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May 2021 Highlights

May 2021 Highlights

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Sons Of Kemet - Black To The Future

Black To The Future

by Sons Of Kemet

Released 14 May 2021

Impulse! Records


"Black To The Future" is the major new album from The Sons of Kemet, arguably the UK's premier creative musical force of the moment (and remarkably just one of bandleader/saxophonist Shabakja Hutchings' three musical projects - he also fronts Shabaka and the Ancestors and is a member of The Comet Is Coming, performing under the stage name King Shabaka).

“I wanted to get a better sense of how African traditional cosmologies can inform my life in a modern-day context,” Sons of Kemet frontman Shabaka Hutchings tells Apple Music about the concept behind the British jazz group’s fourth LP. “Then, try to get some sense of those forms of knowledge and put it into the art that’s being produced.”

Since their 2013 debut LP Burn, the Barbados-raised saxophonist/clarinetist and his bandmates (tuba player Theon Cross and drummers Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick) have been at the forefront of the new London jazz scene - deconstructing its conventions by weaving a rich sonic tapestry that fuses together elements of modal and free jazz, grime, dub, ’60s and ’70s Ethiopian jazz, and Afro-Caribbean music.

On Black to the Future, the Mercury Prize-nominated quartet are at their most direct and confrontational with their sociopolitical message - welcoming to the fold a wide array of guest collaborators (most notably poet Joshua Idehen, who also collaborated with the group on 2018’s Your Queen Is a Reptile) to further contextualise the album’s themes of Black oppression and colonialism, heritage and ancestry, and the power of memory.

If you look closely at the song titles, you’ll discover that each of them makes up a singular poem - a clever way for Hutchings to clue in listeners before they begin their musical journey. “It’s a sonic poem, in that the words and the music are the same thing,” Hutchings says. “Poetry isn't meant to be descriptive on the surface level, it's descriptive on a deep level. So if you read the line of poetry, and then you listen to the music, a picture should emerge that's more than what you'd have if you considered the music or the line separately.”

All songs here are laden with great depth of purpose and content. Hutchings gives insight into each of the tracks in the Bandcamp entry for this album, which SunNeverSetsOnMusic reccommends to you: best read as you listen to each track.

Atlin Gun - Yol


by Atlin Gun

Released 26 February 2021

Glitterbeat Records


Amsterdam’s Altın Gün have built a strong reputation for melding past and present to make brilliantly catchy, psychedelic pop music, as seen with their Grammy-nominated second album, Gece. They are also a renowned live band with strings of sold-out shows on three continents, who have consistently brought a muscular groove to their recordings. Yol, their third album in as many years, excitedly continues these trends; while also digging in deep to unveil a new palette of sonic surprises.
Though it draws from the rich and incredibly diverse traditions of Anatolian and Turkish folk music, Yol is not just a record that reframes traditional sounds for a contemporary audience. The album often presents a textured, avant-pop sound as evidenced by the debut single "Ordunun Dereleri.” Mysterious and atmospheric, the track is a thrilling evolution for the band. It patiently coaxes the listener into a resonant soundworld of down-tempo electro beats, majestic synths and Erdinç Ecevit's yearning vocal of unrequited love.
The album also signals a very different approach in making and recording for the band. Singer Merve Dasdemir takes up the story: “We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts. The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”
Yol displays a noticeable dreaminess, maybe born from this enforced time to reflect. And select elements of late 1970s or early 1980s “Euro” synth pop also shines through. This new musical landscape was nurtured by certain instrument choices; namely the Omnichord, heard on ‘Arda Boylari’, ‘Kara Toprak’ and ‘Sevda Olmasaydi’, and the drum-machine, an instrument that is key to the gorgeous closing number, ‘Esmerim Güzelim’.

Source: Bandcamp

Jaubi - Nafs At Peace

Nafs at Peace

by Jaubi

Released 28 May 2021

Jaubi and Astigmatic Records


JAUBI continue the Nafs journey, which commenced with the single “Satanic Nafs” (featuring the remix by legendary LA producers The Gaslamp Killer & Mophono) released in March 2021.

Now JAUBI draw on the elements of North Indian classical music, Hip-Hop and modal/spiritual jazz in their debut LP entitled “Nafs At Peace”.

The journey officially began back in April 2019 when London’s multi- instrumentalist and 22a Record label boss Ed “Tenderlonious” Cawthorne and Polish pianist/composer Marek “Latarnik” Pędziwiatr of EABS/Błoto, visited the group to record in Lahore.

Together they channelled their personal struggles at that time into the two recording sessions allowing the musicians to find a spiritual path through this musical purge.

Nothing whatsoever was written down during the recording sessions - no sheet music and no song titles, which allowed the six musicians to forget about their worldly issues.

In many ways, the journey represents a struggle and an expression of gratitude and an acknowledgement that the musician's inspiration comes from a higher power. The album cover portrays the mother of JAUBI’s bandleader, tearfully praying to God to get her son through that dark period of his life.

The first step of the journey can be heard on “Satanic Nafs” which refers to the lowest level of the Self which was released 26th March 2021 through Astigmatic Records.

The album title ‘Nafs At Peace’ refers to the last purification step the self has been through. At this level, the Self no longer struggles because one has complete love of God, by becoming at peace and tranquil with God’s will. We hope all can achieve the stage of “Nafs At Peace” … Inshallah. 

Source: Bandcamp

Arooj Aftab - Vulture Prince

Vulture Prince

by Arooj Aftab

Released 23 April 2021

New Amsterdam


Brooklyn based artist Arooj Aftab, who is of Pakistani family heritage,  envisioned an “edgier” and “more fun” update on the fragile soundscapes of her second record, she recently told NPR. But while she was still in the middle of writing, Aftab’s world was buffeted by tragedy. At home, she lost her younger brother Maher, to whom the new album is dedicated. Outside, a world already embattled with a rising tide of hate and conflict was now struggling to grapple with a global pandemic.

To cope, Aftab reached for the familiar Urdu ghazals and poetry that populated her genre-defying 2015 debut Bird Under Water. The closest thing South Asia has to the blues, the ghazal is a musical form steeped in loss and longing—a subcontinental language of love both mortal and divine. On Vulture Prince, Aftab fuses the ghazal’s existential yearning with minimal compositions that draw from jazz, Hindustani classical, folk and—on one song—reggae to create a heartbreaking, exquisite document of the journey from grief to acceptance.

Intended as a second chapter to her debut album, Vulture Prince takes the airy minimalism and virtuosity of Bird Under Water and strips it down even further. Five of the seven songs here lack any form of percussion, propelled instead by the soft intensity of Aftab’s voice and the delicate cadence of strings and keys. Gone too is the traditional Pakistani instrumentation, replaced by a filigree of gentle violin, harp, double bass, and synths. At the center of it all is Aftab’s powerful voice, suffused in a sorrow so deep that it seeps into your bones.

Source: Pitchfork

Jorja Smith - Be Right Back

Be Right Back (EP)

by Jorja Smith

Released 19 May 2021



Jorja Smith is a bright rising star in the firmament of the UK R&B scene. Her debut studio album, Lost & Found, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim, and peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart. The same year, Smithwas nominated for a Mercury Prize, won the Brit Critics' Choice Award and in 2019, not only was she named Best British Female Artist at the Brit Awards but also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. 

Fusing R&B, soul and trip-hop and penning songs that spoke of her young life's journey, the then 20 year old's debut album captured the imagination and connecting in a manner that very few others had managed.

“I need to grow and find myself before I let somebody love me/Because at the moment I don’t know me,” she wrote in “Teenage Fantasy.” and on “February 3rd,” she adds, “I’m constantly finding myself.” 

Self described as a "waiting room" in preparation for her sophomore album, which is reflected in the stripped down production and inclusion of humorous studio outakes. "Be Right Back" features writing and production from long time collaborators Joel Compass and Ed Thomas, amongst others, as well as guest vocals from British-Nigerian rapper Shaybo. Written and recorded over a two-year period the EP adopts experimental song structures, with a lyrical focus on the complexity of ideal womanhood, relationships and self-awareness. 

St Vincent - Daddy's Home

Daddy's Home

by St Vincent

Released 9 March 2021

Loma Vista Recordings


"Daddy's Home", (St Vincent's 6th solo album) touches many personal life issues - her father’s release from 12-years of incarceration for his role in a $43 million stock manipulation scheme (Daddy's Home), her childlessness (My Baby Wants A Baby), her moral cowardice (The Melting Of The Sun) and recovery from drug overdose (Live In A Dream). 

Often compared to David Bowie for her musical creativity, shape-shifting persona and elaborate stage presentation, St Vincent (Annie Clarke)  summons the ghosts of numerous 70's icons in the musical foms that contribute to this enjoyable set. The musical approach varies song to song, at times reminiscent of Pink Floyd (Live In The Dream), Joni Mitchell ((...At The Holiday Park) and Shena Easton (My Baby Wants A Baby), Beck (Pay Your Way In Pain) and others.

Ultimately, the strength of this recording is to be found in the familiarity that comes from in referencing these familiar musical tropes, however this is also it's weakness: unlike the artists that she emulates, all of whom drew upon the pioneering work of their own heroes and predecessors), Clarke fails to then superimpose her own musical persona, and create a truly memorable or remarkable work. 

Mon Laferte - Seis

Latest Record Project (Volume 1)

by Van Morrison

Released 7 May 2021

Exile / BMG


Chilean singer and songwriter Mon Laferte is no stranger to change. She has embraced it in so many areas of her life and work that it seems an aesthetic principle. Early on, she recorded and performed as Monserrat Bustamente a straight-up Latin pop singer. In 2007, she immigrated to Mexico and started playing rock. After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009 and beating it, she changed her name to Mon Laferte, and began recording in an indie rock style that netted her a Latin Grammy for 2015's Mon Laferte Volume 1.

2017's hit La Trenza showcased her embrace of Latin American song traditions in a modern recontextualization.

2019's Norma, an intensely personal album, focused on heartbreak through different dance rhythms with wildly contrasting instrumentation and arrangements, including 1940s big band mambo, rockist psychedelic cumbia, and '70s boleros and salsa.
Seis, her sixth album, is rooted in Mexican folk traditions.

After the onset of the pandemic, Laferte moved to Tepoztlán, a rural Mexican city (pop. 60,000), located an hour's drive south of Mexico City . She saw a documentary on the life of iconic ranchera singer Chavela Vargas, who spent her final years in the bucolic town. Vargas' music spurred Laferte to explore a wide range of Mexican styles in her writing.

These 14 songs run the gamut from rancheras and mariachis to boleros, bandas, and corridos tumbados. Laferte bookends the set with contrasting versions of her harrowing commentary on gender violence titled "Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón."

On the first, her grainy, angry, yet vulnerable vocal is accompanied only by guitar and bajo sexto. She revisits her "La Mujer" in a duo with one of her earliest and greatest inspirations, Mexican pop/rock icon Gloria Trevi. Laferte hasn't sung it in years; she came to consider its lyrics too dysfunctional. Here she not only rewrote them and revamped the music, it is now a feminist manifesto adorned in a snaky bolero, saturated in reverbed guitars and brass. The women's contrasting voices are resplendent in immediacy, passion, and authority.

"Esta Morra No Se Vende" is a bouncing corrido, while "Aunque Te Mueras Por Volver" weds theatrical bolero to classy pop with a rock band and an orchestral string section.

The single "Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor" is sung as an a unabashedly romantic ranchera with the legendary Alejandro Fernandez; the duo are accompanied by the all-female Mujeres del Viento Florido. The meld of Laferte's and Fernandez's voices delivers it with the conviction of a treasured standard. While "Se Ma Vida" is a slow-burning corrido, the closing version of "Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón" is offered in a heartbreaking collaboration with La Arrolladora Banda El Limon fronted by singer Esaúl García. Seis stands with Norma as a milestone in Laferte's career. Each track is delivered with the consistency, care, honesty, and obsessive attention to detail that Laferte's poetic lyrics and melodies require. The humble presentation here contrasts with her songwriting ambition in what amounts to a truly visionary work of popular art.

Source: AllMusic

Nat Barsch - Hope


by Nat Bartsch

Released 14 May 2021

ABC Music


Melbourne pianist Nat Bartsch wrote most of the music on her new album during one of the most challenging years in living memory, encompassing the Black Summer bushfires, a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns and intense socio-political division.

Bartsch called the album Hope, and she says, spent much of 2020 navigating the space between hopefulness and hopelessness. But while the compositions may have been born out of sadness, frustration and uncertainty, the music itself exudes an air of quiet optimism.

In many ways, the new tunes are an extension of those found on Bartsch’s lullaby albums, with simple but affecting melodies pinned to gentle ostinatos. This time, though, the composer has employed strings and subtle electronics to enhance the music’s textural and emotional resonance. Listening to Bartsch’s music is akin to feeling a reassuring hand resting on one’s shoulder. It’s music that invites contemplation, and that radiates tenderness, empathy - and yes, hope.

Source: Melbourne Age 17 May 2021

Mindy Meng Wang and im Shiel - Nervous Energy

Nervous Energy

by Mindy Meng Wang and Tim Shiel

Released 12 March 2021

Music In Exile


Early in 2020, the music community was forced to close its doors, not only to the outside world, but to each other. Creative partnerships were lost, performances cancelled, studio time scrapped.

In response to these limitations, as is often the case, innovation and cooperation blossomed.

Melbourne’s Music in Exile label, a not-for-profit aimed at profiling musicians from refugee and migrant backgrounds that give the city its world-class reputation in the arts, kick started the new Building Bridges series, aimed at keeping individuals connected and inspired during lockdown.

Nervous Energy, a collaborative effort between Chinese/Australian avant-garde composer Mindy Meng Wang 王萌, and her Melbourne-based contemporary Tim Shiel, is the first product of this series.

Over the course of the year, as COVID restrictions ebbed and flowed, Tim & Mindy worked ceaselessly on developing new material, first recorded by Mindy on her 21-string traditional guzheng, and then shared with Tim via the internet to be reworked into something neither had imagined possible.

The result is four compositions that oscillate from breakbeat to minimal house influences and laid-back dub and pop sounds, underpinned throughout by an acoustic instrument almost two metres long and thousands of years old. It is a hymn to the world Mindy inhabits, a place where tradition is forced to adapt with changing values and different cultures.

Throughout the record, Mindy’s strong association with visual imagery and traditional Chinese storytelling prevails, conjuring images of “eastern power and beauty” and “a dreamland surrounded by clouds and mist, as if you are floating in the cloud.”

As Mindy says, “Tim’s music made my blood surge immediately, and I couldn’t help holding my breath; my muscles tightened, like a wild leopard about to jump out from the dark, or balancing on a string up high in the sky. I used the guzheng to create a meditation of tranquility in the chaos, to try calm my emotions and fast heartbeat. The gentle melody brings rational control and pulls everything back to a perfect balance.“

Sleeping Tiger on the Bund 蓄势待发, the duo’s first single, references the juxtaposition of Shanghai’s Bund district, where the city’s ultra-modern and ceaseless pace of life meets protected heritage sites. It symbolised a constant struggle in Mindy’s creative process; inspiration drawn from ancient traditions trying to find context in a modern world. The Tiger references the Western world’s view of China, as a sleeping threat which may at any moment awaken. As Mindy again says, “There is a special and complex feeling of power and strength in this song. It is clean and thorough, strong yet soft; decisive and delicate. It is full of a dynamic and urgent sense of time.”

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Source: Bandcamp

Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime

Afrique Victime

by Mdou Moctar

Released 21 May 2021

Matador Records


With "Afrique Victime" the prodigious Tuareg guitarist and songwriter rips a new hole in the sky – boldly reforging contemporary Saharan music and “rock music” by melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations on love, religion, women's rights, inequality, and Western Africa’s exploitation at the hands of colonial powers.

If "Ilana" was a late ’60s early ’70s ZZ Top and Black Sabbath record – "Afrique Victime" is mid-’70s to early ’80s Van Halen meets Black Flag meets Black Uhuru. The ferocity of Moctar’s electric guitar and the band's hypnotic rhythm section are on awe-inspiring display “Chismiten” and the mournful yet incandescent title track. Elsewhere, Moctar finds inspiration in highlighting lesser-known facets of the group: “While people have gotten to know Mdou Moctar as a rock band, there is a whole different set of music with this band done on acoustic guitars, which we wanted to incorporate into this album in order to go through a sonic journey,” he says. Mdou pays homage to one of his heroes Abdallah Ag Oumbadagou, the legendary Niger musician and political revolutionary, on songs “Ya Habibti” and “Layla”. “Abdallah was a contemporary of Tinariwen and helped to pioneer the sound of Tuareg guitar music blended with drum machines and electronic sounds”.

"Afrique Victime" sounds and feels like a Tuareg hand reaching down from the sky, and we are very lucky for this chance to get lifted.


Source: Bandcamp

Jamie Branch - Fly or Die Live

Fly or Die Live

by Jamie Branch

Released 21 May 2021

International Anthem


Within the first few moments of delving into the musical landscape of Jaimie Branch’s FLY or DIE LIVE, even the most adept listener can mistake the masterfully produced live album for a serenely tailored studio recording. It takes time to adjust and embrace the realization, leaving one with a morsel of envy for the crowd who were able to experience Branch’s music washing over them like gentle waves of a sonic river without any form of distance and barrier.

FLY or DIE LIVE was recorded in Zürich, Switzerland in January 2020, less than two months before the world was stopped in international lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can hear the confidence of Branch’s band, playing without fear or any semblance of anxiety, a marker of the past and the freedom of a pre-pandemic live performance.

The album opens with the title track from the band’s 2019 album Bird Dogs of Paradise. Drummer Chad Taylor opens the show (and both albums) with precise, spiritually potent mbira along with Lester St. Louis’ lullaby-like cello and Jason Ajemian’s artfully blended bass. The three bond as instruments become seamlessly interwoven, creating a melodic quilt of chimes and evenly dispersed rhythmic tones. Halfway through the song, Branch enters with sensual, drawn-out tonal
patterns that blanket the bright percussive performance.



Things then move to “Prayer for Amerikkka pt. 1 & 2”, also the second track of the aforementioned album. The song has a moody, blues-based style with a heavy, eerie drumbeat under walking bass. Branch speaks to the crowd and introduces the song: “We wrote this song about a year ago. Shit was real fucked up at home and it’s still real fucked up. In fact, it may be much much worse…” The trumpeter’s show may have been a part of the pre-pandemic era, but it did not
give any airs about being post-racial. Branch’s song seems like a foreshadowing of the George Floyd murder, captioning the mounting pressure-cooker of America’s unrest. Branch and the band moan as she belts out lyrics with passion and frustration before moving into equally impassioned trumpet playing.

The band plays two more songs from the album, “Lesterlude” and “Twenty-Three n Me, Jupiter Redux”, before breaking off with “Reflections of a Broken Sea”. The song highlights a bit of Branch’s avant garde composing, disjointed circular rhythms bending and flowing on and off syncopation. “Sun Tines” opens with mbira once again, then the rhythm section before they all fall silent to allow Branch to play a spaced-out experimental solo. She adds echo effects, playing calmly and romantically, dancing with the silence of the room, before the band slowly begins to reintegrate itself back into the performance.

Branch and her band perform 19 songs. She introduces the musicians and begins to wind down the set on the 18th, “Love Song”. Ending with energetic, uptempo jazz on “Theme Nothing”, the band shows no signs of exhaustion after a two-hour set.

Branch is a special musician. She is charming, humorous, strong and an extremely talented trumpeter. The chemistry of her band is admirable. Branch knows how to curate a setlist to evoke the maximum amount of artistry, social justice and jovial fanfare.

Source: Feminist Jazz Review

Anthony Joseph - The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives

The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives

by Anthony Joseph

Released 7 May 2021

New Amsterdam


British-Trinidadian poet/musician/author Anthony Joseph’s latest album contains multitudes. Operating as a dedication to poetic ancestors and a coming together of musical generations, The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for their Lives is also an almighty jam. Recorded live last August, it shows off the prowess of a team of master musicians (Shabaka Hutchings among others) from Paris and London. Jason Yarde, who also produced Joseph’s 2018 album is credited as producer/composer/arranger – to startling, albeit intimate, effect.

Running throughout the release are inter-connected themes: memory, place, belonging and acts of homage. Opener, “Kamau” pays respect to the lauded Barbadian poet, Kamau Brathwaite who passed away in February last year. Brathwaite was an important influence on Joseph – the two writers met several times. On “Kamau” Joseph compellingly conveys not only the nature of Brathwaite’s aesthetic, but the full potential of a Black surrealist poetics, in an urgent, clipped diction against a rousing musical soundtrack which features Hutchings on bass clarinet.
When asked to convey the essence of Brathwaite’s “energy” in a 2018 interview, Joseph used the words “audacious … muscular,” while also noting the late poet’s capacity to “give voice to the voiceless.” A similar description might be used for Joseph’s new album, in its evocation of the post Windrush generations’ search for belonging — a story that soon becomes Joseph’s own (“Calling England Home”), in the recounting of familial grief (“The Gift”) and in the expansive grooves and storytelling on “Maka Dimweh”, a poem/song that universalises the tale of a Guyanese soldier.
One of the album’s most striking cuts, “Language (Poem for Anthony McNeill) once more memorialises another key figure in the Caribbean literary landscape: McNeill, a Jamaican poet known for his radical modernist aesthetic, deeply influenced by jazz, who died before his time in 1996. The 10-minute plus groove shows the band to full effect, as Joseph compellingly conjures something of McNeill’s gift and the potential of “language rooted in the drums…the cry of the horn.”

In fact, the entire album might be understood as part of Joseph’s engagement with his Caribbean musical and literary roots; the somewhat mysterious album title, for instance, comes from the Trinidadian writer, philosopher, historian and socialist activist, C.L.R James’ book on the Haitian revolution, The Black Jacobins (1938).

To Yarde and Joseph’s credit the musicianship never falters, even when conjuring deeply contrasting moods. See, for instance, the foregrounding of a formidable horn section of top-level saxophonists of very different aesthetic stripes (Hutchings, Yarde, Colin Webster – a longstanding Joseph collaborator and Denys Baptiste, whose credits include McCoy Tyner and Billy Higgins). “Calling England Home,” for example, is carried along by a sleepily evocative 60s horn-driven dancehall ambience, entirely in keeping with the song’s lyrical focus.
Note too, Rod Youngs’ sensitive drum parts, which coalesces to great effect with Andrew John’s bass throughout the album. Youngs is a previous Gil Scott-Heron collaborator, while London-based bassist and composer John has played on six of Joseph’s previous albums. Guitarist Thibaut Remy, who composed ‘Calling England Home’, performs with the Awalé Jant Band. There are the fragile interruptions of French jazz pianist, Florian Pellissier, while contributions from veteran percussionists Roger Raspail and Crispin Robinson provide further grit, delicacy and depth. 
released May 7, 2021

Anthony Joseph - Vocals
Andrew John - Bass
Thibaut Remy - Guitar
Rod Youngs - Drums
Florian Pellissier - Piano/Moog/Organ/Rhodes Piano
Jason Yarde - Alto & Baritone Saxophone
Shabaka Hutchings - Tenor Saxophone on ‘Swing Praxis’/Bass clarinet on ‘Kamau’
Denys Baptiste - Tenor Saxophone & Bass Clarinet on ‘Language’, Tenor Sax on ‘Maka Dimweh’ & ‘The Gift’
Colin Webster - Tenor Saxophone on ‘Kamau’ & Swing Praxis’, Baritone Sax on ‘Language’
Crispin Robinson - Bata Drums and Percussion
Roger Raspail - Percussion on ‘Maka Dimweh’

Source: Bandcamp

The Shaolin Afronauts - Flight Of The Ancients

Flight of thr Ancients

by The Shaolin Afronauts

Released 22 June 2011

Vvinyl re-pressing 2020

Freestyle Records


The Shaolin Afronauts are an Adelaide-based instrumental Afrobeat band. Their music is heavily influenced by West African Afrobeat artists such as Fela Kuti, but also incorporates elements of avant-garde jazz, soul and other traditional African and Cuban percussive rhythms. They describe their music as "interstellar futurist afro-soul".

Founded in 2008 out of a fascination with Afrobeat and creative improvised music, seven out of the ten band members were also members of The Transatlantics, who met at the University of Adelaide. 

The Transatlantics favoured many different styles of music, especially that of West and East Africa, but the breakaway group wanted to create something a bit looser and more interpretative, less arranged. The group started out as a side project, but found it worked well together from the start. 

Bassist Ross McHenry says that he was inspired by the Afrobeat music he heard at WOMADelaide as a child, and he likes to write and play music infused with soul and guided by intuition.

The musicians particularly styled their music after the Afrobeat style of Fela Kuti and his Africa '70 band and other West African music.

A lesser but important influence was the 1970s avant-garde jazz movement, especially artists like Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders. Their sound also incorporates soul and traditional African and Cuban percussive rhythms.

This album sits perfectly comfortably amid the flurry of new and innovative funk and soul releases from Melbourne, London, LA.

Tony Allen - There Is No End

There Is No End

by Tony Allen

Released 7 May 2021

Blue Note


Tony Oladipo Allen, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1940, never played a traditional instrument: right from the beginning, his interest was for a distant relative of the ancestral percussion family, namely, the drum kit. He taught himself, serving his apprenticeship while working as a technician for Nigerian national radio, all the time listening to records by American masters such as Art Blakey, Max Roach and Kenny Clarke, the eminent drummers of the bebop and hard bop eras.

His life changed totally in 1964 when he made the acquaintance of Fela Kuti, whom he would accompany for the next 15 years, first with Fela’s Koola Lobitos, an emblematic highlife band that was a model for all modern African music groups, and then when Fela led Africa 70, for which he developed a new music language: Afrobeat, which combined Yoruba rhythms and funk instruments with themes of revolution. Alongside Fela, Tony recorded some 20 albums and put his rhythm-signature to each of them. From then on, Afrobeat would propel a career that saw him pursue his own projects while collaborating with everyone from Oumou Sangare to Damon Albarn.

The language Allen created was as supple and pleasing to the ear as it was complex and difficult to decipher, moving with ease across the avant-garde of modern popular music on both sides of the Black Trans-Atlantic – from jazz to highlife, funk to electronica, hip hop to the full spectrum of African music and its American and European diasporas.

Tony Allen passed away on April 30th 2020 in Paris, at the age of 79.

Source: Blue Note Records

Voiciii - Voilaaa


by Voilaaa

Released 9 March 2021

Favourite Recordings


Voilaaa is one of the many projects led and produced by the prolific Bruno Hovart, aka  “Patchwork. Voiciii is the 3rd album under the moniker of "Voilaaa", an immersive dip into its Afro-Disco universe spread across 14 tracks.

Needless to say you’ll find in this new LP all the ingredients that made him famous: strong dancefloor-friendly festive bangers, irresistible funky arrangements and an undeniable sense of humor and irony.

Fior this production, Hovart has not only called upon some amazing vocalists who have featured on his previous work - regulars Pat Kalla, and Lass, newer voices heard on his recent EPs - David Walters, Rama Traore, Ayuune Suule, as well as the saxophonist Boris Pokora.

The LP seeks to pay tribute to some of the major artists of the African sound, such as Fela Kuti (on “Water No Get Enemy”), or Manu Dibango (“Manu Écoute Ça” and “Tenor Jam For Manu”).
Following the release of Voilaaa’s previous LP’s Des Promesses and On Te L’Avait Dit, which gained them massive international support, the Voilaaa Soundsystem travelled throughout the world, delivering its message of infectious joy and groove, from Equator to Thailand, from Kazakhstan to the infamous French “Fête de l’Huma”.

Fatima Al Qadiri - Medieval Femme

Medieval Femme

by Fatima Al Qadiri

Released 14 May 2021



Fatima Al Qadiri returns to Hyperdub, with a suite inspired by the classical poems of Arab women.

Medieval Femme invokes a simulated daydream through the metaphor of an Islamic garden, at the border between depression and desire, where the present temporarily dissolves, leaving only past and future.

Since "Shaneera" her last release for Hyperdub - a homage to hometown friends and a celebration of regional queer influences - Fatima recorded the soundtrack for French Senegalese director Mati Diop’s Cannes 2019 Grand Prix winning feature Atlantics. The restrained soundtrack to Diop's supernatural storytelling, sympathetically mixes neon drones and the faint outlines of Arabesque melody, intensifying Diop’s journey between worlds, rendering the complex emotions of the film.

Medieval Femme expands on ideas instilled from Atlantics to capture a fully realised, dreamlike setting, shaded with colour and subtle friction. The theme of the album is the state of melancholic longing exemplified in the poetry of Arab women from the medieval period. Fatima seeks to transport the listener to a place of reverie and desolation, to question the line between two seemingly opposite states and rejoice in celestial sorrow.

Source: Bandcamp

James Brandon Lewis - Jesup Wagon

Jessup Wagon

by James Brandon Lewis

Released 7 May 2021

TAO Forms


James Brandon Lewis does not take the easy road. Having forged a singular sound on the tenor saxophone, he could simply devise settings that showcase his brawny tone. Instead, he has rooted his recent music in extramusical research. The harmonic structures of last year’s quartet date, Molecular, arose from his studies of the DNA helix.

If Molecular dealt with the influence of nature, then Jesup Wagon deals with nurture. Since childhood, George Washington Carver’s combination of scientific and creative inquiries has been a template for the saxophonist’s own multidisciplinary pursuits. Each of the album’s seven pieces refers to an aspect of the dedicatee’s legacy, which extended beyond the practical application of scientific, musical and painting skills to visionary proposals to transform society.

But while the record’s narrative presents a series of teaching points, the music is anything but pedantic. Lewis’ vibrato-laden, solitary introduction to the title track sets the listener up for tragedy, only to have his band march jubilantly in, banishing his blues like a New Orleans parade. The interlocking gimbri (Moroccan bass lute), cello and cowbell groove of “Lowlands Of Sorrow” covers ground in a hurry, bucking and loping while Lewis and cornetist Kirk Knuffke float ragged, soulful cries over the top. And “Arachis,” which is named for Carver’s most famous research subject, the peanut, builds from ballad to blowout in classic Albert Ayler-esque fashion.

Source: Downbeat

Genevieve Lacey, Marshall McGuire - Bower


by Genevieve Lacey, Marshall McGuire

Released 14 may 2021

Genevieve Lacey


As she explains in her commentary, quoted below, the new album from Melbourne recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey and friends is a product of the long period of lockdown in the city, in response to the pandemic, confined to home and a 5 kilometer limit for daily exercise. And although the compositions often stray into passages of medieval romanticism, the recording captures aspects of the eerie stillness of a city sheltering in place from an unseeable enemy.

Lacey wrote:

"Music’s my element, something I need, like air and light. For most of 2020, musicians couldn’t make live music with or for other people. What to do, when the world tilts so sharply that it’s hard to stand? I picked wattle in an abandoned golf course. I tried to support an ever-increasing circle of bewildered people. I grieved and railed at the state of the world, and panicked about earning a living. I did daily maths with my 10-year-old niece. And I prowled my strictly 5km-from-home lockdown enclosure, wild with ideas. A commission arrived. A gift, and with it, a slow-flooding return of a sense of hope, purpose. I assembled a cast of people whose work I love, some of whom I’d never met: a harpist and a recording engineer, eight living composers, eight dead ones, two visual artists, a writer, filmmaker, lighting designer, dramaturg, costume designer and producer.

I was thinking about shelter. I wondered whether together, we could create a sense of that? My mind went to bowerbirds and their obsessive collecting habits. And also, their ability to build magical architecture out of fragments — structures that entwine art and survival. Slowly, gently, through a close-to-home, quietly attentive year, we each created our own versions of sanctuary. And then sifted, sorted and fashioned them into a bower."

Source: Genevieve Lacey

DRMNGNOW-Australia Does Not Exist

Australia Does Not Exist

by DRMNGNOW ft Philly , Adrian Eagle, Culture Evolves

Released January 22, 2018

779117 Records


Always Remember

by DRMNGNOW ft Kee'ahn and Paul Gorrie Prod Pataphysics

Released 1 September 2019

Neil Morris


Get Back To The Land

by DRMNGNOW ft Emily Wurramars

Released 30 October 2020

From the compilation album "Deadly Hearts Walking Together", ABC Music


Yorta Yorta man, Neil Morris, cultivates his reverence for land, country and his people through interdisciplinary project, DRMNGNOW.

Morris not only confronts his trauma as a Blak person in Australia but celebrates his connection to country, the beauty of generational spirituality and the transformative power of this connection. “Country is everywhere still,” he explained to earlier in 2019. “Representing the purity of country is something I’m passionate about in my work.” Morris’ latest single, Ancestors is a reflection of the virtues of Yorta Yorta land. “Community is a vital part of everything that I do,” Morris implores, “not only as an artist but as a person.” Gliding on a spoken-word flow, Drmngnow’s singles Indigenous Land and the powerful, Australia Does Not Exist all centre his overarching message: There is no justice on stolen land.

Source: Australian Hip Hop Directory

Alpha Mist - Bring Backs

Bring Backs

by Alpha Mist

Released 9 March 2021



Alfa Mist is a British Jazz composer, producer, and pianist. His music approaches traditional Jazz influences with modern Hip-Hop techniques.

The album - his first for the renowned label Anti-, home to the likes of Fleet Foxes, M Ward, and Danny Elfman - splits his subject into two halves. First, there’s Mist’s own perspective as the child of immigrants; not having to start a new life in an unfamiliar place but keenly aware of the sacrifices that have been made for him to be in the position he is in.

Secondly, there’s the story of the generation that came before – who left their homes behind and began again elsewhere. That thread is told through a poem by Hilary Thomas, the poet reciting verses about her own mother’s journey from Jamaica at various points across the record.

“The land of her birth gave her the tools to navigate the world,” she says proudly on ‘Last Card (Bumper Cars)’.

“When I read back [the poem], there were so many similarities [between our parents’ stories],” Mist explains. “I just left it to her to write what she thought and how she remembered her parents.”
Although Thomas’ poem and the London composer’s own words illuminate some of the songs on ‘Bring Backs’, much of the record takes instrumental form – be that for whole songs, or large chunks of them. Lyrics only come into play at the points where Mist felt the melodies and rhythms couldn’t fully communicate what he was trying to say.

This is outstanding work by an emerging young artist. 

One to watch!

Source: Spitfire Audio

Moodyman - Taken Away

Taken Away

by Moodymann

Released 21 May 2020

Kenneth Dixon


If you’re black in the U.S., anything from shopping for prom clothes to being a firefighter to minding your own business in your own home can prompt people to call the cops on you. When people call in the police, the force might drag you half-naked into the street; they might pull out your tampon during a cavity search in the middle of that street; they might well kill you. In 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Getting killed by police [was] a leading cause of death for young black men in America.”

This shouldn’t happen to anybody; it shouldn’t happen to one of the most gifted musicians to come out of Detroit. But because this is America, it happened to Kenny Dixon, Jr., better known as deep-house hero Moodymann, whose career spans 25-plus years and an influence that can’t be overstated. Dixon was sitting in a van outside his own building in Detroit when someone reported “suspicious behavior” and the cops rolled up with their chaos. He made it out alive.

Echoes of the conflict are all over his new album.

Source: Pitchfork

"Taken Away" shows Moodyman as a master sampler and DJ with an enormous musical knowledge. Typical of this approach, the opening cut mixes samples and funky beats with Moodymann's first person vocals that quote (rather than sample) the great Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time: ("if you don't you know somebody else will").

"Taken Away" is a sample-drenched, rap masterpiece -  truly a funk and groove treasure chest.​

The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band

The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band

by Menahan Street Band

Released 26 February 2021

Daptone Records


Menahan Street Band is a Brooklyn, New York-based instrumental band formed in 2007, that plays funk and soul music. The band features musicians from Antibalas, El Michels Affair, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and the Budos Band. The group was founded by Thomas Brenneck while living in an apartment on Menahan Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. Their debut album, Make the Road by Walking, was released in 2008 on Dunham, a sublabel of Daptone Records.

“Vibe is a quintessential element in what I’m going for,” says MSB co-founder, multi-instrumentalist and producer Thomas Brenneck. “Vibe, mood and emotion.”

Menahan Street Band, is a veritable supergroup of some of today's most prolific songwriters, arrangers, and producers return with this beat-forward, cinematic masterpiece. Their unique brand of instrumental soul has not only been the foundation for some of modern hip-hop's most successful beats, it has also become the perennial soundtrack and veritable vibe-generator for countless parties, art shows, and restaurants throughout NYC and abroad.

While this album carries the aesthetic torch that MSB has skillfully woven into the tapestry of their DNA, it also delves deeper into the experimental, exotic sounds that fill many of the coveted Sound Library and Soundtrack LPs of the late sixties and early seventies - an amalgamation of moog synths, electric pianos, drum machines, and a bevy of analog instrumentation, that ebb and flow in lush swells of Morriconian grandeur.

Source: Bandcamp

Kid Sublime - Straat Coach

Straat Coach

by Kid Sublime

Released 9 March 2021

Inner Tribe


Born into a family of artists and musicians Jacob Otten began playing piano and drums at age 5 after hearing his grandfathers Duke Ellington record and trying to replay "C-Jam Blues". From that first pivotal moment Jacob- known as Kid Sublime- has since devoted his heart and soul to all things music.

From his early days drumming in Hardcore Punk bands to touring the world with Brazillian band Zuco 103 and working in the infamous record store Fat Beats, he quickly laid down a strong and solid foundation to build his career as a producing musician and Disc Jockey. After trying out an Akai MPC 60 in the late 90's, Kid Sublime got hooked to the machine and a few years later he released his first House 12", "Tea For Two" which was later re-edited by Francois K.

He then crafted a myriad of future soul classics for Dutch label Kindred Spirits like his 'Basement Soul' album. From House anthems on his own 'Ballroom Radio Records' imprint that have rocked dance floors all over the world, to Japan only albums that where so hot that the legendary BBE records re-released them so that more ears could hear KS's unmistakable sound.

A true master of his craft, "Straat Coach" an opus of sorts, is his first full blown Dutch Rap album, humorous and witty but backed by insane 'bang it in ya jeep' style beats.

Source: Bandcamp

The Bamboos - Hard Up

Hard Up

by The Bamboos

Released 7 May 2021

Pacific Theatre / BMG


"Hard Up" is the much-anticipated new album by Melbourne funk'n'soul stalwarts, The Bamboos, co-led by band’s producer-guitarist Lance Ferguson and fronted by vocalist extrordinaire Kylie Auldist​.

The band's tenth studio album in over 20 years together is a quality offering that will further establish their elevated standing in the Melbourne, Australia and indeed the worldwide funk scene. 

The album was recorded after Fr=erguson assembled the band over a period of one week at a country house in rural Victoria (coincidentally named Lancefield), at the end of 2019, just prior to the arrival of the pandemic.

With the single exception of the final track - an excellent cover of Black Box's 1989 Italo House hit "Ride On Time" (which itself sampled Loleatta Holloway's 1980 singles "Love Sensation" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long") - "Hard Up" features ten Bamboos originals, all delivered with great vocal swagger by Auldist, who is supplemented by guest vocals from Durand Jones (of Durand Jones & The Indications) LA-based Joey Dosik and Sydney's Ev Jones joining Auldist and the band for "If Not Now (Then When)", "It's All Gonna Be OK" and "While You Sleep" respectively.


Daniel Farrugia - Replicants


by Daniel Farrugia

Released 9 March 2021

Favourite Recordings


Daniel Farrugia is a drummer and percussionist based in Melbourne, best known for his touring and recording work with bands and artists including The Luke Howard Trio, Angus and Julia Stone, Tina Arena, The Bamboos, Felix Riebl, Harry James Angus, Mia Dyson, Missy Higgins, Renee Geyer and Tinpan Orange.

Beginning formal drum lessons at the age of 11 under the guidance of Brian Czempinski, Farrugia studied a wide variety of drumming techniques and styles throughout his years of secondary education. Farrugia undertook tertiary education at the Victorian College of the Arts and graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Music in improvisation performance. Influenced by an array of musical styles, Farrugia has developed a unique sound and ability that allows him to seamlessly blend with bands and artists across a diverse range of music genres. 

In 2018, Farrugia released his first record under his own name titled, ‘Drums & Omnichord, Amongst Other Things’.

This second album kicks off surprisingly, with with "Rainforrest Whistle" a stirring, whistled march propelled by Farrugia's vigorous drumming followed by "Sans Waltz", another robust tune dominated by percussion and "Looking For Clues", a pacy cover of the Robert Palmer tune, with vocals provided by Tim Rogers.

Farrugia  pulls back from this energetic start with delightful, keyboards-infused "Lunar Orbit" (a tune that is over too briefly and would be well suited to extended version); a brief MRI and the reverb-drenched spagetti-western, guitars (courtesy of guest, Ryan Monro) in "Indiana".  

The remaining tracks "Seven", "Past Present and Future" "Is This Real" and "Travellers" are all atmospheric, percussion filled soundscapes, each as unique and evocative as soundtracks to a series of short films.

The variety is impressive and an effective showcase of Farrugia's talent as a percussionist and composer, however with 11 tracks over 33 minutes, many of these tunes are not given the time or context they deserve. 

CCDISCo!-First Light (Volume II)

First Light (Volume II)


Released 7 May 2021



Narrum/Melbourne DJ and party promoter CC:DISCO! grew up as Courtney Clarke, in Cobram in rural Victoria, but is now a mainstay of the big-city local scene and having broken into the UK/EU touring circuit and gained a spot on London's Rinse FM, she’s become an influencer on a global scale, based in Lisbon.
As it's title suggests, First Light Volume II is her second compilation release (it follows 2018's "First Light (Vol. I)"). While the focus of Volume I was on artists from Australia and New Zealand, Volume II is crammed with two dozen tracks from little-known and emerging artists from Australia and around the globe.

Standouts include opening track "Everyday Blessing" by Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange (Melbourne), VGF-DUB by Donald's House, Lipelis (Melbourne), "Dawning" by Jenifa Mayanja (US/Uganda), Burning So Hot by Steady Weather feat. Alysha Joy (Melbourne), Laamore by Hidden Spheres (Manchester), In Due Time by Pepe (Valencia, Spain), Debagunger by Mount Liberation Limited (Stockholm, Sweden).

Vaudeville Smash - The Neverending Glory

The Neverending Glory

by Vaudeviulle Smash

Released 7 May 2021



Made up of three brothers and two mates, no other Australian band sounds like them. An explosion of funk, flute, sax, synth and groove, the dance floor is packed at a Vaudeville Smash gig, the crowd goes wild. In case you’re wondering, they took their name from an Italian children’s karaoke machine that was around in the late ’80s.​

“I’ll be damned if Vaudeville Smash aren’t the most mind-blowingly refreshing live act to emerge from Melbourne since God knows when.” – Beat Magazine

Since their first gig at Fitzroy’s Bar Open, Melbourne’s Vaudeville Smash have carved their own niche, building a formidable following in Australia and around the world.

Their national and international adventures have seen them tour Japan and the Sapporo Jazz Festival, grace stages in New York, South by South West in Austin, Singapore, Toronto, Spain, Italy, as well as numerous Australian festivals, including Woodford Folk Fest, Secret Garden, St Kilda Music Fest (Main Stage), Blues On Broadbeach & Bello Winter Music to name a few.​

“You can’t help but move. The gig is an event. Vaudeville Smash are a great live band.” – Jeff Jenkins, Inpress

The Neverending Glory continues VS's ongoing musical evolution: teaming up with Nashville’s Grammy Award winning producer, Bobby Holland, their third studio album explores the band’s love of funk, soul, 80’s boogie and Italo disco and encompasses over three years of writing, recording and touring.

Source: Vaudeville Smash

Paul Weller - Fat Pop

Fat Pop

by Paul Weller

Released 14 May 2021



"Fat Pop" is Paul Weller's sixteenth studio album as a solo artist, following earlier successes as the creative force within punk pioneers The Jam (1972-1982) and his influential blue-eyed soul project, The Style Council (1983-1989). The album follows a run of artistic and commercial successes as a solo artist over recent years, particularly 2018's "True Meanings" and 2020's "On Sunset".

In the opening song "Cosmic Fringes" Weller channels the energy and cockney delivery of dearly departed Ian Dury singing "I'm a lost cause never found" which is followed by the call-and respons rocker "True Blue" in which he exchanges lines with guest vocalist Lia Metcalfe before launching into the tiutle track,  with Weller now sounding more like Damon Albarn. 

So far the album sounds like it's going to be a Cooks Tour of Brit Pop but the classic Weller surfaces just in the nick, with melodic Kinks influences shining through in the chirpy "Shades of Blue".  The mournful "Glad Times" sets Weller's delicately worked vocal amidst strings and twanging guitars, the intensity lifting as the song builds and fades. Cobwebs/Connections, backed by folk guitars, handclaps and brass, is a carrier for the best lyrics this side of 1968:

Can you jump for joy and clap in time
Not a trace of goodness you could find
Is there not a moment you could cite
That takes you through the back roads
Down by the river
Somewhere in the cobwebs
Of your mind

The album tuns out to be more of a tour of Paul Weller's many talents, ticking all the stylistic boxes in his repertoire. 

Not bad for an album that was reportedly conceived in his iphone, developed over Zoom and came together only after lockdown restrictions were lifted. 

Iosonouncane - IRA


by Iosonouncane

Released 14 May 2021

Panico SRL 


Iosonouncane is the stage name for Sardinian-born and Genoan educated artist Jacopo Incani. His stage name is partly derived from the song ‘Io Sono Uno’ by the tragic cantautore (singer-songwriter) Luigi Tenco, and he recently covered Tenco’s ‘Vedrai, Vedrei’ on stand-alone single ‘Novembre’.

His approach there, of smothering a classic under a layer of heavy synthetic fog, anticipates the strategies employed on IRA. The title means ‘anger’(‘ire’) in Italian – but that doesn’t quite prepare you for the album’s frequently breathtaking scope.

Due to the pandemic and Incani’s desire to be able to take the album on the road as soon as it was released, the album’s release has been much delayed, contributing to the sense of anticipation. It has been viewed by some as a step forward in the renewal of Italian song, and it’s a bold release in several ways: a triple album, released on a major label (Sony Music Italia), on which Incani sings in various languages (Italian, French, English, Arabic, and more), creating his own kind of Esperanto. It deals, in his own words, with “multitudes in transit”, mass migrations. The mind turns to the migrants and refugees reaching Italian shores in places like Lampedusa.

Titles like ‘Foule’ (“crowd” in French), ‘Prison’, ‘Horizon’, and ‘Soldiers’ tell their own story.

But it’s also about the sound of ‘IRA’. There are still traces of Italian song. The finale, ‘Cri’, is a particularly rich, creamy ballad. But, as elsewhere on the record, Incani’s treatment of his own voice gives it a feel like it’s speckled with dew or is escaping from a record that’s layered thick with dust, while crisp cymbals skate over the murk. Italian canzone on IRA is a revenant, a bit like rave is for Burial.

IRA begins with a slice of spectral MOR, ‘Hiver’, before we start to get a glimpse of some of the industrial influences that were already in evidence on Die. But IRA is more homogenous, in the best sense. The disparate inspirations (and one could add techno, jazz, Goblin-style prog, North African folk), have been fully integrated into a singular language, whether it’s the small-balladeer-in-a-box songs like ‘Soldiers’ or the charging Maghrebian percussion, tormented howling and foghorn synth blasts of the eleven-minute long ‘Hajar’. I’m willing to bet that there also aren’t many things in Italian song quite like the peculiar salad of Armando Trovajoli, chanson, and early post rock found on ‘Fleuve’. In other words, IRA e magnifico.

Source: Quietus

YDah-SouthSudan(Remixes P) - Gordon Koang, Andras, SleepD

Y Dah / South Sudan (Remixes EP)

by Gordon Koang, Andras, Sleep D

Released 9 March 2021

Music In Exile


Gordon Koang, South Sudan’s enigmatic superstar and ceaseless fountain of infectious pop music, kick started 2021 by announcing his forthcoming remix EP. Featuring re-workings of tracks from his August 2020 album Unity , today's announcement is joined by the EP's first single, "South Sudan (Andras House Remix)", out now via Music In Exile.
In the midst of a run of singles and festival performances around Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, derailing Gordon’s newfound success and growing status as the darling of Melbourne’s vibrant music scene. Forced to find alternatives, Gordon enlisted some of his newfound friends to lend their remix touch to his work, including Andras, one of the finest electronic voices in the city's community.
Expertly pairing Gordon's vocal performance to a hypnotic house rhythm, Andras' "South Sudan" now finds new meaning and audience within the electronic music genre. Immediately developing a collaborative working relationship, today's re-imagination showcases the sweet spot where the pairs' distinct musical styles can co-exist and create their own unique sound.
Andras on the remix: "Gordon’s voice carried me through this remix project. My remix is the same track with some empty space in it, an extended breakdown, and… yes…. I made the bass drum louder. I also popped Gordon’s accapella over a ‘Bubblegum’ style backing track. But feeling there was a great likelihood i’d garbled the lyrics (given I don’t speak Neur or Arabic) I promptly deleted all the session files and suggested leaving the original intention intact (see above). But with Gordon’s blessing, here’s that dodgy tape remix, a kind of sonorous justice, given the poor quality digitised tapes through which I got much of my African musical education. I thank Gordon for his willingness to share the fuzz."

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Source: Bandcamp

Moby - Reprise


by Moby

Released 9 March 2021

Deutsche Grammophon


Moby's internet home page declares that “Reprise" is an opportunity to revisit the musical highlights of his life’s work in a completely new way. He has chosen to do so by re-envisioning some of his most recognizable rave classics and anthems with Hungary’s Budapest Art Orchestra. "Some of the new versions are sparser, slower and more vulnerable, while others exploit the bombastic potential an orchestra can offer", he writes.

Three decades into his career, Moby considers “Reprise” to be "less of a Greatest Hits record and more of a chance to reflect on the way in which art can adapt over time to different settings and contexts".

All credit to Moby for seeking to mark his 30th annniversary with something more interesting than a Special Edition or box set, but if he is serious, the musical choices err so far on the side of pompous (so perfectly represented in the album cover art), one wonders whether this is in fact an elaborate joke.

Sufjan Stevens - Convocations


by Sufjan Stevens

Released 6 May 2021

Asthmatic Kitty Records


"Convocations", the new 5-disc, 2 and a half hour long, release by Sufjan Stevens, is a long-form, ambient work that was made in response to (and as an homage to) the life and death of his biological father, who died in September last year, two days following the release of his previous album, "The Ascension". 

"Convocations" might also be seen as public expression of a side of Stevens' career that has been running parallel to his more popular and accessible, folk-inspired albums for many years.

"It may be tempting to reduce "Convocations" into a longform ambient anomaly within Sufjan Stevens’ vast catalogue. It is, however, neither an anomaly nor entirely ambient This is not a side project", writes music critic Grayson Haver Currin, in Stevens' own Bandcamp entry.

Currin relays how Stevens has composed numerous dance scores for New York City Ballet and instrumental albums such as "Enjoy Your Rabbit", "Aporia", and "The BQE"; that Stevens spends at least half his working life making largely instrumental music, and has done so for decades and that he invokes the lessons of Morton Subotnick, Maryanne Amacher, Christian Fennesz, Brian Eno, and Wolfgang Voigt.

While all of this is undoubtably true, I am unlikely to be tempted to return to "Convocations" for casual listening, as I will be to "The Ascention" and its 2015 predecessor "Carrie and Lowell" (which marked the death of Stevens' mother) anddddd may of the albums from the ambient artists who have inspired him, such as  Fripp, Eno, Budd and other ambient masters. 

On the other hand, this music is clearly a work of great care and attention, and deserves a place alongside other similar works (such as Max Richters "Sleep") that have been written for the purpose of the five themes identifies in each of these discs -  Meditation, Lamentation, Revelation, Celebration and Incantation.

Gary Numan - Intruder


by Gary Numan

Released 9 March 2021

Numan Music USA


For most, Gary Numan is a two hit wonder we may hear every so often when FM radio spins "Are ‘Friends’ Electric?" or Cars". But a quick check of the man's discography reveals that he has been releasing new works every couple of years since the late 1970's.

His pioneering fusion of electronica, dance music, goth, and metal has been an enduring influence on industrial rock and is a direct progenitor of many alt rock-era mega sellers including Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Smashing Pumpkins, White Zombie and others. In recent years he has even enjoyed a late-career resurgance, his 2018  album "Savage (Songs from a Broken World" reaching No 2 on the UK album charts supported by live performances and supplemented by "Live" albums.

"Intruder" Numan’s nineteenth album, will ensure that his career contines for a god time yet, health willing.

Writing for Quietus, critic Marc Burrows decribes it as follows: "It’s a concept record, sang from the point of view of the Earth itself to the bipedal aliens that crawl across its surface, wreaking irreversible toxic havoc. That sounds a bit pretentious, and maybe it is, but it’s exactly the sort of apocalyptic narrative Numan has been spinning for years now, and the themes are depressingly timely. Fortunately, so is the music.

Working with longtime collaborator Ade Fenton, Numan has created a tapestry of atmospheric, claustrophobic and, occasionally, toweringly pissed musical strands reflecting the mood of a heartbroken and livid planet as its colonisers continue to belch fumes in its eyes and chisel at its face “I can listen to you scream – pretty music to my ears” sings mother Earth via Numans familiar, affected yowl on the title track, “you are death and I am betrayed” seethes the opening number.

"Intruder" is the work of an artist whose musical stance has withstood the test of time, whose enthusiasm remains as strong as ever and whose musical and narrative choices have never been compromised.

Van Morrison - Latest Record Project, Vol. 1

Latest Record Project (Volume 1)

by Van Morrison

Released 7 May 2021

Exile / BMG


There can be no undoing of the magnificent body of work that the great Van Morrison, - the Lion, Van The Man - created during a long and storied career, commencing with Them in the early 60's and continuing right through until very recently.

As often is the case, genius and madness are often comppanions and there have been times along the journey when fans have found ways to forgive this one his trespasses. This includes the infamous (but genuinely humorous) manner in which he dispensed of his contractual obligations to Warners by recording over thirty songs of utter nonsense, that were made up on the spot (and subsequently released around 2017 as "The Authorized Bang Collection").

Morrison's reputation as a cantankerous recluse is well established, but it took the COVID-19 pandemic to flush out the full extent of his bitterness in relation to both personal and public affairs.

This has been a particularly busy year for Van, who released four songs ahead of this album. "Born To Be Free" compares the restrictions under covid to the Nazi division of Berlin; "As I Walked Out"and "No More Lockdown" are both bitter criticisms of Government's lockdown as a conspiracy (with luyrics like "No more lockdown/No more government overreach/No more fascist police/Disturbing our peace/No more taking our freedom/And our God-given rights/Pretending it's for our safety/When it's really to enslave") and with his like-minded old pal Eric Clapton, the notorious "Stand and Deliver": ("Magna Carta, Bill of Rights/The constitution, what's it worth?/You know they're gonna grind us down, ah/Until it really hurts/Is this a sovereign nation/Or just a police state?/You better look out, people/Before it gets too late.")

Mercifully, we are spared those particular songs among this lot, but this double album is still indulgently marred by a lyric sheet that overflows with bitterness and complaint in a slew of songs that refer to what sounds like a messy divorce ("No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", "Tried To Do The Right Thing" and "The Long Con", "It Hurts Me Too", "Love Should Come With A Warning" and "Duper's Delight"); government and media conspiracies ("Where Have All The Rebels Gone?", "Why Are You on Facebook?" and "They Own The Media") and xenophobia ("Western Man")

Musically, Morrison has assembled a cracking band that rescues many of the above songs from their dire lyrics and they bring their A-game to the balance of the songs including "Thank God For the Blues", "Big Lie", "A Few Bars Early","Only A Song" "Diabolic Pressure", "Deadbeat Saturday Night", "Blue Funk", "Double Agent", "Breaking The Spell", "Up County Down", "My Time After a While","He's Not The Kingpin", "Mistaken Identity",

"Stop Bitching, Do Something" and "Jealosy".  

This album is a clear example of the potential for less to be more: a single album of the less embittered songs might have been received like a breath of fresh air, rathen than the sad complaints of bitter old man.

Nevertheless, the album marks a return to the UK Top Ten for Morrison, making the 2020's the fourth consecutive decade in which he has reached those heights.

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