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YouTube | April 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | April 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Favourites|April2022

SAULT - Air

AIR

by SAULT

Released 13 April 2022

Forever Living Originals

*****

If you love Little Simz’s coronation album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert or Adele’s 30 from last year, you’ll know one of their defining qualities is the orchestration that, in each case, became a character in its own right. Both records presented a regal congress of choral vocals and classical instrumentation, padded with a cold echo as though recorded in the stately home featured in the video for Simz’s ‘Woman’. The linking node between those albums is newly-lauded producer Inflo, and his band SAULT has a new surprise release. AIR gives those illustrious symphonies the full stage.

This may be a shock if you’re not clued in on this mysterious group’s connections, as their last five records have all been firmly soul-funk affairs. But on their sixth album, they create a near-wordless collection of scores with enough scale to match – or even tower over – their diptych of 'Untitled' records from 2020. These compositions deserve Fantasia-style visuals.

Air can be a wandering record that doesn’t give its big crescendos away easily. The group is often finding, mining at and striking moments that earn that Disney soundtrack comparison. Foremost is ‘Heart’, a veritable hero’s theme that grows botanically from a plucky, out-of-tune guitar to a triumphant marriage of the album’s most dynamic elements. ‘Time Is Precious’ begins as an edifice of horns, strings and choir being pulled along by a fleet of woodwinds, all before settling down for the first and only vocals with lyrics, sung like a hymn under silent candlelight.

Other parts reinstate a dash of Sault’s usual soul accents, highlighting the influence of Stevie Wonder’s adventurous Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. Title track ‘Air’ shows delicate pacing as wondrous horns swoop off and strings flourish like a rococo ornament, but it stems from a terra firma of warm, bounding keys and vocals that could have fit snuggly amongst Wonder’s eclectic synth-soul. Again it appears in the last few minutes of ‘Solar’, grounding a 12-minute John Williams homage with a seamless transition. It would have been nice to see this experiment stretched further into the track rather than keeping it hidden until the end. Then again, it could be a passing glance at what’s to come in the future.
Themes of survival have crept into Sault’s work since the Untitled records, but Air seems to zoom out to the survival of the Earth itself. The alternate artwork of a boy looking down at the globe matches the band’s conceptual perspective, and each song could be a film score’s finale. With this, the lyrics to ‘Time Is Precious’ are all the more poignant: “Don’t waste time ‘cause time is precious” / “Use it wise and keep those treasures”. Air feels like a swan song for a gorgeous world in peril.

Source: The Quietus

Alabaster DePlume - Gold

GOLD

by Alabaster DePlume

Released 1 April 2022

International Anthem

*****

Mancunian musician and poet Gus Fairbairn—the multi-instrumentalist who records and performs under the name Alabaster DePlume—reacts to the contemporary moment with his double album, GOLD. A mix of jazz and spoken word, the sounds are intended to keep the listener on their toes. On each of the tracks he worked with different producers, and in each session a different band was used—though, apparently, this is not unusual for DePlume. The end result is unpredictable and eerie and just plain weird. But good weird.

With 19 songs ranging in duration from one and a half to seven minutes, there’s a lot of variety to be heard. On “I’m Gonna Say Seven,” DePlume sounds very much like Simon and Garfunkel, soft and sincere. Though perhaps the echoing backup vocals are more DePlume’s own sonic terrain than that of the famous folk duo, there is a certain calm to the track that brings “The Sound of Silence” to mind. At other times, he sounds more like the jazz-fusion group, The Comet is Coming—as with the eighth track, “Jerusalem, Palestine.” Saxophone and spacey backing vocals create an unsettling and anxious atmosphere. There is something coming, there is a disturbance, and we don’t know how to fix it yet. That is the interesting unpredictability of DePlume.

With all the chopping up done by the different producers and the veritable legion of musicians (over 20!) on this album, you’d think the sound and vibe would be all over the place. It is and it isn’t. Guitar, saxophone, and those echoey backing vocals cement Gold together. However, when DePlume starts “Fucking Let Them” with a live monologue and then comes in with the band, I am hesitant to continue listening. Many contemporary jazz musicians—like Benjamin Boone, Joy Harjo, etc.—play around with spoken word. But the effect can sometimes have mixed results. Spoken word relies on emotion communicated through how the lyrics are said, but that very emotion—overly emphatic usually—loses its very power by pushing too hard. DePlume does better than most with skirting the edge of becoming saccharine or affected. And still, it’s the musical aspects of “I Will Not Be Safe” and “Don’t Forget You’re Precious” that I’m ultimately drawn to.

That being said, the tracks are well arranged and have a natural, energizing momentum. The guitar notably ties each composition to the next, minimal and often a refrain, repeated and working with DePlume’s chant-like lines superbly. This is when he is at his most convincing and emotional, such as on “Broken Like,” which is meditational, trance-like. It is moving and reminds us to take a look at ourselves and our surroundings. Likewise, GOLD is a reaction to the world. It is a journey through soundscapes made from the emotional and societal environments around us. It is a connecting force that tells its listeners that we are broken by this external disturbance, but we are fixable, able to become better again, internally.

Source: Treble

Flora Purim - If You Will

If You Will

by Flora Purim

Released 21 January 2022

Strut Records / K7 Music

****-

There was a moment at the beginning of the 1970s when the world of jazz fusion and progressive rock was infatuated with Brazilian music. Adventurous artists like Hermeto Pascoal and Azymuth were blending jazz and funk with samba and the other sounds of their home country, and high-profile U.S. performers like Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, and Miles Davis were paying attention. Pascoal came to New York to record a self-titled big band album and joined Miles Davis in the studio for what would become 1971’s Live-Evil. In 1972, Corea formed a new band, Return to Forever, and recorded two albums—a self-titled debut, and Light As A Feather—that blended his baroque jazz compositions with Latin rhythms. In 1973 and 1974, Santana, more interested in spiritual exploration than rock at the time, made Welcome and Borboletta, fusion-oriented albums that included Brazilian rhythms as part of the sonic stew.

These albums don’t just have Brazilian rhythms in common—they also feature singer Flora Purim and her husband, percussionist Airto Moreira (except Live-Evil; more about that below). Married since the mid-’60s, the pair have spent a lifetime exploring the boundaries of music, working together and separately in territory that encompasses jazz, funk, Latin music, and indefinable “fourth world” sounds.

Purim’s vocals are unique in jazz. Her voice is crystal clear when she wants it to be, delivering lyrics with just a hint of the soft lisp of Portuguese, but she also shifts into wordless, passionate eruptions when she feels that’s what’s called for. “When lyrics have content and mean something, I’ll go with the lyrics, and I sing them as best I can, and I’ll take breaths so the sentence goes through,” she says via Zoom from her home in Curitiba, Brazil. “And when a song is so pretty that it doesn’t need lyrics, I go without lyrics. I look for a saxophone player like Lester Young, and find a texture for my voice, and we do the song.”

Purim has just released her first studio album in close to 20 years, If You Will. Recorded with a variety of collaborators over multiple sessions, it features Moreira, their daughter Diana Purim, Flora’s son-in-law Krishna Booker, guitarist and longtime collaborator José Neto, and many others.

Source: Bandcamp

Music's mood in 2022 is realigning with Purim's legacy. If You Will sounds like the unfettered jazz-rock-Latin-whatever that's moving ears and feet on playlists and in clubs in London, New York and Los Angeles now. Neto provides the heat that she still enjoys; Diana's vocals enrich her mother's while showcasing her own impressive power. The young Brazilian producer Mika Mutti, who's worked with Sergio Mendes on his recent comeback albums, convinced Purim to try new combinations of acoustic and electric music; the update of the title track "If You Will," originally a George Duke track, reinvigorates the funky-smooth original arrangement with fresh beats. "I said, let's keep it this way," Purim said. "George would like it, because it doesn't sound like him."

The track that perhaps best captures the spirit of Purim's return is "Dandara," a song that, like her music, eradicates boundaries of space and time. The lyrics for this ballad about a legendary indigenous woman warrior, wife of the last king of the rebel slave enclave of Quilombo dos Palmares, were written by the 70-year-old poet Judith de Souza. Felipe Machado, de Souza's grandson, wrote the music when he was 14 years old. The spare yet somehow beautifully lush track, highlighting Purim's voice at its storytelling best, was arranged by Felipe's grandfather, the renowned São Paulo singer-songwriter Filó Machado. "It felt so good," Purim said. "Not just because it came from them, but because it's exactly what I wanted to have as a representation of where my heart it right now." Purim's heart, it's no surprise, is where it's always been, looking to the future while honoring the family connections that form the foundation from which it grows. That's the lesson of Flora Purim's music and her life: The true art of flying resides in knowing how to return to solid ground.

Source: NPR

Jon Balke, Siwan -  Hafla

Hafla

by Jon Balke, Siwan

Released 22 April 2022

ECM

*****

Hafla is the third album from Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke’s Siwan, the ensemble launched in 2007 as a meeting point for musicians of strikingly different backgrounds and experiences.  Siwan celebrates the concept of coexistence and cooperation, making the case for the positive attributes of cultural diversity, as it looks back into history and forwards towards new models for shared work.  The legends and the poetry of al-Andalus continue to inspire Balke and company, but this is contemporary music shaped by players who choose to listen, respond and adapt.
Jon Balke brings many musical aspects together in his writing for a unique ensemble that includes an Algerian lead singer, a kemençe player from Turkey, an Iranian master of the tombak, an innovative Norwegian drummer and an energetic string section of baroque specialists. The interweaving of their creative contributions - in a delicate play of textures, melodies and rhythms - underlines and envelops verses penned many centuries ago.
Repertoire on Hafla begins with Balke’s setting of lyrics by Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, the free-thinking 11th century Ummayad princess of Cordoba and the lover of Ibn Zaydun, the great poet of al-Andalus.
“The story of their relationship is legendary”, Balke notes. “And Wallada also wrote some great, short and precise poems. This time, we were looking for poetry descriptive of life as it was lived in that period. Somebody made the observation that the phenomenon of co-existence begins in the neighbourhood when someone needs help. It begins in the queue to buy bread. On that kind of basic level.  It’s a good perspective, I think.”
Composing for Siwan frequently begins with the selection of words to be sung, he explains, as he exchanges ideas with Mona Boutchebak.  “Often it’s many processes taking place. I might suggest some poems – perhaps starting from Spanish translations of the words - and then, while walking in Nature, sing or whistle a melody into a recording device.  In my home studio I’ll develop that a bit and send it to Mona who’ll look into the translations and send me back a version sung in Arabic. Checking formal Arabic against dialect versions, and other details. Meanwhile I’ll start arranging for strings and imagining how the percussion players might work with material.”

 

Source: ECM Records

Felicita - Anadol

Felicita

by Anadol

Released 13 April 2022

Pingipung

****-
"Anadol is a very Postmodern Turkish artist — the influence of Turkish pop and Arabesk music can be heard, but also folk, chanson, Greek music, US rock and jazz. In Atila's hands, what might sound like a grisly confection emerges as deliciously fluid, gliding across genres to create something kaleidoscopic and engrossing. The recruitment of Istanbul jazz musicians to flesh out her vision means that the music here is immaculately realised, but it also has the grit and grain of great hiphop."
Neil Kulkarni in THE WIRE, April 2022

“Whether it is traditional or contemporary, we need to be authentic,” says Berlin-based Turkish artist Gözen Atila, who performs as Anadol. “I don't claim that I am authentic but this is what I want to achieve.”
A sense of authentic exploration, introspection and celebration coats every inch of Anadol’s latest album. After 2019’s Uzun Havalar she returns with an album that continues to explore a variety of deeply embedded musical traditions while also hurtling into new terrain.
The music and influences - as well as the history, culture and geography behind them - that make up Atila as an artist all coalesce to create something entirely new. The result is something that is simultaneously exploring history and tradition while harnessing innovative modern sounds and techniques. “If there is any tradition I am somehow connected to, or influenced by, then it’s multi-genres,” she says. “Such as Turkish Pop and Arabesk music from this country where I grew up. There is a connection to folk and also French pop or Flamenco, Middle Eastern melodies and orchestration, Greek adaptations, Kenny G. solos, American guitars.”
This can be heard on Felicita, not in as much as you can link up and marry the influences directly but in the way it glides across genres, eschewing convention and predictability along the way, to result in a kaleidoscopic experience of a record. For the album, Atila found a talented roster of jazz musicians in Istanbul who she recorded on top of her synth productions and field recordings. Soon enough saxophone, drums and strings began to stack up against preset drum loops from vintage organs. It’s a record where woozy psychedelic excursions bleed into dreamy synth lines, immersive ambience and the occasionally disconcerting yet incredibly tactile use of field recordings.
If it’s an album that feels like it travels through a variety of tones, feelings and emotions then it’s because the concept is loosely rooted in such a journey.

Felicita translates as “happiness” and this album explores the complexities and contradictions within such an emotion.
A paradoxical nature of happiness is mirrored musically on the album, as it explores reversing the trappings of typical structure. “I like to begin working with clichés,” she says. “A lot of presets, bass and drum sequences, and arpeggios on automated organs. To try and attribute a new understanding while working on dynamics and energy flow to expand songs. Trying to keep it as interesting, humorous and contrasting to the source as possible. I try to create events and actions in the composition that can create a new meaning in itself.”

Source: Bandcamp

Arun Ghosh - Seclused in Light

Seclused in Light

by Arun Ghosh

Released 13 April 2022

Forever Living Originals

****-

British clarinetist Arun Ghosh’s music is a seamless and entrancing blend of styles that embrace hip-hop, Indian classical and folk, western classical, rock, pop and avant-garde influences.

SunNeverSetsOnMusic saw Ghosh perform in 2013, at Tanjazz, the annual muisc frestival held in Tangier, Morocco. 

Only his second album since that time, 'Seclused in Light' - composed, recorded and produced during the lockdowns - is an engrossing blend of his influences.

The album is dominated by Arun Ghosh's melifluous clarinet which appears on all tracks except the title track itself! Elsewhere, Ghosh contributes harmonium, keys, piano, organ, bass, guitar, dholak (a double-ended Indian drum), ruan (a Chinese lute), percussion and taiko (a japanes drum).

He is ably supported by
Aref Durvesh - tabla and dholak

Chris Williams - alto saxophone
Dave Walsh and Myke Wilson - drums
Idris Rahman - tenor saxophone and bass clarinet.

Note: Having Googled, it seems that 'seclused' is a word that only Arun Ghosh has used on the internet - except that the Middle English Dictionary Compendium includes it as a 15th Century form for 'exclude". Now you know!

Source: Bandcamp

No-No Boy - 1975

1975

by No-No Boy

Released 13 April 2022

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

****-

No-No Boy is the musical project of Vietnamese American singer and scholar Julian Saporiti. On his Smithsonian Folkways debut 1975, named after the year Saigon fell, Saporiti investigates his own family heritage as well as life in WWII Japanese internment camps, immigrant detention centers and refugee camps in 2020, and other stories of immigration that illustrate the complexities of becoming American. His songs are the epitome of folk storytelling in the modern era, as he interweaves histories with field recordings from the sites of collective trauma and fragments of Asian American musical tradition, from jazz to rock, to choral music). With his plaintive, direct voice, he takes listeners on a deeply human journey through the Asian American experience in the US.

Source: Bandcamp

Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Variant (The Remixes)

Mood Variant

by Hiatus Kaiyote

Released 8 April 2022

Brainfeeder

****-

“Mood Variant” follows the overwhelming success of critically acclaimed album “Mood Valiant” - an album that came together over the course of six years, during which the band spent time touring, writing and recording, culminating in a 2019 trip to Rio de Janeiro that led them to work with legendary Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai. The album has seen praises from the likes of The Observer, Mojo, CLASH, The New Statesman, and End of the Year Placements on NPR, Bandcamp Daily, Bleep, Vinyl Me Please, Record Store, Rough Trade, and more.

Hiatus Kaiyote were also featured in an in-depth interview with The New York Times plus more additional features in NPR, Rough Trade Podcast, The List, The Ringer, Amoeba’s “What’s In My Bag” video series, and Composer. The band also recently performed a NPR Tiny Desk Home Concert to rapturous acclaim.

Source: Bandcamp

Hania Rani -  Live from Studio S2 (Complete Session)

Live from Studio S2 (Complete Session)

by Hania Rani

Released 21 January 2022

Gondwana Records

****-

The now iconic ‘Live from Studio S2’ memorizing performance gets a sought after limited vinyl edition and now features all four tracks from the session including the previously unreleased ‘Hawaii Oslo’ and ‘Glass’ which will also be available to stream and download. First premiered on the Gondwana Records YouTube channel on Sunday March 28th 2021 at 8:00 PM / 9:00PM CET, it has since become a global success reaching 3 million views and counting and has earned Rani many more devoted fans.
Rani writes
At the beginning of February 2021, I was invited by the Berlinale Film Festival to record a live set as a part of the EFM sessions which became the motivation to document this live performance.
I thought that bringing back my piano and equipment to the hall where I first recorded my live session videos for my debut album 'Esja' would be a nice idea and the right cinematic choice. This time, I wanted to use not only an upright piano, but also a grand piano and some other keyboards including a Prophet 08 synthesizer and a Roland stage piano.
Studio S2 is one of the recording studios inside the Polish Radio building in Warsaw and used primarily for recording classical and film music. The hall is fully covered with light wood, which reminds me of other Radio Studios all around the world – like Funkhaus in Berlin. It felt very special to be in the hall again where we recorded the music video for "Glass", one of my most liked videos. There is a kind of intimacy when playing the little piano in this huge and also very high venue.
I decided to rearrange some of my favourite songs, which I have been performing live for years. The set starts with 'Hawaii Oslo', which is built on a piano loop, followed by 'Glass' with a new intro and outro and closing with 'Leaving' and 'Buka' – this time accompanied with new layers which change the mood and rhythmic pattern of both songs.
The session was filmed by my long-time collaborators – Mateusz Miszczyński, recorded by Agata Dankowska, mixed by Piotr Wieczorek and mastered by Zino Mikorey in Berlin. Recorded live on February 4th, 2021 in Studio S2 of the Polish Radio in Warsaw.

Source: Bandcamp

Hania Rani - Kyiv

Kyiv

by Hania Rani

Released 28 March 2022

Gondwana Records

****-

Kyiv is a message of empathy and hope to the people of Ukraine and all proceeds from the song will be donated to helping Ukraine and Ukrainian people.
Exclusively available to buy on Bandcamp for a minimum donation of £5 it comes bundled with the bonus track In the Meanwhile and the download includes a PDF score for Kyiv.
Hania explains:
I have never been to Kyiv but from now on I have it in my heart.
On the 24th of February Russia invaded the free country Ukraine, which shares a border with my home country Poland.
For the first time, I felt that war is really happening close to everything that I know. An unfair, unreasonable war against innocent people - women, children, elderly people.
Against any reason. As it is usually with any wars.
I heard from many people right now that they find a bit of peace in action. That the way to face this overwhelming helplessness is to transfer it into something good - help, empathy and hope.
The only language that I can consider as my own is the language of music. I found this composition under my fingers during one of the evenings of early March and thought it was an important thing to do
- to share it with you today as my comment on the current shape of the world. This is a sound of grief and void. Memory to all who lost their dreams and plans because of absurd violence.
But also a silent song of hope.
My label, Gondwana Records has as always supported me in the best way, giving the green light and agreeing to donate all the income from the release to Ukraine. Duncan Bellamy from Portico Quartet contributed by designing the artwork based on photos taken by a friend and film director Neels Castillon last year in Kyiv.

Source: Bandcamp

Thom Yorke - 5.17 / That's How Horses Are

5.17 /  That's How Horses Are

by Thom Yorke

Released 28 March 2022

XL Recordings

*****-

The recent double-sided single by Thom Yorke includes a pair of somgs written for the BBC Television series Peaky Blinders.

'5.17' is a haunting ballad  in which Yorke's high falsetto floats above ponderous piano and scratchy, synthesised strings. He sings:

Hammer in, suffer beauty
Candle in is for magnificence
I will lie to them too

For you
For you
For you to change lanes

Violence, we're saying sorry
Somewhere left on the highway
Leaving most of me hanging

With you
With you

The lintrumental 'That's How Horses Are" is a short interlude that opens with a lilting, fairy-tale piano melody that develops with the addition of ominous drones and strings.

Both pieces show the developing interest of Radiohead's leading musicians, Thom Yorjke and Jonny Greenwood, with classical forms.

It is a delight to see them strddling and mastering various musical genres, particularly as we await the release of 'A Lihght For Attracting Attention', the debut album from their new band The Smile (formed with Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner), their parallel channel for their ongoing"rock" interests.

Hania Rani - Venice - Infinitely Avantegarde (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Venice - Infinitely Avantgarde (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

by Hania Rani

Released 25 February 2022

XXIM Records

****-

Hania Rani's "Home" was one of the musical highlights of 2020 and her penchant for the film music is evidenced by her 2021 album "Music for Film and Theatre" (which was written up in SunNeverSetsOnMusic's October 2021 review).

The documentary that this music supports explores Venice and its openness to the world, and to the future, through its art and its museums, its canals and its narrow streets.

The tour of the city takes in masterpieces by Tiepolo, Canaletto, Rosalba Carriera and the intellectuals who fell in love with Venice: from Canova to Goethe, Byron to Walter Scott, down to the great Hollywood stars drawn to its unique, yearly Film Festival.

The soundrack track titles reflect various aspects of the city's vibrancy, history and culture that, no doubt, reflect the subjects of the documentary: Il Mondo Nuovo (The New World), Carnival, Tristan and Isolde.

Separated from the film, the soundtrack stands up perfectly - an hour's worth of blissful music in which to be lost, perhaps while imagining that you are exploring Venice itself.

Mwanje - Seasons (EP)

Seasons

by Mwanjé

Released 22 April 2022

Mwanjé

*****

Mwanje Tembo is a Melbourne based singer/ songwriter originally from Zambia but born and raised in Botswana. With influences such as Solange and FKA Twigs, Mwanje expresses herself through music, art and dance. Her use of melisma and stacked harmonies creates a psychedelic trance that captivates her listeners. With lyrics based off of real life experiences, Mwanje hopes to grow with her listeners. 

One of RnB’s most exciting new contemporary artists, Mwanjé's debut EP “Seasons” is a transcendent coming-of-age record that includes the arresting single ‘Wildones’ featuring her sister, Sampa The Great, and ‘Call 2 the Diaspora’.
Mwanjé is creating a limitless space of her own connecting Black feminism and Afrofuturism with new wave RnB.
With “Seasons”, the 23-year old artist presents a journey of self-love, self-discovery and transition into adulthood through a fluid soundscape that spans alternative R&B, neo-soul, jazz and spoken word poetry.

Mwanjé said: “Seasons’ is a journey of self-discovery. There is a lot of room for individual interpretation for the listener but for myself, my first body of work is about a journey of self-love and discovery while maintaining adult life. It is an introduction to the world of Mwanjé. Where cycles, flows and evolutions are constantly at work. The tracklist is a reel of experiences that resulted in this version of me.”

Source: Bandcamp

Elsy Wameyo - Nilotic (EP)

Nilotic (EP)

by Elsy Wameyo

Released 22 April 2022

Music In Exile

****-

The opening bars of Elsy Wameyo’s 2021 single ‘Nilotic’ spell out a kind of reverse shopping list of stolen wealth: “I’ll have all the gold and the diamond from the Guinea / Give me back the tones and the stylin’ in Somali / Oh run it back the tea that you sippin’? Malawi / That ain’t even half of it so Benny hurry hurry.”

It’s a decolonising polemic, delivered with Kendrick-inspired cool and a gritty bassline — a soundtrack for raised fists and toppled statues. Some of Wameyo’s earlier work, like 2019’s quietly soulful ‘Outcast’, hinted at this potent cocktail of pride, power, sorrow and frustration. But on ‘Nilotic’, the title track of her debut EP out next month, a spark’s been lit.

The Adelaide-based Wameyo has been releasing music since 2018, but ‘Nilotic’ is the work of an artist radically changed by the consecutive outrages and tipping points that saw crowds around the world pour onto the streets in 2020, united under one call: Black Lives Matter.

“Every scroll was another Black boy dying,” Wameyo told NME. “As soon as I got off my socials, I’d chat with my family and something else has happened back in Kenya. There was always something, and it pushed me into a corner where I just had to experience it; I had to go through what the world was giving us, I couldn’t run away.”

Black Lives Matter may have had its roots in the United States, but for Wameyo, it also rang true in Adelaide. “It’s one of those things where as much as it’s happening in the US,” she reflects, “a lot of these things are happening in Australia – Australia just knows how to hide it.

“That’s really how the journey of ‘Nilotic’ started; after drowning in so much sadness, [I was] really just crying to find a way to just be at peace again.”

To find that peace, Wameyo looked to the Nile, the ancient, life-giving river that has always guided and nourished her people. Wameyo was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but it’s the land of her grandmother, on the Nile-fed banks of Lake Victoria (called Nam Lolwe in her mother tongue, Luo), that she calls home. “When you look back to the past, the Nilots came from Egypt through South Sudan, and then through migration everyone came through Kenya and Uganda,” she explains. “I had this picture of all my ancestors running down the River Nile, looking for a place to rest and stay and call home. As Nilots we dispersed into all these countries, we ended up where we are, [but] this Nile still continues to sustain us.”

For most of her life Wameyo has been half a world away from the Nile, moving to South Australia as a seven-year-old. Her electrician dad got a job in Adelaide, and when they landed on a scorching December day, Elsy was in tears. “My family always remind me that as soon as we landed I was crying because it was so hot,” she recalls. “I didn’t understand what’s going on, but at that point, physically, I was like ‘this ain’t it’ – my body isn’t in tune with this place, it doesn’t understand the weather, the culture.”

That alienation grew starker when Wameyo started school, where she felt like an “outsider” and “outcast”. In response, she looked inward towards her family, community and culture, ties that are evident across the celebratory, even defiant ‘Nilotic’ EP.

“The whole project ‘Nilotic’ is us understanding and knowing who we are, even after everything that has happened that we have experienced”

Source: NME

Yola - Stand For Myself

Stand For Myself

by Yola

Released 30 July 2021

Easy Eye Sound / Concorde

****-

The opening bars of Elsy Wameyo’s 2021 single ‘Nilotic’ spell out a kind of reverse shopping list of stolen wealth: “I’ll have all the gold and the diamond from the Guinea / Give me back the tones and the stylin’ in Somali / Oh run it back the tea that you sippin’? Malawi / That ain’t even half of it so Benny hurry hurry.”

It’s a decolonising polemic, delivered with Kendrick-inspired cool and a gritty bassline — a soundtrack for raised fists and toppled statues. Some of Wameyo’s earlier work, like 2019’s quietly soulful ‘Outcast’, hinted at this potent cocktail of pride, power, sorrow and frustration. But on ‘Nilotic’, the title track of her debut EP out next month, a spark’s been lit.

The Adelaide-based Wameyo has been releasing music since 2018, but ‘Nilotic’ is the work of an artist radically changed by the consecutive outrages and tipping points that saw crowds around the world pour onto the streets in 2020, united under one call: Black Lives Matter.

“Every scroll was another Black boy dying,” Wameyo told NME. “As soon as I got off my socials, I’d chat with my family and something else has happened back in Kenya. There was always something, and it pushed me into a corner where I just had to experience it; I had to go through what the world was giving us, I couldn’t run away.”

Black Lives Matter may have had its roots in the United States, but for Wameyo, it also rang true in Adelaide. “It’s one of those things where as much as it’s happening in the US,” she reflects, “a lot of these things are happening in Australia – Australia just knows how to hide it.

“That’s really how the journey of ‘Nilotic’ started; after drowning in so much sadness, [I was] really just crying to find a way to just be at peace again.”

To find that peace, Wameyo looked to the Nile, the ancient, life-giving river that has always guided and nourished her people. Wameyo was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but it’s the land of her grandmother, on the Nile-fed banks of Lake Victoria (called Nam Lolwe in her mother tongue, Luo), that she calls home. “When you look back to the past, the Nilots came from Egypt through South Sudan, and then through migration everyone came through Kenya and Uganda,” she explains. “I had this picture of all my ancestors running down the River Nile, looking for a place to rest and stay and call home. As Nilots we dispersed into all these countries, we ended up where we are, [but] this Nile still continues to sustain us.”

For most of her life Wameyo has been half a world away from the Nile, moving to South Australia as a seven-year-old. Her electrician dad got a job in Adelaide, and when they landed on a scorching December day, Elsy was in tears. “My family always remind me that as soon as we landed I was crying because it was so hot,” she recalls. “I didn’t understand what’s going on, but at that point, physically, I was like ‘this ain’t it’ – my body isn’t in tune with this place, it doesn’t understand the weather, the culture.”

That alienation grew starker when Wameyo started school, where she felt like an “outsider” and “outcast”. In response, she looked inward towards her family, community and culture, ties that are evident across the celebratory, even defiant ‘Nilotic’ EP.

“The whole project ‘Nilotic’ is us understanding and knowing who we are, even after everything that has happened that we have experienced”

Source: NME

Lara Rosseel - Hert

Hert

by Lara Rosseel

Released 11 March 2022

W.E.R.F. Records

****-

Belgian double bassist Lara Rosseel graduated from the Lemmens Institute (a Belgian Conservatory of Music), was a former apprentice of Ander Jormin and Bobo Stenson, and played with established acts such as Chris Joris Band, Pierre Van Dormael Quartet, Barnill Brothers and  Zap Mama. It’s fair to say that she has come a long way as an artist; easily to be considered one of the hardest working women in the Belgian jazz scene.

Having released a critically acclaimed debut album, De Grote Vrouw  (2020), her personal journey in music continues with her new release 'Hert', which bursts with dancing melodies and surprising rhythms, her music is best described as ethnic acoustic jazz, flirting in a zone where cinematic jazz meets African traditional roots.

For this recording, Lara has surrounded herself with a brand new band, consisting of Sam Vloemans, Sep Francois, Vitja Pauwels and Angelo Moustapha. In her own words, the perfect partners in crime to create a fresh repertory, a unique universe where both security and fantasy are central. Expect an album that shifts from rich arrangements to more intimate pieces, full band compositions interspersed with small auditive paintings. Musical and creative freedom with groove and ingenious interplay as the only precedents.

'Hert' is an album created by 5 people who share the same passion for sound, groove and atmosphere. It's the second album of Lara Rosseel and successor to the critically acclaimed record 'De Grote Vrouw' (2020). Like the deer to which the Dutch album title refers, this album frolics from one experience to another. It's a game of intuitive musical experimentation, an unknown adventure where gut feeling is paramount. The music reflects a connection between two poles: ethereal soft gracefulness is contrasted with firm groundedness. Compelling, decisive and unique.

Source: Inside Jazz and Bandcamp

Binker and Moses - Feeding The Machine

Feeding The Machine

by Binker and Moses

Released 25 February 2022

Gearbox Records

****-

In 2015 Moses Boyd and Binker Golding emerged on the music landscape with a seminal album called ‘Dem Ones’ on Gearbox Records. It was an album that had as much to do with jazz’s past as it did with hip-hop and grime. It was a melting pot of ideas and showcased what prodigious talents Binker and Moses were. They followed this up with the more prog-influenced double album ‘Journey To The Mountain Of Forever’ in 2017. They then released two live albums ‘Alive In The East?’ and ‘Escape The Flames’ in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Now they have returned with their boldest and bravest album to date, the transcendental ‘Feeding The Machine’

Listening to ‘Feeding The Machine’ I’m reminded of the paintings of Mark Rothko. In his later work Rothko removed objects from his work, leaving only colour. The same can be said of ‘Feeding the Machine.’ Binker and Moses have pretty much done away with the lyricalness of their early work. Listening back to their 2015 debut album ‘Dem Ones’ it’s remarkable how much they have stripped away. That album was a joy because it was full of massive melodies, tangible drumming and a sense of fun that was hard to ignore. The music exploded out of the speakers and put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. There is very little bounce going on here, but the smile remains.

‘Active-Multiple-Fetish-Overlord’ is the one track that probably resembles their earlier work the most. The duo seems to be playing with each other rather than against. Their phrases go hand in hand, and, in a conventional sense, it makes the most sense. Much like with Rothko the sounds seems to hang suspended in the air. Swelling and drawing all the light out of the room. It’s remarkable stuff. 

‘Accelerometer Overdose’ starts off like the previous two songs, with fugs of sound emanating from the speakers. Then, all of a sudden, Moses Boyd delivers one of the finest drumbeats of his career. The stuttering percussion and saxophone comes to a grinding halt, and for a few moments the duo turn into one of the finest hip-hop backing bands. Then, as soon as this newfound order starts, it all collapses on itself. It’s wonderful as it reminds us that Binker and Moses are very capable of playing organised jazz. It also offers a brief respite to the way the drums and saxophones ricochet off each other.

‘Feeding The Machine’ revels in its abstraction. It basks in how it delivers the swaths of sound. From the opening blasts to the last faded out moments the album makes us question firstly what is going one, secondly what its role is (to entertain, make us think or both) and lastly it makes us feel slightly sorry for the next piece of music we listen to, as this is such a hard act to follow.

Part of this new sound is down to the inclusion of Max Luthert on tape loops and electronics. Luthert’s contributions add an extra layer of sound that hasn’t been heard on previous Binker and Moses releases. These soundscapes sound contemporary, but also have a slightly retro feel to them. The combination of free jazz and electronics feels like a continuation of Miles Davis’ ‘On The Corner’ album. Much like that project, the electronic motifs add punctuation to the dense phrases that Binker and Moses have created. It gives the duo a firm, if not glitchy, foundation while they laydown some free jazz phrases.

What really comes across is how much fun Binker and Moses are having: the pair clearly love playing this free. This might be the album they’ve always wanted to make but have been afraid where it may lead. The only problem after listening to ‘Feeding The Machine’ is wondering where the pair go next. If they reel in this newfound freeness some fans might feel it a step back. If they push their compositions even further forward, they might alienate some of their core group. At the end of the day, however, it's all immaterial. That isn’t a worry we fans need- we just need to concentrate on what is at hand, and that is an incredibly brave album made by two of the finest musicians working in music today.

Not only is this their biggest album to date, it’s also their best. It builds on their remarkable career, as a duo and solo artists, to date and makes us question what jazz should be doing in 2022. The answer is a resounding “THIS!” It’s brave, accomplished, daring and wonderfully catchy in ways you don’t expect. Shove the tube back in as I need some more.

Source: Inside Jazz and Bandcamp

John Carroll Kirby - Dance Ancestral

Dance Ancestral

by John Carroll Kirby

Released 8 April 2022

Stones Throw Records

****-

'Dance Ancestral', John Carroll Kirby’s fifth album on Stones Throw since 2020, follows a loose chronology of a day in the life.

For this new LP, John Carroll Kirby “wanted to do something more electronic than previous albums”, so he invited Canadian artist Yu Su to join him on production duties. As the day mirrors the course of a life, so the album reflects on patterns and routines – what Kirby calls “the innate steps we take in life. When I say dance, I don’t mean an actual dance, I mean a choreography where we’re repeating these things that people have repeated forever.” For inspiration, he looked to an array of ideas and philosophies, including paganism, Mayan religion, bacchanalia, pseudoscience and New Age philosophy.

The opening track and first single “Dawn of New Day,” featuring ambient pioneer Laraaji, pictures the first hours of morning. “I imagine Laraaji waking up feeling blessed and inspired by the sun,” says Kirby. “The lyric is very simple – “Dawn of a new day / morning light, morning light” – but there’s not a lot of people who could sing that sincerely and not come across a little cringe. Laraaji is the man for the job and I was flattered and honored he was willing to be a part of it.”

Despite being an in-demand musical collaborator for artists like Solange, Frank Ocean, Sebastian Tellier, Connan Mockasin and countless others, Kirby has lately focused on his own prolific solo output, with Dance Ancestral following a run of  four delightful LPs: My Garden (2020); the ambient piano record Conflict (2020); his first film score, Cryptozoo (2021), and the jazz fusion record Septet (2021).

That all these records are instrumental doesn’t get in the way of Kirby telling vivid stories.

“I’m not a lyricist but I feel compelled to give some people a bit of context,” Kirby says. “I like to have a story so people can imagine things and hopefully get more into my head. I make albums that come out naturally and I like the freedom to just go where my heart takes me.”

Source: Stones Throw Records

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Omnium Gatherum

Omnium Gatherum

by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Released 22 April 2022

KGLW

****-

Melbourne heroes King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard got fans all hot and bothered earlier this month when they announced details of their upcoming record, Omnium Gatherum, and shared the single ‘The Dripping Tap’. Now, they’ve built on this quickly increasing buzz by sharing the psychedelic-pop behemoth that is ‘Magenta Mountain’. 

At over eight minutes long, the song is a slow builder that kicks off with a 1980s Miami vibe before launching into a swirling psychedelic guitar solo at the end. It’s vintage King Gizzard in that it builds and builds, keeping you on the edge of your seat, pulling you in.

The band have referred to Omnium Gatherum as their own White Album, and now we’re starting to see why. Added to this, if the first two singles are anything to go by, it’s shaping up to be one of their best yet. Notably, the band recorded three albums remotely during the pandemic, whereas Omnium Gatherum was the first time they’d recorded together in two years, and this excitement created enough music to deliver a double album. 

Duly, it is a mammoth record, touching on everything that came before, melting it into the eclectic and unique sound that we love the Aussie rockers so much for. ‘Magenta Mountain’ is a clear reflection of this, taking as many cues from ’80s pop as it does pulsating psychedelia and stoner metal bands such as Sleep. It’s a testament to the skill of King Gizzard that they’re able to fuse such disparate genres and create something so captivating. 

In a statement, Ambrose Kenny-Smith of the band discussed the origins of the new single.  “You know when you have a really weird vivid dream and it sticks with you like glue? One day I came into the studio and Stu was trying to write one of them down,” he said.

Adding: “He kept banging on about this paradise called Magenta Mountain that he had seen but none of us believed him. Every day since then he’s been still trying to convince us all that it’s real and one day he will.”

.

Source: Far Out Magazine

Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful

Everything Was Beautiful

by Spiritualized

Released 22 April 2022

Bella Union

*****

By most rock & roll standards, Spiritualized's 2018 album And Nothing Hurt was a rush of fuzzy gospel and intergalactic blues, but compared to much of the band's 30-odd-year discography, it was subdued and even slight. Spiritualized founder and core member Jason Pierce had made a habit of crafting epic masterpieces that reshaped Phil Spector's jam-packed production into his own narcotic wall of sound, and though And Nothing Hurt filled up all available space with lush arrangements, the songs themselves were largely restrained and more distant than usual. Four years later, Everything Was Beautiful serves as both a counterpoint and a companion piece to its predecessor, with seven songs drawn from the same demo sessions that produced And Nothing Hurt delivering the full-boil performances and ecstatic power that seemed to be lying dormant in their sister songs. The difference is quickly apparent in exquisite opening track "Always Together with You," one of the most immediate and hypercharged songs Pierce has created in years. The song's devotional melody, soaring hooks, and mishmash of familiar rock idioms (doo wop backing vocals ping-ponging over stardusted percussion and Marc Bolan-styled guitar leads) all feel referential to the band's 1997 high-water-mark Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space. It's an undeniably beautiful album opener, and a reminder of just how specific of a musical language Pierce has built with Spiritualized as the project has gone on. A nervy bassline and trancey rhythms drive "Best Thing You Never Had," with a grungy horn section and full choir of backing vocalists bringing some Exile on Main St. energy to an otherwise motoric psychedelic rocker. More gospel vocals, burbling synths, and everything from bass harmonica to woodwinds congeal into radiant light on the joyous "The Mainline Song," and the nearly ten-minute closing track "I'm Coming Home Again" is a simmering dirge that builds in intensity until the tension finally breaks in the song's final 30 seconds. Only on the sighing country tune "Crazy" does the album briefly relax, with every other moment finding Pierce crowding his songs with overblown sonics and pushing the performances to their brink. It's one of the liveliest albums Spiritualized have made, and it's easy to imagine the passionate Everything Was Beautiful and the comparatively withdrawn And Nothing Hurt as two halves of a double-album statement. On its own, however, Everything Was Beautiful is delirious and exciting, a perfect distilment of the best parts of the band's various phases that feels reinvigorated and new

Source: AllMusic

Kate Tempest - The Line Is A Curve

The Line Is A Curve

by Kae Tempest

Released 13 April 2022

Forever Living Originals

****-

With its growling synths, strong melodic figures, and resilient mood, The Line Is a Curve is yet another highlight for Kae Tempest. The London rapper's first two LPs garnered richly deserved acclaim and a pair of Mercury Prize nominations, while their third, 2019's atmospheric The Book of Traps and Lessons, saw them move toward a less rhythmic style that played more like one of their spoken word performances. Their first release since coming out as non-binary, The Line Is a Curve is less global than those earlier records and less brittle than its predecessor, instead dialing in on Tempest's inner conversations. Their reputation as a creative polymath -- Tempest is also a successful poet, playwright, and novelist -- has always been at the nexus of their public narrative, sometimes distracting from the fact that, when in top form, they can deliver tight rhymes with a captivating fervor and grit. This record, a marvel of openness and resolve, marks the return of Tempest the emcee and no song better represents their transformation than the dazzling "More Pressure." Against a shimmering synth backdrop and fluid beat Tempest slings sharp verses that detail the self's quest for release and wholeness. With its punchy assist from American rapper Kevin Abstract (Brockhampton), it's also one of many collaborations from an artist who traditionally doesn't feature other vocalists. Elsewhere, Ireland's Grian Chatten (Fontaines D.C.) offers his voice to the electro-minimalist "I Saw Light" and Britain's Lianne La Havas provides the melodic hook on the poignant "No Prizes." Tempest's longtime foil, producer Dan Carey, is also back, though he too is working on a different level. While there is some of the organic instrumentation (mainly pianos and guitars) from their previous release together, The Line Is a Curve is better defined by its electronic elements like the buzzing, dark synths of opener "Priority Boredom" and the majestic "Salt Coast," a quintessentially Tempest-ian paean to the virtues and flaws of their beloved British isle. More aesthetically modern and approachable than some of their other records, though no less potent, this is Kae Tempest at their best.

Source: AllMusic

Bomba Estereo - Deja

Deja

by Bomba Estereo

Released 10 September 2021

Sony

****-

Bomba Estéreo’s long-awaited new album 'Deja", it's first album in four years, is all about leaving behind the unnecessary baggage in our lives and re-connecting with what is meaningful and essential - with the Earth. It’s about finding hope for our future by finding a better balance between technology and the natural world.

Deja is divided conceptually into four sections that correspond to the earth’s four elements: Agua, Aire, Tierra and Fuego. “The album is about the connection and disconnection of human beings — from the planet, from one’s own self,” Bomba’s vocalist Liliana “Li” Saumet says. “It’s about how we’re disconnected, more connected to electronic devices and virtual things than real things. So, we decided to use the four elements, because they’re part of the equilibrium of human beings.”

Bomba, whose core members are beatmaster/composer Simón Mejía and vocalist/lyricist Li, have been a major force in the alternative/Caribbeat/dance scene since 2010’s smash hit Fuego. Subsequent releases like the Latin Grammy-nominated Elegancia Tropical (2013) and the Grammy-nominated Amanecer (2015) and Ayo (2017) have put them at the forefront of influential hybrid-beat bands, as well as blowing up dancehalls from New York to Paris to Tokyo.

For Deja, Simón and Li wanted to make the album more of a “community” effort. Simón found increasing chemistry playing live shows with guitarist José Castillo and the folkloric percussion of Efrain “Pacho” Cuadrado. Li recruited her longtime friend Lido Pimienta for the session — the pair’s previous collaboration Nada ended up on President Barack Obama’s Best of 2020 playlist.

“I wanted to collaborate with Lido to try new sounds with my voice,” Li explains. “She has that underground edge that I like, and she also invited some Cuban collaborators with her, a duo named Okan. It was beautiful to have more women with me, I felt more supported, safer and at ease.”

This time, the band decided to self-produce the album (outside of a couple of invited guest producers like Trooko) and constructed a makeshift studio in Li’s home in Santa Marta. In the middle of the pandemic, this community of collaborators got together where the Sierra Nevada mountains meet the sea,let it all go and recorded the album. “We all wound up there and we made an album that has some of the best of classic Bomba, like Elegancia Tropical, and a lot of new composing elements that José and Pacho brought,” Simón said. The pandemic’s delaying effects also gave the band plenty of time to produce and mix Deja with a major assist from Damian Taylor.

Deja is one of those albums that, even in its disparate sections, forms a unity. It’s an album that transmits joy, loss, exhilaration, and sadness all at once. “Some heavy things are happening to the world, and we have to share them,” Li says. “We made this album so you can dance to it at a club, but at the same time it has a profound meaning. It’s meant for you to dance perreo with a conscience. It’s about how we’re disconnected, more connected to electronic devices and virtual things than real things. So we decided to use the four elements because they’re part of the equilibrium of human beings.”

Source: Tinnitist

Horace Andy - Midnight Rocker

Midnight Rocker

by Horace Andy

Released 8 April 2022

On-you Sound

*****

The first time many listeners outside of Jamaica heard reggae legend Horace Andy was in 1991, on the song “One Love” from Massive Attack’s watershed album Blue Lines. Over a slow drum pattern and an occasionally scratched-in piece of a brass riff from Isaac Hayes’s “Ike’s Mood,” Andy told the tale of an ideal romance, his sweet, lilting voice carrying the song’s melody. Despite the fact that Blue Lines introduced him to pop audiences, Horace Andy had already been a star for two decades, releasing classics like “Skylarking” and recording many sides at Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio One facility in Kingston.
Today, at 71 years old, Horace Andy’s voice endures. Time has been kind to the crystal clear tone that has served him throughout his 50+ year career; his latest, Midnight Rocker, is full of soulful cuts with production by British dub pioneer Adrian Sherwood (Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mark Stewart). The album opens with the epic roots tune “This Must Be Hell,” a wailing song hot with pain and frustration. The chorus finds Andy lamenting, “Lord, this must be hell because there’s no peace amongst mankind.” His voice articulates deep sorrow and anguish at the state of the world. In a nod to his Massive Attack collaborators, Andy turns up with a laid-back, earnest cover of “Safe From Harm,” syncopating the original’s rolling, sampled bassline while he reinterprets Shara Nelson’s iconic lead vocal. For his part, Sherwood honors the character and distinctiveness of Andy’s voice by presenting it alongside relatively uncomplicated production and arrangements. Occasionally there are some welcome flourishes of delay that remind us that Sherwood is among the great living dubmasters, particularly skilled at enhancing a recording with dub signature effects.
Midnight Rocker is packed with great songs and powerful nuggets of wisdom that touch on life’s pain and joy. “Try Love” is a sugary and romantic anthem, while “Materialist” discusses the seductive lure of money and possessions. “Watch Over Them” finds Andy pleading with God to steer the youth clear from the many traps and temptations that would derail them. “Today Is Right Here” is a sobering reflection on the brevity and impermanence of life. While recalling a talk with his mother, Andy reminds us that life is fragile, short, and precious: “My mama told me when I was a child/ Said all of the best things take a little while, but mama was wrong wrong wrong/ The best things in life, they come and go in the blink of an eye.”

Source: AllMusic

Jenny Hval - Classic Objects

Classic Objects

by Jenny Hval

Released 11 March 2022

4AD

****-

You probably wouldn’t bet on Jenny Hval flirting with bossa nova. But her eighth full-length album and 4AD debut Classic Objects proves such sentiments wrong. Norwegian singer, songwriter, producer, and novelist made the most straightforward record to the date, full of colourful and warm sounds – as well as one of her finest pop tunes.‘American Coffee’ starts with a subtle organ chord and grows into groovy rock with soulful backing vocals. It follows the autobiographical transversal of images of her pregnant mother and hallucinations about nurses reciting French philosophy.

Hval started writing Classic Objects when the pandemic hit. Without being able to perform, the songwriter felt “naked”. “Is art nothing but a fancy, difficult construct I have dressed my naked self in, a construct that is not really necessary?” she asks herself in an accompanying statement. “Without the art, I was reduced to the problematic entity ‘just me’. I wondered what ‘just me’ could mean.” The isolation led Hval to questions about life as an artist, art’s purposes, and how tiny human experience fits there. “This made me want to write simple stories,” she continues. But “simple” needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Hval’s previous work was lauded as highly conceptual art-pop about gender, patriarchy and the radicalness of love, with spoken word, ASMR shivers, or noise resulting in delicate compositions. Each new record moves her from the avant-garde closer to more light-hearted pop. Albums often felt like essays with labyrinths of references, centred around Hval’s heroines such as filmmaker Valie Export on 2019’s Practice of Love, or writer Chris Kraus on 2016’s Blood Bitch. But with Classic Objects, she found the courage to be a heroine of her own auto-fictional stories. 

In eight songs, she remixes her dreams and travels back and forth in memory: to times of her studies in Australia and forgotten places where her band played. On the album’s title track, ‘Classic Objects’ with bouncy Afro-Cuban percussions and lifting chimes, Hval remembers “a painter in my first studio” and confesses from her obsession with materials (so evident in Paradise Rot, a novel set-in brewery with paper-thin walls, and elsewhere). “She used to attach her own hair to her paintings,” Hval sings. 

Eight-minute expansive ‘Jupiter’ is a wondrous psychedelic trip that starts with the obligatory stop at the Prada Marfa sculpture by Scandinavian duo Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset in the Texas desert, a faux Prada store with nonfunctional front door which s described by the artists themselves as “pop architectural land art”. Marching rock slowly develops into a bass drone as the listener descends deeper in the desert. Hval goes full-Baudrillard here, as the song evokes the French philosopher’s fascination with the vast, empty deserts of travelogue America. On the other hand, when she puts out sloganeering, “I want to live in a democracy / Somewhere where art is free”, in ‘Freedom’, layered with soothing harp, it sounds a bit too cliché.

Bookworm and earworm are not mutually exclusive terms for Hval. She dances on Classic Objects between the personal and the political, the elevating and the plain, ordinary and profound meanings. It is what Welsh cultural theorist and socialist Raymond Williams meant in 1958 when he wrote, against elitist claims, that “culture is ordinary”: living, learning, and making art are inseparable. They can be natural and pleasant. With the new record, Hval proves she doesn’t need complicated constructs, and her observations of life are engaging enough. In that sense, Jenny Hval’s dazzling pop triumph is ordinary in the best possible way. 

Source: AllMusic

Asaf Avidan - Le Bal Des Folles

Le Bal Des Folles (Original Soundtrack)

by Asaf Avidan

Released 17 September 2021

Telmavar Records

****-

Asaf Avidan (Hebrew: אסף אבידן; born March 23, 1980) is a singer-songwriter from Israel. From 2006 to 2011, he was part of the group Asaf Avidan & the Mojos, independently releasing three studio albums. The Reckoning, their debut record, was certified Gold in Israel and became one of the best-selling independent albums in the country. After disbanding in 2011, a 2012 remix of Asaf Avidan & the Mojos' single "Reckoning Song" (2008) by German disc jockey Wankelmut — retitled into One Day / Reckoning Song — attained widespread commercial success throughout Europe. It topped the charts in several countries and was certified Gold and Platinum. In 2012, Avidan started a solo career, eventually releasing three studio albums to moderate success in European countries.

'Le Bal Des Folles' (The Mad Woman's Ball), Avidan's first soundtrack album, is a radically different output for an artist previously celebrated for his lyrics, his distinctively high vocals and his charismatic persona.

The soundtrack music is predominantly slow paced cello and piano, it's intensity shifting consistent with the movie's narrative,

This album reveals in Avidan a hitherto-concealed genius for classical forms this is hardly hinted at in his previous pop and singer-songwriter oriented works. 

Avidan's previous release 'Gold Shadow' drew comparisons with Leonard Cohen, Billie Holliday and Bob Dylan, this soundtrack increases this circle in the direction of Jonny Greenwood and Inflo as a mainstream pop artists with more than a grasp of the Classical.

Sources: Wikipedia and SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Tord Gustavsen - Opening

Opening

by Tord Gustavsen

Released 8 April 2022

ECM

****-

Since Tord Gustavsen’s debut on ECM almost two decades ago, his songs have offered panoramic, highly-detailed images of his home country Norway. The pianist’s compositions are informed by Norwegian folk melodies and performed in unrushed tempos with an extremely delicate touch; the mood often veers toward ambient by way of jazz, occasionally recalling the vast space and looming melodies of impressionist composer Erik Satie. Adding to the atmosphere is his drummer Jarle Vespestad, who has worked with Gustavsen since his debut and whose soft brushwork and shimmering cymbals evoke the morning after snow.

Gustavsen’s latest album, Opening, brings newcomer bassist Steinar Raknes into the fold, replacing the trio’s previous bassist Sigurd Hole. Raknes performs as if he’s played with these musicians for much longer, providing ample counterpoint while establishing his own voice within the trio. He even takes the lead on the mournful “Helensburgh Tango,” switching from the upright to a bowed bass. The 12 songs on Opening draw on sources ranging from Swedish folk music to Norwegian classical, which the trio approach with a delicate interplay. The musical conversation between Gustavsen and Raknes on centerpiece “Stream” is breathtaking, the improvisation from both musicians rich in melody and poured like dual streams of water, alternatingly merging and branching off. Meanwhile, Vespestad sticks to the background with a muted pulse, adding momentum without distracting.

Elsewhere, Gustavsen reimagines 20th century classical music using modern instruments in “Fløytelåt,” a piece by Norwegian composer Gveirr Tveitt. Had the trio performed the song straight, it would’ve been haunting and slow, well within Gustavsen’s wheelhouse. Instead, he transforms it into a surprising highlight, playing the central melody on an electronic instrument whose haunting tone resembles a muted theremin. The texture conjures an eeriness that the trio would not have been able to reproduce on acoustic instruments, and the spectral atmosphere allows Gustavsen some of the album’s most impressive improvisation.

Gustavsen has always had an omnivorous approach to music, interpolating traditional folk melodies and hymns while incorporating different textures and sounds on each release. Whether through the clamorous fusion of “Ritual” or in the mid-tempo groove of “Shepherd Song,” he seems excited by exploring new possibilities within the confines of the trio.

Despite these left turns, however, the focus of Opening remains the playing from Gustavsen and the rich accompaniment from his fellow musicians, creating an atmosphere perfect for a walk by a cabin at dawn, with the sun peeking in through the trees

Source: Pitchfork

Roger Eno - The Turning Year

The Turning Year

by Roger Eno

Released 22 April 2022

Deutsche Grammophon

****-

Roger Eno's first solo album for German classical institution Deutsche Grammophon follows Mixing Colours, an impressionistic collaboration with his brother Brian, as well as its companion EP, Luminous. The pieces on The Turning Year, some of which have been a part of Eno's live repertoire for a while, are simply described by the artist as short stories or photographs that are closely related to each other. The song titles point to themes of reflection and hope for the future, but there isn't an overarching common thread, the way the previous album consisted entirely of pieces named after colors. Likewise, the compositions are often piano-based, but not always, and they're presented in various levels of intimacy, with some more atmospheric than others. Opener "A Place We Once Walked" focuses on slow, stately pianos, which become embellished with a deep wash of strings for a brief, grand moment. String-based selections like "Slow Motion" and "Hope," which is laced with wind-like reverb near the end, resemble neo-classical darkwave in the way they're filled with both sorrow and beauty. The title track instantly feels familiar and welcome, with a commanding, affectionate piano melody accompanied by rich swells of strings. Other pieces like "On the Horizon" and "Something Made Out of Nothing" are frostier and more abstract, although "On the Horizon" rewards patience with a magnificent blooming of emotion. The album concludes with "Low Cloud Dark Skies," a perfect soundtrack for the observation of an ebbing tide. This masterful release contains some of the most immediately appealing work in Eno's discography.

Source: AllMusic

Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin - Ghosted

Ghosted

by Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin

Released 15 April 2022

Drag City

****-

I’m walking with my headphones on. It’s not the best context to hear this music but needs must. What starts with a twinkly loop rapidly escalates. Andreas Werliin’s drums swirl while Johan Berthling’s bass hovers across the beat. Oren Ambarchi’s guitar shimmers ominously in the background, sounding like a fried Hammond organ rather than six strings. My stride quickens even though the bpm of ‘II’, the second track on the trio’s new album Ghosted, doesn’t. The music reaches towards an ever deferred crescendo. As my pace accelerates, I lose awareness of my surroundings. Ambarchi’s guitar suddenly snaps into focus. It rises into a squeal. The intensity ascends. And then… Nothing.

I’m back to reality with almost violent effect. The track wasn’t meant to stop. Something’s gone wrong and my ancient mp3 player has reset itself. An accident that brings into clarity that this album needs to play uninterrupted to really do its magic. The trio explore the relationship between repetition and difference that’s long been a fascination in exploratory music, creating something that, disorientatingly, sounds equal parts quantized and free-flowing.

The outline of a motorik pulse drives the first two tracks, but Ambarchi, Berthling and Werliin unearth colourful fluctuations from rigid rhythms. As if they’re teasing at just how much they can shuffle within a precariously balanced structure before knocking it over. There’s hints of TNT-era Tortoise throughout as repetitive phrases dance through jazzy variation. But the trio feel more interested in embracing rather than relieving tension. The tracks come across like sonic Rubik’s cubes, exploring the possible permutations of a confined structure.

Ambarchi’s guitar playing is on wonderfully nuanced form here, but the rhythm section hits quantum mechanical levels of intrigue. Berthling and Werliin’s unique interaction is clearest on ‘III’. The album’s longest piece, it affords them the duration needed for the cumulative effect to take hold. Berthling’s bass is a knotted loop of notes, full of constantly resetting momentum. Werliin’s drums scatter and skip through the tangle, growing in intensity as they find ever more microscopic gaps to shape with rhythm.
I read somewhere once that as maps get more accurate, borders get longer; the once comparatively straight lines getting more convoluted as detail increases. I don’t know if that’s true, but something similar happens here as the trio stretch grooves and find new spaces to fill. Ghosted is a record which depends on its cumulative effect. And in doing so, it reveals there’s the potential to find endless movement in even the most rigid structures.

Source: The Quietus

Robert Occhipinti - The Next Step

The Next Step

by Robert Occhipinti

Released 6 April 2022

Modica Music

****-

Bassist Occhipinti is an established presence on both the Canadian and International jazz scenes. A five-time Juno Award recipient, Occhipinti is in demand across an astounding range of contexts. The latter part of his career has seen Occhipinti recording with a number of Cuban musicians, on projects with Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnet in particular, but there are few formats Occhipinti hasn’t been involved in, from playing bass in Canada’s top-rate orchestras, to cutting-edge contemporary music, to Latin American performances, and work with top musicians from Africa and Asia. Performing credits span from John Cage and Terry Riley to Stevie Wonder, Tony Allen and Damon Albarn.

The Next Step, Occhipinti’s sixth release as leader, looks to synthesize his diverse collection of musical interests via a classic jazz format. During the pandemic, Occhipinti was fortunate to keep recording (he owns a recording studio, and heads up Modica Music). That precious time was used to consolidate the projects he was involved in, and move into a new creative space of his own – the piano trio: “I decided I would concentrate my own efforts on doing a piano trio project, one my favorite musical combinations.” This is Occhipinti’s first trio project as leader, taking inspiration from a host of the jazz greats. “It’s always been a favorite form of mine, from the time I started playing bass after hearing Ray Brown in the Oscar Peterson Trio, then moving on to the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott LoFaro, and finally in my work with the Hilario Duran Trio.”
It’s an important contribution to the world of bass-led trios, to which Occhipinti adds his own individual colorings. “My other recording projects were for larger ensembles with winds and strings. For The Next Step, I would be the string section, using techniques I learned in my career playing classical and contemporary music.” The result is a thoughtful, thorough synthesis of elements from a diverse and successful career.

The album opens with title track “The Next Step”, written as a memorial to recently departed friends, which introduces Occhipinti’s core sound – expressive bow-work and lightly textured string overdubs. Adrean Farrugia balances the roles of supportive accompanist and thoughtful soloist with ease, and the track breaks out into a loose jazz waltz, packed full of misty extended harmonies.

Every year on August 1st, Occhipinti celebrates “Emancipation Day” in Owen Sound, Ontario at the terminus of the Underground Railroad. Opening with Lewis’s expectant drums, the track has a Tony Allen-esque Afrobeat flavour, another chance to hear the twisting, turning piano trickery of Farrugia. “The Peacocks” is a ballad by Jimmy Rowles, to which Occhipinti adds atmospheric overdubs to his tenderly expressive solo work.

Though the record was partly an opportunity for Occhipinti’s solo delivery to shine, there is equal space for pianist Adrean Farrugia too. Occhipinti wrote Il Muro (The Wall) for him: “In a challenging year, he was always enthusiastic about playing, always wanting to move forward.” There are hints of Mulgrew Miller in the inlaid counterpoint and flowing piano; Lewis too throws himself into his solos in what becomes a sequence of open-hearted contributions. 

Source: Bass Magazine

Anomalie - Galerie

Galerie

by Anomalie

Released 8 April 2022

Anomalie/Network Music 

****-

Nicholas Dupuis enters the main stage as Anomalie, releasing his latest album, Galerie. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Nicholas Dupuis implements his classical piano training within his Lo-Fi electronic projects. This latest release is built on jazzy electronic vibes, a playful and satisfying take on electronic music. 
The first song of the album is called “Lune,” and consists of dance synths above a piano solo. The song is light-hearted and is a great introduction to the whole collection of tracks. It evokes the feelings of dancing under the moonlight. 

The second up is a bit of a more relaxed track, slightly slower than the first. “Dribble” includes similar instrumentation as the first, but has a slightly more mellow and chill tinge to its mood. 

“Mollo” follows up, with a slight bossa nova rhythmic feel to it, and is less dense in texture than the first two songs of the album. With a more calculated feel, this piece is intellectually provoking yet still easily allows for a relaxed listen. 

“Bond” is the fourth track. It starts with a darker mood than the previous pieces but quickly shifts into the playful mood that is a staple of this album. It’s also possible to pick out some classical-style influences in this piece, although it is dominated by a jazz style.  

“Hummingbird,” which features Bad Snacks, a little later on in the album, is a lithe, smooth and very textured track. There is an etherealness to this song’s nature, brought on by the wind-like sound of the cymbal crash and the strings. 

“Untouchable,” featuring India Carney, retains Anomalie’s jazzy, buoyant sound, with the addition of lyrics sung about frustration in love with an element of edge. 

The last song of the album, “Leiria,” featuring Mael, is definitely styled classically, with choral-sounding vocals accompanied by soft piano, and ends the album with the perfect gentle musical flourish.

Galerie is a fun, upbeat album for anyone looking to dive into new electronic music with both jazz and classical elements, lots of keyboard soloing, and powerful lyrics and vocals.

Source: mxdwn

Jack White - Fear of the Dawn

Fear of the Dawn

by Jack White

Released 8 April 2022

Third Man Records

****-

One of two records Jack White wrote and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fear of the Dawn is a brittle, cacophonic affair, a claustrophobic exploration of the titular idea. White came across the notion of eosophobia -- a Greek term for dreading the dawn -- then used that concept as the backbone for his heavier, weirder songs, leaving the softer material for the subsequent Entering Heaven Alive. He's so besotted with this phobia that he's titled a quarter of the album's 12 songs after it, then wrote additional songs called "Into the Twilight," "Dusk," and "Morning, Noon and Night," giving Fear of the Dawn a thematic lyrical thread to accompany its arty freak-outs. Many of White's familiar tropes are readily apparent here -- heavy-footed blues stomps, manic vocal wails, cascading waves of guitar fuzz -- but the execution and feel are different here, as if the analog warrior has plunged himself into digital madness. Acoustic guitars and the occasional piano can be heard on the margins, yet they're buried underneath gnarled, noisy guitars that are flattened, processed, and used as weapons. White speeds and slows his voice along with his six-string, his rhythms stutter and strut, melodies are used as much for texture as they are for hooks. The focus isn't on a song, per se, as much is it is on mood, namely a roiling, consuming paranoia conveyed by all this furious noise and off-kilter arrangements. Fear of the Dawn isn't often a pleasant listen, but it wasn't meant to be: it's a dark adventure, an album designed to provoke and stoke fears, not to soothe them.

Source: AllMusic

Night Palace - Diving Rings

Diving Rings

by Night Palace

Released 1 April 2022

Park The Van

****-

The magic of Diving Rings, the debut album from New York-via-Athens, Georgia dream pop band Night Palace begins with Avery Draut's songwriting. At their core, Draut's tunes intertwine gentle hooks and smart melodies that shift in unexpected ways. Even if they were stripped down to more spartan arrangements, songs like "Jessica Mystic" or "Nightshade" would still be captivating for how effortlessly Draut ties together her free-floating vocal lines. The distant sweetness of "Into the Wake, Mystified" calls to mind both the indie pop catchiness of Alvvays and the auras of less earthbound performers like Jane Weaver or Cate Le Bon. An album of songs this strong presented in a straightforward rock instrumentation would be fine on its own, but Diving Rings digs deeper through exploring ambitious chamber pop arrangements and left turns into moments of smooth sophistication. This can take the form of the fantastical string section that shows up in "Enjoy the Moon!" (a song that sounds like a lost Pet Sounds track played by Broadcast) or the slick sax solos, mystical woodwind sections, and coy synth sounds that appear out of nowhere intermittently throughout the album. There's also a wealth of psychedelic guitar tones and colorfully warped processing that reveals itself with multiple close listens. "Stranger Powers" is so catchy and driving that it's easy to miss the small changes in reverb tonalities on the backup harmonies or quick switches between guitar sounds.

Diving Rings would be a great debut even without its intricate layers of sound and impeccably detailed arrangements. With all the extra attention paid to subtle production choices and a ceaselessly evolving flow that carries through the entire album, Draut and her collaborators push Diving Rings past being simply a solid record to create a weird and exciting dream world that doesn't fit neatly in any dimension other than its own.

Source: AllMusic

Barzin - Voyeurs In The Dark

Voyeurs In The Dark

by Barzin

Released 22 April 2022

Monotreme Records

****-

Four years in making, Voyeurs In the Dark is Toronto artist Barzin’s fifth studio album. That the album is more cinematic in its scope and conceptual in feel than his previous studio albums can be attributed to the time he spent over the past several years composing the soundtrack for the independent film, Viewfinder.

Voyeurs In the Dark retains that cinematic quality, and at the same time infuses the music with elements taken from Jazz, electronica, rock and pop. Having primarily explored the quiet side pop and folk in his previous four albums, Barzin has expanded his musical palate, broadening his sound towards a more an experimental direction, while still retaining his preoccupation with exploring the internal landscape. The uniformity of sound that characterized the previous albums has been abandoned for the expression of differing aspects of the self that at times hold opposing views and desires. This is best represented in the image chosen for the cover of the album, which depicts three figures in one body. The album seems to be the expression of not one unified self, but the various aspects of the self.

Voyeurs In the Dark sees the artist plot a seductive, contemplative route through city haze, shuttling between graceful glimmering interludes, with wonderfully atmospheric songs at every stop. From opener Voyeurs In the Dark’s first guitar strums and the fizz of its drum machine, the record envelopes itself in a glorious shadow, as shown in the slow waltz of I Don’t Want To Sober Up, dancing around its own swirling guitar chords. On Watching, Barzin plunges himself deeper into a wash of cyclic bass, guitar and synth riffs, as the gloom grooves into light. It’s Never Too Late To Lose Your Life has a much more affirming and urgent tone, shade turning into shapes and motion, while To Be Missed In the End builds its own smoke in a cloud of saxophone and sparse guitar notes, closing out a record full to the brim with scatterbrain beauty and eclectic dusk.

Source: Bandcamp

Trombone Shorty - Lifted

Lifted

by Trombone Shorty (troy Andrews)

Released 29 April 2022

Blue Note Records

*****

Call it the feelgood jazz-ish release of the year. Lifted, the first album from New Orleans horn man and singer Trombone Shorty in half a decade, is a celebration of the musical influences and family roots that gave rise to a popular entertainer who played Jazz Fest in New Orleans with Bo Diddley at age four and led his own brass band at six.

Three decades later, the musician born Troy Andrews sells out shows and headlines festivals around the world, and turns in recordings that neatly capture the joyous spirit of his concerts.  

For Lifted, dedicated to Andrews’ late mother, Lois Nelson Andrews, he elicits solid performances from several guest artists. His raucous ’bone playing makes a suitable foil for the blistering, nervy guitar playing of Austin blues sensation Gary Clark Jr. on “I’m Standing Here,” which hints at Hendrix-esque rock. Singer Lauren Daigle, a fellow Louisianian, digs deep into “What It Takes,” a catchy gospel-tinged tune that benefits from a punchy horn section and the leader’s trumpet solo. And Andrews honors his musical beginnings with the funky, street-beating “Everybody in the World,” featuring the New Breed Brass Band; it incorporates hip-hop and nods to the sunny, multicolor soul of Sly and the Family Stone, as do other tracks here.

Like Shorty’s concerts, Lifted is something of an eager-to-please variety show, from the wah-wah guitar, heavy grooves and partly falsetto vocals of opener “Come Back” to the churning hard rock of the title track, the mid-tempo sentimental swagger of “Forgiveness,” the bouncy pop-rock of “Miss Beautiful,” and the zippy funk of “Might Not Make It Home.” Go ahead, try not to like this party platter. Dare ya.

Source: JazzTimes

Congotronics International - Where's The One?

Where's The One

by Congotronics International

Released 29 April 2022

Crammed Discs

****-

Collectively created by the supergroup comprising Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeletons’ Matthew Mehlan, this epic collaborative new album gathers 19 musicians from across four continents, working together to create a new musical language that combines the traditional music of the Congolese artists with the various experimental rock styles of their admirers based in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

Its 21 songs consist of live concert recordings and studio tracks produced in the years before, during, and after their Congotronics vs. Rockers tour in 2011. The tour brought these acts together for the first time—all in all, ten lead vocalists, five guitarists, three likembe players, five percussionists, two bass players (including Crammed Discs’ Vincent Kenis), and three drummers—for performances at 16 major festivals and venues in ten countries. The recording process continued remotely on and off in the years that followed until it was finalized in 2021 by Deerhoof’s John Dieterich and Greg Saunier and Crammed Discs’ Marc Hollander.

Source: Bandcamp

Yana - Solace

Solace

by Yana

Released 1 April 2022

YANA

*****

YANA is a violinist and composer based in Gdansk, Poland.
As a classicaly trained violinist, during the studies, YANA has started to write songs, but especially instrumental pieces.
Her music is a merger of melancholy, space and simplicity which appears in the sounds of piano, strings and subtle electronics.

Source: Bandcamp

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