Listen Up

A glitzy house track, a sonic survey of our relationship with our phones, meditative storytelling from a Wu-Tang founding member, and more new music

RZA: Guided Explorations

Rapper/producer RZA’s Guided Explorations consists of five episodes of meditations for creatives (along with an introduction). While the release of a guided meditation album may surprise some, the Wu-Tang founding member is dedicated to his Shaolin practice and meditation, and has explored spirituality through religion and philosophy (be it Taoism, Christianity, Confucianism or Buddhism). These meditations trace his own stories—from feeling isolated in Staten Island to founding Wu-Tang Clan and finding success—as an entry-point to breathing exercises and guided physical and mental journeys. The goal for each episode is to help listeners abandon distraction and self-doubt, make plans, and ultimately feel inspired to create.

Angela Muñoz: In My Mind

Written and performed by 18-year-old Angela Muñoz, “In My Mind” is laden with strings, velvety vocals, and twinkling harps. “I wrote this song thinking about the journey of love. Despite my age I have an awareness of what expressing love looks like. As I was writing this song, I wanted to challenge myself as a songwriter. This led me to imagine myself in the place of George Gershwin. If I could choose anyone to interpret this song it would be Sarah Vaughan. Ultimately love can manifest itself in many ways,” Muñoz says in a statement. Jazzy, soulful and entirely mesmerizing, the song features production by composer/arranger/producer Adrian Younge (member of The Midnight Hour, and collaborator with Kendrick Lamar and Ghostface Killah, among others) who created a polished but nostalgic sound. Ultimately the listener is treated to an ethereal, serene lullaby.

Yaeji: Waking Up Down

Korean-American electronic music artist Yaeji (aka Kathy Yaeji Lee) is set to release her new playlist WHAT WE DREW 우리가 그려왔던 on 2 April, on which her new track “Waking Up Down” will appear. With plenty of 808s, harmonies and monotone mantra-like vocals, the track glides along—equal parts mesmerizing and ominous. She also made the animated video (with additional illustrations from Annie Zhao and production by Studio Yotta) which features her own likeness along with her companion Woofa.

Duck Sauce: Captain Duck

Duck Sauce (aka Armand Van Helden and A-Trak) returns with an upbeat tune driven by a danceable groove, soulful samples and glitzy house elements. “Captain Duck” marks the third release of 2020 for the duo, which had been on pause for six years. Transportive and optimistic, this infectious track could be the soundtrack for an ’80s-inspired aerobics class, and it’s sure to be cherished like Duck Sauce’s 2010 bop “Barbara Streisand.”

Bearcubs: Screentime

Reminiscent of a room lit only by the blue glow of a phone, all in the dead of night, the song “Screentime” looks at the technology we have and questions whether it will ever come close to filling the void left by people not there with us. The moody, textured track by Berlin-based Bearcubs (aka Jack Ritchie) channels downbeat vocals through languid sonic layers. It will appear on Bearcubs’ second album, Early Hours, out 15 May.

Feng Suave: Maybe Another Time

From Amsterdam-based Feng Suave (aka Daniël De Jong and Daniël Leonard Elvis), “Maybe Another Time” showcases the duo’s talent for soulful songwriting and sleek production. This 6/8-speed single (which has no chorus) melts into a psych-inflected tune that also harkens to the sound of soul groups from the past. The sweet, falsetto-laden track will appear on Feng Suave’s forthcoming second EP, Warping Youth, out 26 June.

COLORS’ Live Broadcast

Launching yesterday, music platform COLORS’ livestream offers a place for music fans to connect with each other and their favorite artists in a chat room. At 2PM EST each day, an artist will appear on the COLORS stream to perform—without post-production or show crew. Launched in partnership with YouTube Music, these livestreams also act as fundraisers (which will run for 30 days or until the NHS says it’s safe to gather again) and the proceeds will be split between the musicians who play. Yesterday’s show featured UK rapper Kojey Radical. Stay tuned to the stream for future virtual concerts.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.