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Joe Westerlund Announces ‘Elegies for the Drift,’ Releases Single “Kinshasa Yang”

Photo by Shay Stifelma

Today, North Carolina-based percussionist and composer Joe Westerlund announced his dynamic and sprawling new LP, Elegies for the Drift, which will be released on Feb. 24 via Sylvan Esso’s PsychicHotline. Westerlund–a student of the late and iconic Milford Graves– released “Kinshasa Yang,” the first offering from the project, in celebration of the announcement of the impending release.

Elegies for the Drift is comprised of five instrumental songs in memorial of people, eras and opportunities Westerlund lost. Three of the songs are dedicated to the lives of Westerlund’s guides in life: Akron/Family’s Miles Cooper Seaton and Graves, who passed within a week of each other and Aaron Efrid, the father of his longtime partner Carson, who died after an extended illness in April 2022.  

Westerlund’s unique and unflinching approach to creating a requiem resulted in a project that serves as a pillar of strength sonically, unapologetically emotive, all without saying a word. Not only is Elegies for the Drift a medium for Westerlund to share his appreciation for what he once had it is also a transmission that gives way to healing.

Of today’s release, Westerlund said, “‘Kinshasa Yang’ began as a series of layered, interlocking patterns I recorded with acoustic drums and percussion in the months leading up to my travels. Upon returning from that swirling experience, I began to dub out the initial ideas with sudden mutes, filter sweeps, echoing delays and cassette-squashed phasing, not unlike how a club DJ might manipulate tracks in a live setting. This energetic stretch of time in the summer of 2021 marked a turning point in my creative process, as well as in my grieving process, which is somewhat inadvertently mirrored in the emotional arc of the record.”

Listen to “Kinshasa Yang” below.

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