A header graphic divided in to horizontal sections. The top section has two photos next to each other with no padding. On the left is a a close-up photo of the back of two pink orchid flowers in front of a snow-covered windowsill. On the right is a a photo of a blue sky with two large clouds, and the top of a large highway streetlight pole. Below the photos is text denoting March’s edition of WILT (this post) and the metadata of the music described throughout.

What I’m Listening To in March, 2024

Jason Combs
11 min readApr 1, 2024

I’m watching the streaks from the raindrops on my apartment windows above my desk, trying to figure out how to intro this thing. They’re the same windows from the photo of the sky in the header image (on a much nicer day). Right now, it’s nighttime, cold and rainy, and the stuck drops are illuminated in a dull orange glow from that giant highway tower lamp you can see in the photo. While I wait for some profound wisdom to strike, let’s talk about music.

As the year picks up steam and the album backlog piles up, I often find myself in a safe zone of ‘vibe’ music. For me, that’s usually ambient, dance, and electronic that’s getting me through the workday. You might start to notice that a lot of the albums I write about here are either partially or mostly instrumental for this reason. And as much as I’d love to try to make it all the way through Beyoncé’s feature-film-length country album and offer some sort of ‘take,’ I just don’t think my attention-span can climb that mountain. I’m sure it’s great. I liked Renaissance a lot. Or maybe it isn’t? I dare not speak ill of Cowboy Carter on God’s green internet. I’ve got to choose my battles here.

I’ve been trying to establish a habit of only writing and hyping up records that might not get as much mainstream attention, but I couldn’t let this month go by without mentioning Tyla’s recent self-titled release. It’s a smash pop, R&B, amapiano fusion album that will probably easily land near the top my year-end list. It’s still early of course, but it’s absolutely my pop album of the year so far. Consider it an honorable mention for this week’s write-up.

In other music news, Bandai Namco finally managed to put the Katamari Damacy soundtrack onto streaming (Spotify / Apple Music). If you’ve never played Katamari, it’s a little hard to describe just how much joy overflows from Keita Takahashi’s weird little universe. The Damacy OST is, without a doubt, one of the best video game soundtracks of all time, and worth listening to on its own. It’s a hyper-saturated Shibuya-kei classic that smashes together synth-pop, chiptune, drum and bass, bossa nova, glitch, and everything in between.

Speaking of Shibuya, my friend Josh who has lived in Tokyo for several years just started up a music newsletter. If you’re interested in keeping up with underground Japanese music, give it a subscribe. I wouldn’t have found a few of the great tracks I’m featuring today without him.

Ok, let’s get into it.

New albums I’m listening to

Discovery Zone: “Quantum Web”

In an alternate universe somewhere, Vektroid is in the same pop-production status-phere as A.G. Cook and SOPHIE. Daniel Lopatin, a.k.a. Oneohtrix Point Never, is still collaborating with Joel Ford, and releasing more surrealist nightmare MIDI-synth concept albums. Chairlift never broke up, and Caroline Polachek is sneakily releasing more records under her forgotten Ramona Lisa moniker. In this parallel reality, vaporwave never died, but evolved, warped itself into pop canon, and became as defining as hyperpop.

That’s sadly not the reality we were given, but as I sink into Discovery Zone’s new full-length, Quantum Web, I get to bask in this dream for a moment. The second full-length of New York born, Berlin-based JJ Wheil packs in track-after-track of hypnotic, 80s synth-drenched, foggy meloncholy. At its core, Quantum Web is a pretty abstract synth-pop affair, but as I dig in deeper, I realize how apt my Ford & Lopatin nod is here. Like the conceptual protagonist in 2011’s Channel Pressure, Wheil is being consumed by a computerized, AI-generated reality. She is simultaneously human and machine, delivering poetic and heavenly observations on living in a hyper-commercialized, digital-first world. The album’s real opener, “Pair A Dice,” throws you right into Wheil’s catchy, haunting, paranoid curiosity:“the eyes of time are watching what’s watching me. I want to know what’s behind the screen.”

Quantum Web has its fair share of sleepier, ambient moments, which might prove a tough commitment for your average pop-listener-in-passing. But for those of us who love and live for this genre (those of us who got all the references in my first paragraph), Quantum Web feels like stumbling upon some once-lost vaporwave-pop classic that still somehow feels incredibly fresh. An internet-music time capsule of the present.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

MIKE & Tony Seltzer: “Pinball”

Don’t get me wrong: part of me yearns for the chaotic mixtape days of rap music past. The days when rappers would coast on a smörgåsbord of beats stickered with a handful of producer tags, nonsense sound effects, and a few groanworthy skits peppered in for good measure. That stuff is nostalgic, it’s fun, it’s peak goofy hip-hop and what I grew up with. But there’s something undoubtedly special when a rapper at their peak links up with a producer and creates an entirely synchronous, focused project. Madlib with Madvillainy & Piñata, The Alchemist with Alfredo & VOIR DIRE, Kenny Segal with So the Flies Don’t Come & MapsI could easily keep going. The truth is, my favorite rap albums of the past two decades have emerged when a rapper and singular producer make magic together.

Pinball is positioned to be an instant classic and a standout release for the New York underground legend. MIKE’s had an incredible run, putting out incredible, boundary-pushing record after record, capitalizing on his unique, slurry, heady flow. 2022’s Beware of the Monkey was an emotional climax for MIKE: A self-produced confessional masterpiece over brilliantly chopped soul samples that solidified him as one of the best rapper-producers of our generation and is my personal favorite release of his. Another solid solo full-length and a collab with Wiki and The Alchemist later, and MIKE is full in victory-lap mode with Pinball. Seltzer’s production is slick, digital, fresh, and bouncy. The features are great, too. Earl Sweatshirt and MIKE have had such a massive influence on each other over the years, it’s a no-brainer that Earl pops in for a perfectly catchy hook on “On God.” The album hits a high note with the chopped-and-screwed “R&B,” a track I featured in last month’s write-up. MIKE and Tony Seltzer have an effortless synchronicity. It’s the most fun I’ve ever heard the rapper have on tape and I won’t be surprised if this ends up as my favorite rap project of the year.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Florian T M Zeisig: “Planet Inc”

Sometimes I simply have to give thanks to the algorithm. It’s true, I am a big algorithm hater most of the time. I like personal recommendations, I like discovering music organically, I like digging. But sometimes, when the algorithm hits, it hits. Berlin-based Florian T M Zeisig’s Planet Inc showed up in the Spotify recs shortly after it released early this month, and though I had never heard of Zeisig before (or so I thought), the glistening, foggy, iridescent album cover drew me in. It wasn’t until sitting down to write this review that I discovered Zeisig played a big production role on Kelela’s Raven from last year. It’s really no wonder I fell in love with Planet Inc so quickly. Although an ambient album at its core, there’s just enough hypnotic percussion and samples dripping across this record that it found its way into regular rotation for me. The record is mostly sonically underwater, churning, and meditative, but finds a rhythmic and almost danceable break to the surface with the four-on-the-floor, pulsing “Lapis.” Planet Inc ended up being the album I’ve probably turned to this most this month as I’ve been deep in work. In some ways it feels like a sister album to Purelink’s Signs, one of my favorite ambient and electronic releases from 2023. If you dig that kind of thing, or just want a great record to get lost in while you work, I can’t recommend Planet Inc enough.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Mildlife: “Chorus”

Austrialian psychedelic funk-fusion band Mildlife first grabbed me with Phase, their 2017 debut, and I’ve been hooked ever since. If you’re not initiated, you might read that first line, see this album cover, and go right to Tame Impala. I wouldn’t blame you. But let me be real with you here: As talented as he is, Kevin Parker can not groove this hard. These guys bring a post-rock sensibility to funk and jazz-fusion that is one-of-a-kind in music right now. Mildlife are clearly die-hard fans of the genres they dabble in. There are remnants of deep crate-dug italo disco and spacy flashes of library music genius Brian Bennet scattered all across this project.

The weather in Chicago has been such a disappointing mixed bag lately, and as a result, I’ve sadly only let Chorus spin a couple of times this month. It’s just the wrong time. But trust, when Summer hits and we’re heading to the beach, this will be the first play on the portable speaker, and I’ll let the feel-good funk wash over me with the warm sunlight.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Joseph Shabason & Ben Gunning: “Ample Habitat”

I’ve spent the last couple of write-ups mentioning Sam Gendel quite a bit, but Sam isn’t the only phenom saxophonist making the ambient and experimental collaboration rounds in the past few years. Joseph Shabason’s music has been a joy to discover. My intro to Shabason, his 2019 sophomore record and tribute to his mother, Anne, is truly special. I’ll let you read the album description on Bandcamp yourself, but it’s a heartbreaking and beautiful piece of ambient jazz. Shabason has served as a session musician for the likes of Destoryer and The War on Drugs, but my favorite pieces by him have come from him taking the lead and bringing on his contemporaries. His 2020 re-work of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie №1” is one of the most unique takes on the nearly 150-year-old piano compositions I’ve ever heard (aside from the PinkPantheress sample, that is). 2022’s food-themed collaboration with Andre Ethier, Fresh Pepper, is one of the smoothest albums that I repeatedly return to while cooking dinner. Joseph has even brilliantly re-scored Toy Machine’s 1996 skate video Welcome to Hell with cover art by legendary Toy Machine artist Ed Templeton himself.

I can’t praise Shabason’s catalog enough, and Ample Habitat is yet another solid entry, a collaboration with fellow Toronto-an Ben Gunning. I truly don’t have a lot to say about the album itself. It’s a sample-driven, strange, and alien record. It’s half ambient-jazz, half Earthbound soundtrack. It’s warm and wonderful. Give it a listen.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

Fujimoto Tetsuro & RGL: “Bring Me/Destiny”

Bring Me/Destiny was a late entry into this month’s rotation, but it’s already heavily soundtracked my most recent work week. While technically an EP, this thing clocks in at 40 minutes and doesn’t follow your typical split EP format at all. The two Tokyo-based electronic producers take turns showcasing their own tracks, then swapping and remixing each other’s tracks back-to-back. It’s such an incredibly cool way of producing a split and feels more like a conversation between the two producers rather than a simple cut-and-paste of a few tracks either had laying around. I hadn’t crossed paths with either Fujimoto Tetsuro or RGL before this, but if you’re into Japanese dance music at all, particularly the house music of say, Soichi Terada or Shinichi Atobe, you’re going to absolutely love this one.

Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music

New songs I’m listening to

I’m going to do something a little bit unconventional here and not actually talk directly about any of the tracks I’m featuring this month. There are just too many here to write about any one over another. Instead, I spent a lot more time crafting the actual playlist itself to guide you through a little journey across genres. Open up the playlist and take a look through the tracklist as I guide you through it and my rationale behind the composition. It’s a really good one, and I think there’s something for everyone here. Please give it a spin. My notes in italics:

The first 6 tracks of the playlist are, as usual, my favorite tracks from the albums I reviewed above, but I specifically ended on the Fujimoto Tetsuro track to transition smoothly into some lush, downtempo, lightly percussive ambient dance tracks:

Priori & Sabola: “Learn to Fly”
Oro Azul, Ultima Esuna, & Michael Red: “Atlantis”
Four Tet: “Storm Crystals”
Ryoskue Nagaoka & aus: “Made-Up Mind”
galen tipton, Giant Claw, & Holly Waxwing: “yellow patches”

Here I make the transition from the more left-field dance tracks to some more vocal-led house that still has some of that polyrhthmic, breakbeat flavor.

Hinako Omori, Joe Goddard: “cyanotype memories — joe goddard remix”
Shelhiel & FiFi Zhang: Love, Repeat
Jai Piccone & 1tbsp: “Ano Kute”
Machinedrum & Tinashe: “ZOOM”
Lilniina: “_black cherry moon_ — Sped Up”

After the more skittery, breakbeat dance tracks, I really start to pick up the pace and throw in some tracks that just genuinely go frantic and nuts. Super bassy and hard-hitting dance, house, garage, and footwork. Charli’s banger “Von dutch” finds a nice spot here as well.

Two Shell & FKA twigs: “Talk To Me”
Nammy Wams: “Hazmat”
Charli XCX: “Von dutch”
detch: “Echo”
Jump Source (Patrick Holland & Priori): “Scrap”
Sleepnet, Lumen, & Noisia: “ Finality”
64DX, DaXx, 64controll, & Neibiss: “SINE FOOTWORK”
Heavee & BABii: “SearchN 4”
DJ Birdbath: “Leftover Igloo”

I use the last two tracks to bring the tempo back down again so I can work things back into hyperpop, left-field hip-hop, and R&B territory.

Body Meat: “Focus”
b4u: “1ov1”
Judy Bari: “God, I hate Los Angeles 105.5 DJ Scrappy boot club ambient remix”
(incredible song title here)
SALIMATA & MIKE: “u kno who u are”
Nourished by Time: “Hell of A Ride”

That Nourished by Time track provided a great transition point into some more fuzzy indie pop for the next few songs.

Fabiana Palladino: “Stay With Me Through The Night”
mui zyu, lei, & e: “sparky”
RINSE & Caroline Loveglow: “Stranger”

And now we’re able to transition into “rock” territory pretty seamlessly.

They Are Gutting a Body of Water, Greg Mendez, & SUN ORGAN: “krillin”
Floral Print: “ecco/flipper”
(hi Josh!)
Crumb: “AMAMA”
Blondshell & Bully: “Docket (feat. Bully)”
Still House Plants: “no sleep deep risk”
Lamplight: “Lamplight”
(hi Ian!)
Faye Webster: “Thinking About You”

Cooling down the fuzzier rock into Faye’s easy-going track was a great way to start winding things down into the end of the playlist. A few more ambient-ish tracks to wrap us up, with a newly uncovered Broadcast demo taking us home before our final ambient closer.

Fuubutsushi: “Tenel Ka (First Crush)”
Slowfoam & RAN PARK: “Divine Morpho, Shimmering”
Broadcast: “Follow The Light”
Haruhisa Tanaka: “Syzygy”

Thanks again for reading. Let me know what you think of this more curated take on the playlist and if anything in particular really grabbed you. Until next time.

What did you listen to this month?

Jason Combs is a senior brand designer at Medium. He writes, designs, and listens to music from his desk in Chicago, Illinois.