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Chester Raj Anand has always been a precocious creative soul. At the age of six, he discovered music production when his older brother showed him software like ACID and Fruity Loops. That knowledge coalesced with a background in piano, keyboards, and jazz percussion—as well as a fascination with “really raw, scary Aphex Twin” and the “lavish creative energy of the ’90s”—setting Anand on his path to becoming the producer we know as Lord RAJA.
His debut album, A Constant Moth, is that cosmic destination, and has been carved out and personalized with a strong sense of texture, rhythm, and spaciousness. Productions like “Skyre” and “Pistol Refix” put forth heavily smashing beats as the foundation of Lord RAJA’s palace, while opulent dancefloor heaters “Throw Them Out (System)” and “De Lia Lu Lu” build glittering pillars from juke experiments and low-res electroisms, respectively. Warp affiliate Jeremiah Jae graces the atonal thump of “Van Go” with his sharp stanzas, and beatless synth composition “Gottfried Semper” billows in the astral landscape’s warm breeze. As far as we can discern, A Constant Moth is the most eclectic and fully realized depiction of Lord RAJA’s far-off galaxy to date.
San Francisco Bay Area-based power quintet Howlin Rain’s third album The Russian Wilds passionately protests the currently popular notion that heroically conceived and executed rock music is a thing of golden ages passed. Having been formed by bandleader-singer-guitarist Ethan Miller in 2004, as a melodic offshoot of blazing new-psych innovators Comets On Fire, Howlin Rain soon caught the attention of uber-producer Rick Rubin, who signed them to his American Recordings label and involved himself deeply in their subsequent musical evolution thereafter. Rubin worked closely with Ethan for over a year and a half as he shaped and perfected the material being written for The Russian Wilds. Finally, the band entered the studio with producer-engineer Tim Green (The Fucking Champs, Nation of Ulysses), tracking at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, as well as at Trilogy Studios and Hyde Street in San Francisco, recording most of the overdubs at Green’s Louder Studios in SF, where Tim mixed the album with crucial input from Rick.
What awaits you when the needle drops on Dereconstructed, the new album by Lee Bains lll & the Glory Fires? Nothing less than pure fucking heaven, that’s what.
Consider the record’s opener, “The Company Man.” It revs up with a riff sleazy enough to clog Rod Stewart’s stomach pump as an incantation that only a Yellowhammer can truly understand is bellowed and then screamed. Before you know it, the joint is hotter than a Birmingham soaking pit while you, the listener, are reminded, lest you forget, don’t ever trust the company man.