What Are You Listening To? is a weekly rundown of what A.V. Club staffers are streaming. Listen to these songs and more on our Spotify playlist, updated weekly with new stuff.
Ross From Friends, “Thank God I’m A Lizard”
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people first gave a listen to Ross From Friends, electronic artist Felix Clary Weatherall’s nom de groupe, for the same reason I did: They saw the name, snorted, and thought, “What’s that gonna sound like?” And hopefully a lot of those same folks were as pleasantly surprised as I was. Evolving beyond his roots as one of the leading lights of the newly resurgent lo-fi scene, his debut album, Family Portrait, employs elements of old-school ’90s ambient house while incorporating everything from Four Tet-style skips to DJ Spooky rhythm workouts. The result is a record that feels almost like a greatest-hits compilation of retro space-techno pleasures—here a gloss on Future Sound Of London, there a jittering syncopation of mid-aughts breakbeat—that nonetheless fit together wonderfully, every track building from the previous and creating a musical journey so rich that it doesn’t even feel hokey to call it a “musical journey.” After a brief intro, leadoff track “Thank God I’m A Lizard” dives deep into the throwback house beats, whispers and light synth waves washing over the entire thing—and that’s all before the saxophone arrives to really elevate the song, with nary an ounce of irony deployed. More house music should feel this personal. [Alex McLevy]
Burial released two of the most absorbing, darkly beautiful electronic records ever in 2006 and 2007, but rather than release a follow-up, he has spent the decade-plus since quietly firing off one- to three-track mini-albums. Rather than fragmented pieces of some never-to-be-completed whole, though, they deserve to be taken as their own, complete statements. I find myself constantly returning and finding new depths to the releases, and have recently become obsessed with the Young Death/Nightmarket split from 2016. The first track is all vinyl crackle and rainy ambience, with the faint memory of a kick drum barely audible underneath it all, but it’s “Nightmarket” that feels like it’s invaded my dreams. It’s tempting to call a track like this “ambient,” but it refuses to fade into the background, its setting of wind chimes and vaguely biological groans fomenting into a trilogy of haunted, water-logged synthesizer arpeggios. And has an ambient track ever had a climax like this? After five minutes, a vocal clip of Ellen Ripley whispering “the frontier” introduces one final melody, as arch as a cathedral and as spectral as the night sky. [Clayton Purdom]