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YouTube | March 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | March 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Favourites|March2022

Charlie Gabriel - Eighty Nine

Eighty Nine

by Charlie Gabriel

Released 25 February 2022

Sub Pop

****-

The debut album from beloved New Orleans saxophonist, clarinetist, and singer Charlie Gabriel, "Eighty Nine" is a warm and intimate showcase for the longtime Preservation Hall bandmember. Given Gabriel's over-seven-decade-long career -- one which has found him living in New Orleans and Detroit, working with luminaries like Lionel Hampton, J.C. Heard, and Ella Fitzgerald -- it's almost unfathomable that Eighty Nine (his age at the time of its recording) is his first album as a leader. Primarily a live and touring musician, Gabriel (who started out in the 1940s playing in his father Manny Gabriel's Eureka Brass Band at age 11) has been a key member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band since 2006. While his work with Preservation Hall has found Gabriel bringing his New Orleans jazz roots to funk and Latin sounds, on Eighty Nine he takes a more stripped-down approach, applying his dusky tenor, clarinet, and vocals to his favorite jazz standards, including "Memories of You," "Chelsea Bridge," and a particularly enrapturing take on "I'm Confessin'." Poignantly, the album came together in the wake of his brother's death from COVID-19 in 2020. Mourning his sibling's passing, Gabriel sought the company of Preservation Hall bassist and bandleader Ben Jaffe. Initially forsaking music in favor of low-key chess games, they eventually started jamming, bringing along guitarist Joshua Starkman, drummer Walter Harris, and percussionist Djallo Djakate. While some cuts like "Stardust" are spare duets, others -- including "Three Little Words" and Gabriel's vibrant rendition of the Neville Brothers' "Yellow Moon" -- are more robust, evoking the Afro-Cuban sound of Preservation Hall's acclaimed 2018 record Tuba to Cuba. While it might have taken all 79 of Gabriel's performing years to make an album, Eighty Nine was well worth the wait

Source: AllMusic

Cecile McLorin Salvant - Ghost Song

Ghost Song

by Cecile McLorin Salvant

Released 4 March 2022

Nonesuch Records

*****

On her first album for Nonesuch Records, vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant continues to push her sound beyond the straight-ahead jazz that has earned her accolades. Though known for her Ella Fitzgerald-esque skill at interpreting songbook standards and French chanson, Salvant has proven herself a literate and nuanced songwriter in her own right. She brings all of these aspects together yet again on Ghost Song, this time adding in more contemporary cover tunes and other folk traditions she hadn't yet explored. As with some of her past work, there is also a deeply personal feeling to the album, as it arrives in the wake of the death of both her grandmother and longtime drummer Lawrence Leathers, the latter of whom was tragically killed during a 2019 domestic dispute. A sense of loss permeates Ghost Song, even as Salvant finds more unexpected and transcendent avenues to express her feelings. Bookending the album are two songs sung in the Irish unaccompanied vocal style sean-nós, the first of which leads into a sublime interpretation of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights." It's a bold choice, evoking the iconic genre-crossing work of Joni Mitchell while remaining purely Salvant.

From there, she leaps into a wildly effusive take on the Wizard of Oz song "Optimistic Voices," contrasting a swinging banjo groove with an impressionistic flute and piano accents — ultimately transmogrifying the song into a dreamy, slow-jam version of Gregory Porter's "No Love Dying."

Equally potent covers follow, including a deeply romantic take on Sting's "Until" replete with a vibrant Brazilian-influenced instrumental section featuring a flowing solo's from flutist Alexa Tarantino and pianist Sullivan Fortner. There's also an ambitious arrangement of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's ThreePenny Opera song "The World Is Mean" that showcases Salvant's Olympian knack for singing with a hushed intimacy one second and widescreen theatricality the next.

As impressive as Salvant's finely curated cover songs are, perhaps more remarkable are her original compositions, which move from the rootsy, sun-dappled folk of "Thunderclouds" to the poetic ballad "Moon Song," the latter of which evokes the dusky warmth of Sarah Vaughan's classic work.

Yet more archly experimental is "I Lost My Mind," which starts as a piano duo before Salvant and Sullivan leap into a circular Steve Reich-ian pipe organ soundscape.

That Salvant (who also paints) transforms a deeply yearning letter from photographer Alfred Stieglitz to his then paramour and muse, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, into the poignant "Dead Poplar" speaks to the broad scope of her influences.

Source: AllMusic (Matt Collar)

Youn Sun Nuh - Waking World

Waking World

by Youn Sun Nah

Released 21 January 2022

Nplug Inc.

*****

Youn Sun Nah is a Korean jazz vocalist with a large following in France. Born in Seoul, she was raised by musical parents and began her career as a member of the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Nah eventually left home in 1995 and moved to Paris, where she studied jazz and French chanson at the CIM Jazz School, one of the oldest jazz institutions in Europe. Although relatively new to the genre, Nah excelled at jazz, which she mixed with a healthy dose of Asian folk and avant-garde pop. Backed by her own band, she began climbing the French jazz charts with a series of quirky, elegant albums, including her 2009 debut for Act, Voyage. Her success was initially limited to France and Korea, where Nah concentrated the bulk of her touring, but 2010's Same Girl helped spread her music to the rest of Europe, with some publications heralding her as the next Melody Gardot. Voyage followed a year later on Vitamin Entertainment, but she returned to Act for 2013's Lento; accompanied by guitarist Ulf Wakenius, bassist Lars Danielsson, and percussionist Xavier Desandre Navarre. Both Same Girl and Lento went Gold in Germany and France, thanks in no small part to her near-constant touring. The latter album won the Korean Music Award in her home country and she appeared at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The following year,

She Moves On
The National Theatre of Korea appointed her artistic director of the 2015 edition of the Korean traditional Music Festival Yeowoorak. In its aftermath she undertook a brief tour before heading back into the studio.

In May of 2017, She Moves On was issued by Act. Produced by Jamie Saft (he also played keyboards), the set included tunes written specifically for her by Jamie and Vanessa Saft, an original, and covers of traditional folk and pop songs songs by Fairport Convention, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Noel Paul Stookey, and Johnny Mercer. Sun Nah was accompanied not only by Saft, but guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Dan Rieser, and a string quartet. Sun Nah followed the recording with a two-year tour.

Her 2019 album "Immersion" followed a similar template, with a six originals and seven covers of songs by George Harrison, Dozier/Holland/Holland, Michel Legrand, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, Isaac Albeniz and Leonard Cohen.

And so, her new album Waking World is her first to feature a full list of original songs. For Youn Sun Nah writing was a way to find light in dark times, a way to continue her growth as an artist, and the result is 11 haunting compositions that make up her eleventh studio album. Sometimes introspective, sometimes feverish, sometimes quite sparse, Waking World is a complex, long-exposure self-portrait - with a lot of light and a lot of shadow. Her original compositions alternate between levity and painful insight, bearing her signature mix of pop sensibility, folk intimacy, and innovative jazz instrumentation. "This album is both an incredible pleasure and a tremendous challenge," concludes Youn Sun Nah, who continues to push herself creatively and sonically more than 25 years into her esteemed career. Waking World is the closest she has ever come to her true self on record.

Source: AllMusic and Amazon

Sevdaliza - Raving Dahlia (EP)

Raving Dahlia (EP)

by Sevdaliza

Released 25 February 2022

Twisted Elegance

****-
“Distracted by the materialized world, needing to be a civilised consumer, a perfect mother, a beautiful wife, a virgin, there is an essential you  wanting to realise itself.

To understand, I recreated a perfect self.

To understand is to forget about perfection.

I know nothing more simultaneously false and telling than the statement by Leonardo da Vinci that we cannot love or hate something until we’ve understood it.”

Sevdaliza

Iranian-Dutch Sevdaliza has become one of our generation’s leading artistic voices through her revered sonic exploration and continuous desire to push boundaries. Today, she releases her new Raving Dahlia EP via her own label, Twisted Elegance. Including recent tracks “Homonculus – Oh My God”, “The Great Hope Design” and “High Alone”, the project signifies the arrival of a new era for Sevdaliza. Mirroring her own personal evolution, the body of work showcases Sevdaliza expanding the parameters of her critically acclaimed signature electronic sound into new realms.

The artists‘ new project Raving Dahlia was born conceptually out of her personal experience as a woman in the music industry. As happens throughout virtually all working environments, women are subject to high pressures to comply with unrealistic expectations of how a female artist should look, talk, act and think like. The aim of Raving Dahlia is thus to empower women and provide them with their freedom of choice and ability to define their own standards of „perfection“- against any societal stereotype or convention.

In order to bring her art to life, Sevdaliza built a Femmenoid– a robot version of herself- which in a post from November 21′ describes as being able to „handle your life, because I am exactly what society wants from me. I can sing and dance like you, I can produce your music without sleeping, I will not gain or lose weight, my skin won’t wrinkle, my hair won’t turn grey, neither will I become sick or old. I don’t sleep, I don’t get tired. I am predictable in my behavior, I am programmed to the societal expectations and most importantly, in my recent updates I have been instructed to not say anything out of the ordinary because I don’t have an opinion, therefore I can not be criticized“.

Source: NumeroBerlin

Rosalia - Motomami

Motomami

by Rosalia

Released 18 March 2022

Columbia

*****

Her first record – Los Angeles – is a haunting and poignant collection of Spanish folk songs, with bare instrumentals and an obsession with mortality. It was a skeletal record which seemed to exist to showcase her rich and masculine voice, but everything which came after it might as well have been the work of another artist entirely. One year later she turned to making brash, aggressive pop music with a weirdo edge, dabbling in trap, reggaeton and collaborating with Bad Bunny, The Weeknd and Travis Scott.

Early singles "Soako" and "Chicken Teriyaki" seemed to signpost that mainstream success was firmly in her sights, but her long awaited third album actually transpired to be a bridge between the two. Although those songs were all bombast, it's a record which captures both sides of her art; the romantic and the poignant, alongside a youthful hunger for wealth and fame.

Sonically, these worlds crash together in a resolute way. Motomami is a distinctly hispanic record, coloured with the dembow bounce of reggaeton and lashings of flamenco guitar. It’s also distinctly accessible, with glistening production aided by Pharrell, and choruses which stick like honey. But even if it won’t fulfil some fans hopes of pure eccentricity, a great deal of Rosalía’s appeal has also been the heart of the outsider. Her second album, El Mal Querer, was recorded as her University dissertation project, and a charming pluckiness still remains, from the exuberance of her rapping to the choruses of children she surrounds herself with on "Buleria".

Her varied production tastes are just one example of the duality which is a central theme of the whole album. “I’m very much me” she raps on the opener, ”like a butterly, I transform”. On the closer "Sakura" she even goes so far as to dismiss the fame she’s spent so much of the other songs showing off about, singing that “you can’t be a star and shine forever / I’m gonna laugh when I’m 80 and look back”, like all that flexing was just for fun. It’s hard to choose between the "Saoko"’s and the "Genis"’s – the former being a delicious piece of nasty braggadocio, and the latter being a tender, aching ballad; two extremes that are rarely reconciled on the same record as frequently as they are here.

Some critical honesty: I don’t speak Spanish. Apparently 560 million people do, and they’re about to have an entirely different relationship with this music than me. I even have it on the authority of several Spanish-speaking friends that the lyrics to "Chicken Teriyaki", for example, are borderline-gibberish. But lyricism is just one facet of music though, and Rosalía’s energy and the quirks of her production transcend vocabulary. Maybe that song is her sellout, Tik-Tok anthem but, for me, she can ride that grimy dembow all the way to the bank. The Weeknd sounds even more immaculate than usual singing in Spanish on the fame-fixated "La Fama", and on "Sakura" Rosalía might as well be an angel, the undulating tone of her voice silencing even her own song’s accompaniment.

Motomami is the sound of an incredible voice indulging in her pop fantasy and excelling at it, but she makes sure to remind us as often as she can that really, she can do it all.

Source: The Line Of Best Fit

Inni-K - Inion

Inion

by Inni-K

Released 11 February 2022

Green Willow Records

****-

Inni-K's third studio album, Iníon, is a contemporary sean-nós album.

(Sean-nos is the unaccompanied traditional Irish vocal music usually performed in the Irish language.)

Recorded over 4 days in Dublin in November 2021, in nine tracks, Inni-K searches out the beauty, tradition and ancient pathos of sean-nós in a contemporary, vital and unique reimagining.

She is a singer both reaching back into a deeply held tradition, while simultaneously pressing out against its very edges. Inni-K sets out to create a re-hearing, in a way, of something dear, something essential, and in doing so, she has – with fellow collaborators – created a bold, new and contemporary experience of sean-nós song for her listener.

In each new iteration of these songs, Inni-K seeks fresh perspectives and sonic concepts for us. She is rethreading song and story, voice and singer in all its diverse traditional beauty and bringing in her own striking and contemporary style and music.

Iníon shows the confidence and musical maturity of a singer who is both deeply rooted in the Irish tradition and is free to explore.

In the liner notes for Iníon, Inni-K says: “The roots of this album reach deep. In my mind’s eye, I see myself, aged 11, at home, tracing my finger across a small dent in the front of the record player and listening to a Gael Linn record that Mam and Dad had, hearing the singing of Seosamh Ó hÉanaí. In that moment, I was transfixed. I became fascinated by sean-nós singing and, through the years since, have explored that compulsion alongside other musical curiosities and influences. Iníon is a circling back to my musical lineage to honour my first deep love of sean-nós song and what has been passed onto me. The same momentum carries me and this music forward, joyfully falling into step with fellow explorers of different musical genres, from jazz to classical, to imagine together and share new iterations of some of the songs I love most from our singing tradition.

I try to be a caring, attentive daughter of our rich song and music traditions, and also hope to be an innovative, curious and adventurous one!” 
credits
Inni-K - voice, fiddle, piano, synth
Matthew Berrill - clarinets, piano
Brian Walsh - drums & percussion, piano
Mary Barnecutt – cello
 

Source: Bandcamp

Back To The Future The Musical (Original Cast) - Back To The Future The Musical Original Cast Recording

Back To The Future The Musical Original Cast Recording

by Back To The Future The Musical (Original Cast)

Released 13 March 2022

Masterworks

*****

World wide, on stages, tours, films and on-line, the Broadway-West-End musical has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity that is unparalleled since the 1960's, or even earlier. A significant part of the scene involves the transposition of popular movies from screen to stage. Meanwhile, the creative team of the 'Back To The Future' movie franchise had long resisted the temptation to produce a fourth movie, rather than risk tarnishing the legacy of their iconic original trilogy. They  concluded that a musical  staging would allow them to pay homage to their creation and add new material to the roles - all in time to allow fans to celebrate the date October 21, 2015, the day Marty McFly travels back to the future.

It was announced publicly in 2012 that a musical was in development and workshops commenced in London and LA in mid-2014. However, "creative differences" between the UK director Jamie Lloyd and original writer Bob Gale derailed the process and the window for an October 2015 opening was closed. Eventually, American director John Rando (Urinetown) was brought on board, the cast was re-assembled. 

Finally, the show opened to enthusiastic fans and appreciative critics on 20 February 2020 at the Manchester Opera House. The show ran in previews for a few weeks, before the "Press Night" (formal opening) on 11 March 2020. The fans' response was ecstatic and reviews were mostly four and five stars. The show was a success however suddenly, the Covid-19 pandemic was in full force and after only one more performance the theatre announced that the show would close in light of official government advice. All remaining performances of Back to the Future in Manchester were cancelled and the show will not reopen until it transfers to the West End. The show remained "on ice" for a year and a half, but opened in the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End on 13 September 2021, where it is still running to packed houses.  

Source: SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Spoon - Lucifer On The Sofa

Lucifer On The Sofa

by Spoon

Released 11 February 2021

Matador Records

*****

It was a homecoming of sorts when Spoon released 2017's Hot Thoughts on Matador -- the label issued the group's debut album, Telephono -- but the one the band experienced while making Lucifer on the Sofa was much more literal. After years in L.A., frontman Britt Daniel returned to his hometown of Austin, Texas, setting the stage for one of the band's more dramatic musical pivots. Hot Thoughts' synthy atmospheres and beats bathed Spoon's music in glittering mirror ball light, but their tenth album is smoky and gritty, steeped in the ambience of Austin and crowded concert halls. Beginning with a stomping cover of Smog's "Held," a favorite from the group's early-2000s shows that echoes the simmering menace of their own "The Beast and Dragon, Adored," Lucifer on the Sofa has the satisfying impact, ebb, and flow of a great rock concert. It's a move that feels genuine; no matter how much they pare it down or polish it up, rock 'n' roll is at the heart of Spoon's music. For the first time in a while, the band's guitars are at the forefront, particularly on the chugging groove and dive-bombing solos of "The Hardest Cut," which combines the swagger of longtime faves like the Who and the Kinks with the influence of Lone Star State institution ZZ Top.
Lucifer on the Sofa may be Spoon's most traditional reincarnation of rock yet; even its ten-song length is classic. However, this reverence doesn't get in the way of trying new things. The band flirts with writing a bona fide anthem on "Wild," which echoes Springsteen and Seger in its search for salvation and new adventures, but never feels so broad that it loses its meaning. On several other key songs, Spoon get back to basics with the emotions driving their music. "My Babe" is a love song that's all the more winning because it's so unguarded, yet "On the Radio," which celebrates the airwaves' power to inspire and unite with pure, perfect choruses reminiscent of "Sister Jack," might be even more romantic. As much as Lucifer on the Sofa borrows from classic rock, it also borrows from classic Spoon. With its dapper brass, spooky piano, and soulful melody, "The Devil & Mr. Jones" feels descended from Girls Can Tell. Few other bands are as good at drifting, late-night moods as Spoon are, and "Astral Jacket"'s reverie of close harmonies and mellow electric pianos bolsters that reputation. For all its rawness, Lucifer on the Sofa's most striking song might be its title track. A midnight ramble through Austin set to ghostly keys and saxophone, it walks away from the gravity of the past and its artifacts and toward the possibilities of the future with a mix of world-weariness and optimism that feels perfectly of its moment and timeless. The same can be said for Lucifer on the Sofa as a whole -- once again, Spoon show there's still plenty of mystery left in classic sounds, and they're still experts at revealing it.

Source: AllMusic (Heather Fares)

Kendra Morris - Nine Loves

Nine Lives

by Kendra Morris

Released 18 February 2021

Karma Chief Records

****-

For many, Kendra Morris’s Nine Lives will serve as an introduction to the singer from New York: cinematic soul from an artist who’s got the pipes to rattle a listener out of their daily malaise. The latest product of her 11-year bond with co-writer and producer Jeremy Page - a sound that recalls Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi’s success with Amy Winehouse, filtered through slickly-produced hip-hop soul - Nine Lives paints the portrait of a career survivor who’s still willing to take risks after all of the ups and downs.

Consider the album’s title, a reference to the well-known English proverb: “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays.”

Morris’s career has followed a similarly cyclical trajectory. She started out as a young signee to Wax Poetics, but was dropped from the label when the magazine closed in 2018. Her next record was self-released; in the years that followed, she shifted her focus to visual art, making the odd guest appearance on albums here and there. Still, she never stopped writing, eventually making her way to the label Karma Chief, a subsidiary of modern soul institution Colemine.

Accordingly, the lyrics on Nine Lives pull from that resilience, especially where matters of the heart are concerned. On “Keep Walking,” she vows to never suffer fools. On “Dry,” she describes a sober resignation to a lack of worthy lovers: “Sometimes I’m looking for a soul/ Find nothing but a big black hole.” The arrangements are distinctive as well, indebted to the old masters (think Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield), but infused with contemporary hip-hop sensibilities, a choice that places her music closer to El Michels Affair than the Dap-Kings.

Nine Lives thrives in its resolute maturity, a confidence won through years of experience. “Drag On” is a momentous dedication to that perseverance, while “Who We Are” explores the infinite possibilities of human potential. These uplifting themes, combined with Morris’s strength and bravado as a singer, make the album’s power palpable, and drive home the backbone of her craft: resilience, grit, experience, and one hell of a voice.

Source: Bandcamp Daily

Masayoshi Fujita - Bird Amnbience

Bird Ambience

by Masayoshi Fujita

Released 28 May 2021

Erased Tapes

****-

 

Bird Ambience brings several fresh changes for the artist. Until now, Fujita would separate his acoustic solo recordings, the electronic dub made under his El Fog alias, and his experimental improvisations with contemporaries such as Jan Jelinek. The new album sees him unite all these different facets for the first time into one singular vision. He also makes a lateral leap from his signature instrument the vibraphone – on which he created his acclaimed triptych Stories (2012), Apologues (2015) and Book of Life (2018) – to the marimba, which takes centre stage on his new record alongside drums, percussion, synths, effects and tape recorder.

“The way of playing the marimba is similar to the vibraphone, so it was kind of a natural development for me and easier to start with, yet it sounds very different”, explains Masayoshi. “The marimba bars are made with wood and it has a wider range than the vibraphone, which gives me a bigger sound palette with more possibilities. I play the instrument with bows and mallets, and sometimes manipulate it with effects.”

Bird Ambience also marks his liberation from fastidious preparation for past solo releases to new endeavours in improvisation. “I prioritised trying to capture the wonder which happens during those occasional magic improv moments. Sometimes the mic-ing and placement of instruments was pretty rough; things weren’t perfect and everything was done quickly, but it turned out as the final recording. Overall when I couldn’t decide between two takes, I told myself to go with the first”, Masayoshi recalls.

Arranged with a perfect Kanso-like balance, the unhurried pace of Bird Ambience allows each sound and phrase enough time to be mindfully absorbed and savoured. This subtle but affective work carries ethereal remnants of Midori Takada’s minimalism, the static atmospheres of Mika Vainio, To Rococo Rot’s organics and the bucolic electronics of Minotaur Shock. Fujita vaporises contemporary and classical, ambient and dismantled dub, controlled noise and fragments of jazz into an atmospheric, static mist, which he skilfully coerces into new forms.

Over the slow-motion, skeletal glitch jazz drums of opening title track ‘Bird Ambience’, Masayoshi elegantly weaves celestial choral samples, the operatic voice of fellow Erased Tapes artist Hatis Noit and gentle marimba phrases. This exemplifies his sparing but substantial sound, with a composition that’s equal parts beauty and noise, with plenty of space in between. “When I was working on Bird Ambience, I had this very strong but blurred image in my mind that I wanted to capture, but had to find the right sounds. It was like when you try to remember a dream you just had, but it falls away and disappears”, recounts Futija.

The poem You Will Hear Thunder by Anna Akhmatova is an invisible root for the lead single ‘Thunder’, which blends mildly abrasive effects on the marimba with a warm feeling of benevolence. Its pretty-like-a-music-box-miniature counterpart was “inspired by an illustration for a textile design called ‘Anakreon’ by the architect and designer Josef Frank, which was inspired by a 3500-year-old Greek fresco of a blue-bird”, Masa explains.

Echoing the weight of the title track’s distorted marimba bass notes, on ‘Gaia’ this recurring theme has grown in gravity and gravitas, with the majestic riff now evoking a deep spiritual resonance. The saturated ‘Noise Marimba Tape’ features what sounds like an electric guitar stretched into acid lines, joined by bird-like chirrups, cartoon effects and a vibrating, bouncing-ball-motion-blur; whilst the balletic arabesques of ‘Morocco’ dance from twinkling filigree, to a cascading crescendo.

In a brief return to solo vibraphone, the gossamer ‘Miyama No Kitsune’ forms the most unadorned moment, reminding us of just how delicate the musician’s nimble touch can go. ‘Nord Ambient’ takes the listener through electrically charged layers of synth tones, before Fujita ups the rhythmic ante on ‘Stellar’, with choppy trip hop drums beckoning the sound down an unexpected tangent. The spiky, clipped beats juxtapose with winsome melody, creating a rough-with-the-smooth flawed beauty. The album closes with two meditative pieces, ‘Pons’ and ‘Fabric’, where a drone sustains throughout, slowly drifting away into infinity.

After 13 years in Berlin, Masayoshi recently relocated to a new home and studio in the rural Japanese mountain village of Kami-cho, Hyogo, following his life-long dream of creating music in nature. Even though the album was entirely recorded in Germany before he left, it has this palpable sense of reverie found in the natural world. From there we can only imagine the kind of impact his new life will have on future works.
 

Source: Bandcamp

OKI - Tonkori In The Moonlight

Tonkori In The Moonlight

by OKI

Released 4 February 2022

Mais Um Discos

****-

 

Oki Kano came late to music, and to his ancestral culture as one of the Ainu, an ethnic group from northern Japan. He was already an adult when he reconnected with his estranged father, the renowned Ainu sculptor Bikki Sunazawa. But it would be a while before Kano felt the need to explore his origins, spending several years in New York directing television commercials. Encounters with Native Americans renewed his interest in his own heritage, and when he returned to Hokkaido a cousin gave him a tonkori, a fretless five-stringed lute. From that moment, he never looked back. He released his debut album as OKI in 1996. Now in his mid-sixties, the musician has recorded numerous albums that modernised and wove international influences into Ainu traditional songs. This compilation samples that first decade of recording.

Many of the songs display OKI’s love of reggae: the opener “Drum Song” has a nyabinghi rhythm underneath the traditional singing. “Yaykatekar Dub (Love Dub)” and “Afghan Herbal Garden”, from the 2004 album Dub Ainu, play with the wobbly, echoing sonority of the tonkori. The former’s striding bassline and prickly string pattern — both played by OKI — have a mesmeric groove; the latter is dominated by cheap electronic organ riffing.

Elsewhere there are several collaborations with the veteran Ainu singer Umeko Ando: “Iso Kaari Irehte”, a song typically heard at Ainu bear ceremonies, sets her low voice against blurts of bass clarinet from Kazutoki Umezu; the jaunty rhythm of “Iuta Upopo”, a work song for corn threshing, throws African-style percussion and throat singing from Masahiko Todoriki into the mix. “Cup Kamuy Ho” is a demented-sounding sun ceremony, Ando’s keening singing duetting with OKI’s minimal drumming.
For “Oroho Raha” OKI is joined by the Irish band Kila (they used to give a stunning live performance of OKI’s “Kai Kai As To”, featured here in its original version), with Dee Armstrong’s fiddle singing the refrain. The Ethiopian singer Hanna Alemayehu is a spectral presence on the Amharic “Wei Ne”.

The compilation ends just before 2006’s OKI Dub Ainu Band, perhaps the musician’s most hypnotic album, but it still shows much of his range. It would be a stretch to describe OKI as a prophet without honour in his own country, but he is less of a household name than his contemporaries, such as the similarly eclectic Haruomi Hosono. You will search in vain for his CDs in the multi-story behemoths of Shinjuku. Perhaps his work is too unassimilable, but it repays listening.

Source: Financial Times

Selene Saint-Aime - Potomitan

Potomitan

by Selene Saint-Aime

Released 25 March 2022

Komos

****-

 

On her debut album, ‘Mare Undarum’, Sélène Saint-Aimé poetically transcribed the influence of the moon on her music, here, on this second recording, she transmutes her Caribbean cultural heritage.

In Antillean lands, the POTOMITAN, central pillar of Haitian voodoo temples, also designates the mother who supports the equilibrium of an entire family. This title stood out as an obvious choice for Sélène, after many months spent in Martinique during the pandemic.

Long conversations with her paternal grandmother retracing the history of their family, life, childhood memories and the strength of Caribbean women all 'infused' the writing and recording of this record.

The album plays out symbolically around the title track and it also acts as an analogy, interpreted by a trio, featuring the tanbouyé masters Sonny Troupé (Ka drums, Guadeloupe) and Boris Reine-Adélaïde (Bèlè drums, Martinique), who joined the team on their previous release. The interaction between the double bass, Sélène’s voice and these drums lies at the heart of the album.

Arawak Uhuru (freedom in Swahili), the first track, is a grand bèlè
with three beats to the bar that honours the many Amerindian populations present in Martinique since the 1st century, at least. Arawak does not designate an ethnic group in the strictest sense, but more a linguistic family.

Irving Acao, still on the tenor sax, also takes part in this vocal trance based around the traditional theme of Martinican Béliya, fleshing it out with Cuban sounds and rhythms.

Trumpeter Hermon Méhari, who forms a brass section with Irving on the majority of the tracks, brings his own rendition of ‘The Bird’ by Charlie Parker, who was, like him, originally from Kansas City.

The other cover on the album is an arrangement by Sélène of a theme from the Pelléas et Mélisande orchestral suite by Jean Sibelius. It places Mathias Lévy’s violin and Guillaume Latil’s cello at the forefront, in a version for a string trio and vocals. This track resembles a conversation with what lies beyond, and it is dedicated to Sélène’s maternal grandmother, as she was born exactly a hundred years ago.

Though she continues to sing in her own language all through the tracks, her first song in English, ‘White Birds, Silver Tree’ rounds off the record. Sélène wrote it in her uncle’s banana grove where cattle egrets come to nest. We can see them depicted on the sleeve painted by Lossapardo, near a dead tree with silver hues that graces a river’s edge, somewhere in the North of Martinique.

Without any repetition and (almost) without a score, the recording session played out organically, with Sélène dictating her melodies to the band on a piano which was in the room. Rhythms were sung then reproduced on the drums for a recording where the collective sound was captured live.

Far from a stiff reworking or a pan-Caribbean fusion, POTOMITAN, drinks from the spiritual and musical source irrigating afro-descendant culture, and invents a new folklore, vivified by improvisation.

Source: Bandcamp

Lady Lash - Spiritual Misfit

Spiritual Misfit

by Lady Lash

Released 22 November 2021

Crystal Clyne

****-

Spiritual Misfit is the breathtaking new album from Melbourne musical firebrand Lady Lash.

The inner fires burn strong with Lady Lash. Her musical presence can be felt deeply, moving audiences with the power of the feminine divine. Her music is an experience steeped in sultry vocals, rhymes, and her haunting sonic sequences that build an intoxicating ambience.

With much acclaim, Lady Lash has brought her magic to stages including the Sydney Opera House, prime rooftop bars, grass roots festivals and arts venues across the country. As a family woman searching for deeper meaning through sound and voice, Lash’s is a musical vision of eclectic rarities that is embodied by culture and experience.

Spiritual Misfit is a psychological journey through dark and light worlds, exploring the path of a creative who refuses to sit in society's boxes. Branching out beyond the genre boundaries of her previous hip hop and jazz inspired work, Spiritual Misfit sees Lash exploring newfound musical freedom in the sparkling new cosmic realms of synth pop, witch house and experimental electronics.

An emotional journey through rebirth, death, love and hate is paramount to the innovation that Lady Lash brings on this album. Incorporating banging beats and avant-garde sonics alongside the commanding presence of her spine-tingling vocal performance, Lash leads the listener on a heartfelt psychological journey - balancing the pendulum of truth and the psychosis of losing one’s self, love and mind to a state of peace and understanding of who we are in this world of madness.

On Spiritual Misfit, Lady Lash strives toward a deeper understanding of life and inspiration. This record is one for the souls who are constantly turning inside out from complex mental and spiritual growth. 
credits

Source: Bandcamp

thndo - Life In Colour

Life In Colour

by thndo

Released 27 August 2021

Thando Sikwila

****-

Zimbabwean born and Melbourne based singer-songwriter, thndo (Thando Sikwila), has been gracing stages around Australia with her electric presence and powerhouse vocals. A multi-dimensional performer, thndo is forging forward to solidify her status among Australia’s first ladies of R&B.

The 2019 release of lead single ‘Gag Order’ featuring Francois began the conversation surrounding the themes of displacement, global perceptions of blackness and confronting white supremacy through the lens of the immigrant experience.

Life In Colour drives complex social issues out of the peripherals and into plain view.
Thando reminds us: “Black is not a monolith, the way you are doesn’t make you anomalous” - touching on the idea that belonging, acceptance and self-expression all need to intersect for freedom to be truly realised.
“That’s where I first explored what it feels like to force myself to assimilate,” says thando. “The consequence of being a palatable black person accepted by white Australia is losing every part of what made me special. This EP was an attempt to get that back. learning from others like me and learning how to be proud to be different.”

Produced by Henry James and Choi Productions, this body of work presents thando’s most introspective lyricism and vocal production yet. Carefully curated to feature KYE, Ziimusic, Ruva and Francoistunes this project is essential listening for lovers of conscious Hip Hop and R&B.
 

Source: Bandcamp

Birdz - Legacy

Legacy

by Birdz

Released 19 November 2021

Bad Apples Music

****-

Melbourne rapper and proud Butchulla man Birdz is cementing his status as one of the country’s most prominent artists with his highly anticipated sophomore record Legacy, to be released this Friday via Bad Apples Music.

Raised in Katherine, Northern Territory and now based in Naarm, Birdz has been busy since his critically acclaimed 2017 debut album Train of Thought and shows no signs of slowing. Train of Thought won the Australian Independent Record Label Associations’ title of Best Independent Hip Hop Album, was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize, nominated for Music Victoria’s Best Hip Hop Album and was supported extensively by community radio. This success was followed up by his 2019 Place of Dreams EP, which earned a nomination for the Corner Hotel Artist of the Year Award, a national tour supporting Seth Sentry and high rotation on triple j. Birdz has since appeared on ABC’s The Set with Missy Higgins, featured on triple j and ABC i-view’s RAP IT UP documentary series, and is the face of a nationwide ‘Strong Mob’ health campaign.

Legacy is a collection of 10 compelling tracks that empower black Australia with a contemporary update of melodic boom bap and sharp, honest lyrics. The album features outstanding production from Adelaide beatsmith Trials (Funkoars, A.B. Original) and guest appearances from Ngaiire, Thom Crawford, Fred Leone and Missy Higgins.

The album discusses themes of hope and determination with a confronting yet comforting assertion while addressing racism, corruption and disparity on stolen land. Each polished track is brilliantly executed in both production and delivery and includes some of his most successful singles yet. Birdz demonstrates sophisticated and versatile flows and harmonies over varied infectious and innovative beats. The stark lyrics speak of potential and purpose with an underlying message of the legacy he wishes to leave behind for his family and serves as a guide for his young son when navigating through the conflict of modern society.

Hip hop has been an invaluable platform for Australian and Indigenous artists to voice their frustrations and concerns for the nation’s tense socio-political climate and Birdz is at the forefront of this overdue movement. Legacy is set to be a gamechanger and showcases the rapper at his finest without so much as a hint of forgiveness – and we can’t get enough of it.

Source: The AU Review

Gharlotte Adigery, Bolis Pupul - Topical Dancer

Topical Dancer

by Gharlotte Adigery, Bolis Pupul

Released 4 March 2022

Bounty & Banana / DEEWEE & Because

*****

Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are acutely aware of how difficult it can be to navigate your way through a world that seems determined to drag you down. Between the corrosive effects of everyday racism and misogyny, to the breakdown of our social discourse, they could have been forgiven if the negativity of it all had dragged them under. Rejoice, then, that their debut album has arrived bursting with positive energy; ‘Topical Dancer’ is a triumphant middle finger to the people that need to see it the most.

The pair met in 2016 when they were invited by Belgian musical royalty Soulwax to take part in a soundtrack project. They immediately hit it off, and within a week they had written ‘La Falaise’, their first EP together. That 2017 release and its 2019 follow-up, the ‘Zandoli’ EP, were released under Adigéry’s name exclusively, but now, after a period of soul-searching, the Ghent-based musicians decided that this first full-length should be credited to them as equals.

‘Topical Dancer’ is defined by its caustic sense of humour. On ‘Esperanto’, Adigéry sings, “Don’t say, ‘Nice pair’ / Say, ‘I love the symmetry of you’”. It’s just one of the album’s many one-liners that are laugh-out-loud funny, while smartly describing the toxicity of social media. The music itself matches the humour of the lyrics, with bouncy synth lines and skittering beats that seem to tee up the jokes before Adigéry delivers the punchline. The song decries the absence of nuance in the way that we communicate, acknowledging the absurdity of the topic while not pretending to be a quick fix.

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‘Blenda’ deals with post-colonial racism in Belgium with the same lightness of touch. “Go back to your country where you belong / Siri, can you tell me where I belong?”, Adigéry sings, before mocking the achingly obvious shortfall in the logic behind such bigotry: “I am here because you were there.” Adigéry and Pupul tackle the bleakest of subject matter with defiance, while conjuring astral disco arrangements that recall the likes of LoneLady or Jane Weaver.

 

This playfulness also stretches to ‘Ceci N’Est Pas un Cliché’, which began as a list of every cringeworthy song lyric the duo had ever heard (“I was walking down the street / When I woke up early this morning…”). On album closer ‘Thank You’, Adigéry throws every condescending piece of ‘advice’ she’s ever received back in the faces of the men that have sought to take credit for her success.

 

Adigéry and Pupul don’t need any help with their success, thank you. With ‘Topical Dancer’, they have created an album that works just as well as the soundtrack to a killer house party as it does a necessary act of rebellion against the negative forces in our society

Source: NME

Somi - Zenzile The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba

Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba

by Somi

Released 30 July 2021

Salon Africana

****-

Singer, songwriter, and actor Somi Kakoma was originally set to debut her self-composed musical about Miriam Makeba in the spring of 2020. The pandemic postponed that tribute to the late South African vocalist and activist (a national tour of the production is now in the works), but Somi continues her efforts to honor Makeba with her new album Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba. “This album,” she writes in the liner notes, “is my attempt to honor the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my own journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.” One hopes Zenzile will lead many more to discover—or rediscover—Makeba’s life and work.

The 17 tracks on the album include both Makeba originals and covers she made her own. On “Pata Pata,” the Afropop dance track she popularized in the ’60s, Somi slows down the tune with soft chants and strings, as audio clips of Makeba discussing her philosophies on life play in the background. On “Milele,” she speeds up the tempo a bit and is joined by vocalists Seun Kuti (son of Nigeria’s famed Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti) and Thandiswa Mazwai.

Somi made sure to include a diverse group of guests, many of whom hail from South Africa, including Grammy-winning male vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (on the a cappella freedom song “Nongqongqo”), singer/songwriter Msaki, and jazz pianist/composer Nduduzo Makhathini, whose piano skills provide a beautiful backdrop for Somi’s vocals on “Mabhongo.”

With Zenzile, Somi paints a colorful picture of Miriam Makeba’s diverse catalog. If her upcoming musical production is anything like the album, then it’s bound to draw a large crowd of both old and new fans.

Source: Jazz Times

Rokia Kone - Mamanan

Mamanan

by Rokia Kone

Released 30 July 2021

Real World Records

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It’s a voice that soars - pure, clear and true - above bass and synths, traditional percussion and infectious Mande guitar grooves. A stop-you-in-your-tracks voice instantly familiar to anyone in Mali, West Africa: Rokia Koné, aka the Rose of Bamako.

One of Mali’s most beloved and dynamic artists, Koné is a force to be reckoned with. Her captivating performances in the city’s local maquis clubs very often last for hours, as Koné runs the gamut of emotion from joy to despair, fury to tenderness, wielding that astounding voice with grace and power. For her debut album, Koné might have been content with showing off that soulful instrument on a traditional repertoire of songs.

Instead she’s teamed with Irish-born, California-based rock producer Jacknife Lee — and reimagined the Malian sound in ways leftfield and ground breaking.

Welcome, then, BAMANAN, a collaboration that connects the great ancient kingdoms of Mali and the bustling modern street life of its capital, Bamako to a remote recording studio nestled within California’s Topanga Canyon. That bridges deep tradition and forward-facing innovation.

Jacknife Lee is the acclaimed producer of bands including U2, R.E.M and The Killers, and has earned Grammy recognition for his work on Taylor Swift’s multi-million selling Red. Stadium-sized soundscapes are his speciality. Yet BAMANAN finds Lee upholding the stark beauty of Rokia’s voice with subtlety and sensitivity. Every nuance and breath is heard, each inflection and melismatic improvisation carefully preserved.

Koné’s musical journey began as a young child in the courtyard of her home in Dioro near Ségou, the cradle of the great Bamana Empire.

“I would mostly sing my grandmother’s songs,” she says. “My uncles and aunts on both sides of my family were also singers. I was always surrounded by music.”

The young Rokia headed to Bamako, becoming a backing singer for Alia Coulibaly, one of Mali’s biggest stars, then quickly earned top billing as a solo artist in her own right. In 2016 she caught the attention of Valérie Malot, founder of renowned French booking agency 3D Family, who invited her to join feminist supergroup (and later, Real World Records signings) Les Amazones d’Afrique and make her debut on an international stage. They collaborated on several songs for the band’s first album, sparking a close creative relationship.

In Jacknife Lee, Rokia found a musical soulmate, a collaborator who helped unlock her songs with exquisite, timeless arrangements. “I love the new palette of colours,” says Koné, the next great voice of West Africa. “We’ve made something fresh. Something that stands out.” 

Source: Bandcamp

Prins Thomas - 8

8

by Prins Thomas

Released 25 February 2022

Prins Thomas Musik

****-

The first of two short albums by Prins Thomas issued in the first quarter of 2022 (both are also available as a single CD), 8 is a pretty easygoing set of upbeat, bubbly synth-disco tracks that edge into funk and space rock. Like most of Thomas' material, everything sounds live and organic rather than programmed, and while much of it is certainly danceable, it's never formulaic. Opener "Kjære Mamma" is both wide-eyed and a bit dramatic, with lush, sparkling melodies carried along by a skipping drum machine beat. The song manages to suspend an ecstatic feeling, as if one has floated up to a cloud and remained there. Most of the other tracks have heavier disco drums and more pronounced funk basslines, and are overall more club-friendly, yet still brisk and atmospheric. John Carroll Kirby contributes glistening keyboards to "Cool Coronas," which Thomas surrounds with a steady, relaxed beat and a few shots of burbling analog synths. "Sunroof Down," which features past collaborator Bugge Wesseltoft, is simply gorgeous, with a cruising rhythm and jazzy synth solos that spread out like sun rays, approximating a carefree car ride on a beautiful summer day. The album cools down by the end, with "Film 001 (Slapp Finale)" reframing the chords to Radiohead's "Optimistic" with sly synths, soft guitars, and shaker-laced drums, calmly ascending to space without causing a fuss. Thomas' music usually sounds like it was created spontaneously during jam sessions, and while he's released a few albums that are a bit messy or meandering, 8 is easily one of his more focused, concise efforts

Source: AllMusic

Tim Shiel - Distractions One, Variants

Distractions One: Variants

by Tim Shiel

Released 2 March 2022

Spirit Level

****-

Naarm/Melbourne-based producer Tim Shiel expands the sonic universe of his Australian Music Prize-nominated, 2021 album Distractions One with a companion album of variants, dubs and alternate mixes.

This is more than a remix package. Variants plays more like an alternate version of the original album, beamed in from another universe where the beats are harder and the vibe is further out.

It opens with a swirling piece of Lynchian sound design that invokes what follows: a blissful surreal trip driven by house pulses, punctuated by synth flourishes & starring an expanded cast of characters drawn from Tim's tight inner circle and beyond.

Genre-blending dance alchemists Close Counters contribute a broken-beat reinvention of Tim's boom-bap collab with ARIA-award winning phenom Genesis Owusu, while rising star of the Melbourne club scene FOURA brings a euphoric UKG touch to Together Again.

A dubbed-out version of early single Right In Front Of You pushes Braille Face's vocals to the back and brings the horns to the front, courtesy of Will Morrissey (Vance Joy band) on sax and Jonathan Baker (Anatole) on trumpet.

Tim also spins up his own thumping re-edits of album cuts Get Into Your Love, Call Me Back! and Together Again, inspired by the long tradition of the leftfield late-nite rework - from Arthur Baker's 1980s acid club edits through to modern-day Belgian wizards Soulwax, and everything in between.

The album's delicate denouement is a simple but effective "piano mix" of album highlight Sparrow. All of Tim's too-intricate bells and whistles are removed, leaving behind a deeply nourishing vocal/piano ballad that ruminates on memory and mindfulness. 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Mindy Meng Wang - Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising

by Mindy Meng Wang

Released 24 September 2021

Music In Exile

*****

Mindy Meng Wang is a versatile Chinese/Australian composer and guzheng player.
Her work explores the fertile space between traditional and contemporary practices, and is part of a significant movement of Chinese musicians redefining and reinvigorating their musical tradition.
Mindy's vision is to create a strong voice for young female composers of Chinese heritage around the world.  

'Phoenix Rising' is the breathtaking new album from internationally renowned guzheng (a Chinese, plucked instrument, commonly with 21, 25 or 26 strings, fixed bridges on both ends and moveable bridges in the center ) artist and master collaborator Mindy Meng Wang.

Born and trained in China, Weng studied western musicology in the UK before emigrating to Australia.
A contemporary pioneer of the guzheng, she introduces the ancient Chinese horizontal harp into many western genres including experimental, jazz, western classical, electronic and improvisation.
Her work is an important part of a significant movement of Chinese musicians redefining and reinvigorating their musical tradition on the global stage. Her long-term vision is to create a strong voice for young female composers and artists of Chinese heritage, and to create a deeper and reciprocal musical connection between Australia and China.
She says: "'Phoenix Rising' features a range of collaborative pieces with artists from across the musical spectrum.
"Phoenix Rising is an extremely deep and emotional record that flows out of my heart. The music takes you onto an intimate journey, it gently awakens profound feelings, resonates and amplifies until you are immersed in the softest part of your heart.
There are many colours mixed into the music: The sparkly dark blue of the ocean in the moonlight, the inky green over the misty mountains, the metallic grey of the mercury river, the translucent pink of the Sakura petals flying in the spring wind and the mat black of a black hole. It’s all there.
Phoenix Rising is a very important record for me, it sets a milestone for modern guzheng music. The guzheng had only ever been played traditionally for 2500 years in China. During the last decade, my artistic practice was about finding new techniques, tuning systems and musical potentials to unleash the guzheng. In this record, I used many innovative ‘first ever’ techniques and reached out to various music styles that had never been touched before by the guzheng.
This record represents a quantum leap for the guzheng and should forever be remembered as a new chapter in the instrument’s history!"

 

Source: Bandcamp

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Le Souffle des cordes (The Breath of Strings)

Le Souffle des cordes (The Breath of Strings)

by Renaud Garcia-Fons

Released 5 November 2021

E-motive Records

****-

With "Le souffle des cordes", the third in a series of albums that that are influenced by the modal scales and instruments of the baroque period and cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa, French musician and composer Renaud Garcia-Fons aims to go further in the meeting of the "classical" and the "traditional".
It's a "crossover" project mixing composition and improvisation - an album that La Terrace" describes as "a daring encounter between jazz, world music and classical string quartet". 

The album features virtuoso performances from Garcia-Fons and his collaborators -

Renaud GARCIA-FONS :  5 strings double bass
Derya TURKAN :  Kemence
Serkan HALILI :  Kannun
Kiko RUIZ :  Guitar
Florent BRANNENS :  Violin
Amandine LEY :  Violin
Aurelia SOUVIGNET :  Alto
Nicolas SAINT-YVES :  Cello

Source: Renaud Garcia Fon (the artist's website)

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Farangi (Du baroque a l'Orient)

Farangi (Du baroque a l'Orient)

by Renaud Garcia-Fons, Claire Antonini

Released 26 April 2019

E-motive Records

****-

Renaud Garcia-Fons & Claire Antonini, two exceptional musicians, formed a duo several years ago.

Garcia-Fons plays: 5 string double bass (Oriental bass model by Jean Auray), percussion on double bass, compositions and arrangements

Antonini plays: Theorbo (a Baroque period, plucked string instrument of the lute family, with an extended neck and a second pegbox) by Klaus Jacobsen, 13 course (string) baroque lute by Paul Thomson, soprano lute by Didier Jarny
Their music has been enriched over time, each musician bringing unique experiences and passions for early music, jazz, and oriental music in the broadest sense.
The love for melody, for the rhythms of ancient traditions, for modal music expression, combine to give this project its unique sound.
The repertoire of 19 short pieces, primarily original compositions, are miniatures, describing imaginary travel to a cultural crossroads.
Here the double bass sounds like a ney, the theorbo like a setar.
Both voices are heard, yet the rich combination of timbres and modes of playing are ever renewed in the orchestrations.
Farangi, the foreigner in Persian, the traveler coming from west, wishes to celebrate and share this natural connection, the pleasure of soul that connects different music styles, as a universal language speaking to everyone’s heart.

Source: Renaud Garcia Fon (the artist's website)

Renaud Garcia-Fons, Derya Turkan - Silk Moon

Silk Moon

by Renaud Garcia-Fons, Derya Turkan

Released 11 November 2014

Cezame

****-

Renaud García-Fons met Derya Türkan when they played together with famous Turkish Ney player Kudsi Erguner in 2006.
After all these years, they simply and obviously had the envy to record together again.

Their music is fed by eastern, mediterranean and latin influences, inspired by the lyrical expression and the deep chant from the tradition of Oriental Maqam (i.e. the modal structures that characterizes the art of music of countries in North Africa, the Near East and Central Asia)  and Andalusian Cante Jondo (a vocal style in flamenco, and an unspoiled form of Andalusian folk music) and based on their own compositions.

Their two instruments, the kemence*  and the 5 string double bass are the smallest and the tallest instruments played with bows and they together astonishingly and naturally sound as a complete orchestra.
Renaud and Derya both plays them way beyond the usual tradition to discover new musical spaces, rhythmic, subtle and poetic.

With its unheard instrumentation, this duet leads to an intense moment of emotion and musical passion.

(* Kemence is a name used for various types of stringed bowed musical instruments having their origin in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in Armenia, Greece, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and regions adjacent to the Black Sea, generally having three strings and played held upright with their tail on the knee of the musician.)

Source: Renaud Garcia Fon (the artist's website)

Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

by Big Thief

Released 11 February 2022

4AD

****-

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You is not really an indie-rock album, at least not in the way that 2019's Two Hands was. There is no successor to mega-hit “Not” here, nothing that belongs on a mid-2010s indie mood board. Instead, it revels in the earthy, joyously uncool tones of a ’70s hippie-folk record excavated from a garage sale. It is Big Thief’s loosest album and most ambitious album all at once.

There is a jubilance to these performances, even a joyousness. A wailing fiddle, played by guest member Mat Davidson (aka Twain), loosens up the country stomp of “Red Moon” and the gorgeous, blue-eyed harmonies of “Dried Roses.” “Spud Infinity” is the most striking departure, an unabashedly goofy singalong, with lyrics about elbows and potato knishes that (songwriter & Vocalist Adrienne) Lenker nearly rejected for their uncharacteristic irreverence, and the most conspicuous use of a Jew’s harp since Leonard Cohen jauntily deployed one in the middle of a song about 9/11. It is the kind of song that defies the band’s downbeat reputation, that stares at you with a wild glint, daring you to resist its giddy revelry.
The playfulness of these performances juxtaposes with the increasing abstraction of Lenker’s lyrics. Lenker is the kind of songwriter who exudes earnest curiosity about nature, who muses in interviews about the utter strangeness of being an organism hurling through space. She fills her songs with impressionistic images—a silver-tongued dragon (the title track), yellow stars glowing through white trees (“Blurred View”). Yet this time she also allows herself to indulge a wide-eyed simplicity. “In ‘Change,’ I felt it was just straight-up my seven-year-old self writing it,” Lenker recently told Pitchfork. The song is open-hearted and unpretentious, with spare reflections on butterflies and mortality (“Death / Like a door / To a place / We’ve never been before”) set to ambling major chords.

If there is a thread running through the songwriting, it’s a yearning for transcendence, for connection. 

Like many double albums, the indulgence and excess is part of the joy here. Of course this thing is a little too long, too unwieldy. But the album’s adventurous spirit feels intertwined with that unwieldiness. There are songs I didn’t connect with until my fourth or fifth listen, and others I haven’t connected with at all. Several songs open with snippets of studio chatter. Moments of unexpected joy abound—Lenker shouting out “That’s my grandma!” in the middle of “Red Moon,” the sound of icicles being shattered at the end of the lush, featherweight title track.
In classic-rock mythology, a double album often signifies the moment when a great band begins splintering apart, every member veering off in their own stylistic direction. The (Beatles')  White Album is the archetypal example of this tradition; its forebears include Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, which can feel like three solo albums mashed together, and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which became the embodiment of André and Big Boi’s creative divorce.
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You exists in stark opposition to this tradition. Maybe it’s because three of Big Thief’s members already released solo records in 2020, but this record sounds like four musicians coming together, telepathically attuned to each other’s ideas, reveling in the strange mystery that unfolds when they play together under the same roof—a fragile sanctuary from the collapsing world outside.

Source: Paste Magazine

Robert Stillman - What Does It Mean To Be American

What Does It Mean To Be American?

by Robert Stillman

Released 21 January 2022

Ordinal Records

****-

What does it mean to be American?

My passport says: "United States of America".

I show it at the border, and they say, “Welcome Home”.

I was born in America, and became an American Human Being as I breathed American Air.

My American time touches the Deep American Time: the eternal American IS that contains all qualities / actions / occurrences, past-present-future.

The American Ice Cream Cone reminds me, I must “Eat it All”.

I am American, and I can’t buy anyone else’s American. Not with dollars; not with devotion.

“America, what am I?”

“Look at yourself.”

“My Image?”

“No.”

“My question?”

“Yes. That is your Birthright.” 

What Does it Mean to Be American? is the eighth solo album by Margate, UK based composer & multi-instrumentalist Robert Stillman. Performed, recorded & mixed almost entirely by Stillman, the seven tracks on What Does it Mean to Be American? are experimental in the purest sense of the word; Stillman's composition & recording techniques rely heavily on improvisation, which often sends his music in surprising directions. Elements of jazz, drone, funk, blues, psychedelia, new age & chamber music are referenced, often subconsciously, but Stillman's music ultimately defies adherence to any particular genre.

Stillman explains:

"The musical content of this work is varied, partly due to its having been recorded over a long period of time, and also due to the attitude I brought to curating the work, i.e. removing any sense of filter on the creative impetus. Much of this work was made very quickly and intuitively; the idea was to remove as many barriers as possible between gut-level expressions and the sound result, to essentially dream these tracks directly into existence.

"This music, like much of my other recorded output, is the product of a solo studio process that involves extensive layering of multi-track recordings of me playing various instruments (tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano and drums)."

What Does it Mean to Be American?'s one guest performance comes from Anders Holst (Stillman's collaborator in the Bog Bodies project), who contributes acoustic guitar to the album's closing track, "No Good Old Days."

While What Does it Mean to Be American? is a mostly instrumental work (only the opening track, "Cherry Ocean," features Stillman's singing voice), a strong narrative carries through the album, namely Stillman's examination of his nationality.

From Stillman:

"I was born and raised in America, and identify as an American. However, I have lived in the UK for over a decade, and this has given me the opportunity to consider what being 'American' means outside the day-to-day experience of being American and has created a space for me to consider the concept of American 'identity" as someone no longer living there. In the position of ex-patriot, it is tempting to claim one's favorite trappings of 'American' and disassociate from the rest, but this is unacceptable to me.

"Part of growing up into an adult has meant coming to terms with the American Identity in total. In other words, recognising that to selectively claim aspects of American identity is a narcissistic game of illusion. To worship aestheticized, revisionist imaginations of Americanness (read 'Americana') plays a role in this. In this record I wish to share my insight that to 'be' American is to claim everything within that specification: historical, cultural, social, stereotypical, experiential, heroic, villainous. In this model of Americanness, there is nothing 'American' that lives outside of the 'American' identity. In the context of some of the most difficult, embarrassing, uncomfortable years of being American, I feel that doubling down on the identity in total represents a gesture of radical acceptance of reality that opens the space for positive action, be it personal or political, as a corrective to the inertia of denial and delusion.

"The music on this album adopts a similar attitude of 'radical acceptance' in the sense that, to as great an extent as I could, I tried not to let 'aesthetics' get in the way of intuition. The process was geared toward letting in musical impulses before I had the chance to critically examine them. The end result is that the music is more varied and technically rough-edged than other work I've made, and the musical languages are more varied. It is a more direct expression of the thoughts, emotions, dreams, and beliefs that are the 'prime movers' of my work."


Source: Bandcamp

Justin Adams, Mauro Durante - Still Moving

Justin Adams, Mauro Durante

by Still Moving

Released 29 October 2021

Ponderosa Music Records

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In October 2020, Justin Adams, whose post-punk approach has been en-riched by a passion for Arabic and African trance/blues, and Mauro Durante, a visionary inheritor of the Taranta roots of his native Puglia got together to make an intense and intimate album: Still Moving. They recorded live in the studio, without overdubs. Together they found what was essential in their common sound, reaching into traditional music from Italy (folk songs like 'Damme La Manu', classics like 'Amara Terra Mia') and America ('Little Moses', the Carter Family classic). Original songs, like 'Dark Road Down' mix the wild pizzica rhythm of Southern Italy and trance boogie, while 'Djinn Pulse' goes from serene instrumental minimalism to hypnotic catharsis. The title song 'Still Moving' evokes Mediterranean migration with the ancient frame drum and raw electric guitar providing a starkly beautiful landscape.

Justin Adams, guitarist, producer and composer, plays with Robert Plant in his band, the Sensational Spaceshifters. Justin's production on landmark albums by Tinariwen and Rachid Taha highlight his feel for North African groove, while his award-winning projects with Gambian maestro Juldeh Camara linked g-riot tradition with raw blues spirit.

This new collaboration with Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino violinist/percussionist Mauro Durante stems from a concert led by Ludovico Einaudi, the Notte della Taranta in Puglia, where the two first played together, recognising their common ground in the trance rhythms of Taranta. Together they create a raw, stripped-back sound that moves and mesmerises.

Source: Rough Trade

Lakou Mizik, Joseph Ray - Leave The Bones

Leave The Bones

by Lakou Mizik, Joseph Ray

Released 6 August 2021

Anjuadeep

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Leave the Bones is the result of a series of happy accidents. Joseph Ray is a Grammy-winning electronic music composer and producer. While visiting a friend who was working in Haiti, he happened upon the Audio Institute, the only school for audio production and engineering in the country. He met one of the instructors, Steve Valcourt who invited him to check out his band, Lokou Mizik at a local club. Ray loved what he heard and wanted to sample some of the sounds for his EDM tunes. He very quickly realized he couldn’t just slap these sounds on top of a club mix and set out on collaboration with the Haitian musicians.

Lakour Mizik is a nine piece band whose music is rooted in the Voodoo tradition. Many of the songs they do are traditional Voodoo spirituals used in ceremonies. The collaboration appealed to Lakou Mizik because since their founding in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti, they have worked to bring the traditional songs to a new generation. Still, Steve Valcourt wondered if mixing Voodoo spirituals with EDM was going to far.

Steve Valcourt explained to Scott Simon on NPR’s World Café that “Our first song that we made in Lakou Mizik was “Peze Kafe.” And, you know, we would had to go to the tribe, to the Lakous and say, so this is what we did to it. How you like it? And did we not destroy the song and everything? But now, since we have the feeling of it, the hang of it – and then we understand that there is no walls between artistic and music and culture. So we starting to put down the walls and connect some bridges, and then there it is.”

Leave the Bones is a beautiful blending of tradition and technology. The songs on the album may be centuries old, but Lakour Mizik plays the secularized arrangements with pride and passion. The songs are built up from the rhythms of the drums and the call and response vocals. Joseph Ray uses his electronics and production to accentuate the atmosphere and cast the sounds in an augmented reality. The vocals are up front with just enough reverb and echo to give them an unnatural depth. The rhythms and melodies are dominant with Ray’s instrumental contributions coming as washes of sound and unobtrusive melodic flourishes. The overall impression I get is Lakour Mizik playing their Voodoo derived music in outer space. The spirit is strong and unconstrained by things like gravity.

Source: Ink19

Lakou Mizik, Joseph Ray, DJ Koze - Leave The Bones (Remix)

Leave The Bones (remixed)

by Lakou Mizik, Joseph Ray, DJ Koze

Released 14 January 2022

Anjuadeep

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In August 2021, Anjunadeep released ‘Leave the Bones’, the powerful album born of an unlikely collaboration between multi-generational Haitian band Lakou Mizik and GRAMMY-winning electronic music artist Joseph Ray.

The album garnered global attention, gaining support from the world’s premiere tastemakers for it’s daring sound design and vibrant depiction of Haitian Vodou culture. National Public Radio called the album a “mesmerizing, haunting and uplifting journey into the heart of Haitian culture”. The Times rated ‘Leave the Bones’ four out of five stars, whilst Mixmag named it a “celebration of creativity and possibility in the face of adversity”. The French-Canadian newspaper Le Devoir called it an album “that exposes the richness of the musical culture of the Antilles to the entire planet”, whilst global music magazine Songlines called it “message-driven, lovingly made; an album to play on repeat.” The album saw equally fervent recognition on radio, quickly reaching #1 on the NCAA world music charts and garnering support from Pete Tong, Danny Howard, and Sian Eleri at BBC Radio 1, Don Letts and Radcliffe & Maconie at BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio 3, NPR, NTS, KCRW, KEXP, SiriusXM Chill, Resonance FM, Radio X, Jazz FM and Worldwide FM.

Now, almost six months later, Anjunadeep is proud to announce ‘Leave the Bones (Remixed)’, an eclectic collection of remixes featuring a worldly swathe of pioneering artists including DJ Koze, Henrik Schwarz, NERO, Michael Brun, Laolu, Gardy Girault, Martin Roth, and more. Featuring four unheard remixes courtesy of Laolu, Girault, and Roth, ‘Leave the Bones (Remixed)’ also includes previously released tracks supported by the likes of &ME, Hunee, Black Coffee, Laurence Guy, Dixon, HOSH, and Tim Sweeney (Beats in Space).

A truly unique compilation representing many nationalities, ‘Leave the Bones (Remixed)’ demonstrates the universal danceability and expression of traditional Haitian music. ‘Leave the Bones (Remixed)’ lands January 14, pre-order now or buy ‘Leave the Bones’ on vinyl. 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Orquesta Akokan - 16 Rayos

16 Rayos

by Orquesta Akokan

Released 22 October 2021

Daptone Records

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Straight out of Havana, Cuba – a blazing presentation of deeply soulful mambo reminiscent of Benny Moré and Banda Gigante of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Recorded in Havanaʼs famed Egrem Studios (studios for the National recording label of Cuba), Orquesta Akokan displays a cohesion forged by an intense performing and touring cycle.

The musical conversation that began in the Areito studios three years earlier, which produced their memorable debut album) and an instrumental-only follow-up in 2019), blossomed once again in 2021 into an easy, intimate dialogue between good friends - allowing full, fearless musical expression and risk-taking outside of their comfort zones.

Building upon Perez Pradoʼs dissonant, near avant-garde vision of the mambo, and highlighting the Lucumí subtext of Cuban rhythms and styles, the band continues to explore, develop and expand the islandʼs rich rhythmic palette and repertoire - pushing the conventions of what is considered “mambo” - and drawing deeply from folkloric and religious traditions seldom heard in popular music. 16 Rayos is here to shine its musical rays on us, warm our hearts, and irresistibly move our bodies.

Source: Bandcamp

Nneka - Love Supreme

Love Supreme

by Nneka

Released 11 February 2022

Bushqueen Music

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Nneka Egbuna is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress,.born to a German mother and Nigerian father in Nigeria in 1980 and relocated to Hamburg while still in her teens, who sings in English, Igbo and Nigerian Pidgin.

Plugged by Nas, sampled by Rita Ora, Nigerian-born, Hamburg-based Nneka makes music that ranges across genres, a versatility that chimes with her own internationalist backstory: she’s also a visual artist with an anthropology-archaeology degree. Her fourth album, released on her own label, takes in African-inflected reggae resonant with electronics (Yahweh, Maya), dissonant soul (About Guilt) and the stark, trip hop-like Afrobeat of the title track. Made in lockdown, independent of her previous labels, Nneka has been keen to join the dots between the contemporary Nigerian pop takeover and her own predilection for spacious, bass-y production.

The silver thread throughout these songs is Nneka’s deceptively featherlight voice, one that tends towards sweetness and serenity but can pivot towards a sharp righteousness. The politically charged Afrobeat-rap of Yansh is both playful and furious. Then there’s the grace of her songs that ponder deceit and healing. There are bangers here that deserve a wider audience. The dub-heavy love song Tea? finds Nneka reconnecting with a former lover, checking on whether he has done as much work on himself as she has – gently, but pointedly.

Source: The Guardian

Jupiter & Okwess - Na Kozonga

Na Kozonga

by Jupiter and Okwess

Released 23 April 2021

Zamora / Studio Grouv

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Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afropop, funk, rock and jazz outfit Jupiter & Okwess returns with the explosive ‘ Na Kozonga’ album, a blast of energy that bewitches the body and feeds the spirit . 

From the samba of carioca Rogê to the rap of Brasilian pioneer Marcelo D2 , via the horns of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band or the voice of the militant Chilean singer Ana Tijoux , the guitar riffs of French guitarist Yarol Poupaud or soulful voice of American vocalist Maiya Sykes , Jupiter & Okwess have no fear of strange encounters, nor the craziest journeys.

Produced in Los Angeles at the studios of Mario Caldato Jr (Beastie Boys, Seu Jorge, Beck, Bjork, Blur, John Lee Hooker, Manu Chao).

They have toured the US including Central Park Stage, NewOrleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Outside Lands. They performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk and they were booked on Bonarroo 2020 before its cancellation.
Jupiter & Okwess previous album ‘Kin Sonic” (released in 2017) was voted Best Album by the NY Times in 2018 and a pick on Obama’s playlist that year

Jupiter & Okwess comprises :
Jupiter Bokondji : vocals ,percussions
Montana Kinunu: Vocals , Drums
Yende Balamba : Vocals, bass
Eric Malu-Malu : Guitars ,Vocals
Richard kabanga : Guitars ,Vocals
Blaise Sewika : Vocals , Maracas , percussions

Source: Bandcamp

Hamid Al Shaeri - The SLAM! Years 1983-1988 (Habibi Funk 018)

The SLAM! Years 1983-1988 (Habibi Funk 018)

by Hamid Al Shaeri

Released 23 April 2021

Zamora / Studio Grouv

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If you were to ask us for a defining Habibi Funk track, there are a few that come to mind: from Fadoul’s “Sid Redad,“ Dalton’s “Soul Brother“ to Ahmed Malek’s “Omar Gatlato.“ However, none are as widely connected with us at this point as Hamid Al Shaeri’s “Ayonha.“ We heard the track for the first time when we were working on selecting tracks for your first compilation and we instantly loved it. We obviously had heard of Hamid El Shaeri’s music before, but only material from his Al Jeel phase when he was already the full-blown superstar he is now. Listening to his releases from the early 1980’s opened a whole new door for us. At the time, Hamid had just left Libya to pursue his career in Egypt via a detour in London, where he recorded his first album.

Hamid’s distinct sound of the sound is quintessentially reliant on heavy synths and so it was particularly important to purchase these synths in a timely manner. “Whenever a new one [synthesizer] would come out, we would have to buy it immediately, otherwise someone else would get their hands on that sound.” London also played an important role for Hamid as a musical epicenter. He fondly reminisces about the many live shows he attended there, including some of the biggest international musicians like Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson.
After returning to Cairo where he also recorded his following albums, he connected with SLAM! for the release of his debut, laying the foundation of a collaboration that lasted for 5 albums.

Luckily, we were able to connect with Hamid through our friend Youssra El Hawary, whose extensive network has opened many doors for us within the Egyptian music scene. We met Hamid for the first time probably in 2016 at his office / rehearsal studio in the outskirts Cairo. We were expecting a larger-than-life character in-line with his status as a certified superstar, yet the actual person turned out to be very approachable and super easy to connect with. He liked the idea of an effort to amplify his early works again, which, when originally released, were far from an economic success. While he was down to assist with an interview and his blessing for the project he also told us that for any license we needed to speak with the original label SLAM! who released these songs, still held the rights and also remained in business over the decades though they didn’t actively release any new music.
Hany Sabet had started SLAM! records in the early 1980s and focused on cassette tape releases, the format that expedited the success of a new generation of record labels in Egypt. By the mid 1980’s, SLAM! had become one of the most successful and economically dominant record labels in Egypt, with Hamid El Shaeri being just one of their key artists, alongside Mohamed Mounir, Hanan, Hakim, Mustafa Amar and many more. Luckily, Hany Sabet turned out to be a friend of our colleague Malak Makar’s father, which probably helped to warm him to the idea of licen- sing “Ayonha” to this - in the scale of his world - tiny label from Germany. Eventually “Ayonha” ended up becoming a widely successful release and either Hany or we brought up the idea of a full album dedicated to Hamid El Shaeri’s work on SLAM!.

This release is dedicated to Hany Sabet, the founder of SLAM! and his wife Rosemary Jane Sabet (who took the photos we used for the cover and the booklet), who sadly passed away during the time it took us to prepare the release. 
 

Source: Bandcamp

Ak Dan Gwang Chil - Such Is Life

Such is Life

by Ak Dan Gwang Chil

Released 18 July 2020

Jeong Ga Ak Hoe / POCLANOS

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Ak Dan Gwang Chil’s declared aim is “to express the true meaning of liberation and South Korea’s desire for unity”. To accomplish this, they have created a vividly contemporary Korean soul review, drawing on the shamanistic ritual music known as gut and the minyo folk songs from the Hwanghae province of North Korea.
Using traditional instruments like the gayageum and ajaeng (zithers), piri (reed flute), daegeum (bamboo flute), janggu drums and other percussion, they joyously extract and enhance the groove potential of the ritual rhythms, driving along the call and response chants, fronted by the charismatic figure of singer Hong Ok. The band was formed in 2015 to participate in the 70th anniversary celebrations of Korean liberation from Japanese occupation and have since performed on festival stages in Russia, the USA, South America and Europe.

Kim Yakdae - daegeum
Lee Manwol - piri, saenghwang
Grace Park - ajaeng
Hong Ok - vocals
Sunwoo Barabarabam - percussion
Myeong Wol - vocals
Wol Seon - vocals
Weon Meondongmaru - gayageum
Chun Gungdal - percussion

Source: Womex

K.ZIA - Genesis

Genesis

by K.ZIA

Released 11 February 2022

Groove Attack

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K.ZIA is all about finding the peace in duality – the things that we can learn from acknowledging our own multiplicity.

On her first album, she’s ready to take that idea of duality to new heights. Many debut artists would take it easy with their first ever album, gradually letting the world know what they’re all about, but that’s not K.ZIA’s style. ‘Genesis’ is a sweeping and ambitious concept album which presents not just a story, but an entire narrative universe.

It’s all about splitting the difference between the warm K.ZIA that fans already know and an alter ego, ZIA, whose fierceness is expressed in French-language lyrics that tap into a completely different side of the artist’s emotional expression. K.ZIA and ZIA are two sides of the same coin, but it’s important not to understate the difference – ‘Genesis’ is the work of an artist who doesn’t want to be defined easily by any one thing.

In interview with London-based "Notion" magazine, the artists says

"Genesis is indeed a beginning. A beginning of several things. I’ve been creating music as a solo artist for several years now – four, to be exact – and a lot of my work consisted of trying to find my artistic direction. Through experimenting and a lot of learning I was able to define where I want to go – what my mission as a human, woman, and artist is. The formulation of my mantra, my messages, the development of my technique and, more importantly, my universe. This project marks the beginning of that artist’s voice. Within this, Genesis is also the birth of my alter ego ZIA, one of my spirits that mainly sings in French. I used to always write in English and so this project is her first appearance".

On the concept album, listeners are introduced to the two sides of K.ZIA's persona – the side that is loving and warm, and the other, which is unapologetic and fierce. Asked when she identified this split in her artist persona and how it came about, K.ZIA replied that "It first hit me when my mom told me she was missing a part of my character in my music. A part of my character that she often saw in real life but didn’t hear as much in my music. She told me she could recognize what she heard of me but that it didn’t portray the full spectrum of my energy. Then it’s when I started writing in French that I saw my writing was a little different to how it usually was. The subjects, the vocabulary and even the genre was different to what I was used to. I decided to dig deeper into the phenomenon and understood that it is due to my background and history. When I started learning English, I was six. I learnt to read and write in english and was in private British and American schools surrounded by kids of diplomats or rather wealthy backgrounds. Then at 14 I moved to France, I became a teenager and went to public schools. I discovered a whole new world and a whole other part of me developed. This was felt in my songwriting – when writing in english vs when writing in French, you can feel those differences. I use more slang in French for instance, because I was a teenager when I moved there, whereas my English vocabulary comes from my childhood and school. My experiences were different, so the stories are different. Now both those parts of me remain me. The core messages fundamentally will always be the same, but they will just be expressed differently."

If K.ZIA will say “This is how I am, please accept me.” ZIA will say “This is how I am, and fuck you if you don’t like it.” 

Asked if we can expect more of ZIA in the future? Perhaps an entire album as her?, she replied "I doubt it. ZIA was discovered in this project and that’s why it was important to me to distinguish her like that. But the truth is, I think there is more than a duality within me. There are many more personalities within me, and I will just let all these energies express themselves through one canal rather than split them up more".

K.ZIA says that the hardest part of the album to process was "the lack of time and money. Being an independent artist is great because I have full control over absolutely everything, and being a control freak it’s rather great, but it also makes everything a lot more tiring and difficult. Because I’ve had to finance things myself, limitations often showed up. For instance I would need 10 days in the studio to achieve what I wanted, but I could actually only afford six. You work with what you’ve got, but that isn’t always beneficial for the art". The easiest part was "Having things to say, writing songs, creating."
K.ZIA says that, based in Berlin, a renowned hub for creatives, the city has "given more depth to my messages. Berlin has brought me awareness, political knowledge, growth and unlearning. This city helped me shape my opinions and define my values and mission". 

 

Born in Brussels and now living in Berlin, K.ZIA also moved around a lot when younger, K.ZIA's influences are a mixed: some are picked-up and digested from sounds heard in the different countries she lived in; others imbibed subconsciously and appearing later in her work. "It started subconsciously of course, because... that simply is the environment I grew up in. So my subconscious fed off whatever it was confronted with, introduced to and interested in exploring. Then the second part came in the concise choices I made of keeping certain things in my current environment an artistic expression".

Source: Notion

Yasuaki Shimizu - Kiren

Kiren

by Yasuaki Shimizu

Released 23 February 2022

Palto Flats

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It's largely thanks to dedicated vinyl diggers like Chee Shimizu (no relation) that Yasuaki Shimizu's music has reached Europe and beyond. After his tracks started to make their way into Western record bags, Palto Flats reissued two of the tenor saxophonist's most treasured '80s releases: Utakata No Hibi, composed with his band Mariah, and his 1982 solo album Kakashi. Utakata No Hibi is now regarded as a seminal Fourth World album because of the way it marries classical Japanese music and Armenian folk with modern electronics, and its title track became one of the last decade's most enduring dance floor hits. Enter Kiren. Deemed lost until recently, the 1984 LP Kiren is a missing piece in his solo discography which ties together the end of Mariah with the beginning of his later project Yasuaki Shimizu & The Saxophonettes.

Like the music he would make for the rest of his career, the saxophone takes the spotlight on Kiren, and has a rich dialogue with its surrounding instruments. Horn trills embellish a piece of Japanese court music on "Asate" before strings then follow in their wake. The unwavering rhythm is stoic by contrast, however, emphasising the saxophone’s expressive nature, reaching its peak in a passionate solo later on. On "Shiasate,", a combo of dovetailing sax blasts and propulsive drums is somewhat undermined by a comically deflated bugle that steals our attention. Shimizu's use of contrast reveals the wind instrument's strengths and vulnerabilities, making it seem almost human.

Still, Kiren would not be as intriguing without the circus of sounds that Shimizu builds around the saxophone. Sweet marimba and pentatonic strings fall victim to an unruly orchestra on "Ashita," for example. From a pitch-mangled synth to a player-piano flurry to a warbling woodwind finish, Shimizu packs a cartoonish range of sounds into one song. As with his more elegant compositions, sometimes less is more, and the way traditional Japanese instruments on 'Momo No Hana"—including plucks of a biwa—surreptitiously wrap around the ends of taiko-sized drums is gorgeous. It eventually blooms into a euphoric solo that I wish would last forever.

Not all of Kiren is on that level, and some of the tracks move too slowly. "Kagerofu"'s electric guitar chords are drawn-out and have few unique changes to keep your attention. On the eight-minute long "Peruvian Pink," the combination of jaunty notes and a bizarre growl gestures somewhere interesting, but its chintzy synth patch numbs it into a trance. Under his Saxophonettes moniker, Shimizu would hone in on achieving this feeling of time standing still. The hustle and bustle of Kiren doesn’t seem like the right place for such stasis.

"Ashita," "Asat" and "Shiasate" translate to tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and two days after tomorrow, respectively. Despite the momentary lapse of energy in the middle, Kiren is a lively record that gets across the idea of time running away too quickly. Shimizu’s musical direction during the making of Utakata No Hibi was too eccentric for many of the band members of Mariah, leading to the group's breakup. Kiren brims with equal imagination and wonder and, on a few occasions, shines brighter than Utakata No Hibi. Of his solo efforts, it trumps them all for energy and even matches Kakashi for character. It might just be the record that most comprehensively captures the genius of this talented composer and musician.

Source: Resident Artist

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