Flanafi and Salami Rose Joe Lewis release a stunning collaborative album - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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“This is my worst nightmare,” Salami Rose Joe Louis whispers on sarah, her new collaborative album with Philly guitar wizard Flanafi. At times, the record conjures those scary words into stunning soundscapes, creating a searching, purposefully scattered dive into the depths of the artist’s subconscious. It’s an entrancing odyssey of an album, totally confounding yet cohesive in its power. Sarah is the sound of two wildly eccentric and exciting young musicians creating together, fusing an array of sounds and ideas into a beautiful, brutal whole.

Before she was Salami Rose Joe Louis, Lindsay Olsen was a scientist studying the ocean’s chemistry in various labs, using her off hours to tinker on her music from her California home base without real expectations – until friends pushed her to put out her first record, Son of a Sauce!, in 2016. Since then, she’s been signed by Brainfeeder, the Flying Lotus-founded record label also home to genre-bending geniuses like Thundercat and Louis Cole. Olsen’s music remains fueled by her gorgeous singing and spacey, elastic keyboard playing – which has led to collaborations with Hiatus Kaiyote, Toro y Moi, and Alicie Phoebe Lou.

Flanafi is the musical moniker for Philly’s Simon Martinez, a musician of astonishing versatility and inventiveness. You might recognize him from touring with Jazmine Sullivan (check him out backing her in this stunning clip) or showcasing his futuristic sound while backing DJ Jazzy Jeff and Tre Lambert. He’s performed at an impressive number of Key Studio Sessions: Killiam Shakespeare, Khemist, Max Swan, and Good Girl. His original music, (both as Flanafi and the duo Pulgas with Zane Shields) shares a commitment to musical exploration and an aversion to easy labels with Olsen. The usual questions of genre – is this indie, soul, jazz, rock or funk? – are discarded with gleeful abandon for something hypnotic and totally new.

REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT ANYTHING

Sarah’s grandiose first track, “REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT ANYTHING,” begins with a whisper: “I told myself – it was time.” Sweeping synths float amidst Olsen’s auto-tuned vocals, creating something reminiscent of the ultra-current hyper-pop sound but slowed to a psychedelic pace. “AMERICAN MOSS” heads towards even trickier, slightly terrifying territories. Whispery vocals flutter and float through the listeners headphones until everything begins to crumble in a sonic emergency cued by beeps, booming drums, and Martinez’s screams. Then another stunning left turn: a drum n’ bass beat erupts onto the track – but only for a fleeting moment. Drums are a rare occurrence on this album but they make a massive impact when they arrive, courtesy of Nazir Ebo’s crackling snare hits on “MV hallucinations” and Lenny Mobley’s blazing shuffle rhythm on “Gotta find some new friends”. The Philly bassist Tone Whitfield also joins in on “MV hallucinations.” (the local legends Whitfield, Ebo, and Martinez have been backing Olsen during recent live performances).

The whole record is full of this kind of alluring push and pull between pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, joy and heartache. The lyrics are often indecipherable and those that are — “There was confetti and I think I saw a yeti” — provide even more thrilling confusion. Martinez and Olsen are both incredible singer-songwriters but not in any conventional diaristic sense; they are true musical shapeshifters, twin flames in the pursuit of new frontiers.

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