South Carolina-based multi-hyphenate, Contour, arrives on Errol and Alex Rita’s Touching Bass with Onwards! — an evocative, twelve-track journey through black art past and contemporary with soul, electronics and archival material at its core.
“The record exists as a bridge in conversation between today’s artists and art of the past which offered potential ways to navigate the world that we’re in; personally or on a larger scale” says Contour.
Shared today is “Hearing Voices'', the first single which “explores the relationship between our conditions of living and working and how we process or fail to process them”. Contour directed the accompanying music video, a filmic performance seemingly set in a work study. The single is about how work can sever “our connection to intuition”.
Khari Lucas describes himself as multifaceted, including musician, score composer, film and radio programmer within his universe of practice. Contour — the musical alias he started in 2014 — is the vessel for his musical research, songwriting and production.
Onwards! arrives in October 2022, following on from Weight (2020) and Love Suite (2021). Both previous records were impressive calling cards for the now 27-year-old, diving deep into a rich and incredibly vivid imagination set to a soul, hip-hop and psychedelic rock-influenced blueprint. This third body of work serves as an expansion of his songwriting ability, both lyrically and thematically, through and beyond autobiographical expression.
During 2020, Khari spent a lot of time reading works from poets, writers, and theorists involved in the black arts movement. Films, including many from the L.A Rebellion movement of the 80s, became a recurring source of inspiration. As did a recently purchased Roland SP-404 originally intended for organising samples, which turned into his personal audio diary populated by a multitude of sound bites.
Using this vast pool as a foundation, alongside additional samples and select co-production from collaborators Swarvy and 10.4 ROG, Onwards! blossomed into Khari’s most accomplished synthesis of sample-based production and the direction his songwriting skills were already moving in.
This project comes from the emotional exploration and metabolization of the media he consumed during this time. It encapsulates his digestion of the intersection of political and emotional realities. Via soundbites and references, he places art ancestors and influences in conversation with his work.
Outside of this latest offering, Khari has collaborated with visionary black fashion house, Telfar, to launch their Black Camo line, co-directed/edited (Fresh Rain, 2021) and scored (Half-Day, 2022; One Magenta Afternoon, 2022) film, and is a seasoned resident artist. Most recently for New York’s non-profit cultural centre Pioneer Works, NTS Radio’s WIP programme and as a guest curator for the New York-based art publisher and performance space, Montez Press Radio.
As Contour, he has supported contemporary musicians including MNDSGN and keiyaA. His monthly hosted radio show on dublab is a curatorial exercise called Footprints in the Dark. A two-hour exploration of a single black artist and a means for making one part of his research practice public. He has also guested on London’s NTS Radio and New York’s The Lot among others.