Salami Joe Rose Louis sends us to the stars on new album “Akousmatikous”
“Hello, my name is Akousmatikous. I follow the Pythagorean Mystics and I don’t wear lipstick. I used to love a man named Zee then he became quite scary, tried to take over the world, and that’s not my kind of thing.” On “Akousmatikous,” the title track of her latest album, multi-instrumentalist and producer Lindsay Olsen, who performs under the name Salami Rose Joe Louis, reintroduces us to the post-apocalyptic universe she’s soundtracked with spacey electronica productions since the release of her first album in 2019. Layers of ethereal vocals and flecks of guitar and synths are cushioned by what one imagines a cloud nebula sounds like. “Akousmatikous” somehow conveys both the beauty and anxiety of existing in the future present.
On this third offering, released once again under Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label, Olsen tells the story of a world in the not-so-distant-anymore future, on a planet built by the elite who have abandoned a cold, dark earth under a cooling sun. A humanoid creature called Zeeanori is manipulating the earthlings on this new planet into a state of complacency, and Akousmatikous, a being from another galaxy, is trying to talk to their old friend about the ethics of this manipulation.
“I wanted to sort of discuss the increased state of surveillance and propaganda that we're kind of all confronting right now,” Olsen explains. “I got really into reading sci-fi a couple of years back, and I think what I love about it is that it's this kind of magical and fantastical way of talking about really intense political issues. I wanted to sort of apply that to music, where you can create all these characters and you can have this fun narrative, but you're bringing up a landscape to discuss these looming concepts that I think are really important to talk about right now.”
The Akousmatikoi, or “the listeners,” after whom the album was named, were followers of the mathematician Pythagoras who were focused on his ritualistic and spiritual teachings. Olsen’s journey as a musician started as a listener like most musicians’ journeys do, but it was the avant-pop group Stereolab that was a trigger for transforming Olsen from a listener to a creator. “Something about the way they layer their music, the different melodies interacting, that was maybe the first time that I wanted to try producing all of the elements in a song versus just writing the chords,” she explains.
With her trusty Roland MV-8800 and some synths, drums, and guitar that she all plays herself, Olsen builds a sonic narrative weaved with elements of experimental pop, jazz, and dreamy bedroom ballads that make you feel like you’re floating and flying through galaxies made of bass-y black holes and lighter-than-air shooting stars. The music creates a digestible package for lyrics that touch on heavier themes like the anxieties of life in the modern world, climate change, and the personal frustrations that may befall a person whether they’re in this timeline or a post-apocalyptic one (although, is there a difference?).
For “Akousmatikous” the usually solitary producer collaborated with a variety of artists to round out the rich aural landscape; synth and drum duo Soccer 96 are on the title track, which breaks down like a dying star with the franticness of improvised jazz keys, and Toro y Moi collaborator Brijean appears on the groovy banger “Propaganda,” which questions how we’re supposed to see through the manipulated messages we’re fed from multiple sources. “I will say that I found the pandemic was - I know, it was a really intense time for many people - but it was a very positive time for me in terms of collaboration,” Olsen says. “Because I am so solitary and introverted, working with people over the internet, I found, was really exciting.”
With her jazz-infused sound that’s always pushing boundaries like the ever-expanding universe, it’s no surprise that Flying Lotus saw Olsen as a natural fit for Brainfeeder, which has an impressive roster of out-of-the-box acts like Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Kamasi Washington. Despite the disappointing but unfortunately expected questions about her legitimacy as a female producer on a well-respected label, Olsen has proven album after album that there’s nowhere else she’s supposed to be. Except, maybe, on another planet, sending us mere earthlings musical signals from a better world.
"Akousmatikous" is out now on Brainfeeder. Catch Salami Joe Rose Louis live at Bandcamp Oakland on Friday, May 26, 2023. Tickets available here.