Piotr Orlov

File this one under: "when genre walls collapse, the fusions are wonderful." Among the sidenotes to dance-music archivists' interest in the minimalist sounds of New York's 1970s and '80s downtown cult figures such as Arthur Russell and Julius Eastman, is how it's brought the work of their colleagues, contemporaries and collaborators to light.

Few careers in contemporary music had the arc and the diversity that South Africa-born trumpeter/singer/composer Hugh Masekela did, before he succumbed to prostate cancer on Tuesday at the age of 79.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Welcome to Guest Dose. Every month, NPR Music's Recommended Dose crew invites a knowledgeable and experienced DJ/selector to share with us their personal perspectives on electronic and beat-driven music, and make a mix from some new tracks they are digging.

British composer Anna Meredith produces so many types of works that attempts at a simple summary of what sort of musician she is are laughable, almost quaint.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, globalFEST, one of America's premiere showcases of musical talent from around the world, once again took over the three stages at Manhattan's Webster Hall. The one-evening festival has few American rivals in the way it simultaneously expands and condenses musical perspectives. The performances here move naturally between those that are heady and thought-provoking and those that are rhythmically sumptuous and sweat-inducing.

By 2012, Emily Wells had been practicing her songwriting and multi-instrumental talents for over a decade, mostly in DIY mode. But the album she released that year, Mama, was a step up, deftly taking advantage of her intimacy with country and roots song forms, while also showcasing her prodigious experimental streak. It was a jewel — songs by turns knowing and playful, down-home and street-wise, razor sharp and intimate.

Though he possesses an unquestioned pedigree in straight-ahead house and techno circles, Alex Prat (a.k.a. Alex From Tokyo, co-founder of Tokyo Black Star) is a musical nomad who looks to reveal his wandering spirit at every turn. That's the vibe at the heart of "Mitokomon," the globally curious opening track from the Edo Express EP, the group's first new release in years.

There is something about Emily Sprague's voice that both transcends twee indie-pop clichés even as it revels in them. The songs she writes for Florist — an Upstate New York quartet which recently decamped for the bright lights of Brooklyn, and is part of The Epoch collective alongside artists such as Eskimeaux – communicate the youthful discovery of self, sans filters. Or at least that's what Sprague's intimate-beyond-comfort, speak-singing voices makes it all sound like.

Note: NPR's audio for First Listens comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.


Finding an acceptable line between influence and appropriation has dogged musicians for generations, and Dexter Story addresses the issue in surprising and joyous ways on Wondem, his second album as a bandleader.

Even in the world of outré electronics, the experimental-music swings of Chicagoan Jamal Moss are radical. If you have the hips, stomach and brain for a steady stream of sonic surprises, he's your man in lo-fi techno. Among the many technologically astute and historically Afrocentric monikers Moss hides behind, Hieroglyphic Being has come to be his best known­ — if only because the labels through which Moss releases HB records (beside his self-run Mathematics Recordings) have the widest distribution.