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Best New Albums | May 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Best New Albums | May 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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IzangoMa - Ngo Ma

Ngo Ma

by IzangoMa

Released 26 May 2023

Brownswood Recordings

*****

The fifteen-piece kaleidoscopic ensemble IzangoMa might only be releasing its debut offering on the esteemed UK-based label Brownswood Recording this coming Northern Hemisphere Spring, but the collective’s roots stretch back to the meeting of Sibusile Xaba (vox/keys) and Ashley Kgabo (synths/snare drum/drum machine) in 2016. The album is the logical next step in a journey.

The only way to extrapolate meaning from this future-forward debut is by viewing it as a collective effort, not the top-down composition of any one person. While the duo of Xaba and Kgabo forms the backbone, it’s the collective which feeds into the cycle that expands each time, adding something new on each iteration.

IzangoMa are Cosmic sgubhu with the alchemic powers of Sun Ra mixed with township styles ranging from pantsula to bubblegum, wrapped up and delivered in layers of spiritual chants, healing harmonies, and all manner of electro-analogue sonics transmitted in a big band-style ultrasound exploring themes of Creation as seen through the all-knowing feminine energy that transcends time and space, standing assured in its position as the cornerstone of their foundation. This is rhythm music; it spills into crevices ever-evolving, and revolts against a revolution yet to be finalised.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Erol Josue - Peleri Naj

Peleri Naj

by Erol Josue

Released 24 March 2023

Erol Josue

****-

This wildly acclaimed Port-au-Prince-based artist delivers an unforgettable 2nd album Pelerinaj (Pilgrimage). He blends sacred chants and traditional rhythms with elements of funk, jazz, rock, and electronic music. His avant-garde take on the tradition.

The vodou priest, singer, actor, and choreographer Erol Josue is on a mission to dispel the myths and misconceptions about Haiti's religion with his new album in fifteen years.

His 2007 debut album Regleman had proved him an artist to be reckoned with. His reputation as a sort of spiritual sage, an expert on Haitian history and culture. Josue is ready to once more put his spiritual faculties intermingle with his musical power to provide solace to his community while building a bridge to others.

The album is an ambitious, even epic, work with a reach that spans a lifetime from his childhood through his journey outside of Haiti and to his eventual return to his birthplace.

"I'm presenting a way of life using sacred and secular language," he says. "Even though these songs were composed for musicians to play, not for use in rituals, they represent spiritual knowledge."
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Islandman - Direct-to-Disc Sessions

Direct-to-Disc Sessions

by Islandman

Released 9 March 2023

Night Dreamer

*****

Freewheeling dance project Islandman moves in a bold new direction with this essential Direct-To-Disc session featuring storied Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz and contemporary saz player Muhlis Berberoğlu. Expanding beyond their electro-acoustic DJ formula into a wider sound world of experimental instruments, neo-traditional rhythms and folk improvisation, Islandman’s vision on this Night Dreamer disc seeks to reconnect cerebral downtempo beat-making with the folkloric and ritual bedrock that their music has always rested on.

Bandleader Tolga Boyuk’s vision has always been expansive, and the link-up with Night Dreamer was a chance to try out a more spontaneous style of playing and recording. ‘When Night Dreamer told me about their label, for which they only record Direct-to-Disc, I wanted to go there with a special project,’ he says. ‘I thought it would be a nice opportunity to make a more organic, more live and more improvised album. So I came up with the idea to make it with Okay Temiz.’

Read more... Bandcamp

Ishmael Ensemble & Rider Shafique - New Era

New Era

by Ishmael Ensemble & Rider Shafique

Released 10 February 2023

Seven Songs

*****

Fresh from receiving a standing ovation for their incredible performance at the London Jazz Festival, part of their 5 date UK tour and following comeback single ‘The Rebuke’, Ishmael Ensemble return with EP ‘New Era’, a powerful statement of intent in collaboration with poet, MC and lyricist Rider Shafique.

Shafique’s talent for razor sharp lyricism, keen observation and beautifully woven imagery deliver probing prophetic visions across Ishmael Ensemble’s strikingly emotive soundscapes on this brilliant 5 tracker, weaving jazz, dub and other electronic influences with stunning effect.
‘New Era’ is an absorbing and thought-provoking piece that highlights Ishmael Ensemble’s talent for genre-shifting and taking the sonic conversation well beyond traditional jazz. Coupled with Rider Shafique’s mastery of words, it’s easy to see why audiences have literally been on their feet to praise all concerned at live shows and why 2023 is set to be their most thrilling year yet. 

Read more... Bandcamp

Louis VI - Earthling

EARTHLING

by Louis VI

Released 31 March 2023

HiYaself Recordings Unlimited

*****

EARTHLING is the hotly-tipped second album from musical all-rounder Louis VI and the debut release on the newly-minted HiyaSelf Recordings Unlimited, helmed by Nightmares On Wax.

Here, the rapper, producer, and multi-instrumentalist draws on hip hop, jazz, electronic, afrobeat, funk, RnB, and soul to create a melting pot of future-leaning sounds that directly challenges the colonial legacy of climate change.

EARTHLING is stacked full of features from the friends and musicians that surround Louis – including Lex Amor, Oscar Jerome, Moses Boyd, Bluestaeb, Alex Cosmo Blake. On new cut ‘Orange Skies’, Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins drops by for a verse…

Read more... Bandcamp

Sufjan Stevens, Conor Hanik, Timo Andres - Reflections

Reflections

by Sufjan Stevens, Conor Hanik, Timo Andres

Released 19 May 2023

Asthmatic Kitty Records

*****

There is a long tradition of using pianos to accompany dance – whether it is during lessons at the barre or for rehearsals when hiring a full orchestra is prohibitively expensive – and Stevens was happy to further explore the instrument's capabilities. “Although I've never taken a lesson,” he says, “the piano was my first true love.” Self-taught as both a pianist and a composer, Stevens’ first instrument was the oboe, which he started playing in 5th grade. He played in orchestras from high school through college and listened voraciously to recordings of classical music alongside pop radio. He would often take breaks from the oboe by improvising on the piano, working out music he had heard in passing – pieces by Chopin, Rachmaninov and Bach. “I learned by ear, in a very rudimentary way, inspired by a wide range of music,” he says. “A lot of the work that I compose is anachronistic as it doesn't follow a genealogy of aesthetic. It can be a cornucopia of styles.”

That's the case with Reflections, where listeners may detect a hint of Debussy, Stravinsky, Philip Glass, and even Bruce Hornsby. Born in 1975, New York-based Stevens is best known as a singer-songwriter. He has recorded over a dozen solo and collaborative albums. He received Academy and Grammy Award nominations for Best Original Song for Mystery of Love, which was one of three contributions towards the soundtrack to Luca Guadagnino’s feature film “Call Me By Your Name”. Reflections is imbued with Stevens's broad experience in orchestral pop and electronica—but here the grandiosity is reduced to just two instruments.

Read more... Bandcamp

Okonski - Magnolia

Magnolia

by Okonski

Released 24 February 2023

Colemine Records

*****

Magnolia, the debut solo album of Steve Okonski, wasn’t meant to sound this way. The Durand Jones & The Indications’ keyboard player originally envisioned something quite different. Something that was beat driven and fully composed. In order to realise his vision, Okonski knew exactly who he needed on the team - DJ&TI bassist Michael Isvara Montgomery (who has also performed with the likes of David Byrne, Pharaoh Sanders and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor) and DJ&TI co-lead vocalist Aaron Frazer, (who turns his hand here to the drum kit). The trio survived, however the original concept developed quite differently.

The end result is an album that glides out of the speakers like a catamaran skipping across a calm ocean at the height of summer. 

Magnolia is a beautiful album, one that carries an overall sense of peace. It is a vehicle that, if you immerse yourself fully in it, will take you to a better place. The musicianship is outstanding and every note exists for a reason. If I have one criticism it is that it feels very short, coming in at under half an hour. I certainly could’ve taken more of this sublime jazz. Apparently, the Magnolia symbolises luck in some parts of the United States. It’s certainly lucky for us that Okonski’s trio decided to go down the path of working on intuition and improvisation to create this fine, free-flowing album.

Read more... Louder Than War

Malombo Jazz Makers - Down Lucky's Way

Down Lucky's Way (1969)

by Malombo Jazz Makers

Released 5 May 2023

Strut Records

****-

Lucas ‘Lucky’ Madumetja Ranku (1941-2016) was one of the greatest African guitarists of his generation. He first made his name with the Malombo Jazz Makers – the successor group to the legendary Malombo Jazzmen, formed in Mamelodi township by guitarist Philip Tabane, drummer Julian Bahula and flautist Abbey Cindi. When Tabane left the Jazzmen in 1965, Bahula and Cindi called on Lucky to replace him, and the Malombo Jazz Makers were born. Building on the popularity and success of the original Malombo Jazzmen, the Malombo Jazz Makers become immensely popular, touring widely, winning numerous jazz competitions, and recording two successful albums for the Gallo label.

The deep and hypnotic 'Down Lucky’s Way' was their third album. Recorded in 1969, it was the first Malombo Jazz Makers album to feature additional instruments, and the first to feature Abbey Cindi on soprano saxophone as well as flute. But more than anything else, 'Down Lucky’s Way' is a transfixing showcase for Lucky Ranku’s sui generis guitar virtuosity. Quite different from their previous recordings, the album shifted the Jazz Makers’ sound toward hypnotic, extended compositions, layered by organ bass and guitar overdubs. Of all the Malombo Jazz Makers recordings, 'Down Lucky’s Way' is the deepest of mood, and the richest of vision.

Read more... Bandcamp

Artemis - In Real Time

In Real Time

by Artemis

Released 5 May 2013

Blue Note

****-

Artemis double down on their fiery yet regal 2020 self-titled, Blue Note debut with a punchy, calligraphic flare (thanks in part to their younger contemporaries, in demand multi-reedist Alexa Tarantino and hellfire saxophonist Nicole Glover), catch fire, and watch it spread.

An early, sure-fire contender for the tops-of-twenty-three list barrage, In Real Time is really very hard to resist, even when it falls out of step. "Balance of Time," though intoxicating in texture, seems out of sequence just when the pace is hitting another early high. (As a kindly piece of advice, perhaps its placement in future set-lists should succeed trumpeter Ingrid Jensen's split tempered or split tempo'ed "Timber," a taut, hot-wired reverie held together by Renee Rosnes' ringing Rhodes. Just sayin.')

Multi-cultural as well as multi-generational, Artemis continue blending the best of us into a froth which never goes flat. One listen to their sly take on the late Lyle Mays' twisting "Slink" is all the proof needed, which makes the remaining seven performances on In Real Time a full blown bonus all the way around.

Read more... All About Jazz

Soul Revivers - Grove Dub

Grove Dub

by Soul Revivers

Released 14 October 2022

Acid Jazz Acquisitions

****-

After the release of their widely acclaimed debut album ‘On The Grove’ in March, Soul Revivers return with a dub version of the record: ‘Grove Dub’ out 14 October, 2022.

An ambitious and collaborative project from Nick Manasseh and David Hill, ‘On The Grove’ brought together musicians from across the decades, and saw Jamaican legends play alongside hot young musical talent from London.

Following the incredible reaction to the album, David and Nick re-entered the Yard Studios and set to work on creating an alternative dub version. The resultant Grove Dub reworks eight of the original 12 tracks, seeking to highlight different elements, to create these brilliant dub mixes. Nick then created an extreme soundscape by adding different elements to each track, all mixed live ‘on-the-board’ (on the mixing desk), by hand, old-school style. In his words, ‘Dub should represent a moment in time which reflects your feelings about the track in that instant. This way the dub will be done by the time the tune has run… 3 minutes 30 seconds, you've got a dub!’.

Read more... Bandcamp

Paul Simon - Seven Psalms

Seven Psalms

by Paul Simon

Released 19 May 2023

Owl Records

****-

Seven Psalms comes into focus softly and slowly, with Paul Simon's circular acoustic guitar figure repeating like a benediction. Religion is certainly on Simon's mind on Seven Psalms, a collection of seven songs that the singer/songwriter hesitates to call an album; he's so intent on having the tunes being heard as an interconnected set, he didn't index the individual segments on either the CD or digital incarnations. Although the tracks are distinct in melody and even feel, they do all flow together, creating the impression of a single entity. In a sense, every piece from Seven Psalms is a tributary from the main source, namely a series of writing sessions Simon held after waking up from a dream in the dead of the night.  Seven Psalms doesn't play like a summation as much as an epilogue to a major artist's career, music that deepens appreciation for his lasting achievements, of which this mini-suite is certainly one.

Read more... AllMusic

Soul Revivers - On The Grove.

On The Grove

by Soul Revivers

Released 11 March 2022

Acid Jazz Acquisitions

****-

n ambitious and passionate collaboration project, it features musicians spanning seven decades, including Jamaican legends: Ernest Ranglin, Ken Boothe, Earl 16 and Devon Russell; alongside contemporary artists, including jazz trumpeter Ms. Maurice (known for her work with Afro—Jazz Ensemble Kokoroko and Nubya Garcia), and vocalist Alexia Coley.

The roots of Soul Revivers lie in film. In late 2017, David was asked to act as music and creative consultant for Idris Elba’s Yardie. A year or so after the film was completed, David and Nick returned to some unused sessions they had recorded for the film. These sessions then became the seeds of this album.

‘On the Grove’ was produced at Yard Studios, under the Westway, in the shadow of the covered hulk of Grenfell Tower. It is a journey through the moodier side of reggae, and a progression in the ever evolving, yet timeless nature of the music. It is also a tribute to the music's long connection to West London, and in particular Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill. This history is distilled in the sleeve, which features Charlie Phillips’ photograph of Lepke (founder of Dread Broadcasting Company and brother to Ranking Miss P.) setting up his sound for a Notting Hill Carnival in the late '70s.

Alongside the featured artists, there are stellar performances from an extraordinary range of London’s most talented session musicians, all helping to complete the next chapter in the musical mythology of West London reggae. 

Read more... Bandcamp

Stephen Cummings - 100 Years from Now

100 Years from Now

by Stephen Cummings

Released 5 May 2023

Cheersquad Records

****-

Stephen Cummings of course needs no introduction to Australian music fans – the Countdown Award and ARIA Award-winning singer and songwriter has had a long, productive, creative and distinguished career since his days up front of Sports in the late ’70s and ’80s.  

What does need an introduction however is the fact that in March 2020 Stephen suffered a life changing stroke and this new album is the product of this event and the enthusiastic support he received creating it from the Melbourne music community. 

‘100 Years from Now’ is a record of beauty, of humanity, and of unflinching honesty. And gorgeous musicality. Recorded and mixed with long-time collaborators guitarist and producer Robert Goodge (Essendon Airport and I’m Talking) and producer and engineer Simon Polinksi (Steve Kilbey, Ollie Olsen). The album is a collection of co-writes that put Cummings’ post-stroke physical condition to the fore, both musically and lyrically. The effect of Stephen’s stroke on his singing adds a layer of bittersweet heartbreak to his already emotive style.  

Read more... Cheersquad Records

The Murlocs - Calm Ya Farm

Calm Ya Farm

by The Murlocs

Released 19 May 2023

Uncle Murl

****-

The Murlocs had visions of creating a quintessential country-rock record when they began recording their 7th LP - a collection of sublimely mellowed-out songs inspired by iconic albums like "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and "Exile on Main St" - but the record soon took on its own unruly character. Spiked with The Murlocs’ signature breed of sharply crafted garage-punk "Calm Ya Farm" twists country-rock convention into a free-flowing album fully in touch with the frenetic energy of modern life.

Read more... Bandcamp

Nick Cave, Nicholas Lens - L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.

L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.

by Nick Cave, Nicholas Lens

Released 4 December 2020

Deutsche Grammophon

****-

The Covid pandemic has meant, with both performance and recording opportunities at a minimum, that many musicians have had to apply a bit of lateral thinking to keep their creative juices flowing.

Nick Cave, of course, is not renowned for running with the pack, and used his time by performing his Idiot’s Prayer solo show in front of cameras at the Ally Pally early in the lockdown period. However, not one to stand still, he has now gone further leftfield by writing the libretto for Nicholas Lens’ chamber opera L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.
Cave and Lens have had previous experience of working together, with the Shell Shock opera of 2012, but this is something different altogether – not least because it only utilises 11 musicians due to the limitations of lockdown. 

While Cave doesn’t actually lend his distinctive singing voice to the performance, fans of his recent Ghosteen and Skeleton Tree albums will find plenty that’s engaging – both in the lyricism and in the general vibe of the album. L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. is atmospheric and haunting, as it tracks the birth, blooming, death and eventual rebirth of an individual, with the instrumentation mainly provided by a sparsely used piano, various woodwind instruments and some spidery violin.

Read more... The Arts Desk

Soul Supreme - Poetic Justice

Soul Supreme

by Poetic Justice

Released 26 May 2023

Soul Supreme Records

****-

"There are not many things that can hurt me more than people stealing my music." Late last year, Soul Supreme announced in a formal statement that he was—and still is, while completing this record—in a legal battle with a Norwegian producer and a money-grubbing indie label. A case to reclaim ownership over his masters. Industry rule #4080 in full effect.
People who know Soul Supreme, know he’s a music man at heart. So the silver lining of the lawsuit is that Poetic Justice emerged from it. After all, artists like Soul Supreme best express themselves through music. This is his way of coping with the dreadful situation; a heartfelt album to take you along for the ride.

Mind you: that doesn’t mean that this is a moody listen coming from a place of frustration and resentment. Far from it. Soul Supreme is confident in his case and that shows in his work on Poetic Justice. The music moves, grooves, throbs, and hits more than ever before. With thematic twists and turns to express how he’s been experiencing the legal fight.
“I have decided to create a positive outlet for what is a very negative event in my life,” he writes in the album announcement. “I wrote music that reflected how I feel going through this process. No matter what the legal battle results in—I know I have made something beautiful and honest out of this terrible experience. At least for myself but hopefully for others to enjoy it as well.”

Stealing Soul Supreme’s music is one thing, but Poetic Justice shows that no one can take away his spirit.

Read more... Bandcamp

Phi-Psonics - The Cradle

The Cradle

by Phi-Psonics

Released 1 April 2023

Gondwana Records

****-

Phi-Psonics is a meditative, immersive instrumental group from Los Angeles, led by bassist Seth Ford-Young and featuring Sylvain Carton on woodwinds, Mitchell Yoshida on electric piano, and Josh Collazo on drums. Their deeply soulful music draws on jazz and classical influences together with Ford-Young’s own musical experiences, relationships, and his introduction to spirituality, yoga and philosophy at a young age, to create something uniquely its own. Phi-Psonics’ name and ultimate aim is to find ‘Phi’ – the golden mean – in art, nature and self

Originally self-released on vinyl in a limited run just as the world went into lockdown, The Cradle reached Matthew Halsall (founder of Gondwana Records) when he aws looking for music for his Worldwide FM show and he was blown away, hearing a kindred spirit at work. Halsall explains:

“Phi-Psonics make beautiful, humble and honest music, it’s not showy, but it has a deep vibe that will elevate your mind and soul if you let it. When we heard The Cradle we reached out and are really super delighted to welcome Seth and his band to our label”. Whereas for Ford Young: “Connecting with Matthew and the Gondwana records family has been a light in the darkness of the last years - to have my music make connections even as we are more isolated.”
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Didje Doo - Salir De Casa

Salir De Casa

by Didje Doo

Released 29 April 2023

Turntables on the Hudson

****-

Didje Doo is an experienced turntable DJ from Italy, a soul explorer & life enthusiast who is deeply attracted by organic tropical grooves, African rhythms and by low end frequencies. He has been collecting sounds worldwide and bringing them to the dance floor, orienting to the oneness of music through culture's diversity. In 2021 he joined Turntables On The Hudson, the label born from the legendary worldwide parties hosted by Nickodemus.

Read more... Bandcamp

Daudi Matsiko - Fool Me As Many Times As You Like

An Introduction to Failure (2017)

by Daudi Matsiko

Released 26 May 2017

Naim Audio

****-

SunNeverSetsOnMusic is only now catching on to UK artist Daudi Matsiko on the back of his latest single Fool Me As Many Times As You Like ,a deeply personal and emotionally charged track that delves into themes of depression, anxiety, self-deception and giving up.

Daudi Matsiko - An Introduction to Failure (2017)

An Introduction to Failure (2017)

by Daudi Matsiko

Released 26 May 2017

Naim Audio

****-

Matsiko's 2017 release An Introduction to Failure is equally worthy of your time. Listen to one of his disarming songs from this double EP and it’s like a personal performance; as if he’s stood in front of a microphone on the other side of the room, his melancholy melodies ringing out with absolute accuracy.

Hear his song ‘Take Me Old’, and enter a hushed gig venue, all ears and eyes entranced by the music unfolding before them. Daudi’s music hypnotises with an economy of elements. It’s with just guitar, autobiographical lyrics, hints of saxophone and synth that he weaves a magic spell.

Read more... Bandcamp

Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad,Lonnie Liston Smith - JID017 Lonnie Liston Smith

JID017 Lonnie Liston Smith

by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad,Lonnie Liston Smith

Released 28 April 2023

Jazz Is Dead

****-

Coursing through the cosmic pulse of Jazz-Funk is the inimitable influence of Lonnie Liston Smith. For over five decades, the legendary keyboardist and bandleader has been a driving force in shaping the genre's sound. Smith made his recording debut as a sideman for heavyweights Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri and Leon Thomas. He later formed his own ensemble, Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes which delivered an incredible run of classic albums through the 1970s. His music has served as the foundation for immortal hip-hop samples and ecstatic dancefloor revelry. In late February 2020, Smith headlined Jazz Is Dead’s Black History Month series, giving many jazz fans what would be their last taste of live music before the nightmare of COVID-19 that took over in the weeks that followed. Now, he reunites with Jazz Is Dead to deliver Lonnie Liston Smith JID017 - a full-bloom tribute to the multitude of sonic strains that all lead back to the fingertips of the maestro himself.

Read more... Bandcamp

John Roseboro - Johnny

Johnny

by John Roseboro

Released 5 April 2023

Public Confession Art House

****-

At the end of 2021, John Roseboro had no home, no car, no family, and zero dollars zero cents in the bank. After a bad relationship and an even worse break up, he moved to New York City because “here you only need chutzpah.”

At the same time, John would release a successful debut, drawing attention from fellow artists, labels, and the internet, allowing him to tour across the US and Europe. Still, seeking stability, Roseboro averaged a song a month, a sonic diary exploring his relationships with God and women.

“Johnny” is that diary. The lush post-bossa instrumentation and effortless poetry cover universal themes showing a range of expertise and execution. Dancing and crying at the same time; hurting and healing at the same time.

The Haitian-American, Brooklyn based, singer-songwriter and visual artist has been making a name for himself in the indie scene, redefining and innovating the genre up and down the coasts. Building off of the likes of Gilberto and Jobim, Roseboro’s post-bossa style carries other similarities to the greats in that his music focuses on personal and social justice, undertaking major concepts such as human rights, love, and religion. Being described as "probably the music that will heal the world... impossible to be indifferent, in voice and soul.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Omar Sosa, Tigana Santana - Iroko

Iroko

by Omar Sosa, Tigana Santana

Released 20 January 2023

Selo Sesc (dist. Tratore)

****-

IROKO is a sublime musical cascade. The flash that bounced off the walls of a music studio in São Paulo, Brazil in 2022 when African-Brazilian vocalist and guitarist Tiganá Santana and African-Cuban pianist Omar Sosa worked together to chisel a gem, while the world was still in the grip of a raging pandemic. The exquisite album they crafted exemplifies the magic that arises when artists shove aside their creative egos and humbly listen to each other, their shared vision becoming a flash of creative genius.
Sosa and Santana are two innovative spirits of the contemporary music scene who have lots in common. They structure complex compositions with ears attuned to their respective sub-Saharan African cosmovisions (Santería, Cuba, and Candomblé, Brazil). Both textually and emotionally, they speak to the same ancient Yoruba divinities, and are able to create a dialogue of Africa with itself, from various points of departure, ports of entry and across the seas. A dialogue that is futuristic and cosmic by design, yet contemporary in its appeal, backed by an array of sub-Saharan instruments that add melodic urgency to the speech.

IROKO is a beautifully crafted and moving album, a real treat for the soul. An Africa-to-Africa dialogue overseas, about the Many Rivers to Cross and the Beautiful Jungles to enter, along the road to the true Self.

Read more... Jazz Del La Pena

Avishai Cohen, Abraham Rodriguez Jr. - Iroko

Iroko

by Avishai Cohen, A. Rodriguez Jr.

Released 5 May 2023

naive

****-

IROKO is a complex symbol in Yoruba lore -  (The Yoruba people are a West African ethnic group who mainly inhabit parts of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo) – a troll that inhabits the top branches of a large hardwood tree called “The Throne of God,” which is guarded lest he comes to earth and drives men mad.

But IROKO, the French Naïve label’s distinctive release by singer-bassist Avishai Cohen and conguero and vocalist Abraham Rodriguez Jr., brims with tasty grooves and has deep roots in esoteric religion and popular songs.
The album is the 20th for prodigious Israel- based composer-musician Cohen and the third project out front for Rodriguez, a self-described Nuyorican Babalawo priest, and doo-wop-bata rumba king, though his secret sauce can be heard on classic recordings such as Totico y Sus Rumberos, Cachimba Involvidable – Son Borincuba, Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, Deep Rumba and Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba, among others.
Iroko is the manifestation of Avishai Cohen’s dream “to do a project with his favorite Latin musicians in New York.” The concept began with Cohen and Rodriguez and culminated with the premier of the band in Paris with drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, trumpeter Diego Urcola, saxophonist Yosvany Terry, percussionist Jose Angel and Spanish singer Virginia Alves, a week at the Blue Note in New York, and dates at summer festivals. 

Read more... Jazz Del La Pena

Avishai Cohen - Tel Aviv Beyrouth Original Soundtrack

Tel Aviv Beirut Original Soundtrack

by Avishai Cohen

Released 17 February 2023

naive

****-

With the backdrop of the 1980s Israeli-Lebanese conflict, Tel Aviv Beirut (tel Aviv Beyrouth) powerfully portrays the journeys of two women separated from their families by the border and war. Directed by Michale Boganim, Avishai Cohen composed the original music score and also makes his acting debut!

While Tel Aviv Beirut is ostensibly a war film, its drama revolves around the effects of war on those least responsible for it: women and children. Myriam and Tanya represent the real consequences of endless bombings and raids.Tel Aviv Beirut casts a sharp critical eye towards the treatment of the Lebanese refugees by Israeli society, but provides no easy answers.

Running just under 26 minutes, the soundtrack album is a brief listen, with half of the 10 tracks running less than two minutes and only three that develop beyond three. Nonetheless, the album is an enjoyable collection of engaging fragments that evoke the energy and musical flavours of the region. As always with his work, Cohen effortlessly shifts between piano, percussion and brass as he responds to the requirements of the motion picture.

Josef Akin - Flightcase

Flightcase

by Josef Akin

Released 30 July 2021

Sola Terra

****-

Here's a gem that escaped our attention at the time of its release, but worthy of inclusion at any stage.

Recorded in a rare moment of freedom between lockdowns, Flightcase represents the joy of collaboration and the importance of human connection.

This is an album of many voices. Influences ranging from Herbie Hancock to Sun Ra, but also from other projects Akin is involved in, Amara & GABO, shine through in an album which acknowledges the various music that inspires and influences Akin, whilst trying to create something new and unique.

Akin Subscribes to the philosophy of allowing each musician to create however they feel to, trying to do little more than create the framework and allow the other musicians to express themselves within this. This felt particularly important in a time marred by restrictions.

Read more... Bandcamp

Madison McFerrin - I Hope You Can Forgive Me

I Hope You Can Forgive Me

by Madison McFerrin

Released 12 May 2023

MadMcFerrin Music

****-

Madison McFerrin has many sides: She is lonely, she is scared, she is godly, she is trying. On her debut full-length, I Hope You Can Forgive Me, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter explores the joys and pitfalls of evolving into new versions of yourself: the thrill of leveling up and the fear of losing people attached to the old you. She hopes that through the change, her loved ones will still be there to meet her.

McFerrin, the daughter of jazz icon Bobby McFerrin, debuted in 2016 with a collection of spare a capella anthems. They relied on little beyond her voice and light hand percussion, showing off her crisp, airy singing, curlicued melodies, and intricate harmonies. By her 2019 EP, You + I, produced by her brother Taylor McFerrin, she began fleshing out her tracks with bass, guitar, and synth. The result was a lusher electro-pop sound, the relaxed instrumentation accentuating the effortless quality of her vocals. 

Her latest project is her most dynamic and elaborate, while retaining the vocal emphasis and layered textures of her a capella work. 

Read more... Pitchfork

Asher Gamedze - Turbulence and Pulse

Turbulence and Pulse

by Asher Gamedze

Released 5 May 2023

International Anthem

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Cape Town, South Africa-based drummer Asher Gamedze explores relationships of time between music and history on his new album Turbulence and Pulse, the follow-up to the artist's critically-acclaimed debut album Dialectic Soul, which was released at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2020. 

Turbulence and Pulse takes its title from this moment of synchronicities. Inspired by this description, Gamedze developed the metaphor further, expanding the concept of turbulence and pulse through the lens of history. “Time in music is a metaphor for thinking about time in history and how time moves,” he says. “The way we’re taught history is generally in a way that robs people of agency in imagining themselves as part of history and how it unfolds. It is something that happens to us. I think there's a productive metaphor in that because the sense of time in music is created by musicians playing together. If we can use that to think about history and time in history, you can see that, actually, history is created by people in a whole range of ways. At the heart of it, historical motion is created by people organized and acting together, whether for progressive or reactionary ends.”
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Stomu Yamash'ta - In - Zen Music, Vol. 1 (2011)

In - Zen Music, Vol. 1 (2011)

by Stomu Yamash'ta

Released 1 January 2011

Red Buddha

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A trail-blazing percussionist and composer, Stomu Yamashta has garnered acclaim for his genre-bending mix of jazz-rock fusion, classical music, and Japanese percussion traditions. Following early work in Japan in the '60s, he gained global attention with albums like 1972's Floating Music and 1974's One by One, as well as recordings with his Go ensemble with Steve Winwood, Klaus Schulze, and others. He also founded the progressive Red Buddha Theatre company and supplied the music for a number of highly regarded film soundtracks, including productions by Akira Kurosawa, Nicolas Roeg, and Robert Altman. The creator of the Sanukit, a stone percussion instrument, Yamashta moved toward more ambient environmental-inspired works, including albums like 1985's Sea & Sky, his Solar Dream project, and 2001's Listen to the Future, Vol. 1. He also collaborated with Ragnhildur Gísladóttir and Sjón for 2006's Bergmál and in 2017 delivered the atmospheric Purple.

This 2011 release seems to be practically unknown - it is listed in all the streaming services as a 1 January 2011 release, but doesn't appear among the entries in discography site such as Discogs or AllMusic.

As one might expect this is restful, devotional music that reflects the artists' mastery of the form.

Read more... Wikipedia

Alison-Goldfrapp - The Love Invention

The Love Invention

by Alison Goldfrapp

Released 12 May 2023

BMG

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Alison Goldfrapp's voice, songwriting, and very name are so intertwined with her wide-ranging body of work with Will Gregory as Goldfrapp that it makes establishing her identity as a solo artist uniquely difficult. Fortunately, her first album on her own proves she's up to the challenge. Instead of striving to make a deeply serious set of songs -- as many bandmembers do when they go solo -- on The Love Invention, she offers her listeners a chance to dance their cares away with some of the most direct and euphoric music of her career. The record's ecstatic grooves celebrate her musical roots and dance music itself as much as any relationship. Disco has always been a vital element of Alison Goldfrapp's work, and it provides some of The Love Invention's most glittering highlights: "Gatto Gelato" is a saucy, Italo disco-flavored standout, while "The Beat Divine" takes a cosmic, slow-motion approach that's so hazily sensual, it seems to have its own fog machine. On "Fever," a four-on-the-floor house beat brings the track -- and the album -- to a pulsing peak. Though the styles and influences may be familiar, Alison Goldfrapp takes distinctly different vantage points on them here than she does with Goldfrapp. Neither as dramatic nor as animated as the extremes of her work with Gregory, The Love Invention casts a consistently transporting spell of rejuvenation and seduction 

Read more... AllMusic

Joe Lovano, Marylin Crispell, Carmen Castaldi - Trio Tapestry - Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

by Joe Lovano, Marylin Crispell, Carmen Castaldi - Trio Tapestry

Released 5 May 2023

ECM

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The great saxophonist Joe Lovano has appeared on a number of ECM recordings over the last four decades, including much-loved albums with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn and John Abercrombie. Trio Tapestry is his first as a leader for the label, introducing a wonderful new group and music of flowing lyricism, delicate texture, and inspired interplay. Lovano and pianist Marilyn Crispell are in accord at an advanced level inside its structures. “Marilyn has such a beautiful sound and touch and vocabulary,” Joe enthuses. Drummer Carmen Castaldi, a Lovano associate of long-standing, also responds to the trio environment with sensitivity, subtly embellishing and detailing the pieces. Lovano: “We play together like an orchestra, creating an amazing tapestry. I brought in the material, but there’s an equal weight of contribution, creating music within the music, and harmonizing it in a really special way.” Trio Tapestry was recorded at New York’s Sear Sound studio in March 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Read more... ECM

Yaenji - With A Hammer

With A Hammer

by Yaenji

Released 7 April 2011

XL Recordings

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With A Hammer is the debut studio album by New York singer-songwriter Yaeji.

“With A Hammer” was composed across a two-year period in New York, Seoul, and London, begun shortly after the release of “What We Drew” and during the lockdowns of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is a diaristic ode to self-exploration; the feeling of confronting one’s own emotions, and the transformation that is possible when we’re brave enough to do so. In this case, Yaeji examines her relationship to anger. It is a departure from her previous work, blending elements of trip-hop and rock with her familiar house-influenced style, and dealing with darker, more self-reflective lyrical themes, both in English and Korean. Yaeji also utilizes live instrumentation for the first time on this album—weaving in a patchwork ensemble of live musicians, and incorporating her own guitar playing. “With A Hammer” features electronic producers and close collaborators K Wata and Enayet, and guest vocals from London’s Loraine James and Baltimore’s Nourished by Time.

Read more... Wikipedia

Jacob Young, Matts Ellersten, Audun Kleive - Eventually

Eventually

by Jacob Young, Matts Ellersten, Audun Kleive

Released 12 May 2023

ECM

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Jacob Young’s fourth leader-recording for ECM not only presents the guitarist’s first pass a the guitar trio format, but moreover offers a broader view of his compositional pallet, as he, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Audun Kleive explore a wide variety of pulsations, temperaments and styles, all tied together by Jacob’s always melodic embrace. On his last effort, 2015’s Forever Young, the guitarist was joined by Trygve Seim and the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, performing what The Guardian called, “a set full of undemonstrative surprises and contrasts”, where “the quality of the composing matches the formidable powers of the band.” Eventually continues that record’s gentle lyricism, while Audun Kleive’s percussive injections add counterpoint to Jacob’s in turns balladic and more rhythmically overt elaborations, lending this set its sharp edge. Longtime partner Mats Eilertsen, who appeared on Jacob’s label debut Evening Falls (2004) and Sideways (2007), contributes a confident foundation, simultaneously complementing and challenging his colleagues in a vivid, contemporary jazz programme.

Read more... ECM

Gabi Hartmann - Gabi Hartmann

Gabi Hartmann

by Gabi Hartmann

Released 13 January 2023

27/29 , Sony France

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We can talk endlessly, but we don't necessarily know very clearly where Gabi Hartmann's voice takes us: a jazz bar in the basement, a tropical beach at dusk, a terrace on a slope in Lisbon, the background of a Parisian brasserie on a winter's night? We close our eyes and pass, entwined, the shadow of a jazz legend, a bossa nova diva, a great lady in black from French or Portuguese song, somewhere at the crossroads of exquisite chic and vertiginous melancholy, consoling sweetness and shared spleen.

Fifteen months after an introductory EP, Gabi Hartmann's first album is finally released, produced with Jesse Harris. They met in 2018 in New York during a recording session. He brings everything that makes the glory of his collaborations with Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux or Melody Gardot.

Gabi Hartmann also brings a personal musical history in the making, but already rich. Childhood with a Parisian family listening to chansons, rock, and music from everywhere. Classical piano until the age of fourteen, when she exchanged it for her brother's guitar to write songs. Jazz arising in rewind after her discovery of Amy Winehouse and her covers of Ella, Sinatra or Nat King Cole. Music lessons at the Schola Cantorum then at the Conservatory, a detour through Brazilian music by living two years in Rio de Janeiro, a year of ethnomusicology in London, returning to Paris to intertwine projects in ten genres and three languages.

When Jesse Harris asks her to make an album, she sees it as an invitation to "bring together all that I am", she says - the love of Billie Holiday and Lhasa de Sela, her friendships for the Sudanese flautist Ghandi Adam and for the Guinean guitarist Abdoulaye Kouyaté, her admiration for the great crooner Henri Salvador and her memories of travels in Africa, and venerable songs written before the birth of her parents...

From their meeting, the two musicians write and record between New York and Paris. Little by little, the coherence emerges from Gabi's songs between her love of the great jazz standards and her confessions as a young french woman of her century, between her fascination for the music of the Tropics and her Parisian poetic instinct...

Read more... Hi Res Audio

Emile Londonien - Legacy

Legacy

by Emile Londonien

Released 10 February 2023

Omezis

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Emile Londonien is a trio from Strabourg, France who have emmersed themselves in London club culture. “Legacy” captures the essence of their sound by merging jazz rhythms with soul and broken beat grooves. The disc begins with the title track, a lo-fi instrumental with a simmering horn section courtesy of trumpeter Antoine Berjeaut and saxophonist Leon Phal. They shift gears on “Make it Easy”, a percolating tune ignited by house grooves and sublime vocals from Lara Issa. Although “House Party” is under two minutes it’s a live performance filled with infectious energy, providing a taste of what they’re capable of on stage. “londonien” demonstrates that this trio can jam in all manner of styles. An impressive release certainly worth checking out.

Read more... Basic Soul

Natural Information Society - Since Time Is Gravity

Since Time Is Gravity

by Natural Information Society

Released 14 April 2023

Eremite Records

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Since first developing Natural Information Society in 2010, Joshua Abrams has been gradually expanding the group’s conceptual underpinnings, its musical references & the sheer number of the group’s members. Its music is, in a sense, an expansive form of minimalism, based in repeated & overlaid rhythmic patterns, ostinatos & modality. Its roots, its scale & its meaning become clearer in time. If time is gravity, it also allows us to carry more. Having begun as fundamentally a rhythm section with Abrams’ guimbri at its core, the version here can stretch to a tentet, including six horns.

Read more... Bandcamp

Insolito UniVerso - Ese puerto existe

Ese puerto existe

by Insolito UniVerso

Released 8 February 2023

Olinda Records

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On their debut album, ‘La Candela del Río’, the Paris-based Venezuelans, experimental folk group, Insólito UniVerso created a magical Latin American sound of their very own, inspired as much by Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, Tortoise, Stereolab, and electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, as traditional Venezuelan folk music.

'Ese puerto existe' explores the diverse geography, rhythms and traditions of their home country of Venezuela, through their own distinctive sound.

On their debut album, ‘La Candela del Río’, the band created a magical Latin American sound of their very own, leading to critical acclaim from the likes of Songlines, Bandcamp, The Wire and many more; as well as a nomination for Best Group at the Songlines Award in 2020.

Following a 2-track digital single released in 2020, the group continued to experiment with Venezuelan music in collaboration with other Paris-based musicians from their homeland, such as Manuel Sánchez and Rafael Mejias.

At times, the music on this album reveals a more folkloric sound, rooted in the percussion instruments found across various styles of traditional Venezuelan music. However, the band don’t stop there and also enlist the estimable talents of free jazz drummer Francesco Pastacaldi and Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab fame.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Fred again..., Brian Eno - Secret Life

Secret Life

by Fred again..., Brian Eno

Released 5 May 2023

Text Records

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The hype levels are off the charts. Being Fred Gibson in May 2023 must feel, frankly, insane. Fresh off taking over New York City and selling out Madison Square Garden with his buddies Skrillex and Four Tet, and then the even loftier accomplishment of topping the bill at Coachella, you could make a case that, at least in terms of mainstream exposure, Gibson is on course to becoming one of the most famous and popular DJs of all time. Sounds kind of exhausting. So here comes Secret Life, a soothing step back and collaboration with his longtime friend and mentor Brian Eno, which arrived with yet more anticipation and fanfare—Four Tet, who released the album on his Text Records label, called it "the most beautiful album of 2023."

But it's a mainstream, you-know-how-this-ends kind of gorgeous, like a Hollywood remake of some European arthouse film. When you hear the closing strains of "Come On Home," featuring Gibson mumbling a John Prine song, it's difficult to be mad at Secret Life. But the bigger problem is that it's hard to feel anything at all.
 

Read more... Resident Adviser

The Soft Pink Truth - Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?

Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?

by The Soft Pink Truth

Released 21 October 2022

Thrill Jockey Records

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The Soft Pink Truth is the solo electronic project of Drew Daniel, one half of Baltimore-found sound duo Matmos. Asked to explain his new album’s gauntlet-throwing title, Drew Daniel says: “Years ago a friend was DJing in a club and a woman came into the DJ booth and asked ‘is it going to get any deeper than this?’ and the phrase became a kind of mantra for us. What did she really want? This album was created as an attempt to imagine possible musical responses to her question.”

Throughout the ten songs of the album, the provocation to go “deeper” prompts promiscuous moves across the genres of disco, minimalism, ambient, and jazz, sliding onto and off of the dancefloor, sweeping higher and lower on the scale of frequencies, engaging both philosophical texts re-set as pop lyrics and wordless glossolalia. Rather than a dryly pursued thesis, the music flows across emotional terrain from upfront peaks to melancholic valleys, often within the same song. This is the case on opening track “Deeper,” which morphs from Brainticket-Esque keyboard loops to a Chic disco groove to a Stars Of The Lid style heavy drone over eleven minutes. Evenly divided between opening lift-off, rhythmic peaks, and extended, spaced-out decrescendos, this is music that flickers and pulses and melts.

Read more... Bandcamp

Outside - Almost Out

Almost Out

by Outside

Released 7 April 2023

Dorado Records

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Outside was founded by Pianist, Drummer and Producer, Matt Cooper, in 1993 and featured many of London's top Jazz vocalists and musicians. More recently Cooper has been MD of Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick's Incognito and a central figure in Gilles Peterson's ST4TA

Outside's1993 debut album ‘Almost In’ stood out when it was released on the experimental label Dorado. Mixmag pronounced his second album ‘The Rough & the Smooth’ “the best record of the last two years”. Outside released three further albums: ‘Discoveries’ (1997), ‘Suspicious’ (1998) and ‘Out of the Dark’ (2001).

'Almost Out' is a stunning collection of cinematic, jazz electronica, with the sensual, Lo-Fi beats of focus track 'Utopia' featuring Samantha James. It is a work of slick downtempo beats and keys, Lo-Fi vibes and basslines and seamless touches of jazz instrumentation across fifteen tracks. 'Almost Out' juxtaposes the percussive, the haunting melancholy, atmospheric beats and tweaked out production to beautiful effect. Cooper is flying solo, as he first did in 1993, drawing on 20 years in the company of soul and jazz legends, while adding a dash of Philip Glass and Steve Reich minimalism.

Read more... Broadway World

Retromigration - Aso (EP)

Aso (EP)

by Retromigration

Released 17 June 2022

Sahko Recordings

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This EP features smooth jazz by Amsterdam based producer Retromigration, who is joined by multi-instrumentalist producer and composer Bezzix, saxophonist mauricesax and lastly producer and pianist Cem Mo.

 

Read more... Bandcamp

Kassa Overall - Animals

Animals

by Cassa Overall

Released 26 May 2023

Warp Records

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“On his first two studio albums GO GET ICE CREAM AND LISTEN TO JAZZ and I THINK I’M GOOD, Kassa layered virtuosic drumming, meticulous production techniques, and incisive lyricism to establish himself as a rhythmic innovator and visionary poet, using his voice to address the injustices of the carceral system, the pharmaceutical industry, and anti-black racism, while wrangling with the perils of his own mental illness.

On ANIMALS, his Warp Records debut, Kassa pushes his kaleidoscopic, subversive vision further. He layers Roland 808s against avant-garde drumming in the vein of his mentors Elvin Jones and Billy Hart, the latter of whom he studied with at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Virtuoso musos appear alongside rap poets, including Danny Brown, Wiki, Lil B, and Shabazz Palaces. Top-flight jazz improvisation weaves in and out of orchestral string arrangements by Jherek Bischoff. The album’s diverse, all-star roster of collaborators includes several of his close friends, like vocalists Nick Hakim, Laura Mvula, Francis and the Lights, and jazz stars like Theo Croker and Vijay Iyer.

Read more... Boomkat

Santaka - Santaka (EP)

Santaka (EP)

by Santaka

Released 10 March 2023

Sahko Recordings

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Jazz and club music aren't always the best bedfellows, but Lithuanian duo Santaka somehow manage to blend Laswell/Hassell fourth world dub with effervescent machine tech - and it sounds prophetic. Trust Sähkö.

Jazz drummer and producer Marijus Aleksa started jamming with DJ and producer Manfredas Bajelis in Vilnius during lockdown in an attempt to capture the magic of Herbie Hancock and Don Cherry's fusion of electronic, jazz, experimental and world music sounds, using similar processes to Bitches Brew era Miles.

'Burning Head' features Aleksa on drums and both artists using an arsenal of synths and drum machines, they rub the old and the new, hinting at fusion and fourth world innovation with a modernist twist..

'Love Kilimanjaro' is weirder, pushed forward by sparse drumming and Bajelis' fluttering drones.

They save the best for last though: 'Reciever' flickers thru spy movie/library music funque into haunted folk horror ambience (with "Suspiria" style screaming, natch) climaxing on tweaky rhythmic stutters and subs. 

Read more... Boomkat

Retromigration - Straight Foxin'

Straight Foxin'

by Retromigration

Relea