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2024-01 January's Best Albums

2024-01 January's Best Albums

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The Smile - Wall of Eyes

Wall of Eyes

THE SMILE

Released 26 January 2024

Self Help Tapes / XL Recordings

*****

"Wall of Eyes", The Smile's sophomore studio album affords it's three famous members a far less encumbered creative home than does Radiohead and Sons of Kemet, the juggernaut bands from which they hail.

Wall of Eyes is also the band's second studio release in less than a year - a haul that Radiohead has most recently taken twelve years to achieve and Sons of Kemet's five.

The music is so dominated by Yorke & Greenwood and similar enough to Radiohead to suggest that when the great band records again it should present a further increment in their artistic development, perhaps a long-form suite, rather than to replicate and be compared to The Smile project.

Although The Smile is an emerging project it is a working band: still building a reputation, touring large halls but not stadiums and playing regularly - 64 shows in 2022, 20 in 2023 and 24 planned for 2024. However, it has the unparalleled assets of the Yorke-Greenwood partnership (now entering their fourth decade together since their schooldays beginnings) and Skinner's  expertise in the engine room.

Standout tracks here are the "Wall of Eyes", "Bending Hectic" and "Friend of a Friend". Jonny Greenwood's orchestrations and instrumental mastery throughout the album are inspiring. Yorke is at the height of his powers, drawing from his full vocal range and often using his instrument as another would a synthesizer. Skinner demonstrates once again that he is a generational quality drummer and percussionist.

The bands debut album "A Light For Attracting Attention" was among www.SunNeverSleepsOnMusic.com top albums of 2022 and "Wall of Eyes" will surely be near the top of our 2023 list, come December. 

How great is this trio? It's difficult to judge at this stage of their career. My Top Ten list of iconic rock &/or jazz trios of all time includes Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Police, The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, The Jam, Oscar Peterson (with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis), Bill Evans (with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian), Keith Jarrett (with Gary Peacock & DeJohnette) and Ahmed Jamal (with Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier).

As I listen to the second album from The Smile, I wonder - should I displace one of these and admit The Smile to this list?

Sun Never Sets On Music

Birdsnake - Birdsnake Begins

Birdsnake Begins (EP)

BIRDSNAKE

Released 8 January 2024

Bathtub Music

****-

 

Naarm|Melbourne's groove merchants Birdsnake are crafting a name for themselves as one of the most entrancing acts in the local scene. They provide a free-flowing sensory experience that seamlessly combines acid jazz, psychedelic funk and down tempo grooves. The band's immersive live show is a blend of dubbed out rhythms and percussive textures that pull audiences into transcendental, droney realms.
On their journey exploring hypnotic soundscapes, Birdsnake's debut (album) delivers the same electric energy and airy melodies that people have come to love from their live shows. Tilting towards an electronic palette, Birdsnake Begins is a flavorsome and varied body of work showcasing the group’s love for synthesizers and pulsating beats. This release marks not just the birth of a record, but also the crystallization of the band's evolution thus far. Listeners can expect a meticulously mastered record that explores the marriage of digital and organic sounds. This record is an auditory treat for both seasoned listeners and new explorers of the Birdsnake universe.

Read more... Bandcamp

Arjuna Oakes, John Psathas - Sierra (EP)

Sierra (EP)

ARJUNA OAKES, JOHN PSATAS

Released 12 January 2024

Arjuna and John

****-

Rising star Arjuna Oakes and renowned composer John Psathas return for a new
collaborative project ‘Sierra’ after their underground 2022 hit ‘Future Lullaby’. Fusing Greek folk instrumentation with modern Jazz and recorded live in Athens’ iconic Sierra Studios, this EP brings together electrifying musicians from New Zealand and Greece to experiment and express themselves through the lens of Oakes and Psathas’ compositions.

After creating the music in a remote beach town in New Zealand, Arjuna and John assembled an all star lineup of musical talent to bring the music to life, including NZ drummer Sam Notman, and renowned Greek musicians Harris Lambrakis (Ney), Kyriakos Tapakis (Oud), Vagelis Karipis (Percussion) and Dimitris Tsekouras (Upright Bass).

Recorded by legendary audio engineer George Kariotis over two days, the EP is a testament to each player’s unique musical voice and their ability to forge a common language out of musical traditions found at opposite ends of the earth.

Read more... Bandcamp

Sy Smith - Until We Meet Again

Until We Meet Again

SY SMITH

Released 26 January 2024

|The Foreign Exchange Music

****-

Until We Meet Again (her sixth as solo artist)  is Smith's tidiest album yet. It opens in swirling, scatting homage to a loved one and closes in adoring tribute to family and friends she has lost. In between are love songs of varying complementary shades, shifting from lively ballads on the first half to largely uptempo material on the second half. Whereas Smith produced the music and played multiple instruments on her earlier self-issued LPs, here she sticks mostly to producing and arranging all the vocals -- counting the work of six backing singers worthy of being singled out -- and, as usual, flexes as a songwriter.

Smith dazzles from top to bottom with the fluidity of her lilting voice, her whistle register ever liable to provoke involuntary exclamations from anyone within earshot.

Read more... AllMusic

Haja El Hamdaouia - Haja El Hamdaouia

Haja El Hamdaouia

HAJA EL HAMDAOUIA

Released 11 January 2024

Boussif Miloud

****-

 

Iconic Moroccan singer Haja El Hamdaouia died 5 April 2021, at the age of 91 following hospitalization and medical supervision.

The singer, who was born in 1930 in Casablanca, was one of the most iconic and renowned artists in Morocco. 

She started her career in the 1950s, performing the genre El Aita al Marsaouia. This is one of the most popular styles of Moroccan traditional music.

The musical style is also translated into the "call" or "cry," in which performers sing about a  cause.

In the time of colonization, singers or prominent sheikhat used al Aita to attack colonizers with the lyrics, calling on them to leave the country.

El Hamdaouia was also known for her unique appearances on stage and she was inseparable from her "bendir," a big hand frame drum or "taarija," a membranophone.

The artist was famous for her classic hairstyles and colorful caftans on stage.

Stunned by the news, several Moroccan singers expressed their condolences, mourning the death of one of the legendary artists in the country.

Read more... Morocco World News

Kali Uchis - Orquideas

Orquideas

KALI UCHIS

Released 12 January 2024

Geffen Records

*****

Kali Uchis’s last outing, 2023’s dreamy, romantic Red Moon in Venus, earned the supple-voiced Colombian-American bouquets of praise. Orquídeas – her Spanish-language follow-up – was recorded alongside Red Moon and feels very much like the yang to Red Moon’s immersive yin.

Upbeat, party-flavoured and featuring a hot, pan-Latin-American slew of collaborators, from fellow Colombian singer Karol G (Vevo’s most-watched artist of 2023) to Mexican artist Peso Pluma (YouTube’s most viewed artist of 2023), Uchis’s second Latinx-forward album showcases the singer’s musical versatility and assured bicultural chops.

Tradition looms large on the dramatic sweep of Te Mata (It Kills You), where Uchis imbues a bolero about leaving a toxic relationship with Amy Winehouse swagger. It’s one of her most impressive vocal performances in either language.

Elsewhere, sweaty two-handers abound, such as No Hay Ley (Parte 2) – There Is No Law (Part 2) – where Uchis plays tongue tennis with reggaetonista Rauw Alejandro, and Labios Mordidos (Bitten Lips), in which Uchis and Karol G really need to get a room.

Named for the national flower of Colombia, Orquídeas’s variegation means it’s not quite the no-skip concept album that was Red Moon.

But in a rapidly decompartmentalising pop landscape, where Spanglish is increasingly a lingua franca, Uchis’s flair and depth cuts across whatever notional cultural barriers might remain.

Read more... The Guardian

Abdullah Ibrahim - 3

3

ABDULLAH IBRAHIM

Released 26 January 2024

Gearbox Records

****-

“People don’t like Abdullah Ibrahim, they adore him, bestowing on him the devotion normally reserved for Nina Simone. When he plays, melodies tumble out effortlessly, as he slides from theme to theme like a laid-back South African reincarnation of Thelonious Monk.” - The Guardian

Taken from Abdullah Ibrahim’s summer 2023 sold-out headline date at London’s Barbican Centre, the new album “3” follows suit and is spread across two performances – the first is recorded without an audience ahead of the concert straight to analogue on a 1” Scully tape machine, which had previously been used by Elvis at the famous Memphis-based Sun Studios.

The second recording is taken from the evening’s performance itself with Ibrahim performing in a unique trio which includes Cleave Guyton (flute, piccolo, saxophone) who has performed alongside the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, and Joe Henderson, as well as lauded bassist and cellist Noah Jackson, both of which are members of EKAYA and featured on Ibrahim’s Top 3 Billboard Jazz album “The Balance”

Read more... Gearbox Records

Surya Botofasina, Nate Mercereau, Carlos Nino - Subtle Movements

Subtle Movements

SURYA BOTOFASINA, NATE MERCEREAU, CARLOS NINO

Released 12 January 2024

Leaving Records

****-

Yes, it is all subtle movements, but those with variety, ranging anywhere from spiritual jazz to modern classical and ambient, with the latter two also being connected with that ‘spiritual’ tag.

And that spiritual connection seems to have bound them together, as the trio first recorded the album in Los Angeles and then played together throughout California, the U.S., and Western Europe (England, The Netherlands, Germany)\

As was the case with the album title, the same explicitness can be tied with the opening track here – ‘Inner – connectedness.’ It seems that the three artists achieved it immediately from the first moment and did not depart it until the last second of the recording sessions.

The music here has that organic, natural feel that can only come when musicians fully understand each other and then create an immediate feel of the direction in which they should continue.

It is the same feel this trio of artists infused into their collaboration André 3000 on his album ‘New Blue Sun,’ taking the term ‘spiritual’ on both albums to a new, modern level.

Read more... Echoes and Dust

Mary Halvorson - Cloudward

Cloudward

MARY HALVORSON

Released 19 January 2024

Nonesuch Records

****-

Brooklyn-based guitarist, composer, and MacArthur fellow Mary Halvorson’s new album, Cloudward,  features eight new compositions, performed with her sextet Amaryllis; the improvisatory band that performed on her critically praised 2022 albums Amaryllis and Belladonna comprises Halvorson, Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Jacob Garchik (trombone), and Adam O’Farrill (trumpet).

Labelmate Laurie Anderson also is featured on the album track “Incarnadine.”
Halvorson says, “All of the music on Amaryllis was written in 2020, during the thick of the pandemic, in one of the more bizarre time periods I’ve experienced in my life. While composing for Amaryllis, I expanded upon certain musical concepts I’d developed in my life up until that point—the ones that felt fruitful—and left others behind, hitting the reset button and attempting to build from scratch. Two years later, after the release of the first album, I was still writing music for Amaryllis.

“All the music on Cloudward was written in 2022, mostly in the fall and winter, when things started moving forward. Life felt like a creaky machine starting up again,” she continues. “Air travel, however chaotic, had resumed, and we were once again cloudward. Performances and tours and recordings were happening after a long hiatus and with a renewed sense of gratitude. This band, for me, was quite simply working, both musically and personally, and the main thing I felt while writing the music was optimism.”

Read more... Nonesuch Records

Fabiano de Nascimento, Sam Gendel - The Room

The Room

FABIANO DO NASCIMENTO, SAM GENDEL

Released 26 January 2024

Real World Records

****-

Though The Room is the first recorded collaboration between saxophonist Sam Gendel and Brazilian guitarist (and Los Angeles resident) Fabiano Do Nascimento, it is hardly their first meeting. A decade ago, the guitarist's jazz band Triorganico played a gig at a restaurant owned by Gendel's cousin; he was present and they asked him to sit in. Afterwards, a bond and friendship were formed and the pair played together whenever possible, though it was only a handful of times. The Room was recorded over two days at Pacific Palisades studios in Los Angeles.

The intimacy on offer between them is remarkable, but is overshadowed by the seemingly effortless, almost telepathic creativity, musical virtuosity, and technical precision in all ten pieces. Given the pedigree of these musicians, it's safe to say that jazz provides the ground for their meeting, but it doesn't stay there. . For a duo album, The Room, for all its graceful gentleness, is virtuosic. Their level of composition is simply enough to provide listeners with something to hold onto, while the improvising and interplay, though sometimes subtle and always deliberate, is sophisticated, creative, and sometimes even breathtaking.

Read more... AllMusic

Yin Yin - Mount Matsu

Mount Matsu

YIN YIN

Released 19 January 2024

Glitterbeat Records

****-

YĪN YĪN, the highly touted Dutch quartet from Maastricht, returns with a sonically expansive third album Mount Matsu. Recorded collectively in their own studio in the Belgian countryside, the album is a kaleidoscope of sounds and influences, occupying a no man’s land between Khruangbin and Kraftwerk, surf music and Southeast Asian psychedelia, Stax soul and mutant 80s disco, City pop and Japanese instrumental folk (sōkyoku).

Their mostly instrumental songs, still deeply rooted in the Southeast psychedelia Asian and funk from the 60́s and 70s, are occasionally embellished with hushed vocal harmonies, adding even more depth to their soulful expression. “We’ve decided to only sparsely use vocals, which leaves plenty of room for the listener’s imagination. You can really let your fantasy run wild as you listen and dance to it,” says drummer Berkers. And while off-kilter disco tunes with a trans-local character, neo-Thai psych funk jams and folk-styled soul ballads remain central to their sonic identity, the influx of fresh ideas results in an even more eclectic and effervescent sound image.

Read more... Bandcamp

TAMTAM - Ramble In The Rainbow (EP)

Ramble In The Rainbow (EP)

TAMTAM

Released 19 January 2024

PPU Peoples Potential Unlimited

****-

A four-piece band based in Tokyo.
Initially playing reggae/dub music, the band gradually developed into an innovative fusion of diverse musical influences, such as jazz, soul, psyche pop, new age, and exotica.
The sound is based on groove and euphoria, with nostalgic melodies.
They have performed at iconic events in Japan such as Fuji Rock Festival, and also have been looking overseas since they performed in Canada (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver) in 2019.
"Ramble In The Rainbow"is their first international release on the US label Peoples Potential Unlimited.
The work shows their musical maturity, drawing inspiration from Sun Ra, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Yasuaki Shimizu.

Read more... Bandcamp

Daudi Matsiko - The King of Misery

The King of Misery

DAUDI MATSIKO

Released 19 January 2024

Really Good

*****

Tempering poignant emotions with candid storytelling, “The King of Misery” results in a raw, masterful exploration of the complexities of Matsiko’s personal experiences - namely struggles with his own depression, bipolar affective disorder and racial trauma. He describes the process of it’s completion as ‘moving from guilt to gratitude’.

Quietly hopeful, staggeringly fragile and ultimately life affirming, “The King of Misery” is Matsiko’s first album released through emerging label Really Good, with support from Albert’s Favourites.

Matsiko writes: "This album is dedicated to the memory of my friend Luke Delany. Hopefully this album leads somewhere life affirming, but in case you might be as depressed or in a similarly dark place to where I was when this album was made please reach out to someone or call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org, they really helped me".

Read more... Bandcamp

Mailah Hunter - Lovegaze

Lovegaze

MAILAH HUNTER

Released 12 January 2024

Fat Possum Records

****-

The LA-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Nailah Hunter has been recording mystical folk and ambient-inspired music since 2019, releasing a series of singles and two EPs: Spells and, most recently, Quietude. Now signed to Fat Possum, Lovegaze is Hunter’s debut full-length, an enthralling album that draws listeners into her enchanting cosmology.

As the daughter of a Belizean pastor, Hunter began her musical journey in the church where she played drums, guitar and sang in the choir. She continued on to study music at CalArts, where she studied vocal performance and was given her first harp lesson. Associating the instrument with fantasy, psychedelia, and dream worlds, Hunter became an immediate devotee, locking herself in a room for six hours a day to practice.

To make Lovegaze, Hunter decamped to a small coastal city along the English Channel where she began recording demos with a borrowed celtic harp. After being introduced to London-based producer Cicely Goulder, Hunter returned to England a year later to further develop the songs. The resulting collection, is a bewitching testament to the resiliency of the natural world.

Read more... Bandcamp

Youn Sun Nah - Elles

Elles

NAH YOUN-SUN

Released 26 January 2024

Warner Music Group Germany

****-

Nah Yoon-sun, born Seoul 1969 to musical parents: her father, Na Young-soo (나영수), is a conductor in Korea and her mother, Kim Mi-jung (김미정), is a musical actress.

n 1995, she went to Paris to study jazz and chanson. There, she studied jazz at the CIM Jazz School, the National Music Institute of Beauvais, and the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Conservatory. After graduating, she taught students at the CIM Jazz School from 2000 to 2001. She formed her own quintet, YSN 5tet, and performed at various jazz clubs, theaters, festivals, and bars in France. Also in 2001 she released her debut album, Reflet. Her mostly self-composed 2002 album, Light for the people, was her first album to receive a wide distribution. She recorded the follow-up, Down by love, with guitarist Olivier Ode. With her 2004 release So I am, she became better known in Europe. She has since released ten excellent albums, the most recent of which include Waking World (2022), Immersion (2019) and Lento (2013), all notable for their creative and thoroughly convincing covers of a mix of standards, rarities and originals.

There are no Nah-ppenned originals on her latest album "Elles", but her song selection is inspired and her interpretations sublime. It would seen that the more famous the song, the better her interpretation - exemplified by opening cut "Feeling Good", Rogers & Hart's standard "My Funny Valentine", Grace Slick's "White Rabbit" and closing track "Killing Me Softly with His Song".

SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Yussef Dayes, Rocco Palladino - The Yussef Dayes Experience Live From Malibu (EP)

The Yussef Dayes Experience Live From Malibu (EP)

YUSSEF DAYES | ROCCP PALLADINO

Released 26 January 2024

Cashmere / Brownswood Recordings

****-

Following up on "Black Classical Music", his critically acclaimed debut solo album (and Sun Never Sets On Music's Album of The Year) released only last September, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer Yussef Dayes now release "The Yussef Dayes Experience (Live from Malibu)" , featuring a selection of music from Black Classical Music (the title track and "Afro Cubanism", "Istanbul" and "Tioga Pass"); "Tidal Wave (from the 2020 album "What Kind Music"); a cover of Jaco Pistorius' ("Portrait of Tracy") and three new original songs ("Malibu",  "Mountain Steppa" and "The Colour Purple)".

Sun Never Sets On Music

Philip Glass - Solo

Solo

PHILIP GLASS

Released 26 January 2024

Orange Mountain Music

****-

Philip Glass Solo was recorded at a time when the world was undergoing a major shift—for Glass, that shift manifested in going from a busy tour and premiere schedule to time spent at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The storied musician dedicated this time to revisiting some of his older piano music, occasionally reacquainting himself with these old friends, playing them for an audience of one in his home studio in New York. It is his most personal record to date, offering a snapshot of his life, and a portrait of daily practice over eight decades through several cherished works.

Now 86, Glass reflects, “This record revisits my works for piano. From 2020-2021, I had time at home to practice the works I have played for many years. This record is both a time capsule of 2021, and a reflection on decades of composition and practice. In other words, a document on my current thinking about the music. There is also the question of place. This is my piano, the instrument on which most of the music was written. It’s also the same room where I have worked for decades in the middle of the energy which New York City itself has brought to me. The listener may hear the quiet hum of New York in the background or feel the influence of time and memory that this space affords. To the degree possible, I made this record to invite the listener in.”

Read more... Bandcamp

John Zorn - The Hermetic Organ Vol. 11 - For Terry Riley

The Hermetic Organ Vol. 11 - For Terry Riley

JOHN ZORN

Released 19 January 2024

Tzadik

****-

This newest edition of “The Hermetic Organ” is a beautiful and evocative tribute to one of Zorn’s biggest mentors, the pioneer West Coast visionary, Terry Riley. Performed at San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral during the epic concert series presented by Fred Barnes at the Great American Music Hall in September 2023 for Zorn’s 70th birthday, this is one of the most touching and personal of all Zorn’s organ recitals.

Present in the audience were a large number of the composer’s closest and oldest friends, and as a result the music has a deep spiritual edge.

Looming over much of this music is the spirit of Terry Riley, one of Zorn’s early influences, and one of his dearest friends.

Magical!

Read more ... Tzadik

Bahamas - Repackaged Love Songs

Repackaged Love Songs

BAHAMAS

Released 26 January 2024

UMG Recordings

****-

Bahamas is the stage name of Canadian musician Afie Jurvanen (born April 28, 1981).

Bahamas first came to prominence about a decade ago, when his third album, Bahamas Is Afie (2014) placed first on Q's Top 20 Albums of the year and won the Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards.

.over the past couple of releases: Bootcut (2023) and Sad Hunk (2020) - again winning the Juno Award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year in 2021.

Repackaged Love Songs is as it says on the label - a compilation of nine tracks from various previous releases. All except the final track "Please Forgive Me", a Bobby Womack cover, are Jurvanen originals. It comes together seamlessly, a treat for those who would indulge in a session of songs from a singer who sits somewhere in the middle of a world where Jack Johnson, (Harvest-era) Neil Young, Bill Frisell and Bill Callahan are the four points of the compass.

Sun Never Sets On Music

Keyon Harrold - Foreverland

Foreverland

KEYON HARROLD

Released 19 January 2024

Concord Jazz

****-

World-class trumpeter, Keyon Harrold, returns with his third album, Foreverland. Lusher and warmer than The Mugician (2017) and featuring outstanding vocal contributions from the likes of Laura Mvula and Malaya, it marks an outstanding start to the new year.

A lot can (and has) change in seven years. As if the pandemic wasn’t draining enough, Keyon Harrold also lost his mother and had to cope with the racially-motivated assault of his teenage son. In an attempt to break the creative impasse which had subsequently gripped him, Harrold surrounded himself with the familiar in the form of his key collaborators. He also sought out fresh stimuli. A new studio in a new city. A new beginning in Las Vegas. For once, a big bet in Vegas paid off. Re-invigorated, channelling his pain and frustration into the creative process, Harrold has gone on to create a dazzling record.

Read more... Louder Than War

The Bamboos - This Is How You Do It

This Is How You Do It

THE BAMBOOS

Released 3 November 2023

Pacific Theatre

****-

Could there be a more appropriate title for The Bamboos' masterclass 11th studio album? After 23 years at the forefront of Melbourne/Naarm's funk and soul scene, the nine-piece sound is as vital as ever, laying down imperial grooves and rhythms you can set your watch to.

This follow-up to 2021's Hard Up (one of the best albums of that year) is the perfect sonic pick-me-up.
From the horns-aloft punch to the contemporary spin on classic sounds, The Bamboos remain the band we've always loved. But there is some new DNA in the mix. We're introduced to Auldist's eldest son, Reginald AK, lending some creamy vocals to the neo-soul joint 'Safe From Heaven' and the sassy, snapping, chunky organ-led 'Bored'.

"It's been mum and I against the world. I've always held her as my hero," he says of carrying on the family tradition. "To stand this close to her in the sonic arena is something I've dreamed of my whole life."

Eveen whn The Bamboos play it straight, they're difficult to fault.

The Bamboos' latest is – as ever — a world class reminder that, well, This Is How You Do It. Indeed!

Read more... ABC

Mark de Clive-Lowe, Shigeto, Melanie Charles - Hotel San Claudio

Hotel San Claudio

MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE, SHIGETO, MELANIE CHARLES

Released 24 March 2023

Soul Bank Music

****-

Revered composer, pianist, DJ and two decade-long bridge between jazz, dance and hip-hop, Mark de Clive-Lowe (MdCL), links up with influential drummer/producer/DJ, Shigeto and Brooklyn-based, Haitian-rooted, flautist/songwriter and Verve Records artist - Melanie Charles on Hotel San Claudio, a collaborative LP of spiritual jazz, live deconstructed beats, and a three-track set of Pharoah Sanders reinterpretations.

Read more... Bandcamp

 

Endea Owens - Feel Good Music

Feel Good Music

EDENA OWENS

Released 31 March 2023

Base Bee Music

****-

Rising star Arjuna Oakes and renowned composer John Psathas return for a new
collaborative project ‘Sierra’ after their underground 2022 hit ‘Future Lullaby’. Fusing Greek folk instrumentation with modern Jazz and recorded live in Athens’ iconic Sierra Studios, this EP brings together electrifying musicians from New Zealand and Greece to experiment and express themselves through the lens of Oakes and Psathas’ compositions.

After creating the music in a remote beach town in New Zealand, Arjuna and John assembled an all star lineup of musical talent to bring the music to life, including NZ drummer Sam Notman, and renowned Greek musicians Harris Lambrakis (Ney), Kyriakos Tapakis (Oud), Vagelis Karipis (Percussion) and Dimitris Tsekouras (Upright Bass).

Recorded by legendary audio engineer George Kariotis over two days, the EP is a testament to each player’s unique musical voice and their ability to forge a common language out of musical traditions found at opposite ends of the earth.

Read more... Bandcamp

Heiða Árnadóttir og Gunnar Gunnarsson - Tunglið og ég

Tunglið og ég

HEIÐA ÁRNADÓTTIR OG GUNNAR GUNNARSSON

Released 12 November 2023

Warner Chappell Scandinavia

****-

 

Composer Michel Legrand, who is best known for composing for musicals and films, would have turned ninety in February last year. 

A Parisian, Legrand (1932 - 2019) studied music at a young age and started working as a musician in his early twenties. Legrand composed music for countless films, won three Oscars and won five Grammys. Legrand released more than 200 albums and had songs in 150 films.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary, singer Heiða Árnadóttir and pianist Gunnar Gunnarsson who are sincere fans of Michel Legrand's music, got the idea that it would be fun to perform his beautiful songs in Icelandic.

They enlisted Árna Ísaksson, Heida's father, to write lyrics for ten songs and they were allowed to use Bragi Valdimar's lyrics for two more.

Read more... Bandcamp

 

Tamsin Elliott & Terek Elazhary - So Far We Have Come

So Far We Have Come

TAMSIN ELLIOTT & TEREK ELAZHARY

Released 21 September 2023

Tamsin Elliott & Terek Elazhary

****-

Tamsin Elliott is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and film-maker based in Bristol, UK. With roots in the folk music of the British Isles, her interests and playing styles extend to the musics of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East as well as experimental and minimalist textures.

So Far We Have Come is the debut duo album from Tamsin Elliott (UK) and Tarek Elazhary (Egypt), two artists who have recognised in each other a commonality in their relationship to music. They are both practitioners and composers deeply embedded in their own living traditions, while also leading genre- bending bands (Solana, Dokkan).

 

Read more... Bandcamp

Sissoko, Segal, Parisien, Peirani - Les Égar​é​s

Les Égar​é​s

BALLAKE SISSOKO, VINCENT SEGAL, EMILE PARISIEN, VINCENT PEIRANI

Released 31 March 2023

No Format!

*****

"Les Égarés" (The wandering), is an album recorded by two virtuoso duos (Sissoko-Segal and Peirani-Parisien), who for years have excelled in the art of cross-fertilising sounds and transcending genres.

Les Egarés is more than a record. It’s play space, a locus of musical life, a poetic asylum inhabited by two duos: Ballaké Sissoko (kora) and Vincent Segal (cello) on the one hand and Vincent Peirani (accordion) and Émile Parisien (sax) on the other. In the case of these magicians, 2 + 2 no longer makes 4, it makes 1. Because what they concoct is most definitely a unity of spirit, a single and fluid sound that disdains all forms of egotistical competitiveness and puts each participant at the service of a common musical good. Neither jazz, nor trad, nor chamber, nor avant-garde, but a bit of all of them, all at once, Les Egarés is the kind of album that makes the ear the king of all instruments, an album where virtuosity expresses itself in the art of complicity, where the simple and grandiose idea of listening to one another results in the birth of a splendid song with four parts. A record without solo voice that never stops singing. ‘You walk without knowing where you’re going, letting yourself drift and giving into the pleasure of being lost’ sums up Vincent Segal.

Read more... Bandcamp

Dominique Fils-Aime - Our Roots Run Deep

Our Roots Run Deep

DOMINIQUE FILS-AIME

Released 22 September 2023

Ensoul Records

****-

Dominique Fils-Aimé [FEES-em-AY] is a JUNO Award winning singer-songwriter from Montreal. Her ambitious album trilogy conceptualizes the history of African American music. Dominique reflects on the social realities that influenced the genres of blues, jazz and soul and channels that spirit into her own.

There is a cinematic quality to “Our Roots Run Deep”. Dominique Fils-Aimé frames her latest album with a loose, dreamlike narrative structure that tells a story of growth. The first track sets the stage with the phrase: “our roots run deep underground”. Along the way, there are a myriad of human challenges and forms of interference. An underlying life force presses on. The final track closes with the lyric: “let me climb all the way to the sun”.

Dominique provides a spaciousness in her work by creating her own musical language. She layers a variety of catchy, wordless vocal licks that feel like mantras or prayers—repeating, soothing the nervous system, and distinguishing her sound. These patterns don’t have any literary definitions attached to them so they escape the clutches of our interpreting minds. The result is a sonic space where the listener can feel and dream alongside innovative melodic structures.

Read more... Bandcamp

 

Temples - Exotico

Exotico

TEMPLES

Released 14 April 2023

ATO Records

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Indie rockers Temples demonstrate an illustrious way forward for traditional guitar music. Taking place in a mystical, dream-like utopia, this supremely ambitious sixteen track presentation is the broadest, most eclectic palette of sound yet to be released by the neo-psychedelic, alternative ensemble. 

The orchestration of the finest blend of Krautrock, psychedelia and indie pop remains a strength of theirs, and this is a window to the world that supplies cultural detail and insight aplenty.  

The quartet takes a step away from the self-sufficient, DIY oriented ways of working that they became known for. Leaning on record producer Sean Ono Lennon, the crisp result speaks volumes. The group’s music has long been of an immersive quality, this trait is taken further, as lush layers are presented and a deeper, more intimate understanding of Temples’ sonics are fully explored.

Read more... Clash

Dorothy Carter – Waillee Waillee

Waillee Waillee

DOROTHY CARTER

Released 1 December 2023

Palto Flats

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Palto Flats / Putojefe Records present the first ever reissue of the work of American composer Dorothy Carter, master of the hammered dulcimer, zither, and other instruments of the hammer chord zither/psalterium family.

A true musical vagabond, Dorothy was born in New York in 1935, though her spiritual pursuit of an expansive musical knowledge would take her to monasteries in Mexico, conservatories in France and London, and the founding of the Central Maine Power Music Company (CMPMC), with new-age/minimalist luminaries such as Constance Demby and Robert Rutman.

Dorothy Carter was many things - a virtuoso player, storyteller, historian of Celtic and Appalachian folk music, avid lifelong busker, avant-garde musician, and itinerant troubadour, laying a framework for music that existed both within and outside of standard folk idioms - never better represented than on her 1978 masterwork, Waillee Waillee. Underscored by Bob Rutman’s cavernous bowing of the steel cello, the richness of Waillee Waillee’s sound produces an album unlike any other in her discography. In particular, its two side-ending pieces, “Summer Rhapsody” and “Tree of Life,’’ glide with the shimmering filigree of hammered dulcimer and Dorothy Carter’s ephemeral voice floating over Rutman’s droning buzz of the steel cello. The elements of these two tracks suggest something akin to a transcendental Appalachian raga or whirling cosmic folk music, an effortless combination that serves to add additional substance to the remaining tracks on the album.

Read more... Putojefe Records

Donald's House - 37° South EP

37° South EP

DONALD'S HOUSE

Released 27 June 2022

Wax'o Paradise

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Wax’o Paradiso Recordings continues its dive into the extraordinary canon of contemporary Antipodean psychedelia with its second outing on vinyl, four spacious and soaring balearic cuts from local duo Donald’s House.

From the glistening textures of 37° South (featuring renowned Australian percussionist Phil Stroud), to meandering meditative freakouts Aurora Australis and Under the Lilypad, to the italo new beat muscularity of ‘Budge-E Beat’, Donald’s House are showcasing a constantly evolving versatility and a truly unique take on the acid trip sunrise at the metaphorical Café del Murray.

Read more... Bandcamp

 

Karim Sulayman, Sean Shibe - Broken Branches

Broken Branches

KARIM SULAYMAN, SEAN SHIBE

Released 5 May 2023

Pentatone

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Tenor Karim Sulayman and guitarist Sean Shibe present Broken Branches, a conceptual album with music ranging from Dowland, Monteverdi, Britten, Rodrigo, Takemitsu, Harvey, and Chaker to traditional songs from the Middle East, scrutinizing the close cultural and musical ties between East and West.

This musical exploration ties in with the artists’ personal experience of a dynamic, in-between identity, as they grew up in the West having ethnic roots in the East (Lebanon and Japan respectively). Broken Branches explores the wood of the guitar and its relatives, as well as the splintering of history known as diaspora.

Karim Sulayman has garnered international attention as a sophisticated and versatile artist, and won a Grammy Award for Classical Solo Vocal in 2019.

Multi-award-winning guitarist Sean Shibe brings a fresh and innovative approach to the traditional classical guitar, while also exploring contemporary music and repertoire for electric guitar. He continues his exclusive collaboration with PENTATONE after his well-received Camino (2021) and Lost & Found (2022).

Read more... Pentatone

Sean Shibe - Profesion

Profesion

SEAN SHIBE

Released 17 November 2023

Pentatone Music

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Sean Shibe returns to the acoustic guitar on Profesion, bringing together works by Agustin Barrios, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Alberto Ginastera. The album derives its name from Barrios's "Profesion de fe" (profession of faith), a poetic, mythological text praising the divine power of music, often used as a preface to his concerts. Barrios's La Catedral and Julia Florida are combined with Villa Lobos's 12 Etudes, while Ginastera's Guitar Sonata completes the programme. These works by Southern American composers share a spirit of homage and pastiche, bound together by magical realism. The music is voluminous, indulging in excess, and narcotic, and as such creates a counterweight to the reserved and retrospective nature of Shibe's acclaimed acoustic predecessor album Camino. This will be Shibe's first-ever album playing repertoire that was originally conceived for acoustic guitar, and he uses a Hauser copy, initially built for Julian Bream. It was considered one of the best instruments of the 1930s, and fits the sound world of this programme like a glove.

Read more... Pentatone

Genesis Owusu - STRUGGLER

STRUGGLER

GENESIS OWUSU

Released 30 November 2023

OURNESS / AWAL Recordings

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Rapper and vocalist Genesis Owusu has made his sonic signature lurching through disparate genres. From punk-inflected spoken word to sweetly sung falsetto melodies, Prince-esque funk and thumping post-punk guitars, the Ghanaian-born Australian artist trades in an excess of creative energy. Coming to prominence with 2021’s debut Smiling With No Teeth, Owusu channelled the isolation and aggression of his upbringing as a Black man in majority-white Canberra through a sprawling 16 tracks of snarled rap, synth-funk and 80s rock. Largely picking up where that record left off, Struggler continues to convey his strife with a remarkable singularity.

Opener Leaving the Light sets the tone, with its thundering bassline and chugging drums, reminiscent of the avant-garde rap of British trio Young Fathers. A similar bass-driven rhythm continues on Freak Boy and Balthazar, but it’s when Owusu lets his melodic softness come through that he really excels. Highlights Tied Up! and That’s Life (A Swamp) bounce funkily, with the latter switching into a delightfully sultry bossa riff. On What Comes Will Come, he traverses earworming synth-pop, head-nodding rap and breakbeat euphoria in under four minutes. There aren’t many artists who wear such experimentation so lightly.

Read more... The Guardian

Isabella Summers - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Motion Picture Soundtrack

ISABELLA SUMMERS

Released 5 January 2024

Isabella Summers

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a 2023 coming-of-age romantic drama film written and directed by Aitch Alberto.

Isabella Summers is one of the founding members of the British indie-pop band, Florence And The Machine. She has previously scored Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Panic and The Offer. Her influences and collaborations are wide-ranging.

Early influences range from Beethoven to Bob Dylan to Snoop Dogg and Gravediggaz. After she earned a degree in fine arts in London, she began working as a DJ and later as hip-hop producer.

After becoming fed-up with the status quo of the music industry, Summers joined up with her childhood friend Florence Welch and started their project, Florence And The Machine. They have since been nominated for six Grammy awards.

Miranda is the main creative force behind the hit musicals and films In The Heights, Hamilton, Moana and Encanto.

Read more... Sound Of Life

 

Jeymes Samuel - The Book of Clarence (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The Book of Clarence

Motion Picture Score

JEYMES SAMUEL

Released 11 January 2024

Legendary  /  Milan Records

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The Book of Clarence

(The Motion Picture Soundtrack)

JEYMES SAMUEL

Geneva Club / Roo Norton Records

****-

Two years after his directorial feature-length film debut, The Harder They Fall, multifaceted creative Jeymes Samuel returns with a new movie, The Book of Clarence, together with two excellent music releases - an engaging Soundtrack of songs (most in collaboration with major stars including JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Doja Cat, D'Angelo and Terry Callier) and separately, an engaging orchestral Score album.

Read more... Hip Hop DX

Joe Hisaishi - Silent Love Original Soundtrack

Silent Love

Original Soundtrack

JOE HISAISHI

Released 24 January 2024

Universal Music

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Silent Love is written and directed by Eiji Uchida and stars Ryosuke Yamada, Minami Hamabe, Kaito Yoshimura and Shuhei Nomura. The movie follows a young man who has stopped speaking and develops a close relationship with a music student who lost her sight in an accident.

The film’s original music is composed by master Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi  famous for his work for the animated films of Studio Ghibli including Spirited Away (2001), The Boy and the Heron (2023), Princess Mononoke (1997), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Departures (2008)

Read more... Sound Of Life

 

Carlos Rafael Rivera - Lessons In Chemistry: Season 1 (Apple Original Series Soundtrack)

Lessons In Chemistry

Season 1 Soundtrack

CARLOS RAFAEL RIVERA

Released 13 October 2023

Apple Video Programming

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Lessons in Chemistry, an adaptation of Bonnie Garmus’ 2022 novel, stars Brie Larson as Elizabeth Zott, a chemist who experience misogynistic behavior after graduating from UCLA. Lewis Pullman co-stars as Calvin Evans, a famous chemist who exercises frequently to clear his mind. The storyline follows the main protagonists as they fall in love during the 1950s while developing their careers.

Composer Carlos Rafael Rivera (The Queen’s Gambit) scored the Apple TV+ series; music supervisor Christine Greene Roe (Snowfall) handled the featured needle-drops.

In addition, Mildred Bailey recorded the intro track, “What (Re Bop Boom Bam)"

Carlos Rafael Rivera - Monsieur Spade (Original Series Soundtrack)

Monsieur Spade

Original Series Soundtrack

CARLOS RAFAEL RIVERA

Released 19 January 2024

Lakeshore Records

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The AMC limited series Monsieur Spade is 6-part crime drama is set in the 1960s and centers on legendary Detective Sam Spade, the infamous protagonist of American writer Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 classic novel The Maltese Falcon.

The show is created by Scott Frank (The Lookout, Logan, Minority Report) & Tom Fontana (Oz, Borgia) and stars Clive Owen, Cara Bossom, Denis Ménochet, Chiara Mastroianni, Louise Bourgoin, Stanley Weber, Jonathan Zaccaï, Matthew Beard and Rebecca Root.

Rivera (Lessons in Chemistry, Hacks, Just Beyond) has previously collaborated with Frank on the Netflix shows Godless & The Queen’s Gambit and the feature A Walk Among the Tombstones. 

Carlos Rafael Rivera - Griselda (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series)

Griselda

Netflix Series Soundtrack 

CARLOS RAFAEL RIVERA

Released 19 January 2024

Netflix Music

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“Griselda,” a limited series starring Sofia Vergara as the infamous Colombian drug trafficker Griselda Blanco, who was widely known as the “Godmother.”

From writer-producer Eric Newman and director Andrés Baiz, both “Narcos” alums, the series follows Blanco as she builds one of the most profitable drug cartels in history while simultaneously parenting her three sons. She ran a notoriously ruthless and violent cocaine trade in New York and Miami in the 1970s and ‘80s after immigrating from Colombia, before she was arrested in 1985. Blanco was the first-ever woman criminal to become a billionaire before being murdered in Colombia at the age of 69, in 2012.

Blanco’s story has been told in a number of films and TV shows, including the 2018 Lifetime biopic “Cocaine Godmother,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and the 2006 documentary film “Cocaine Cowboys.”