It is the season for dipping your toe into some new music. Summer samplers seem to be popping up everywhere. One that covers almost all bases and never falters on quality is the Asthmatic Kitty Digital Summer Sampler.
Asthmatic Kitty is the home of Sufjan Stevens and My Brightest Diamond. If you are not familiar with their wider catalogue then this is the perfect opportunity to remedy that by immersing yourself in this collection of artists. The beauty of this sampler is that it really does feel like a mix tape; like someone’s summer playlist rather than a clunky collection of new music. The contributions are not artists with approaching releases alone. Instead there are musicians whose last release may have been in the fall of 2012 but that sit beautifully within the mix.
Heraldo Negro’s jarring synth sashay Dance Ghost is a fitting opening. The South Florida resident of Ecuadorian descent has recorded sunshine on this track. If this is warming then Lily & Madeline’s Back to the River, from their debut EP The Weight of the World, will cool you back down again. The purest of vocals are backed by the simple yet rich tones of their alt folk arrangement of this hymnal. Other notable appearances include Fol Chen with tracks 200 Words and I.O.U. shining out. I defer to their bio to summarise: they ‘created their sound from field recordings and an electronic junk drawer, splicing compound beats and sending warped vocal transmissions.’ My kind of folk. Raymond Byron’s Death Shaker is built on the foundations of some very addictive bass notes that scrape as close to the ground as your can go. On top of all of this Asthmatic Kitty have thrown in a couple of Shannon Stephens tracks too. In her hands songwriting is at its most beautiful. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy agrees; a cover by him having led to some collaboration between the two.
The label’s uncompromising taste has given the gift of a summer soundtrack and it’s free! Warning: you will find yourself buying a stack of records after you play this collection.