Atlanta Music News: Mystical neo soul and new jack mall goth

Sister Sai gives her regards to Broad Street, Mammal Gallery makes moves at the Met, and more local music happenings 

Saira Raza Sister Sai
Photo credit: Melissa Alexander
INERTIA: Saira Raza of Sister Sai pays homage to Broad Street with her latest release.

Cellist and singer Saira Raza, aka Sister Sai, in June, unveiled a five-song album titled Broad Street Sessions, showing off a more structured side of her atmospheric and deeply mystical musical footprint.

Throughout these recordings, captured at the Broad Street Visitors Center in November 2018, older numbers such as “High Tide,” “Inertia,” and “Gilgamesh,” move away from their avant-garde beginnings to embrace a more realized neo soul vibe.

This more refined take on each song is the result of contributions from an ever-changing cast of musicians who played in Raza’s ensembles between 2016 and 2019. Over the years, the personnel appearing on stage and in the studio alongside her has fluctuated greatly. Naturally, each new performer has left an impression on the songs. The experimental, post-classical ambiance that has bound much of Sister Sai’s repertoire since the arrival of 2014’s Ephemera EP remain intact. But the songs throughout Broad Street Sessions have opened up to reveal wholly new dimensions in the music.

With this collection, Raza wanted to capture the creative changes — both subtle and massive — that have guided the music along the way. “I wanted to memorialize these sessions because they were a lot of different people's efforts that got them here,” Raza says. “As people flowed in and out, we had to create more structure to teach the songs to more people, and create a bit of organization for the set.”

The lineup of past and occasional players who were part of this wave of creative development includes Dylan Banks, Kimb Collins, Jared Collins, Jeremi Johnson, and Gage Gilmore. One of the musicians whom Raza singles out as playing a key role in influencing how these songs gravitated toward more defined structures is bass player Kimb Collins. At the time of the recording sessions Collins was also performing with art-punk outfit Jock Gang. In teaming up with Sister Sai, she brought a push for a more structured take on the already existing body of work. “I would say that was her legacy in the band,” Raza says. “She helped me become a better songwriter, and on the next record you'll see more songs taking shape like this — a mix of more experimental quests, and more structured songwriting.”

The recordings feature a lineup that includes Raza performing alongside bass player Steven "Teeks" Cervantes, guitarist Chris Edwards, keyboard player Alexa Lima, and drummer Jared Pepper.

These sessions arrive just months after the March 28 release of Visitors’ Nature Documentary LP released via Early Future Recordings. Like Raza’s Broad Street Sessions, the Visitors LP was recorded at BSVC by Dan Bailey, and features contributions from more than 20 musicians. Both releases capture a creative high watermark, and a bygone era for Southwest Broad Street — a time when the BSVC, Murmur, and now ousted arts and music institutions such as Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery and the Mammal Gallery served as an incubator for Atlanta’s young, outsider, and DIY music and arts.

The recently relocated Mammal Gallery has a calendar of live musical events coming together in its new home at the Met aka the Metropolitan Lofts near the West End and Adair Park. While the new facilities are being built the venue has opened a temporary location in the center aisle of warehouse spaces dubbed the Food Court. The space, located in suite 3064 — across from MINT Gallery's new location — opens July 26 with a show featuring performances by Shepherds, Nadia Marie, Paradise Montage, and IMADO.

Other upcoming summer highlights include a Southern Fried Queer Pride and Morph Ball on Aug. 23, Sequoyah Murray’s album release party on Sept. 20, and the Body playing on Oct. 29.

On July 17, the beloved Oakland City/Adair Park DIY arts and music venue space the Bakery announced that its home at 825 Warner Street has been sold.

Programming will continue as normal, as the Bakery holds the lease on the space through June of 2020.

In new releases news, psych rock quintet Reverends’ latest LP The Disappearing Dreams of Yesterday arrived in June and is burning through local playlists.

Chunklet Industries released two 7-inches in July. Rising post-punk outfit Warm Red’s single includes the songs “Big Tigger” b/w “S.A.M.” The second single offers up two new songs from long-standing math rock trio the Purkinje Shift, “Bag of Hammers” and “Mick Mars.” The latter release is part of the Purkinje Shift’s plan to continue releasing limited singles which will later appear on an LP. “We’re just trying to get stuff out faster,” says guitarist Ben Davis. “Write two songs, release two songs rather than let another six years pass between releases.”

Keep your eyes peeled for release shows from both groups to materialize in August.

On July 7, indie rock singer-songwriter, and video game music-inspired artist Nelward (Nick Elward) revealed a new single, titled “Ghost” b/w “Getting Better.” The lead song, “Ghost,” has a video on Youtube now, and is Nelward’s attempt at, as he describes it, “mixing new jack swing with mall goth vibes.”

Organ-driven soul and funk outfit the Diamond Street Players have a self-titled LP set to arrive via Gemco on Aug. 2. The album takes a deep dive into rhythm and grooves, and the first single “How Many Lies, How Many Times” gets an extra boost from the passionate voice of Long Beach soul singer Adryon de León. Drop a needle on the record and move those feet.

Send local music news to chad.radford at creativeloafing.com.

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