Tucked onto a side street off one of downtown Marfa’s main thoroughfares, a new agave garden is in slow bloom. The Judd Foundation’s Agave Garden—which opened last month in tandem with the town’s annual Agave Festival Marfa—features two wooden benches (originally designed by Donald Judd for his La Mansana de Chinati residence) in a landscaped public space flecked with more than twenty agave species indigenous to the Chihuahuan Desert.
Designed in part by landscape architect Jim Martinez and sponsored by Tequila Casa Dragones, the garden doesn’t yet brim with showstopping agave plants boasting massive fronds; some of these buds are still so petite that you could easily fit one inside of your hand. But that’s also part of this place’s beauty: The plants will steadily grow in their native climate as the years trickle by, and in order to keep the garden from growing over, proprietors plan to give the tiny plants that agave propagate, charmingly called “pups,” to members of the community free of charge, says Rainer Judd, Judd Foundation president. It also means that with each visit, the Agave Garden promises something subtly different to the eye, all the while retaining a distinct serenity that makes it a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a quiet moment. —Paula Mejía, senior editor
Jam to music inspired by the Llano Estacado
From the small Panhandle town of Littlefield, Full Spectrum Records has quietly supported the work of local and national experimental musicians for more than a decade. Rich, ambient synthesizers, spliced-up field recordings of bird calls and bustling cities, and lilting, strummed guitars live side-by-side on the eclectic label, making the Full Spectrum catalog a vivid introduction to the experimental music of Texas and beyond.
One thread that often ties Full Spectrum’s releases together is a thematic emphasis on place. Albums often use landscape as a springboard for musical experimentation, allowing cities and forests to become characters. Artists have explored cavernous tunnels and dusty landscapes for musical inspiration; they’ve visited places ranging from the hectic streets of San Francisco to the barren Mojave Desert. West Texas itself emerges as the protagonist of the music Full Spectrum releases on a sublabel called Llano Discs, which presents quirky sounds made in the arid Llano Estacado region. There are so many places to visit and sounds to hear on Full Spectrum—in fact, the label recently celebrated its one hundredth release. All you have to do is choose one of them, close your eyes, and let it take you on a ride. —Vanessa Ague, editorial intern
Listen to the Texas poetry podcast Inner Moonlight
The pandemic rush on thousand-piece jigsaw puzzles, stock tank pools, and single-family homes has been matched by one for, of all things, verse. Practitioners of the craft had a banner 2020, as evidenced by Louise Glück’s Nobel Prize win, Amanda Gorman’s star turn at the presidential inauguration, and Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” endlessly crisscrossing our social media timelines. Traffic to the Academy of American Poets’ website increased 116 percent over the previous year. It’s clear that even those who may not have conceived of themselves as “the poetry type” are now willing to wade in.
So, perhaps it’s time we got familiar with the poets in our own backyard. Enter the podcast Inner Moonlight from Dallas indie bookstore The Wild Detectives. Pre-pandemic, the store was popular for its eclectic slate of community-centered events, as well as for its curated local and international collection and its cozy in-house bar. It’s since taken some of those events online, among them the monthly poetry reading series Inner Moonlight, which, in January, launched as a podcast of the same name.
Hosted by West Texas–bred Logen Cure (her latest collection, Welcome to Midland, is forthcoming from Dallas-based Deep Vellum in August), Inner Moonlight is at once sharp and soothing. Each episode consists of a dialogue between Cure and “one brilliant writer,” and each generally opens with her asking her guest to “Tell me something good.” The show is mindful of foregrounding writers of underrepresented ages, genders, and ethnicities, but also of various schools of form and rhythm. There’s something for a listener of any lyric persuasion to love.
What’s best about Inner Moonlight, though, is that it brings all the contemplation and solace and joy of a poetry reading straight to your headphones, absent the intimidation (or occasional eyeroll-worthy pretensions) of such an event’s normal setting. It fights the notion that poetry must be erudite or inaccessible. It is, in that way, exquisitely of-the-moment. Because if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that poetry exists to be shared—from a world stage, among one another in fear and grief, and, yes, even on Twitter. —Alicia Maria Meier, assistant editor
Check out a groovy new Khruangbin remix
If you aren’t yet a fan of the multicultural Houston psych-funk band Khraungbin, it’s time to dive in. Start with “Pelota (Cut a Rug Mix),” a new remix by English DJ and musician Quantic of the original Khruangbin track “Pelota.” The song is the second single released in anticipation of Khruangbin’s upcoming Mordechai Remixes, which reimagines the band’s 2020 ten-track album Mordechai through remixes by ten artists.
The original track was dominated by that classic Mark Speer sound, inspired by the fingerstyle guitar of Central and West Africa, that plays with low-key percussion, groovy bass work, and frenetic, surrealist Spanish lyrics to build a smooth funk foundation. Now Quantic (whose real name is Will Holland) converts the cut into a slower, spaced-out electronic track filled with his signature Latin hints of cumbia, salsa, and bossa nova. Instead of guitar, he promotes the bass line to an executive position alongside synths to gradually fill this larger, techno atmosphere with more groove, less pace, and some solid foot-tapping and head-bobbing dance rhythms.
Go back to the original cuts before the album releases on August 6, so you’ll be ready to hear how a diverse group of tastes and talents will breathe new life into the music of Houston’s premier psych-rock-funk-all-of-the-above band. —Arman Badrei, editorial intern