The tricky thing about beauty is that it doesn’t have one prescribed definition. Whether it’s the eye of the beholder, some arcane writing on symmetry, or the assertion that the sublime requires a whiff of death, there is no clear path toward defining what is pleasing. Do we moderate our pleasures, abstain, or overindulge? Thankfully, for those on the receiving end of King Britt’s inaugural episode of The Beauty and Sound Show, the only guidance one needed was trust in the proven accolades of a discerning palette encouraging us to listen with more than just our ears.
Over the years, King Britt has had many creative outlets: from DJing for Digable Planets, to composing and producing as the Fhloston Paradigm, to teaching courses on Afrofuturism in Electronic Music at the University of California San Diego, every avenue that Britt traverses is a movement toward exploring sonic excellence. So it’s no surprise that The Beauty and Sound Show is anything other than what it advertises: a rumination on musical aesthetics by a distinguished scholar of the medium. Self-described as featuring “songs of sonic beauty that I love,” King Britt’s newest endeavor feels like receiving an expertly crafted playlist from a close friend.
Britt’s selections covered a wide range of genres that kept a tight orbit around jazz, R&B, and contemporary trends in electronic music. From new tracks by Yebba and Tyler, the Creator, to honoring the late Lee “Scratch” Perry with a cut by the Upsetters, to revealing that Colloboh’s single “Zero Day” is a contender for their personal song of the year, the mix kept pace with our current moment while highlighting the key nodes that acted like stepping stones along the way. Somewhere between a dubbed out Talk Talk 12”, Erykah Badu covering “Tempted” by Beatlesque new wavers Squeeze, and ANOHNI’s haunting “Drone Bomb Me,” the throughline of Britt’s selections coalesced into a theme of becoming: of finding beauty in the present, grappling with the past, and having the courage to envision a future beyond what is known or expected.