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YouTube | July 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | July 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Favourites|July2022

Nick Cave - Seven Psalms

Seven Psalms

by Nick Cave

Released 1 July 2022

Goliath Entertainment

****-

Four decades after emerging as the seething frontman of the Birthday Party, Nick Cave has lately been making some of the most challenging and rewarding music of his long career. His recent albums, both with the Bad Seeds and as a duo with his right-hand Seed Warren Ellis, unfold in long contemplative stretches, slashed through occasionally with Cave’s old menace. The song forms have become progressively more open-ended; the narratives more diffuse and dreamlike; the instrumental arrangements softer and blurrier; the subject matter more openly preoccupied with questions of love and death. With each successive release, Cave’s work grows more distant from rock’n’roll and closer to religious music. The religion, admittedly, is an idiosyncratic one, whose high priest may also be its sole practitioner—a songwriter-mystic for whom sex, monsters, and bloodshed are as important as everlasting grace.

In contrast to the grand statements that Cave has produced in this vein, Seven Psalms is a self-consciously minor work. It consists of seven spoken-word pieces of one to two minutes each, with vaporous musical accompaniment from Cave and Ellis, and ends with one longer instrumental that is essentially a medley of the previous backing tracks, incorporating elements from each. The format and release strategy also encourage listeners to think of it as something other than the new Nick Cave album: a limited-edition 10” EP sold via Cave Things, a webstore that Cave has set up to sell art prints, Polaroid photos, T-shirts, and the like—what he calls the “incidental residue” of his creative practice. If he were a visual artist primarily, you might imagine these seven pieces hanging in a small and rushed-through anteroom to an exhibition of this distinct period in his work, included as interesting but inessential context for masterworks like 2021’s Carnage and 2016’s Skeleton Tree.

Cave flirted with spoken word on Carnage, in performances that were rich with drama and irony, taking breaks from his more traditional singing to cajole, plead, and intimidate. On Seven Psalms, the speeches are the main event: The fact there is music playing at all seems largely incidental. Cave is a much more reliable narrator this time around, ditching the previous album’s flashes of mania and hilarity in favor of solemnity and sobriety. You get the sense that this is the real Nick Cave delivering these lines, not some mad-eyed character he’s inhabiting. The music—a blend of synthesizers, gospel-inflected piano, and occasional wordless vocal harmonies, all swathed in heavy reverb—establishes a stately and ceremonious mood and never wavers from it, reinforcing the notion that Cave means what he says.

What he says usually has something to do with God, who seems a benevolent presence, with almost none of the Old Testament wrath that has often characterized His earlier appearances on Cave albums. “And though I have nothing but this prayer/That all will be revealed by and by/I pray someday my Lord you will appear/And lead me to your mansion in the sky,” Cave intones in one representative passage from “I Have Wandered All My Unending Days.” In another, from “I Come Alone and to You”: “I have nowhere left to go but to you, Lord/Breathless, but to you.” And from “I Have Trembled My Way Deep”: “I have stood at the threshold of your wonder/Bid me enter, Lord, allow me to unfold.”

Evaluating Seven Psalms as a pop record is likely beside the point; Cave seems to intend it straightforwardly as a sort of devotional aid. (The physical release comes with a prayer card.) But even if you lack the conviction in a higher power that animates it, you may find yourself moved by the strange beauty of his imagery—God as a stag whose antlers “rake lightning ’cross the sphere,” or a face in the morning mist held in place by the force of the narrator’s prayer—and by his unflagging belief in a goodness that transcends earthly horrors. He addresses the horrors most directly on “Such Things Should Never Happen,” which sketches out two mothers, a human woman and a sparrow, who lose their babies to early death, an unavoidable parallel to the deaths of Cave’s own sons in 2015 and 2022. “Such things should never happen,” goes the grave titular line. “But they do.”

As a Cave fan, it’s easy to miss the sex and monsters and bloodshed—not to mention the songs themselves—when playing Seven Psalms. It’s hard to imagine even the most devoted listeners returning to it regularly. But if anyone has earned the right to a brief and beatific respite, it’s Cave. And for the rest of the faithful: The man has a big catalog. If you want less God and more fucking, you can always listen to Grinderman.

Source: Pitchfork

Areni Agbabian - Bloom

Bloom

by Areni Agbabian

Released 26 April 2022

ECM

*****

Improvising vocalist, folk singer, storyteller, pianist: on her ECM debut Areni Agbabian focuses the range of her skills in music that casts a quiet spell. A sparse music in which voice, piano and the subtle percussion of Nicolas Stocker (last heard on ECM with Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile ensemble), continually shade into silence.  The California-born Agbabian, who came to international attention with the groups of Tigran Hamasyan, draws deeply upon her Armenian heritage, reinterpreting sacred hymns, a traditional tale, a folk melody transcribed by Komitas and more, and interspersing  these elements among her own evocative compositions. 

Areni Agbabian casts a quiet spell with her art, as an improvising vocalist, folk singer, storyteller and pianist. Her voice has been described as “bell-toned” by The Guardian and “lush” by the Los Angeles Times, the music she creates with it “intensely focused, moving toward some kind of hidden truth,” according to The New York Times. Agbabian’s ECM debut, Bloom, has a richness that belies its spare ingredients: just her evocative voice and piano, along with the subtly ingenious percussion of Nicolas Stocker (who was last heard on ECM with Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile ensemble). Born and raised in Los Angeles into an Armenian family, Agbabian came to international attention via performances and recordings with groups led by Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan.

Bloom draws deeply on the singer’s Armenian heritage, as she reinterprets sacred hymns, a traditional spoken-word tale and a dark folk melody transcribed by the great Armenian composer and ethnomusicologist Komitas. She intersperses these among her own vocal and instrumental compositions, which channel a wide world of influences, from Komitas to Tigran Mansurian, from Morton Feldman to George Crumb, from Patty Waters to Kate Bush. The melody that recurs through the highlights “Petal One,” “Petal Two” and “Full Bloom” glows with an aural and emotional purity that’s characteristic of Agbabian’s music.

Bloom was recorded in Lugano in October 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Source: ECM

Ben Marc - Glass Effect

Glass Effect

by Ben Marc

Released 22 April 2022

Innovative Leisure

*****

It’s a rare talent that can link Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke, Afrofuturists Sun Ra Arkestra, and grime legend Dizzee Rascal, but Marc has long blurred musical worlds and criss-crossed boundaries.

One of the reasons that he started writing Glass Effect, says Marc, was going to nightclubs in Ibiza and experiencing the heady sun-dappled euphoria of a summery dancefloor, as well as the beat-driven production of artists like Four Tet, Bonobo, Machinedrum, DJ Shadow, and Madlib.

Producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Marc, who’s emerged as a key figure of London’s cutting edge jazz scene, has just announced his debut full length, a follow up to last September’s widely acclaimed Breathe Suite EP (heralded by NPR, Pitchfork, The Wire, The Guardian, and more).

Glass Effect is an assured and accomplished 13-track realization of a singular vision that unifies a multitudinous profusion of influences (free-jazz, broken beat, hip-hop, electronica and beyond) into a sublime whole, underscoring the evolution of his quest for a distinctive sound: lambent, low-key, and yet dizzyingly intricate.

Source: Bandcamp


‘Glass Effect’ opens with ‘Way We Are.’ The opening riff is reminiscent to the opening theme to Flight Of The Conchords. It’s catchy and jovial, but here it is underpinned by a whirling loop. This is what propels the song forward. It’s slightly moody, but with shards of hope (this is something that Marc will return to throughout). The beat stutters underneath. It’s a fun way of opening the album. It says: “This is going to be a fun ride, but you might feel giddy when you get off.” After two instrumental tracks ‘Dark Clouds’ features Joshua Idehen on vocals. Out of the gates Idehen’s vocals are gruff but welcoming. He lets us know how things are. Some things are OK. Some things aren’t, but Idehen is always honest. The main vocal hook feels more like a mantra than a chorus: “Tomorrow is gonna be better” – it’s a simple message, but it’s effective.

And this is the secret to ‘Glass Effect.’ When Marc keeps things simple, they work incredibly well. When he starts to over complicate things the album starts to sway under its own weighty ideas. ‘Give Me Time’ is an example of this. The backing track feels a bit buys in places. This is remarkable as the instrumentation is sparse, but around the halfway mark there appears to be two rhythms fighting for out attention. A stuttering drumbeat, a hypnotic guitar, and some strings. Over this Judi Jackson sings the chorus “We just need a little more space and time.” It’s a shame Marc didn’t heed his own advice here.
The title track is one of the standout moments on the album. This is another semi-instrumental. The melodies are captivating. The beats whip up a frenzy and the bassline are deep. It reminds me of going to hip-hop nights when there was a live backing band. At some point the MCs would leave the stage and the band would play something instrumental. Then hook would be the beat that the other musicians would riff around, over the through. It didn’t matter what they played, as you were locked into the spectacle of listening to live hip-hop. The same is true here. The music is slightly immaterial. It's all about the musicianship on display. ‘First Batch’ slows things down about. Ceasar C delivers some great bars, but all your attention is on the string section. It’s moody, but all you can concentrate on.

‘Glass Effect’ works best when the music is instrumental and uncomplicated. ‘Jaw Bone’ does this incredibly well. Cascading guitars and scatter shot drumming are the order of the day. Over this some horns solo. Its simple but very clever. When Marc over complicates things, and the album slightly looses its way. Also, the album feels one, or two, songs too long. This might seem like harsh criticism, which is probably is, but trim it down to around 10, or 11, tracks you’d have a much tighter affair. Saying that ‘Glass Effect’ is very playable and benefits from repeat listens. There are layers upon layers of glorious melodies and hooks here; you just need to spend the time to find the ones that work for you.

Source: The Wire

Tumi Mogorosi - Group Theory Black Music

Group Theory: Black Music

by Tumi Mogorossi

Released 8 July 2022

Mushroom Hour & New Soil

*****

Group Theory: Black Music is a stunning new statement from South African drummer and composer Tumi Mogorosi. Standing in the lineage of South African greats such as Louis Moholo-Moholo, Makaya Ntshoko and Ayanda Sikade, Mogorosi is one of the foremost drummers working anywhere in the world, with a flexible, powerful style that brings a distinctive South African inflection to the polyrhythmic tradition of Elvin Jones, Max Roach and Art Blakey.

Since his international debut on Jazzman Records in 2014 with Project ELO, Mogorosi has been in the vanguard of the South African creative music scene’s burgeoning outernational dimension, taking the drummer’s chair in both Shabaka Hutchings’ Shabaka and The Ancestors formation and with avant-garde noiseniks The Wretched.

As Mogorosi’s first project as leader since 2014, Group Theory: Black Music marks a return to the drummer’s musical roots. The sound is anchored in the transnational tradition of Great Black Music, with the core of the group comprising a quintet of newcomers Tumi Pheko (trumpet) and Dalisu Ndlazi (bass) alongside the experienced guitarist Reza Khota, with Mogorosi himself and altoist Mthunzi Mvubu, another Ancestors member, representing the current generation of South Africa’s creative music torchbearers.

Motivated by Mogorosi’s driving dynamism, the group create deep-hued modal grooves that burn with a contemporary urgency, while established pianist Andile Yenana brings an elder voice to three of the tracks. Featured vocalists Gabi Motuba (Project ELO, The Wretched) and Siyabonga Mthembu (The Brother Moves On) take differing approaches to the spiritual standard ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’, while poet Lesego Rampolokeng pours out lyrical fire on ‘Where Are The Keys?’, creating a bridge back to the Black Consciousness movement and figures such as Lefifi Tladi and Wally Mongane Serote.

But where Group Theory: Black Music moves an established format dramatically forward is in the addition of a ten-person choir. Conducted by Themba Maseko, their massed voices soar powerfully above every track as a collective instrument of human breath and body, and enter the album into the small but significant number of radical recordings to have used the voice in this way, such as Max Roach’s "It’s Time", Andrew Hill’s "Lift Every Voice", Billy Harper’s "Capra Black", and Donald Byrd’s "I’m Trying To Get Home". At the same time, the presence of this wall of voices brings an inextricable connection to the venerable tradition of South African choral music, and to the importance that the Black choir has had for South Africa’s religious, political and social cultures, including the culture of South African creative music itself. From the Manhattan Brothers and the choral compositions of Todd Matshikiza to figures such as Johnny Dyani and Victor Ndlazilwane, the collective power of voice has been one of the cornerstones of improvised creative music in the country.

‘I started out in a choir’, says Tumi, as he reflects on the significance of Black voices in concert. ‘There’s this idea of mass, of a group of people gathering, which has a political implication. And the operatic voice has both a presence, and a capacity to scream, a capacity for affect. The instrumental group can sustain the intensity of that affect, and the chorus can go beyond improvisation, toward communal melodies that everyone can be a part of.’

This potential for communality in the music swings close to Group Theory’s conceptual centres of gravity. The title refers to the mathematical theory of the same name, the essentials of which concern the axioms that make a simple set of items into a true mathematical group – associativity, closure and an identity element. These mathematical ideas offered Mogorosi a metaphorical platform for thinking about the way that individual players in a musical unit are also bound together at the moment of creation, in a unity that begins to challenge the individual and complicates conventional ideas of leadership and hierarchy. In bringing experienced musicians such as Yenana and Khota into the orbit of younger players, Mogorosi also wants to re-orientate the idea of teacher-student relations toward a more open vision of intergenerational knowledge sharing. ‘We are looking for questions, not answers’, he says.

Mogorosi’s overarching vision on Group Theory: Black Music is encapsulated by the touchstone quotation from Amiri Baraka – ‘New Black Music is this: Find the self, then kill it.’ For Mogorosi, these words speak to an essential feature and function of Black creative and improvised art – the search for the point where individual boundaries collapse into the universal ongoing flow of the music, at the moment of group creation. This flow is not local, it is transglobal, and it joins the music of the diaspora with Africa, allowing connections and relations to range across historic and contemporary spaces of struggle, self-determination and transformation. Such effects are also transtemporal, dropping deep down into the wells of history to bring forth sounds from the present and future, and allowing the music to burrow back into the past. As Baraka’s words imply, the individual cannot escape this search unchanged, and the creative musician does not desire to: in the time of its creation, New Black Music intends to flow into and through the performers from sources beyond them. The writer of a song is never the only author; the soloist always speaks for others; the leaders are never one but a host of many. Previous times and places, previous performances and compositions, previous souls and struggles are always made manifest in the music; the search for the inner self is also a quest to dissolve the individual into the living soundways of those who came before and those who will come after. ‘The album is under my name,’ says Tumi, ‘but the ideas aim at a decentring of the individual composer or author, and a a decentring of the idea of the “leader” – it tries to encapsulate the idea of a group effect, to go beyond the point of origin, and it refuses geo-specific narratives.’

South African creative and improvised music, with its nomadic history of journeys between the US, Europe and South African, has always been exemplary of these ongoing processes, and it is fitting that Group Theory: Black Music should itself be the result of an international collaboration. Starting from a shared vision and understanding of the parallels between the music being made in their respective countries, South African label Mushroom Hour Half Hour and London based label New Soil were able to pool their resources to support Tumi’s large-scale creative vision for this project and enable it to find the global audience it seeks and deserves. 

Musicians:

Andile Yenana – piano [tracks 4,5,9 & 11]
Dalisu Ndlazi – upright bass
Gabi Motuba - vocals [track 10]
Lesego Rampolokeng – vocals [track 11]
Mthunzi Mvubu – alto saxophone
Reza Khota – electric guitar
Siya Mthembu - vocals [track 5]
Tumi Mogorosi - drums
Tumi Pheko – trumpet

Voices:
Brenda Thul, Cecilia Phetoe, Charles Shikwambana, Fortunate Jwara, Noluthando Biyana, Sibongile Mollo, Steve Mthombeni, Tebogo Magwe, Themba Maseko - conductor, Thulisile Ntetha

Source: Bandcamp

Gard Nilssen Unity - Elastic Wave

Elastic Wave

by Gard Nilssen Unity

Released 15 July 2022

ECM

****-

Drummer Gard Nilssen’s ECM leader debut follows acclaimed recordings for the label with the Maciej Obara Quartet. Elastic Wave presents Nilssen’s powerful trio with fellow Norwegian André Roligheten on reeds and Swedish bassist Petter Eldh (recently heard with Kit Downes). The group’s dynamic interaction, dancing sense of pulse and boldly etched themes – all three players contribute compositions – make Acoustic Unity one of the most engaging bands on the circuit today, able to address fiery anthems and poignant ballads with equal panache and conviction.  Elastic Wave was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in June 2021

Nilssen is one of Europe’s most creative improvising drummers, with a fresh approach to rhythm and freedom.

On ECM, he has appeared on acclaimed recordings with the Maciej Obara Quartet (Unloved, Three Crowns) and with Mathias Eick (Skala). Now Elastic Wave presents the Norwegian musician’s powerhouse trio, Acoustic Unity. Dynamic interaction, a swinging sense of pulse and boldly etched themes – all three players contribute compositions – are among the defining attributes of a group that addresses fiery anthems and poignant ballads with panache and conviction.
The group’s stylistic flexibility is rooted in shared experience. Nilssen and saxophonist/clarinettist André Roligheten grew up together in their hometown of Skien in Norway’s Telemark region. In 2005 they encountered Swedish bassist Petter Eldh inside a “Nordic large ensemble for young musicians” directed by Django Bates, and found an immediate rapport. In 2014, after diverse collaborations, Nilssen, Roligheten and Eldh came together as a trio, and have since toured widely. Elastic Wave is the trio’s fourth album, following releases on Clean Feed and Odin.

Source: ECM

Kathryn Joseph - for you who are the wronged

for you who are the wronged

by Kathryn Joseph

Released 22 April 2022

Rock Action Records

****-

For her third album, Scottish songwriter Kathryn Joseph compacts her sound and narrows her focus to write about – and write for – people who are being hurt by other people. The album’s title is also its dedication. Taped over a single week in the Highlands, for you who are the wronged is Joseph’s barest, most disciplined and minimal collection so far.

It’s not as if Kathryn Joseph’s music was ever sonically busy, per se. But now it feels as if she’s emptying out the vessel of layered music altogether, to leave as much vacuum as she possibly can. That way, atmosphere and lyrics have primacy and fill the space. So, for you who are the wronged is a solo album in almost the purest sense: unadorned piano, voice, and a singularity of purpose. The seething, sometimes overwhelming statements-in-song become what you breathe in.

Joseph’s chiming, old-fashioned electric piano sound is very specific and she fully exposes it. Even when production augmentation is audible, it is still subtle. A hint of distortion, or a gentle, low-end rhythmic underpinning. These could be deliberate studio effects, or equally the capturing of body movement Joseph makes as she performs. There is an organic physicality in the music.

Not until track three ‘only the sea would save them’ comes a multi-tracked vocal. Next, ‘how well you are’ is the first time one clearly discerns any additional arranged layers. ‘the harmed’ has its faint glitchy loop that could be mistaken for crackling vinyl. But that’s basically it, beyond the electric piano and the singer. Like, as if the music must be a scaffolding rather than a solid building, so nothing inside can be hidden. It’s airy, yet can be profoundly claustrophobic. I suspect I’m writing about keyboards and production in order to put off diving into the subject matter.
Burning even when lyrically abstract, for you who are wronged is seared through with moments of abuse and hurt and unbalanced relationships derailed by cruelty. Somehow Joseph is able to place luminescent anger and generous humanity in sync, as parallel backbones of the record. This isn’t a first person survivor’s self-empowerment jam, though. It’s more of a gift: a witness testimony, in the service of caring for people, presumably real-life people Joseph knows, who are trying to navigate abusive situations. She captures the piercing clarity of vision that occurs when you are a third party – likely powerless – angry on behalf of someone you care for.

I find myself contrasting Joseph’s ‘companion of the survivor’ perspective to the more direct storytelling in Lucy Dacus’ brilliant song ‘Thumbs’. Yet we’re murkier and more menaced here, stretched over a bigger canvas, both in music-making and in narrative. That doesn’t mean the lyrics are over-specific, or even particularly precise in their narrative drive. The imagery is more important – and more potent – than pinning down a story. Taken as a whole, for you who are the wronged has that sense of a spiritual, supportive kind of a witnessing, rather than documentation. Helplessness and the act of helping melt together.

Musically, there are some parallels with another album I reviewed for tQ not so long ago, Keeley Forsyth’s Limbs. They’re both quiet and dark and beautiful, using intense, intimate vocal work for their impact. But where Forsyth’s work has a compositional coolness that leans hard on itself as ‘art’, these Kathryn Joseph songs are just fucking raw and brutal as shit – and all about the subject.

Joseph has disguised a collection that could’ve easily been presented in a more conventional pop way. Because it’s not dissonant or ‘progressive’ (whatever that means) – there is immediacy and melody. So, ‘how well you are’ just about hints at nineties balearic rave rhythms (yeah, it does). Stick a beat on it and ‘of all the broken’ could be a Billie Eilish smash.

In the end, Joseph’s confounding, exquisite voice aside, the musical emptiness isn’t experimental, nor sonically disconcerting: rather, its unadorned nature just keeps the songs constantly listenable, and re-listenable, despite its sheer heaviness. She’s not holding us at arm’s length, even if the horror within this record might do that. Carefully, she avoids alienation.

One of the purest, most ferocious, most generous albums I’ve heard. A simple offering, and an outright masterpiece of emptiness and full-to-bursting-ness at the same time

Source: The Quietus

Anteloper - Pink Dolphins

Pink Dolphins

by Interloper

Released 17 June 2022

International Anthem

*****

“We’re both coming out of punk!” says jaimie branch of herself and Jason Nazary, the duo known as Anteloper, in the album notes to Pink Dolphins. It’s not a statement that one generally associates with a free jazz trumpeter and a drummer/electronics wizard, but it’s impossible to miss the punk spirit on the duo’s third album. Even its most heavily produced moments capture a sense of rawness.

The energy is even more unexpected given the surface aspects of the album. The album’s title, its psychedelic-cartoon cover (by branch), and its track titles—all related to an alternate, aquatically based perspective of the world—suggest something precious.

The actual music couldn’t be further from that. Take, for example, its shortest track, the three-and-a-half minute “Baby Bota Halloceanation.” The horn, drums, and producer/guest musician Jeff Parker’s bass and keyboards all drip with weird reverb. Instead of softening the impact, however, the effects heighten the aggression. The result is something like a rock guitar on maximum volume and overdrive. branch’s trumpet is harder, denser, more directly in your face, Nazary’s angry cymbals seem to grow razor-sharp edges, while Parker’s contributions remain subtle and unobtrusive, and in the process create an underlying sense of menace. If there’s something psychedelic afoot (and there is), it’s not so much the candy-colored utopia of the Grateful Dead as the dark labyrinths of Miles Davis’s early fusion era.

That’s not an accidental comparison. Both branch and Nazary consider electric Miles to be a touchstone in their music, along with contemporary electronica and hip-hop. (The instrumental second half of “Earthlings” would work perfectly as the background of a rap track.) Nobody would have called Miles “punk” either, but his casual flipping of the bird to convention and his willingness to alienate his most devout disciples make the comparison hard to avoid. Anteloper channels his vibe in other respects, too—like his use of African music elements, which manifest here in percussionist Chad Taylor’s mbira playing on “Delfin Rosado.” Its wind-chime-like timbre has a softer feel than anything else on Pink Dolphins; still, something about its relentless repetitions in Taylor’s hands makes it feel as defiant and forthright as everything surrounding it.

It’d be a mistake, though, to pin Pink Dolphins too close to Miles’s fusion records. They’re a reference point; the trudging yet pulsating, ambient yet abrasive “One Living Genus” is a sound that no one but Anteloper could make. Nor is it correct that there’s no semblance of refinement in their playing. In particular, branch’s singing (which she introduced on her 2019 album Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise) shows some new polish and control when she plies it on “Earthling.” Perhaps the takeaway is that growing as an artist need not mean mellowing.

 

Anteloper are:

Jaimie Branch - trumpet, electronics, percussion, vocals

Jason Nazary - drums, synths
Jeff Parker - guitar, bass guitar, percussion, Korg MS-20
Chad Taylor - mbira (track 2)
 

Source: Bandcamp Daily

Soccer96 - Inner Worlds

Inner Worlds

by Soccer96

Released 6 May 2022

Moshi Moshi Records

*****

We’ve been reflecting on the relationship between our innerworlds and outerworlds,” says Soccer96’s Danalogue. “How our minds shape our experience and our experience shapes our mind. How caring and nurturing our innerworlds can improve our relationship with our outer experiences. We see the creation of music as the bridge between these two worlds.”

Betamax, who makes up the duo along with fellow Comet is Coming member Danalogue, describes their latest album as “spiritual combat music to steady us through the stormy changes of the outer world.”

Part of the process of exploring these innerworlds is to better navigate the future. “Through journeying into the innerworld with courage, we hope to prepare ourselves for a safe journey into uncertain futures,” says Danalogue. “To move positively into the future we will need co-operation, so we also wanted to celebrate the connections to our wider community by collaborating with other artists.” For this album the pair co-wrote with The Colours That Rise, Tom Herbert, Salami Rose Joe Louis, Simbad and Rozi Plain.

The result is an album that contains the key foundational sounds the pair have worked up over the years but embellished and pushed into new terrain by the input of the collaborators. Danalogue describes the approach as “self-organised egalitarian collaboration. There’s a beauty in people working together towards a common goal, and in the trust that we give each other to serve the group as a whole.”

Source: Bandcamp

Fresh Pepper - Fresh Pepper

Fresh Pepper

by Fresh Pepper

Released 17 June 2022

Telephone Explosion Records

****_

Fresh Pepper is the team of André Ethier, former leader of Toronto garage rockers the Deadly Snakes, and Joseph Shabason, a saxophonist who’s played on records from bands like the War On Drugs and Austra. Shabason is also a big part of past Destroyer records, including Kaputt.

Fresh Pepper’s sound is woozy, jazz-flavored weirdo adult contemporary, not too terribly far removed from what Destroyer did on Kaputt, and it’s specifically based around Ethier and Shabanson’s experiences working in Toronto’s food and hospitality industries.

Fresh Pepper playfully navigates the mental and emotional mark left on many musicians by such places. Their self-titled debut is less concerned with their service-industry traumas, doldrums, and setbacks than it is with creating a relatable space for album’s contributors to fully be themselves within the ease and freedom of having similar histories. Shabason, Ethier, and company (Robin Dann, Kieran Adams, Felicity Williams, Thom Gill & Bram Gielen) recount their culinary past lives across eight jazzy and benevolent tracks that exude their authors’ sheer enjoyment of the creation process. Though the mental image of restaurant inner workings might trigger a mix of urgency, weariness, and yearning for a better livelihood, Fresh Pepper recolors these frazzled scenes with fondness and levity, exorcizing past workplace woes through skillful musicianship and an earnest, slightly bizarre sense of humor.

From the very beginning moments of Fresh Pepper, Shabason and Ethier guide their companions (a sort of super group of Toronto musicians from acts like Bernice, Beverly Glenn Copeland, and even Destroyer’s Dan Bejar himself) with breathy, hushed tones via saxophone and vocals respectively, casually traversing their own annexed corridor between smooth jazz, exploratory avant-indie, and subverted adult-contemporary.
 

Source: Bandcamp

Jack White - Entering Heaven Alive

Entering Heaven Alive

by Jack White

Released 22 July 2022

Third Man Records

*****

Calling Entering Heaven Alive the acoustic counterpart to Fear of the Dawn, the album it follows by a mere three months, isn't quite accurate even if this designation illustrates the divide between the two records.

Where Fear of the Dawn is coiled, nervy, and tense, an explosion of paranoia and dread, Entering Heaven Alive is quieter and contemplative -- the music that arrives after the dawn, as it were. Jack White does pluck and strum an acoustic guitar throughout Entering Heaven Alive, sometimes conjuring ghosts of the softest White Stripes moments, but the arrangements on the album are detailed, spirited, and, in their own way, as adventurous as their counterparts on Fear of the Dawn.

Witness "All Along the Way," the second song on the record: it begins as a hushed folk tune and then takes a left turn toward prog-reggae on its bridge. The album is filled with little moments like that: the stiff funk of "I've Got You Surrounded (With My Love)" slowly, surely gets jazzier as it crawls on, while the mellow melancholy pop of "If I Die Tomorrow" cascades to a Baroque crescendo. These are surrounded by sly stylistic excursions, such as the plaintive, skeletal ballad "Love Is Selfish," the old-timey shuffle "Queen of the Bees," and "Taking Me Back (Gently)," which flips the frenzied Fear of the Dawn opener into a ragtime shuffle.

The musical range is remarkable yet not flashy: the detours and rambles all feel as if they stem from a natural stream of consciousness. Entering Heaven Alive feels of a piece with White's previous work, yet the ideas are synthesized and executed in fresh, inventive ways, suggesting that the ungainly Boarding House Reach was indeed a transitionary album to allow him to do music that's as relaxed and vibrant as this.

Source: AllMusic

Florist - Florist

Florist

by Florist

Released 29 July 2022

Double Double Whammy

*****

In 2018, Emily Sprague was newly based in Los Angeles, far from bandmates, when she recorded Florist's third album, the grieving Emily Alone. By the time it was eventually released in the middle of 2019, Sprague had moved back to New York, reunited with bandmates Jonnie Baker, Rick Spataro, and Felix Walworth, and rented a house in the Hudson Valley to record Florist's next endeavor. Tracked mostly on the property's screened-in front porch, the resulting Florist LP is an intimate, communal, often improvisatory, borderline environmental album that, with its ten songs and nine instrumentals, transcends form, notions of authenticity, and expectation.

Sparse and quiet throughout its nearly hour-long playing time ... with all the bandmembers credited on synths and three on guitars, it's never really obvious who is playing what here. But it doesn't seem to matter on an album so moving, immersive and mysterious, organic and otherworldly. Sprague and her bandmates hanging out on a porch upstate managed to make a record that delivers simple songs, artful sound exploration, deep emotions, and comfort all at once.

Source: AllMusic

Raffy Bushman - E Minor String Quintet + Rhythm (EP)

E Minor String Quintet + Rhythm (EP)

by Raffy Bushman

Released 29 July 2022

Bridge The Gap x New Soil

*****

Raffy Bushman's "E Minor String Quintet + Rhythm" is a fresh new selection of original contemporary classical compositions that update the very idea of classical music to encompass contemporary music.

Speaking in a YouTube documentary for the piece, the artist says: "I think this piece is as much contemporary classical music as anything else out there. I’m using classical music competition structures. I use counterpoint and functional harmony along with jazz stuff and yeah, I'm using a rhythm section. But all my favourite composers - and I'm not just talking, like, Stravinsky, but talking Bach, Beethoven, Mozart - they were in touch with the dance rhythms of their time because they knew that all the best music is first a visceral experience (meaning that you like it instinctively when you hear it) and then an intellectual experience (meaning that when you look more closely and analyse it, it makes sense).

A lot of contemporary classical music I'm hearing nowadays is a thinking exercise. And if I have to think about whether I like something, I'm pretty sure I don't like it."

Bushman's autobiographical candor and his views on classical music and it's accessibility, are as interesting and enlightening as his music.

Source: raffybushman.com

Ego Ella May - Fieldnotes

Fieldnotes | Fieldnotes II

by Ego Ella May

Released 15 October 2021 | 8 March 2022

Ego Ella May

*****

We are all moving in slow motion still, after well, you know. Ego Ella May (pronounced “Eh-go”), the British-Nigerian mood enhancer-by way of voice, pen, and whatever else resides in that Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year tool bag she uses.

That raspy vox humana never gets raised past 6. It compels listenership, believers in love, and classic/modern soul philosophers, to get real close and cozy. Hanging on to those vibes, feeling, chi, energy—she uses it all in the slowest of spurts to generate this endearing hopefulness. And that’s really cool. I like my good vibes to last; more bang for your better day, you know? It’s a get-down I can function with these days.

Fieldnotes, Pt II, the second part to this peerless hangout, could really give a damn about a pandemic. May is in her element, fashioning that jazz and contemporary R&B pastiche into full-on Soulquarian territory. Nothing but neo-soul patina backing up whimsical, breathless articulation. Living in that easy pace tempo for the wondrous enunciation dorks who want to know exactly what this wordsmith is putting in the air. Let me condense the succinct: She’s been through it. And still chooses up over down. As admirable as that may be, on Fieldnotes II, Ego Ella May—while deeply personable about her rendezvouses with tenderness and connection—operates from her own rule book. Win or lose.

“Introvert Hotline” deals out the Badu meets Yazmin Lacey attitude so desperately needed in order to control a situation. May is in for a new change, a positive one, but it’s on her terms. “The introvert hotline, nobody’s answered in a while, the only rule, don’t call me, I’ll text you” is voiced with a smirk, but it’s real as supply chain shortages. Don’t test it. “Centered” takes all the likes and retweets without troll number one. Built off this swoony R&B audio verse, May talks about her partner being all she could want. The girl can’t help but brag cause the catch seems to complete her. Sorry, Jerry Maguire, it fit.

Who knew such a cliched plight had the stuff of posey mysticism. Ego knows her influences cold and pays proper respect to them while making a great song extend deep into vaulted earworm districts. It’s a masterstroke of appreciation by way of musicianship. In referencing Joni Mitchell’s “Centerpiece”, from the immortal 1975 Hissing of Summer Lawns, the song infuses new interpretations by way of millennial inventiveness to transpose Joni’s chorus into the stuff of elysian rapture. Way beyond a mood, it’s a slo-mo head nod sesh anybody could rock with.

Fieldnotes ll comprises five tracks. In some others handling it might seem truncated, like a quick-holdover until some full album appears. We all know it was pandemic created. But if you’re familiar with the resume, remember the Honey For Wounds debut, netting the “Best Jazz Act” award at the 2020 MOBO Awards, May creates languid projects that you can’t help but return to incessantly. This second edition, a densely packed EP, operates like your fave weighted blanket, you just can’t get enough of due to its ability to cover you up, from nose to foot.

Source: Treblezine

HAAi - Baby, We're Ascending

Baby, We're Ascending

by HAAi

Released 1 July 2022

Sub Pop Records

****-

Baby, We're Ascending couldn't be a more fitting title for HAAi's debut full-length. The Australian-born producer and DJ's rise has been stratospheric since her first tracks appeared in 2017, and she already scored an Essential Mix of the Year, released several acclaimed EPs, and became a festival mainstay by the time her first album arrived in 2022. Her music constantly feels like it's in a state of elevation, and even when she experiments with fragmented sound design and abstract textures, the tracks always lock into a steady propulsion and head for a blissful, enlightened state, re-creating the rush of tuning into an amazing pirate radio broadcast or finding euphoria at a generator-powered rave deep in the woods. Attempting to put these feelings into words, HAAi's album features more vocals than her previous recordings. "Human Sound" begins with freewheeling poetic verse by Kai-Isaiah Jamal before HAAi takes over with her own ecstasy-seeking lyrics. "Biggest Mood Ever" deviates from HAAi's signature 140 BPM pound, instead laying slow thumps with faster, ricocheting breaks, as heavenly strings swell around Alexis Taylor's heavily reverbed vocals. "Purple Jelly Disc" (with Obi Franky) is HAAi's version of a peak-time banger, with pitched-down samples instructing the listener to "have the time of your life" sliced among the slamming beats, and then it all reaches a higher level with the refrain "It's a feeling I just can't escape." The album's title track, co-produced by another master of consciousness-expanding dance music, Jon Hopkins, rockets through the clouds, yet HAAi's vocals are coolly elated and entirely free of stress or earthly concerns. After extending the moment with the lengthy instrumental "Orca," "Tardigrade" is a comedown in the form of a post-industrial ballad. Even with volatile, crunching beats, the song still feels relaxing due to its airy synths and assuring vocals. Adding to an already impressive list of achievements, HAAi's first full-length is a stunner.

Source: AllMusic

Hatis Noit - Aura

Aura

by Hatis Noit

Released 24 June 2022

Erased Tapes Records

****-

Hatis Noit is a Japanese vocal performer hailing from distant Shiretoko in Hokkaido, who now resides in London.

Hatis Noit's accomplished range is astonishingly self-taught: inspired by everything she could find from Gagaku (a style of Japanese classical music), operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chanting, to avant-garde and pop vocalists. 

"Words cannot describe everything we feel. How can one accurately verbalise the sensation we feel when we’re a newborn and our mother holds us in her arms, and we feel her skin on our cheek. We clearly feel her warmth and humidity, some feeling of love from her, but it’s tough to verbalise it perfectly. Music is a language that can translate that sensation, feeling, the memory of love.” - Hatis Noit
There isn’t a more unique entry into a musical journey than that of Japanese voice artist Hatis Noit.
Her musical awakening took place at the tender age of sixteen during a trek to Buddha's birthplace in Nepal. One morning when staying at a women’s temple she came across a female monk singing Buddhist chants whose otherworldly sounds moved her so intensely that she was instantly aware of the visceral power of the human voice; a primal and instinctive instrument that connects us to the very essence of humanity, nature and our universe. From that moment she knew singing was her calling.
The album title Aura was inspired by the German philosopher Walter Benjamin who used this term to describe the fundamental essence of art, which he believed is strongest in its original form, only happening once. Hatis agrees with this particular aspect as she realised, “during the pandemic, I really struggled. As a singer, I’m not very good at working on the computer. I much prefer doing live performances in physical spaces. Being with people, sharing the same space with them and feeling the atmosphere and energy of that moment, inspires me every time. To me, art is that — that shared moment.”
The gravitas of the pandemic caused Noit to look inwards and reflect. This resulted in the album becoming a remedy for what was going on in the world and ultimately to remember the joys and richness of life. Hatis adds to this sentiment, “we cannot live forever, do everything or be everywhere. But that makes our lives unique and invaluable. I wanted to be focused on our limitations and show how precious life is.”
The name Hatis Noit itself is taken from Japanese folklore, meaning the stem of the lotus flower. The lotus represents the living world, while its root represents the spirit world, therefore Hatis Noit is what connects the two. For Hatis, music represents the same netherworld with its ability to move and transport us to the other side; the past, a memory, our subconscious.
Through the opening piece ‘Aura’, which shares its title with the album, she revokes a haunting memory of getting lost in a forest in her birthplace Shiretoko, Hokkaido. “I felt as if I was close to my death, I could feel myself dissolving into and becoming a part of nature rather than just being an individual. This sense of awe and peace found there is always the place where I start making music from,” she remembers.

Years of perfecting her craft via live performances led her to the creation of this debut album which follows on from the introductory 2018 EP, Illogical Dance. An autodidact with an impressive range, Noit is inspired by Gagaku — Japanese classical music — folk music, operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chanting, as well as avant-garde and pop vocalists to create her inimitable style. Hatis creates wordless music, unique song worlds with transcendent vocal interpretations of epic proportions — most evident on ‘Jomon’ where she channels the fierce, dynamic energy and power of prehistoric culture during Japan’s Jomon period.
Astonishingly all songs on this record were created using her voice only. The single exception being ‘Inori’ for which she took a field recording of the ocean only one kilometre away from the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Hatis Noit had been invited there for a memorial ceremony which marked the re-opening of the area for local people to return to their homes. The emotive and compassionate song is dedicated to the lives lost due to 2011’s tsunami, but equally to the many beautiful memories people have of their hometown.
The album was recorded in Berlin where Noit laid down her vocals in just eight hours, before the pandemic forced her and producer Robert Raths to stay local and mix it in East London, which led to working with a new collaborator: engineer Marta Salogni. Between lockdowns it was decided to take the recordings and reamplify them in a local church to bring them closer to that moment of live performance. “It was almost like a miracle when Robert came up with the idea. That was the moment that changed everything for the album as the physical space with its organic ambience brought everything to life,” Hatis Noit recalls.
An important part of her practice and something she missed dearly during lockdown, her impressive live performances have included headline and festival shows across Europe, including a sold-out London show accompanied by the London Contemporary Orchestra at Southbank Centre, a special live performance at Milan Fashion Week and she was also invited by the revered director David Lynch to perform at his Manchester International Festival takeover in 2019. Her collaborations have seen her work with Kevin Richard Martin aka The Bug, the NYX Electronic Drone Choir and she appeared on recordings by fellow countryman Masayoshi Fujita as well as Ukrainian pianist and Continuous Music pioneer Lubomyr Melnyk. 

Source: Bandcamp

Naima Bock - Giant Palm

Giant Palm

by Naima Bock

Released 1 July 2022

Sub Pop Records

****-

The roots of Naima Bock’s music are far reaching. Born in Glastonbury to a Brazilian father and a Greek mother, Naima spent her early childhood in Brazil before eventually returning to England and various homes in South-East London. This heritage combines with more recent pursuits in Naima’s music; from the Brazilian standards that the family would listen to driving to the beach, to the European folk traditions she tapped into on her own, and the pursuits that interest her today – studies in archaeology, work as a gardener, and walking the world’s great trails – Naima’s music draws from family, the earth and the handing down of music through generations.

Naima’s debut album Giant Palm is undoubtedly infused with the Brazilian music of her youth and regular family visits. She found inspiration in “the percussion, the melodies, chords - and particularly the poetic juxtaposition of tragedy and beauty held within the lyrics”. By the age of 15 Naima was embedded in the music scene of South-East London, slotting into a group of like-minded friends writing and playing music. This led to the creation of Goat Girl, the band she toured the world with playing bass and singing alongside her school friends. After six years, Naima decided to leave Goat Girl to try something new. In the intervening years she set up a gardening company and started a degree at University College London in archeology because, as she jokes, “I liked being near the ground”. During this time she was writing music, playing guitar, and learning violin. She was also introduced to producer and arranger Joel Burton through Josh Cohen and his label, Memorials of Distinction. Over the time he and Naima worked together, Joel’s burgeoning interest in Western Classical music, global folk music, experience in large scale arrangement and orchestration informed the collaborative process that eventually culminated in Giant Palm.

Naima had been writing songs for years without any strong idea of where to take them. However, over a gradual process of rehearsing and performing with Joel, the compositions began to settle into something more concrete. It wasn’t until restrictions began to ease post- lockdown that they were able to focus on getting the songs finished and recorded. Fortunately, Dan Carey of Speedy Wunderground offered his spare studio space in Streatham, in south east London, free of charge. Informed by a desire to create music that was considered and intentional, they spent the month leading up to the recording expanding the arrangements, to be performed by a large and varied group of musicians - with Joel scoring parts and recording the synth and electronic elements in advance. Once they managed to schedule slots for the more-than 30 musicians on the record - the expansive yet delicate arrangements were brought to life and captured with the help of engineer Syd Kemp.

Naima loves the collective voice of traditionals that belong to everyone. She’s recently found a home for this passion in her role in the ever-shifting line-up of South-London folk collective Broadside Hacks, but it’s long been a way for her to explore her own artistry. She learned to play guitar and violin through these songs, but she also found her voice in them. “All the other representations that I’d had of singing felt so unattainable” she recalls, but in folk music she found that singing can take on so many forms without the need to exactly replicate something. Here, qualities that make her voice unique were able to flourish. This is present all through her music, as well as a feeling of community and the sharing of ideas.

Written over the space of years, each of Naima’s songs represents a snapshot of a specific feeling, of brief moments in Naima’s life that make up a larger whole. “I never change lyrics” she says, “even if I don’t relate to them anymore, I related to them once which means someone else could, somewhere”. Whether that’s in the playful humour of ‘Campervan’, the peaceful exhale of ‘Giant Palm’ or in the darker moments like in the stark, self-critical honesty of ‘Every Morning’, whatever the form it’s always laid bare.

There’s also a feeling of clarity to the songs, which Naima largely credits to the fact that many of them were written while walking. She finds inspiration in the meditative and revealing nature of long walks with a fixed but far-off destination. “There’s a stripping away that takes place”, she says, the slowing of thoughts by the rhythm of walking is often to thank for the sharp focus of her lyrics. Be that during a period of three years where she would return to Spanish pilgrimage network Camino de Santiago for weeks at a time, or simple hours spent in the English countryside. 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Quinn Oulton - Alexithymia

Alexithymia

by Quinn Oulton

Released 27 May 2022

DeepMatter Records

*****

‘Alexithymia’ is a deconstruction of the struggle that many young men face when processing and expressing strong emotions. It takes the form of a linear story, pieced together from many moments of emotional intensity Quinn has faced throughout his life, existing within all types of personal relationships. This is a project that sees the stylistic and textural experimentation from his previous work fuse into a powerfully creative, personal and emotive sound. It includes tracks featuring Moses Boyd and Genevieve Artadi.

Speaking on the album, Quinn said "My album ‘Alexithymia’ dissects events from different relationships, whether family, friends or romantic, presented as a single story from start to finish. Obsession, frustration, passion, false hope, grief, self-pity, helplessness, and acceptance are all part of this story.

I wrote it in this way because I was trying to work out why I connect so much with sad or melancholic music, and I realised that maybe listening to that music was filling a hole that I didn’t know I had. It was comforting to hear somebody process their own troubles outwardly when I didn't feel I had a way, or even a reason, to do so myself. Writing the album has been an extremely therapeutic process as I've been able to seek out difficult parts of my life that I'd buried because I couldn't process them at the time.

I think a lot of people, particularly men, struggle to recognise and process their own emotions. It makes it very hard to share them with others, and it’s something that needs addressing to allow for healthier relationships with other people and yourself."

Quinn picked up the saxophone at a very young age. His thirst for music was nurtured by mentors Julian Joseph and Soweto Kinch - two heavyweights of the UK Jazz scene. Although Jazz was his focus, he was surrounded by blues, folk and rock music at home thanks to his dad’s diverse record collection. His first leap into the world as a solo artist was a self-produced EP in 2017 exploring his own voice and skills as an instrumentalist to tell a story. This release earned him a place on the 2018 Red Bull Music Academy, a two-week course that entirely changed his scope and ambitions. His eyes were opened to the world of electronic music culture - working alongside legends such as Just Blaze and father of techno Mike Banks (Underground Resistance). His 2020 EP 'Long Gone' presented a more refined sound as he honed his production skills and pushed his vocal abilities further. He tours and regularly appears on radio and TV alongside 2020 Mercury Nominee, Moses Boyd. 

Musicians:

Quinn Oulton - Arrangements, Compositions & Performance [All Tracks]
Moses Boyd - Drums [4]
Chris Hill - Drums [8,9]
Genevieve Artadi - Vocals [7]
Rupert Cox - Strings arrangement and composition [7]
Luca Caruso - Drums [1, 3]
Artie Zaits- Guitar [4]
Dave Shaw, Roman Lytwyniw, Toby Cook and Jonah Spindel - Violin, viola, cello [two six]
 

Source: Bandcamp

Emma Volard - Deity

Deity

by Emma Volard

Released 8 July 2022

The Operatives Records

*****

Emma Volard is one of Narrm’s (Melbourne's) most enigmatic and staunchly authentic acts. Her music is entrenched in lavish harmonies, broken-beats and gut-wrenching lyricism, and has garnered attention from national and international tastemakers alike.

Volard's debut album, Deity is a record of tensions: caught in the push-pull between light and shade, joy and sorrow, chaos and order, it’s an album that draws power from the divine messiness of the human experience. Synthesising acid jazz with modern R&B, dub with pop, and future soul with old-fashioned grooves, it’s a statement of profound artistic intent for Emma: a 12-part journey of self-expression and hard-won self-determination that combines the classic and the cutting edge to build something sleek and scintillatingly new. “This album is a revolt against oppressors, particularly those in the music industry — an f-you to anyone who tries to tear us down,” she says. Cathartic, vulnerable, and deeply, defiantly empowered, it’s a definitive document of feminist soul: a call for listeners to “discard the judgement of others, and embrace their bodies, their minds, and their souls.”

This record was created on the stolen land of the Bunorong people of the Kulin Nation. We'd like to pay our respects to elders both past, present and emerging, and to acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded. It's a privilege to be able to live, create and flourish on this country. Always was, always will be, aboriginal land.
 

Source: Bandcamp

Maria Chiara Argiro - Forest City

Forest City

by Maria Chiara Argiro

Released 6 May 2022

Innovative Leisure

*****

Maria Chiara Argirò (pronounced ma-REE-ah key-AH-rah r-gee-ROW) has been quietly weaving her way around the UK jazz, classical and electronic worlds since she moved to London from Rome 11 years ago.
But with her new album, Forest City, she finds a glistening thread between these movements: it marks her out as an exciting rising electronic artist, where jazz meets Kelly Lee Owens, Jon Hopkins and Radiohead.

It’s a concept record, about the “duality of nature and city”, and where organic sounds and textures seem to flow above the urban sprawl.

The album sees Argirò further expand her boundaries in creative and innovate soundscapes and textures using mixing various genres. The opening track ‘Home’ sits as a statement of this new direction, with a dystopian start of slowed down vocals and piano. A short piece to set the scene as the album opens up with expansive synths and electronic beats, of title track ‘Forest City’. The track carries on the uneasy musical start from ‘Home’ mixing it with dreamy vocals.

‘Greenarp’ named after the arpeggios she created on her beloved Organelle synth has a cold lonely feel, with only Argirò’s vocals lending any warmth at the start. This is the first album to have her vocals feature adding another dimension to her work and a feel like she is emerging from behind her music.

With three singles released from the album, that gave an insight to the vast array of elements on the album. The artificial sounding ‘Bonsai’ which builds into a gorgeous dance track and the organic sounding ‘Clouds’ which has the same chilled trip-hop vibe. The third single ‘Blossom’ is a hazy track that floats through shimmering synths and sleepy vocals, before a blast of a trumpet sets to wake the whole track up.

The cinematic ‘Skyr’ acts as an interlude or intro for the next track ‘Treehouse’. ‘Skyr’ roots itself with the deep percussive boom and synths rise and fall. ‘Treehouse’ flips the confident beat of ‘Skyr’ and lays down a nervous skippy drum beat under spooky fuzzy synths. An interesting offering from Maria Chiara Argirò who challenges as she engages on an album that’s part journey and part escapism.

At times the album comes over cold with its industrial soundscapes but it’s the way all the tracks blend into each other across the whole 8 tracks that the magic happens. Forest City is an album you lose yourself without realising. Trapped under the waving spell of synths and percussive beats. If anything it demonstrates what this lady can do with her expansive creative talent “I thought, ‘I’m going to do exactly what I want to do, without boundaries,”

Sources: Bandcamp and Backseat Mafia

Rosa Brunello - Sounds Like Freedom

Sounds Like Freedom

by Rosa Brunello

Released 6 May 2022

Domanda Music

*****

“Sounds Like Freedom” is the second release from LA-based record label, Domanda Music. It was recorded in September 2021 in Verona, Italy and conceived by bass player Rosa Brunello with notable contributions from UK Jazz star Yazz Ahmed, Arabic experimental music pioneer Maurice Louca and Italian drumming sensation Marco Frattini.

Each track is the result of spontaneous improvisations, which have been lovingly post-produced by Rosa Brunello herself and label founder Tommaso Cappellato.

The album speaks to the strange times we have been living through collectively as a society, when direct human contact has been rationed and many performance opportunities have ground to a halt for musicians across the globe.

While seeking to respond to this yearning for connection, Rosa uses this album as an opportunity to harness influences from each of the artists who contributed to this recording.

At the heart of this album lies its celebration of freedom and the joy of sharing experiences and spaces with others, at a time when such simple pleasures can no longer be taken for granted.

Musicians:

Yazz Ahmed (trumpet, flugelhorn, effects, vocals, claps)
Maurice Louca (electric guitar, synths, fender rhodes, percussion, vocals, claps)
Marco Frattini (drums, percussion, sampler, vocals, claps)
Rosa Brunello (electric & double bass, percussion, vocals, claps)

Special Guests on Jubiabá
Luca Tapino (trombone, vocals, claps)
Claudia Bidoli & Enrico Terragnoli (vocals)
 

Source: Bandcamp

Angel Olsen - Big Time

Big Time

by Angel Olsen

Released 3 June 2022

Jagjaguwar

*****

On the heels of the ambitious All Mirrors, which featured a 14-piece chamber orchestra, and its stripped-down, solo companion album, Whole New Mess, Angel Olsen headed to the studio with first-time collaborator Jonathan Wilson in 2021 to record her sixth full-length, Big Time, at his studios in Topanga, California. With components that span brittle acoustics, fuzzy rock textures, and swelling strings, it revisits some of the mournful alt-country that marked early albums like Half Way Home, at times with a stronger mid-century feel. There's no solitary approach to Big Time, however, an album that was written as Olsen was coming out as queer and which reflects on endings, regrets, and loss as well as hope, love, and acceptance -- if all with a yearning, apprehensive touch. The track list's country-heavy first half begins with a drum intro followed by a retro-shaded arrangement of organ, lap steel, concert bells, and horns on the ambling "All the Good Times." Although Olsen's sleepy, circular questioning defines much of this song, it reaches overdriven, full-band heights about two-thirds of the way through, as she asserts, "So long, farewell, this is the end/And I'll always remember you just like a friend." While tracks like "Go Home" and "Through the Fires" also address letting go and the notion that you can't go home again (Olsen also lost both of her parents during the making of the album), many of the songs look to new beginnings and learning to trust. Perhaps the closest thing to a musical smile on a restless set, "Big Time" matches lyrics like "Pull back the curtains, show me the sunshine" and "I'm loving you big time" with a midtempo seven-piece led by a confident drawl that makes use of Olsen's multi-breath-way vocal technique. At the other end of the spectrum, wispy tearjerker "All the Flowers" amplifies its disappointment and gratitude with acoustic guitar, strings, piano, and harpsichord. Somewhere in between -- or triangulating -- is "Right Now," a song whose plaintive vibrato and acoustic strums morph into full-band country-rock and finally a dark, buzzy alt-rock. Rather than offering something for everyone, Big Time wrangles complex, overwhelming emotions with a broad palette that's commanded by its lyrics and tormented vocal performances.

Source: AllMusic

Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin - Ghosted

Ghosted

by Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin

Released 15 April 2022

Drag City Records

****-

It was early in 2019 — no, November 2018! — that Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin met at Studio Rymden, in a quiet, pretty suburban district of Stockholm, to make the music that became Ghosted. They can’t remember exactly when it was made because that time — the when and where that it was recorded — doesn’t really matter anymore. Now the music of Ghosted exists in the intention of a shared moment of playing, a clearly delineated time, put forth with a steady flow of small details on bass, guitar and drums, in a remarkable display of rhythmic flexibility within a minimal framework.

Oren and Johan have met many times onstage and off since 2003, with several duo recordings to their credit, as well as additional encounters in the group Fire! with Mats Gustafsson and drummer Andreas Werliin.

A while back, Oren and Johan decided to reconvene in the studio for a furthering of the thought process that they’d come to on the second Ambarchi / Berthling collaboration, 2015’s Tongue Tied. As Andreas had mixed that session, it felt right to have him on kit — he’d already been intimately involved in the process.

The music they all play together in Fire! is, to put it mildly, loud. This session, they sensed an opportunity to explore different dynamics — to tap, perhaps, a shared inner ECM space. Studio Rymden sits on an upper floor of the building it’s located in, and the light coming through the windows was pleasant on that day. They set up, picked out some amps (including the best-sounding Leslie speaker Oren’s ever heard) and got started.

Rooting in the rich tonality and repeating figures of Johan’s acoustic (and sometimes electric) bass, the four tracks that make up Ghosted act as variations on a theme, unspooling continuously over the course of 39 minutes with the terse flow of krautrock jams — closely observed percussive riffs and repetitions that build continuously with subtle shifts as they move forward, with the small details flying expansively in and out across the stereo spectrum. Oren’s guitar often sounds with an organ-like tone, with notes of fire and glass wafting out over the percolation and permutation in Johan and Andreas’ rhythms. These men have been playing long enough to, without any real words, shape their improvisations with short and long term goals.

Performances that day ranged from almost five minutes to almost sixteen. With an eye toward further expansion, they’d invited the legendary Swedish reed player Christer Bothén, whose knowledge of the guimbri and donso n’goni was incisively shared with the great Don Cherry some fifty years ago. Christer plays donso n’goni on the first track, and his parts sync like cogs in a watch, revolving in fluid coordination with Oren, Johan and Andreas.

Mixed and mastered by Joe Talia at Good Mixture, Berlin, Ghosted highlights the intimate dialogue between players, as well as the careful curation of space between them. It is rare to think of silence in relation to music where everyone is constantly playing — and yet, listening to this, we do.

Once it was all done, Pål Dybwik’s misty, nocturnal basketball court images seemed to embody the spirit of the album, while once more steering it in a direction that nobody had stopped to imagine, because this was just something in the air. Now it’s in your air. Don’t stop to think. Just listen...

Source: Bleep

Oumou Sangare - Timbuktu

Timbuktu

by Oumou Sangare

Released 29 April 2022

World Circuit Records

*****

If you’re ever in downtown Bamako, you might encounter the Hotel Wassoulou. Owned and run by Oumou Sangaré, the place takes its name from the region in southern Mali from where she originates, as well as its unique style of West African dance music based on the earthy, scratchy, mesmerising sound of the hunter’s harp known as the kamele n’goni.

ORDER NOW: Miles Davis is on the cover of the latest issue of Uncut
During your stay, if you’re lucky, Sangaré may even serenade you in the bar with her Wassoulou songs, in a soulful, wailing voice and a sound that is distinctively different from other Malian styles, such as the desert blues of Ali Farka Touré or the elegant Manding kora arpeggios of Toumani Diabaté.

Sangaré burst on to the African music scene more than 30 years ago with her debut cassette release Moussolou (“the women” in Bambara) and became a feminist icon in what is still a highly patriarchal society, singing out against polygamy, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and other indignities enforced on West African women.

A series of brilliant albums followed for the World Circuit label, all in predominantly traditional vein. Yet she was growing increasingly restless to fuse her Wassoulou dance rhythms with other styles, and her ability to do so without compromising her authenticity was evident when Alicia Keys invited Sangaré to duet with her, and Beyoncé sampled her song “Diaraby Néné” for the soundtrack to The Lion King remake. It led to Sangaré leaving World Circuit to record 2017’s Mogoya, a more experimental record that mixed traditional instruments such as n’goni and calabash with synths and electronica and on which the dynamic Wassoulou dance sound embraced the rest of the world. Timbuktu, which finds her back on World Circuit but which was independently produced by the French duo of Pascal Danaë and Nicolas Quéré, continues the journey.

Like so many records in recent times, Timbuktu was a product of lockdown. After organising her annual International Wassoulou Festival in Mali in early 2020, Sangaré arrived in the United States in March of that year for a short stay but almost immediately found herself stranded. Unable to get home and with time itself on hold, she bought a house in Baltimore where she spent her time writing material for her next album with Mamadou Sidibé, her long-time kamele n’goni player. With the exception of the traditional Wassoulou tune “Sabou Dogoné”, all of the songs on Timbuktu were written during that period of enforced isolation.

Fusing West African tradition with blues, folk and rock, the result is Sangaré’s boldest and most ambitious album to date. The opener “Wassulu Don” sets the tone. Sonically, it rides on a John Lee Hooker boogie rhythm, the n’goni meshing thrillingly with its distant cousin, the dobro, and Danaë’s stinging electric guitar lines. Lyrically it’s a proud hymn to the resourcefulness of the Wassoulou people, long regarded as “miserable n’goni players, singers, dancers only interested in partying and enjoying life”, Sangaré tells us, but who have made the region “a shelter for peace” while the rest of Mali faces violence and political chaos.

 

There’s melodic Afro-pop (“Sira”) and gentle folk-rock (“Degui N’Kelena”), the latter featuring a gorgeous conversation between the n’goni and Danaë’s slide guitar. Even better is “Kanou”, a multi-stringed mini-symphony in which n’goni and slide are joined by dobro and banjo. The title track is a plaintive plea to her fellow Malians to “wake up from this deep sleep” and respect Africa’s nobler traditions, Sangaré’s heartfelt vocal in Bambara underpinned again by mournful slide guitar. “Kêlê Magni” addresses a similar theme in fiercer fashion, a forthright attack on the violence that has plagued Mali in recent years over wigged-out electric guitar pyrotechnics.

It’s followed by Sangaré at her most gentle on “Dily Oumou”, as she sings a keening melody over washes of synths and call-and-response backing vocals – although the lyric packs a sharper message of self-help as she tells her compatriots, “instead of envying me, pull your socks up and get to work”. She ends on a spiritual note, praying “May Allah give us all a meaningful source of knowledge” over church-like organ.

For all the record’s sonic invention, though, its Sangaré’s voice that commands attention, a rich, textured instrument that has only grown more nuanced and subtle with age. As we continue to hope that the pandemic is coming to an end, the time will soon come to compile the definitive list of great lockdown records, shaped by the unique circumstances of 2020-21, and which would not have been made had normal life prevailed. Timbuktu will deserve a prominent place on that list.

Source: Loud and Quiet

Yossa Haile - Menta Menged 2020

Menta Menged 2020

by Yossa Haile

Released 12 December 2020

Yossa Haile

*****

Yossa Haile is a multi-instrumentalist originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia currently living in Australia.

Menta Menged’ means twin roads. Yossa explains of the title track, “I wanted to show how crazy 2020 was for this generation. The song has two time signatures, showing that life has Day and Night, positive and negative, good and evil thoughts.”
“This Album has different purposes: it represents where I came from, being a voice for my people and culture, to spread the good vibes, healing for a People who need it. This is a great blessing while I'm doing my passion, my work”.
The songs on ‘Menta Menged 2020’ were written, composed, arranged and recorded by Yossa himself, and played alongside Brisbane names Rohan Seekers (Tiana Khasi, Astro Travellers, Desmond Cheese) on keys, Nathan MacGregor (Big Dead, HRBRT, Captain Dreamboat) on drums, and Matthew Luff (Tiana Khasi, Matt’s Mates, Astro Travellers) on Saxophone and Flute.
"The rest I played myself. Guitar, bass, percussion, some keys and singing on one song, the only song that has my voice. I just decided to call that song ‘Leselam Biye’, which means ‘Calling for Peace’. It's about the people living through conflicts at the moment and basic life in Ethiopia’.
Yossa explains that diving into the recording engineering world was a great experience.
“That's a big freedom. I can record myself whenever and wherever I can, no time limit, no rules, not much expense, no dramas. Time consuming but worth it. I was moving my recording equipment from place to place to record great session musicians. I believe I can motivate a people who have the same life journey as me.”
Yossa’s career is extensive, having played alongside respected artists Tilahun Gessese, Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, and Alemayehu Eshete to name a few.
“Since I have been in Australia I never stopped playing music, even if it felt like a massive challenge to keep going in the basic life, mentally, spiritually and physically.
Unleashing myself from a perfect perspective is one of [the album’s] biggest purposes, that was the toughest challenge: finding my freedom, free being under Peoples hand who's worried only about the market and putting me in a time frame to sell the product.” 

Source: Bandcamp

Cumbiamuffin - Cumbiamuffin

Cumbiamuffin

by Cumbiamuffin

Released 12 July 2022

Peace & Rhythm

*****

Sydney-siders and Australians at large are vastly embracing Latino culture whether it’s opening up shops and cafes with South American food or live music venues embracing the rich musical heritage of Latin America. Colombian culture in particular has a rich history of music and dance; it is a culture that has incorporated music from all around the world, from contemporary Caribbean rhythms like Ragga and Reggae to indigenous music, hip-hop and jazz -  mixing all these genres with its own traditional styles into a colorful creation of beats and influences that highly simulates the senses.

Colombia’s most renowned style of music is Cumbia which is rooted in the indigenous music of the country but easily adaptable as other musical formats, something one of Jazz’s greatest composers Charles Mingus recognized when he visited Colombia and was captivated by the music’s raw energy and its roots in the African diaspora.

Cumbia has no borders, it is universally social and embraces all walks of life.

Sydney band Cumbiamuffin is a very creative14-piece band of talented Australian and Colombian musicians fronted by Colombian singer Angela Rosero and like Mingus’ 1977 album, but in much more contemporary style, their aim is to give Australian audiences a luscious taste of Cumbia and Jazz fusion.
Cumbiamuffin are a musical force bringing Colombian folk and authentically singing only in Spanish but for an English speaking audience.  The stories of their music lie within the compositions themselves as they reveal the history of a rich music that has travelled not only across Latin America but also all over the world including Australia where a proud Latino colony resides.

 “This is music to move your hips to” said Rosero and it certainly did get the audience up of their chairs and onto the dance floor shaking their hips without hesitation. The crowd was a mix of young and old, proving it’s music that people of all ages and nationalities can enjoy.

Much like Jazz, Cumbia music can also lend itself to improvisation and the musicians on stage were able to maintain the rhythm whilst jamming with their song structures, stretching the time out and improvising fast rhythms and funky grooves. By this stage the dancefloor was packed, couples and friends were partnering up to dance and it became more of a carnival atmosphere than a sitting down on a confortable couch and drinking a fancy cocktail type event. Of course there was a big call out for an encore and 

Source: Jazz Australia

The New Monos - Moron Life

Moron Life

by The New Monos

Released 10 February 2022

The New Monos

*****

With their roots in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Melbourne-based band The New Monos combine inspiration from their South American heritage and diverse musical experience with the flavour of contemporary Buenos Aires, mixing Reggae, Folklore, Cumbia, Rock, Rumba, Hip-hop and Latin beats, all expressed with the passion of the Tango.

Titled after the founding band members’ hometown of Morón in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this album features new original music, written, recorded and produced locally in Melbourne, Australia in 2019

Mixed in Argentina in collaboration with Matias "El Chavez" Mendez, who brings a different perspective to the mixing and mastering of The New Mono’s unique musicality and distinctive sound.

Back in Melbourne, The New Monos then put their lockdown time to good use, and included are favourites you know and love from their first album, re-imagined and re-recorded featuring guest artists from around the world. 

The New Monos still have their signature energy and more to burn and are excited to share their vision and outstanding new musical productions with you. 

The New Monos are
Leonardo Rodriguez: ​Guitars, vocals. 

Javier Rodriguez: ​Accordion

Brian Lee Silva: ​​Vox  

Cristian Saavedra: ​Percussion, vocals. 

Sebastian Barahona: Bass 

Carlos Meza: Drums

Daniel Jauregui: Guitars

Source: Bandcamp / The New Monos / Moshtix

Dave Gisler Trio - See You Out There

See You Out There

by Dave Gisler Trio, (Dave Gisler, Jaimie Branch, & David Murray)

Released 18 March 2022

Intakt records

****-

Two years after the acclaimed live album Zurich Concert, which featured trumpeter Jamie Branch, the Swiss guitarist and bandleader Dave Gisler adds another guest to his eponymously-named trio for a studio album – another giant of modern jazz – David Murray.

Just as the trio immediately hit it off with Branch, Murray is furiously integrated into the band's punchy music, with the presence of both the trumpeter and tenor saxophonist opening up the group's sound. the resulting body of sound, propelled by punkish energy and the driving force of rock, the free-form aesthetics of the sixties and the cadences of modern jazz, navigates into open musical realms. "But there’s no doubt that as Branch’s final note resounds, Gisler and his collaborators will soldier on driven by a need to make music together," writes Peter Margasak in the liner notes.

Musicians:

Dave Gisler: Guitar
Raffaele Bossard: Bass
Lionel Friedli: Drums
Jaimie Branch: Trumpet
 

Source: Bandcamp

`

Third

by Jitwam

Released 22 July 2022

Roya

****-

On an Australian tour in late 2019, Moodymann dropped INXS’ ’80s hit ‘Need You Tonight’ in his DJ set, trolling house purists. But the Detroiter had previously championed a cult Australian dance act, the Sydney DJ, vocalist, musician and producer Jitwam Sinha – or just Jitwam. Indeed, Moodymann included Jitwam’s ‘Keepyourbusinesstoyourself’ on 2016’s now classic DJ-Kicks mix compilation.

Jitwam is slept on at home, but this should change with his new album, Third, which is cannily being positioned as a “reintroduction”.

Jitwam was born in Guwahati, Assam, in North Eastern India. Soon after, his family migrated to Australia. The bicultural youth would encounter subtle, albeit insidious, social pressure to assimilate. A rock fan, he picked up guitar and keys. Later, Jitwam travelled extensively, winding up in the melting pot of London. There, he discovered dance music.

In 2017, Jitwam, having generated his own sonic hybrid, released a debut album, ‘ज़ितम सिहँ‘, followed by Honeycomb in 2019.

In the ’60s, The Beatles embraced Indian classical music for their feted Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – ostensibly capturing a countercultural Zeitgeist, but with little awareness of the sensitivities surrounding cultural co-option. In some ways, Jitwam has reclaimed those trippy aesthetics in declaring himself a “psychedelic soul savant” – his house music is funky and soulful, yet transgressive.

The concept of “home” is one of Third’s themes. The LP was inspired by Jitwam’s living in both London and the especially fast-paced New York. It subliminally explores immigrant history, diasporic experience and Third Culture identity. Third opener ‘India’ is a deep groove with a neo-psychedelic twist. Jitwam’s fragmented spoken word is used texturally alongside liquid jazz guitar and flute. He expresses a need to reconnect to his roots: “I won’t forget / where I’m coming from / where I really belong.”

Jitwam – ‘Brooklyn Ballers’

But, primarily, Third is a homage to multicultural NY – the cheeky lead single ‘Brooklyn Ballers’ is among several tracks with a hip-hop swagger. The hectic ‘Stranger Danger (In The Streets Of Life)’ – featuring Detroit’s otherwise M.I.A. underground rappers Ahkatari – sounds like Genesis Owusu crashing a DFA Records party in its punk-funk heyday.

Jitwam’s lyrics allude to the murkier sides of metropolitan mobility: market forces, gentrification and homelessness. However, he doesn’t make overt political statements on Third – the messaging, as with his vocals, is obscured. The anti-materialistic vent ‘Money & Things!!!’ evokes The Avalanches’ blithe disco sound circa Wildflower.

Third establishes Jitwam’s fluidly elegant style as a producer. The album’s centrepiece, ‘Equanimity’, is led by Brooklyn’s Melanie Charles, a lauded Haitian-American jazz singer and flautist (she was also a member of the choir gracing Gorillaz’ Humanz). And the song is soothing for harried times – imagine D’Angelo losing himself producing deep house, with some thrilling mystical flute.

Source: Musicfeeds

Vega Trails - Tremors In The Static

Tremors In The Static

by Vega Trails

Released 6 May 2022

Gondwana Records

*****

Vega Trails is a new project from double-bassist and composer Milo Fitzpatrick, a founder member of Portico Quartet and features saxophonist Jordan Smart (Mammal Hands, Sunda Arc) in a richly powerful duo bringing together two powerfully charismatic musicians. The project was born out of a desire to bring the elements of bass and melody to the foreground in their rawest form.  

The project takes its name from Carl Sagan's science fiction novel 'Contact' (a book about signals of new life detected from the Vega system) and was born out of a desire to bring the elements of bass and melody to the foreground in their rawest form.

Fitzpatrick explains that he deliberately chose the stripped back approach. “There is so much in just one musician’s sound; the emotional, the intellectual, the vulnerability and power of their character. But often these delicate nuances can be submerged in the quest for a group sound. In Vega Trails I wanted to grant the musicians space to breathe and be heard and for the listener to witness the intimacy and depth of a conversation between two voices, bass and melody. I was also interested in how the limitations would guide both the composition and performance and to push us both to places close to the limits of what we could play, and it is in this place where I believe the character of a musician blossoms and comes forward”.

Tremors in the Static was composed during Lockdown as Fitzpatrick immersed himself in music that had space and sparseness such as Swedish fiddle music and Indian Classical music. Jan Johansson’s legendary ‘Jazz på Svenska’ (jazz versions of Swedish folk songs) was another influence, as was a collection of ancient lullabies by Spanish soprano singer Montserrat Figueras. Through exploring the harmonic and textural possibilities on the bass, Fitzpatrick would cycle riffs and motifs whilst singing melodies, and he began to create the music debuted here. However, it was only after listening to Charlie Haden’s album of duets, ‘Closeness’, that the project would come into focus as a duo, and Fitzpatrick immediately knew that the second musician had to be Jordan Smart.

“I saw Jordan play at two Gondwana Records events – in Berlin and Tokyo. Both times I was mesmerised by the intensity and conviction of his playing. His commitment to the cause of transcending himself and the listener made a lasting impression on me. When I began writing this record, I knew I needed a strong player who had equal conviction in their playing as me, but also someone who understood the importance of melody”

It was an inspired idea as Smart brought an openness and positivity which allowed the music to be both experimental and bold. Smart’s ability to play tenor and soprano saxophone with equal command, as well as bass clarinet and Ney flute, allowed them to open up the pallet of sound and pull the melodies into varying emotional landscapes. The final piece of the puzzle was the performance space. Fitzpatrick knew that he wanted the two players to react off of a third element. The music was written for an ambient space which interacted with the notes: decaying and disintegrating them into silence. They found the perfect space in a church in Fitzpatrick’s local neighbourhood of Stamford Hill.

“The recording space is the canvas on which the sound interacts and flows, it is the frame in which notes can live, breathe and die and is as important as the other elements. A resonant recording space, like a church, allows this stripped back sound to resonate, echo and linger, enough to create images and landscapes in which stories can play out”.

This then is Vega Trails, a project that brings together two open-mined and communicative musicians for the first time, to tell beautiful winding stories together and to create something soulful and new. Something bigger than both of them and something that leaves us all richer for hearing it. Enjoy! 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Adrian Quesada - Boleros Psicodelicos

Boleros Piscodelicos

by Adrian Quesada

Released 3 June 2022

ATO Records

****-

The brand new album by GRAMMY-winning guitarist, producer and Black Pumas co-founder, Adrian Quesada, serves as a celebration of the super funky, slightly delirious and deeply soulful sounds that transcended the cultural boundaries of Latin America throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It all began with the psychedelic weirdness of Los Pasteles Verdes.

About 20 years ago, guitarist, producer and Black Pumas co-founder Adrian Quesada was driving in his home base of Austin, Texas when the 1975 balada classic “Esclavo y Amo” by Peruvian band Los Pasteles Verdes played on a local AM station. Quesada was mesmerized by the song’s dark, baroque melodrama.

“I swear to God, I had to pull over because I had never heard anything like it,” he recalls with a laugh. “I was like, what the hell is this? Sounds like a romantic breakup on LSD. It completely, literally blew my mind. I then went to a record store that sold mostly Regional Mexican, got a Greatest Hits compilation and listened to it for many nights in a row. The music was sinister, so overly dramatic in a super funky way that sounded like a hip-hop sample. I almost expected Wu-Tang Clan to come on and start rapping.”

What Quesada had discovered was the sophisticated – and slightly delirious – cultural movement of balada music that blossomed throughout Latin America between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. A refined collision of bossa nova smoothness, Beatlesque psychedelia and torrid boleropathos, balada used art-pop instrumentation (mostly strings and harpsichords) and the warmth of analogue recording to maximum effect. It employed songs about heartbreak and longing as a means to transport the listener to an opulent, cinematic fantasy world.

Now, Quesada has penned a love letter to that golden era through Boleros Psicodélicos, a stunning album that lovingly recreates the specificity of the balada sound, adding a stellar list of guest vocalists, intriguing contemporary touches and just a hint of irony.

“I always wanted to pay tribute to that sound that I was already hearing in my head without realizing that people had already done it,” he explains. “I've been obsessed since I heard Pasteles Verdes, compiling anything I could collect, but since the beginning of the pandemic I really went through a rabbit hole, finding stuff that I had never heard before. The sound of bands like Los Pasteles Verdes and Los Ángeles Negros was somewhat limited to guitar with reverb and combo organ. Artists like Sandro and José José used a more baroque instrumentation that sounds like a telenovela. I devoured those albums and picked up elements like the harpsichords and the orchestral arrangements. There is so much drama in those songs, and I had to express that musically.”

The process of compiling the list of vocalists was entirely organic. “I had already recorded a version of ‘Esclavo y Amo’ with Natalia Clavier a long time ago,” he recalls. “I knew that I wanted to revisit it with her because when Natalia sings about something, you believe her. I also collaborated with Gaby Moreno and knew she would be into this concept after we discussed a love for La Lupe. I made a list of people, and gravitated to the ones who understood right away and could find the drama in the music.”

From the combination of vintage organ and achingly beautiful guitar of “El Paraguas,” with Gabriel Garzón-Montano, and the bravado in Gaby Moreno’s delivery on the La Lupe cover “Puedes Decir De Mí” to the vulnerable nostalgia of Tita (Moreno) and “El Muchacho De Los Ojos Tristes” – a cool version of the 1981 classic by Spanish chanteuse Jeanette – BolerosPsicodelicos pulsates with Quesada’s genuine affection for the genre. An original composition, opening track “Mentiras Con Cariño” boasts an elegant performance by Puerto Rico’s iLe, former vocalist with Calle 13 and a GRAMMY-winning champion of Latin revivalism.

“Working with iLe was great because she was very specific about what she wanted to do,” he says. “As soon as we began talking, she sent me a number of tracks that she found inspiring in their songwriting and instrumentation. She was the first one who turned me into [Argentine crooner] Sandro. iLe is a perfectionist. She took me out of my comfort zone and the album benefited by that.”

Psychedelic boleros are just one of the many genres that Quesada has touched during an incredibly prolific career. He has collaborated with the likes of Prince, Los Lobos and Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA, and has been a member of such eclectic bands as Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and Ocote Soul Sounds. Black Pumas, the duo he formed in 2018 with singer/songwriter Eric Burton, has been nominated for 5 GRAMMYs and performed during the inauguration festivities of President Joe Biden in 2021.

Quesada is still in awe of this glorious pan-American genre that changed the face of Latin music forever. “If something like that happened today, it would be normal because everyone’s connected on Instagram,” he says. “Think how powerful this sound had to be for everyone to be connected through the songs. As someone who grew up speaking two languages and living on both sides of the border, I love how much music can transcend barriers and boundaries. It really is a universal language, especially back then.” 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Obongjayar - Some Nights I Dream Of Doors

Some Nights I Dream Of Doors

by Obongjayar

Released 13 May 2022

September Recordings

****-

“I know myself / I’m in charge of my own destiny,” Obongjayar affirms on his long-awaited debut record, Some Nights I Dream of Doors. The mantra of the song, ‘New Man’, hears the London-based artist sing with quiet resolution, “Chasing perfection, no other option / No room for error”. It serves as a declaration of intent that aptly encapsulates Obongjayar’s trajectory towards this instantly captivating body of work.

Across a career that’s taken him from lowkey Soundcloud uploads to collecting high praise from critics and revered cultural institutions (his song ‘God’s Own Children’ won Best Song Musically and Lyrically at last year’s Ivor Novello Awards), Obongjayar increasingly appears to be among the most engaging voices of his generation. 

Born in Nigeria, Obongjayar grew up in Calabar, Cross River State, a port city in the south of the country, close to the border with Cameroon. There, his grandmother raised him and his younger brother, before they moved to London and were reunited with their mother, who had lived there for a number of years. It was 2010, he was 17, and still Steven Umoh. Music was already an important outlet for him and something Umoh had a natural aptitude for. As he began to develop his talent, he also landed upon a moniker for his work, drawn from a combination of both his essence and his aspirations. Sharing his father’s name, Umoh previously adopted ‘Jayar’, meaning junior. Not quite right, he added ‘Obong’ which translates as ‘King’ or ‘God’ as a prefix, and thus Obongjayar was ready to rule his destiny. 

From the outset, Some Nights I Dream of Doors presents itself as a texturally intricate work. One that the closer you allow yourself to get to, reveals many layers of subtle but effective touches within the arrangements.

Fela Kuti is often cited by Obongjayar as an important influence; in the past, he has partly described his music as being post-afro. Merging the unrelenting pulse of afrobeat rhythms with contemporary electronic textures and effects, as he does with great results on the claustrophobic ‘Message in a Hammer’ and ‘Sugar’, a denser offering to counter the sparser moments on the record, ‘Sugar’.

Elsewhere, Obongjayar follows a typically afrobeat-like cascading meter to establish the hook on ‘New Man’, a track which also incorporates lighter drill beats for a thoroughly gripping instrumentation.

Some Nights I Dream of Doors has all the trappings of an excellent debut. Crucially, it’s a thorough, earnest and endlessly endearing introduction to the artist.

Musically, the songs offer a range of soundscapes that exist like siblings. Born from the same source, but each with their own distinguishing feature to make for a dynamic yet cohesive listening experience from start to finish.

Lyrically, too, Obongjayar shares immensely personal experiences and anxieties with such skill that the listener is able to recognise themself in his words.

With this assured debut, Obongjayar declares himself as an important artist; you don’t want to sleep on this guy.

Source: Loud and Quiet

Jazz Dispensary (Various Artists) -Jazz Dispensary: Super Skunk

Jazz Dispensary: Super Skunk

by Various Artists (Jazz Dispensary)

Released 29 April 2022

Condord Records

****-

Super Skunk: a brand-new blend that’s hard on the drums and horns…and easy on the ears. Featuring tracks by Cannonball Adderley, the Bar-Kays, and Gary Bartz, among others, Super Skunk will take listeners on the ultimate groove trip—zigzagging between hard-bop soul jams and rhythmic meditations.

Side A opens with Gary Bartz’s supremely funky “Make Me Feel Better,” a cut off the saxophonist and singer’s 1973 Mizell Brothers produced LP, The Shadow Do! Cannonball Adderley continues the vibe with 1974’s “Pyramid,” while the Bar-Kays luxuriate in a 1978 cover of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright.” Closing out the first side is “The Houston Express,” a 1971 soul-jazz delicacy from Houston Person, followed by Art Jerry Miller’s chilled-out instrumental, “Finger Lickin’ Good.”

Philadelphia fusion pioneers Catalyst pick up the pace on Side B with “Ain’t It the Truth,” an upbeat selection from their 1970 self-titled debut, while Woody Herman delivers a fantastic cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Fat Mama.” The set continues with “Las Cuatro Culturas” by Mexico’s Rabbits & Carrots. The high-energy instrumental is culled from the group’s 1970 LP, Soul Latino, a sought-after rarity among funk fanatics and crate diggers. The album closes with the hard-grooving “You’ve Got to Do Your Best,” from the Pazant Brothers & the Beaufort Express’s 1975 LP, Loose and Juicy.

Limited to 5,800 units worldwide, Super Skunk is pressed on eye-catching opaque red vinyl and housed in a jacket designed by the GRAMMY®-winning art director, Masaki Koike, with original illustrations by Humberto Howard.

Source: Birdland

Bobby Oroza - Get On The Otherside

Get On The Ttherside

by Bobby Oroza

Released 10 June 2022

Big Crown Records

****-

Bobby Oroza is a soul artist hailing from Helsinki, Finland. Teaming up with the Timmion Records house band Cold Diamond & Mink, he has a tight quartet of musicians to support his vision. His cult classic debut album This Love introduced the world to his strange and unique shade of Soul. 

Bobby Oroza puts his desire for the profound on wax with his sophomore album Get On The Otherside. Musically, he has updated the formula we were introduced to on the first record. But lyrically, songs are bravely rooted in the more complicated, ubiquitous inner tangles of life like self-examination and coming to terms with the vastness of the human experience.

With Coronavirus bringing the world to a halt, Bobby—a father and husband—had to do something. No tours to play or studio time to fill, Bobby found himself back in the construction yard, doing blue-collar work to provide for his family. "I was super grateful for the work—a lot of my colleagues didn't have an option like that," Bobby admits. More than a few personal hardships forced him to acknowledge and work through some brutal truths. And what came of it? Well, for one, this new record Get On The Otherside which pretty well describes what Bobby's been through: He had to demolish his ego, his old ways of thinking, and his tried approaches to anchor into a refreshed perspective with new understandings.

As Bobby tells it, "I had to do some real self-searching, come to terms with what was wrong, and how much of it I was responsible for." So how does this translate to the new album? Moments of clarity as to where the real value in life lies on “I Got Love,” encouraging numbers like the title track “The Otherside”, and declarations of self actualization on “My Place, My Time.” Even the more straightforward love songs are outside the box lyrically like “Sweet Agony” and “Loving Body.” If you have never had the pleasure of catching one of Bobby’s live shows you may have no idea that he is a maverick on the guitar. He lets us in on a little of that on “Passing Things” with a solo that possesses the same restrained and space that his lyrics do.

As we'd expect, the songwriting still has that raw, direct edge to it. But an evolution has taken place. There are new points of view on familiar territory which in Bobby’s words "For me to love, I needed to take a bigger view of love. One with less ego and more empathy” really hold true.

The result is a record with Bobby’s new found humility on full display and a message of encouragement to anyone who is struggling and can’t see a way out.

It still may be hard to nail down and define Bobby and his sound. He's no one thing more than the other. But what he's showing us now, on Get On The Otherside, is that we can also label him a soulful, philosophical optimist. Someone who can say a lot with a little, and who wants us all to know that it's us that has to do the hard lifting to truly live a life in love—both with the world and with yourself. 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Touching Bass presents Soon Come

Touching Bass presents: Soon Come

by Touching Bass (Various Artists)

Released 1 July 2022

Touching Bass

****-

South London community-come-club night, record label, NTS Radio residents, concert series and creative studio — run by Errol and Alex Rita, sunstained by our peopledem.

Errol and Alex Rita’s Touching Bass are proud to present Soon Come; a landmark compilation celebrating the talents of their now intercontinental musical community and an introduction to the wide-spanning sound and feeling of their growing label.

Soon Come is 22 original tracks spread across double 12” vinyl and split between 'day' and 'night', creating exciting connections between music for both the home and the eclectic sounds of their much-loved dancefloor.

Over the past six years, Touching Bass have steadily established themselves as one of London’s most important musical incubators. More than just a club night, concert series, NTS Radio mainstay and a label, Touching Bass has become something of a movement: a community meeting grounds for music lovers and some of the most exciting contemporary music-makers both in the capital and beyond.

The tracklist is a reflection of that, curated by TB’s Errol, Alex Rita and Sammseed over the course of two years. Among the list of contributors are Chicago/New York’s keiyaA, Stones Throw’s DJ Harrison, Ben Hauke, Ego Ella May, recent WARP signee Nala Sinephro, Melo-Zed, Hiatus Kaiyote’s Clever Austin, Wu-Lu, Demae and many more.

The artwork for the project is handmade Alex Rita, combining her colourful illustrations with collage of candid moments of the artist caught on her film camera over the years.

For newcomers, Soon Come acts as a vital introduction to the label’s wide-spanning DNA. For those already acquainted, it’s a glimpse at its exciting future. 


 

Source: Bandcamp

Dan Kye - Small Moments

Small Moments

by Dan Kye

Released 13 November 2020

Rhythm Section International

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Dan Kye is the mysteriously evoked dancefloor focused moniker from multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocal sensation Jordan Rakei.

The New Zealand-born artist - who now resides in London - presents his first LP from Dan Kye, ‘Small Moments’, on Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section INTL. An ode to the dancefloor, the musical project was born out of Jordan’s lockdown experience, created from the comfort of his own home. Recorded with just a laptop, extra live instruments and guest musicians, ‘Small Moments’ seamlessly transcends across electronica, jazz and funk, with each genre being effortlessly fused with Jordan’s melancholy vocals.

Allowing himself to push the boundaries, Jordan’s Dan Kye moniker draws on the energetic and uplifting elements of house and techno and perfectly mixes it with the sultry vocals and emotion that come with the live elements we know and love from Jordan Rakei. The record offers listeners a journey through more floor-heavy tracks such as ‘Mogeri’ and ‘Raro’ to more groove infused offerings such as ‘Rainbow Road’ (which is named after one of the maps in Mario Kart and inspired by the energy of Prince’s iconic live concert at The Aladdin in Las Vegas), whilst tracks, like ‘Sober’, take on a more lyrical and anthemic feel.

Jordan Rakei: “Rhythm Section INTL was my entry point into dancefloor orientated music, and it was Bradley who asked me whether I could head in that direction so he could play my music out in the clubs. Dan Kye has still got melodies, but the main focus is to keep it high energy.”

After meeting Bradley Zero online whilst living in Australia, Jordan eventually moved to London in 2014. The same day he landed, he went straight to a Rhythm Section party to meet Bradley, and it was here that he first got a taste for house music. He enjoyed Rhythm Section INTL’s ability to draw on both live and electronic talent; and thus, after Bradley asked him for some productions for the parties, the idea for Dan Kye was born. ‘Small Moments’ is a musical masterpiece that can be enjoyed as much on the dancefloor as it can in the comfort of your own home and is a perfect step into Jordan’s landscape and idealism of dance orientated music.

Bradley Zero - “In around 2014 the proprietor of the famous Northside Records in Melbourne handed me a self released 12” from a new, unknown artist based in Brisbane. It was Jordan Rakei - Groove Curse. I’d been home almost a year before I actually got round to listening to it and I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I lay down on the sofa, put the record on and was transported!

The Dan Kye project is a testament to the experimental and independent ethos Jordan lives by and is a product of an artist reaching full stride but not afraid to still try something new.

This ‘Small Moments’ LP was conceived in a record store, born in a club on Rye Lane and is now flying the nest, throwing caution to the wind and making a bold statement.” 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Burning It Up - Australian Reggae (1979 - 1986)

Burning It Up: Australian Reggae 1979-1985

by Burning It Up (Various Artists)

Released 15 July 2022

Austudy Records

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Austudy Records is proud to present it’s debut release Burning It Up: Australian Reggae (1979-1986). A compilation surveying the influence of Reggae on Australia’s preoccupation with Rock, Pop and New Wave between the years of 1979-1986. This selection of 8 obscure tracks originally issued on 7” records represent some of the earliest examples of Reggae sounds in Australian recorded music.

Across 8 tracks Burning It Up encounters a psychedelic Dub-Soul stepper in Janie Conway’s Temptation, similarly The Lifesavers provide the compilation’s name-sake in their own spaced-out, improv-riddim. In Sydney Delaney/Venn join forces with Marcia Hines to deliver a glammed-out anthem while down the road a few ex-pats known as The Nights In Shining dance to an anthem of their own at a disco on the beach.

The mysterious Wide Boy Youth preaches over Roots-Rock from some plastic-tropics whilst up north the irrepressible Time Lords Inc. fight the good fight in a loose funk-rock protest. Faded, late-night echoes of Ska wane with the The Agents and one of, if not the earliest examples of an Australian dub reverberates gloriously in Jo Jo Zep's hands-on approach to his Oz-Rock-classic.

Source: Bandcamp

Picture Music - Picture Music

Picture Music

by Picture Music

Released 15 December 2021

Left Ear Records

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Picture Music’s eponymous, self-released promo cassette remains the only trace of the late night gatherings of friends, Rainer Guth, Jon Anderson, Gary McFeat & Rod Owen in mid-‘80s Brisbane, Australia.

Nowadays a fêted and rarely seen collectors item, ‘Picture Music’ stands as testament to their long nights-into-mornings spent together, making music and partying by the cool of night and candlelight as their equipment would simply overheat and crash in the sub-tropical heat of daytime. 

The clue to Picture Music’s sound is in the title of the band, who flock around the notion of making music for pictures, or film soundtracks, as intended for potential clients or for sale on the market.

It’s not disclosed whether they lived up to their original aim, but Picture Music’s work surely endures on that basis, yielding a quiet, gauzy tapestry of instrumental synths and guitars that evoke the new age promise of their era with aspects comparable to soundtracks by Tangerine Dream or Eno.

You should expect a discretely personalised and quietly tender trip from start to finish, sweeping gently from the Mick Karn-esque fretless bass slides and lissom Spanish guitar of ‘Bus Stop Dawn’ thru the twinkling starlight synths of ‘Hole in the Wall’ to the feathered electro-jazz of ‘Ivory Coast’ and love scene lustre of ‘Pillow Music’ and aerial romance of ‘Aviation for Beginners’.

Source: Boomkat

Nina Buchanan - Restless Abandon

Restless Abandon

by Nina Buchanan

Released 19 November 2021

Nina Buchanan

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Heavy Machinery Records are excited to announce Restless Abandon the brilliant new album from Melbourne electronic producer Nina Buchanan.

Restless Abandon is the result of a dissolution of boundaries - between rhythm and melody, between classifications of genre, between an immediate tumult of feelings and a yearning for something better.

Spread across nine compositions, the album maps out a broad palette of moods and contexts. Throughout the release, Nina continues to contort her si