sort-of-reggae-pop of acts like Ace of Base, adding a plaintive nostalgia. “I thought we shared a bond we’d never break/Is it time to walk away?” sings Ernest Greene, a.k.a. the songwriter and studio band Washed Out. Every backbeat, vocal harmony, keyboard countermelody and instrumental bridge is in place. PARELES

No one calls a song “America,” and extends it past 12 minutes, without serious intent. Sufjan Stevens, who once inaugurated making an album about every one of the 50 states — a project now sensibly abandoned — previews the Sept. 25 release of his eighth album, “The Ascension,” with the slow, steady, four-chord march of “America.” Its pace is inexorable; its refrain is “Don’t do to me what you did to America.” Instruments, voices and programming all have a part in the track, and a two-minute postscript — that’s a long time — is entirely about resonance and reassurance. PARELES

A brisk jig picked on a banjo is the core of “This Is What You Did,” a song about being trapped in repetitive behavior set to intricate Minimalist repetition. This Is the Kit is led by Kate Stables, an English singer, banjoist and songwriter based in France, and it often steers folky instruments into math-rock patterns. “This Is What You Did” tops her banjo with startling interjections: a hopscotching electric guitar, trilling and discursive saxophones, aggressive bits of drumming, vocal harmonies. Yet all the pieces add up. PARELES

The music of the piano-bass-drums trio Dawn of MIDI is all about repetition and accrual and the haunting, hallucinatory powers of rhythm: Playing acoustic instruments, its three members fold themselves together into patterns that morph and overlap. A similar spirit pervades the work that Qasim Naqvi, the group’s drummer, has recently been doing with modular synthesizers. On Friday he released “Beta,” an EP featuring experiments he recorded with a bare-bones modular synth while working toward what became the excellent 2019 album “Teenages.” He fed simple melodies and rhythms into an oscillator, then listened and responded as the machine turned the phrases into patterns, rich with analog detail and, somehow, the free-flowing feeling of a conversation. RUSSONELLO

Thomas Bartlett, sometimes as Doveman, has been a producer and collaborator across all sorts of rootsy and experimental recordings. “Lucida” is from his first album billed as Thomas Bartlett, and it’s utterly unadorned. It’s a waltz played on piano, recorded during the pandemic lockdown, apparently in real time, not hiding a creaky pedal; it speeds up slightly as live performers do. The melodies, over simple left-hand arpeggios, are pristine, solemn and somehow consoling. PARELES

Art Blakey had a famous saying about jazz: that it “washes away the dust of everyday life.” But what about music that washes itself in the dust and grime of life? Music that sounds abject and cosmic and howling and covered in filth, with no interest in getting clean: What do we call that? For now, let’s just call it by the name that the three guys making it — David Torn on guitar and effects, Tim Berne on saxophone, Ches Smith on drums and electronics — have chosen: Sun of Goldfinger. RUSSONELLO

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