Armand Hammer to perform at Riga’s Skaņu Mežs festival for adventurous music

Riga, Latvia’s Skaņu Mežs festival for adventurous music will host its 22nd edition on 4-5 October at concert hall Hanzas Perons (16a Hanzas street). Abstract hip-hop duo Armand Hammer (Billy Woods & ELUCID) will be the headlining guests of the festival’s second concert evening. Tickets can be purchased at Festival ticket price is 50 EUR. 

The Washington Post have called Armand Hammer “underground rap legends”, and music criticism website The Quietus said the following of their latest full-length album: “It’s a record of flabbergasting sonic diversity and lyrical depth and complexity – an LP that is at once ardently a work of ‘traditional’ hip-hop, and an outlier that extends and deepens the blurred margins that sit beyond the music’s usually accepted borders. [..] Meticulously structured yet fuzzily abstract, cloudily claustrophobic yet aurally vast, it sounds nothing like a traditional rap LP yet definably and definitively adheres to the most crucial characteristics of the genre. It’s certainly a marvel and may well be a masterpiece.”

Armand Hammer, the groundbreaking NYC rap duo of ELUCID and Billy Woods, released its eighth studio album, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips, out September 29th via Fat Possum Records. The duo’s latest project arrived two and a half years after Haram, their labyrinthine collaboration with The Alchemist, and was introduced with their lead single “Trauma Mic” featuring Pink Siifu. Produced by DJ Haram, the duo’s visceral new track “snowballs,” Armand Hammer describes, “except instead of snow it’s a neodymium magnet cascading down a mountain of discarded pig iron.”

Following Haram, We Buy Diabetic Test Strips is an entirely different beast, incorporating live instrumentation and featuring an array of producers including JPEGMAFIA, EL-P, Kenny Segal, DJ Haram, Black Noi$e, Preservation, August Fanon, Steel Tipped Dove, Child Actor and Sebb Bash. Holding true to the sonic identity they’ve successfully cultivated since their 2013 debut, familiar faces like Pink Siifu, Moor Mother, and Curly Castro make contributions, while also bringing new and like-minded peers into the fold, with features from Junglepussy, Moneynicca (of Soul Glo) and Cavalier. Virtuoso jazz musician and celebrated composer Shabaka Hutchings shows up on flute, one of several musicians who sat down with ELUCID and celebrated engineer Willie Green for a jam session in 2022 that helped pour the foundation of this album. 

Of his experience working on the album, ELUCID shares, “This sort of reverse engineering of talented players who met for the first time in the studio jamming to pre-recorded beats before splintering off into new directions. Being in the room quietly watching 4 people fumble around each other’s sonic worlds before finally locking into a solid groove was a clear and obvious magical moment for me.”

As solo artists, ELUCID and Billy Woods had already achieved modest success prior to collaborating on their 2013 debut, Race Music. That album was followed by an EP; Furtive Movements in 2014. Both artists continued to collaborate over the following years; making appearances on each other’s work and performing together, but fans would have to wait four years for a new Armand Hammer project. ROME was released in November of 2017, and the duo doubled down with Paraffin in 2018. Like opposite sides of a coin, the two albums are connected, yet radically different in their design. Paraffin was greeted with a wave of critical acclaim that only rose in the wake of 2020’s naturalistic masterpiece Shrines or their transgressive 2021 collaboration with The Alchemist, Haram.

Armand Hammer will perform on the second concert evening – on October 5. It has previously been announced that iconic experimental electronic music duo Autechre will be the headlining guests of the first evening (October 4).

Skaņu Mežs is a member of the SHAPE+ platform for innovative music and audiovisual art as well as the project tekhnē, supported by the European Union and the Latvian Ministry of Culture.

Skaņu Mežs festival is supported by the State Cultural Capital Fund, Riga City Council, the Latvian Ministry of Culture, Goethe-Institut Lettland, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and the Nordic Culture Point. Sponsors of the festival are Valmiermuiža and Very Berry.

Skaņu Mežs is a member of the international network ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound) and the Northern European music festival network NERDS (North European Resonance and Dissonance Society).

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