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YouTube | February 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | February 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy

Heavy Heavy

by Young Fathers

Released 3 February 2023

Ninja Tune

*****

Scottish trio Young Fathers (Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham "G" Hastings) return with their first album in six years and they're once again rocking out with their patented recipe of measured abandon and meaningful lyrics, in their trademark chaotic, hybrid style that embraces rock, pop, hip-hop and soul and much. much more.

This (their fourth) album, is another classic that I am sure will feature among this website's top ten albums at the end of the year, as did their previous "Cocoa Sugar" (2018).

On Heavy Heavy, the Young Fathers' don't rely on teams of collaborators, spoken interludes, or overt studio effects: their work is contemporary development of comparatively "traditional" techniques.

Their Bandcamp entry for Heavy Heavy describes their approach: "(the) project signals a renewed back-to-basics approach, just the three of them in their basement studio, some equipment and microphones: everything always plugged in, everything always in reach."

However, the album's production is as spectacular as anything we're likely to hear this year.

The music is one of contrasts and constant mood swings, resulting is an engaging set that engages the listener, enticing them to take the album in in its entirety - and then to repeat play! It is alternately soft & loud, melodic & noisy, political & personal, calm & wild, serious & fun.

It shows that the Young Fathers have lost none of their potency during their six year hiatus and it places them at to very top of the musical pile.

Acid Arab - ٣ (Trois)

٣ (Trois)

by Acid Arab

Released 3 February 2023

Crammed Dice / Shelter Studio

*****

Based in Paris, Acid Arab is a brilliant Franco-Algerian electronic / dance music collective.

The ten tracks on this eagerly-awaited record are serious dancefloor bangers, and will also be providing delightful private listening experiences, thanks to their sophisticated production and to the intriguing, diverse performances by eight guest vocalists: Sofiane Saidi (Algeria), Cem Yldiz (Turkiye), Wael Alkak (Syria), Cheb Halim (Algeria), Ghizlane Melih (Morocco), Fella Soltana, (Algeria), Khnafer Lazhar, Rachid Taha (Algeria).

Incorporating Algerian gasba, Anatolian trance, synthetic dabkeh, bionic raï, Acid Arab have incorporated and invented a spectrum of styles, breaking boundaries between genres. After spending close to ten years exploring diverse types of music through their numerous collaborations and their constant travels all around the Mediterranean and beyond, Acid Arab keep pushing the envelope and expanding their musical territories.

“We’re careful not to repeat a identical formula from album to album” says the band. “It’s the actual working relationship with the guest artists which drives us to expand the concept.”

This is cutting edge music - sampling and experimenting with the excitement and energy of the music heard in the medinas, souks, taxis and wedding parties of the Arabic speaking hemisphere and bringing it to global attention.

Long live Acid Arab.

Lisa O'Neill - All Of This Is Chance

All Of This Is Chance

by Lisa O'Neill

Released 10 February 2023

Rough Trade

*****

A raconteur in the truest sense of the word, every story starts somewhere and O’Neill starts this extraordinary collection here on earth, on Irish soil, hands in the land. The album is full of both orchestral masterpieces like the ambitious and cinematic "Old Note" and the title track of “All of This Is Chance”, inspired by the great Monaghan writer Patrick Kavanagh's prescient meditation on The Great Hunger, as well as stirring meditations on nature, birds, berries, bees, and blood that ring out over a clacking banjo, dusting and devastating all those in its wake.

Read More... Bandcamp

Kelela - Raven

Raven

by Kelela

Released 10 February 2023

Warp Records

*****

Largely absent since her debut album Take Me Apart and its remixes (2017-18), US R&B outlier Kelela returns with a stunning new set.

Since her debut, the singer has delved deep, absorbing narratives of resistance to racism, misogynoir (sexism as it relates to the Black female experience) and foregrounding queer female creativity.

The result is a record that divides its time between the dancefloor and the bedroom, moving via hazy, in-between spaces filled with delicate yearning and immersive sound design.

Kelela’s choice of beats has long skewed British, with old-school drum’n’bass powering this album’s most immediate “ravin” track, Contact. But this is a record designed to penetrate cell-deep, with slow, unspooling tracks such as Holier, where beats don’t intrude, the music hanging as though in a space out of time. The standout title track builds deliciously slowly, outlining the distance travelled and – after a piano ripple, angelic backing vocals and an assertion of Kelela’s needs and desires – climaxing into a digital beat workout.

Source: The Guardian

Meg Baird - Furling

Furling

by Meg Baird

Released 27 January 2023

Drag City

*****

California singer-songwriter Meg Baird's first album in six years (and only her fourth in sixteen) is a giant step forward for the artist best known for  Ghost Forests (2018), her new -age chart topping collaboration with American harpist Mary Lattimore. With her new release she fleshes out her post Joni Mitchell persona, built on a elite finger-picking, acoustic guitar technique, with a lot more piano, synths and drums than we've heard from her previously.

The long instrumental opening song Ashes, Ashes opens the album, but it's as if the album starts again when the second song Star Hill Song commences and having been carried along with the instrumental, we're now captivated by Baird's gorgeous vocal. 

It's an album that calls attention to the Baird's arrival among the finest contemporary performers of modern folk music such as Big Thief, Beth Orton, Cass McCombs, Alela Diane, Laura Veirs.

Lizzie Berchie - Under The Sun

Under The Sun (Deluxe)

by Lizzie Berchie

Released 11 January 2023

Tru Community

*****

London born, with Ghanian heritage Lizzie Berchie's influences span  R&B, neo-soul, jazz, reggae and highlife but she has developed voice and style all her own that is at once contemporary and timeless.

The album includes songs that are deeply personal and heartfelt, the standouts dealing with relationships (Pass Time, Growth, Feeling), slavery (Nsala) and the Black Lives Matter (Trying).

30/70 - Art Make Love

Art Make Love

by 30/70

Released 17 February 2023

Energy Exchange Records

*****

'ART MAKE LOVE’ is the fifth album by 30/70, the mothership of the internationally acclaimed Melbourne born collective. Expanding far beyond the previous markers of nu-soul and jazz; it is inspired heavily by broken beat complexity, translating dance music into live textures and their truly unique collaborative songwriting.

‘ART MAKE LOVE’ is a statement about the very life giving, love fuelling, interconnected nature of creativity, a reclamation of art in a digital time.

Unique to their catalog, this album was created with each member of the band taking full control of the recording and producing of their own instrument only to culminate in a unified sound, their synergy palpable as a singular force.

Over the years 30/70 has become something of a supergroup, with Allysha Joy, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Josh Kelly, Finn Rees and Matthew Hayes all soaring as solo artists, band leaders and producers in their own right. Each member of the band commands their sound and musicality effortlessly - a concept that is unique in 30/70 too - there is no one leader, they make space for each member to go deep on whatever it is they’re bringing to the table, creating space for the music and one another.

Read More: Bandcamp

Live.e - Girl In The Half Pearl

Girl In The Half Pearl

by Live.e

Released 10 February 2023

In Real Life Music

*****

LA-based, Dallas-raised artist Liv.e, announces her sophomore album 'Girl In The Half Pearl' due February 10th via In Real Life. 'Girl In The Half Pearl' seizes on both the creative and personal liberation Liv.e has experienced in the time since her 2020 debut album 'Couldn't Wait To Tell You...'. The album's 17 tracks are a document of self-examination, as she works through realizations prompted by grief and grapples with the dynamics of her role in the relationships in her life. Building upon the foundation she laid with CWTTY, 'Girl In The Half Pearl' bares her process of growth, forgiveness and reclamation of her sense of womanhood across an immersive soundscape. The album's artistic shifts developed during her time experimenting with live performance in London earlier this year while under residency at London's Laylow.


Source/more... Bandcamp

James Brandon Lewis - Eye Of I

Eye Of I

by James Brandon Lewis

Released 3 February 2023

Anti

*****

In 2021, the saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis had a career breakthrough with his tenth album, The Jesup Wagon. Inspired by the mobile agricultural education efforts of inventor George Washington Carver, the song cycle was hailed by critics for its dreamlike mosaic of gospel, folk-blues and catcalling brass bands. It was named Album of the Year at Jazz Times and Downbeat and a bunch of international jazz magazines, (and SunNeverSetsOnMusic) and it established Lewis as one of the provocative musical voices of his generation. 

Along the way, Lewis drew the attention of many improvising artists, most notably the saxophonist and jazz deity Sonny Rollins, who doesn’t offer effusive praise very often. Moved by Lewis’ deep, spirit-seeking sound, Rollins said “When I listen to you, I listen to Buddha, I listen to Confucius … I listen to the deeper meaning of life. You are keeping the world in balance.” 

Lewis' latest album takes another approach. He swapped the aesthetic manifestos he’d attached to previous albums ... for a simple punk-band-in-the-basement credo: Chasing energy. Above all else. 

The result is another masterpiece.

Read more... Here

Hollie Kenniff - We All Have Places That We Miss

We All Have Places That We Miss

by Hollie Kenniff

Released 10 February 2023

Western Vinyl

*****

Hollie Kenniff, a  Canadian-American vocalist and composer, describes her third album as "a chorus of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, humming drones, and reverb drenched shoegaze guitars, all melding into an impressionistic story of remembrance, loss, family, and connection" but as alarming as that all sounds (the execution of such music, more often than not, embarrassingly dreary) "We All have Places That We Miss" is an unexpected delight.

The collection is, she says, "a first-hand audio treatise on these in-between realms (between waking and sleeping, memory and history, and even living and dying), and the concepts of time, death, loss, growth, love, and longing that are clarified within them. Hollie Kenniff is a rare find - an artist who dares enter such emotional musical territory and does not get lost. 

"We All have Places That We Miss" is an ambient classic.

And equally engaging are her previous releases - "The Quiet Drift" (2021) and "The Gathering Dawn"( 2019)

Ali - Music World

Music World

by Ali

Released 13 February 2023

Sony Music

****-

Ali (Jakarta, Indonesia) - not to be mistaken for the Japanese band of the same name - combines Middle Eastern culture with elements of 70s Indonesian rock, cinematic soul, afro beat, funk and disco to create a new groove and sound straight from the contemporary and vibrant Indo music scene.

Jehst - Mork Calling Orson

Mork Calling Orson

by Jehst

Released 3 February 2023

YNR Productions

****-

Referencing the cult alien sitcom from the turn of the 80s, ‘Mork Calling Orson’ is Jehst’s sixth album reaching a typically supreme standard of syllables and similes bearing a red-eyed hue.

With Confucius MC, Eva Lazarus, Lee Scott, CW Jones and SINDYSMAN guesting, Jehst continues to unlock his superpower of making the melancholic incisively slice through all before him.

His partiality for provocative references to the fore, and sloganeering that “you hear the voice of God when I rock the mic”, “Jehst for president” and “I’m Nas in that ‘Illmatic’ phase” without either irony or pretence, ‘Mork Calling Orson’ begins as drowsy, clouded and dry-mouthed, occasionally letting light peer through the curtains, otherwise at peace with self-imposed exile (“ain’t no sunshine, regardless of climate change”). Nostalgic soundbites are interspersed with namechecks of Audio Two, Vanilla Ice, Daley Thompson, Mayor Quimby and Aloe Blacc, and Keor Meteor and Beat Butcha provide subtleties of assistance on production.

Source: Bandcamp

Raye - My 21st Century Blues

My 21st Century Blues

by Raye

Released 3 February 2023

Raye/Human Re Sources

****-

My 21st Century Blues was a vindicating triumph for RAYE weeks before it was released. The advance single "Escapism" topped the U.K. pop chart, giving the newly independent singer/songwriter her greatest commercial success after severing ties with Polydor. The label had signed her to a four-album deal and after six years had yet to green-light the first LP. Increasingly frustrated by artistic compromise as her scattered singles, featured appearances, and songwriting credits for other artists continued to pile up, RAYE fought free and justified her demand for autonomy with a theatrical smash hit about an impulsive night out in the wake of a bad relationship. RAYE's debut album does have the feel of a mixtape with its abrupt changes in production style and subjects

Read More: AllMusic

New Sector Movements - These Times

These Times

by New Sector Movements

Released 24 February 2023

First Word Records

****-

Founded, headed and produced by DJ & musician IG Culture (CoOp Presents / LCSM), this all-new quasi-group project also features the vocal talents of Allysha Joy, Mike City and Natalie May with additional accompaniment from Wonky Logic, Wayne Francis, Alex Phountzi and the NSM Fusion Starship

Read More: AllMusic

Close Counters - Soulcoasta II

SOULACOSTA II

by Close Counters

Released 15 February 2023

Holy Sound

****-

Back in 2018 we dropped 'SOULACOASTA', our first long-form body of work - we were blown away by the reactions and still to this day the title track is a favourite in our live show with the full band.

We now present to you 'SOULACOASTA II', a colourful sonic journey over 60 minutes in length that's full of energy for vibrant club floors, but equally ready for a headphone journey or long car ride. It’s a 14 track expedition through soul, house, broken beat and beyond, with the bass and beats driving the vehicle as the synths, keyboards and samples decorate the view. This record was an opportunity to get deeper into dance music and dive into niche sounds and samples that we’ve collected from trawling through movies, archives, digging through the crates across Australia, UK and Europe, weaving new inspiration and textures into our music. This record also features some drums and percussion by Lucky Pereira, and bass guitar by Matthew Hayes.

Read More: Bandcamp

Andrew Wasylyk - Parallel Light

Parallel Light

by Andrew Wasylyk

Released 27 January 2023

Athens Of The North

****-

With ’Parallel Light’, AndrewWasylyk offers an alternative mix album to 2020’s spiritual-jazz and neo-classical masterclass in melody, ‘Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation’. This new LP, his third with Athens Of North Records, is as much a different perspective as a companion piece.

The ten songs still circle landscapes for meaning, channelling half-heard melodies and misremembered memories; caught somewhere between settling down and setting out towards the shining levels of the estuary and beyond. Each magnifying the bold, expansive arrangements of FL&TOC with layers lifted and peeled away.

The soft-focus glow of gently pressed piano keys, the well and wash of strings and brass remain, but the deduction of instrumentation serves to highlight the ornate and offers comfort with this new found space. In the warmth reshaped, a romanticism illuminated.

At the essence of these reframed compositions Wasylyk’s blue and gold, mellifluous refrains prevail. It’s a seamless, sublime flow from a restless artists and an album quietly reawakened.

Source: Bandcamp

Isaiah Mostafa  - North Star (EP)

North Star (EP)

by Isaiah Mostafa

Released 19 January 2023

Isaiah Mostafa

****-

From Oakland, California, Isaiah Mostafa keeps a very low-key internet profile but already features in over 50 playlists on Spotify alone. The strength of his latest EP "North Star" suggests that an even wider audience should soon be hearing of him.

His discography shows a prolific artist who has released a steady stream of singles, EP's and albums over the past five years.

He describes his work as "futuristic throwback, retro Soul-Pop (but hyphy tho)".

From very the outset, the underlying fundamentals of Mostafa's approach have been his high-range vocals, that span R&B, soul and rap, languid tempos and lush production. "North Star" is his most assured collection yet - hopefully the breakthrough that will bring him the recognition he deserves.

Barney McAll - Precious Energy ReUp

Precious Energy ReUp

by Barney McAll

Released 20 January 2023

Barney McAll

****-

Barney McAll is a Melbourne born jazz pianist and composer. McAll joined American saxophonist Gary Bartz's band in 1997, and has also played with the Josh Roseman Unit, Fred Wesley and the JB's, Groove Collective, and Kurt Rosenwinkel's "Heartcore".

McAll completed his Bachelor of Music at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, and studied in New York and Cuba. He is the brother of pianist John McAll.

“Precious Energy ReUp” is a 12-track remix album of the 2022 release “Precious Energy” which was nominated for an ARIA, Australian Music Prize and Music Victoria Award.

The new 12-track album features contributions from contemporary jazz luminaries

Brisbane-based producer & dj -Setwun, British electronica & soul innovator - Steve Spacek, Surana, Moses Carr, Toshio Matsuura, Dan West Audible Artifacts, Kuzich, Lords Garden, Mike Gurrieri and Pat Telfer.

Velvet Negroni - Bulli

Bulli

by Velvet Negroni

Released 13 January 2023

4AD

****-

Velvet Negroni, the performance handle of Minneapolis-raised Jeremey Nutzman, has been a name to watch since his take-notice-impressive early albums Neon Brown (2019) and T.C.O.D, (2017) and his 2020 remix of Sudan Archives' Confessions.

His music is a collage-like fusion of R&B, rock, electronica and rap, full of twists and turns to conjure brilliant, evocative soundscapes. For Bulli, he has returned to shorter length songs (few reaching past three minutes and none over four), with inscrutable titles such as Pop Song(s) 1 & 2, Never Said Peep, Sinker, Bell Clapper. This approach gives vitality and energy to the album, but thirteen tracks in just thirty-one and a half minutes results in a blur of ideas. My only concern is that more time might have been given to many of the songs, to allow them to make a stronger impression.

Dave Liebman - Live At Smalls

Dave Liebman Live At Smalls

by Dave Liebman, Peter Evans, Leo Genovese, John Hébert. Tyshawn Sorey

Released 3 February 2023

Cellar Live

****-

Recorded at Smalls Jazz Club on January 15th, 2021, we have a truly brilliant recording of improvised jazz by the masterful quintet comprising Dave Liebman (saxophones), Peter Evans (trumpet), Leo Genovese (piano), John Herbert (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).

Born in 1946, Liebman has played alongside many of the foremost legends in jazz over six decades, including Miles Davis, Chick Corea, John Scofield,  His discography is prolific, with over 250 albums as leader and he has tackled the full range of jazz styles in the course of his career.

This recording is particularly moving, as it marked the 75 years-old's return to the stage just six weeks after hip replacement surgery.

The  album comprises three pieces, (succinctly entitled The Beginning, The Middle and The End) but its truly a 72 minute suite of exquisite improvisation.

Read more... Liner notes written by Liebman's daughter Lydia and the label's publicist (copied onto Bandcamp) tell the full story of this remarkable recording.

Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu, Jive Connection - Face To Face

Face To Face

by Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu, Jive Connection

Released 27 January 2023

Strut Records

****-

Strut revives a lost recording from the archives in January with a 2002 collaboration between acclaimed South African folk singer Vusi Mahlasela (dubbed “The Voice” Of South Africa, who performed at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 and has enjoyed a long relationship with Sweden), singer songwriter Norman Zulu and Swedish jazz / soul collective Jive Connection.

This “lost” recording, discovered in the archives of producer Torsten Larsson showcases their natural musical chemistry together.

Vusi’s songs have traditionally addressed the struggle for freedom and the need for reconciliation and, here, his lyrics are as powerful as ever, ranging from parables (‘Prodigal Son’) to an unflinching lament on child abuse (‘Faceless People’). Jive Connection vary the soundtrack, bringing in hints of reggae, jazz and post-punk alongside traditional township arrangements.

Gena Bruce - Deep Is The Way

Deep Is The Way

by Gena Bruce -

Released 27 January 2023

Dark Dash Recordings

****-

Deep Is the Way is the sophomore album from Australian singer-songwriter and horticulturalist Gena Rose Bruce.

The album finds her working with long time collaborators and forging a new wildcard relationship.

Through lockdown Bruce corresponded with the iconic songwriter Bill Callahan, their connection resulting in them writing two songs together: ‘Foolishly In Love’ and the title track to the album, ‘Deep Is The Way’ (which also features the two of them duetting).

Bruce also reconnected to Tim Harvey (Jade Imagine) who she worked closely with on her debut album.

Source/more... Bandcamp

Libby York - DreamLand

DreamLand

by Libby York

Released 3 February 2023

OA2 Records

****-

American jazz singer Libby York grew up in Chicago in a musical family. in a house filled with the music of Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, etc. However, her musical career begin when she was 35, after attending University in Washington, D.C, marrying and opening a restaurant with her husband. She became interested in music when they were wintering in Key West, Florida. Subsequently, after divorced her husband, she moved to New York and was gradually included in the city's lively music scene.

For her latest album she has chosen a playlist of lesser-known pieces from the Great American Songbook, covering songs written or made famous by Johnny Mercer (Hit The Road To Dreamland), Joabim & Moraes (Estrada Branca - This Happy Madness), Rogers & Hart (Mountain Greenery), Peggy Lee (Cloudy Morning), Abbey Lincoln (Throw it Away), Rosemary Clooney (Still On The Road and When October Goes), Artie Shaw (Moonray) and Leonard Bernstein (It's Love).

This is a mellow collection for fans of Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Chet Baker, etc.

Rebecca Barnard - The Night We Called It A Day

The Night We Called It A Day

by Rebecca Barnard

Released 3 February 2023

Rebecca Barnard

****-

The name Rebecca Barnard is likely to ring bells among many Australian music lovers, if not for her recent solo career as jazz singer or her broad involvement in the mainstream Australian music scene throughout the 80's and 90's, including her own band Rebecca's Empire, then due to her familial relationships with father (drummer) Len, uncle (trumpeter) Bob uncle and even grandparents Jim and Keith Barnard.

Since 2006, Barnard has produced three solo albums: Fortified (2006), Everlasting (2010) and Music for Listening and Relaxation (2017) all featuring her own compositions.

For her latest release she has selected ten little-known jazz standards and is supported by a of Australian jazz players" Sam Lemann (guitar), Ben Robertson (bass), Paul Williamson (sax), Steve Grant (trumpet) and her son Harry O’Mara (drums).

The album positions Barnard in the musical company of Diane Krall, Melody Gardot, Patricia Barber and Elaine Elias. Despite the quality of her previous solo work, which wasn't widely heard, let us hope that she receives the attention she deserves with this excellent album.  

Stephan Ulrich - Music From This American Life

Music From This American Life

by Stephan Ulrich

Released 3 February 2023

Barbes Records

****-

In 2020, Ira Glass' Pulitzer Prize-winning radio program This American Life commissioned ten pieces from composer Stephen Ulrich to convey the yearning, intrigue, and beauty of the show that has become the benchmark of modern oral storytelling. Unsettling and humorous, shadowy and optimistic, Ulrich's music weaves a melodic and textural foundation through many episodes of the iconic program. Ulrich, best known for his guitar noir trio Big Lazy as well scores to the HBO series Bored to Death and the Emmy-nominated documentary Art and Craft has made a career of composing music for picture. With a fluid economy and cinematic scale, Music from This American Life tells it's own tales in a distinctly American vernacular. Produced by Grammy-winning producer/engineer Dean Sharenow the album features pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman).

Ron Sexsmith - The Vivian Line

The Vivian Line

by Ron Sexsmith

Released 17 February 2023

Ronboy Rhymes / Cooking Vinyl

****-

It has been almost four years since Ron Sexsmith, an old favourite of SunNeverSetsOnMusic, released his previous album Hermitage and he returns in fine form, venturing from post-m pandemic confinement in his native Canada, to Nashville and producer Brad Jones, who played bass and keys on a few of his albums of the late 1990s and early 2000s.Despite the change of geography he picks up where his last albums left off, with another set of tender, wry and emotional songs.

Sexsmith's music remains comfortably within the lineage of his heroes and antecedents -  Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers, Paul McCartney and The Kinks, Gordon Lightfoot. 

Fantastic- Negrito  -Grandfather Courage (Acoustic)

Grandfather Courage (Acoustic)

by Fantastic Negrito

Released 3 February 2023

Storefront Records

****-

The latest release from soulful singer, songwriter and activist born Xavier Dphrepaulezz is a reimagined acoustic version of his 2022 release White Jesus Black Problems.

Part love story, part history lesson, the multimedia project tells the defiant tale of his seventh-generation grandmother and white Scottish indentured servant Betty Gallimore who was living in a common-law marriage with his seventh generation African-American enslaved grandfather, Grandfather Courage, in the face of the racist, separatist, laws of 1750s colonial Virginia. Fantastic Negrito shares, “The incredible story of my seventh generation grandparents was so profound. I reimagined it through the lenses of my touring band. Please check it out unplugged unapologetic reimagined.”

Source: Tinnitist

Gorillaz - Cracker Island

Cracker Island

by Gorillaz

Released 24 February 2023

Parlophone

****-

Gorillaz, the marvelously-conceived multi-media project of musician Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewiitt continues their journey with their eighth album Cracker Island. The band is made of four fictional members -  2-D (vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and Russel Hobbs (drums), with Alban as the sole (human) musical constant. Through videos and other media the group has amassed a long and complex back story that's tracked carefully on their fan pages.

Typically, the context for Cracker Island is Civilisation-In-Decay - the album title and artwork invoking the idea of Island-Paradise-As-Refuge, appropriately a notion about as real as the Gorillaz themselves.

As always, Albarn calls in an A-list of contributors, this time headed by Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala, Bad Bunny and Beck, making this a very laid-back, LA-sounding affair, and consistent with Gorillaz' and Albarn's perpetual mashup of pop, reggae rhythms and dub production.

The combination of midtempo songs and lush production result in an album that takes a moment to appreciate: there many not be anything to compare to the Gorillaz' most popular tracks, such as Feel Good Inc., Clint Eastwood and On Melancholy Hill, but Oil (feat. Stevie Nicks), Silent Running (feat. Adeleye Omotayo) and  New Gold (feat. Tame Impala and Bootie Brown) are standouts.

Skrillex - Quest For Fire

Quest For Fire

by Skrillex

Released 17 February 2023

OWSLA / Atlantic

****-

Best known for releasing singles and EP's, "Quest for Fire" is American record producer, DJ, singer and songwriter Skrillex's second only solo album; the other was Recess (2014).

As if making up lost ground, Skrillex has released two albums - the other, "Don't Get Too Close" is reviewed separately, alongside.

"Quest For Fire"is perhaps the more mainstream of the pair, as it is packed with many high-profile collaborators, most notably Missy Elliott, Four Tet and Jamie xx. .

As a set of songs, however "Quest" is an uneven and disappointing affair.

Although the best tracks are excellent  Rumble (feat Fred again..), RATATA (feat Missy Elliott), Butterflies (feat Four Tet) and XENA (feat Nai Barghouti), Supersonic (my experience), the overall sequence seems formless and as if to acknowledge this, Skrillex apologises in the penultimate track "Hazel Theme" saying "sorry guys ... one more minute of this".

There is, in fact, still another six minutes to go - mostly consisting of the heavily autotuned shuffle "Still Here (with the ones that I came with)" - an audience-stirrer that would have been better placed higher in the running order.

Skrillex - Don't Get Too Close

Don't Get Too Close

by Skrillex

Released 18 February 2023

OWSLA / Atlantic

****-

"Don't Get Too Close" Skrillex's second LP release of the month opens promisingly, with "Don't Leave Me Like This" - a vocal fanfare followed by a spoken word sample from British philosopher Alan W. Watts ("...where something is gonna happen to me that I don't know what it's going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say "Wow, that was a close shave, wasn't it?".and segues into the second track, "Way Back"

The Watts quote, taken from "Out of Your Mind: Essential Listening from the Alan Watts Audio Archives", was actually talking about the proposition: "suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream."  

The quotation provides an inspired premise around which to assemble a collection of songs that reach far and wide for music and themes and lyrical content. But the opportunity goes begging. Instead, Skrillex delivers an album of entertaining, but generally banal content. 

on4word - In Rainbow Roads

In Rainbow Roads

by on4word

Released 13 January 2023

on4word

****-

In Rainbows by Radiohead recreated using N64 sounds. Mostly sounds from Super Mario 64.

Inevitable!

Anatolian Sessions - Amida (EP)

Amida (EP)

by Anatolian Sessions

Released 27 January 2023

Qualista

****-

Anatolian Sessions - Passage of Mjora (DJ Mix)

Passage of Mjora (DJ Mix)

by Anatolian Sessions

Released 2 April 2021

Anatolian Sessions

****-

From Istanbul, Turkiye comes producer Anatolian Sessions. After experimenting with electronic music from a young age, he started telling the story of Anatolia (the ancient name for much of modern Turkiye), by blending the rich musical culture with aesthetic and spiritual sounds. In a short time, his tracks played in the biggest festivals of his style such as Burning Man and Exit Festival, and he collaborated with leading DJ's and producers. Two tracks were included in the Buddha Bar Elements collection in 2020. He has just released a his latest EP "Amida" a song in collaboration with Danny Shamoun and three remixes, but his 2021 album Passage of Mora is a even broader showcase of his work.

Cem Yidiz - Ciktim Kirklar Yaylasina (Remix) (Single)

Ciktim Kirklar Yaylasina (Remix) (Single)

by Cem Yildiz, Cay Taylan

Released 3 February 2023

Nana Yapim

****-

Cem Yidiz - Ben Ucarim Gokler Ucar

Ben Ucarim Gokler Ucar

by Cem Yildiz

Released 15 April 2022

Nana Yapim

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Cem Yildiz is acknowledged as a modern time Ashiq - the  travelling poets of Anatolia (Turquie), NW Iran and Caucasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia).

He studied music at Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory where he produced an album of Alevi sayings. (Alevism is a primarily Turkish faith whose adherents follow the mystical teachings of Haji Bektash Veli, the cousin and son-in-law of The Prophet, Muhammad). Subsequently, he gained great recognition for the characteristic sound he created with the bands Orient Expressions and Inssanlae, and the music he composed for may TV series and movies. He also collaborates with Acid Arab, whose latest release ٣ (Trois) is one of our five star albums this month.

Robert Forster - The Candle and the Flame

The Candle and the Flame

by Robert Forster

Released 13 February 2023

Robert Forster / EMI

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The songs that became Robert Forster's eighth solo album The Candle and the Flame were mostly already written when his wife and musical partner Karin Bäumler was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July of 2021. The former Go-Betweens member's songs often held a certain brooding character, and even before this life-shaking illness became part of Forster and Bäumler's days, the songs that had accrued for The Candle and the Flame were already heavy and reflective, looking at how things change as the stages of life pass. The intensity of a family going through cancer, and the organic, mellow sound captures necessitated by unsteady health -- all combine into a bittersweet beauty on The Candle and the Flame.

Read More: AllMusic

Alex Allbrecht pres. Melquiades - Resolve

Resolve

by Alex Allbrecht pres. Melquiades

Released 4 January 2023

Constellation Tatsu

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Like the best musicians who work within the ambient genre, Alex Albrecht is in no hurry to get anywhere. His music is a lazy, almost desultory journey where the destination isn’t the point. It’s equal parts relaxing, calming, and laced with a tense buzz. 

Albrecht uses the field recordings primarily as a backdrop, but they make up a sizeable portion of the opening track, “Passage”. Mild outdoor atmospherics combine with the opening of doors, distant church bells, and the shuffling of feet, as if the listener is privy to a secret, if inconsequential recording. Soon, a mesmerizing piano and bass figure repeat over and over, while the background sounds continue.

Much like Claire Rousay’s 2021 ambient masterpiece A Softer Focus, Albrecht manages to let the ambience and the music coexist peacefully as they complement each other beautifully

Read more.. PopMatters

Badskin - Bush Bash

Bush Bash

by Badskin

Released 20 February 2023

Analogue Atic / Carla Oliver

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Bush Bash, the second album from Carla Oliver’s solo ambient project, Badskin.
The album consists of 8 stunning textural meditations, composed with layers of evolving pads and acoustic instrumentation.

Field recordings taken near Carla's home town in Australia's deep North Queensland forests capture cicadas, log runners, whip birds, frogs and the art of bush bashing.

Read more.. Bandcamp

Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir - Health

Health

by Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir

Released 6 February 2023

Jazz Quartez Up

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SunNeverSetsOnMusic has been a big fan of Lebanese oud master and composer Rabih Abou-Khalil since buying a copy of his 1992 CD The Blue Camel many years ago - and was thrilled when he teamed up with Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler and others for Charlie's 1993 album, Seventy. Since then, Rabih has released more than a dozen albums of his own, and continued to collaborate. Until just now, his most recent release was the very beautiful The Flood and the Fate Of The Fish (2019) and I have included it among this months albums.

 

No authoritative information was found for the album "Health", which comes across as a mixed bag of musical styles and ensemble sizes, all played using the conventional acoustic instruments of Arabic salon bands - violin, oud, flute and drum and the recording captures the lively atmosphere of the formal Arabic dining room music heard from Istanbul to Tangier.

Olga Chung, Rabih Aboud-Khalil, Munir Bashir - Pretty

Pretty

by Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir

Released 10 February 2023

Jazz Quartez Up

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Surprisingly (indeed, suddenly) Rabih Abou-Khalil (and Olga Chung's) name appears on six new releases this month: two complete albums, two three-track singles, a four-track single and a six track EP. All are accredited to Abou-Khalil, with Olga Chung and one or more of Munir Bashir, Enaid and Maree Docia.

 

The album "Pretty" is very much a companion to "Health": another typical recital by a small Arabic ensemble of oud, violin, flute and drum. Here, the pieces are is a little more intricate - almost cinematic in places.

Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir - Calm

Calm (EP)

by Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir

Released 14 February 2023

Jazz Quartez Up

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Is Olga Chung the young Hong Kong folk guitarist & vocalist of the same name? Munir Bashir is arguably the greatest Iraqi oud grand-master, based in Budapest, Hungary, but he passed away in 1997. Enaid is a Welsh Celtic folk group and Maree Docia is a Celtic harpist. I have found no promotional information at all relating to these releases; no reference or links on any of the artists' or record labels' websites or anywhere else, for that matter. So for now, please enjoy the music.  I will update this entry when I discover more.

 

As the EP title suggests, "Calm" is a relaxing, Arabic-inspired  collection of songs that are surely destined for the playlists of day spas, lobbies, salons and bedrooms worldwide.

Individual song titles "To Get Rid Of Stress", "Rest Near The River" and "My Favourite Rest" seem to be aimed to attract the attention of algorithmic search engines, as much as listeners. The musical content is as-advertised - and comes complete with birdsong!

Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Enaid - Touch Your Feet Underwater

Touch Your Feet Underwater (Single)

by Olga Chung, Enaid, Rabih Abou-Khalil

Released 3 February 2023

Jazz Quartez Up

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For this release, consisting of :"Touch Your Feet Underwater" and "Connect With The Most High", Olga Chung and Rabih Abou-Khalil are joined by Enaid, a Celtic new age quartet formed by David Arkenstone (keyboards, guitar, mandolin, percussion), Diane Arkenstone (vocals, keyboards), Don Markese (flute, pennywhistle) and Joel Derouin (violin).

This is another pair of soothing. ethereal pieces.

Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir - The Beauty of Yours Eyes

The Beauty Of Yours Eyes (EP)

by Olga Chung, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Munir Bashir

Released 6 February 2023

Jazz Quartez Up

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Despite the spelling error in the title, "The Beauty Of Yours Eyes" is an excellent oud song collection.

This is a set in which to immerse oneself, for the ambience of an Iberian or Levantine cafe.

The six compositions, (all given titles in English, with no further spelling errors), are excellent examples of the close connection between Eastern / Arabic / Oud music and Flamenco / Spanish / Guitar). 

It is something of a mystery as to why so many releases all at once - and how this associations formed.

Rabih Abou-Khalil, Maree Docia, Enaid - Love In Perfect Condition

Love In Perfect Condition (Single)

by Maree Docia, Enaid, Rabih Aboud-Khalil

Released 13 February 2023

El Gremio Inc

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For this three-track single, Rabih Abou-Khalil teams with Celtic harpist Maree Docia and Celtic (Welsh) new-age group Enaid for another soothing set of tunes, to which the complimentary character of the harp and oud is sublimely applied.

Orion Sun - Getaway

Getaway

by Orion Sun

Released 11 March 2022

Mom + Pop

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After releasing her incredible debut album Hold Space For Me, Orion Sun went back to crafting again and almost exactly two years later, dropped the Getaway EP. As a six-song collection released on March 11, 2022, it defines a moment in Sun’s life that is beautifully and artfully produced for the rest of the world to divulge in.  

This Philadelphia-based singer, songwriter and producer is no stranger to creating dreamscapes by using music as a personal journal to help process and restore feelings of love, pain and everything in between. Sun, a master in poetry and R&B, understands painting stories through the use of vivid imagery in her lyrics and has the ability to capture a weightless feeling through multiple instrumentals

Read more... Beyond The Stage Magazine