As is its wont, the Miami record label Space Tapes is venturing out into sounds it has previously left unexplored. Dark Matter, the debut release by Lando & the Infinite Sadness, blurs the lines between electronic music and jazz and blends the genres to produce an unmistakably idiosyncratic work.
The artist behind the project, Josue Vargas, was born and raised in Broward County. Speaking with New Times in advance of the Dark Matter-release party this Friday, January 10, at Technique Records, Vargas says he has an affinity for all kinds of music. Artists such as J Dilla, Robert Glasper, and Toro y Moi contributed to informing the musical sensibilities that helped shape Lando & the Infinite Sadness.
"I didn’t have a specific sound in mind when trying to create the record; I just really wanted to push myself musically and see where the songs could take me," Vargas says. "I wanted to make music that I would love to listen to and that would be a melting pot of my musical tastes and influences."
Dark Matter marks a change of pace for Space Tapes — most of the label's previous releases have been of the ambient and experimental electronic variety. The new album, however, boasts a palpable jazz-derived influence and sound. Although the "Infinite" in Vargas' artist moniker might lead you to believe otherwise, Dark Matter has an ephemeral quality: The record consists of eight tracks, six of which clock in under two minutes.
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"The thought process was mainly to have songs that felt good and didn’t feel like they dragged on at any point,” Vargas explains. “The beauty is that, in a live setting, the short songs can take different lives of their own and be explored in different ways than what you hear on the record.”
Every song includes a saxophone, and it's played with great brio. Vargas could have sampled from an obscure jazz record produced in the mid-20th Century, but instead he opted to recruit his friend Ben Stocker — whom Vargas describes as a monster on the flute and saxophone — to help produce original instrumentation for the album. Besides Stocker's contributions, a synth solo courtesy of Vaughn "V.Keys" Henry, and a mastering assist from Miami artist Byrdipop, Vargas produced the bulk of Dark Matter with little more than a laptop, a MIDI keyboard, and a bass guitar.
Despite the difference in sound from the label's other output, the freeform style of Dark Matter proved to be a match for Space Tapes' underground and often abstract sentiments. "Releasing the album with Space Tapes felt like a very organic and natural process," Vargas says. "I’ve been friends with the people at Space Tapes for a while now, and when most of the record was done, we just started talking about putting something out together, and then everything just kind of fell into place."
Dark Matter covers a variety of moods despite its brief running time. The opening track, “Creation,” is content to play out without so much as a proper beat, instead allowing a powerful saxophone riff to tie it all together. “Mystic,” the sixth song on the record, evokes the nostalgia of vaporwave via a kick pattern reminiscent of the genre's best, a subtly looped piano melody, and the refreshing calm of bird chirps.
It would seem as though jazz has undergone a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with acts ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Ricardo Villalobos wearing their fondness for the world-shattering genre on their sleeves.
“I think the history for the music goes so far back and is so deeply rooted in all genres,” Vargas says of his appreciation for the form. “There is just a lot of soul and humanity in the music, so I feel that’s why it resonates so well even to this day.”
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Dark Matter won’t reach streaming services until January 17. However, listeners can get a taste of Lando & the Infinite Sadness at Friday's free album-release party. Vargas says the night will be "a celebration of music, love, and life."
“The release party is going to be a very intimate show," he says. "There will be DJ sets by Sohn Jamal and Goiz, and a full band performance by us in Lando & the Infinite Sadness!”
Whether you're a jazz-adoring beatnik, a lover of immersive soundscapes, or simply a listener looking to hear a different sound, Dark Matter has something for everybody.
Lando & the Infinite Sadness Album-Release Party. With Sohn Jamal and Goiz. 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, January 10, at Technique Records, 853 NE 79th St., Miami; 786-717-6622; techniquerecords.com. Admission is free.