Sounds Like: Heady dreams about lonesome landscapes, narrated with precise urgency
For Fans Of: Solange, King, Vulnicura-era Björk
Why You Should Pay Attention: This Los Angeleno's debut album Aromanticism is one of the most startling debuts of the year, a treatise on the notion of living without love that uses wide-ranging musical tastes and a gorgeously elastic voice to deliver thoughts on existence. Sumney's vocals appear on Solange's steely-eyed 2016 triumph A Seat at the Table, and his swirling take on Beck's composition "Title of This Song" opens the recorded version of the pop guru's 2013 sheet music compendium Song Reader; but Aromanticism is a showcase for Sumney's compositional talent, love of sound and ability to craft simple yet searing lyrical statements. Sumney is currently finishing his first headlining tour before he heads out to Europe for a series of festival dates and headlining stints.
He Says: "['Quarrel'] started with me and the producer Cam O'bi talking about making something that was a fucked-up Stereolab song, but a soulful one. We made this beat and came up with some chords, and I took it home. Over the course of the next year, messed with it, because I didn't want it to sound like it could be just one genre. I was listening to a lot of Alice Coltrane at the time, and to Joanna Newsom's first album, and I was falling in love with the harp. We found this harpist named Brandee Younger, who lives in Harlem, and we flew out to Harlem to record her, and then I wanted the song to transition from being beat-oriented to feeling live-band-oriented. So I assembled a cast of characters in L.A. to add on to the outro – a drummer, a bassist and a keyboardist/synth extraordinaire. The song was a lot of pieces – 'OK, we’re going to put the harp player here, and the live band here and we have a guitar player in L.A. that can do this.' A lot of the record was made that way."
Hear for Yourself: Aromanticism, accompanied by visuals that Sumney conceptualized with his collaborators Allie Avital and Sam Cannon, is streaming in full on YouTube. Maura Johnston