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Max Richter - All Human Beings (Official Music Video by Yulia Mahr)
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Keleketla, Coldcut - Keleketla!

Keleketla!

by Keleketla!, Coldcut, Tony Allen. Others

Released 3 July 2020

Ahead Of Our Time

*****

Keleketla! is an expansive collaborative project involving a veritable "A-List" of progressive musicians, reaching outward from Johannesburg to London, Lagos, L.A. and West Papua,

“Keleketla!” started as a musical meeting ground between Ninja Tune cofounders Coldcut and a cadre of South African musicians (introduced by the charity In Place Of War), including the raw, South African-accented jazz styles of Sibusile Xaba, and rapper Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST).

From those initial sessions, the record grew to encompass a wider web of musical luminaries, including Afrobeat architects, the late pioneer Tony Allen and Dele Sosimi, legendary L.A. spoken word pioneers The Watts Prophets, and West Papuan activist Benny Wenda.
The album collaborators are as follows:
South Africa sessions:
Yugen Blakrok, Nono Nkoane, Thabang Tabane, Tubatsi Moloi, Gally Ngoveni, Sibusile Xaba, Soundz of the South Collective, DJ Mabheko
London sessions:
Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings, Dele Sosimi, Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne, Tamar Osborn, Miles James, Joe Armon-Jones, Afla Sackey, Benny Wenda, The Lani Singers, Eska Mtungwazi, Jungle Drummer, DeeJay Random
Additionally:

The Watts Prophets (Los Angeles) and Antibalas (New York) contributed to the album.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://coldcut.bandcamp.com/album/keleketla

Max Richter - Voices

Voices

by Max Richter

Released 31 July 2020

Decca UK

*****

Max Richter is perhaps most famous for a great may iconic high-minded projects such as his eight-and-a-half-hour 2015 work Sleep or its one-hour precis From Sleep,, his 2004 work The Blue Notebooks (written in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq) and his reworking of Vivaldi  (Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons).

Others are likely to have been unknowingly entertained by his compositions in his soundtracks for motion pictures (Voyager, Mary Queen Of Scots, Never Look Away) and TV series (My Brilliant Friend, Taboo, Black Mirror, The Leftovers).

Voices adds to this impressive resume by tackling another inspirational subject, namely the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.

Explaining that this project has been 10 years in the making, Richter says"in this time of great challenges, VOICES is a place to reflect on the world we have made, and on the world we want to make". 

This is a breathtaking work, the music perfectly complimenting the spoken word, creating a perfect ambience for contemplation. 

A powerful film by Yulia Mahr has also been produced, with soundtrack provided by the opening suite of Voices, All Human Beings Parts 1 to 4) .

Various Artists - Blue Note Re:imagined

Blue Note Re:imagined (Singles)

by Ezra Collective, Jorja Smith, Skinny Pelembe, Poppy Ajudah)

Released : June & July 2020

Blue Note

*****

Blue Note Re:imagined is a brand new collection of classic Blue Note tracks, reworked and newly recorded by a selection of the UK scene’s most exciting young talents. The full album will be released on September 25, 2020, but I'm including the early tracks this month in anticipation.

The project will feature contributions from a roll call of acclaimed jazz, soul and R&B acts including Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Mr Jukes, Steam Down, Skinny Pelembe, Emma-Jean Thackray, Poppy Ajudha, Jordan Rakei, Fieh, Ishmael Ensemble, Blue Lab Beats, Melt Yourself Down, Yazmin Lacey, Alfa Mist, and Jorja Smith.

The first five tracks are:

  • Ezra Collective's "Footprints"- a funky update of the Wayne Shorter original that moves seamlessly between post-bop, funk, hip-hop, and Afrobeat. 

  • Jorja Smith's version of "Rose Rouge", from  St Germain’s 2000 Blue Note album Tourist, (which was itself based on a sample of Marlena Shaw’s “Woman of the Ghetto” from her 1973 album "Cookin’ With Blue Note At Montreux").

  • Skinny Pelembe's new version of Andrew Hill’s track "Illusion".

  • Steam Down's version of Wayne Shorter’s “Etcetera”, featuring vocals by Afronaut Zu.

  • Poppy Ajudha's version of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” which the legendary pianist first recorded for Blue Note Records on his debut album Takin’ Off in 1962, and later re-imagined on his 1973 jazz-funk classic Head Hunters. 

Bring on September!

Jon Hassell - Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two)

Seeing THrough Sound (Pentimento Volume Two)

by Jon Hassell

Released 24 July 2020

Ndeya

*****

A companion piece to 2018’s Listening To Pictures, this second volume in the Pentimento series presents eight new tracks continuing Hassell's lifelong exploration of the possibilities of recombination and musical gene-splicing.

In classic Hassell fashion, the title can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but perhaps the most pertinent at the moment is the human instinct to sing and play through a rain of difficulties. A future blues of indeterminate and ever-shifting shape.

The album is buffered by two 8-minute plus epics at the beginning and the end - the hypnotic “Fearless” with it’s metronomic, almost Can-like rhythm, and blurry, noir-ish texture of sound emerging like car headlights from the fog; mirrored at the end of the record by the beautiful sci-fi lullaby of “Timeless”, a track with a gaseous, billowing quality as electronic clicks and bubbles float over a landscape of shimmering, glacially paced complexity.

The bridge between those two worlds is no less compelling, from the frantic, spidery IDM sketch of “Reykjavik” to the collapsed-time ballad of “Unknown Wish”. Whilst containing seeds of classic ‘fourth world’ fusion, this record finds the artist still questing to create new forms and mutations of music, a thrilling window into what music could sound like in a world to come. 

More information on Bandcamp:

https://jonhassell.bandcamp.com/album/seeing-through-sound-pentimento-volume-two

Jon Hassell -  Listrening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)

Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)

by Jon Hassell

Released 8 June 2018

Ndeya

*****

This was Hassell's first new album in nine years, in which he continues his lifelong exploration of the possibilities of recombination and musical gene-splicing  - a continuation of his "Fourth World" aesthetic which although forty years since it's creation, remains a powerful influence on modern electronic music.

Pentimento is defined as the “reappearance in a painting of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over” and this is evident in the innovative production style that ‘paints with sound’ using overlapping nuances to create an undefinable and intoxicating new palette.

Fragments of performance are sampled, looped, overdubbed and re-arranged into beguiling unexpected shapes. Hassell applies the painterly technique of ‘pentimento’ to the arrangements, teasing out texture by the overlaying of sound upon sound, or a carefully timed reveal of the delicate bones pinning the frame of a track together.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://jonhassell.bandcamp.com/album/seeing-through-sound-pentimento-volume-two

Andrea Keller Five Below - Life Is Brut[

by Andrea Keller / Five Below

Released 17 July 2020

Eglo Records

*****

Andrea Keller’s Life is Brut[if]al, the second album with her band Five Below, is a self -released seven track contemporary jazz oeuvre of gentle musical vignettes, intimate stories and meditative compositions.

Life is Brut[if]ul journeys through seven provoking and heartfelt musical stories.

The album features guest artists Scott McConnachie (soprano and alto saxophone), Julien Wilson (tenor, saxophone and bass clarinet) and Jim Keller (voice), alongside the Five Below band members Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Sam Anning (double bass), Mick Meagher (electric bass), James McLean (drums) and Andrea Keller on piano.

paul Weller - On Sunset

On Sunset

by Paul Weller

Released 3 July 2020

Polydor

*****

"On Sunset" is yet another solid third-career release from the tireless Paul Weller, a worthy follow up to 2017's return-to-the mainstream album "A Kind Revolution" and 2018's more  conservative (but excellent) acoustically-driven release "True Meanings".

This is a meandering but always-interesting set, with some tracks (4th Dimension, Mirror Ball, More, On Sunset) extending past five, six or even seven minutes in duratioin and Weller in fine voice. 

Highlights include the epic, rock-operatic opener "Mirror Ball", Old Father Thyme and the Kinks-like "Equanimity".

Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas

by Lianne La Havas

Released July 2020

Warner Records

*****

This is the first album in five years from UK songstress Lianne La Havas (a follow up to 2015's Blood) but well worth the wait. It's old-fashioned in many ways - an exceptional R&B vocalist singing some well-written love songs and doing it so well that there's no need for the added effects, interludes, rap breaks and autotuning  that have intruded into the work of many of her peers.

This set tracks the trajectory of a failed relationship, starting and finishing with versions of the song Bittersweet. The album is filled with Havas' own songs, however the exception is her remarkable interpretation of Radiohead's Wierd Fishes, (which I understand she has performed live for years). This appears half way through and turns the mood of the album. Wierd Fishes is like a love song from a David Lynch movie (Your eyes, They turn me, Turn me on to phantoms, I follow to the edge of the earth, And fall off, Everybody leaves, If they get the chance, And this is my chance, I get eaten by the worms). The succeeding songs - Please Don't Make Me Cry, Seven Times, Courage, Sour Flower - remain downcast and Havas revives the opening song Bittersweet for the finale, but this completes an ultimately satisfying and beautifully constructed circle.

Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers

Old Flowers

by Courtney Marie Andrews

Released 24 July 2020

Fat Possum

*****

It's rare nowadays for a singer-songwriter to come along and hold their own against the greats on the strength of their songwriting and vocal delivery alone , but Courtney Marie Andrews has done just that with her fifth album Old Flowers, which follows May Your Kindness Remain (2018), Honest Life (2017), On My Page (2013), and No One's Slate Is Clean (2011). 

Produced by Andrew Sarlo (Bon Iver, Big Thief), the album features only three musicians: Andrews (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Twain’s Matthew Davidson (bass, celeste, mellotron, pedal steel, piano, pump organ, wurlitzer, background vocals) and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia (drums, percussion).

Created in the aftermath of a long-term relationship, “Old Flowers” features Andrews' most vulnerable writing to date on ten new songs that chronicle her journey through heartbreak, loneliness and finding herself again after it all.

Andrews reflects, “Old Flowers is about heartbreak. There are a million records and songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with. It’s about being afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is alone, but okay with that, if it means truth. This was my truth this year-my nine-year relationship ended and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to know herself.”

Hania Rani - Home

Home

by Hania Rani

Released 29 May 2020

Gondwana Records

*****

Hania Rani is a pianist, composer and musician who was born in Gdansk and splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works. Her debut album 'Esja', a beguiling collection of solo piano pieces on Gondwana Records was released to National and international acclaim in April 2019. Rani has also composed the music for her first full length movie "I Never Cry" directed by Piotr Domalewski and for the play "Nora" directed by Michał Zdunik. Her song "Eden" was used as a soundtrack of a short movie by Małgorzata Szumowska for Miu Miu's movie cycle "Women's Tales"
The expansive, cinematic 'Home', finds Rani expanding her palate comapred to "Esja", on which she explored her fasciination with the piano as an instrument. Now, she has added vocals and subtle electronics to her music as well as being joined on some tracks by bassist Ziemowit Klimek and drummer Wojtek Warmijak.

The album reunites her with recording engineers, Piotr Wieczorek and Ignacy Gruszecki (Monochrom Studio) and the tracks were again mixed again by Gijs van Klooster in his studio in Amsterdam and by Piotr Wieczorek in Warsaw (Ombelico and Come Back Home).

Home was mastered by Zino Mikorey in Berlin (known for his work on albums by artists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds).

More information on Bandcamp:

https://haniarani.bandcamp.com/album/home

Cleo Sol - Shine (Single)

Shine (Single)

by Cleo Sol

Released 24 July 2020

Forever Living Originals

*****

Cleo Sol is one of the most distinctive and prolific young voices of UK jazz: her debut album "Rose In The Dark" was released in March and is already one of the best albums of 2020 and she's a vocal mainstay of the amazing SAULT, whose album "Untitled (Black Is)" was released only last month.

Now she had releaed an outstanding new single "Shine": her a sultry, soulful  vocals  floating over reggae-infused, hammod-like organ chords, like a modern-day Sade. She encouragingly sings "Shine, shine your light, the world was made for you, so do what you have to do”. Musically, the new song is a companion piece for "Young Love" from her solo album and a perfect anthem for these painful times.

Julianna Barwick - Healing Is A Miracle

Healing Is A Miracle

by Julianna Barwick

Released 10 July 2020

Ninja Tune

****-

Julianna Barwick opens this relatively brief (33 minute) recording with Inspirit, which sounds like the ebb and flow of a thousand voice choir engaging with a cathedral pipe organ. These elements find direction in Oh, Memory (featuring avant-garde violisist Mary Littlemeore) before the title track Healing Is A Miracle and In Light which features the voice of Sigur Ros mainstay, Jonsi

The transitions between songs are practically seamless as Barwick and her guests alternately build and release the intensity acreoss the suite.

Angelic voices rise from stillness for Safe, which is the opening song of the second half of the record.   At first, this seems to offer complete release from the intensity that preceeded it, but menace soon returns in the fo  rm of echo-chamber vocals and pounding synths  Flowers before, sudddenly, silence again! 

Is this sudden death?

A wash of sounds follows (Wishing Well) and a denoughment, Nod (featuring Nosaj Thing)

Afterlife?

Resurrection?

It's not clear to me what Barwack is trying to express here

There is a danger with this music that it should fall apart and become noything more than white noise. But like Sigur Ros has done so often, Barwick maintans enough meomentum to avoid this fate.

This album has been very well received by the musical critics, 

Andras - Joyful

Joyful

by Andras

Released 31 January 2020

Beats In Space

****-

Reminding me of UK's Four Tet, Andras’ Bandcamp sums it up best: "Joyful is a cornucopic vision rooted in the decay of dance music from one of Australia’s most distinct yet understated musical voices.

Cutting a path through an overgrowth of nostalgia around 70s acid folk and 90s acid house, Joyful is an invitation to till an old garden under a glistening new light".

 

On behalf of Andras, a portion of proceeds from this release will benefit the Invasive Species Council as a part of the ongoing Come! Mend! Initiative.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://andras.bandcamp.com/album/joyful

Kamaal Williams - Wu Hen

Wu Hen

by Kamaal Williams

Released 24 July 2020

Black Focus from Picadilly Records

****-

Kamaal Williams rose to prominence with the hugely acclaimed Yussef Kamaal, alongside drummer Yussef Dayes and, as Henry Wu. a catalogue of 12”s for imprints such as MCDE, Eglo, and Rhythm Section that became essential DJ tools.

In 2018 he launched Black Focus Records and released the ironically titled debut "The Return", which charted in the UK and saw sold out shows and festival appearances across Europe, North America and Asia.

"Wu Hen" ( the nickname his grandma picked out for him when he was little) is Williams' sophomore album that oscillates between celestial jazz, funk, rap and r&b reinforced with the rugged beat-heavy attitude of grime, jungle, house and garage – a self-styled fusion derived under the influence of Coltrane and Hancock, that Kamaal describes as Wu Funk.
Players on this record include:
Greg Paul  (of LA's Kalayst Collective) on drums, Rick Leon James on bass, Quinn Mason on saxophone alongside a vocal feature from Kaytranada collaborator Lauren Faith. Multi-talented renaissance musician Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (who has worked with Ray Charles, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Seu Jorge) contributes signature strings, which add vivid colour and rich depth, evoking vintage David Axelrod.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://kamaalwilliams.bandcamp.com/album/wu-hen

Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink

Disco Voldtor

by The Orielles

Released 28 February 2020

Heavenly Recordings / [PIAS]

****-

The Orielles are a young 4-piece band from Halifex in the UK. Their second album "Disco Volador" (Flying Saucer in Spanish) is a quirky delight that draws on a wide variety of influences and musical styles. 

.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://theorielles.bandcamp.com/album/disco-volador

Yo Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile - Not Our First Goat Rodeo

Not Our First Goat Rodeo

by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile

Released 19 June 2020

Sony Music

*****

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile are each famous performers in their own right:

  • Ma for his various albums spanning world music, folk, classical, classical crossover, cello soloist, chamber music and film scores

  • Duncan for his Nashville bluegrass session output

  • Meyer as bassist and composer in a wide range of musical styles

  • Thile for his work as part of the bluegrass quintet the Punch Brothers - and since 2016, as host of the radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion (which in December 2017 was renamed Live from Here).

Together they create a unique musical fusion that is part composed, part improvised , part bluegrass, part classical, exceptionally well executed and overwhelmingly entertaining.

Not Our First Goat Rodeo is a follow up to this grouping's award-winning 2011 album The Goat Rodeo Sessions,

Both albums feature the voice and artistry of Irish-American singer-songwriter Aoife O'Donovan, best known as the lead singer for the progressive bluegrass/string band Crooked Still .

PS: I understand that the goat rodeo reference comes from an aviation term for a situation in which 100 things need to go right to avoid disaster.

Tio - Black Butterfly (Single)

Black Butterfly (Single)

by Tio

Released 5 June 2020

Tio Bang

*****

Black Butterfly is the first single from Tio’s debut album 'Sorousian', due out late 2020.

It is his first release since his beautiful 2015 EP simply entitled "Tio".

Black Butterfly’ is inspired by city life and Tio’s belief that people should live and work more truthfully. The song asks the audience to rethink their lifestyle’s relationship with nature. Tio says: “The black butterfly is flying, much like our dreams. Many people living in the city dream of a simple life or want to be happy, but the reality is that most are just working to earn money and don’t think about the impact of their work; sometimes we destroy without care for Mother Earth. They’re not actually taking the step to live more in harmony with nature. We know that nature is the source of life - without it we wouldn’t be alive.” Tio hopes this track will make people reconsider the way that we educate the next generations to live an urban life disconnected from nature. With the current situation showing how slowing industry and human movement has positively impacted the environment, there is never a better time to think about nature and our way of life. Tio admits “I don’t have the answer - it's just an idea for us to discuss together.”

More information on Bandcamp:

https://tiobang.bandcamp.com/track/black-butterfly

Pretenders - Hate For Sale

Haste For Sale

by Pretenders

Released 17 July 2020

BMG

****-

.

On Hate For Sale, Chrissie Hynde has called up her touring band and knocked out an impressive album of familiar sounding new songs, all co-written with guitarist James Walborne and driven along by her long time drummer Martin Chambers. She's in fine voice, which is complimented by a clean, no-fuss production but there are no standout songs here to rival Pretenders classics like Brass In Pocket, Back On The Chsin Gang and Stand By You.

Nevertheless, Hynde and Co. make it seem rather effortless as they recapture the sound, if not quite the spirit, of the band in its heyday. 

Hynde has tried other approaches in recent yrears, including 2019's jazzy Valve Bone Woe so a return to "the old firm" was perhaps inevitable. The best songs here are the ballad "You Can't Hurt A Fool", and the title track, but I found it disappointing that the album is not built around two or three absolute bangers. That might have made this an album to extend the band's legacy, rather than to respectfully applaud.

Mansur Brown - Tesudo

Tesuto

by Mansur Brown

Released  9 July 2020

Mansur Brown / Soulection

****-

Mansur Brown releases his three-track EP 'Tesuto.’ The title of the project means “test” in Japanese and Mansur describes the EP as “representative of life and the struggles everyone universally goes through and looking at these obstacles and challenges as tests.” ‘Tesuto’ which spans genres of R&B, hip hop, electronic and ambient. Out now via Soulection records, the independent label and creative hive for worldwide, experimental musicians that was started by the Los Angeles-based DJ collective Soulection.

More information on Bandcamp:

https://mansurbrown2.bandcamp.com/releases

Lady Blackbird - Blackbird (Emma-Jean Thackray Remix)

Blackbird - Emma-Jean Thackray Remix (Single)

by Lady Blackbird & Emma Jean Thackray

Released 28 February 2020

Heavenly Recordings / [PIAS]

****-

I find it impossible to have too much of this song, whether it's the Nina Simone original, the Lady Blackbird remake or the remixes by Foremost Poets and now by UK trumpeter, composer, producer and performer Emma-Jean Thackray.

The lyrics express the struggles and pain of black women by asking the question "Why you wanna fly Blackbird? You aint never gonna fly".

The slow Simone and Lady Blackbird versions each seem resigned to the premise of this tragic outcome of race, class, and gender oppression.

The Foremost Poets shook off the tragedy that is inherent to the song by adding a piano riff sampled from Simone's own single Sinnerman, and sped up the rhythm to an energetic 120bpm. 

Emma-Jean's remix adds a shuffling drum and bass rhythm behind the vocals so that it also swings along at a danceable clip, even leaving room for foray into jazz-salsa fusion section along the way. 

Lady Blackbird - Beware The Stranger

Beware The Stranger (Single)

by Lady Blackbird

Released 24 July 2020

Foundation Music Productions

*****

Beware The Stranger is the second single from Lady Blackbird's imminent new album Black Acid Soul . It's an emotive new interpretation of Voices of East Harlem's 1988 hit Wanted Dead or Alive (and not to be confused with Bon Jovi's 1986 hit of the same name). 

Speaking of the song, Lady Blackbird says:

“When we started working on this song, we thought it would be cool to expand on the choir vibe that’s in the outro of the Voices of East Harlem version. It felt right to do a lyrical gender flip to the tell the story of a powerful woman with this powerful song.”

It's another tantalising teaser ahead of the new album.

Emma-Jean Thackray - Um Yang (Single)

Um Yang

by Emma-Jean Thackray

Released 31 July 2020

Night Dreamer

*****

Amidst a prolific period of creativity propelled by wide recognition as an important part of the UK jazz scene. Emma-Jean Thackray has released Um Yasng, a double-A sided single that features a total of almost 20 minutes of superb contemporary jazz that showcases her extraordinary trumpet skills, backed up by the work of a skillful septet featuring Soweto Kinch and Steam Down’s Wonky Logic, recorded straight to vinyl.

Raised in Yorkshire, Thackray inherited a grounding in Taoism from her father, and approaches her music with the same pursuit of harmony between Um & Yang (the Korean Ying & Yang), balancing melody and rhythm, groove and free improvisation, cerebral and physical. For this one-off recording, Thackray has applied this ideology in every sense, even down to the ensemble itself featuring not one but two percussionists. 

More information on Bandcamp:

https://ejthackray.bandcamp.com/album/um-yang

Actress - 88

88

by Actress

Released 16 July 2020

Bandcamp

****-

88 is a 22-track Bandcamp-only (now also available on YouTube) prequel to the London producer’s highly-anticipated album Karma & Desire. Actress (real name Darren Cunningham) is an electronic music producer who likes to make challenging, cerebral music often in collaboration with other artists, such as London Contemporary Orchestra. 

Actress works similar musical territory to other elusive London artists such as Burial, Floating Points and Joy Orbison, at the experimental outer edges of post-EDM and dubstep, Actress' persona is carefully managed in the tradition of other artists like Banksy and Daft Punk and his website is curated to confuse and amuse, as if by hackers: for example, this album was released as a surprise, initally requiring fans to crack a password for access. it's initial Bandcamp release, Fortunately, the music is of sufficiently high quality that these antics may be taken as bonuses, rather than pretentious gimmicks. This is a fun release, probably bearing little resemblance to the forthcoming Karma & Desire but a welcome and entertaining listen as we wait.

Actress - LAGEOS

LAGEOS

by Actress

Released 25 May 2018

Ninja Tune

****-

Actress' 2018 album LAGEOS is a collaboration with London Contemporary Orchestra, an outfit that frequently performs experimental works and  collaborates with the likes of Jonny Greenwood’s. Actres too has a penchant for the avant-garde, for example by performing a live rendition of Steve Reich’s 1988 work Different Trains.

On LAGEOS the musicians developed a new sonic palette to allow the Orchestra to interpret and compliment the electronica.

The Guardian's critic said: "The album is often upbeat: strings streak in between clattering, fairground rhythms on Galya Beat, while Hubble and N.E.W. are softer, more melodic interpretations of Actress’s previous releases. It is in moments of quiet ambience, though, that Lageos excels, blurring the boundaries between static and harmony on Momentum or between creaking double bass and kick drum on Voodoo Possee, Chronic Illusion. A challenging yet satisfying listen".

Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today

Ultimate Success Today

by Protomartyr

Released 17 July 2018

Domino Recording Co

****-

Protomartyr is a Detroit post-punk quartet (vocals, bass, guitar, drums) formed in 2010 that delivers what they describe as "burly but intelligent" rock music in the classic form, led by the articulate, Nick Cave-like vocals of frontman Joe Casey. Their fourth album, Ultimate Success Today is a wild and satisfying ride, as Casey roils about and against the social and political mire that is the Failed States of America. The band develops a thrashing wall of sound in most songs, alternatively slashed through by searing guitars, or receding momentarily for Casey's vocal delivery. Previously known for its uncompromising form of noise rock, this album included contributions from keybordist Nandi Rose Plunkett, alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, clarinetist Izaak Mills, and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, resulting is a more sophisticated jazz-influenced (though still intimidating and unyielding) sound. 

Shackleton & Zimpel - Primal Forms

Primal Forms

by Waclaw Zimpel, Sam Shackleton

Released 31 July 2020

Cosmo Rythmatic

****-

 

English electronica producer Sam Shackleton and Polish clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel have extensive track records of successful collaborative projects and they united after being introduced by mutual friends due to a shared interest in minimalism and a broad set of influences rooted in different musical traditions.

The set comprises three extended pieces and the artyists complement each other seamlessly throughout.

The title track starts out with a Faust-like beat that is soon moderated upon the arrival of clarinet and develops into a wild landscape of repetitive riffs and rhythms, the influence of Philip Glass evident at times.

Primal Drones develops out of a single extended opening chord that swells, collapses and returns in multiple streams to generate an immersive aural sound-storm.

In the final track Ruined Future Brutal (Edit)  Zimpel's clarinet is free to explore all corners of the sometimes eerie terrain of Shackleton's atonal electro-immagination, similar to his works as Tunes of Negation in his 2019 album Reach The Endless Sea. 

Martcin Wasilewski Trio, Joe Lovono - Arctic Riff

Arctic Riff

by Marcin Wasilewski Trio, Joe Levano

Released 24 July 2020

ECM

****-

Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz first joind up for the Simple Acoustic Trio in the early 1990s before performing as the Tomasz Stanko Quartet with Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko.

From 2008 to 2018, as the Marcin Wasilewski Trio, they released four albums in their own right. They have also collaborated separately or as a trio with many of the biggest names in jazz including Charles Lloyd, Branford Marsalis, Jan Garbarek, John Surman and others. Arctic Riff is their sixth ECM recording and this time they teamed up with celebrated tenor saxophoinist and long time Blue Note recording artist, Joe Levono.  Together thay have produced a narrative set that opens with Glimmer of Hope which opens with the tinkling of high piano but this soon mellows and is joined by Lovono's melifluous saxophone, as if the dawn is breaking across a distant glacier. Then follows the first of two interpretations of Carla Bley's classic Vashkar which is followed by Cadenza, both complex, moody pieces that extend the dreamy, early morning atmosphere. Playful bass lines feature in Fading Sorrow, as if sunlight has begun to penetrate the morning mists, but the creaking of strings and ominous tones of Arco suggest that a chill remains in the air. Now the bluesy Stray Cat Walk lightens the mood with playful sax reminiscent of Mancini and L'amour Fou (Crazy Love) develops into a pacy sax and piano duet. A Glimpse is barely two minutes in duration, but it's a playful  bridge to the return of  Vashkar. Playful piano, sax and percussion follows with On the Other Side before calm descends for the closer, Old Hat, It's as if dusk has now descended, but it seems it's not longer chilly in this Arctic Riff.

This is a thoroughly entertaining and engrossing recording that I'm sure to return to frequently.

As usual, the performances are perfectly recorded under the masterful production of ECM's Manfred Eicher.

Waclaw Zimpel - Ebbing In The Tide

Ebbing In The Tide

by Waclaw Zimpel

Released  31 May 2020

Bandcamp

****-

Ebbing In The Tide is a Bandcamp-only album by Waclaw Zimpel which he describes as a multi-layered ambient exploration of the alto clarinet.


The entirely improvised piece was recorded in one take at Prah Studios in Margate (UK), where Zimpel was artist-in-residence in February 2020. The piece uses advanced processing techniques - developed specially for him by James Holden - to transform a single clarinet line into an other-worldly choir of woodwinds.

This is Zimpel's music at it's clearest, unencumbered by collaborators. His music is visceral, the extended duration of the piece allowing him to establish a complete aural environment and musical narrative.

Sam Shackleton & Tunes of Negation - Reach The Endless Sea

Reach The Endless Sea (2019)

by Tunes of Negation, Sam Shackleton

Released 18 October 2019

Cosmo Rythmatic

****-

With its bizarre cover art, reminsicent of the Dr John or King Crimson album covers of the late 1960's, to its enthralling mix of psychadelia, asian influences and post-dustep production, Reach The Endless Sea it is tempting to approach this album as an indugent exercise in nostalgia. But the soundscapes of this album are built up with intent involving organ, chimes, percussion, synths, vocals and state of the art studio effects to form a heady mix of sounds that sounds at once futuristic and vaguely like a gamelan orchestra. Indeed, although the sounds are often atonal, they are probably more tuneful than the latter and the remnants of Sam Shackleton's past in dubstep make some of these passages quite danceable.

Waclaw Zimpel - Massive Oscillations

Massive Oscillations

by Waclaw Zimpel

Released 31 January 2020

Ongehoord

*****

 

Massive Oscillations is an exceptional album of contemporary compositions that is practically peerless: as brilliant in its way as any of the great German electronic pioneers such as CAN, Gong and Faust.

The 13 minutes of the title track, which opens the album, allows a rapidly repeatingelectronic pulse to modulate gradually and interact with other electronic whirrs and drones, to generate an intense and hypnotic tonal cloud. Eventually, this cloud dissolves and disappears, revealing as it does the sound of Zimpel's native instrument, the clarinet.

It's an engrossing minimilist masterpiece,

Of a similar length, the second track Sine Tapers is carried by a percussive jungle rhythm, above which various electronic drones and sqwarks are released apparently at random, but eventually find musical resolution, again through the ageis of clarinet. Random Odds, the 16 minute centrepiece of this album opens quietly, with low patter of percussion. Once again the musical volume and intensity is gradually increased, making full use of the time and space afforded by the length of the piece. The music is directional, like the scenery and light in a cross country journey, as one drives towards a storm: this is exhilirating music that sweeps the listener up and carries them through the musical storm, but always delivering them back to the safety of silence on the other side.

James Holden & Waclaw Zimpel - Long Week (EP)

Long Weekend (EP)

by Waclaw Zimpel, James Holden

Released 6 March 2020

Border Community Recordings

****-

 

Waclaw Zimpels EP Long Weekend, comprises four tracks: Saturday, Sunday and (surprisingly) Tuesday and Wednesday. It raises the Monday question doesn't it? 

William Zimpel's clarinet is front and centre from the start of Long Weekend but the trance-like structure of these pieces owes just as much to his collaborator, British electronic guru James Holden. Zimpel and Holden are joined by Jakub Ziotek for the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.

Especially during Satur=day and Sunday, this music is often playful, sometimes resembling musical motifs from computer games. The interplay betwwen Zimpels clarinet and Holden's electronica is mesmerising and delightful.

The musical output intensifies as the weekend rolls on, so that Tuesday's and Wednesday's output is more robust and interesting.

By the way, in answer to the obvious, I assume they took they Monday off.

Gordi - Our Two Skins

Our Two Skins

by Gordi

Released 26 June 2020

Liberation Records

****-

Sophie Payten needed a break. In 2017, while still deep in medical exams, she released her debut album Reservoir under the stage name Gordi and fell for another woman virtually at once, right as Australia was landing on a verdict for same-sex marriage. A tumultuous year like that can induce burnout and numbness as easily as it can energize. Payten camped out in her home of Canowindra with two engineers from the first album’s sessions (Bon Iver co-producers Zach Hanson and Chris Messina) for a month of recording. The focus on intimacy makes Our Two Skins a stronger record than her first, with a clearer voice.

Payten and her co-producers recorded with only a handful of instruments, and compared to Reservoir, the results are much cleaner.


Source: Pitchfork

Three Of A Kind|Hildur Guonadottir Soundtracks

JOKER - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Joker

(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

by Hildur Guonadottir

Released 4 October 2019

Warner Bros.

*****

Joker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Iclandic composer Hildur Guonadottir is the original soundtrack album to the 2019 film Joker, based on the DC Comics character of the same name, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, and Frances Conroy. 

This dark, sometimes terrifying music was and essential supplement to Phoenix's portrayal of the Joker character in the movie but may also be appreciated as a sombre, stand-alone cello concerto in its own right.

The score for Joker has won numerous awards, including the Premio Soundtrack Stars Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, a BAFTA Award for Best Original Music, and an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Hildur Cudnadottir - Chernobyl (Music fr

Chernobyl

(Music from the Original TV Series)

by Hildur Guonadottir

Released 31 May 2019

Deutsche Grammophon

*****

The television series was notable for it's depiction of one of the most horrifying events of the post ware era, but it was compelling viewing because it was a disaster movie, a spy movie, a horror movie, a political thriller, and a human drama all in one package, that was able to tell its story without apparent exploitation or disrespect to the victims.

The soundtrack album may be appreciated in its own right. Every sound heard in Guðnadóttir’s extraordinary score was captured from an actual power plant, including pumps, reactors and turbines.

The Icelandic composer captured field recordings at a now-decommissioned plant in Lithuania, where the series was filmed.

Hildur Guonadottir, Johan Johannsen - Ma

Mary Magdalene

(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

by Hildur Guonadottir, Johan Johannsen

Released 23 March 2018

Editions Milan Music

*****

Iclandic musicians and composers Hildur Guonadottir and Johan Johannsen have been frequent collaborators and it was tragic that Johannsen died suddenly, at the age of 49, only three weeks before the release of this soundtrack.

The movie was not a resounding success, however the soundtrack is a masterpiece of such quality that it is likley to be bracketed with Ennio Morricone's The Mission (1986) and Peter Gabriel's Passion (1989) which also eclipsed the films for which they were written.

And like those soundtracks this music is powerful, inspiring and is true to the articulation of each biblical moment.

The intensity of the music increases as this familiar story progresses from sublime early passages (The Mustard Seed, The Dress and Messiah) to the expression of rising tensions (The Goats), the frenzy of Crucifiction, release (End of Journey) and redemption (Resurection).

Celebrate the Life|Ennio Morricone 10Nov1928-6July2020

Ennio Morricone - The Good The Bad The Ugly
Ennio Morricone - The Mission
Ennio Morricone - Cinema Paradiso
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