Earlier this summer, the Los Angeles musician Sam Gendel released, as INGA, a remarkable and underappreciated album called en. With liquid saxophone and guitar playing, accompanied by drummer Kevin Yokota and bassist Daniel Aged, from inc., it’s arguably the year’s finest LP to help you attain calmness, and easily my most-played record of 2015. A name like en is hard to Google, so name your price on Bandcamp and keep it close.
Today, INGA shares two new songs, “Núcleo” and “Lamento,” together known as peaking. They're noteworthy not just for being 15 minutes of superb music, or for being the first INGA songs to include Gendel’s singing voice, but also for their formal elements: the songs were recorded live, unedited, without a metronome or compositional grid. “The metronome is artificial,” Gendel explained over email. “Not right or wrong, just artificial. Just like people can become disillusioned with computers and social media if they lose themselves in those interfaces, with music people can become disenchanted if they lose the sense of continuity in the sound.”
Instead, in the spirit of Miles Davis or late-career John Coltrane, Gendel aspires to a transcendent form of jazz. “It's psychedelic music for our time,” he said, “relying less on smoke-and-mirrors production and, rather, getting down to the nitty gritty of the whole thing: the human being and consciousness and relating to one another through vibrations in time and capturing the whole thing on tape. People are psychedelic. My music is about people, made by people, live and raw for the listener to experience and become.”
Sometimes describing music as “meditative” feels cliché, so I like the fact that “meditation” is an explicit tag on INGA’s Soundcloud page. There is a point to this music—and it works.