Album of the Week: Dawn Richard and Spencer Zahn - Pigments
The somewhat unlikely yet all together sense-making duo deliver album of contemplative and breathtaking ambient electronic pop + new records from Arctic Monkeys, Bibio, Dry Cleaning, Frankie Cosmos, Loyle Carner and more
In an era of trend chasing and all-too-similarly-produced-and-thus-sounding music, Dawn Richard is a true enigmatic musical chameleon. Catching her first break in 2005, Richard joined the P. Diddy-formed girl group Danity Kane who crafted slick and sleek mid-2000s R&B.
Fast forward 10 years and a few releases later, and Richard was taking her pop and r&b vocals into the dance music realm, fusing experimental club ready productions with her stunning vocals as heard on her third full-length Blackheart. Dropping her sixth album Second Line in 2021, Richard appeared to have found the perfect middle ground of pop vocals meets dance music and no one would have been surprised if Richard continued in this direction for a while longer… nope, she did basically the opposite.
Teaming up with multi-instrumentalist composer Spencer Zahn, who specliases in neo-classical leaning, jazz influenced electronic compositions, the pair have readied the contemplative and breathtaking ambient electronic pop LP that is Pigments, an album that according to Richard “tells the story of finding one’s self through dance, self-expression, and community through the lens of New Orleans’ contemporary arts scene”.
Across several movements and 11 tracks, Pigments takes the listener on a deep, exploratory journey through ambient passages of brass, strings and synth, to downtempo beat driven passages highlighting Richards’ beautifully stunning voice - and everywhere in between and back again.
With the album also acting as a tribute to Dawn’s late fatheer Frank Richard, an accomplished musician of Chocolate Milk fame, Richard expands on the meaning behind Pigments saying “I felt like the tools that I and other people like me were dealt weren’t shiny. Yet we still painted these beautiful pictures. This album is what it means to be a dreamer and finally reach a place where you’ve decided to love the pigments that you have.”
The best of the rest of this week's records:
Architects - the classic symptoms of a broken spirit [Epitaph] ENG
Arctic Monkleys - The Car [Domino Recording Co.] ENG
Indie / Pop
Bedouin Soundclash - We Will Meet in a Hurricane [Cooking Vinyl] CAN
Reggae / Non Western
Bibio - BIB10 [Warp Records] ENG
Alternative / Electronic
Dry Cleaning - Stumpwork [4AD / Remote Control Records] ENG
Alternative / Post Punk
Frankie Cosmos - Inner World Peace [Sub Pop Records] USA
Indie / Alternative
Goat - Oh Death [Rocket Recordings] SWE
Alternative / Psychedelic
Loyle Carner - hugo [Universal] ENG
Nick Hakim - COMETA [ATO Records / [PIAS]] ENG