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February 2021 Highlights

February 2021 Highlights

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Katarzyna Wiktorski - From A Distance

From A Distance

by Katarzyna Wiktorski

Released 13 November 2020

Program Records


Polish born and Melbourne-based Katarzyna is a pianist, composer, arranger and producer. Fusing an unconventional string quartet with a piano-saxophone jazz quartet, her music is influenced by improvisation, modern jazz, classical and film score influences, she says she hopes to create "emotional and ornate listening experiences" through her solo and octet proje

Inspired by Andrea Keller’s Wave Rider (2013) and Linda Oh’s Aventurine (2019) she formed her first major group the Katarzyna Wiktorski Octet in 2019. They sold out a performance at Melbourne's Jazzlab in December, as part of the Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival (in a co-presentation with the MJC).  Kat was determined to overcome the constraints of lockdown and persevered to make an ambitious four-track debut EP of original music.

Featuring previously unrecorded pieces, she produced and directed her team of seven to record each layer of instrumentation to build the tracks.

The track titles for this album are suggestive of the mood: "The Warming", "Gratitude", "From A Distance", "Pique & Peace".

This is gentle, calming music played with exquisite touch by the ensemble, despite the pandemic-forced separation. Individually recorded in isolation across Melbourne, Australia between September and November 2020, Katarzyna  is resposible for piano, composition and arrangements and is supported by:

Jade Nye (Alto Saxophone),

Chloe Sanger - (Violins 1 & 2),

Alexi Kyrkilis-Kalathas (Cello 1),

Ffion Stoakes (Cello 2),

William Base (Bass) and

Oliver Ledi Hanane (Drums).

Nils Frahm - Tripping with Nils Frahm

Tripping With Nils Frahm

by Nils Frahm

Released 19 June 2020

Erased Tapes Records


Since his 2015 break-out album "Solo" the Berlin-based German musician, composer, and record producer based in Berlin has becomw internationally famed for combining classical and electronic music and especially for his unconventional approach to the piano in which he mixes a grand piano, upright piano, Roland Juno-60, Rhodes piano, drum machines and Moog Taurus.

"Tripping with Nils Frahm" is a live album recorded in the Funkhaus Berlin, a room that 29 years ago, after the collapse of the wall that divided East and West, was adopted as "playground" made by young people released from political oppression until then, the epicentre for the new dance music culture. Renowned for its vintage grandeur and outstanding acoustics it was also home to Frahm’s magnificent studio where his 2018 album "All Melody" was recorded. Of all the concert halls in the world (an Frahm has toured "All Melody" and sold-out most of them including the Sydney Opera House, LA’s Disney Hall, the Barbican in London, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and several big festival stages around the globe) the Funkhaus occupied a unique place in the artist's heart.

In December 2018, Nils Frahm eventually returned to Funkhaus Berlin to host another set of four shows, tickets sold out within hours. Frahm’s friend and film director Benoit Toulemonde — a collaborator since 2011 — captured the concerts on film, only using handheld cameras, and employing techniques he had mastered for the famous concert series La Blogotèque, which featured some of the world’s most popular artists.
Tripping with Nils Frahm is an illustration of Nils’s lauded ability as a composer and passionate live artist as well as the enchanting atmosphere of his captivating, and already legendary Funkhaus shows: An extraordinary musical trip – rare and exclusive, close and intimate, bringing a unique concert experience to the screen.

For those already familar with All Melody there's not much new about these performances, except that each of the selected tracks is an extended version of the original. However, judging by the brief excerpts on YouTube, hearing the music with the accompanying video may be a new experience entirely.

Brownswood - Future Bubblers 4.0

Future Bubblers 4.0

by 2020 Future Bubblers

Released 26 February 2021



There's  agent from London called Gilles who runs a label (Brownswood). an internet radio station (WorldwideFM), has an afternoon radio show (on BBC 6Music at 15:00GMT every Saturday avo) and puts out these Future Bubbler compilations from time to time.

There may be a major new talent or two among them, like Yazmin Lacey in Vol 1.0 (2017) or Skinny Pelembe in Volume 2.0 (2018) but generally, there just good ordinary jazz albums that have noting to prove but the quality of the talent coming through in the UK jazz scene. 

In addition to Giles Peterson and Brownswooed this release is supported by Arts Council England, a talent discovery and artist development scheme that focuses on developing unsigned talent and building audiences for new left-field music.
tProfessional recording, manufacturing and physical release of Future Bubblers 4.0 has support from PRS Foundation as Talent Development Partners.   Unlike any other initiatives within music, the compilation acts as a springboard for the musician’s careers with the cooperative model providing direct revenue to the artists by a share of the profits resulting in a sustainable income to work.

Additionally, each year, the Future Bubblers are paired with an industry mentor who is tailored to their individual needs and from there, the journey begins. Each Bubbler will receive a number of opportunities that will ideally set them up professionally. The venture offers; one-to-one production workshops from music software company, Ableton, performances at live Future Bubblers showcases, recording live sessions from the iconic Brownswood basement, professional press shots and beyond the year, long-term support throughout their career.

Take a listen, Future Bubblers 3.0 (2019) and Future Bubblers 4.0 (2020). Welcome the future.

Allysha Joy - Light It Again (EP)

Light It Again

by Allysha Joy

Released 20 November 2020

First Word Records


Another delightful release from the Melbourne soul diva, this her first on the London UK First Word label. This release follows her 2018 debut album Arcadie: Raw (for Manchester UK Label Gondwana).

"Light It Again" is produced and engineered by twice Grammy nominated artist Clever Austin, and features accompaniment from an all-star set of Melbourne artists - Horatio Luna, Ziggy Zeitgeist, Danika Smith and Josh Kelly.

This EP marks a new sound for Allysha and the lyrics touch on love, shame, mental health, grief & spirituality.

Opening cut "Watercolours" sets off on a mid-tempo neo-soul jazz tip. Allysha says “I wrote this in the hope that maybe we could all feel the beauty that is present in the every day - in nature, in art, in each one of us mirroring each other so intrinsically. Then maybe we’d all start to live out a message of love.”

"Better" follows on an uptempo vibe influenced musically by The Senegambian Jazz Band, who Allysha would watch regularly at Bar Oussou in Melbourne. Lyrically the song explores the external and internal struggles that occur trying to create a more inclusive and compassionate world. “It's about catching myself pointing the finger outwards to challenge social / political systems and certain individuals, then coming to the realisation that I must turn that finger back on myself to ask, "how can I do better, how can I know better?"

Lead track "Light It Again" begins with Allysha’s keys gliding a steppa-like rhythm - head-snap snares and punchy bass accompany ethereal harmonies and delicate vibes on an ever-evolving groove before switching entirely mid-track. This time the subject matter is mental health and “the cycle of addiction and pain, the coping mechanisms that hold us back from reaching our true potential”.

The EP closes out with the beautiful "Mardi". Deep Rhodes, sax and synths build ahead of deliciously slushy percussion and jilted drums. Named for her grandmother, ‘Mardi’ is a tribute to the spiritual connection they shared before her passing. Allysha writes, "it's about the connective forces of the matriarchal lineage and the drive to step into my own sense of self, in all the beauty and pain which that entails”.

Allysha’s lyrics weave together a heartfelt mix of love, power, desire, wonder, anger, faith and hope for change. An artist that presents a palette of intricate grace and optimism, whilst unafraid of adding uncomfortable truths. Allysha is an incredibly powerful live performer; her husky vocals sonically synced with her formidable Fender Rhodes playing, whilst her influences are a solid base of jazz, hip hop and R&B; all glazed with the unique special sauce the Melbourne soul scene has become known for globally. A gloriously meditative, raw soul, we are delighted to be able to share her music with you. 

Source: Bandcamp

Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears In Sunlight

Angel Tears In Sunlight

by Pauline Anna Strom

Released 19 February 2021

RVNG Intl.


Angel Tears in Sunlight is Pauline Anna Strom’s first album in over thirty years; an assemblage of music that refracts the expansiveness, and minutiae, of imagined realms while embracing the kaleidoscopic echoes of our distant epochs.

The capacity to collapse time might elucidate the enigma of Pauline Anna Strom. A mystic force in music, emerging during the dawn of new age as the Trans-Millenia Consort, the pioneering synthesist channelled primordial energies into future-facing sound through a series of full-length releases between 1982 and 1988. Little was known about her, except by a constellation of devoted followers who saw a unique legacy forming amidst the (mostly male) synthesist canon of the time.

Following the 2017 release of Trans-Millenia Music, an anthology revitalizing the most evocative parts of Strom’s catalog, the Bay Area visionary sensed the universe telling her to return to music. As with her work in the 80s, Angel Tears in Sunlight was composed and recorded in the same San Francisco apartment where Strom has lived for almost four decades in synthesis with her machines and “dinosaurs.” Populated by a compact array of modern instruments that streamline the sound of her analog past and her beloved iguanas, Little Soulstice and Ms Huff, the terrarium of her home forms an intimate yet limitless ecosystem that defies the constraints of the outside world.

Within this sanctuary, Strom becomes lost in time, drawing on the ancient energies of her inner visions. Her hardware forms the crux of translating these ideas into sound. “It’s the only way this stuff can be pulled out of myself, the universe, Little Soulstice, an ammonite…,” Strom notes. “It couldn’t be done without this machinery, because there’s no other way to draw and capture these frequencies into sonic interpretation.”

Strom’s process of recording transient live-takes enriches the mystery of her work. She renders the machinery a composer itself, a cohabitation with a living other. “Many musicians wouldn’t go that far because of ego,” Strom muses. “The equipment has to become part of you and your creativity. That’s how I think it all comes together.” Music-making becomes a harmonic language of intuition with an instrument, where Strom cultivates sound for a harvest that defies season.

Shaped by circadian contours, Angel Tears in Sunlight is a celestial observatory of earthborn phonic mosaics. Strom uncovers a symbiosis between hardware frequencies and apparitions of nature in the record’s arena of organic tones, emulating the melodic pulses of primeval terrain. The album transcends both shadow and light, falling to hushed stretches of sound as if not to awaken antediluvian animals, before soaring through the treetops where ancient skies peer over reptilian traffic and unsparing rains.

Where Angel Tears in Sunlight opens a new passage in the transportive power of Strom’s work, the synthesist also nurtures space for restorative listening. During her absence from composing, Strom turned to a practice of spiritual healing, which she recognizes to have deepened her understanding of music as “the connective link between the source and us.”

Dedicating the album to her dear friend John Jennings who passed away during the making of Angel Tears in Sunlight, Strom titled the work to reflect the summation of processing life and loss, collapsed together in an eternal spectrum. “Sunlight represents what we’re coming into. You bring the sadness with you, but you’re also prepared for the blessing of the new.”

Pauline Anna Strom’s Angel Tears in Sunlight will be released on February 19, 2021 in LP, CD, and digital editions. A portion of the proceeds from this release will benefit The International Iguana Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting conservation, awareness, and scientific programs that enhance the survival of wild iguanas and their habitats

Source: RVNG Intl.

The Weather Station - Ignorance


by The Weather Station

Released 5 February 2021

Fat Possum


Tamara Lindeman’s shimmering breakup songs double as a rallying cry for our ravaged planet on this multilayered, slowly unfolding record.
Art often seeks to wring beauty out of pain - always at the risk of mawkishness or cliche. The Weather Station’s fifth album is an undertaking that succeeds - many times over.

It’s the sort of record whose victories deserve to be accompanied with trumpet fanfares: how Toronto-based Tamara Lindeman quietly revolutionises an old, familiar trope – the pop album about heartbreak, co-starring piano and strings – and makes it a rallying cry for our times; how she takes overdone old 80s beats and dusts them with the barest shimmers of jazz.

Such is the will-o’-the-wisp quality of Ignorance that it feels vulnerable to the glare of forensics. You don’t want to break open the music box in order to describe its workings. And yet: here is a left-field pop record full of muted fury and despair; one that never howls outright, but trickles out emotion in careful dropperfuls – in a partial vignette here, or a quiet epiphany there.

This is an album whose bone-deep grief sits inside music that’s very easy to tap a toe to
On Subdivisions, Lindeman hits the road. “Got in the car, and the cold metallic scent of snow caught in my throat as I reached out to turn on the radio,” she sings, just one of a handful of times this former folk musician and child actor resembles Bruce Springsteen. A song such as Atlantic finds her breathless: “‘My god,’ I thought, ‘what a sunset’,” she exhales. Tried to Tell You watches someone else’s pain closely. “I will not help you not to feel, to tell yourself it was not real,” she croons.

Thanks to a proclivity for acoustic instruments, previous Weather Station albums have found Lindeman making folk-derived songs. Here, she embraces synths, strings and percussion, making borderline soft rock sprinkled with the kind of intuitive, expressive instrumentation – courtesy of eight musicians – that Bill Callahan has brought to his most recent records. Talk Talk is an inevitable reference point, as well as fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell; producer Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire) deserves a shout out. But Lindeman can sometimes feels like Christine and the Queens’ bookish older sister too.

This is an album whose bone-deep grief sits inside music that’s very easy to tap a toe to. A percolating pop tune, Separated, lists all the distances growing between two lovers – because of “all the work we had to do”, and “the things you thought you knew”.
Lindeman’s mild tones dissolve into a soprano whisper to confide “my stupid desire to heal every rift, every cut”. Even more galling, her other half sees no wound at all. The dissonant strings speak the pain the lyrics stop short of voicing.

But even though there are divorce court proceedings on the stark piano ballad Trust, Ignorance is no ordinary breakup album. Whatever the people in her songs might be feeling about others, this is an artist who superimposes a second breakup on top of the first: anguish at the wanton evisceration of the natural world.

Weather stations are there to log the hard evidence in the mercury; to record the very real, very slow crawl of the coming apocalypse. And so Separated is not just about two people increasingly sleeping back-to-back; it’s about everyone carrying on as normal when we need radical, systemic change, immediately. It’s about the pain of gaps: between those who taste the emergency, and those – often beloved, sometimes just jerks on the internet – who do not.
The album’s opening track, Robber, sounds at first as if it’s describing the aftermath of a burglary. “The robber don’t hate you,” Lindeman advises. These are sound words for anyone traumatised by a break-in. Gradually, though, the song reveals itself to be a dissection of an economy based on theft – and our complacency or connivance in it. “He had permission,” Lindeman recounts coolly, as strings scythe around her, “permission by words, permission of thanks, permission of laws, permission of banks, white tablecloth dinners, convention centres – it was all done real carefully,” she seethes.

Her first weapon against all of this is exposing the lie we live every day – that everything might be all right. Her other superpower is feeling. Lindeman is eloquently undone by the flight of a bird on Parking Lot, by the blood-red of the sunset. Just as she urges someone not to deny their pain on Tried to Tell You, she spends Heart laying her own out. “I don’t have the heart to conceal my love when I know it is the best of me,” she declares: to a lover, to the world we are losing.

Source: The Guardian

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - CARNAGE


by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Released 25 February 2021

AWAL Recordings


Carnage, the new album from Nick Cave & Warren Ellis follows Cave's  2019 masterpiece Ghosteen, but this time atound he has recorded without the full Black Seeds line-up, only his long-trusted sideman Ellis.This is only the second time in their storied careers, that Ellis ands Cave have shared the billing in this way, first having been the 2015 soundtrack for the motion picture"Far From Men / Loin Des Hommes" Like it's predecessor, Carnage is another immersive journey into Cave's apocalyptical twilight universe. And although the album's title suggests that the pandemic might be the subject, it does not appear to be Cave's sole inspiration or focus here: the influence of the US  presidential election, the death of George Floyd and other externalities are evident and for the large part, personal and universal perspectives elevate the work.

In the album opener "Hand of God", the singer throws himself into a river, inviting the mercy of God's saving hand, singing: "There are some people who aren't trying to find anything / But that kingdom in the sky". It is a quest that he returns to repeatedly in these songs.

The steady pulse of Cave's piano and the soaring, arabesques of Ellis's guitars interweave for "Old Time", a road-movie-in-song that recalls a glorious past relationship, perhaps with someone who is now deceased. Cave sings" "Wherever you are, darling, I'm not that far behind".

Surprisingly too, even the title track refers not to the pandemic but to the Cave's childhood witness to the casual violence of a backyard chicken slaughter, and other autobiographical memories.

"White Elephant", the centrepiece of this set, is an allegory of the Trump Predicency, begining with grotesque descriptions of an obscene political nightmare in which white supremecy is dominant. Cave warns that even though the menace has been rendered impotent, the threat remains: "I'm an ice sculpture melting in the sun / With the memory of an elephant / Evaporating before your eyes / And becoming a great grey cloud of wrath / Roaring my salt upon the earth / I will shoot you all for free if you so much as look at me".The music turns from foreboding to euphoric as the narrative of "White Elephent" shifts, and this mood is maintained, elevating the remainder of the album to a devotional mood.
Dirge-like,"Albuquerque" refers as much to the futile plight of emigree as it does to travel limitations imposed by the pandemic: “And we won’t get to anywhere, anytime this year, darling, unless I dream you there … unless you take me there".

"Lavender Fields" is sung to the backing of sombre church-organ, a song of mystical journeys through life and beyond, with lavender a metaphor for life itself: "Once I was running with my friends/ All of them busy with their pens / But the lavender grew rare, what happened to them?"

Cave reintroduces the opening lines of the opening song, "Hand of God": "We don't ask who / We don't ask why / There is a kingdom in the sky."

"Shattered Ground"is a song of goodbye to a lost love, delightfully represented by the moon, a traditional font of madness: “There’s a madness in her and a madness in me,” Cave sings, “And together it forms a kind of sanity.”

The album concludes with "Balcony Man" ("two hundred ponds of packed ice, or blood and bone, leaking in the morning sun") declaring "This morning is amazing and so are you / You are languid and lovely and lazy / And what doesn't kill you just makes you crazier."

And so, as witnesses to the Old Testement-infused nighmares of Nick Cave's imagination, perhaps we too become crazier with time. 

Jakob Bro, Arve Henriksen, Jorge Rossy - Uma Elmo

Uma Elmo

by Jakob Bro, Arve Henriksen, Jorge Rossy

Released 12 February 2021



ECM never fails to deliver top-quality musicianship, perfectly recorded, and so it is with "Uma Elmo" a recording by Danish guitarist-composer Jakob Bro, his fifth album as a leader for ECM, this time with a new trio featuring Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy, with ECM's maestro Manfred Eicher producing.

The trio’s musical synergy is remarkable, considering that the first time these three musicians ever performed together was for the album’s sessions at the Swiss Radio studio in Lugano.

Bro created the title of Uma Elmo using the middle names of his young daughter and infant son, with the guitarist having composed much of the album’s dulcet material between his newborn son’s naps. “It’s a special time in my life right now with the kids being so young – and it’s also a strange time in the world, of course,” Bro says. “I wrote  music for the recording session being doubtful that we could actually all meet and complete the session, at the end of summer this past year, with a German producer, Spanish drummer, Sweden-based Norwegian trumpeter, Danish guitarist-composer and an Italian engineer – all in a studio in Switzerland. And the music is, as it always is, a reflection, more or less abstract, of what’s going on around us. To have this musical document from this year will always represent some kind of milestone for me"

Concerning past heroes and new lives, entrancing sounds and pensive circumstances, "Uma Elmo" conjures an aura that lingers even after the notes fade from the air. With the aforementioned tracks as well as “Beautiful Day,” “Sound Flower,” “Housework” and two versions of “Morning Song,” Bro and company have created something of enduring value in strange times.

Source: ECM

Black Country, New Road - For The First Time

For the first time

by Black Country, New Road

Released 5 February 2021

Ninja Tune


Black Country, New Road have created a storm of excitement in the UK music media with the release of "For the first time", their debut. UK indie music website The Line of Best Fit  described the album as "dense, beautiful and bursting with maturity, atonality and harmony". There's a raw, almost visceral quality to the music that is partly attributable to the pervasive influence of klezmer music throughout, but particularly in "Instrumental" and "Opus", the opening and closing tracks respectively. The music has been captured in a clean, open mix that highlights drums, vocals but clearly separates all other instruments.

Formed in 2018 following the disollution of a similar band "Nervous Conditions' following sexual assault charges against one of its members, this young, seven-piece comprises Isaac Wood - vocals, guitar, Tyler Hyde - bass guitar, Lewis Evans - saxophone, Georgia Ellery - violin, May Kershaw - keyboards, Charlie Wayne - drums, Luke Mark - guitar.

Black Country, New Road mixes the spirit of free jazz, the attitude of punk and the lyrical freedom of prog-rock. This wide setting should allow them to develop without constraint: only time and future releases will reveal whether this is blessing or curse. However, having studied music from an easrly age, the band members is greatly are reportedly eager to move on to a follow up and based on the evidence of this debut, is they will likely make exciting choices.  

Ferenc Snetberger, Keller Quartett - Hal

Hallgato (Live)

by Ferenc Snetberger, Keller Quartett

Released 12 February 2021



Recorded in the Grand Hall of Budapest’s Liszt Academy, December 2018 and produced by ECM's Manfred Eicher,  "Hallgató"is an inspired and moving album performed by Ferenc Snétberger, Hungary’s outstanding acoustic guitarist and the Keller Quartett, its foremost string quartet. The featured artists include:
Ferenc Snétberger (Guitar), András Keller  (Violin), Zsófia Környei (Violin), Gábor Homoki ( Viola), László Fenyö (Violoncello), Gyula Lázár (Bass).

This album marks the artists’ first recorded collaboration, although Snétberger and András Keller have worked together often in live contexts.

The performance commences with concerto for guitar and orchestra "In Memory of My People", written by Snétberger in 1994 and subsequently rearranged for guitar and string quintet by the composer and Béla Szakcsi Lakatos. The introductory movement of In Memory, entitled “Hallgató”, integrates Ferenc’s early memory of an old melody sung by his grandmother: a melody handed down through the ages and played at funerals. Snetberger's mother was Roma and his father Sinti. Dedicated to the memory of forebears persecuted and murdered, "In Memory of My People" is more than music of mourning - it also speaks of resistance, resilience, and liberation – all effectively conveyed in the vivid playing of guitar and strings, with the Keller Quartett here joined by bassist Gyula Lázár.

The second major piece is Shastakovich's "8th String Quartet"also dedicated by its composer to the victims of war and fascism, is played with characteristic intensity by the Keller musicians. This is followed by subtle arrangements of John Dowland's “I Saw My Lady Weep” and “Flow, My Tears”, a proto-blues from the era of Shakespeare (almost exactly contemporary with Love’s Labours Lost). 

Snétberger offers a glimmer of hope with the tender solo guitar piece “Your Smile” and the concluding “Rhapsody 1”, again with Snetberger and string quintet, is a new arrangement of a piece written by Ferenc for a film project about the Roma and the Holocaust, bringing the themes of the concert - grief and its transcendence - full circle. 

This is serious but rewarding music for listening, contemplation and rememberance. 

Olafur Arnalds - A Sunrise Session (EP)

A Sunrise Session

by Olafur Arnalds

Released 26 February 2021

Mercury KX


Like his neoclassical fellow-traveller Nils Frahm, Icelandic artist Olafur Arnalds has chosen to release an EP of songs from a recent album, his from his exceptional recording "Some Kind of Peace" released only in November 2020 . Only a month later he assembled a smal group to record and film a performance of "Spiral", "Still/Sound", "Back To The Sky" and "We Contain Multitudes".

The performance filmed on the winter solstice with Ólafur accompanied by the string quartet of Karl Pestka, Sigrún Harðardóttir, Sólveig Vaka Eyþórsdóttir & Unnur Jónsdóttir and JFDR on vocals.

Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview On Phenomenal Nature

An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

by Casandra Jenkins

Released 19 February 2021

Ba Da Bing!


Cassandra Jenkins has released an arresting debu album with An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, the second studio album by the artist, that shuffles a musical pack of styles: the traditional singer-songwriter, the spoken-word artist and the ambient instrumentalist. The songs are intimate and mesmerising and sound as if they were recorded in an afternoon. It's no surprise therefore to find from her website that Jenkins arrived at engineer Josh Kaufman’s studio with ideas rather than full songs and they finished the album in a week. After her first album Jenkins was being compared to George Harrison and Emmylou Harris but the artists that come to mind for me are Wilco and Laurie Anderson. 

The album concludes with the highlight for me, a seven minute instrumental, "The Ramble" written as the pandemic raged in New Year early in 2020. Interviewed for Apple Music, Jenkins said: “I made these binaural recordings as I walked around and birdwatched in the morning, in April [2020], when it was pretty much empty. I was a stone's throw away from all the hospitals that were cropping up in Central Park, while simultaneously watching nature flourish in this incredible way. I recorded a guitar part and then I sent that to all of my friends around the country and said, ‘Just write something, send it back to me. Don't spend a lot of time on it.’ I wanted to capture the feeling that things change, but it’s nature's course to find its way through. Just to go out with my binoculars and be in nature and observe birds is my way of really dissolving and letting go of a lot of my fears and anxieties - and I wanted to give that to other people.”

Brian Eno - Film Music: Science, Fiction

Film Music: Science / Fiction

by Brian Eno

Released 12 February 2021

UMG Recordings


"Science / Fiction" is the title of a sweet little piece of flotsam or jetsum that has been casually released by Mr Eno this month. It's in the form of seven laid-back selections, all previously unreleased tracks, from films to which he has contributed.

Opening track "One Minute Warning" by Passengers is from the 1995 album "Original Soundtracks 1" - a collection of songs written for mostly imaginary films. recorded by Eno and rock band U2 as a side project and under the Passengers pseudonym.

Track 2 is "Prophecy Theme from Dune" (ft. Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno) - the only track from the soundtrack for ths David Lynch movie that wasn't written by TOTO.
Ship in a Bottle - From "The Lovely Bones" feat. Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams
Drift Study
An Ending (Ascent)

Mogwai - As The Love Continues

As The Love Continues

by Mogwai

Released 19 February 2021

Rock Action (EU) and Temporary Residence Limited (US)


Released on the 25th anniversary of this Scottish band's first single, "As The Love Continues" sees Mogwai taking a subtle but significant shift their compositional approach that promises to opens them up to new audiences at home and abroad. Whereas their legendary reputation has been built around a pattern of tension-building followed by explosive release - a sound so cinematic that they have conducted a parallel career writing film and television scores, tyically for epics and thrillers. Perhaps with this influence, here they take a more nuanced approach than in their previous, taking their audience on a more circuitous  journey.

Mogwai is a stable outfit. All four current members have been with the band for practically it's entire journey: Stuart Braithwaite (guitars, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (guitars) and Martin Bulloch (drums) from the start in 1995 and Barry Burns (guitars, keys, synths, flute, vocals) since 1999. The only departures in all that time were founding member John Cummings (guitar, keys, synbnths, vocals) who left in 2016 and Brendan O Hare (keyboards and guitar) - 1997 only.

It is noteworthy that the album was written with the band under lockdown in Worcestershire, UK and producer Dave Fridmann (former Mercury Rev bassist and wunderkind alt-rock producer) working remote from in the U.S.  Friedman is renowned for clean production, even with heavy hitting alt-rock acts such as Flaming Lips, MGMT, Sleater-Kinney, Tame Impala, Weezer and Sparklehorse.

This record perfectly reflects the personnel and circumstance of its making, the essence of Mogwai: an close ensemble with a quarter century of intense musical collaboration behind them, shetltered from the externalaties and a clear-minded, controlling hand at the recording desk.

Tash Sultana - Terra Firma

Terra Firma

by Tash Sultana

Released 19 February 2021

Lonely Lands Records


Tash Sultana was a global star long before they’d released an album. After their breakout single ‘Jungle’, it was 2017’s haunting, woozy ‘Notion’ EP that proved that this one-person band had range. An international tour soon followed, as Sultana became the first ever pre-debut artist to sell out three headline shows at London’s Brixton Academy. As you can imagine, debut album ‘Flow State’ came with an awful lot of expectations. A spiritual collection of spindly soul-pop, it exceeded all of them.

Rather than record more of the same to maintain that buzzing trajectory, on second album ‘Terra Firma’ Sultana has crafted a deliberately different beast to what’s come before.

Instrumental opener ‘Musk’ is a sprawling introduction to an album where everything is welcome. Unpredictable and flecked with joyful trumpet bursts, it could happily soundtrack a party thrown by Tame Impala. Meanwhile the hammering ‘Crop Circles’ flickers between sparse and claustrophobic, pulling lyrics like “the only thing I fear is my head” into sharp focus.

On ‘Terra Firma’, Sultana takes a more direct approach to baring their soul. The barbed funk of ‘Greed’ acts as a statement of intent, with Sultana putting their own happiness over money in the bank (“I got by just fine not working for the man”). It’s a message echoed on the closing cinema of ‘I Am Free’ (“You don’t need money to be happy. No, you can just be free”) and a belief that sits at the heart of every freewheeling track.

Source: NME.

Various Artists - The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog - Lullabies from Northern Australia

The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog - Lullabies from Northern Australia

by Various Artists

Released 19 February 2021

ABC Records


This a delightful album for kids of all ages is from ABC Music and NT music producers Skinnyfish. 

Established in 1999 by Mark Grose (Managing Director) and Michael Hohnen (Creative Director), Skinnyfish Music works in partnership with artists and their communities to produce music by, about and for them, and to take their music to the wider world. The company’s aim is to provide opportunities for and to nurture the talents of artists who hail from communities across Australia and the region from Timor to Tasmania – through recording, distribution, publishing and performance.

"The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog: Lullabies from Northern Australia" was nominated for the ARIA's 2021 Best Children's Album (unsurprisingly, losing out to that other ABC phenomenon "The Bluey Album", which featured in SunNeverSetsOnMusic's June 2021 playlist).

The album promotes voices and languages from Indigenous countries in the NT and two Asian communities, important to expose kids to local Indigenous languages and those from our diverse communities.

The album features local Northern Territory artists like Caiti Baker, Emcille Wills, Noni Eather, Lena Kellie, Johnno Yunupingu, Serina Pech, Ripple Effect Band, Phoebe Olivia Music with songs sung in Yolŋu Matha, Larrakia, Nakara, Kunwinjku, Tagalog (Filipino) and Balinese (Indonesian).

Source: Skinnyfish.

Odette - Herald


by Odette

Released 5 February 2021



In 2018 Odette’s debut album To A Stranger garnered the Aussie singer-songwriter high praise and adulation as well as two ARIA award nominations, all of which goes a long way to setting high expectations for this her second album. Herald does not disappoint, as Odette moves beyond the coming of age musings on her first album to 360 her life and relationships as a young adult in these strange times.

Often citing Joanna Newsom and poets like Walt Whitman amongst her influences, there is great poetic intent driving her somewhat lovelorn lyrical observations. Her voice soars on sad ballads like Wait For You and even the almost whimsical I Miss You, I’m Sorry dealing something reminiscent of Adele-styled love sickness in the process.

Once again assisted by renowned producer Damian Taylor, known for his work with Arcade Fire and Bjork, the pair ensure piano and synths sit at the centre of arrangements adorned by the dreamy embrace of luscious orchestral sounds. Odette produces pop songs but, rather than working well known recipes, is unafraid to experiment to deliver something fresh.

Singing from her own songbook and unafraid to break rules, Odette is a unique and authentic voice in the Australian landscape.


Source: The Music.

Aura - Aura


by Aura

Released 5 February 2021



Aura' a quartet of 4 female jazz musicians, each an emerging name in Australian Jazz and Improvised Music present their debut recording as an ensemble.

The ensemble - consisting of Trumpeter Audrey Powne, alto saxophonist Flora Carbo, bassist Helen Svoboda and drummer Kyrie Anderson, met serendipitously in 2019 while attending the Banff Centre's renowned Workshop in Jazz and Improvised music directed by masterful improvising musicians and composers Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey.

Amidst the velocity of the workshop experience and the formations of their friendship and musical relationship the quartet found a window of a few hours to record in the Telus Recording Studio at the Banff Centre studio with acclaimed Engineer Todd Whitlock resulting in their debut, self titled album together “Aura."

Aura pays homage to the great chord-less jazz quartets of Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, while drawing on contemporary Australian artists like Andrea Keller, The Necks and the Australian Art Orchestra. Different musical voices and improvisatory strengths come to the fore in works by each ensemble member. This harmonious approach in combination with the individual prowess of each artist presents a definite aura of magic from this youthful band.

Source: Bandcamp

Black Rock Band - Identity


by Black Rock Band

Released 20 November 2020

The Black Rock Band


"Identity" is the compelling second album from the band with the deadly name "Black Rock Band"hailing rom Jabiru, remote West Arnhem Land, Far Northern Australia.

With a the spirit of Yoyhu Yindi, No Fixed Address and others. "We created the album to encourage First Nations people around Australia and the world to stick together. This is building a bridge between the two different worlds that we live in.” says lead singer Richie Guymala. "This album is a reflection for us all to think about and maintain our culture and language. We created the album to encourage First Nations people around Australia and the world to stick together. This is building a bridge between the two different worlds that we live in".

The music is fusion of traditional and contemporary music. Weaving their language, Kunwinjku and English, the songs celebrate their connection to country, their fight for social justice and the future they want to see for the next generation. The album builds on the energy of their powerful 2018 debut "Struggle" while also reflecting the band’s evolving sound and expanded songwriting talents. The new release continues the storytelling and celebration of their culture while exploring social issues and current events.

Black Rock Band have toured and performed at festivals all over Australia including BigSound, MONA FOMA, Nannup Music Festival and Woodford Folk Festival. They have built a reputation for lively shows which excite and engage audiences with relatable songs about love, life and relationships as well as sharing stories of their culture, family history and connection to country.
Mirroring a turbulent year of increasing calls for racial and climate justice, these important themes are the undercurrent that runs through Identity. As well as working closely with First Nations-led organisation Children’s Ground, the band use their music as a way to fight for the protection of the land, language and culture. Black Rock Band want to be part of making the change to the future they want to see for the next generations, and hope to use their platform and their voice to speak for their countrymen.
Through 'Identity', Black Rock Band aim to unite Indigenous people across Australia while also building understanding and knowledge in their non-Indigenous audiences, showing them who they are and why they are driven to write the songs that they do .

Source: Bandcamp

Adrian Younge - The American Negro

The American Negro

by Adrian Younge

Released 26 February 2021

Jazz Is Dead


Over the past few years, LA based composer, arranger and music producer Adrian Younge has become one of the most prolific influences in the American music scene. Commencing with a score for the film "Black Dynamite" (2009) Younge became a prolific and influential producer for many prominent artists including Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, among others. He operates the haircuts and record store Artform Studio in LA with Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest) and in 2017 founded Jazz Is Dead records with him. JID's series of releases during 2020 was a musical highlight of the year and featured in sunneversetsonmusic's 2020 Favourites playlist.

Younge describes The American Negro as "an unapologetic critique, detailing the systemic and malevolent psychology that afflicts people of color". He continues "This project dissects the chemistry behind blind racism, using music as the medium to restore dignity and self-worth to my people. It should be evident that any examination of black music is an examination of the relationship between black and white America. This relationship has shaped the cultural evolution of the world and its negative roots run deep into our psyche".  Featuring various special guests performing over a deeply soulful, elaborate orchestration, The American Negro seeks to reinvent the black native tongue through this album.

Accompanied by a short film (T.A.N.) and 4-part podcast (Invisible Blackness), The American Negro is set up as collective experience and individual expression. Iinsightful, provocative and inspiring it is aimed at the center of America's ongoing reckoning with race, racism and the writing of the next chapter of it's history.

Various Artists - Rough Guide To African

The Rough Guide To African Beats

by Various Artists

Released 25 February 2021

World Music Network


Assuming "The Rough Guide To African Beats" was genuinely intened to broaden the world's knowledge and appreciation of the African musical heritage, it falls rather short - and not just because it doen't cover the scope of this very broad subject. The problem is, the selected pieces are not arranged in any historical or cultural context, or in an order that would leave the listener with confidence that they had covered even a single aspect of one of the musical essentials of the continent. "A Very Rough Guide to African Beats" might have been a more appropriate title.

On the other hand "The Rough Guide To African Beats" is an enjoyable-enough selection of African music, even if it is a rather random sampling of the immense range of music that is played across the continent.  The album opens with "Kpaningbo (Xylophone)" by South Sudanese group Wayo. We then move across the border to Kenya for "Obare Yinda" by Kenge Kenge, musical revivalists and guardians of the musical traditions. Then follows "Bolami" by Simo Lagnawi, a fast-paced piece of modern Gnawa music from the very north of the continent, in Morocco. "Ha Kele Monateng"takes us to the kingdom of Lesotho in South Africa for a performance by the "funky shepherds" Sotho Sounds on home-made  instruments. "Doro Lelewa" is a recording by Malam Mamane Barka, a nomad of the Toubou Tribe (Niger) and master and champion of the harp-like, boat shaped biram. The final three tracks are "Zunde" by Hope Masike (Zimbabwe), "Taro Maro" by Mamoutou Dembele (Mali) and "Nkasoo" by Seprewa Kasa a group of three virtuoso seprewa (an guitar) players from Ghana. 


King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - K.G.


by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Released 20 November 2020



Melbourne's King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a phenomenon for a few very good reasons - they are astonishingly prolific, they are very good live and they maintain a fervent fan base. In addition to regular stream of live albums, the band recorded 15 studio albums between 2012 and 2019,  including five in 2017 alone. The pandemic may be responsible for the absence of a new recording through most of 2020, but the band got back on track with the release of "K.G." in November, and its successor "G.W."just  released. Recorded during the Melbourne's severe lockdown, the band returned to the microtonal tuning previously used for their 2017 album "Microtonal Flying Banana" (subtitled "Explorations into Microtonal Tuning, Volume 1").

Part of the band's legend has been their ability to reinvent their sound, so "K.G." was received with dismay by some fans.  But the choice of instruments does not preclude creativity, we must look at the songs themselves.

The album opens with the brief, alt-folk prelude "K.G.L.W." that brings to mind early Mike Oldfied. It is followed by a snarling African desert-blues guitar romp  "Automation", complete with Krautrock vocals followed by "Minimum Brain Size", a commentary on online trolls. Although microtonal tunings sustain the album, they are augmented by a variety of influences -  "Straws In The Wind" is an acoustic boogie; "Some Of Us" and "Ontology"have the prog-folk bounce of early Jethro Tull (who, if not an influence, built a career with similar sounding music); "Intrasport" indulges in bhangra rhythms sufficient for a Bollywood blockbuster and "Odd Life", a reflection on the band's ten years on the road, features cascading guitars and cracking drumming. Penultimate track contains the most memorable lyrics of the album "You taste like honey, all warm and runny / Kinder than a candy, effervescent shandy" and the simple, repetitive chorus "You taste like honey (X4)"- all backed by synths and slide guitars that sound like zurna and sitars.

The album concludes with a rock classic "The Hungry Wolf of Fate" of which drummer Michael Kavanah told Consequence Of Sound: " This track almost didn’t make the cut as there was concern that it sounded too Sabbathy… I’ve always wanted to use the “Schools Out for Summer” [sic] floor-tom roll in a song, so there it is… kinda. Not being able to jam as a band and record live meant that we were restricted to our home studios making this one quite tricky to record and capture the overall feel. But after many takes and iterations, this stoner doom number became one of my personal faves and will probably be a lot better live… I like to play".This is a terrific record in most respects, but it is a disappointment that with this album, even if this may be understood to be ""Microtonal Flying Banana" Explorations into Microtonal Tuning, Volume 2", they  haven't really moved on from the scope or vision of Volume 1.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - L.W.


by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Released 25 February 2021



Having barely had time to fully digest King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's late 2020 offering "K.G.", they have popped up again with the follow up album within just a few weeks. It is a habit thay have kept for their entire career.

This time out they once again work similar territory of "K.G.", including microtonal instrumentation and cover art: this is essentially Disc 2 of "K.G.L.W" double album.

Musically, "L.W." is at least if not more interesting than"K.G." and most of the songs album could be interchanged with  their 2017 album "Microtonal Flying Banana" (with the exception of it's classic opening track, "Rattlesnake").

Once again, there are further parallels between these songs and their precursors in 70's and 80's folk-prog-kraut-rock. And, consistent with King Gizard's energy asnd charm, they are presented with lashings of humor, always sounding like originals, rather than hackneyed imitation or homage to past heroes.

The fact that with "K.G." and "L.W.," the band may now have blown their reputation as that prolific band that never repeaed itself is trivial. What is a disappointment is that with these releases they dared not to venture beyond the boundaries of the conventional rock canon with their microtonal instrumentation.

That step might have been to collaborate wth any of the hundreds of international artists steeped in traditional and contemporary microtonal music.

C Tangana - El Madrileno

El Madrileno

by C. Tangana

Released 26 February 2021

Sony Spain


The political upheaval in Catalonia, Spain is not the only revolutionary activity taking place in the country. Faced with the impact of the pandemic, Madrid-born rapper & trap artist Antón Álvarez Alfaro, best known by his moniker C. Tangana, broke Spanish recording sales and internet streaming records after partnering with a wide array of international and local Spanish-language artists for hos third record "El Madrileño". Guests include Toquinho (Brazil), Gypsy Kings (France), Jose Feliciano (Puerto Rico), Jorge Drexler (Uruguay), Ed Maverick and Omar Opollo (Mexico), Andres Calamaro (Argentina), Eliades Ochoa (Cuba), Kiko Veveno. 

Like Rosalia's 2018 breakout album "El Mar Querer" (which won a  Grammy for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album and a place among Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums of all time), "El Madrileño" freely mixes traditional and modern musical forms to create a vibrant hybrid.  And as indicated by the array of collaborators,"El Madrileño" doesn't draw from flamenco alone: Tangana embraces many Spanish, Latin and South American folk styles, always highly charged with emotion and high drama and supported by memorable YouTube videos. The new release would seem to be startling transformation: it might as well be considered a coming from an entirely different artist to the former rapper - until it is revealed that he co-wrote most of ex-Rosalia's "El Mar Querer".

"El Madrileño" is Spanish for "someone from Madrid" and Álvarez proudly promotes the classics of his country. “Before trap, Spanish music was mostly indie bands who dressed like they were from the UK or the US. To be cool, you had to be un-Spanish. Now this music feels exotic and original. And that’s what’s getting people’s attention.”

Joe Chambers - Samba de Maracatu

Samba de Maracatu

by Joe Chambers

Released 26 February 2021



The great drummer Joe Chambers was a stalwart presence on many of the most progressive Blue Note albums of the mid-1960s including Wayne Shorter’s Adam’s Apple, Bobby Hutcherson’s Components, Freddie Hubbard’s Breaking Point, Joe Henderson’s Mode for Joe, McCoy Tyner Tender Moments, and many more.

However, it wasn’t until 1998 that Chambers made his own Blue Note debut as a leader with his album Mirrors.

Now the venerated drummer, percussionist, vibraphonist, and composer returns with Samba de Maracatu, a sterling set of original compositions, standards, and pieces by Shorter, Hutcherson, and Horace Silver that features pianist Brad Merritt and bassist Steve Haines with special guest vocalist Stephanie Jordan and rapper MC Parrain.

Paolo Fresu - -P60LO FR3SU


by Paolo Fresu

Released 10 February 2021

Tuk Music


Paolo Fresu was a pleasent new discovery for sunneversetsonmusic this month, but he's no newcomer to the music. A flugelhornist and trumpeter from Sardinia, Italy, Fresu graduated in trumpet studies from the Conservatory of Cagliari in 1984 and attended the University of Bologna School of music and performing arts and released his debut album "Ostinato"in 1985. 

For his latest, Fresu celebrates his 60th birthday with 31 tracks spread across 3 cds, no less.

First is a re-reissue of his 2001 masterpiece "Heartland" on which his horns feature alongside French vocalist David Linx (singing in English) with Dutch jazz pianist Diederick Wissels, Palle Danielson on double bass and Jon Christensen on drums. (Christensen is notable for his work as session drummer on countless major ECM recoordings. Danielson and Christeson both appear alongside Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek on the seminal 1974 ECM recording "Belongings"). Thanks to the warmth and expression of Linx's smooth delivery, this is a seductive set of jazz vocals and the musical backing is relaxed but superb.

The second cd features Frescu's trumpet and horns in a trio with Daniele di Bonaventura (bandoneon accordian) and Jaques Morelenbaum (cello). As the range available to the chosen instruments would dictate, this is an atmospheric collection in which the sombre tones of the cello are offset by the trumpet's call, often muted, and complimented by the effervescent and melodic bandoneon. The result is a jazzily sophistocated transposition of traditional mediterranean village music. 

The third cd is a tribute to David Bowie with an all star band comprising Petra Magoni (vocal), Gianluca Petrella (trombone), Francesco Diodati (guitar), Francesco Ponticelli (bass) and Christian Meyer (drums). Described by the record label as"a huge, crazy and peculiar exploit", these are quirky, parallel-universe versions of familiar songs that are very different to Bowie's originals, but each is filled with energy and musicality that makes them surprisingly compelling. 

Throughout this entire package of P60LO FR3SU package (approaching three hours of music) an open, airy quality of sound and expression is skillfully maintained, that seems to unite the set in a subtle way, and overcomes the separation that differences in musical styles - and time itself - that should surely have otherwise prevented.

That is a remarkable achievement.

Aratita Electronik Jazz Quintet - Sumer (EP)

Sumer (EP)

by Aratita Electronik Jazz Quintet

Released 5 February 2021

Fly High Society


The Aratita Electronik Jazz Quintet started as a club night in 2011, developed into a label and independent radio station in 2014, continues to evolve what their Bandcamp entry describes as "a unique strain of jazz prophecies, synthesized using future technologies thru the lens of Irish folk tradition".  So, someone's got a good sense of humor!

This a suite of four moody 3 or 4 minute pieces, each typically featuring an iconic keyboard or guitar riff, around which a variety of beats, saxes and synth lines swirl, the pieces flowing effortlessly one to the next.

The quintet has yet to reveal themselves publicly, but are to be watched out for in future.

Seba Kaapstad - Konke


by Seba Kaapstad

Released 13 November 2020

Mello Music Group


South African artist Seba Kaapstad announced their newest album “Konke” with the lead single "Our People" featuring Quelle Chris. The album also features Grammy Nominated singer Georgia Anne Muldrow as well as critically acclaimed rapper Oddisee. The multi-national neo-soul/jazz group combines South African, Swazi, U.S. and German elements.
Singers Zoe Modiga and Ndumiso Manana grace the lead vocals over production from Philip Scheibel and band founder Sebastian Schuster. The record builds upon the foundation they laid with 2019's Thina while adding a relaxed musicality that lets the listener ease into the album.

The addition of Hiphop vocalists Quelle Chris and Oddisee, as well as soul/funk singer Georgia Anne Muldrow add another dimension of texture to the already diverse album that sits well among the new breed of soul/jazz/hiphop artists like Robert Glasper, Kamall Williams and Terrace Martin.

Source: Bandcamp

Airelle Bresson - Try!


by Airelle Bresson, Benjamin Moussay, Fabrice Moreau, Isabel Sorling

Released 1 February 2021

Papillon Jaune


French trumpeter Airelle Besson's new album is the follow up to her 2015 debut “Radio One” and 2017's "Airies" (with Edouard Ferlet and Stephane Kerecki). “Try” is described in the press release as a “natural continuation of "Radio One" with the same personnel, research and quest for sound.

Bresson is a much sought-after sideperson in Europe with the sort of jazz pedigree that very few players anywhere can match. To begin with, she trained with Wynton Marsalis, Pierre Gillet and Kato Havas (Yehudi Menuhin‘s disciple) in Oxford and is a graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. She has twice been named Best French Musician of the Year by the French Django Reinhardt Award Academy and as Jazz Revelation of the Year at the French Award ceremony “Les Victoires du Jazz”.

At the 2015 festival ‘Jazz sous les Pommiers’ in Coutances, where she was artist in residence for 3 years, Airelle first worked with this line-up (a quartet along Benjamin Moussay on piano, fender Rhodes & bass synth Fabrice Moreau on drums and Isabel Sörling on vocals) at the 2015 festival ‘Jazz sous les Pommiers’ in Coutances, where she was artist in residence for 3 years, and released the album “Radio One” with them in May 2016. Concerts in France and worldwide followed the release. 

It is therefore no surprise that "Try!" is a polished, delicate recording, throughout which voice, trumpet and piano alternate as featured instruments within a well-balanced ensemble. This is best exemplified by the album-opening suite of songs "The Sound of Your Voice, Pts. I, II and III" - the entry of Sörling's delicate, mournful soprano in "Pt. III". In the wordless "Wild Animals" and "Angel's Dance", Sorlin's vocal weaves in and out of the instrumental soundscape as otherwise would violin or synth lines. Conventionally-sung lyrics open the title track "Try!" before her voice is again used instrumentally, is transformed to become a human beat-box for the muscular "Patitoune" ("Bimbo"), which follows. Appropriately, her vocal sours majesticly in an expansive duets: with trumpet for "Uranus et Pluto" and against rythmic percussionand piano in "Fly Away". Concluding an album that rewards attentive listening are the evocative "Apres la Neige" (After the Snow) and "Ladea's Sunset", each one fining a perfect balance of vocal and instrumental weight, with the latter perhaps providing the album's finest moment at it's very conclusion! 

Strongly recommended.

Lionel Loueke - HH


by Lionel Loueke

Released 20 October 2020

Edition Records


"HH" is Lionel Loueke's tribute to his long-time mentor, the great Herbie Hancock.

Known for his ability to “transform the guitar into a virtual Afro-Western orchestra” (Jazz Times), Lionel Loueke is a musician who transcends genre to create unparalleled sounds. On this recording Loueke takes Hancoks’s best-known compositions, including Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man and Rock It, and creates something entirely fresh and new.

Loueke says: “I have been playing with The Master Herbie Hancock for more than 15 years, and still it wasn’t easy to work on his music because the originals are already so beautiful and he keeps developing them every time we play on stage. The challenge was to put my own imprints on these masterpieces. To rethink them with my touch on it. He is my mentor and I feel very lucky to be part of his musical journey. It’s a gift to learn that much from him - humanly, spiritually and musically speaking. Being from Benin in West Africa, I carry in my playing the curve of my life. As we are going through a rough time, with the Coronavirus pandemic, I can say that Love, Humanity, Spirituality and Music give me Freedom and Hope on a daily basis – and those are lessons I learnt from Herbie. This project is beyond music in other words. It was a need for me to play his music.”

Immanuel Williams - Omega


by Immanuel Williams

Released 7 August 2020

Blue Note


Rarely does an artist emerge fully formed with a debut album that might well be passed off a the work of a master, but at just 22 years of age, Philadelphian alto saxophonist Immanuel Williams has stepped straight out of his studies at the Julliard School in New York into the limelight with this release. After first coming to the jazz world's attention with his impressive playing on Joel Ross’ outstanding 2019 Blue Note debut "KingMaker". 

Musically, Wilkins' music is influenced by the likes of Garry Bartz, Kenny Garrett and John Coltrane, but thematically his (Christian) spirituality and his African-American heritage are front and centre. Produced in the time of Black Lives Matter, the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and recorded amid the advancing Covid pandemic, the track titles for the first half of the album are a guide to Wilkins' focus: "Warriors" ("about friendships, family, your hood and your community"; "Ferguson - An American Tradition" (when an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, yet Wilson wasn’t indicted, fueling the rage of the community.); and  “Mary Turner – An American Tradition.” (a Black woman who was eight months pregnant when killed by a lynching mob in Georgia in 1918, after she publicly decried her husband’s murder by the same means).

However, the centerpiece of the album is a four-part suite that Wilkins composed in 2013, while studying at Julliard:  Part 1 The Key; Part 2 Saudade; Part 3 Eulogy and Part 4 Guarded Heart. 

The album is produced by his mentor, Jason Moran, and features Wilkins’ quartet of pianist Micah Thomas, upright bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Kweku Sumbry.

Appropriate to its themes and sources, this is complex, often turbulent music from an emerging talent, who sems likley will not only become one of his generation's leading musicians but a cultural leader too.

Rudesh Mahnthappa - Hero Trio

Hero Trio

by Rudesh Mahnthappa

Released 19 June 2020

Whirlwind Recordings


"Hero Trio" is New York-based alto saxophonist and composer Rudesh Mahnthappa's sixteenth release as a leader or co-leader, in a carrer in which he has constantly pushed at the artistic boundaries to encompass such diverse influences as classic bebop, electric fusion and Carnatic music, always maintaining a clear sense of his own fiercely intelligent, uncompromising musical personality. In this 2020 release he has moved the focus away from his own compositions to pay tribute to his greatest influences with an album of interpretations in an acoustic trio with long-time associates François Moutin on bass and Rudy Royston on drums.

The album is framed by the trio's interpretation of three Charlie Parker compositions: opening track "Red Cross", "Barbardos/26-2" at the mid-point and “Dewey Square,” at the close.

In between he includes the trio's versions of “Overjoyed” (Stevie Wonder ); “I Can’t Get Started” (Sonny Rollins), “The Windup,” (Keith Jarrett), “I’ll Remember April” (Lee Konitz) and even “Ring Of Fire”(Johnny Cash).

Ambrose Akinmusire - on the tender spot of every caloused moment

on the tender spot of every calloused moment

by Ambrose Akinmusire

Released 20 October 2020

Blue Note


Ambrose Akinmusire is another of the new generation of jazz trumpeters who have emerged in the past decade, whose careers are founded on both bandstand and in academic training.  Born and raised in Oakland, California, Akinmusire was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, where he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman who was visiting the school to give a workshop. Coleman hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for a European tour. Akinmusire was also a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Akinmusire studied at the Manhattan School of Music before returning to the West Coast to take a master's degree at the University of Southern California and attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles. In 2007, Akinmusire was the winner of both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, two of the most prestigious jazz competitions in the world. The same year he released his debut recording "Prelude... to Cora" on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. He moved back to New York City and began performing with Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding, and Jason Moran and others.

Alongside Akinmusire on "On the Tender Spot of every Calloused Moment" is his quartet of longtime bandmates: Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums). 

The album title refers to a trip home to Oakland in 2016, during where he was taken by the changes caused by gentrification, the local population having substantially changed due to the expansion of Silicon Valley, which had driving the long-term, often impoverished residents out of the city

Including the album in its top 10 of 2020, Jazzwise commented: "Ambrose Akinmusire’s fifth studio album finds the 38 year-old trumpeter in as reflective a mode as ever, asking questions about black identity and avoiding clichéd pathways just as he opts for musical roads less travelled".

Richard J Birkin & London Contemporary Orchestra


by Richard J Birken, London Contemporary Orchestra

Released 16 October 2020

Reveal Records


For his first full-length album since 2016’s Vigils, composer & media producer Richard J. Birkin went all in to create something big hearted and beautiful at a time when such things are arguably most needed. Those who have followed his body of work know there is always a compelling foundational concept behind each of Birkin’s recordings and matterlightblooming is no different in that regard.

The album, we are told, was conceived as a soundtrack “about technology, empathy, and where we go next”. The title was taken from a literary reference to an imagined phenomenon that results in a “rush of energy and light that occurs when a soul departs the liminal space between life and death”, but Birkin essentially transforms this idea (how cleverly meta) by inverting it into a hopeful metaphor for the world of the living – an impassioned plea to envision something better on the other side of the dark and bitter times which we find ourselves traversing.

“I was writing the music and thinking about transformation, other states of being, drastic change. A blooming of kaleidoscopic possibilities for humankind, in the face of what feels like a decline. There is also a thread of loss throughout the album, for what is left behind or what could have been. It was written about a deep hope for humankind, and I hope that the music can pass on that feeling…even if only for a moment.“

It is no small feat to effectively put paid to such aspirations through music, but Birkin does just that. The compositions on the album are beautifully realized and stunningly arranged with the participation of members of The London Contemporary Orchestra in both quartet and ensemble form. Punctuated by moments of tender and wistful reflection, the music is epic in its sweep and unwavering in its optimism.

In Birkin’s creative world, the visual medium is an equally important mode of expression and one can see he has paid careful attention to the colors & motifs that permeate both presentation and artwork to augment the theme of the album and make it a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

If you are looking something to gently lift your spirits and light up your synapses, this should be just the ticket.

Source: StationaryTravels

Lost Horizons - In Quiet Moments

In Quiet Moments

by Lost Horizons

Released 26 February 2021

Bella Union


I had to include this album this month for the cover art alone (by 1940's French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue) and the fact that it's the work of a former Cocteau Twin bassist / keyboardist Simon Raymonde (with Dif Juz drummer / saxophonist Richie Thomas). In addition, the album is further supplemented by  contributions from many talented musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu. In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

Raymonde has noted that the guiding theme for the lyrics of the new album was: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” 

Then, Covid-19 hit and so the second half of the albums' lyrics were written after lockdown. Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.”

Source: Bella Union

Danny Mulhern - Flow States

Flow States

by Danny Mulhern

Released 4 December 2020

1631 Recordings AB


"Flow States" is Danny Mulhern’s second release for Swedish label 1631 Recordings and a continuation of his frequent collaborations with the musicians from London Contemporary Orchestra - which includes his previous albums "Reflections On A Dead Sea" (2017), "Safe House" (2018) and the Original Motion Picture Soundrack for "What They Had" (2018).

And. perpetuating an approach taken in all his previous albums, "Flow States" is a collection of 19 short pieces, some just over one minute in duration and none more than four, this album is like a collection of dream fragments, but Mulhern and the ensemble -. Oliver Coates (cello), Zoë Matthews (viola), Sophie Mather (violin), and Vicky Lester (harp) - have created a set of compatible soundscapes that, although brief, are individually complete and able to be enjoyed as an ambient sequence.

Madeleine Cocolas - Ithaca


by Madeleine Cocolas

Released 8 May 2020



Madeleine Cocolas says "I wrote “Ithaca” after returning to live in my home town of Brisbane, Australia after many years away living in Melbourne, Seattle and New York. Writing “Ithaca” was a raw, personal and cathartic experience for me and explores the complex and varied emotions I have felt since returning home. It canvasses feelings of optimism, frustration, heartbreak, melancholy and ultimately hope.

Whilst the title “Ithaca” is derived from a previous name for the neighbourhood I currently live in, I acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal people as the first inhabitants and the traditional custodians of the lands where I live".

This is an entrancing collection of mostly slow-tempo, ambient compositions that envelope the listener as they develop from a simple opening monotone or pulse, sometimes building to euphoric highs, before receding to their conclusion, but mostly remaining in a meditative, dream state.

After twelve minutes of the two meditative opening tracks, the music seems dangerously close to have become new-age spa-music but"Lets Talk About You" unexpectedly breaks the mould with a racy synth line that would befit Jean Michel-Jarre. This is replaced by funereal piano chords of "Past The Floodline" and "Circular", which is essentially controlled white noise. The synths return for "A Basic Understanding" which re-combines elements from previous songs, a techniquue that is maintained for the remainder of the album. "The Heart Doesn't Lie" builds a contrasting mood upon a piano chord recalled from "Past The Floodline" and the set concludes with "Return Home" another mix of piano chord and synths.

Quotation Source: Bandcamp

Claire Deep & Tony Deep - The Old Capital

The Old Capital

by Claire Deep & Tony Dupe

Released 9 October 2020

Lost Tribe Sound


The Old Capital is the debut album from Melbourne composers Claire Deak and Tony Dupé. The album is their first recorded collaboration, though Dupé has released two solo albums under the name Saddleback. 

The duo describes themselves as a home orchestra well-suited for late night rambling. Much like traveling in the dark of night, the sound explorations found throughout The Old Capital come into view seemingly out of nowhere. Headstrong rhythms of shuffling organic debris and lumbering stomps help light the path with some brief success, only to be swallowed up by a slow moving fog of droning organs and dampened strings. However with the proper guides, finding ones footing in this shadowy landscape doesn't have to be difficult. Claire and Tony echo this sentiment throughout with a fine balance of both playful and haunting passages. Their confidence reassures us that once our eyes adjust to the dark, it need not be a frightening place. 

A wide variety of acoustic instrumentation weave their way into the music, including: pianos, accordion, harp, harpsichord, pump organs, pipe organ, recorder, flute, trumpet, euphonium, clarinets, stroh violin, viola, wulf fidel, cello, double bass, guitar, charango, mandolin, baritone ukulele, banjo, xylophone, glockenspiel, gamelan, drums and voices. 

Source: Bandcamp

Black Coffee - Subconsciously


by Black Coffee

Released 5 February 2021

Ultra Records


The new album from Black Coffee, the superstar DJ from South Africa does't break any new musical ground, but it brings together some fantastic artists whio contribute their talents: Celeste, Diplo, Usher, David Guetta, Pharrell Williams - all household names. But I love the way the album opens with four tracks featuring relative "unknowns" from Republic of South Africa (RSA) and around the world - DJ Angelo (Italy) and Jinadu (UK), Maxine Ashley (USA) and Sun-El Musician (RSA), Sabrina Claudio (USA), and Ry X (Australia).

In addition, there are individual contributions from Una Rams (RSA) Tellaman (RSA), Msaki (RSA) or in partnership Jozzy (USA), Delilah Montague (UK), Elderbrook (UK).

Favourite tracks:
I'm Fallin' (feat Ry X): eight minutes of sustained funky angelsong

Ready For You (feat Celeste) - swaggering R&B

Flava (feat. Una Rams & Tellaman) - jungle drums and beat

LaLaLa (feat. Usher) - here sounding like Lionel Richie

Wish You Were Here (feat. Msaki) - swaying R&B with african undertones

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