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April 2021 Highlights

April 2021 Highlights

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Favourites|April2021

Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turissi - They're Calling Me Home

They're Calling Me Home

by Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turissi

Released 9 April 2021

Hopestreet Recordings

*****

They’re Calling Me Home is the second album by American singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens in collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi,  a follow-up to the pair's excellent 2019 recordeing "There Is No Other ", also released on Nonesuch Records (which topped my August 2019 Playlist)

 

Giddens and Turrisi both live in Ireland when they aren’t on tour and have been confined there since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The two expats found themselves drawn to the music of their native and adoptive countries of America, Italy, and Ireland during lockdown. Exploring the emotions brought up by the moment, Giddens and Turrisi decamped to Hellfire, a small studio on a working farm outside of Dublin, to record these songs over six days.

They’re Calling Me Home, a twelve-track album that speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many during the COVID-19 crisis.

Like it's predecessor, this album has been received with almost universal acclaim.

Uncut magazine said : “This is acoustic roots music at its most glorious, and Giddens is fast becoming the genre’s brightest star in the firmament.”

The Guardian: “For an album recorded in only five days, it wallops with impact. Giddens is going supernova, and it’s a blistering thing.”

Source: Rhiannon Giddens

Mon Laferte - Seis

SEIS

by Mon Laferte

Released 8 April 2021

Universal Music, Mexico

*****

Chilean singer and songwriter Mon Laferte is no stranger to change. She has embraced it in so many areas of her life and work that it seems an aesthetic principle. Early on, she recorded and performed as Monserrat Bustamente, a straight-up Latin pop singer. In 2007, she immigrated to Mexico and started playing rock. After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009 and beating it, she changed her name to Mon Laferte, and began recording in an indie rock style that netted her a Latin Grammy for 2015's Volume 1. 2017's hit La Trenza showcased her embrace of Latin American song traditions in a modern recontextualization. 2019's Norma, an intensely personal album, focused on heartbreak through different dance rhythms with wildly contrasting instrumentation and arrangements including 1940s big band mambo, rockist psychedelic cumbia, and '70s boleros and salsa.
Seis, her sixth album, is rooted in Mexican folk traditions. After the onset of the pandemic, Laferte moved to Tepoztlán. She saw a documentary on the life of iconic ranchera singer Chavela Vargas, who spent her final years in the bucolic town. Vargas' music spurred Laferte to explore a wide range of Mexican styles in her writing. These 14 songs run the gamut from rancheras and mariachis to boleros, bandas, and corridos tumbados. Laferte bookends the set with contrasting versions of her harrowing commentary on gender violence titled "Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón." On the first, her grainy, angry, yet vulnerable vocal is accompanied only by guitar and bajo sexto. She revisits her "La Mujer" in a duo with one of her earliest and greatest inspirations, Mexican pop/rock icon Gloria Trevi. Laferte hasn't sung it in years; she came to consider its lyrics too dysfunctional. Here she not only rewrote them and revamped the music, it is now a feminist manifesto adorned in a snaky bolero, saturated in reverbed guitars and brass. The women's contrasting voices are resplendent in immediacy, passion, and authority. "Esta Morra No Se Vende" is a bouncing corrido, while "Aunque Te Mueras Por Volver" weds theatrical bolero to classy pop with a rock band and an orchestral string section. The single "Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor" is sung as an a unabashedly romantic ranchera with the legendary Alejandro Fernandez; the duo are accompanied by the all-female Mujeres del Viento Florido. The meld of Laferte's and Fernandez's voices delivers it with the conviction of a treasured standard. While "Se Ma Vida" is a slow-burning corrido, the closing version of "Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón" is offered in a heartbreaking collaboration with La Arrolladora Banda El Limon fronted by singer Esaúl García. Seis stands with Norma as a milestone in Laferte's career. Each track is delivered with the consistency, care, honesty, and obsessive attention to detail that Laferte's poetic lyrics and melodies require. The humble presentation here contrasts with her songwriting ambition in what amounts to a truly visionary work of popular art.

Source: AllMusic

Toumani Diabate & London Symphony Orchestra - Korolen

Korolen

by Toumani Diabate & London Symphony Orchestra

Released 24 April 2021

World Circuit Limited

****-

Malian music has no greater emissary than the kora maestro Toumani Diabaté, who since 1988 has championed his homeland with exquisite albums of his own and a series of boundary-busting collaborations that range from flamenco group Ketama to banjo player Béla Fleck, by way of Damon Albarn, jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd and Brazilian composer Arnaldo Antunes. This turn with the London Symphony Orchestra comes from a Barbican performance in 2008, in which Diabaté and a clutch of Malian stars allied their music to rich orchestral arrangements – a reminder, as Diabaté noted, that “our music is older than Beethoven”.

It was a typically bold move, though at times classicism proves a cumbersome partner for his tumbling kora melodies. The settings wisely stay on the discreet side for pieces such as Mama Souraka and Elyne Road, content to add swirls of strings and nodding woodwind. Elsewhere, the LSO’s lead, conducted by Clark Rundell, proves erratic. There’s a jaunty orchestral coda for Moon Kaira, but the xylophone-like balafon is dancing to a far jazzier tune, while the strings of kora, violin and cello compete rather than complement. The finale of Mamadou Kante Keita features stirring vocals from the late Kasse Mady Diabaté, which a faux-operatic climax duly swamps. A special evening, but one containing both chasms and confluences.

Source: The Guardian

Karate Boogaloo - KB's Mixtape No 3

KB's Mixtape No. 3

by Karate Boogaloo

Released 2 April 2021

College Of Knowledge Records

****-

Melbourne cinematic funk outfit Karate Boogaloo announce the third instalment of their KB’s Mixtapes series - KB’s Mixtape No. 3 - Songs from Film & Television.
On this mixtape, KB reinterpret and reengineer themes from film and TV that were used as sample material in hip hop, diving deep into a plethora of sources and flipping them in their wonky, left-field instro-soul style.
The KBs Mixtapes series, self-produced collections of interpretations of hip hop samples, fast became cult classics amongst Melbourne’s diggers; since KB’s Mixtape No. 1’s independent release and distribution by the band, crusty funk reimaginings of deep tunes from the world of hip hop subversively found their way onto turntables around the world.
KB’s Mixtape No.3, was produced and engineered by Karate Boogaloo bass player Henry Jenkins. A pivotal cog in the engine of Melbourne soul, Jenkins is responsible for the production of every record on the College Of Knowledge catalogue, including both Surprise Chef LPs All News Is Good News and Daylight Savings.
KB’s Mixtape No. 3 is released on College Of Knowledge Records, the independent label flying the flag of DIY cinematic soul; home to emerging Melbourne bands Surprise Chef and The Pro-Teens alongside KB.

Source: Bandcamp

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble - NOW

NOW

by Damon Locks, Black Monument Ensemble

Released 9 April 2021

International Anthem

*****

Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble’s new album "NOW" was created in the final throes of Summer 2020, following months of pandemic-induced fear & isolation, the explosion of social unrest, struggle & violence in the streets, and as the certain presence of a new reality had fully settled in. Set up safely in the garden behind Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, the music was recorded in only a few takes, capturing the first times members of BME had ever played or sang the tunes. For Locks, the impetus was more about getting together to commune and make art than it was about producing an album. In his words: “It was about offering a new thought. It was about resisting the darkness. It was about expressing possibility. It was about asking the question, ‘Since the future has unfolded and taken a new and dangerous shape... what happens NOW?’”

Damon Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, vocalist, musician, and deejay. Known for decades of varied projects in Chicago’s underground music & art scenes.

Black Monument Ensemble was conceived as a medium for Chicago-based multi-media artist/activist Damon Locks’s sample-based sound collage work, but has evolved from a solo mission into a vibrant collective of artists, musicians, singers, and dancers making work with common goals of joy, compassion, and intention. Galvanized by Locks’s conceptualizing, poeticizing, and guiding vision, the contributors come from all facets of the diverse wellspring of Black artistic excellence in Chicago, bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to uplifting, anthemic, and highly animated musical performance.

 

Source: Bandcamp

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad - Jazz Is Dead 6 Gary Bartz

Jazz Is Dead 006

by Gary Bartz / Ali Shaheed Muhammed / Adrian Younge

Released 1 March 2021

Jazz Is Dead

****-

The shadow that Gary Bartz casts over the last six decades of progressive Black music, and his continued dedication to same, makes him a logical and very welcome contributor to the Jazz Is Dead label.

An alto saxophonist steeped in the history and tradition of his instrument who is also restlessly experimental and not prone to purism of any kind, he enjoys both the respect and admiration of his peers and the hero worship of several generations after him – including Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, which inevitably led to Gary Bartz JID 006.

A look at his body of work reveals dalliances with bebop, hard bop, free jazz, spiritual jazz, soul jazz, jazz-funk, fusion and acid jazz, all while resolutely remaining unmistakably Gary Bartz. There's early work with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner in Charles Mingus' Jazz Workshop, work with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, a stint in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and also one with Miles. There's his groundbreaking and highly influential Ntu Troop albums of the early ‘70s and his jazz-funk work including two classic albums with the Mizell Brothers, one of which supplied A Tribe Called Quest with a sample that was smooth like butter. And while on the subject of samples, the Bartz catalog has provided hip-hop and other genres with a rich source of them, and artists who have gone to his well when producing beats also include Black Sheep, Jurassic 5, Casual, RPM, Warren G, Photek, Statik Selektah, Chi-Ali, 3rd Bass, Showbiz, Z-Trip, Young Disciples, and many others.

The socio-political content of much of Bartz’s work, particularly during the early ‘70s, is another factor that has captured the attention of and influenced many. He was wide awake to the pressing issues of his day, which sadly haven't changed much in a half-century - long before the term "woke" was ever coined - which adds continued relevance and resonance to albums like the two Harlem Bush Music LPs. Speaking his mind and expressing thoughts and feelings lyrically and vocally were a consistent aspect of his work during this era, but even with all this there's always still a space within Gary's oeuvre for the celebration of simple and beautiful basic truths.

Source: Bandcamp

Tamil Rogeon - Son Of Nyx

Son Of Nyx

by Tamil Rogeon

Released 5 February 2021

Telarc

****-

 

Viola players can be a pretty modest bunch, full of self-deprecation and apology for not being violinists. But if sometimes the violin can be a little wearing on the ears as lead instrument, the viola’s lower pitch offers a darker, mellower alternative. And so we come to this new release from globetrotting, Australia-based Tamil Rogeon.

Rogeon is a composer, conductor, violist, violinist and producer working in jazz, classical, Brasilian, beats, house, hip hop and more.

Like all the best music, Son of Nyx is hard to categorise, but we could start by describing it as both modal in style and intensely melodic. It shows what can be done with slightly unconventional instrumentation.

Along with Danny Fischer on drums, Javier Fredes on percussion and Sam Anning on double bass, Rogeon plays ARP Odyssey analogue synthesiser as well as viola. The Odyssey was introduced in the early ’70s and “revived” about five years ago by Korg. I don’t know whether Rogeon is playing the new version or the original, but no matter: he, Sam Keevers and Daniel Mougerman all take turns with the Odyssey, and its presence gives this album a warm, washy, nostalgic sound.

Keevers and Mougerman also tackle another fascinating ’70s instrument – the Helpinstill upright piano, German-made and housed in a flight case, and presumably intended as an acoustic alternative to the Fender Rhodes “Suitcase” model. The Helpinstill was designed to be taken out on the road but it was so heavy that roadies must have suffered multiple hernias every time they tried to move it.

Source: London Jazz News

Moussa Diakite - Kanafo

Kanafo

by Moussa Diakite

Released 13 November 2020

Telarc

****-

 

Moussa Diakite is a guitarist, singer and composer born in Mali, now based in Western Sydney. His style is derived from the “Wassoulou” style of music from Bougouni area of Mali, fused with elements of Malian, Congolese, Highlife, Afro Beat, Cuban, Blues,and Jazz.

Moussa Diakite spent his foundational years in the iconic Afro-Latin “Rail Band” (also known as The Super Rail Band) from 1979 to 1983. They were one of the first bands to combine elements of Cuban and Congolese Jazz with West African rhythms, melodies and instrumentation like the Kora and the Belafon.

Moussa Diakite played with Grammy Award-winning Kora player, Toumani Diabate, and his live band from 1983 to 1987 in Mali before joining Salif Kieta's live band and joining him on multiple World Tours between 1990 – 1995.

Since moving to Australia in 1996, he has played with leading West African bands including Senegal and Guinean inspired band, Keyin Ba, and his own bands: Badema and Wassado.

Moussa’s current band Wassado features Junior Jones, Len Samperi, Phillipe Lincy and Patricia Alvarez. Moussa Diakite & Wassado, have played many Australian festivals, including Womadelaide 2018, Darwin Festival 2013 and, in 2019, we played at Bellingen Festival, Mullum Festival, Woodford Folk Festival and Illawarra Folk Festival.

Kanafo is a collection of new compositions by Moussa featuring his band Wassado and collaborations with Stu Fergie (OKA), Ollie McGill (The Cat Empire). and Malian instrumentalists Bassidi Kone, Bassekou Koyate and Djelimada Toungara.

Kanafo, the album title, alludes to sharing secrets and forging relationships through revealing knowledge. The album combines both traditional and modern instruments in a bid to bridge the gap between past and present.

Source: Artist's website

Mista Monk & Inkswee - Muti

Muti

by Mista Monk & Inkswel

Released 26 February 2021

Inner Tribe

****-

Muti marks the solo debut of Katherine’s prolific Mista Monk (derived from his name, Liam Monkhouse, the son of a mixed-race Zimbabwean mother and white Australian father,), one of four emcees in the 7-piece hip-hop band Culture Connect, and the veteren of ten years at the forefront of acclaimed Ethio-jazz-rap outfit, Black Jesus Experience (included in our 2020 Favourites Playlist). 

Inskwel hails from Adelaide, the spiritual home of Australian hip hop, but the last decade has seen him find his feet in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Melbourne in a whirlwind career has seen him bring forth all manner of releases, experimenting with broken beat, house, electronica, hip-hop and neo-soul.

Mista Monk was born and raised in Katherine, a rural town in the Northern Territory, far from both his African roots and the urban environment most hip-hop evokes. But rap music spoke to the young Monk’s fledgling sense of a mixed race identity, with his hometown being a strange dichotomy of Ocker Aussie and Indigenous culture. These cultural crossroads and their broader implications have informed his lyrics for over a two decades now, culminating in his first solo hip-hop album 'Muti' with prolific producer Inkswel on production duties.

Mista Monk represents these crossroads with rhythmic flows and conscious word-play illuminating his world view from the macro of humanity's ills to the miniature of personal identity with nods to fun off-the-cuff flows and cartoon-esque narratives making for a balanced spread of flavours to navigate the vivid sample driven soundscapes provided by Inkswel.

Monk’s schemes are oft-dense and ever-heady, hitting underground strides without commercial concession, but at its best, Muti is compulsively listenable. His enlightened edge pairs well with Inkswel’s inspired arrangements, folding soul and psychedelia into synths, horns, hi-hats and international rhythms. They’re platforms as much as they are playgrounds, the pockets both an opportunity for truth and a chance to have some fun.

If Monk’s mission is the same from Electrolytes – “threw up a peace sign, proceeded to rock it like we do, got ‘em all bump ‘n grinding to some music with a groove” – then consider Muti a mission well accomplished.

Sources: Bandcamp and Pilerats

Mister Ott - In The Flow

In The Flow

by Mister Ott

Released 26 February 2021

Earshift Nusic

****-

 

Sydney, Australia's Mister Ott takes you on a journey, to another place and time where you lose yourself in the music.
Their music merges mesmerising eastern sounds, tight jazz funk, hypnotic grooves with melismatic horn lines and high calibre ecstatic solos.

For the past two decades, New Zealand saxophonist Matthew Ottignon has honed his skills and vision through a string of shape-shifting solo projects and collaborations. Now he’s turned up on Urban Trout (label of brother Aron) with “In The Flow”, a new album from his Australian outfit Mister Ott. The music is Afrofunk-informed boogie, the album a languid ice-melter, engineered to beam groovy, defogging solace and soul-warming slabs.

It all starts with the slap-n-brass-laden dub-funk of “Kleeer”, taking us to another dimension of vaporous daze with its cartel of hip hop-laced drums and jaunty Rhodes, before “Steam" embarks us on a further guitar-strewn, highly dynamic voyage across Ethiopian jazz-infused sonic horizons. Showing off its playfully syncopated swagger, "Walk N Talk" merges a skittish drumwork with dusty synths and moody trumpets out of a neo-noir detective flick shrouded in meditative oneirism.

Pulling out the frenzied congas and fluttering 70's melodies, “Gold Chain” attacks, pedal to the metal, blazing with drums reminiscent of the mastered tribalism of Tony Allen’s compositions. More Skank by essence, “Highway One” is a straight nod to Mulatu Astatke and the Ethiopian jazz scene. Exuding pure spiritual elevation through its symbiotic rhythmic entanglements, the track runs the gamut from muted, introspective melancholia to head-on exaltation of the senses.

Nodding to the dubbed out sensualism of Blaxploitation soundtracks, coated with a hint of pure aboriginal psychedelia, “Bad Actor” drapes us in thick shrouds of mind-expanding retro voodoo funk.

The final cut is “Pintupi 84”, name checking the story of the Pintupi Nine, a family of aboriginals discovered in 1984 still living a traditional hunter/gatherer life in the remote Australian desert. The track echoes Jon Hassell’s Fourth World sound, fusing a sense of spiritual elation with moving harmonics that evoke the beauty, mystery and violence inherent in the repeated collisions between the modern and ancient worlds. 
credits
Matthew Ottignon - tenor and bari saxes
Ellen Kirkwood - trumpet and flugelhorn
Daniel Pliner - keys
Ben Panucci - guitar
Dave Symes - bass
Carlos Adura - drums and percussion
Dom Kirk - congas, bata and percussion

Source: Bandcamp

GL - You Read My Mind

You Read My Mind

by GL

Released 25 September 2020

Pool Records

****-

"You Read My Mind" is Melbourne-based duo GL's (aka Graeme Pogson and Ella Thompson). GL have built their reputation among Australia’s most exciting innovators in contemporary pop and electronic music by synthesising rhythms and textures to forge thrilling, emotional soundscapes to lose yourself within.

Recorded at their own studio in inner city Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, You Read My Mind reaffirms GL’s ability to hone a sound distinctly their own, while expanding their palette to explore dreamlike trances and impassioned tones amid body-moving sensibilities.

Spinning life and its frustrations into a collection brimming with positivity, GL relinquish control to the music itself, allowing the instrumentation to shape a fluid sonic movement from start to finish.

GL say on the album: “You Read My Mind is about sticking together through uncertainty in a world fuelled by unstoppable forces, accelerating regardless of our choices. The record speaks more broadly about life and its frustrations while also synthesising these experiences into something positive. Our music has always been a positive release for us, working through whatever is going on in the head and making sense of the world. There is an escapism in being able to make music and art and we feel extremely lucky to have that outlet. This record is music you can move to, dance to, it simmers and purrs. More than ever we wanted to create a lot of it on the spot, so it was very fun and spontaneous. The majority was conceived and recorded specifically for this album over several sessions at Swimming Pool Studio in Fitzroy. This is the first of our releases to be released on our record label Pool Records. We are really thrilled to be back in the game releasing our second album, and as soon as we're able to, we will be touring with our live band and bringing the live energy to this record. In the meantime, sing along at home, send us vids, tell your friends, reach out and stay in touch.”

Sources: Bandcamp

Trioritat - ALG0

ALG0

by Trioritat

Released 6 November 2020

Ouvo Records

****-

Triorität are (believe it or not) are a trio (from Darmstadt, Germany), who have sought to synthesize their talents on the back of a broad base of influences. The group members are:

Alexander Hoffmann - Drums
Gerrit Ebeling - Keys, Synth
Grégoire Pignède - Bass
Lukas Lehmann - Synth, Vocoder 

Their sound, which builds light components into something full-bodied and rich, pulls from 70s fusion and disco, as well as modern house and hip hop, producing moody, crafty jams along the lines of dancefloor jazz.

ALG0 is the group's debut LP and first ever release on their very own imprint, Ouvo.

Source: Bandcamp

Varios Artists  - Global Vibrations Volume 1

Global Vibrations Volume 1

by Various Artists

Released 11 December 2020

Groove School Records

****-

London label Groove School Records aims to be "a directory where labels can find the next artist, that they want to sign or collaborate with!" and encourages us all to "Think of us as the middle man".

The set opens with Melbourne based producer & drummer Bentley's "Sunshine" featuring Milton Points (Bass) and Daniel Pliner (Keys). Then follows "Drunxk"a new tune from another Melbourne drummer Ziggy Zeitgeist (as Z*S*F*X or Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange - who featured in our November 2020 Playlist). "Liberation" is by Swiss based Jazz-Fusion producer Melodiesinfonie and "Leave It All Alone" by London based collaborators Veda Black (vocals), Chewbeats & Joel Dawe. The opening half of the album is tied together by smooth jazz grooves but concludes with a latin flavor, as Budapest born, Berlin based keyboard player and producer Abase plays "Sonongo", a tribute to Pedro dos Santos, a man considered to be one of the greatest musicians of all time, largely due to inventing instruments that harness the culture of Latin music. The song features Ori Jacobson on the saxophone & Ron Warburg on the trumpet.

Side B opens with the the return of by Italian-born, South London bassist & producer Chewbeats' choppy, lo-fi, hip hop looped beats in "Dusk In Pekham" followed by Amsterdam's Pasquinel ("Lolipop Edit") and "Dont Look Back" by SicStyle and closes out with "Wassup" by Brooklyn producer VLVT Jones, which starts off with a ballad like chord arrangement before a familiar drum loop is introduced! Its full of bass & its full of energy.

Source: Bandcamp

Yolanda Ingley II - Woman Got To Cry

Woman Got To Cry

by Yolanda Ingley II

Released January 2018

Half Mile Harvest

*****

Yolanda Ingley II was a little-known, but powerful voice on the Australian music scene whose reptation has grown stealily from her first release "This Dangerous Age" (2016) and has been cemented with the release of the follow up "Woman Got To Cry" (2018). 

Her soulful, clear voice places her among the very best Australian vocalists and songwriters and seems to call from the past.

The album, beautifully produced by Sam Teskey of The Teskey Brothers, was recorded direct to analogue tape.

The 8 tracks feature Yolanda’s own hand-picked cast of stellar musicians;

Monica Weightman on searing Lead guitar and Backing Vocals,

Steve Dagg on Tenor and Baritone Sax,

Olaf Scott on Hammond Organ,

Kain Borlase on Bass,

Liam Gough on Drums

Sam Teskey also helping out on Lead and Gypsy Guitar and Backing Vocals.

Additional musicians on the album include Gaelle Horsley on Backing Vocals,

Matthew Arnold on Violin

Johnny O’Hagan on Double Bass (on “Come Back In My Arms"),

Nathan Sametz on Trombone,

Charlie Woods on Trumpet and

Brendon Love (The Teskey Brothers) on Tambourine.

Grevious Bolily Calm - Arc

Arc (EP)

by Grevious Bodily Calm

Released 11 December 2020

Grevious Bodily Calm

****-

Grievous Bodily Calm are a five-piece instrumental band from Perth, Western Australia. Their genre-blending signature instrumental sound and high energy live show infuses dance music, beat music and jazz improvisation with modern electronic production.

Arc features a string quintet, modular synthesis, highly processed live instruments and group improvisation. The result is three tracks that strongly weave beautiful melodies, energetic rhythms and widely varied textures with a blurring of live, electronic and produced sounds.

Through the process of producing and mixing the EP themselves, Arc is a true representation of GBC’s unique approach to instrumental music - the aesthetic of produced beats with the added dynamic of realtime improvisation and the excitement involved therein.

The five-piece have become renowned for their genre-blending signature instrumental sound and high energy live show infuses IDM, beat music and jazz improvisation with modern electronic production. They have shared stages with acts such as The Avalanches, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kaiit, Beach House and the legendary Mulatu Astatke as well as numerous festival appearances and sold-out headline shows off the back of their acclaimed 2019 independent release Repel - a melting pot of lyrical melodies and intricate beats with a focus on conveying emotion through expressive compositions.

Source: triplej unearthed

Louis Marlo - Stained Glass

Stained Glass (EP)

by Louis Marlo

Released 6 December 2019

Merriware Records

****-

Stained Glass is an electronic music gem from Melbourne drum and bass experimentalist Louis Marlo, a collection of five minimalist pieces that were recorded between 2014 and 2018. The EP is the culmination of the artists' experiments with tape loops, the Roland TB-303 analog bass synthsiser, Roland TR-606 analog drum machine, processed guitars and electric pianos.

The music, although austere in its instrumentation. is warmed by its atmospheric phrasing and the funky use of broken beat and downtempo. 

These tunes sound like song-stems from sessions for Propellerheads' 1998 classic Decksanddrumsandrockandroll

Marlo's austre approach continues, but his musical vocabulary is widening, (still with occasional Propellerheads flourishes) in his more recent recording, "Who Wants Alchemy?" (January 2021) which may be streamed on Bandcamp. 

Tenderlonius - TEK-88

Tek-88

by Tenderlonius (EP)

Released 9 April 2021

DAM Records (sublabel of 22a)

****-

Another of SunNeverSetsOnMusic's favourite artists, London artist Tenderlonius' previous releases feature in our April 2020 and January 2021 playlists. This time, the prolific producer, saxophonist and flautist returns with a 4 track EP that is inspired by the iconic Roland TR-808, a drum machine manufactured by the Roland Corporation between 1980 and 1983. It was one of the first drum machines to allow users to program rhythms instead of using preset patterns.

The EP features Classic analog beats and twisted synth lines that  lay the foundations for dark, sci-fi inspired soundscapes that are dragged into dance floor territory by 808 drum patterns, jazzed out synth solos and sub-shaking bass hooks.

Opening track ‘Opus’ sets the tone for the EP; a chilling, ambient opening that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Ridley Scott film.
‘TEK-88’ launches the space mission at full throttle. An ode to the classic Underground Resistance, Detroit sound. Hard 808 drums, spacey euphoric pads and Herbie Hancock inspired synth lines feed the hunger for the reopening of nightclubs and dance floors across the world.
‘Prometheus’ is one of the most unique house tracks of the year. An idiosyncratic 808 drum pattern powers the track along with an atmospheric backdrop that builds to a signature lead synth solo from Tenderlonious; conjuring images of the USCSS Prometheus starship landing on LV-223.
The EP draws to a close with ‘808 State’. Live freestyle drum patterns bring things back down to earth with hypnotic synth lines and atmospheric pad work.
TEK-88 picks up where Tenderlonious’ 2020 LP Quarantena left off, with added bass and danceability. His best studio productions yet!
This limited edition EP comes with cover art that features a replica Roland TR-808 drum machine constructed entirely from Lego by in-house 22a artist Matt Carter. 

Source: Bandcamp

Kruder & Dorfmeister - 1995

1995

by Kruder + Dorfmeister

Released 17 November 2020

G-Stone Recordings

****-
It’s time to lie down and party like it’s 1995!
Austrian duo Kruder and Dorfmeister haven’t released any fresh original material together in over two decades, their focus since the 90’s being very much on DJ performances, remixes and various solo projects. How fantastically unexpected, then, that these pioneers of trip hop and stoner beats would release their first full-length album of original compositions in the year 2020.

Except it’s not 2020, it’s 1995. Confused? Let’s take a little trip.

1995 is the Kruder and Dorfmeister debut album that never was. Recently rescued from a box of old DAT tapes, it captures them on the brink of stardom, after their debut EP G-Stoned (1993) but before the much-lauded mix album DJ Kicks (1996) and their astonishing downtempo reinventions for other artists on The K&D Sessions (1998). Recorded at a relaxed pace in a front room in Vienna using a few samplers, keyboards and effects units, the tapes eventually coalesced into a 15-track album. Just 10 test copies were pressed to vinyl, 4 of them given away to friends. And then…nothing. The project was shelved as production and performing commitments took over, and soon it seemed everyone wanted a piece of K&D – including just about every goddamn cafe on planet Earth.

But now, at last, we get to hear a whole album on which the duo showcase their chops not only as producers but as composers, previously heard only on two EP’s and a few individual tracks scattered across the above releases and a few compilations.

In many ways, 1995 expands naturally on G-Stoned from two years previous: lots of funk and jazz-laden flavours built on a foundation of hip hop breaks and trippy dub production techniques, spiced with echoes of spacerock, 60’s lounge records and retro soundtrack music a la Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone. “Morning” and “Swallowed The Moon” are both utterly gorgeous with their lush strings and wandering electric piano. Emotionally the music leans towards the light, but not always. “Johnson” might be the most haunting piece in their entire oeuvre, sampling Delta bluesman Robert Johnson against a dark, seductive break and a fantastic Theremin line that whistles like a ghost towards the end.

The most unusual thing here is the 13-minute epic “One Break”. Brooding, sparse and patient, the long opening section builds with pan pipes, bird sounds and African drums, eventually settling into a jazzy midtempo break before a final segue into (hello mid 90’s!) ambient drum ‘n’ bass .

Source: Ambient Music Review

Vijay Iyer Trio - Uneasy

Uneasy

by Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh, Tyshawn Sorey

Released 9 April 2021

ECM

*****

Uneasy, with Vijay Iyer (Piano), Linda May Han Oh (Double Bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (Drums), is Vijay Iyer’s second trio album on ECM and his seventh appearance as a leader on the label.

Navigating from one shape-shifting idea to another, he continues to push boundaries from one album to the next. On Uneasy, he draws on the history of the music while continuing to push it forward. In the course of this endeavour, the political and social turbulences dominating today’s American landscape are reflected in musical contemplation and tense space. In his liner notes, Vijay elaborates on how today “the word ‘uneasy’ feels like a brutal understatement, too mild for cataclysmic times. But maybe, since the word contains its own opposite, it reminds us that the most soothing, healing music is often born of and situated within profound unrest; and conversely, the most turbulent music may contain stillness, coolness, even wisdom.”
Lending the album its title, UnEasy was originally the name of a dance project, coordinated between Vijay and choreographer Karole Armitage’s dance company in 2011. Uneasy builds on the paradox the title implies and takes up the underlying atmosphere of threat it alludes to – a decade after and ten years deeper into a world and time of unrest.
On Uneasy, eight Vijay originals, composed over a span of twenty years, are joined by a rendition of Cole Porter’s “Night And Day” as well as Geri Allen’s “Drummer Song”. 

Source: ECM

Flying Lotus - Yasuke Original Netflix Soundtrack

Yasuke Original Netflix Soundtrack

by Flying Lotus

Released 30 April 2021

Warp Records

****-

Waldeck - Grand Casino Hotel

Grand Casino Hotel

by Waldeck

Released 6 November 2020

Dope Noir Records

****-

Over the last decade or so Waldeck has often taken an inspirational foray into a certain musical genre or epoque, the essence of which he took as blueprint for his own musical ventures: Let´s think of his "Ballroom Stories“ (2007), considered to be one of the most influential albums of Electro Swing, "Gran Paradiso“ (2016), his homage to spaghetti western and Italian canzone or lately "Atlantic Ballroom“ (2018) featuring jazz-flavoured crime fiction sounds of the late 1960's.

This time around Mr. Waldeck enters the realm of American road movies in all its different shades and colors, a genre in which the journey is the reward and the reward is freedom.
Listening to Grand Casino Hotel you will immediately find yourself drawn into images of dire desert landscapes, where cheap motels with defunct pools and endless highways outline the scenery. A decrepit casino building adjacent to our motel catches the eyes. One of the employees looks like a grumpy twin brother of Waldeck. Musical film d´auteur!

Waldeck is joined by vocalists Patrizia Ferrara, Zeebee, Carl Avory, Jon Malcolm on various tracks.

Thoroughly entertaining!

Source: New Model Radio

Leon Vynehall - Rare, Forever

Rare, Forever

by Leon Vynehall

Released 30 April 2021

Vynehall Limited / Ninja Tune

****-

Leon Vynehall loves a good story. Back in 2014, the UK artist’s breakthrough mini-LP, Music for the Uninvited, was rooted in childhood memories of the mixtapes his mother used to play in the car, while 2016’s Rojus drew parallels between a night of partying and the mating rituals of tropical birds. Two years later, he went fully conceptual with Nothing Is Still, a beautiful album that folded in elements of ambient and classical while recounting the tale of his grandparents’ emigration to New York in the 1960s. The self-described “multimedia experience” also included a series of short films and a novella.

His latest full-length takes a notably different path. Rare, Forever has no grand narrative or elaborate backstory. Speaking about the album, Vynehall has said, “I wanted to write purely from the standpoint of free expression: whatever came to me is what I’d go with.”

Vynehall has always had a knack for crafting tastefully anthemic house music, and his latest album is bound to be celebrated as his return to the dancefloor.  Even without any overarching narrative, Rare, Forever still feels like a triumph. At its core, the LP is a straight-up flex, the work of an artist who has learned to distill his many influences and experiments into a coherent, singular vision, and Vynehall himself is the protagonist of this particular tale. (It’s telling that he opens the record with “Ecce! Ego!,” which literally means “Behold! Me!” in Latin.) There are few producers in the electronic music realm who can capably translate the “here’s some tracks I made” approach into a compelling album—folks like Floating Points and Four Tet come to mind—and it appears that Vynehall is ready to be welcomed into that cohort, perhaps with glorious album centerpiece “An Exhale” as his coronation theme.

Combining the beatless trance of artists like Barker with the woozy melodies of M83, it’s both jubilant and pensive, like looking out at nature’s expanse after trekking up a mountain. After making his own proverbial climb in recent years, Vynehall can rightly sit back and take in the view.

 

Source: Pitchfork

Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Wright) - Heroes & Laments

Heroes & Laments - Desert Blues

by Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Knight)

Released 1 April 2015

Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Knight)

*****

From the remote community of Wangkatjungka (located 130 km south east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, within the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley), Olive Knight is a Walmatjarri woman born in the desert with the traditional name is Kunkuwa. 

She remembers nullanullas (hunting sticks) thumping the bare earth, clap sticks and boomerangs, and the rhythmic songs of her forefathers. Now working on her second album, Olive has a vision to see her people heal and believes music is an integral part of this process.

Olive was an integral part of the liquor restrictions movement which won a precedent ruling against the Liquor Association, has been active in studies related to prevention and treatment of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, helped develop the Walmatjarri dictionary in the 1960s, and is a well respected Elder. Olive has a vision to see her people healed and believes music is an integral part of that.

As Australians we can boast to have inherited the only Walmatjarri Gospel Blues Singer in the world!

Olive is not just a musician; she is a rare gem of incalculable cultural significance.

Her three albums are available through her website and are:

• Gospel Blues on the Edge of the Desert;

• Kan-Kawa Contemporary Gospel and Blues;

• Heroes & Laments: Walmatjarri Stories

 

Source: Bandcamp

Merry Clayton - Beautiful Scars

Beautiful Scars

by Merry Clayton

Released 11 February 2021

Ode Sounds & Visuals

****-

When the Rolling Stones released "Gimme Shelter" in 1969, everyone recognized Mick Jagger. But at the time, no one knew who that voice – you know the one – belonged to. It was Merry Clayton, one of the most in-demand back-up singers of her day. From Bobby Darin to Lynryd Skynyrd to Coldplay, artists have wanted this amazing voice to be a part of their music. Clayton was profiled in the documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom, which won an Oscar, raising her profile higher than ever and spurring big plans to finally step twenty feet closer to her own stardom.

"We talked about recording again, and touring and doing the whole bit, but when the accident happened, everything stopped," Clayton says, a gospel record playing in the background. The accident she's referring to happened on June 16, 2014, just three months after the Academy Awards. She thought there was something wrong with her car, so she pulled to the side of an L.A. freeway. When she tried to rejoin traffic, a car crashed into hers. "This car came around the corner and just creamed my car. He T-boned me," she remembers. "And it just broke both of my legs. I saw my legs just go to the right."

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Clayton was rushed to the hospital. She woke up after surgery to a new reality. The doctors came in apologizing, saying they had to make some harsh decisions, including amputating both her legs from the knees down. "I just looked at them and said, 'Really? Well, did anything happen to my voice?' "

Clayton began to sing right there, in her hospital bed. Fortunately, nothing happened to that special voice and, at that point, she says she put her faith in God. Also, in Lou Adler, a giant in the music world behind the signing of The Mamas and the Papas; producer of Carole King's Tapestry and co-founder of the Monterey Pop Festival, which helped launch the careers of Jimi Hendrix and The Who. Adler has been one of Clayton's dearest friends since 1969 – she calls him "Uncle Lou."

At the time, Clayton had been in the hospital for almost four months; Adler would talk to her, urging her to get better so she could return to singing. "I'm looking at him, saying, 'Sing again?! I'm not interested in singing again. I'm interested in trying to get well!' " Adler would respond positively, saying she would certainly get well. But when that time comes, he insists that Clayton has got to sing. " 'OK,' I said. 'We'll revisit that.

Source: Bandcamp

Terry Callier - The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier

The New Folk Sound Of Terry Calier

by Terry Callier (1968)

Released 11 December 1968 

Crafy Recordings

*****

From his beginnings in jazz, folk and soul music onwards, the singer and guitarist Terry Callier, (who died in 2012, aged 67 after suffering from throat cancer,) struggled to find the popular recognition his varied talents deserved. Nonetheless he released a string of enduring and influential albums and, during the 1990s, enjoyed a creative rebirth in the UK when his supple, soulful music was feted by the acid-jazz movement and he collaborated with Beth Orton and Massive Attack.

Callier was born in Chicago and raised in the north side of the city. Partly inspired by his mother's enthusiasm for singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, he sang in amateur doo-wop groups in his teens, and found himself in the midst of a remarkable group of local musicians including Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and Ramsey Lewis.
In 1964, he was signed to Prestige Records by the producer Samuel Charters, with whom he cut his first album, "The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier". Featuring just an acoustic guitar, two bass players (an idea Callier borrowed from the jazzman John Coltrane) and Callier's gentle but hugely expressive voice, the album stands today as a minor masterpiece. However, it was not released until 18 months later because in the meantime Charters had disappeared to Mexico, taking the master tapes with him. Look at Me Now, Callier's debut single, came in 1968, when he signed with Chicago's renowned blues label, Chess.

Callier earned a living by playing gigs in New York and Chicago until he was contacted by Butler in 1970 and recruited to his salaried group of songwriters. The following year, the Chess producer Charles Stepney approached Callier for songs. Callier supplied The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind), which was recorded by the Dells and was successful enough to prompt a recording contract for Callier from the Chess subsidiary Cadet. He made three solo albums under Stepney's guidance: Occasional Rain, What Color Is Love and I Just Can't Help Myself; commercial reward did not match their critical acclaim and Cadet ended Callier's contract.

Hope was rekindled when Elektra Records came calling in 1977, though Callier refused to have any truck with the prevailing disco boom, and his two Elektra albums continued his string of commercial flops. His Elektra mentor, Don Mizell, quit the label in 1979, and Callier was dropped shortly afterwards.

When his daughter, Sundiata, who was living with Callier's ex-wife, told him she wanted to stay in Chicago to attend school, Callier realised he had to have a steady income. He secured a staff job as a computer programmer at the University of Chicago, and relegated music to a mere hobby for the next decade and a half.

However, as the 90s dawned, Callier was amazed to be told that he had become an icon of the British soul-jazz scene, thanks to a single, I Don't Wanna See Myself (Without You), on an obscure label. This had caught the ear of cutting-edge DJs such as Eddie Piller, who dropped in on Callier in Chicago and invited him to perform at the 100 Club in London. His subsequent string of shows at the Jazz Cafe became legendary for the devotion he aroused in his listeners.

Callier sang two songs with Orton on her EP Best Bit and he was signed to Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud label, for which he cut the albums Timepeace (featuring Orton) and Lifetime, both suffused with a sense of faith and yearning for redemption. After his record deal collapsed following a round of record company mergers, the independent label Mr Bongo stepped into the breach and released the live album Alive and a studio album, Speak Your Peace, which featured a duet performed and co-written with Paul Weller.

Callier was sacked from his computer programmer's job and concentrated once more on music, dividing his time between the UK and the US. He recorded six acclaimed albums between 1999 and 2009. The last of these was Hidden Conversations, on which he was joined by Massive Attack, with whom he had collaborated on the single Live With Me, a Top 20 hit in 2006. "You can make accessible music and still sing about love and peace and truth and life and death," said Callier in 1996. "In the end, those are the only things that matter."

Source: The Guardian

The New Age Steppers - Avant Gardening

Avant Gardening

by The New Age Steppers

Released 19 March 2021

On-U DSound

****-

The New Age Steppers were a collective with an evolving line-up, built around the driving forces of Ari Up (The Slits) and producer Adrian Sherwood. Their records featured contributions from several singers and players from the UK post-punk vanguard such as the Pop Group, The Raincoats and The Flying Lizards; colliding with established movers from the reggae world such as Bim Sherman, Style Scott and George Oban.

"Avant Gardening" is a collection of rare dubs, version excursions and unreleased tracks from the vault from 1980 - 1983. It is Disc 5 of the group's career spanning anthology "Stepping Into The New Age" which contains the following discs: New Age Steppers (1981), Action Battlefield (1981), Foundation Steppers (1983), Love Forever (2012) and Avant Gardening plus a 32 page book containing photos, ephemera and a new sleevenotes by Oli Warwick that trace the history of the group via conversations with Adrian Sherwood and other contributors.

Source: Bandcamp

Harari - Rufaro / Happiness

Rufaro / Happiness (1978)

by Harari

Released 26 February 2021

On-U DSound

****-

After changing their name, from The Beaters (and a debut album "Harari" in 1975), Harari went into the studio late in 1976 to record their follow-up, "Rufaro / Happiness".

Comprising former schoolmates guitarist and singer Selby Ntuli, bassist Alec Khaoli, lead guitarist Monty Ndimande and drummer Sipho Mabuse, the group had come a long way from playing American-styled instrumental soul in the late sixties to delivering two Afro-rock masterpieces.

And so popular that in 1976 they were voted South Africa’s top instrumental group and were in high demand at concert venues across the country.

Before these two albums the Beaters had been disciples of ‘Soweto Soul’ – an explosion of township bands drawing on American soul and inspired by the assertive image of Stax and Motown’s Black artists. The Beaters supported Percy Sledge on his 1970 South African tour (and later Timmy Thomas, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett). But their watershed moment was their three month tour of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where they were inspired by the strengthening independence struggle and musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who were turning to African influences. On their return, the neat Nehru jackets that had been the band’s earliest stage wear were replaced by dashikis and Afros.

“In Harari we rediscovered our African-ness, the infectious rhythms and music of the continent. We came back home inspired! We were overhauling ourselves into dashiki-clad musicians who were Black Power saluting and so on.” Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, talking of the band’s time spent on tour in the (then) Rhodesian township from where they took their name. As well as expressing confident African politics, Alec Khaoli recalled, they pioneered by demonstrating that such messages could also be carried by “...happy music. During apartheid times we made people laugh and dance when things weren’t looking good.”

The two albums capture the band on the cusp of this transition. One the first album Harari, Inhlupeko Iphelile, Push It On and Thiba Kamoo immediately signal the new Afro-centric fusion of rock, funk and indigenous influences. Amercian soul pop is not forgotten with Love, Love, Love and, helped along by Kippie Moeketsi and Pat Matshikiza a bump-jive workout What’s Happening concludes the album. The second album Rufaro pushes the African identity and fusion further, with key tracks Oya Kai (Where are you going?), Musikana and Uzulu whilst the more pop-styled Rufaro and Afro-Gas point to where Harari were headed to in years to come. The popularity and sales generated by these two classic albums saw them signed by Gallo and release just two more albums with the original line-up before the untimely death of Selby Ntuli in 1978. Whilst they went on to greater success, even landing a song in the US Billboard Disco Hot 100 in 1982, it was never the same again.

“Harari’s music still speaks directly to one of my goals as a younger artist: to express myself as an African without pretending that I don’t have all these other musical elements – classical, jazz, house – inside me.” (Thandi Ntuli, niece of Selby Ntuli). 

Source: Bandcamp

Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers - 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free / Africa Centre of the World (1980)

200 Blacks Got To Be Free / Africa Centre of the World (1980)

by Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers

Released 1980 / 2019

Phonodisk / Knitting Factory

*****

Ayers and Fela recorded Music Of Many Colours, an album made up of two side-length compositions that went on to serve as anthems for the movement of global Black liberation.

The album opens with “Africa – Center Of The World”, a groovy, midtempo jam that opens with Tunde Brown’s taut rhythm guitar and Fela playing a simple keyboard melody. Africa 70’s six piece brass section introduces the tune’s regal chorus, before the entire band settle in, allowing Ayers to solo. His playing here is strong, flowery and controlled all at once. Nearly nine minutes into the song’s expansive hypnotic groove, Fela’s voice enters the proceedings, backed by a chorus of Alake, Tokunbo, Ihiase, Fehintola and Folake Anikulapo-Kuti. Taking aim at white supremacy itself, Fela openly mocks western civilisation, deeming it as being built on “wrong information”, “wrong education” and “ignorance”, challenging any assumptions about the superiority of Europeans and re-centering (no pun intended) not only the geographic position of the continent, but the intellectual and cultural genius of its people. From here in Fela’s words shift focus from admonishing the west toward embracing the diaspora. “All I need to say is set your minds to Africa. Africa, the centre of the world! Check your world map and see!”.

The cut reaches a thrilling climax when Fela and chorus call out to the diaspora directly, “Black people all over the world,

set your minds to Africa!

African Americans, set your minds to Africa! African West Indians...Africans in Europe, set your minds to Africa!

We need Pan-Africanism!”.

The album’s B side drove home Ayers’s and Fela’s message of pan-diasporic solidarity, an undeniably funky uptempo jam that exemplifies the spirit of Ayers’s and Fela’s collaboration. Predicting that by the year 2000, Black people around the world will be free of persecution, “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free” is groovy and celebratory, offering a look at the joyful side of revolution, the joy of coming together in the fight for liberation. With a big, shouting brass line, a driving four-on-the-floor backbeat and William Allen’s nimble, looping bass providing a steady foundation, Ayers takes over the vocal duties. He opens the tune with a subdued spoken intro that articulates his hopes for diasporic unity.

“Like many many other Black men, I have a dream….I have a vision with that dream. My dream and my vision is the coming together of Black minds within this universe that we live in”.

As the band heat up behind him, Ayers’s plea grows stronger, urging Black folks to honour and remember our history while looking toward brighter days: “Better think about your future, y’all, and don’t forget your past cuz all the things we’ve lived before cannot be lived again and all our people’s tears cannot be shed again!”.

Over the course of nearly 19 minutes, Ubiquity and Africa 70 completely meld together as one. The music they’re playing coalesces into a living embodiment of Pan-Africanism. African-American funk, soul and jazz soloing met with traditional African rhythms and call and response is a shining example of a cross-cultural dialogue that has been occurring between people of African descent for centuries. A

yers explains that this practice of combining jazz with West African music was a homage to the music’s shared cultural heritage: “Jazz is part of our historical experience. The utilisation of various instruments ie the percussion instruments, the horns and for me the xylophone have been used by our ancestors.”

As the song climbs toward an ecstatic climax, Ayers drives home his message, imploring us to “Think about 2000 Black, think about unity, think about you and me, think about righteousness, think about positive vibes, think about togetherness!”.

Source: The Wire

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