A Guide to Slauson Malone 1

text by digital-media

23 May, 2024

Our spring Assistant Music Director, Parker, is here to take you through his discovery of Slauson Malone 1’s skillful and alluring discography. Read on for his exploration, and don’t forget to take a listen while you read. 

Words by: Parker Doti

Slauson Malone 1 (previously known as just Slauson Malone) is the experimental project of Jasper Marsalis. I first encountered the Slauson Malone name around the same time I started diving into Some Rap Songs, the [sLums] movement, and the work of associates like Navy Blue, Maxo, Pink Siifu, MAVI, Standing On The Corner, and many others. Upon listening, I discovered that his music pushed the lo-fi, abstract sound of his contemporaries to the extreme, creating something I hadn’t heard before. He continues to innovate with every new release, fusing genres and pushing boundaries. With this article I hope to provide a solid guide on where to start with his discography. 

A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018 was the first album of his that I discovered, and definitely a good place to start with his music. On this 2019 release, Marsalis creates an incredibly dense collage of samples, spoken word segments, and augmented vocals. The muffled and distorted production is super interesting, and the repetition of phrases throughout the album is very alluring. Those that enjoy Earl Sweatshirt’s post-2017 work will likely find an appreciation for the production choices on this album. At the time of the album’s release, Marsalis posted a wonderfully written synopsis of the project. He explains his intentions with the album better than I ever could, so I highly recommend checking it out. Marsalis proclaims that the project “channels the emotions of the Anthropocene”, and discusses the loud siren/scream sound, and the phrase “smile at the past when I see it”, which repeat throughout the album. Alongside the repeating mantras, many songs play with and distort the opening horns from Otis Redding’s A Change Is Gonna Come. This project has so many amazing tracks, and I was blown away when I first listened to it. I strongly urge everyone reading to listen to the album in full, but some standout songs that really encapsulate the feeling of the album are I can make you feel freedom, Katri…, WON’T BLEED ME: The Sequel, Smile #2, Smile #1, and Off Me! “The Wake” Pt. 1 & 2

 After experiencing A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018, try checking out the work he did with experimental jazz ensemble Standing On The Corner prior to his first album. Their self-titled release is a good place to start. This album is beautifully psychedelic and lo-fi, filled with synthesizer, warped vocals, tight drum machine work, and lots of fuzz. Marsalis’ incredible production abilities are very evident here; the vocals, guitars and keys are distorted in such a way that they sound like they were pulled straight out of a dream. Some standout tracks from this project are Bns, Girl, and Vomets.

While his production shines strongly on this release, it’s even stronger on Standing On The Corner’s second full-length release, Red Burns. This project pushes the production from their self-titled even further, incorporating more spoken-word, sound collages, weird synth work, and strangely captivating vocals. This project is incredibly dense, and group members Giovanni Escobar and Marsalis dive deep into its symbolism and musical choices in this interview. To summarize, the album is meant to be the musical representation of life in New York. It’s split into two thirty minute tracks, Side X and Side Y. There are many songs within each track, incorporating a wide variety of genres. This album is an absolutely incredible experience to listen to all the way through, but two standout songs I love are Sellin Soap (at time 3:38 on Side X) and MIKE Sees the Storm (24:21 on Side Y). 

 After exploring Standing On The Corner’s catalog, I’d check out his follow-up to A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018, Vergangenheitsbew​ä​ltigung (Crater Speak). After the release of this project and his written piece of work Crater Speak, (Crater Speak) was added to the title of his first album and page numbers were added to the song titles, connecting the songs to passages from the book (the physical copies are sold out, but PDFs are floating around the internet.)

Vergangenheitsbew​ä​ltigung roughly translates to “coping with the past”, and the project features a colder, stripped-down, more acoustic sound. Many melodies and samples are recognizable from his previous album. Marsalis’ vocals and his guitar take a center stage on this project, but are still accompanied by strange collages of sound. The Wake Pt. 3 & 2 (see page 87, 58, and 48) is an incredible example of what Marsalis is capable of as a performer and a producer, containing spaced apart horns, guitar strumming, and vocals. He posted a synopsis similar to what was posted for AQF, 2016-2016, check it out for some more excellent writing. 

 From there, I’d move on to his latest release EXCELSIOR and first full-length album under the new moniker Slauson Malone 1. In an interview with Sonemic, Marsalis described the name change as a departure from his previous work. This project combines the dense production of A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018 with the vocal ability showcased on Vergangenheitsbew​ä​ltigung (Crater Speak), and takes a more psychedelic route. It pushes the genre-fusion of his previous projects to new heights. Tracks such as New Joy switch up multiple times throughout its runtime, going back and forth between neo-soul and rock. Voyager and Challenger showcase his wonderful production abilities and beautiful vocals. 

 If you’re enjoying his sound and are interested in exploring more of it, some of his shorter/earlier releases are worth checking out. for Star (Crater Speak) is the final project in the (Crater Speak) trilogy, and across its ten minute runtime split into two ambient tracks, it creates a very melancholic and glitchy atmosphere. The 2018 track Closed Place, Open World is a cool sneak peak at the sound that would be developed later on A Quiet Farwell, 2016-2018. His 2014 mixtape 1 and 2015 EP i went to los angeles to visit my mom are also interesting instrumental works, very heavy on sampling. 

 Hopefully reading through this article helped you find a new song or album you enjoy! Jasper Marsalis is an incredibly talented producer and performer, and definitely someone to keep your eye on.

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