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Gold and Soil is Ana Caravelle and Ryan York. An album is in the works. Stay tuned.

Daizo is the debut full-length release from Justin Hopkins aka RareBit. With the release of The Destroyer EP in 2011, musician / composer and visual artist Justin Hopkins, aka RareBit, quickly established himself as an artist who knows his craft. Whereas The Destroyer, a collection of Justin’s earlier work, dealt in dizzying cut and paste compositional techniques and songs with short run-times, Daizo, his full-length debut, takes us on an excursion of much greater distance. The same acute attention to sonic detail remains, however Daizo tracks take advantage of the long player format with songs stretching to upwards of eight minutes. Also, ‘Daizo’ ups the live performance quotient as well with vividly and wildly arranged instrumentation – most notably drums and percussion that carry a strong undercurrent throughout the album.

Daizo is named after Justin’s grandfather and is an exploration in Music as genetics. It is a dedication to his ancestors that lived during the Great Depression era, yet maintains a celebratory and reflective vibe throughout. As Justin puts it, the idea is “of families of songs that share similar traits. Certain elements are directly sampled from other places on the album or share themes even if they are manipulated or mutated to different extents.” Right off the bat, Sister songs “Running Tangles” and “Mt Weather” are obvious examples of this, entirely different tracks that are culled from the same drum tracking sessions.

As with The Destroyer and most of RareBit’s work, Justin plays more of a conductor and composer role with several different musicians playing on the album and sounds being recorded on many different devices, in different places. As both a visual artist and a sonic illustrator, Justin is able to display a huge array of colors and feels in his music, all while keeping everything completely coherent. Ranging from the free jazz meets elegant electronics of “Convergence”, the subtle yet devastating poly-rhythms of “Mt Weather”, the loud and budding, yet impossible to ignore cries of “Phantom Wall” and exceedingly swift lines and contours of “Emergence”, ‘Daizo’ portrays a sculptor thinking deeply about his art, yet always moving forward with instinct.

Cover painting by Justin Hopkins. Photos by Andy J. Scott

Fresh off of his release If I Am This Forest, Ryan York aka Asura, contributes an exclusive podcast for XLR8R, including a slew of his own material and edits along with a new and unheard track from Gold and Soil, his upcoming collaborative project with Ana Caravelle.

Download for free from XLR8R.

With no intention of a follow-up remix record at the onset of recording, the idea sprouted with a request from the well-revered Dak to rework a track of Ana’s that he had heard on the Non Projects website. We were all so into this that soon word spread and the idea of remixing Ana’s lush vocals and harp playing blossomed into friends and producers getting in touch with label owner Brian Simon about getting their own hands on the impeccable stems that made up Ana’s debut.

What we have now are two separate worlds - one inhabited solely by Ana’s luxuriant voice and opulent instrumental arrangements and one inhabited by both her and the friends and fellow musicians whom she has shared with in the past years, each lending their own unique aesthetical take on undeniable beauty. Listening to Basic Climb Re-Imagined from front to back gives us 11 unique views of talents both studied and anew. The journeyed and Eastern tinged portrayal of “Blackberries” by Julia Holter (now a part of Nite Jewel’s live show) takes us on a journey up and down both the bustling and deserted roads of India with Ana as our vocal guide while the orchestral re-arrangements of Dak’s take on “Shapeshifting” leave us in cinematic awe as our ears witness his most open and wide-screened piece yet. Elsewhere a.d.l.r. opens up a rift in time with a parallel dimension of delay-filled harps and vocals, Dntel ushers us through an effortlessly relaxed after hours pop trip with his “Black Canyon” mix, Take drops Ana into the middle of a 60’s soul jam and Anenon guides us into a drum and drone meditation zone, while every other interpretation is a standout in their own rights.

Highlighting the collaborative work of one of LA’s finest pairs, Basic Climb Re-Imagined is book-ended with a synth / vocal cover of “Basic Climb” by Ana and Asura’s hauntingly glorious reworking of “Blackberries,” providing a glimpse into the new directions of their constantly shifting visions and proving to us that the work is never really done.