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2024-03 March Playlist SunNeverSetsOnMusic

2024-03 March Playlist SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Alice Coltrane - The Carnegie Hall Concert (Live)

The Carnegie Hall Concert (Live)

ALICE COLTRANE

Released 24 March 2024

Impulse Records / Ume

*****

A live set from 1971, finds Coltrane – plus a band featuring Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Tulsi Sen Gupta and others – on inspired form.

 

Had this review been written some twenty years ago, it would have needed a preamble arguing how Alice Coltrane (aka Swamini Turiyasangitananda) was much more than “one earthbound projection of John’s spirit”, as Amiri Baraka infamously wrote in his liner notes to her 1968 solo debut A Monastic Trio. In the past two decades, Alice’s work has been reappraised and recontextualised, thanks to both her spiritual role attracting diverse listeners and a younger generation of artists like Angel Bat Dawid and Kamasi Washington providing new readings of the legacy of spiritual jazz. Coltrane’s significance has been rightly elevated into the highest echelons of the jazz pantheon, where her influence is now often mentioned in the same breath as her husband’s. While Coltrane’s music needs little promotion at this point, the ‘Year of Alice’ initiative spearheaded by Impulse! and The John & Alice Coltrane Home is more than welcome, especially when it brings to surface outstanding recordings such as The Carnegie Hall Concert.

Captured in February 1971, four years after John Coltrane’s death, the concert marked a pivotal moment in Alice Coltrane’s career as she found herself on a journey of metaphysical and artistic rediscovery. While her record Journey In Satchidananda – named for her mentor, the yoga guru Swami Satchidananda – had only been released a few days earlier, the group’s performance of its brand-new material is confident and inspired. Coltrane herself appears on piano, harp, and percussion and is joined by a cast of long-time collaborators: Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders on reeds, Jimmy Garrison and Cecil McBee on double bass, Ed Blackwell and Clifford Jarvis on drums, Kumar Kramer on pump organ, and Tulsi Sen Gupta on tamboura.

Read more ... The Quietus

Amaro Freitas - Y'Y

Y'Y

AMARO FREITAS
Released 1 March 2024

Psychic Hotline

*****

Continuing to intwine ancestral knowledge into his music, Amaro Freitas brings his fresh, “decolonized” interpretation of jazz. With his new album Y’Y Freitas steps into a new realm of musical creation that’s rooted in magic, possibility, and stewardship for the earth, changing what the genre can be.

 

What drives Amaro Freitas in life is experience. In 2020 the pianist, who hails from the Northeastern Brazilian coastal city of Recife, was drawn to Manaus, located in the Amazon basin, some 4600 kilometers to the west.

His experience in that lush wilderness led him into a new realm of musical creation, one rooted in magic and possibility and tempered by a sense of stewardship for the earth’s bounties and a connection to the Sateré Mawé indigenous community.

Crucial to the experience for Freitas was the maintenance of a true exchange of knowledge. According to Freitas, in the resulting album, Y’Y (pronounced: eey-eh, eey-eh), he pays “homage to the forest, especially the Amazon Forest, and the rivers of Northern Brazil: a call to live, feel, respect, and care for nature, recognizing it as our ancestor.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Paula Rae Gibson, Matthew Bourne - Loving In Real Time

Loving In Real Time

PAULA RAE GIBSON, MATTHEW BOURNE

Released 1 March 2024

33Xtreme

****-

Loving In Real Time is the haunting new album, traversing avant-jazz, ambient and intimate torch-song by highly acclaimed artists: photographer and singer songwriter Paula Rae Gibson and pianist/composer, Matthew Bourne.

The material for Loving In Real Time was collaboratively developed in response to Paula Rae Gibson’s debut album, No More Tiptoes (2008). Previous tracks were used as a stimulus, a springboard, from which Gibson and Bourne would address and respond to by creating and moving away from – delivering this whole new body of original songs and compositions. Loving In Real Time chronicles the unexpected journeys tentatively taken in the early days of an intense, romantic relationship. It tracks the twists and turns of navigating emotional waters, lashed to the mast of strong feelings, potentially choppy and fraught, yet irresistible. There’s an excitement on the part of the listener as to how the relationship will fare – not so much a rom com, however, as a rom noir.

Commenting on the video Gibson said: "We shot this video and photographs in January in between storms in Grosseto, Italy – I had dreamt of a door and the sea and chairs which I translated as opportunity and paired thoughts – me second guessing love and all that. My lover, who I wrote the album about took the shots – us directing all together. I release this under our nicknames for each other G and J to free myself to do more classical work than I do under my own name when I feel like it and as a way to communicate with J in the best way I know how.”

Read more... Jazzwise

Julian Lage - Speak To Me

Speak To Me

JULIAN LAGE

Released 1 March 2024

UMG Recordings

*****

The term ‘complete musician’ is overused, but in both composing and improvising Julian Lage has to be close to one.

Over the years since he was discovered as a 12 year-old prodigy, gigs with Gary Burton, John Zorn and Charles Lloyd have not only cemented Julian Lage's reputation for audaciously secure technical command and idiomatic openness, but also empathic sensitivity in a band.

Lage, however, has no trouble holding any stage on his own, as he repeatedly shows on this contrast-packed set of a dozen originals, despite the invaluable guest presences of saxophonist Levon Henry and much-admired pianist Kris Davis within his regular lineup. There are backbeat-smacking electric groovers, catchy country-pop songs, classic guitar-jazz ballads, and lyrical themes that dissolve into free-improv – but the storytelling conciseness of the tracks, and the surprise turns in all of Lage's fastmoving solos, keep you leaning in.

Read more ... Jazzwise

Sheherazaad - Qasr (EP)

Qasr (EP)

SHEHERAZAAD

Released 1 March 2024

Erased Tapes Records

****-

Overall, the bewitching album finds an artist building her own fortress, while enticing us to forge our own castles, musical queendoms, and impossible dreamlands.

Today, migration seems to be encoded into everyday habits. As so many of our minds and bodies aggressively globalise in unprecedented ways, previously fixed “genres” and identities of any kind are constantly being dismantled, made redundant, and born anew.

It’s from this space of flux that American composer and vocalist Sheherazaad derives song. Her forthcoming mini-album, Qasr, was engendered during a time of family estrangement, grief over a lost elder, and the racial polarisation of her country as she knew it.

Translating to “castle” or “fortress” in Urdu, Qasr is indeed a monument — like encapsulation of the real strains of displacement, the push and pull of diaspora, and the depravity of erasure and forgotten roots. These experiences and their inherent violence, hysteria, and romance imbue her sonic deep-dive into the world of the so-called in-between.

After years of singing competitions and performances of Western repertoire, Sheherazaad “stopped singing completely,” citing her “disenchantment with English as an emotive language” after encountering British colonial history. But she also felt a visceral disorientation resulting from long stays in India, where her mixed North and South Indian heritage further complicated and left a deep imprint on her hyphenated young psyche, and speaking accent.

Singing in a delicate, chiffon vocal which defies genre and expectation — satirically hymnlike, then an erratic vibrato — Sheher’s poetic lyrics about marginalised genders and imagined homelands pour out over lush, enlivened instrumentation. There is no one way to behold the magnetic Qasr.

And so, on Qasr, Sheherazaad gives us a beguiling new soundscape, not yet of this world. But she also stokes the flame of fantasies inherent to the nomadic experience, which may finally be brought to the fore.

Read more... Bandcamp

Ganavya - like the sky I've been too quiet

Like The Sky I've Been Too Quiet

GANAVYA

Released 15 March 2024

Native Rebel Recordings

****-

“Among modern music's most compelling vocalists” - Wall Street Journal

The intricate vocal acrobatics of north Indian classical music have been fertile ground for exciting fusions in recent years. Singer Arooj Aftab’s delicate variations of Urdu poetry have provided the perfect accompaniment for ambient synth soundscapes and sweeping strings on 2021’s Vulture Prince and 2023’s Love in Exile, while US vocalist Sheherazaad’s 2024 debut EP Qasr found harmony in Hindi lyrics and finger-picked Spanish guitar.
The latest artist to engage with this experimentation is New York-born and Tamil Nadu-raised vocalist Ganavya.

Having previously collaborated with bassist and composer Esperanza Spalding, as well as joining soul collective Sault’s debut live show in 2023, she has now enlisted British jazz artist Shabaka Hutchings to produce her latest album.

Across 13 tracks, Ganavya’s warm, ornate Tamil vocals are set to bubbling modular synths and breathy woodwind flutes, producing a mix of spiritual jazz and ambient experimentalism.
Producer Floating Points and multi-instrumentalist Leafcutter John provide eerie synth textures throughout, playing like a whisper of digital wind against Ganavya’s yearning vocals on "Not in An Anthropological Mood", or twinkling through arpeggios that mirror her rhythmic sargam vocalisations – an ornamental method of singing the names of musical notes – on the expansive Seal. Countering the electronics are a range of flutes played by Kofi Flexxx, reflecting Ganavya’s breath in their earthy tones on tracks such as El Kebda, Let it Go, while Alina Bzhezhinska’s plaintive harp on "Forgive Me My" provides gorgeous ornamentation to long, looping vocal phrases.

The overall effect creates an album that revels in downtempo quietude. The mood is mostly dark and restrained but on the final number, I Walk Again, Eyes Towards the Sky, Ganavya soars, melismatically leaping to push her voice almost to breaking point in a fierce show of emotion. It is an unguarded moment of release that reveals the range of Ganavya’s talent as she pushes traditional craft into a newly evocative and atmospheric direction.

Read more... The Guardian

Omar Souleyman - Erbil

Erbil

OMAR SOULEYMAN

Released 29 March 2024

Mad Decent

*****

The term ‘complete musician’ is overused, but in both composing and improvising Julian Lage has to be close to one.

Omar Souleyman’s 5th studio album pays homage to Erbil — the city in Iraq that offered solace and embraced Souleyman during recent uneasy times.

The move to Erbil came rich with new experiences and friendships best celebrated in joyous songs dedicated to a new chapter of life.

Erbil’s 8 tracks see the Syrian wedding singer turned global electronic music icon again teaming up with his longtime keyboard player Hasan Jamo alo for an ever ambitious and forward thinking techno-meets-Dabke sound.

Read more ... Bandcamp

Max König - Max König

Max König

MAX KÖNIG

Released 27 March 2024

Max König

*****

In an era hungry for authenticity, Max König’s debut album is a testament to the power of music as a unifying force, transcending cultural and religious boundaries. 

 

Prepare to embark on a mesmerising journey as Max König, the sensational saxophonist, unveils his highly anticipated debut album, 7 years in the making.

Max König’s music captures the essence of both spirited celebration and religious devotion. An accomplished composer, Max König paints vivid musical landscapes, reminiscent of ancient synagogues, transformative meditations and the soul-stirring rhythms of Arabic dabke. Simultaneously, König and his band, steeped in the jazz tradition, embrace the spontaneity of spur-of-the-moment improvisation and the unrestrained flow of the stream of consciousness. It is evident König’s music evokes his deep love and reverence for the Jazz, Jewish and Arabic musical legacies.

With each track, König and his band launch into a new mystical, introspective exploration, brimming with bustling energy, immersed in a world where spirituality meets experimentation, conjuring a wide range of powerful emotions that resonate deep within. The album is a true personal reflection of König’s profound musical and spiritual odyssey, with certain tracks dedicated to individuals who have significantly changed the course of his life.

The saxophonist’s daring vision and virtuosic skills, alongside his first class band, create a truly unique listening experience that will captivate audiences around the globe.

Read more ... Beat

Mildlife - Chorus

Chorus

MILDLIFE
Released 1 March 2024

Mildlife / [PIAS] Australia

*****

Chorus is the sound of singular entities coalescing into a wondrous whole. It’s harmonious togetherness and celebratory symbiosis. And it’s the band’s ultimate statement of their borderline mystical unity, their unified theory of groove.

 

On their third studio full-length, Mildlife link microcosmic personal meaning with a macro view from on high.

“Chorus is about a coming together of disparate elements. Not in some sort of utopian aesthetic where everything works perfectly, but in the natural flow and state of things,” shares the band’s Jim Rindfleish. “It’s about cosmic compatibility and chemistry: what makes things work? Not just what makes the band work, but what makes good music, art or love? It’s the rhythm of nature”.

Following 2020’s Automatic and 2017’s Phase, Chorus arrives as Mildlife’s most optimistic record, serving as a sonic testament to the band’s unwavering adoration for the beguiling realms of 70s psychedelic and cosmic sounds. Delve deeper, and you’ll unearth Polish jazz, Italo disco and a sprinkling of contemporary electronic sounds. Chorus is the dance of an expanding and contracting universe - its groove is forever and always, cyclical and evolving. In its most human moments, the album luxuriates in the velvety embrace of Tomas Shanahan’s bass lines, Halliwell’s luminous guitar riffs, Kevin McDowell’s hushed and alluring vocals, Rindfleish’s intricate percussive tapestries and the spiritual rhythms of regular collaborator Craig Shanahan. Swept up in the chorus, the lines between individual and ensemble blur.

Read more... Bandcamp

Julia Holter - Something In The Room She Moves

Something In The Room She Moves

JULIA HOLTER

Released 22 March 2024

Domino Recording Co Ltd

*****

Her latest release on Domino finds Holter crafting sparkling yet reserved avant-pop layered with profound ambition. Gone are any hints of the guitar-centric music she created on her earliest projects. Instead, she graces our ears with sumptuous synths, sun-kissed pads, spaced-out bass, and gloriously lilting alto.

Musically, Something in the Room She Moves relies on a rotating core of synth, bass, woodwinds, and horns. Only a few tracks feature any sort of traditional percussion and nary a guitar is to be heard. Holter has formed a postmodern chamber quartet of talented multi-instrumentalists skilled in pop, jazz, folk, and classical—equal parts Alice Coltrane, Kate Bush, Cate Le Bon, and Joanna Newsom. 

Something in the Room She Moves use mood as a lodestar by embracing a naturalistic and impressionistic aesthetic. Exuding an experimental elegance, Julia Holter powers her music all via a keen sense of purpose. She isn’t wandering blithely through a torrent of emotions. She’s channeling her feelings into her art. She first encourages the listener to pay attention to what she’s saying, and then she welcomes them to feel the music on their own terms.

Read more ... Treble

Amanda Whiting - The Liminality of Her

The Liminality of Her

AMANDA WHITING

Released 22 March 2024

Fast Word Records

****-

Les Amazones d'Afrique message remains loud and clear: violence against women must stop. Three generations of women sing out in unison, calling for a future without the threat of female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, lack of education and forced marriage.

Amanda Whiting; a highly-acclaimed Welsh harpist & composer.

A virtuoso in her field, this classically trained musician has quickly established herself as an essential player in the UK jazz scene, carving her own unique sound, following on from the paths forged by Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.

If there is a context in which Amanda Whiting’s jazz harp is not mesmerizing, she hasn’t found it yet. Whiting’s fourth album steeps the Welsh musician’s delicate melody lines and lustrous chords in an aura of hazy, ethereal mystery. That aura extends over a set of mellow grooves, which, far from grounding the music, are as atmospheric and hypnotic as their surroundings.

Those grooves—played throughout by bassist Aidan Thorne, drummer Jon Reynolds, and percussionist Mark O’Connor—serve as a reminder that the new UK jazz scene comes out of London’s dance music underground. Yet even the deepest and hardest veins of funk they mine here, as on “Liminal” and “No Turning Back,” become gentle swayers once Whiting’s harp enters the picture.

Read more... Bandcamp

Mount Kujo - Cosmic Cliffs

Cosmic Cliffs

MOUNT KUJO

Released 29 March 2024

Milano Music

****-

Passionate, soulful and dynamic; Mount Kujo is a Naarm (Melbourne) based act blending Psychedelic Funk, Jazz, Latin and Afro-beat. A vibrant collective of culturally diverse musicians from all around the world, playing lush arrangements of polyrhythms, unexpected changes and explosive horn sections.

As a new generation of musicians, Mount Kujo have cultivated an inspiring communal mentality with a dedicated inner circle and rotating outer members who remain integral to the family no matter where they move on to. A resemblance to other musical collectives can be found: the freeform bombastic nature of Funkadelic, the experimentation of The Pink Floyd and even the progressive global vision of Embryo are all similar to the Mount Kujo ethos – “We create the space”.

The group excels with their increased familiarity, seeing each live concert as a chance to curiously tweak their compositions and are always eager to lock into their pulsating groove for dancing crowds. Their songwriting has gained a foundation over the many band trips and sessions in magical places, resulting in their sound becoming increasingly unique and recognisable.

They have even graduated their artistic vision into mixed media, with a fun neo-noir video clip for their cinematic jazz single, ‘Mr Pink’, celebrating the cities’ more shadowy corners. Mount Kujo’s cosmic vision of highly innate dancefloor jazz, a worldwide musical family and constant experimentation make them one of the hottest and most interesting bands coming out of Australia right now.

Read more... Mount Kujo

Maddison Carter - Polymorphic

Polymorphic

by Maddison Carter

Released 23 February 2024

Earshift Music

*****

Maddison Carter is a Melbourne-based drummer and composer, quickly making a name for his vast textural palette, versatility and extended rhythmic vocabulary as an improviser.

 

Polymorphic is the groundbreaking project from Melbourne based Maddison Carter, a visionary percussionist and composer. The project emerges from the creative expanses of Melbourne's lockdowns, capturing a new direction in Carter's artistic journey. Polymorphic is a reflection of Carter's life, his connection with his ensemble, and an intimate portrayal of his artistic and personal growth, inviting listeners into a world of deep emotional and rhythmic exploration.

Formed amidst the solitude of 2021 lockdowns, "Polymorphic" began as a solo exploration and evolved into a sextet ensemble, symbolizing Carter's commitment to melodic richness and the unconventional use of the vibraphone. "Polymorphic first grew during Melbourne’s many lockdowns," explains Carter. "It was born out of a change of lifestyle and my frustration with playing only non-pitched material. This music brought me back from a period where I spent far less time on music." The ensemble’s journey mirrors Carter's own artistic transformation, from a period of diminished musical activity during the lockdowns to a rekindled passion for composition and performance.

Read more ... Bandcamp

Simon Mavin - Some Days

Some Days

SIMON MARVIN

Released 22 March 2024

Mavin Music

****-

"These days, I don’t have the urge to be a virtuosic musician anymore. I still love the heavy shit, but it’s not for me for some reason. I just want to sing on the piano. That’s what I think I’ve done with this record.” Simon Mavin

 

Some Days is Melbourne / Naarm artist Simon Mavin’s first solo piano release. It documents seven individual moments in time, spanning roughly over a five year period.
Simon (who is most well known as the Grammy nominated keyboardist/co-producer and co- writer of the celebrated Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote), sat down at the piano or a keyboard and recorded whatever came to mind, usually settling on the first take. The nature of the piano as a dynamic instrument means that nothing can ever be played exactly the same way twice.

Some Days it’s about the space between the notes, the rhythmic pulse within the tides. Some Days, it’s a lonely night in a Los Angeles hotel room, capturing a golden melody that helps put a friend at ease during a long tour when the road is only singing the blues.

Some Days, it’s a phrase captured perfectly imperfect on an iphone, never to be replicated, never to be replaced, somehow reminiscent of David Lynch.

Some Days, it’s a demo that just feels right as is. Playing with an ostinato pattern in 7/4 with some spring reverb, everything in support of the melody, to make it sing. One finger louder than the rest.

Some Days, it’s an improvised piece, played on a keyboard plug-in that just didn’t sound as good on an actual piano.

Some Days write themselves after getting lost in a sound and utilizing the soft pedal.

Some Days are for getting rid of the expectations. Not even listening. Just to sit, breathe, relax, leave the ego at the door, and maintain a state of neutral creation.

Some Days can wash it all away.

Read more... Bandcamp

Vince Clarke - Songs of Silence

Songs of Silence

VINCE CLARKE

Released 17 November 2023

Mute Artists Ltd.

*****

Unlike anything you’ve previously heard from Vince Clarke as an artisan of dynamic electropop, Songs of Silence has about it a more sober ambient electronic beauty, its unique characteristics put it in a category of its own.

 

Vince Clarke is the primary composer and musician in Erasure, and previous songwriter and member of Yazoo, Depeche Mode, and The Assembly.

As the album title suggests, Songs of Silence is a lyricless, instrumental album, and is hugely evocative for that.
For the creation of the record Vince set himself two rules – first that the sounds he himself generated for the album would come solely from Eurorack (a modular synthesizer format introduced in the mid-90s) and secondly that each track would be based around one note, maintaining a single key throughout.

The resultant pieces, with the Eurorack sound clay then manipulated on Logic Pro, amount to wordless narratives, in which a sense of synth-generated, cosmic remoteness is often jolted by stark interventions, reminders of the human hand at work amid this machinery.

Read more... The Quietus

Jahari Massamba Unit, Karriem Riggins & Madlib - YHWH is LOVE

YHWH is Love

JAHARI MASSAMBA UNIT, KARRIEM RIGGINS, MADLIB

Released 1 March 2024

Law of Rhythm

*****

Listening to YHWH is Love is like eavesdropping on a passionate multi-party conversation. Each subject takes turns driving the dialogue; there’s an occasional interjection between new developments, but the interaction flows to match everyone’s energy. 

YHWH is Love, the sophomore release from Jahari Massamba Unit checks off a number of boxes for what would generally be considered a jazz album: improvisation, syncopation, and polyrhythms.

But it upholds Roland Kirk’s embrace of “black classical music” in the sense that it carries the genre’s traditions and ever-innovative essence (especially that of Alice Coltrane and Don Cherry).

The unconventional timing of the drum fills, improvisational grooves, and playing with an instrument’s perceived limits (who would’ve thought to use celebratory bells and whistles as a fitting foreground for a mellow piano?) are all in tune with jazz’s openness to experimentation. 

Read more ... Treble

J. McFarlane's Reality Guest - Whoopee

Whoopee

J. MCFARLANE'S REALITY GUEST

Released 12 January 2024

Night School / Felt Sense

****-

The duo dive deep into electronic pop tropes, mining digital synths, samples, breakbeats and deep bass grooves, largely dispensing with live instrumentation.

 

Whoopee, the second album by J.McFarlane’s Reality Guest, is an esoteric, kaleidoscopic movie in music form directed by Julia McFarlane and co-conspirator Thomas Kernot.

Full of life, breakbeats and smokey vignettes on the fragile nature of interpersonal relationships, Whoopee is a stylistic evolution from everything McFarlane has done before. Surreal, beautiful in parts and replete with the aching wisdom McFarlane’s songwriting has always promised, this Reality Guest pulls back the curtain on a whole scene of naked truth.

Recorded in Melbourne in bursts since the release of 2019’s Ta Da, Whoopee features a new sound palette and band member in Kernot.

If Ta Da took twists and turns with your expectations, offering a Dada-ist, monochromatic take on pop music, Whoopee is McFarlane’s subterranean love-sick pinks, reds, greens, purples and blues.

Read more... Bandcamp

Jacob Collier - Djesse Vol. 4

Djesse Vol. 4

JACOB COLLIER

Released 1 March 2024

Decca

***--

Collier’s 53-track long Djesse project showcases his completely undeniable and borderline freakish musical talent at every turn, but also makes little to no effort to conceal a serious quality control problem.

 

Djacob Collier’s Djesse tetralogy has polarized listeners unlike any musical project I’ve borne witness to in the past decade. His acolytes liken him to a musical deity, capable of perceiving aural patterns and weaving musical tapestries that no human being has ever been enlightened enough to comprehend. His naysayers, on the other hand, react to his work with visceral disgust, lambasting his compositions for lacking form and being soulless, resembling the sort of music a rogue AI would make if it suddenly desired to torture its cruel human overlords. As the great Bruce Lee once said, we need emotional content. The hilarious thing about these diametrically opposed camps is that they’re both right.

Each of its first 3 volumes occasionally rewarded its listeners for slogging through its incomprehensible swamps of theory with a superlative gem like “Time Alone With You”, “He Won’t Hold You”, or his un-fucking-believable a capella rendition of “Moon River”.

While Djesse Vol. 4 may be a different beast than its three siblings in terms of genre and style, it regrettably falls in lockstep with this pattern of execution.

Read more... Sputnik Music

Nils Frahm - Day

Day

NILS FRAHM

Released 1 March 2024

LEITER

*****

 

Nils Frahm has unexpectedly shared a new collection of solo piano music: Recorded in the summer of 2022 in complete solitude and away from his studio at Berlin’s famed Funkhaus complex, Day is his first album since the epic three-hour ambient masterpiece "Music For Animals" in 2022.

Day, which contains six tracks, three over the six-minute mark, is a return to the quiet, almost still, music that first made him famous, and the first in a pair of albums Nils has lined up for 2024.

The new collection may come as a surprise to those who, over the last decade, have watched Nils shift slowly away from the piano compositions with which he first made his name in favour of a nonetheless still-distinctive approach that’s considerably more instrumentally complex and intricately arranged.

Read more ... Nils Frahm

Jeremiah Fraites - Piano Piano 2

Piano Piano 2

JEREMIAH FRAITES

Released 29 March 2024

Mercury KX

****-

The Lumineers' co-founder, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremiah Fraites charts new territory with Piano Piano 2, some two years after his outstanding (and at the time surprising) solo debut "Piano Piano".

t's not a companion piece to his 2021 debut Piano Piano as much as an outright evolution. If his debut was sparse and minimalist, then Piano Piano 2 is expansive and adventurous, pairing his piano with layers of percussion, acoustic guitar, strings, spoken-word snippets, and bubbling synths. The result is a cinematic record stacked high with mood and melody.

Where Piano Piano was recorded at home in his living room, Fraites began capturing Piano Piano 2's mix of ambiance and atmosphere at various studios across the world while The Lumineers toured the globe. String arrangements were tracked in Macedonia while other instruments were recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Denver, and the Catskill Mountains. While Fraites primarily used his eccentric upright piano (nicknamed "Firewood") for his debut, seven different upright pianos were used on Piano Piano 2, with each one lending its own unique tone and timbre heard throughout the album.

Piano Piano 2 is an album that demands to be heard, felt, and actively experienced, with songs that soothe one moment and stun the next. Listen closely and you won't just hear Fraites' twinkling ivories - you'll also hear footage of his children at play, audio from a phone call with his wife, and even dialogue lifted from a late-1980s home movie. Those clips are tucked into the far corners of Piano Piano 2 like mementos of the man who made the album, and they add a human touch to a record that's often otherworldly. For an artist who's never been afraid to scale new peaks, Piano Piano 2 finds Jeremiah Fraites climbing skyward

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Read more... Anti Music

Max Richter - Spaceman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Spaceman

(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

MAX RICHTER

Released 1 March 2024

Decca / Netflix

****-

Max Richter had a particular puzzle to solve as he was creating the film’s evocative score. How do you capture the emotional disparities of an intimate love story cast in the vast expanse of space?

“The visual language of the film really informs your musical decisions,” says the celebrated post-minimalist composer, whose film credits include Ad Astra and Mary Queen of Scots, among many others.

Richter experimented with striking a balance between retro electronic textures and luminous orchestral flourishes.

“The score’s palette is kind of 1970s-period electronics that have been treated with ’70s effects – recorded on tape as they would have been recorded back then,” he says. “And then we have acoustic instrumentation that is mostly strings, some piano, and the strings we’ve done in two layers: a very closely mic-ed, intimate sound and also big-picture strings.”

"Spaceman" is a 2024 American science fiction drama film directed by Johan Renck and written by Colby Day. It is based on the 2017 novel Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař. Starring Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Kunal Nayyar, Isabella Rossellini and Paul Dano, it follows an astronaut sent on a mission to the edge of the solar system who encounters a creature that helps him put his earthly problems back together.

Read more... High Res Audio

Checkerboard Lounge - Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster

CHECKERBOARD LOUNGE
Released 8 December 2023

Cheersquad Records & Tapes

****-

The new album from revered Melbourne blues institution Checkerboard Lounge. is produced by the equally revered blues entity Jeff Lang.

The group's last album, Sun Sessions, won four of six available awards at the Melbourne Blues Awards and Best Blues Album at the Music Victoria Awards in 2022.

It was in Rhythms magazines Top 10 Albums of the Year, and it spent more than a year on the Australian Blues & Roots Airplay chart, including multiple months at #1.

The new album is the first to feature the band's current line-up, which features monster muso Zoë Frater on bass alongside group founder Carl Pannuzzo on vocals and drums, Shannon Bourne on guitars and Tim Neal on Hammond Organ.

World-class musicianship, unbridled passion inspired by the moment and an almost telepathic ability to create; Checkerboard Lounge are a powerhouse to be reckoned with.

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Read more... Bandcamp

Horns of Leroy - Monster In Your Head

Monster In Your Head

HORNS OF LEROY

Released 10 March 2024

Horns of Leroy

****-

"Monster in Your Head" is the third LP from Melbourne's homegrown, New Orleans-style jazz band Horns of Lacey. They're a down-to-earth combo that, in typical Aussie style, may be found playing venues of all sizes, from suburban hotel beer gardens, to fully blown national festivals. 

The band is comprised of seven key members:

Ben Harrison & Travis Woods – Trumpet

Chris Vizard & Nick Pietsch – Trombone

Jay Scarlett – Sousaphone

Daniel Berry & Tim Clifton – Percussion

Together, they make a fine fist of creating an authentic-enough, Antipodean version of the Bourbon Street blues, especially considering that all songs are originals, credited mostly to Harrison.

However, the standout tracks on this album are those in which they invite Zimbabwean-born soul diva thndo and powerhouse Melbourne vocalist Loretta Miller

Considering the diversity of the Melbourne music scene, the potential for casting a wider collaborative net in future is an enticing prospect.

Read more... Horns of Leroy

Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Past Is Still Alive

The Past Is Still Alive

HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF

Released 23 February 2024

Nonesuch Records

*****

The Past Is Still Alive is a remarkable album, one which achieves the impossible trick of capturing the mood of a nation and a vivid portrait of a single fascinating person – all within one gorgeous stew

 

It’s a mould many artists defer to but – as the music of Hurray for the Riff Raff betrays – Segarra lived it. Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents; they were raised by their Aunt and Uncle until, at seventeen, they skipped town in the dead of night and spent the formative years of their live train-hopping across the continent, moving from squats to communes. With albums with names such as Small Town Heroes, it should be no surprise where Segarra’s allegiances lie, but their music has always done service to its causes; releasing eight records of increasingly colourful, tapestry-like indie rock, drawing from grassroots collectives like ACT UP, the Puerto Rican rock of the 70s and the poetry of Eileen Myles.

It’s the strength of those songs which make the album. It isn’t revolutionary – the sound of the album is much the same palette as a Waxahatchee or Big Thief record – but what distinguishes Segarra’s songs is the vividness of their songwriting.

The Past Is Still Alive is an album of perpetual forward motion. Its characters are always on the move; peeing in the bushes waiting for the cops, jumping railroad tracks, firing up the car and taking the highway to Florida.

 

Read more... The Line Of Best Fit

Dominique Dalcan - Last Night A Woman Saved My Life

Last Night A Woman Saved My Life

DOMINIQUE DALCAN
Released 3 November 2023

Ostinato

****-

Far from being Dominique Dalcan's first collaboration, he crossed paths with Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, French singer Camille, international designer Matali Crasset, British remixers Autreche, Belgian golden globe award-winning film director Alain Berliner, and many more.

For over three decades, he has established himself as a free-spirited performer on the French music scene.
His blend of organic and the synthetic sounds carved him his place under the sun of French Touch’ golden age, under the name Snooze.
Last Night a Woman Saved My Life: a title that resonates beyond wordplay and simple reference.

Originally a musical object, "Last Night a Woman Saved My Life" expands into a multi-media project (video installation, cultural mediation, etc).
“It's not political, or else that's all it is... that's not the debate to be had here” simply says Dominique Dalcan.
The Algerian diva Souad Massi, the Syrian jazz girl Lynn Adib and Persian singers Parisa & Rezvan Zahedi, sometimes overcoming distances or technical difficulties by recording vocal notes on their phones, they manage to communicate their powerful inner visions.
Also collaborating on the record are Dina El Wedidi, a star in her motherland of Egypt,
as well as Tunisian citharist and vocalist Hend Zouari.

Introducing as well the promising young Sudanese singer Sulafa Elyas, the brilliant Franco-Syrian flautist Naïssam Jalal, and one of Morocco's finest vocalists Meryem Aboulouafa. Not forgetting Dominique's compatriot Yara Lapidus and Bernadette Yammine, who cultivates Arabo-Andalusian music made in Lebanon.

While the lyrics are metaphorically rich, the musical structure stretches from the organic nature of the vocals to the synthetic sounds.

From western minimalism to eastern lyricism. "Neither hi-fi nor lo-fi, just contemporary", sums up its author, aiming to challenge the traditional oriental music framework, making eleven tracks of pure solar pop music, using the hypnotic nature of instruments such as oud and qanun.

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Read more... Bandcamp

a.s.o. - a.s.o.

a.s.o.

A.S.O.

Released 2 June 2023

Low Lying Records

****-

a.s.o. (remixed)

by a.s.o., Low E, Maara, Cousin, Purelink

Released 26 January 2024

Low Lying Records

****-

Here is the debut, self-titled album from a.s.o., singer/songwriter Alia Seror-O'Neill, and producer Lewie Day.

'a.s.o.' is a thematic consolidation of the previous three singles and an impressive artistic progression.

Day and Seror-O'Neill show they've mastered the format of the radio-friendly pop song and found how to subvert it completely.

Across eleven songs, they have built a rich and compelling body of work.

We know where we are now, emotionally complex, trip-hop torch songs for club freaks. But the palette has broadened to encompass ethereal dream pop à la Cocteau Twins, slow-burning AOR-soul, and dubwise stylings. As a result, 'a.s.o.' is a satisfyingly coherent listen but never a musical monoculture.

Variously there are nods toward Julee Cruise, Fleetwood Mac, and the uneasy listening of Portishead. It's an album that wears its influences lightly, is never weighed down by them, and always sure of its own identity.

It's anchored by Alia's unique voice. Her words speak of restraint and release, taking us from the elegiac to the euphoric. This elegantly crafted, perfect pop music sounds like it has had enough of your shit. And Day's music is the perfect foil; deep, slightly menacing, restrained, and powerful. The album has a cinematic texture, as with David Lynch; the seemingly familiar becomes uncanny and strange the closer we look. a.s.o. take our emotions for a joyride before leaving us floating in space.

'a.s.o.' is a journey; by its end, we all are changed. 

Read more... Bandcamp

Limandi - FUCK. IT.

FUCK. IT.

LIMANDI

Released 15 January 2024

Limandi

****-

Uprising Swedish singer-songwriter-producer Limandi’s debut release "FUCK. IT." is a 7 track body of work that explores the concept of self-discovery and growth beyond one’s self-imposed constraints. The self-produced project is as diverse and eclectic as they come with Limandi fusing elements of indie-pop, contemporary pop and a dash of electronic and shoegaze-esque sounds.

The project opens up with the atmospheric “One Day I’ll Be Proud” ripe with moody textures and a short rap-infused performance from the singer. After this she finds herself ruminating on the past, acknowledging her mistakes as we hear on the title track “FUCK. IT”. “Fuck it, I should have done better” she sings as she comes to terms with the situation at hand. She sounds fed up and frustrated on “How Fucking Hard” and she candidly pours her true feelings on wax as follows:

“So sick of doing something that I shouldn’t

So sick of dying for you

So sick of being someone that I shouldn’t”

She doesn’t hold back with the outpour of emotions over the melancholic backdrop which reaches a fever pitch on the chorus section. The entire project flows like an epic love gone wrong tale and each track acts as a different chapter to the unfolding events as we hear the imposed admission of guilt and gaslighting on “Put The Blame On Me”. The damning effects of being stuck in a toxic relationship truly come to the fore on this one but fortunately, Limandi slowly removes herself from the situation and on the flipside “Hopin’ You’ll Be Fine”, she pens a heartfelt letter to her ex and hopes the best for them regardless of the past. The track has a folk-infused element on the hook which progresses into a pop-shoegaze type sound on the chorus which is peppered by sultry melodic runs and airy harmonies.

The project closes out with two soul-stirring tunes “Family” and “Where You’re Heading To” which bring the story to a conclusion while exploring the concepts of inner peace, forgiveness and the uncertainty of what the future might bring us.

Overall, FUCK. IT  is a self-exploration into a woman’s growth as she experiences love, pain and the realization of her strength while embracing her vulnerability as well.

Read more... The Word Is Bond

Helena Czajka - Nemesis (Original ABC TV Series Soundtrack)

Nemesis

(Original Series Soundtrack)

HELENA CZAJKA

Released 1 March 2024

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

****-

Helena Czajka - Unseen Skies (Original Score Soundtrack)

Unseen Skies

(Original Score Soundtrack)

HELENA CZAJKA
Released 2 June 2023

Participant Media / BMG

****-

Helena Czajka - Safe Home (Original ABC TV Series Soundtrack)

Safe Home

(Original Series Soundtrack)

by Helena Czajka

Released 2 June 2023

Helena Czajka

****-

ARIA Award winning composer/producer Helena Czajka blends her classical training from Australia and her work as an orchestrator in Tokyo, with a passion for sound design and electronic textures. Her distinctive style and unique approach can be heard across her film and TV projects.

Helena has composed the music for acclaimed productions including documentary Blind Ambition; SBS thriller series Safe Home; Walkley Award-winning ABC documentary series Revelation; SBS mystery drama "The Tailings", as well as episodes of the Emmy-winning hit children’s show Bluey for ABC, BBC, Disney.

Helena has received a 2023 ARIA Award nomination for the documentary Unseen Skies, crafting the music by manipulating NASA-recorded sounds from space to create a distinctive and experimental score. Her previous work includes Network Ten series "Australian Survivor", the feature film "Beast", the Foxtel TV series "The Queen and Zak Grieve", ABC's " Making Muriel", and SBS "Look Me In The Eye".

Read more ... Helena Czajka

Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra - Andalusian Currents

Andalusian Currents

AMSTERDAM ANDALUSIAN ORCHESTRA

Released 23 February 2024

Stichting Amsterdams Andalusisch Orkest

*****

The Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra works to preserve the musical heritage of Andalusia. Between the 9th and 15th centuries this part of Europe was famous for its music, literature and science..

Nowadays the region is called Al Andalus and is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups. Today the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra tells the story of Al Andalus and describes its significance for present day society through music, theatre, literature and education.

The Andalusian repertoire comprises 24 chapters, developed during the period when the Moors inhabited the Iberian Peninsula. These themes cover a number of themes including love, power, nature and spirituality. natuur, spiritualiteit.

The style of music, which came to be called the ‘Tarb Al-Andalus’ , was a new form combining Jewish, Christian, Persian and Arabian sounds. It was played on a wide variety of instruments: Classical and Andalusian violin, qanun (zither), rebab (a kind of fiddle), tar (tambourine), oud (lute) and derboka (percussion).
After the Spanish Inquisition, this musical style moved on to Morocco and Algeria. Unfortunately along the way half of the repertoire was lost.

Today 11 of the chapters are played, consisting of various musical ‘sana’at’ . The percussion determines the musical rhythms of which five form the base in the Andalusian repertoire. As well as the main chapters Andalusian music also includes instrumental (taqsim) and vocal (mawwal) improvisation. Each generation of Andalusian musicians adds its own contribution as well as the eleven basic main chapters.

Read more... Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra

Julieta Eugenio - STAY

STAY

JULIETA EUGENIO

Released 29 March 2024

Julieta Eugenio

****-

Argentinian saxophonist Julieta Eugenio has been active on the New York City music scene since 2015 and has performed with Johnny O’Neal, Eric Reed, Leon Parker, Bertha Hope, Tardo Hammer and Phillip Harper. STAY is her sophomore album, following her 2022 debut album, JUMP, Both albums feature Julieta’s brilliant and insightful original compositions as well some choice jazz standards: “Flamingo” by Ted Grouya & Edmund Aderson and
“Crazy He Calls Me” by Carl Sigman & Sidney Keith Russell on JUMP and "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington, Irvin Mills and Mitchell Parish on STAY.

Eugenio wreites: "STAY is an inward spiritual journey, an enlightening process of self-discovery of the inner world within the outside world.
The imagination inside our minds, the different dimensions in between, the immersion into the real world, the feeling of body motion while the mind keeps navigating somewhere else, somewhere without time and space.
The feeling that stays, the sounds, the silence, the stories, the people, the dimensions, nature, the universe—it's all us; it’s you; it’s me.
STAY, me with myself, with you and I and us."

Read more... Bandcamp

Sona Jobarteh - Badinyaa Kumoo

Badinyaa Kumoo

SONA JOBARTEH
Released 23 September 2022

African Guild Records

****-

Maya Angelou observed that some people can’t recognize opportunity right before their eyes, “while others can sense a good thing coming when it is days, months or miles away.”

No wonder that, in the liner notes of her second album, the Gambian musician-singer-songwriter Sona Jobarteh—herself accustomed to overcoming obstacles to reach good outcomes—cites the American poet as a role model.

After a grounding in classical music (cello, piano, harpsichord, composition) Jobarteh followed and adapted her family tradition by becoming the first female kora virtuoso, mastering the 21-string instrument that is the hallmark of West African griots, the hereditary historian-poet-genealogist musicians. She also developed a critique of what she identifies as the colonial mindset that undermines African education systems, and in 2015 founded the Gambia Academy, which teaches math, arts and science alongside African history, tradition and values—a model she hopes to replicate across the continent.

Crossing frontiers in both music and education pulls Jobarteh in divergent directions and with Badinyaa Kumoo she attempts to reconcile the competing pressures of her split-screen life. Her song themes are like a lyrical syllabus and the music is sublime, with her graceful voice in Mandinka and her agile digits on the kora. She honors civilization’s driving force in Musolou (Women, video 1) and urges artists to think about the messages their work conveys in Dunoo (Responsibility, video 2). She stresses diversity and community in Ubuntu (Humanity, video 3) and learning itself in Fondinkeeya (Youth).

Written for the 50th anniversary of her nation’s independence, Gambia (video 5) has become an unofficial national anthem. Album guest artists include Malian kora master Ballaké Sissoko and Senegalese icon Youssou N’Dour, who has balanced music with humanitarian work, business and politics. Like her heroes, Jobarteh demonstrates that those who can sense impending opportunity are often those who create great things with their voice, hands and imagination. (African Guild Records)

Read more... World Listening Post

Lina - Fado Camoes

Fado Camoes

LINA

Released 19 January 2024

Galileo

*****

 In 2005, Lina gave a preview of her own career as a fado singer by playing Amália Rodrigues in a theater musical based the great fado diva’s life. On her 2020 album, Lina_Raül Refree, she reinterpreted Amália’s songs, exchanging fado’s traditional acoustic guitars for minimalist backing of mostly piano and synths; a few purists complained, but the album won a host of prizes. On Fado Camões, her newest release, Lina is still experimenting—and also reaching way back, marrying fado to the works of Luís Vaz de Camões, the sixteenth-century poet who is to Portuguese literature and language as Shakespeare is to English. Best known for Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), the epic poem about Vasco da Gama’s first voyage to India, Camões also wrote hundreds of lyric poems. Lina looked for verses suited to fado’s cadences and assembled an able crew for her expedition. Music was borrowed from traditional fados, or newly composed by singer-songwriter Amélia Muge or by Lina herself. The 12 tracks show Camões addressing themes relevant today—childhood, change, love, loss. They also reveal conflicting sentiments, suggesting an era in which passion was often squeezed between richer language and shorter lives.

Like Vasco da Gama rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Lina’s career is a voyage of discovery, and it looks like another epic. (Galileo MC)

Read more ... World Listening Post

Beyonce - Cowboy Carter

Cowboy Carter

BEYONCÉ

Released 29 March 2024

Columbia Records

***--

After all the high production values, hype and celebrity guests, Beyonce's new album is dominated by songs that are self-absorbed or derivative and whose "country" credentials are undermined by gratuitous introductions, as if the songs themselves are not enough.

 

Rumored to be her big pivot into country music, Beyoncé has headfaked us all, opting instead for an omni-genre grandeur that still only manages to feel cosmetic at best. All in all, “Cowboy Carter” amounts to nearly 80 minutes of entirely palatable aesthetic choices being made by one of the most imaginative and decisive singers alive.

Among those decisions: genre-blind duets that vary from cute (Miley Cyrus) to cringe (Post Malone); emcee cameos from country heroes we know (Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson) and others we should (Linda Martell); low-hanging interpolations (Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces,” the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”); lower-hanging tribute covers (the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Parton’s “Jolene”) — all of which seem to communicate the very same message that the record industry keeps beaming into our living rooms every Grammy night: A reverence for the music of the past will magically unify us, illuminating our shared path into the future.
That’s a nice bedtime story, but did everybody forget that Beyoncé has been doing this work all along? Did Beyoncé? As a member of Destiny’s Child, her biggest hits had crunky thump, acoustic guitar twinkle, girl-group shoobie-doo, marching band cannonade and gobs more. She’s always known how to stitch disparate musical ideas together. Why spell it out now? In one song-bridging interlude on “Cowboy Carter,” an old radio dial spins through thickets of static, stopping on the music of Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chuck Berry, Roy Hamilton. It’s a noble shout-out in principle, but the method feels so basic and hand-holdy, the kind of device you might see in a music documentary that presumes you’re an idiot.

Read more ... The Washington Post

Thee Sacred Souls - The Instrumentals

The Instrumentals