who died Friday. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Traced in Air not only reinvigorated but reinvented Cynic, a metal band co-founded by guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert, who died Friday.

Courtesy of the artist

"There will never be another one like him. Peace to his family and all of his fans around the world. Listen to Sean play his drums and hear his heart sing," Cynic's Paul Masvidal wrote in remembrance of his bandmate Sean Reinert, who died last Friday at the age of 48.

So let's do just that: hit play on this instrumental studio version of Death's "Flattening of Emotions." Both Reinert and Masvidal played on Human, a 1991 album that redefined death metal, with Death visionary Chuck Schuldiner and bassist Steve DiGiorgio. Take 42 seconds.

Double-kick drum and toms rumble around the headphone space like a cage match, but tickle textures far more musical and powerful than a showy drum solo. No snare, no cymbals — but a thrilling exercise in dynamic restraint that introduces a sharpened guitar riff before the emotions are flattened into a technical shred. That was Sean Reinert — born May 27, 1971, and then 20 years old — a metal drummer who explored unknown worlds.

Through Death's Human and Cynic's career, Sean Reinert elevated metal drumming from speed-obsessed splatter to progressive — yet still heartfelt — precision. Cynic's Focus, from 1993, fused jazz and metal in an alien landscape of vocoder vocals and guttural growls; deep space never sounded so pretty and terrifying at once. When Reinert and Masvidal later formed Æon Spoke, an early 2000s rock band with songs that'd appear on Smallville and One Tree Hill, it was a curiosity at first, but gave a glimpse into what happened next.

Like a comet circling back around Earth, Reinert and Masvidal not only reignited but reinvented Cynic. Traced in Air, released in 2008 — not to mention its follow-up EPs Re-Traced and Carbon-Based Anatomy — made more space for ethereal atmospheres and a futuristic fusion that bent hues like Rothko. That never meant Reinert took a back seat; if anything, his drumming became more melodious, more attuned to the fluid texture of the music.

You can find this week's picks below, plus my updated playlist on Spotify and Apple Music, which includes a mini-playlist of my favorite drumming found on Cynic and Death tracks. (Note: Some of these tracks can only be found on Bandcamp.)

Peel Dream Magazine, "Pill"

If you're a dream-pop fiend shaking from an endless craving for fuzz bliss, Joe Stevens pours the coffee pot topping you off. On his second Peel Dream Magazine record, Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine dream-pop crushes hard on effervescent Stereolab melodies in a satisfyingly smooshed pastiche. To quote "Pill" itself, "It soothes and toothes what's aching you."

Sutrah, "Lethe"

Sein Reinert's death took me down pathways of like-minded metal voyagers. Montreal's Sutrah shares the spiraling death metal of fellow countrymen Martyr and Gorguts, but carries the metaphysical weight of Cynic. This music seeks enlightenment through overwhelming and brutalizing skill.

Jackie Lynn, "Casino Queen"

As she returns to her outlaw alter ego, Circuit Des Yeux's Haley Fohr trades in her red cowboy hat for silver sequins and a synth-forward glitter rave.

Lina & Raül Refree, "Maldição"

Fado deconstructed, perhaps even ripped apart. Spanish producer Raül Refree, who initially helped Rosalía sculpt her own tradition-tweaking flamenco, sets the beautiful voice of Lina against decaying noise and eerie organ drone. The result resembles Scott Walker darkening the edges of saudade.

Smoulder, "Warrior Witch of Hel"

Up the hammers and down the nails directly into my heart; Smoulder leans into the lilting, castle-storming epic metal of Manilla Road. Tons of classic doom charisma shot through with Sarah Ann's commanding howl.

Arafura, "Ancestral"

Sydney's Arafura makes unrelenting, desperate and turbulent grindcore with the dynamic throttle of Cloud Rat and hurling heft of KARP. Instead of horror movie clips breaking up the fury, vocalist A'isyiyah manipulates gamelan samples to honor her Indonesian heritage and channel an anti-colonial rage for herself and her daughter: "Trauma lives inside my blood / Trauma keeps haunting me / When she sleeps, I imagine how I'll gift a defiant heart."

Positive No, "Hot Air"

What I love most about Positive No is that you can hear Tracy Wilson smile when she sings and screams. Full disclosure: Before before I even knew they had a band, before I even knew she fronted '90s post-hardcore darlings Dahlia Seed, I'd broken bread and shared fancy beers with Tracy Wilson and Kenny Close. I still do. The wife and husband head up the Richmond, Va., band, an undeniably nerdy and studied take on '90s indie-rock and noise-pop — you might hear Jawbox and Superchunk, but most likely, Positive No is dropping some seriously rare 7-inch knowledge and love. After eight years, Kyanite will be its last album.

All Songs Considered

Jun 08, 2021

Roséwave: Back 2 Basic

Enlarge this image It's not a genre; it's a lifestyle. Kara Frame/NPR hide captiontoggle caption Kara
Dec 29, 2020

Roséwave: Lost Summer

Enlarge this image We danced in kitchens, took long drives, caught up in backyards or on video chat, watched weddings from our
Jun 29, 2020

Heat Check: Underrated And Elevating

Enlarge this image cupcakKe switches her flow up so many times that "Discounts" is a raunchy and hilarious three-minute shopper bargain.
Jun 22, 2020

Heat Check: Can't Get It For Free

Enlarge this image Miami duo City Girls returns with their second full-length album, City on Lock. Prince Williams/WireImage/Getty Images hide…
Jun 15, 2020

Heat Check: Bigger Picture

Enlarge this image Lil Baby's "The Bigger Picture" is a conscious trap anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Matthew Geovany
Jun 08, 2020

Meet The 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Community

YouTube Each year, we receive thousands of entries to the Tiny Desk Contest, and the Contest team watches every single one. We get to hear songs from…
May 31, 2020

Heat Check: 'Black Joy Is Radical'

Enlarge this image Nubya Garcia's latest single "Pace" is all about diving into the many layers of joy. Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of
May 25, 2020

Heat Check: Got A Big Ego

Enlarge this image Amaarae cuts it up better than a moon-walking Samurai on "Body Count." Philip Boakye/Courtesy of the artist hide
May 03, 2020

Heat Check: Hippocampus Two-Steps

Enlarge this image Dreya Mac spits bars at a level far beyond a novice on her debut track "Skippin." Clara Setian/Courtesy
Apr 26, 2020

Heat Check: Shake Your Senses

Enlarge this image Rooted in languid rhythm, Octavian's "Poison" featuring Santi with OBONGJAYAR sounds like nothing else out. Crowns & Owls/Courtesy…
Apr 19, 2020

Heat Check: Double My W's

Enlarge this image Kenny Mason unveils his debut project Angelic Hoodrat with a cool-under-pressure, low-lid resolve. Nasser Boulaich/Courtesy of the…
Apr 12, 2020

Heat Check: Money In My Hand

Enlarge this image Don't play with Kari Faux. Play with your kids. Quil Lemons /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Quil
Apr 05, 2020

Heat Check: I Feel Void

Enlarge this image Empress Of's "Void" feels like a euphoric cross-genre culture clash, a dance party in a summer storm. Dorian Lopez/Courtesy
Mar 29, 2020

Heat Check: Teleport And Transform

Enlarge this image Bongeziwe Mabandla's "masiziyekelele" sends you racing through the streets of Johannesburg. Justice Mukheli/Courtesy of the artist…
Mar 22, 2020

Heat Check: Make It Make Sense

Enlarge this image Alex Isley's "Gone" perfects the art of subtle, fear-inducing seduction. Lauren Desberg /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle…
Mar 08, 2020

Heat Check: Homecoming

Enlarge this image The laboriously-delayed Eternal Atake finally delivered big time for Lil Uzi Vert fans. Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty Images hide…
Feb 23, 2020

Heat Check: Caught Up And Curious

Enlarge this image Linda Diaz's "Magic" swirls in the watercolor pools of a quirky, young love. Jonah Zorn Koplin/Courtesy of the artist
Feb 17, 2020

Heat Check: Répéter, Répéter

Enlarge this image Arlo Parks' "Eugene" spins a stinging reminder of getting left for convention. Charlie Cummings/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Feb 09, 2020

Heat Check: Going All Out

Enlarge this image Victoria Monét melds fantasy with reality for her latest, "Moment." Dana Trippe/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…
Feb 03, 2020

The Tiny Desk Contest Is Back For 2020

YouTube In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo, Jimmy Eat World and Taylor Swift, to name a few.
Default Image
Dec 17, 2019

Bob Boilen's Top 20 Albums For 2019

Big Thief released two of Bob Boilen's favorite albums in 2019: U.F.O.F. and Two Hands. Michael Buishas hide captiontoggle caption Michael Buishas
Dec 16, 2019

Heat Check: Favorite Discoveries Of 2019

Enlarge this image Kirby, Odunsi (The Engine) and Hope Tala Courtney Loo & David Karp/Folarin Omolayole/Freddie Stisted/Courtesy of the artists hide…
Dec 01, 2019

Heat Check: Ode To The Cap

Enlarge this image Kilo Kish's glitchy, pithy "SPARK" sets fire to procrastination, pushing you to keep creating. Kish Robinson/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 17, 2019

Poll: Your Favorite Songs Of The 2010s

Oivind Hovland/Getty Images/Ikon Images What are your favorite songs of the past decade? These are tracks released between 2010 and 2019. We know
Nov 17, 2019

Heat Check: Charge The Haters Interest

Enlarge this image Denzel Curry's Super Saiyan energy offsets Glass Animals' eerie, horn-submerged production on "Tokyo Drifting." Elliot Arndt…
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Oct 20, 2019

Heat Check: Getting Lost, Giving In

Enlarge this image TeaMarrr's mesmerizing new single "Kinda Love" is the type of daydream to put into action. Tyren Redd/Courtesy of the
Oct 06, 2019

Heat Check: Songs That Let It All Out

Enlarge this image The Pendletons provide a jazzy, dancing-in-your-living-room soundtrack to self-care. Ivan Noble/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Sep 29, 2019

Heat Check: Euphoric Shuffle Play

Enlarge this image Daniela Andrade's "Ayayai" (single artwork pictured here) shows off the artist's linguistic versatility. Yi-Shuan Lee/Courtesy of…
Sep 15, 2019

Heat Check: Future Nostalgia

Enlarge this image KIRBY's "Kool Aid" injects just the right doses of doo-wop and soul. Courtney Loo & David Karp/Courtesy of the
Sep 02, 2019

Heat Check: Friends Of Friends Of Friends

Enlarge this image Sudan Archives' "Confessions" is included in this week's Heat Check. Alex Black/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.