Noon Pacific

Once a week at roughly 12pm Pacific Standard Time on Monday, a gentleman by the name of Clark Dinnison releases a mixtape of 10 carefully curated songs that are making big waves on his radar. This is Noon Pacific.

Noon Pacific // 187

  • “I Insist” by Von Sell — What sounds like a very old (as in circa 1920s) recording of a violin, or some sort of stringed instrument, is joined by handclaps and sultry vocals, followed by a heartbeat drum rhythm and bass that follows suit. Synths kick in at the chorus, every bit as rhythmically enticing at the rest, before dropping out for the cycle to begin again.
  • “Cold Sweat” by Ben Hobbs — This tune is very ‘80s, with the exception of those brutal screeching synths that peak out here and there. Otherwise the programmed drums, that plunky faux-marimba type sound, the BA-dododo bassline, and even the vocals (reminiscent of Phil Collins) scream “’80s!”.
  • “stard(us)t” by johan — Smooth electronica with a splash of funk and hip hop in the rhythm section, this song comes quickly to be dominated by thin falsetto vocals and half-note long surging synths. An early breakdown of vocals, keys, and finger snaps is a nice change of pace and, frankly, where the track shines brightest.
  • “Neon Experience” by Júníus Meyvant — For the third week in a row, Noon Pacific features a track from the revivalist movement, this one has very much an early Marvin Gaye vibe, from that point in time when the aspects of funk were first starting to very subtly show themselves in more soulful songs. The backup singers and staccato horn bursts really make this track.
  • “Babylon” by Jesiah —  With piano, hauntingly echo-y and sparse drums, and vocals that are so sincere it almost hurts, this is a straight-up seriously pleasant song. Some rhythmic plucked guitar makes little appearances toward the end of the chorus, adding a nice textural layer to an otherwise very stripped down tune.
  • “Broken By Love” by Henrietta — There’s a delightful, layered, percussive aspect to this song. The vocals, at times, have a very strange, squeaky, almost artificial quality to them, which is a little off-putting when I think about it too hard. Bursts of aqueous synth persist throughout, augmented by some with a bouncier tone assist in the choruses. From the other room, my fiancée posited that this sounds like a dancier Rihanna. I started off enjoying it but, by the end, I found myself a little relieved.
  • “Hold Me Down” by YOKE LORE — This tune opened with viciously strummed electric guitar, which was a bit of a surprise. It drops off after 8 strums, though, and the track morphs into a synth-based tune with complex drums that would be at home in an industrial rock type of song. The dominant synth sounds seem to shift periodically — here it’s a light appregiating synth, here’s a deep buzzing synth, here’s a spacy throbbing synth. Throughout it all, rich clear vocals, with a surprising amount of beauty and pain in them, carry the song forward.
  • “S W O R D” by ∆ U G U S T — This song has me right on the edge, stuck right between where “yea, this is good” becomes “Yea! This is good!”. The vocals throughout are high, possibly falsetto — they lack range, hitting precious few notes. Musically this song gets big in the choruses — deeply, richly textured with drums, a number of synths, rapid fire bass, and yes, those vocals — in a way that I’m wanting so hard to love but something undefinable and just out of my reach is preventing me.
  • “Jericho” by Westerman — Reappearing on the playlist for the second time recently, Westerman’s contribution this week is both very similar and very different than his last. Similarly, it is another vocal- and acoustic-guitar heavy track. It has moments of robustness (as opposed to a start-to-finish robustness in this last tune). Differently, it’s robustness comes primarily from electronic touches. Despite this, it’s got a sort of hippy-ish Dispatch vibe, particularly in its bongo percussion. It’s a fine song — I wouldn’t skip it if it came up on my digital audio device — but it’s not as strong as what we heard from him last.
  • “Direction” by Hugh (Royce Wood Junior remix) — Bass really takes the focus in this song, downright demanding it with its insistent, rhythmic humming. Even in the chorus when those wacky, pushing-comical keys kick in. A few bars later there’s a shift to real funky organ. Then the hole song breaks down, close to literally, like the whole band forgot what they were doing, before picking back up again. It’s weird, even frenetic. But it’s also smooth, so smooth. And just so out-of-left-field, with so many twists and turns. I actually really love it — I’m sitting here dancing in my chair with a stupid grin on my face. So good.

Stand Outs: Jesiah’s “Babylon,” with its simple, clean, pure sound, finds itself toward the top this week. “Hold Me down” by YOKE LORE gets a top spot as well — the vocals (which I briefly found grating before they snuck their way right into my soul) and intriguing, complex drumming brought it here. Royce Wood Junior’s remix of Hugh’s “Direction,” is also really special, almost indescribably so.

Let Downs: “Broken By Love” by Henrietta had so little variation that, by the end, I was kind of glad it was over — which is a shame, because it started off strong.

Verdict: Noon Pacific // 187 was, all told, a pretty strong mixtape. There was a lot of really interesting tracks and no real stinkers — even this week’s letdown wasn’t bad, just a bit repetitive. And to close on such an in-your-face experimental note was a good decision. I’m definitely going to listen again, and seek out more from most of these artists.

Noon Pacific, a labor of love, is updated with a new 10-track mixtape every week. Sign up here — it’s totally free, and you’ll get an email notification every Monday when the new tape goes live.


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