---__--___ - The Heart Pumps Kool-aid (Mondoj / Orange Milk, 2021)

---__--___ - The Heart Pumps Kool-aid (Mondoj / Orange Milk, 2021)

It's not long since I cried at a show. It happened about a fortnight ago, when I was sitting in a plastic chair in an abandoned car park watching a multi-generational orchestra playing Julius Eastman’s Stay On It. Eastman is one of the most painfully underrated composers in contemporary music history, breaking the creative path later taken by the likes of Arthur Russell and Rhys Chatam, and it was one of the most exciting versions I’ve ever heard.

Walking back home and still giddy from what I had just witnessed, I wandered through the dark expanse of Peckham Rye park, something deep in my subconscious prompted me to turn on "The Heart Pumps Kool-Aid", the collaborative album by San Antonio, Texas artist Mari Maurice (More Eaze) and Orange Milk label creator Seth Graham. As I walked, I remembered that one of the tracks is partly named for Eastman. But I was also half aware that the connection goes a lot deeper than that.

I have not been able to stop listening to this record since it arrived in my inbox a few months ago. I spent almost half a summer trapped in a twilight zone, trying to decode into words its blurred exaltation;  rendering a canvas that mutates from relentless sadness to timid hope, with a speed so dizzying you want to escape its pull. When I think of that walk through the park my memories of the inner reality of the music and the outer reality of the night seem to expand and merge before my eyes, remaking the world in phosphorescent and living plasticine.

Graham and More Eaze, accompanied by a catalogue of luminaries that includes Karen Ng, Nick Storring, Rob Magill, metoronori, proxy.exe and recovery girl pull together to create what feels like a continuous stream of ideas, where the solid shapes of life seem to turn to ash at your fingertips. This album is like a synthetic error machine that layers the shadows of nightmares over good memories - the music is confrontational, and yet also feels close, honest and vulnerable. This album is a small triumph for those of us who believe it is time to detonate pedestals and use fragility as a weapon of discovery.

Bathed in waterfalls of auto-tune, the beautiful voice of More Eaze flows in foreground of the vast landscape of "The Heart Pumps Kool-aid", a brilliant flare of red light piercing the darkness of any abyss the mind can conjure. Its chaotic structure is steeped in a clear and hard won wisdom, letting us know that the climb out might take us to some strange and fearsome places, but that thanks to music like this, we don't have to be alone on that journey.

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