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Something ominous this way comes. And its path is surfaced with the intensely refined, hot, brooding sounds of 1939 Ensemble. Simultaneously angular and pristine, its interlocking drumming and rhythms meet somewhere in the middle of jazz, rock and noise. With each composition steeped in noir and mystery, there lies anticipation, sophistication and excitement in every note and in every beat.

Outkast’s André 3000 once asked, “What's cooler than being cool?” There’s no doubt, the answer is found firmly in the center of 1939 Ensemble’s new record, Diamond Pearl.

1939 Ensemble is a passion project between two drummers: Jose Medeles of The Breeders and David Coniglio, who is the head drum instructor at Portland, Oregon’s School of Rock.

Following the release of their 2013 debut Howl & Bite, the duo added multi-instrumentalist and horn player, Josh Thomas, who sprinkles modern textures and ambient pixie dust in all the right places. Pitchfork describes the sound like this: 

“Industrial art deco with nothing more than a vibraphone, constrained feedback, and the inexorable forward motion of multiple percussionists.”

1939 Ensemble exists in between genres. This is jazz without solos. It's pop without structure. It's post-rock without the over-the-top crescendos. And yet no matter how wonderfully vogue or avant-garde it may feel if you listen closely, it spurs endless curiosity, while offering broad accessibility to all who’ll listen.

Black Diamond Pearl is a soundtrack waiting for picture. Like individual chapters to a noir spy film, each song flows steady and hot like molten lava. There's a moody, alluring resonance every time the mallet kisses the vibraphones. And on drums, Medeles plays with such a feverish ferocity, weaving bombastic patterns amid complex time signatures, leaving the listener sucked deep into a mid-century dream state. This album radiates with style, sophistication and an undeniable coolness that even James Bond would appreciate.

Black Diamond Pearl is a collaborative endeavor. Recorded by John McEntire (Tortoise, Stereolab, Trans Am) and Tucker Martine (Modest Mouse, Bill Frisell, Sufjan Stevens), the album also features M. Ward, among other guests.

 

The Pairing Menu

Featured in your Listening Hour experience is a collection of hand-curated goods and indulgences to pair with the record, presenting a full-sensory listening experience. Our team has scoured the planet for inspirations, carefully selecting and sourcing each element to pair with the record and it's sounds — complimentary effects you can touch, feel, taste, and smell — enhancing your listening experience. We like to imagine if Ray Dolby was doing acid while inventing all of his sound technologies during the 60's and 70's, he may have come up with something like The Listening Hour.

 

If you only listen to one song, make it this one.

"Circles" by 1939 Ensemble

Both calm and powerful at the same time, this composition by 1939 Ensemble is tied together by its inimitable sense of cool. Sophisticated, hypnotic and melodious, its synthesizers wrap the listener up in a giant blanket of texture. Big and at times even primal, the drums boom loudly, then retract back to lock into captivating, driving beats. Steadily building and flowing, this track rises in waves, delivering consistent rhythms and melodies from Coniglio on vibes, while always held in time and motion by Medeles on drums.