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5 songs for right now: Serbian/Henshaw, Nomis, Kaye/Davis, The Inflorescence and Wilfrido Terrazas

Detail of the album art for Luke Henshaw and Gabe Serbian's "Variations in the Key of the Afterlife."
Album art: Jeff Raddatz
Detail of the album art for Luke Henshaw and Gabe Serbian's "Variations in the Key of the Afterlife" album, released Jun. 23, 2015.

We're listening to new or notable music from San Diego musicians: Nomis, Mara Kaye with Clinton Davis, The Inflorescence, composer Wilfrido Terrazas, and an older collaboration from the late Gabe Serbian.

'Orbital Sequence' by Gabe Serbian and Luke Henshaw

San Diegans are grieving the sudden loss of Gabe Serbian, drummer for The Locust. Known for his unrelenting, powerful and impeccable metal drumming ("This is Radio Surgery "), he inspired and supported so many in-music scenes locally and all over the map. Serbian's artistic versatility shines through in this fantastic, spacy prog rock project, "Variations in the Key of the Afterlife," that Serbian worked on with Luke Henshaw (of Sonido de la Frontera and Planet B, among others) in 2015. Listen to "Orbital Sequence" for some synthy, moody, mystery and to remember such an incredible talent lost too soon.


'Middle of the Fog' by Nomis

In January, Oceanside hip-hop artist Nomis released "Loss at Sea," an EP that he said chronicled the grief of losing his father one year prior. The record is mournful, troubled and gorgeous, packaging up a vulnerability that's both intimate and specific — to listen feels like something between powerful empathy and an invasion of a family's pain. There is no flaw to the songwriting. My favorite is the EP's opener, "Middle of the Fog," which starts out with a fuzzy recording of a voicemail from a cousin expressing condolences, set to a beautiful, chaotic, fairy-tale-like patchwork of chimes and melodic percussion. It's clear from the gate that this is a song that lands us squarely in the thick of grief. When Nomis begins to rap, we already care. Against a sonic backdrop that's both propulsive and undulating, Nomis' lyrics are poetic and urgent.

'The World is Waiting for the Sunrise' by Mara Kaye and Clinton Davis

Omar Lopex's Standard Fantastic Motion Picture Company completed the film "Ana, Who They Pulled out of the River" in 2019, though it officially premiered for audiences last year. The soundtrack, by Mara Kaye and Clinton Davis, was just released this March, and it features several cinematic variants of a single song: "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise." The tune is haunting in its simplicity, and Kaye — an accomplished blues singer — offers vocals that are soulful, nostalgic and enchanting. Davis' arrangement features a tinkling piano descant against the depth of tremulous strings and a lower, lush piano part.

'Tomorrow Night' by The Inflorescence

"Tomorrow Night" is the second single from The Inflorescence's forthcoming debut since their name change and signing to Kill Rock Stars. That album, "Remember What I Look Like," is due out June 10, 2022. "Tomorrow Night" feels hazy — that mixture of hope, regret, possibility and uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with a crush or early stages of romance. There's a bit more of a tenderness to this track than the first single from "Remember…" and I'm here for it. But don't worry, it still picks up steam and rocks out. Plus, the video is directed by Victoria Cunanan and Amel Janae, with local art production studio Depart_ment.


On social media the band has teased more goodies dropping in the coming weeks, and they're supporting Gloomy June in an early show at the Che Cafe on Friday, May 6, 2022 — doors open at 5:30 p.m.

'Tótem I, Camino sobre la tierra' by Wilfrido Terrazas

The Ensenada-born flutist and UC San Diego music professor Wilfrido Terrazas released a new album of compositions, "The Torres Cycle," a collection of seven compositions anchored by four "torre" works, each representing a direction: del Norte, del Sur, del Este and del Oeste. Between each torre is an interstitial "tótem." Each track is so distinct, with unique instrumentation, though the recording as a whole feels fluidly epic. I was drawn to one of the tótems, the second track: "Tótem I, Camino sobre la tierra," which features an oboe and percussion. On this composition, Juliana Gaona plays oboe like it's something else entirely: flexing, splitting and bending its sound against the curious percussion of Rebecca Lloyd-Jones. The album was primarily recorded at UC San Diego, then mixed in Mexico City.

You can find a playlist of these tracks on Spotify here.