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YouTube | September 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | September 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Gabriels - Angels & Queens-Part I_edited

Angels & Queens - Part I

by Gabriels

Released 30 September 2022

Gabriels / Atlas Artists


Frontman Jacob Lusk is nothing short of incredible on the trio’s debut album, a powerful half-hour of top-tier songwriting that proves Gabriels are far more than soul revivalists

Gabriels seemed to appear out of nowhere. They were hoisted into the public eye a couple of years ago, thanks to an extraordinary self-released five-track EP and an equally extraordinary video accompanying its lead track, Love and Hate in a Different Time. A perfectly synchronised selection of clips of people dancing (African tribes, saucer-eyed habituees of Wigan Casino, Theresa May at the Conservative party conference), the video suddenly stops dead, the final two minutes given over to what looks like cameraphone footage of a singer at a street demonstration, performing Lewis Allan’s Strange Fruit through a megaphone. The singer was Gabriels’ frontman, Jacob Lusk, at a Black Lives Matter protest.
The more you find out about them, the more curious Gabriels sound: Lusk was a choir director and a runner-up on the 2011 series of American Idol. His bandmates are a classically trained California composer called Ari Balouzian and a Sunderland-born video director, Ryan Hope, who named the band after the street in Bishopwearmouth where he grew up. They first collaborated on an advert for Prada in 2018, from which the EP’s opening track, Loyalty, had sprung: outside Love and Hate in a Different Time, Balouzian and Hope’s other 2020 release was the soundtrack to a documentary about Pepe the Frog.

However odd their background, Gabriels quickly gained momentum: critical acclaim; a major label deal; a showstopping appearance on Later With Jools Holland. It would be easy to suggest that their rise is down to Lusk, who has vast charisma and an entirely astonishing voice: he has a startling ability to sound intimate and warm one second, then unleash an agonised, shiver-inducing falsetto the next.

Angels and Queens Part One album cover
Angels and Queens Part One album cover
But an astonishing voice isn’t necessarily enough on its own, as evidenced by Lusk’s pleasant but inconsequential 2018 EP My Love Story, which framed him with too-slick production, equal parts early 90s slow jam and Mellow Magic-friendly 80s AOR. Without wishing to take away from the power of his vocals, it’s hard not to feel that Love and Hate in a Different Time derived its head-turning power from the fact that it was a fantastic song and from an overall sound that smartly keyed into soul music’s past without feeling like a painstakingly researched historical reenactment. It was obviously cut from a very different, more traditional cloth to most contemporary R&B, but it was cheeringly hard to put your finger on exactly what aspects of the past it was evoking.

That’s even more true of Angels and Queens Part One. Lusk is, plainly, incredible throughout – the sound of his voice multitracked to infinity on If You Only Knew is quite something – and the standard of songwriting set by Love and Hate in a Different Time never dips, as evidenced by the dense funk of the title track and piano ballad If You Only Knew, written from the perspective of Lusk’s late godsister, which shifts from wrenching misery to euphoria.

This album highlights that Gabriels, having drafted Kendrick Lamar collaborator Sounwave as producer, are far more than revivalists. He helps craft a sound that feels entirely of the moment, and not merely because there’s a constant, nagging sense of tumult and foreboding lurking behind even its prettiest songs. There’s certainly nothing retro about a track such as The Blind, where the beat is made of a stumbling, clattering array of samples, Lusk’s vocal is drenched in backwards reverb and the piano and strings battle for space with droning, overcast synths. The orchestration that opens To the Moon and Back could have transported there directly from a 1940s jazz ballad, but it’s swiftly replaced by a cavernous-sounding swirl of massed vocals and an insistent, cyclical bass riff.
You can hear Lusk’s background in gospel, but it’s tempting to say that you can hear his collaborators’ previous jobs, too. There’s something weirdly cinematic about both the songs’ structures – they’re filled with sudden cuts and strange twists, as when Remember Me dramatically shifts gear halfway through, and moments when they suddenly focus in on tiny details, not least the agonising scrape of a plectrum being dragged down a guitar string on To the Moon – and the arrangements. The orchestrations frequently seem to be there, not as a lush embellishment or a nod to the days when soul records were orchestrated as a matter of course, but to heighten the tension, as on a soundtrack. On the album’s murky highlight, Taboo, every snare crack is amplified by a vicious stab of brass; the strings, meanwhile, slice through the track at unexpected angles, ratcheting up the drama.
If it seems counterintuitive to split your debut album in two – Part Two is due in March – a song like Taboo makes it feel like common sense: like a lot of Angels and Queens Part One, it’s intense listening. The seven songs here last barely 30 minutes, but a powerful, concentrated half hour dose is all you need. Certainly – it’s all you need to stake a strong claim to the title of album of the year.

Source: The Guardian (Alex Petridis)

Beth Orton - Weather Alive

Weather Alive

by Beth Orton

Released 23 September 2022

Partisan Records


Beth Orton has led a singular career. An artist who has skirted on the fringes of the mainstream – let’s not forget how big 1996’s ‘Trailer Park’ and 1999’s ‘Central Reservation’ truly were – she’s also been unafraid to take life at her own pace. ‘Weather Alive’ is the songwriter’s first LP in six years, only her second since 2012, and it’s the work of a glorious talent allowed to move unfettered, unimpeded by obstruction or obstacle; refulgent, beatific, and inspired, it’s a record that ranks among her best, both in intent and execution.
Self-produced, ‘Weather Alive’ is a gorgeous song cycle, a record that feels thoroughly confident in its own skin. Opening with the title track, there’s the sense of a spirit feeling its way through the arrangement, gradually asserting itself.

Then comes the heavenly ‘Friday Night’, all opulent sound and Beth Orton’s instinctive, soulful, lived-in vocal.

In turn ‘Fractals’ feels more pensive, yet nonetheless ornate, before the songwriter allows her excellent group of musicians to stretch their legs a little on the jazz-tinged ‘Haunted Satellite’, a performance that recalls those mid 70s Joni Mitchell LPs.
‘Forever Young’ allows the barriers of verse and chorus to deserve, a free-flowing exhibition of poise and atmosphere.

‘Lonely’ is more structured, its ebb and flow held together by that bruisingly pretty piano line, the breathy saxophone supplying the perfect counterpoint.

‘Arms Around A Memory’ is rooted in the itchy percussive appeal, recalling Tom Waits with its streak of inventiveness.

Closing with ‘Unwritten’, the album’s tightly wound structure practically begs to be replayed – succinct yet endlessly suggestive, its evocative soundscapes seem to linger on the verge of definition, shape-shifting melodies that rise like wisps of smoke before suddenly disappearing, only to dissipate into the sub-conscious mind. Beautifully accomplished, ‘Weather Alive’ stands as an imposing career-high by a fine, fine songwriter.

Source: ClashMusic

Sampa The Great - As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below

by Sampa The Great

Released 9 September 2022

Sampa The Great / Loma Vista


Bold production, rich harmonies and equable beats; Sampa the Great curates a more intimate-feeling sonic experience on new album ‘As Above, So Below’.

The follow up to 2019’s ‘The Return’, Sampa’s new project builds on everything that made her last record so good, and simply does it better.

‘As Above, So Below’ opens with ‘Shadows’, a menacing cut centred around a sinister bells loop, bolstered by stacks of lavish harmonies and a healthy dose of beefy 808s. The beat, while punching through the mix, still retains a reserved feel. The addition of African wind instruments and spoken-word passage toward the back end of the track is the nod we need to know this record is going to be quintessentially Sampa the Great. ‘Shadows’ leads into the synth-heavy ‘Lane’ (also the first single from the record), which kicks off with layers of ambient and granular texture and effected vocal chops. Sampa’s flow is subdued yet passionate, and once again we are continually treated to large harmonic moments throughout the track. It also gives us the first feature of the record, with an impeccable verse from Florida rapper Denzel Curry. His energy as an artist is often unrivalled, and his verse here helps the case. 
Other singles ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Bona’ slot nicely into the feel of the record, with the former boasting a delectable marriage of borderline trip-hop beats and African music. ‘Bona’ ups the energy during the near-half point of the album. The pulsating sub basses and frantic flows from Sampa make an intoxicating experience, with the delicacy of the piano and backing vocals working hard as a stark contrast to the verses. Sampa the Great’s flow, throughout ‘As Above, So Below’, remains cool, calm and collected, but she is never afraid to cross into more frenetic energies. 

Album closer ‘Let Me Be Great’ works perfectly as the final chapter of the record. It encapsulates everything that makes Sampa Sampa; the neo-soul inflections paired with grand choral passages are simply quintessentially here. ‘Let Me Be Great’ is also rich with positive feelings, again a clever contrast to some of the darker instrumental moments on the album.

Sampa the Great’s latest release cements her as someone who ignores any traditional restraints within hip hop. The beautiful blends of genres and crisp production make ‘As Above, So Below’ an enthralling listen, and has Sampa raising the bar for herself once again. 

Source: ClashMusic

Bjork - Fossora


by Bjork

Released 30 September 2022

One Little Independant Records


Though the search for connection has been the crux of Björk's music since the beginning, she was resolutely alone on Vulnicura (2015) and Utopia (2017).

After the traumatic isolation of the former album and the healing solitude of the latter, on Fossora she's ready to reach out again. Named for a Latin word meaning "digger," Björk's tenth album is one of her best blends of the conceptual and the personal.

Initially inspired by clarinets, gabba techno (her favorite to play at home during the COVID-19 global pandemic lockdown), and the communal nature of fungal networks, it grew to embrace her new love, her children leaving home, and her mother's 2018 death. Björk weaves these huge emotional milestones together into earthy, organic illustrations of the many kinds of love and how they're expressed. On Fossora, love isn't always soft: the album opener "Atopos" shows Björk has come down from Utopia's clouds with an impatient thud. "Our differences are irrelevant," she insists over jabbing beats, prodding clarinets, and an army of backing vocals before concluding, "Hope is a muscle/that allows us to connect." There's a maternal quality to her no-nonsense tone that ties in perfectly with Fossora's later expressions of being a daughter saying goodbye to her mother and a mother saying goodbye to her daughter. "Sorrowful Soil," the somber choral piece that serves as a eulogy for Björk’s mother, environmental activist Hildur Rúna, is striking, but still doesn't fully prepare listeners for "Ancestress." The equivalent of Vulnicura's centerpiece "Black Lake," it captures Rúna's legacy and passing in beautifully wrenching detail, from the traits she shared with Björk ("she invents words and adds syllables") to the form left behind ("let go of a cold palm"). Just as stunning is the misty-eyed finale "Her Mother's House," where Björk sends her daughter Isadora out into the world with the benediction "The more I love you/The better you will survive/The more freedom I give you." Romantic love inspires several of Fossora's other highlights, whether it's the Homogenic-like fusion of digital, emotional, and physical intimacy of "Ovule," the verdant sensuality of the serpentwithfeet collaboration "Fungal City," or "Freefall," a celebration of "the shape of the love we created" dotted with pizzicato strings that light up the track like tiny bioluminescent mushrooms. Like Vulnicura, the album has its challenging moments -- particularly "Victimhood," a subterranean crawl through the muck of self-pity -- but they make the transition from loss and grieving to love and hope on "Allow" and the title track all the sweeter. Whether Björk presents a magical world on Fossora or just reminds listeners of the magic within everyday life and relationships, it's more proof that she can still forge a remarkable connection with her audience.

On this soul-nourishing tour de force, her one-of-a-kind mix of innovation and emotion is as inspiring as it's ever been over her decades-long career.

Source: AllMusic

Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble - II


by Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble

Released 30 September 2022

Tomkins Square


In 2020, the acoustic Chicago-based Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble quietly released their debut album independently. It dazzled due to its mysterious open-ended gentleness created by melding American Primitive guitar styles, Western folk and vanguard traditions, Indian drones, and modal overtones to make music that seems to be on a journey. Signed by Josh Rosenthal to his ever-reliable Tompkins Square label, the trio deliver its sequel. This set is brighter, offering a seemingly directed, more complexly ordered ensemble narrative that simultaneously allows for deft individual interplay. Elijah McLaughlin composes and plays six- and twelve-string acoustic guitars. He is joined by Joel Styzens on hammered dulcimer and Jason Toth on upright bass. There is little in the modern vernacular that the ensemble's music compares to.

Opener "Zodiac Rabbit" commences with droning arco bass and shimmering dulcimer notes. McLaughlin alternately strums and fingerpicks through extended chordal drone. The bass drones get deeper and more frenetic as dulcimer and guitar frame it in an airy two-chord vamp. "Wheel" is introduced with kinetic fingerpicking joined by arco bass, while the hammered dulcimer creates a fluid, breathing backdrop as the other instruments lock then separate, cutting across tempos, modes, textures, and cadences. By contrast, "Arc" is spectral, contemplative tune. Introduced by a low-end bass drone, McLaughlin adds jazzy 12-string chords that flirt with syncopated modal blues and flamenco picking. His progression is resonant and brooding. The hammered dulcimer becomes more insistent before creating an overtone drift that winds around the other instruments. "Spring" is the album's hinge piece. As Styzens and McLaughlin engage a driving progression, Toth lags behind, filling the space with alternate harmonies, prompting the guitarist to investigate the tonal terrain in a killer solo. The bassist briefly drops the bow and responds with a flurry of pizzicato notes before reclaiming it on the outro. "Viroqua" directly draws on John Fahey's expansive approach to Americana as the guitarist both fingerpicks and strums through a jaunty pastoral, supported in expansive, drifting rounds by the other instruments. Set-closer "Confluence" also draws deeply on Fahey and Ali Akbar Khan. It weds East and West in revealing the trio's tonal intersectionality as a remarkable conversational discovery. The ascending and descending bassline in "Effigy" becomes the axis the tune turns on. A bluesy, strummed guitar trades in octave drones as the dulcimer works in the upper and middle registers to create a melodic undertow; the bassist and guitarist expand it with intensity and forceful dynamics. The nearly processional "Blind Valley" follows as the dulcimer offers an expressionistic melody line atop hyperkinetic 12-string and crescendo-like basslines.

On II, even more so than on their debut, the Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble showcase a holistic approach to music making that balances deep focus, startling originality, and sophisticated group interplay.

Source: AllMusic

Joyce Moreno - Natureza


by Joyce Monera

Released 30 September 2022

Far Out Recordings


Not long after the dawn of her career, as a teenager in Rio de Janeiro, Joyce was declared “one of the greatest singers” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Yet despite reputable accolades and the fact that she has since recorded over thirty acclaimed albums, Joyce never quite achieved the international recognition of the likes of Jobim, João Gilberto and Sergio Mendes, all of whom became global stars after releasing with major labels in the US.

There was a moment when it seemed Joyce might be on the cusp of an international breakthrough. While living in New York, Joyce was approached by the great German producer Claus Ogerman. Ogerman had already played a pivotal role in the development and popularisation of Brazilian music in the 1960s, recording with some of the all-time greats like Jobim and João Gilberto, as well as North American idols like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Bill Evans.

"I met him in New York City, in 1977”, recalls Joyce. “I was living and playing there, and João Palma, Brazilian drummer who used to play with Jobim, introduced me to Claus. We had an audition, he liked what we were doing and decided to produce an album with us.”

Featuring fellow Brazilian musicians Mauricio Maestro (who wrote/co-wrote four of the songs), Nana Vasconcelos and Tutty Moreno, and some of the most in-demand stateside players including Michael Brecker, Joe Farrell and Buster Williams, the recordings for Natureza took place at Columbia Studios and Ogerman produced the album, provided the arrangements and conducted the orchestra.

But mysteriously, Natureza was never released, and what should have been Joyce’s big moment never happened. As Joyce remembers, “I returned home, but Claus and I remained in contact, by letters and phone calls. He was very enthusiastic about the album and tried to hook me up with Michael Franks. He wanted me to go back to NYC in order to re-record the vocals in English with new lyrics, which I actually wasn’t too happy about. But then I got pregnant with my third child and could not leave Brazil. And little by little our contact became rare, until I lost track of him completely. And that was it. I never heard from him again."

While Claus was known to be something of an elusive character, the album’s disappearance might also have been a result of timing. The Brazilian craze was coming to an end, making way for disco and new wave at the end of the seventies, and Ogerman struggled to find a major label interested in a new Brazilian sensation. Additionally, as Joyce mentions, it wasn’t quite finished. Ogerman wanted to add finishing touches to the mix and to record alternative English lyrics for the US and international markets - a critical artistic difference between Joyce and Ogerman.

As the military dictatorship’s grip on Brazil began to subside in the 1980s, Joyce had a handful of hits in her home county, including a tribute to her daughters ‘Clareana’, and the iconic ‘Feminina’ - an intergenerational conversation between mother and daughter about what it means to be a woman. But already a feminist pioneer, these successes were hard fought. Joyce had caused controversy as a nineteen-year-old when she became the first in Brazil to sing from the first-person feminine perspective, and the institutional sexism she faced was worsened by the dictatorship who would often censor her music. Even once the Junta was out of the way, Joyce found herself up against the male-dominated major record companies in Brazil, who sought to dictate her career and sexualise her image, before dropping her for refusing to play along.

A few years after the success of her albums Feminina and Agua E Luz in Brazil, Joyce’s music began to find its way to the UK, Europe and Japan, and “Feminina” and “Aldeia de Ogum” became classics on the underground jazz-dance scenes of the mid to late-eighties and early-nineties.

The full-length version of “Feminina” from the Natureza sessions was first heard on a Brazilian Jazz compilation in 1999 and “Descompassadamente” was licensed for a CD compiling the work of Claus Ogerman in 2002. Following these, word began to get out about an unreleased Joyce album with Claus Ogerman and the legend of Natureza grew.

Forty-five years since it was recorded, Natureza finally sees the light of day, as Joyce intended: with her own Portuguese lyrics and vocals. Featuring the fabled 11-minute version of ‘Feminina’, as well as the never before heard ‘Coração Sonhador’ composed and performed by Mauricio Maestro, Natureza’s release is a landmark in Brazilian music history and represents a triumphant, if overdue victory for Joyce as an outspoken female artist who has consistently refused to bow to patriarchal pressure.

Source: Bandcamp

The Comet Is Coming - Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam

Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam

by The Comet Is Coming

Released 23 September 2022



With the dissolution of Sons of Kemet and all-too-infrequent recordings by Shabaka and the Ancestors, there is an argument for the Comet Is Coming as Shabaka Hutchings' (aka King Shabaka here) primary project. This longstanding futurist electro-jazz project with synthesist and electronicist Dan Leavers (Danalogue) and drummer Maxwell Hallett (Betamax) has been collaborating since they were students together at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Their collective aesthetic looks at humanity's future through dark, apocalyptic lenses offering cultural and technological critique through sound.

After emerging from the pandemic's lockdown in early 2021, the trio and longtime sound engineer Kristian Craig Robinson, made a beeline for Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios. They spent four days recording improvisations guided by collective grit and instinct. They left with incomplete files. Leavers and Hallett then painstakingly sampled and reworked them over many months. After a thorough once over by Hutchings and implementation of his input, they assembled this offering.

Most of these 11 jams are in the three- and four-minute range. They mostly juxtapose brute force -- a mid-noughties EDM sensibility that isn't surprising after considering how many house records relied on the jazz harmony and scale books. Opener "Code" comes at the listener with swelling synths and effects that introduce a pulse from a Tangerine Dream-esque sequencer. The beat is dynamically relentless, recalling Omar Souleyman's Dabke wedding music. Hutchings blows aggressively repetitive patterns over cascading rhythms and a wordless vocal chorus. "Technicolour" offers an intro chordal pattern derived from Detroit techno before Hutchings articulates a knotty melody that exchanges phrases with interlocking rhythm tracks and wonky, zig-zagging synths. "Pyramids" pops and pulses before synth washes and angular bass pulses meet syncopated snares and a high, honking tenor squall that recalls Hermeto Pascoal at his most expressive. You can't help but move to it. "Frequency of Feeling Expansion" commences with a droning organ sound as Hallett moves into swinging post-bop on the kit. Amid flowing, endlessly blossoming synth vamps, Hutchings develops an incremental melody and begins to solo around it as the rhythm section (very) gradually ratchets the tension. At just under seven minutes, "Angel of Darkness" is the set's longest and most sinister cut. Its indefinite keyboard and percussion washes create a tense, atmospheric backdrop that Hutchings confronts with wailing intensity. He is moving against it with his expression and passion. At the halfway mark, a doom-jazz cadence begins swirling as the tenor sax moves in tandem with rockist drumming, and a foreboding caution from the synths. Closer "Mystik" finds Hallett melding hard bop with drum'n'bass on snare and hi-hat. Leavers lays in eerie, unspecific bleeps, bloops, and washes before Hutchings' tenor bleats then roars, driving the dark, dubby groove into the stratosphere. Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam is unlikely to appeal to conservative jazz heads. It will please fans of the hybrid jazz scene in England and draw in many new listeners internationally who will be deeply attracted to its apocalyptic energy, innovative beats, and rowdy abundance.

Source: AllMusic

Vieux Farka Toure, Khruangbin - Ali


by Vieux Farka Toure, Khruangbin

Released 23 September 2022

Dead Oceans


At first, it is hard to see any discernible connection between the elemental ethos of Ali Farka Touré (the late Malian desert blues legend whose contemplative, spartan sound made the one-chord boogie stomps of nearest ‘Western’ equivalent John Lee Hooker seem positively florid) and Khruangbin, a trio from Texas whose laidback, luxuriously upholstered blend of slow-burn soul/funk and soft-focus psychedelia seems tailor-made to soundtrack the plushest of parties.

The enticingly unhurried, loose-limbed grooves of Ali soon prove that Ali Farka Touré’s son Vieux Farka Touré – an accomplished musician dubbed the Hendrix of the Desert in his own right – made the right call in picking Khruangbin as a collaborator on his long-planned tribute to the mighty musical achievements of his father, who passed away in 2006 after a string of widely celebrated albums of raw and unfiltered desert blues.

Dashed out quickly with little advance planning (apparently Touré didn’t tell the band which songs would be tackled until the last minute to preserve the spark of spontaneity) on either side of the pandemic, the compelling outcomes maintain the spotlight on Touré’s fluid guitar and vocals whilst adding unmistakably Khruangbin-ised touches to Ali Farka Touré’s threadbare but deeply hypnotic songs, which have more in common with the repetitive accumulation of a mantra or a prayer than verse/chorus formats.

At its best, Ali is mesmerising: this version of “Savanne” (the melancholy title track of Ali Farka Touré’s final album) adds a drop of gently humid funk, dub accents and an organ drone to the song’s quietly graceful contemplation, with seriously beautiful results. A luxuriously layered, soul ballad reinterpretation of “Diarabi” (one of Ali Farka Touré’s signature tunes) is almost as compelling. In comparison to such slow-burn treats, the desert-funk of “Tongo Barra” – nodding towards the high octane presentation of Songhoy Blues and Mdou Moctar – positively sizzles with live-wire energy.

Ultimately, the connection between Vieux (and Ali) Farka Touré and Khruangbin becomes clear: while they separately occupy very different musical territories, there is a shared love of minimalist repetition, and a deep appreciation for the all-important spaces between the notes. Both parties benefit from the collaboration on Ali: Touré gets to paint the songs he loves with a wider palette without diluting the power of the source material, and Khruangbin’s add some welcome grit to their smooth and hazy signature sound.

Source: TheLineOfBestFit

David Versace - Okra


by David Versace

Released 9 September 2022

La Sape


David Versace is an Australian multi-genre keyboardist, composer and producer based in Meanjin, Queensland.

Growing up in a very musical household it was always important to express and embrace all types of music and sonics.

His sound ranges from Jazz and Samba to ambient works and the odd dance-floor heater. David also plays in Meanjin nu-jazz dance outfit First Beige.

Since late 2019, he has self released around 20 different tracks and with the most recent signing to La Sape Records

David is excited to announce his debut solo album 'Okra' a conceptual body of work that flows through a culmination of raw organic concepts conceived In The Moment, and his most elegant & articulated work yet.

"I’ve wanted to write this album for a long time but didn’t really know how to go about it, the writing began in early 2020 however, I was feeling like my ideas weren’t really sounding like what I had imagined in my head. I wanted the album to sound live, bright and loose so I decided that the best way to tackle it was to get in a room with a really strong rhythm section and build the tracks from the ground up.

The combination of Musicians on this record was really the catalyst for its unique sound, it’s sweet and sombre yet has moments of rage and intensity. Although a lot of the record was recorded over a month, my main goal was to make the listener really feel like you are there in the room. This is where I had to really think about the production and mixing side of things. It all joins and flows together as one continuous body of work and has a quite a roomy sound to stick that illusion of being there."

David Versace: Piano, Synths, Cuica, Bass, Double Bass & Percussion.
Jasper Gundersen: Drums
Luis Manuel: Percussion

Curtis Scibilia: Trumpet on Summer Party, KP Cruisin & Saguaro
Julia Beiers: Bass Guitar on Summer Party
Oscar Borschmann: Additional Synths on Heat Rays


Sources: AMRAP (Australian Music Radio Airplay Project) and Bandcamp

Ari Lennox - age sex location


by Ari Lennox

Released 9 September 2022

Dreamville/Innerscope Records


Ari Lennox’s crisp, velvety soprano evokes both the lavender incense at a successful girls’ night in and the sensual intimacy after a delightful date night out. The amorous flair of her music channels a rich lineage of Black women neo-soul artists of the 1990s and early ’00s, who prioritized their sexual desires along the journey to self-acceptance. Drawing on Jill Scott’s jazz-inflected tension and Erykah Badu’s philosophical ruminations, Lennox’s own brand of neo-soul finds freedom in the flesh.

The DC native’s 2016 EP Pho employed the retro flair of ’70s R&B to capture the bliss of having her carnal needs met; her 2019 full-length debut Shea Butter Baby exuded the aroma of passion while embracing the autonomy of a young single woman trying to understand her worth beyond sex.

On her second album, age/sex/location, Lennox ditches the formulaic takes on lust and romantic uncertainty for a steamier, sexier collection of songs that push her further along in her quest for self-acceptance.

Lennox has described the new album as “the transitional space before my current eat, pray, love journey”—a clichéd yet accurate assessment of her most assured-sounding project yet. If Shea Butter Baby highlighted her frustration at not receiving the love she desires, Lennox is now more interested in giving that same love to herself. Situated in the transit space between the longing for external validation and the confidence required not to need it, age/sex/location offers a bountiful exploration of what it truly means to be grown and sexy. On the groovy, upbeat “Waste My Time,” co-written by British singer and producer MNEK, Lennox tests the limits of her upper range as she affirmatively decides to enter a relationship that will provide only temporary satisfaction: “Waste my time/Get on my line/’Cause I got the time to waste,” she instructs.

It’s the only time we see her indulge in an unsustainable encounter simply because she wants to: Lennox devotes most of the record to asserting her power in understanding what she doesn’t want.

“Young Black woman approachin’ 30 with no lover in my bed/Cannot settle, I got standards,” she sings on the bluesy opener “POF,” featuring backing vocals by J. Cole. The humorous duet-skit “Boy Bye,” which casts Lucky Daye in the role of an earnest suitor failing to court a skeptical Lennox, sounds like a contemporary update of the interlude in Erykah Badu’s 1997 classic “Next Lifetime.”

On “Blocking You,” Lennox’s voice floats over funky guitar chords and dreamy synths as she demands privacy to restore her inner peace: “Blocking you on everything.” On previous projects, Lennox sang about sex positivity and the self-doubt associated with relationships as if a romantic connection with a partner were required to survive (see “Whipped Cream”). Now she’s starting to understand that it’s not.

The best moments on age/sex/location arrive when Lennox fully leans into the explicit details of her sensual pleasures. Though rarer here than on earlier records, her talent for using her voice to convey the heights of physical satisfaction is peerless. On the stellar “Mean Mug,” which ends with a sultry trumpet solo, her honeyed tone vividly conveys the arousal she feels hearing a lover’s voice over the phone. “Voice noting on the daily/Vocal stroking my sweet valley,” she sings. The intensity peaks on “Leak It,” a heaven-sent vocal match-up between Lennox and Chlöe, who sound invigorated to discover just how freaky they can get when the long-distance connection on “Mean Mug” becomes an in-person night of piercing moans and melodic orgasms.

Lennox’s masterful vocal evocations of her horny-on-main tendencies hit a snag on “Stop By,” where her vocals seep into the background. But the slow moments don’t outweigh the album’s abundant confidence. The Summer Walker-assisted closer, “Queen Space,” marks Lennox’s commitment to give herself the love and respect she expects from her partners. Anchored by mellow keys, the track seamlessly melds Walker’s trap-R&B with Lennox’s old-school soul, spotlighting them as leading voices in their respective styles. Across age/sex/location, Lennox refreshes classic R&B stylings for a contemporary audience, sounding at ease with herself as she offers up her sexiest and most assured music to date.

Source: Pitchfork

Sudan Archives - Natural Brown Prom Queen

Natural Brown Prom Queen

by Sudan Archives

Released 9 September 2022

Stones Throw TRecords


Natural Brown Prom Queen is without doubt the work of an introverted extrovert putting her extroversion on full display. Funkier and friskier than Athena, Brittney Parks' first album as Sudan Archives, this follow-up resulted from a unique recording process with phases of isolation and collaboration. Demos made by Parks were sent by manager Ben Dickey to a host of producers for their individual takes. From those submissions (one track in particular yielded six possibilities), Parks chose what to keep, sometimes selecting elements from multiple versions (while opting to remain oblivious to the producers' identities), and then made more alterations and additions with assistance from Dickey and other associates. Parks' debut LP was too impressive and distinctive to be considered merely developmental. Natural Brown Prom Queen, featuring refined, uninhibited lyricism and diversified vocals -- supplied over much more low end and higher BPMs with unpredictable rhythmic twists -- nonetheless represents a kind of blossoming. Rollicking lead single and first song "Home Maker" gets the point across in more than one way. A hospitable Parks greets with "I just got a wall mount for my plants," declares "Only bad bitches in my trellis," and a couple lines later, one can sense her smiling as she loses herself in her domestic reverie. Freedom and self-confidence are common themes. The biographical "NBPQ (Topless)" practically barrels with bounding drums, rapid bouzouki and handclaps, and an inexorable Parks targeting colorism and superficiality before she taunts former lovers "who missed out on all my magic." On "Chevy S10," she leaves the house for a woozy escapist fantasy in which the bassline switches from a G-funk groove to an acoustic one seemingly plucked from a jazz date. "Freakalizer" is seductive, blissed-out electro with none other than Egyptian Lover working the 808 drum machine. The presence of Parks' violin isn't as obvious as it was on her earlier work, though she plays the instrument on more than half of the songs, treating it at times with effects pedals to make it resemble bass and guitar, juggling actual drums, percussion, synthesizers, and other keyboards all the while. As a vocalist, Parks shows even greater versatility, matching modes ranging from breathy siren to tough MC with productions that dish out flickering electronics, atmospheric breaks, blown-out trap, and knocking hip-hop soul. Resilience, joy, and power emanate from all of it.

Source: AllMusic

Greentea Peng - Greenzone 108

Greenzone 108

by Greentea Peng

Released 9 September 2022



A sense of whimsy comes naturally to south London-raised free-thinker Greentea Peng. From her inception, she has fused her musical influences of R&B, reggae – and more – to psychedelic effect.

Since 2018 debut EP, ‘Sensi’, too, she’s proven time and time again that her fresh take on neo-soul is totally peerless.

With her latest record, the mixtape ‘GREENZONE 108’, utilises her natural croon to create 10 feel-good tunes.

It gets off to a slightly iffy start, mind. The record’s opening couplet, “I can relate / Lucky I ain’t full of hate”, is a simple and candid line that is, well, relatable. Its whirling electric guitar riffs are spectacular, bur the song feels a little drawn out by the end, as we’re left with wobbly harmonies and muffled instruments, contradicting the vibrant notes before it.

Her latest single, ‘Look To Him’, builds slowly too; a little too slowly, perhaps.

Once ‘Stuck In The Middle’ arrives, though, Greentea Peng hits her stride. She sounds snappier, and doesn’t dip in her ethereal sounds and illustrative lyrics. With fanfare accompanying the jumpy piano accents, you’re transported to a 1920s shindig where the big band is loud and the vocalist is slick, captivating the masses. It’s a suave and subdued track, as the 27-year-old tells us: “Listen closely, what’s that sound… / Coming up from the underground? / Their heads ain’t lost, but they ain’t been found… / Ain’t in the habit of sticking around.”

The musical highlights lie closer to the end of the record; ‘Three Eyes Open’ exudes a jerky ska quality that you can’t help rocking back and forth to, while the closing track ‘Top Steppa’ is Greentea’s rockstar moment yet. It’s dedicated to her late stepdad and the song’s chorus clangs with heaviosity ideal for head-banging frenzies. Best of all, though, is ‘My Love’, likely an ode to “blessing bestowed upon me” – her child on the way. Over a sunny and bright instrumental, Greentea’s love oozes from her some of her most moving lyrics: “I been waiting all so long for a reason, whether it’s right or wrong / I was slipping, now I know that / There’s no dipping from responsibilities”.

With her second mixtape, Greentea Peng shows immense growth in her pen and musicality. She keeps what works – the psychedelic and futuristic sounds that transport us to alternative universes – but she also plays around within this context, the newer influences of rock and electric guitar adding grit and instant energy. It’s inspired. As she matures into all aspects of her life, ‘GREENZONE 108’ is an utter triumph.

Source: NME

Black Jesus Experience - Good Evening Black Buddha

Good Evening Black Buddha

by Black Jesus Experience

Released 15 September 2022

Agogo Records

“Good Evening Black Buddha” is Black Jesus eXperience’s seventh studio album. Inspired by the land we live on and the connection to all that have gone before and will follow, inspired by the multicultural power of our community, inspired by the paradox of the story of the Black Buddha. From the perversity of the pandemic and its imposition of separation comes "Good Evening Black Buddha", celebrating togetherness. Darkness is light.

At the heart of Black Jesus eXperience’s inspiration is Ethiopian/Australian singer Enushu Taye. Enushu’s openness and poetic insight, delivered with unique beauty in her own Amharic tongue, lie at the core of "Good Evening Black Buddha" and all that Black Jesus eXperience (BJX) do. MC Mista Monk (Liam Monkhouse) compliments and contrasts with rhymes and flow born of Africa and outback Australia. BJX are joined by their great friends powerhouse singer Vida-Sunshyne, and crystalline new voice Gracie Sinclair.

The songs on “Good Evening Black Buddha” rove from the lightness of touch of a trio to BJX’s full fourteen piece polyrhythmic, polymetric, polytonal Ethiofunk juggernaut with six-piece horn arrangements. Soloists include living national treasure Bob Sedergreen on keyboards, Peter Harper on saxophone, Ian Dixon on trumpet, Zac Lister guitar, Larry Crestani guitar and his own invention ‘kraartar’, over the deep grooves of Richard Rose bass, James Davies kit, and Kahan Harper percussion.

Black Jesus eXperience is also proud to be joined by our friends conga player Louis Poblete, kraar and masinko virtuoso Endalkachew Yenehun, proud Kuku Nyunkal man and master yiki yiki (dijeridu) player Sean Ryan. 

Source: Bandcamp

Ausecuma Beats, Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange - Deep Heat ~ Tropical Storm (EP)

Deep Heat / Tropical Storm (EP)

by Ausecuma Beats, Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange

Released 19 August 2022

Music Exile


Nine-piece West Africa-via-Melbourne ensemble Ausecuma Beats and improvised collective Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, also known as Z*F*E*X, reveal a new collaborative EP out August 19 via Music in Exile.

Call it a match made somewhere in musical heaven, the minds behind Ausecuma Beats, comprised of members from Senegal, Mali, Cuba and Guinea, found they melded easily with Z*F*E*X following weeks of recording and sharing material remotely together.

Z*F*E*X themselves, an ensemble comprised of drummer Zeke ‘Ziggy’ Zeitgeist, keyboardist and producer Lewis Moody, bassist Matthew Hayes, and a rotating cast of guests, are prolific musicians themselves with weighty credentials spread across their base locations of Australia, the United Kingdom, and Europe.

Thus, from a backyard shed in Dandenong North, Australia, some of West Africa’s finest would record simple percussive tracks, which then surfed the airwaves via studios in Melbourne, Berlin and London, to finally land back on listeners doorsteps as a forthcoming collaborative EP, Deep Heat/Tropical Storm.

Starring two guest vocalists who are some of the most invigorating in their respective scenes - Latin America via Berlin star Gotopo, and Melbourne’s own Rara Zulu - the EP’s beginnings in percussive exploration are transformed into a must-have record of all bangers.

Expect the duelling minds of two highly respected acts to reveal a combined EP of complex compositions that remain wholly accessible thanks to addictive harmonies and melodies. Emotionally thrilling, and easy to love, listen and dance to.

Source: Bandcamp

Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange - Sci-Fi Jazz Directions

Sci-Fi Jazz Directions

by Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange

Released 9 September 2022



Berlin has become famous for being the Techno capital, but since a couple of years there are many other music things happening in the city. New subgenres are growing, new clubs and scene are building. It's becoming the place to go of all kind of new musicians in the jazz, psychedelic and other music scene. And Kryptox wants to show all these new phenomenas. After the albums of Berlin based Greek harpist Sissi Rada (Co-produced by Brian Eno), the kraut-rock collective Spiritczualic Enhancement Center and experimental drummer Niklas Wandt - now its time for Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange.

The band around Melbourne born drummer and producer Ziggy Zeitgeist has been based in London for a certain time before moving to Berlin a few year ago. By now Ziggy and his crew has a big following in Berlin - where the new jazz and soul-infected dance scene is growing - many new spaces, clubs, radios and places where the new DJs, musicians and bands things happen.
Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange is a collective that bring together the real UK jazzfunk vibes that have been popularized by Kamaal Williams, Shabaka, Ezra Collective with the energy of Berlin's electronic DJ music. In fact Ziggy Zeitgeist, head of the collective is a big fan of the straight dancefloor driven DJ tools music. His aim is to create a mix of both - the jazz vibes and the tribalistic, electronic energy to create a way of real dancefloor jazz vibes that reflect ta fresh modern touch od what could be a sound for the next years. Of course many elements of FZEE songs come from the 1970ies. The chord progressions, the fusion keyboard solos, the driving rhythms. But the general sound if the music and its straight electrifying energy to create a completely own futuristic sound.

Sci-Fi Jazz Directions was recorded by the original trio of Ziggy Zeitgeist, Matthew Hayes and Lewis Moody. After spending thousands of hours together making music on stage and in the woodshed, this album represents a turning point for the group and quite possibly the very nature of creative collaboration.

This is an album of tunes crafted over 'online jam sessions', as the trio were split between three corners of the world during 2020. Ziggy explains: "Our blessing and our curse is that we're adaptive creatures, we find a way, we adapt to the circumstance, and so as artists and as improvisers we found ways to connect and create in a virtual space."

The trio continue to hone their unique brand of dance-floor focused 'jazz-rave'. They are mainly live musicians and they love to play at parties. They've been playing underground dance jam in abandoned basements of London, Berlin, and Melbourne for years - and its bog part of their identity as that the magic of live bands: the band needs the direct interaction with the dance floor.

This album epitomizes the Zeitgeist of the time, the crucial meeting point of our organic selves with our technology. 

Source: Bandcamp

Clear Path Ensemble - Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

by Clear Path Ensemble

Released 9 September 2022

Soundway Records


As pockets of new jazz scenes emerge around the world, it’s apparent that New Zealand’s bubbling microcosm in Wellington interprets the genre through a unique lens.

Clear Path Ensemble bottles the energy of that burgeoning movement and distils it into moody morsels of differing styles. From electric jazz to ambient, experimental, house and funk – it’s a DIY, jam-session attitude towards composition, as the band members freely cherry-pick from a vast orchard of influences.

Citing inspiration from 70s ECM catalogue, the ensemble channels the “expansive and astral” elements of electric jazz, with an introspective dynamic. At times it’s fused with catchy synth hooks, smooth basslines and shuffling beats, while other tracks morph into moody electronic soundscapes, and even Sun Ra-esque free jazz.

Led by percussionist Cory Champion, the band released their debut self-titled album with HHV in 2020, followed by a headline performance at the 2021 Wellington Jazz Festival. Champion has played drums alongside some of New Zealand’s most revered contemporary musicians (Lord Echo, Lucien Johnson and Mara TK to name a few), and also produces leftfield deep house and techno under the name Borrowed cs, which partly informs the ensemble’s electronic production.

Says Champion: “for a long time I had ambitions to make this project but always planned on it being recorded traditionally. Ultimately, I was encouraged by a new DIY spirit in contemporary jazz, where electronic music production techniques are fully integrated in the recording and production of great new contemporary jazz music.” 

Source: Bandcamp

Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson, Johnathan Zwartz - Out Of This World

Out Of This World

by Mike Nock, Hamish Stuart, Julien Wilson, Johnathan Zwartz

Released 6 November 2021

Australian Broadcasting Corporation


In December 2018 pianist Mike Nock, drummer Hamish Stuart, saxophonist Julien Wilson and bassist Jonathan Zwartz played an intimate gig in the basement of a cosy inner-Sydney restaurant. Despite having enjoyed established relationships with each other in a variety of formats, this marked their first performance as a quartet. The four-way chemistry was instantly obvious. It was Nock’s first gig in six months after being severely injured when hit by an SUV while crossing the street. The joy and vitality of his return to live performance was palpable, and it was clear to all that this quartet should continue. That first night the band played standards, but it was agreed that everyone would write new material to create an album of all original music.

In early May 2019 the quartet reconvened for a performance for the Sydney Improvised Music Association sponsored by the Freedman Foundation at Sydney’s 301 Studios, where some of the new compositions were aired. Earlier that day a grant from the Australia Council was approved, and Sony Studios was booked for late June. The result of this chain of events was the stunning This World: the debut album from what is a new quartet (albeit one that has been brewing for a while), featuring nine fresh compositions contributed by all members. "Out of This World" is is the second album released by this group. Individually, the instrumentalists are among the best known in Australia. Two of the members were born in New Zealand but have worked mainly in Oz during their music careers. Their initial album, titled This World, showcased compositions by various members of the ensemble and I suspect they have done this again, although there was no way to confirm it as no composer credits are provided.

The result is a pleasing variety of compositions, from simple riffs that are primarily vehicles for improvisation (Danny’s OK and Yolo) to the final track, a neo-bop tune titled Hop, Skip, Jump. Recording of this album was enabled by Fresh Start Commission, an initiative of the ABC to assist people involved in the Arts to negotiate the economic circumstances of the current pandemic.
Danny’s Ok is the initial track on the album. It opens up with a simple riff that is used as a ground figure for a calypso-style tune. Wilson’s timbre on this is reminiscent of that used by Sonny Rollins on this type of tune. It is followed by a composition titled Moment, a reverential piece incorporating ‘gospel’ elements. Wilson leads with passion throughout the track.

 The third tune, titled Franklin, bears some stylistic qualities of the initial two selections. It begins with a simple two-bar riff played several times by the bass. Stuart, with brushes, then joins Zwartz after which Nock joins in with some ‘gospely’ chordal piano figures. Finally, Wilson chimes in with a suitably ‘soulful’ saxophone melody. This and the previous tune are related stylistically but Franklin sounds like secular calypso as it rolls along, whereas Moment was solemn/churchy.

 ‘Cruisy’ comes to mind as a word to describe The Dream. There is also an element of majesty about the melody. Stuart and Zwartz display why they are regarded as one of this country’s top rhythm sections as they swing flawlessly in accompaniment to Nock and Wilson.

Track five is titled Kure Atoll.  A part of Hawaii, Kure Atoll is a national park dedicated to the restoration of sea bird and animal populations endangered by human presence. This track seems to have a Latin flavour but is actually in moderate triple metre. It features excellent solos by Nock and Wilson, supported sympathetically by Stuart and Zwartz.
Yolo is a rock tune that opens with Wilson unaccompanied, playing a melodic riff for which he adopts a suitably rougher tone than that used on earlier tunes. He also employs some tenor sax squawks that contribute to the expressive palette of the track. Solos in this number show a freer approach to improvising than that used on other pieces.
The final track, Hop, Skip, Jump, is a medium tempo swing number. Nock’s piano solo on this is enriched with information derived from the various jazz sources with which he has been involved in his long career. Wilson sounds very much at home playing this composition, but that is the case for every piece in this set.

 Julien Wilson plays brilliantly on this album, with the golden tenor sound he has polished over several decades of performing a wide range of styles with various jazz ‘greats’ and giving a hand-up to other, emerging artists. I do not think that I have heard a better tenor sound from anyone than that produced on this recording. All four members of the group have spent most of their lives playing jazz of some kind, and at least some of them have experience in more than one style. Nock made records with fusion groups when he lived in the United States for twenty-five years. He has also composed and performed music for just about every size of ensemble imaginable. I can recommend this album to people who are interested in hearing playing by some of our most experienced jazz musicians. The compositions are all tonal and as a group they represent easily assimilable styles. No matter how extensive a listener’s experience of jazz, the music on Out of This World wraps its arms around them and transports them to a welcoming place.

Source: MusicTrust

DoomCannon - Renaissance


by DoomCannon

Released 15 July 2022

Brownswood Recordings


Brownswood Recordings are happy to present the debut album ‘Renaissance’ by South-London virtuoso DoomCannon. In the first solo project brimming with free jazz compositions and new contemporary flare, and as a pioneer of the nascent UK Jazz scene, DoomCannon presents a meticulously crafted debut album journeying through an awakening and reimagining of the young Black British experience. Garnering early support from Gilles Peterson & Tom Ravenscroft at BBC 6Music, Jazz FM, Worldwide FM, NTS, Rinse France, FIP, Radio Nova plus features on Spotify & Apple. ‘Renaissance’ is available on 12” vinyl LP, CD and digital formats on 15th July 2022.

‘Renaissance’ signifies the birth of a new era in DoomCannon’s trajectory, inspired by an accumulation of experiences over the past four years and defined by significant events like the global pandemic to the worldwide outcry of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020. DoomCannon aspired to create a concept album, fashioning accessible music and home to a powerful universal message of equality and humanity, where listeners are invited to conceive a world beyond the society we currently live in. A world far from the UK’s colonial past and present, where human experience and compassion is at the epicentre of Government agendas, free from systemic injustice - where equality and community spirit reigns supreme.

Sequentially moving through a rich breadth of soundscapes, opening with ‘Dark Ages’ that introduces the current state of the world consumed by greed and confusion, with distorted echoes of ‘I want more’ swirling through a dense sonic atmosphere. In contrast, the serenity of ‘Entrance To The Unknown’ is a solitary moment of reflection. DoomCannon likens this to the start of an apocalyptic movie, where the main character breaks the fourth wall, directly addressing the audience, and the lines between fiction and reality are blurred. A balladic moment ushering in this new aforementioned era. ‘Amalgamation’ is a commentary on depleting measures of community spirit in society, signified by the frantic, disjointed opening that culminates into one unified symphonic climax. With the light of optimism and hope shining through on ‘This Too’ - uplifting dilla-esque drum beats pulsate throughout, continuing this illumination through an intimate piano solo in ‘Times’ that builds like the warmth of a sunrise, featuring distinctive vocals by Lex Amor, slowly infiltrating with quietly reassuring whispers and enchanting saxophone riffs. ‘Renaissance’ draws to a close with a succinct prologue that powerfully addresses DoomCannon’s ambition, creating the perfect conditions to absorb its impactful message of ‘Black Liberation’ - expressing a deep wish for equality, an end to police brutality, social injustices and a call for a profound sense of community in UK culture; as DoomCannon expresses:

“When writing the album, it felt like a transition from writing in other bands and being a part of other people’s projects to having my own voice and to speak about my Black British experience growing up around London. There are things I had to “unlearn”, ways I had to shape myself and my views on the world; greed, corrupt governments and police brutality within the UK and my stance on it all. ‘Renaissance’ is my letter to London about how it raised me and shaped who I am today.”

As a London-based composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist, DoomCannon spearheaded a plethora of forward-thinking, improvised Jazz-inspired outfits (Project Karnak, Triforce). DoomCannon dabbled in flute and percussion from the age of eleven and classically trained in piano as a teenager where he joined the prestigious Kinetika Bloco youth performance group and training programme, a rite of passage for many of the catalysts of the British Jazz explosion such as brothers Theon & Nathaniel Cross, Mark Kavuma, Sheila Maurice Grey to name a few. Under the watchful eye of musical mentors Matt Fox (Kinetika Bloco) and Gary Crosby (Tomorrow's Warriors), DoomCannon mastered his craft and endeavoured on the Kinetika Bloco Leadership Programme becoming a teacher himself. Attending a fateful Jazz Re:freshed weekly session at MauMau bar, DoomCanoon encountered saxophonist Ahnansé, they started playing together soon afterwards. DoomCannon garnered the attention of award-winning vocalist, Celeste, where he was invited to become Musical Director performing live at the Brit Awards and Later with Jools Holland. Gaining respect as a leader in the scene, DoomCannon has toured internationally as a member of Nubya Garcia’s band and invited in his own right to curate a residency at the legendary Ronnie Scotts. Presenting his solo project at Abbey Road Studios, selected via Jazz Re:freshed as part of the SXSW/ British Council collaboration, and a headline show at Peckham Audio on 30th April, the stage is set for DoomCannon to raise the bar again in 2022 and beyond.

DoomCannon - Piano / Synth / Vox / Wurli / String Arrangement
Kaidi Akinnibi - Tenor Sax / Soprano Sax / Fx
Daniel Rogerson - Guitar
Jamien Nagadhana - Bass
Oscar Ogden - Drums
Emmanuel Ayeni - Vocal Arrangement
Sienna Hamilton - Vox
Marsha Skinns - Violin 1
Saskia Horton - Violin 2
Natalia Senior-Brown - Viola
Wayne Uquhart - Cello
Thea Sayer - Double Bass
Elias Jordan Atkinson - Flugelhorn

Source: Bandcamp

Makaya McCraven - In These Times

In These Times

by Makaya McCraven

Released 23 September 2022

International Anthem


In These Times is the new album by Chicago-based percussionist, composer, producer, and pillar of our label family, Makaya McCraven.

Although this album is “new," the truth it’s something that's been in process for a very long time, since shortly after he released his International Anthem debut In The Moment in 2015. Dedicated followers may note he’s had 6 other releases in the meantime (including 2018’s widely-popular Universal Beings and 2020’s We’re New Again, his rework of Gil Scott-Heron’s final album for XL Recordings); but none of which have been as definitive an expression of his artistic ethos as In These Times.

This is the album McCraven’s been trying to make since he started making records. And his patience, ambition, and persistence have yielded an appropriately career-defining body of work.

As epic and expansive as it is impressively potent and concise, the 11 song suite was created over 7+ years, as McCraven strived to design a highly personal but broadly communicable fusion of odd-meter original compositions from his working songbook with orchestral, large ensemble arrangements and the edit-heavy “organic beat music” that he’s honed over a growing body of production-craft.

With contributions from over a dozen musicians and creative partners from his tight-knit circle of collaborators – including Jeff Parker, Junius Paul, Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, and Marquis Hill – the music was recorded in 5 different studios and 4 live performance spaces while McCraven engaged in extensive post-production work from home. The pure fact that he was able to so eloquently condense and articulate the immense human scale of the work into 41 fleeting minutes of emotive and engaging sound is a monumental achievement. It’s an evolution and a milestone for McCraven, the producer; but moreover it’s the strongest and clearest statement we’ve yet to hear from McCraven, the composer.

In These Times is an almost unfathomable new peak for an already-soaring innovator who has been called "one of the best arguments for jazz's vitality" by The New York Times, as well as recently, and perhaps more aptly, a "cultural synthesizer." While challenging and pushing himself into uncharted territories, McCraven quintessentially expresses his unique gifts for collapsing space and transcending borders – blending past, present, and future into elegant, poly-textural arrangements of jazz-rooted, post-genre 21st century folk music. 

Makaya McCraven - drums, sampler, percussion, tambourine, baby sitar, synths, kalimba, handclaps, vibraphone, wurlitzer, organ
Junius Paul - double bass, percussion, electric bass guitar, small instruments
Jeff Parker - guitar
Brandee Younger - harp
Joel Ross - vibraphone, marimba
Marta Sofia Honer - viola
Lia Kohl - cello
Macie Stewart - violin
Zara Zaharieva - violin
Greg Ward - alto sax
Irvin Pierce - tenor sax
Marquis Hill - trumpet, flugelhorn
Greg Spero - piano
Rob Clearfield - piano
Matt Gold - guitar, percussion, baby sitar
De’Sean Jones - flute

Source: Bandcamp

Lupe Fiasco - Drill Music In Zion

Drill Music In Zion

by Lupe Fiasco

Released 24 June 2022

1st and 15th Too


Way back when in 2005, Lupe Fiasco first entered mainstream consciousness via a stunner guest verse on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky.”

That same breathlessness was maintained a year later on his universally acclaimed debut album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor.

“If I wake up in the morning now I gotta give ’em sight, make ’em see, break ’em free, ain’t a G, show you right,” he rapped with incredible verbal energy in the record’s early moments, and maintained the momentum throughout what endures as one of rap music’s finest first LPs.
Fast forward to 2022. Lupe Fiasco is now a rap veteran who’s put out his eighth album, Drill Music in Zion — and you could often be readily forgiven for thinking that the 40-year-old MC on this record is a different one from he who motor-mouthed his way through all of that killer material back in his early years. Granted, “old Lupe” put out plenty of slower-paced music as well - “Daydreamin” and “Sunshine” among the popular examples of that formula - but the current “old Lupe” is one whose voice sounds noticeably aged, whose ability to speed-rap with “Go Go Gadget Flow”-like ease has seemingly declined, and whose choice in production includes soft piano playing, gentle saxophone, and other instrumentals more associable with small, smoky jazz bars than any of the wide-open spaces that the fiery youngster accelerating his way through a single called “Touch The Sky” once evoked.
There are two ways to look at this state of affairs. One is to conclude that age has caught up with the old sap. The other is to appreciate that he’s heading in a different artistic direction than ever before in his nearly two decades in the rap game. Both of these interpretations have their merits. Wasalu Muhammad Jaco has tested many creative waters throughout his impressive career, but as best as one can tell, this is the first time he’s ever embraced the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi – the perfection of imperfection – and put out an album that he recorded in just three days, flaws and all, for experimentation’s sake. That was how Lupe Fiasco conceived his eighth record (except that he originally wanted to get it all done in one day, not three), and with the help of his longtime collaborator Soundtrakk (“longtime,” as in, this guy produced Lupe’s first single as a lead artist, 2006’s “Kick, Push”), Drill Music in Zion has indeed taken its final form.

For the many fans who have the hungry young Lupe still indelibly embedded in their minds, it may take them some effort to transition to this newer version of the hip-hop vet. But it’s worth the effort:

Drill Music in Zion is full of commendable qualities, including several well-crafted jazzy beats by Soundtrakk, and plenty of impressive work by the lead man himself. He remains a nimble and infectious MC – “I’m Carrera-era-era,” he bounces along on lead single “Autoboto,” apparently a reference to his alter ego, Carrera Lu – and also knows how to serve up an anti-establishment lyric or two.

The album’s title track skewers the widespread devastation of mass consumerism, arguing that the world’s economic elite are willing to put all of the planet and society at risk because they’re “desperate for the credits to come tumbling through the conflict.” Such commentary continues on tracks like “Kiosk,” which takes repeated swipes at our widespread lust for diamonds – perhaps a euphemism for capitalism at large? – and “On Faux Nem,” which possibly echoes Kendrick Lamar by declaring that “a dollar’s worth what a dollar buys, go monetize.” While he likely remains a fan of “the city in the Midwest” he once famously dubbed “the best city in the whole wide, wide world,” Mr. Fiasco recognizes his hometown still isn’t perfect and decries the gang violence that remains all too prevalent there on several tracks. “

Lupe Fiasco has long been hailed for biting social commentary of this nature, and he’s also been regularly saluted for his gift for effective duets (heck, that’s how he first got his foot in the door alongside Kanye, after all). True to tradition, Drill Music in Zion makes room for many effective vocal collaborators – the first of whom, his sister Ayesha, makes her mark before Lupe has even shown up, with a powerful spoken-word introduction to the album’s main themes on “The Lion’s Deen.” Later on, Mr. Fiasco invites independent rapper Nayriah for a total of three tracks. Although she’s far from a household name –  all the better; it conforms with Lupe’s long-running shift away from “mainstream palatability” – Nayirah proves her worth on all three occasions, including when she and Lupe outline the woes of their mutual hometown of Chicago on the puzzlingly titled “Seattle.”

Drill in Music Zion won’t go down as a “landmark Lupe Fiasco album” the way that Food & Liquor, The Cool, and a few others are, but it’s great to have such a hip-hop Hall of Famer demonstrate that he’s got plenty of life left in him yet – and new things still to say on this impressively focused and lyrically intricate new LP.

Source: Atwood Magazine

Catherine Graindorge feat. Iggy Pop - The Dictator

The Dictator

by Catherine Graindorge feat. Iggy Pop

Released 9 September 2022

Glitterbeat Records


It all began with the radio. A pair of songs that triggered a collaboration between Belgian violinist and composer Catherine Graindorge and the iconic Iggy Pop. Together, they’ve forged a meeting of minds and spirits that’s resulted in the The Dictator. An EP that combines their talents: her music, his voice.

“He played two tracks of mine on his BBC 6 Music show last November,” Graindorge explains, “so I sent an email addressed to Iggy to the producer of the show, saying that I was very honored and that I’d be delighted to work on a track with him. It was completely spontaneous; I never thought anything would really happen.”

But it did. To her disbelief and absolute delight, a reply came two days later: Catherine, I would love to make a track, Iggy.

Graindorge is no stranger to working with others. During her career, in addition to solo work and being part of the band Nile on WaX, she’s worked with artists like Nick Cave, Hugo Race and esteemed producer/musician John Parish. Still, she expected nothing more than to add her violin to a song of his. Instead, she recalls, “Iggy said to send him a track. I began to improvise, and came up with three pieces at home. We communicated and began to exchange ideas.”

Her wish turned into a fever dream of creativity.

“Over Christmas I recorded another track that was more rock. That grabbed him. Then he wrote the lyrics for ‘The Dictator’ two months before Russia invaded Ukraine.”

His inspiration came from her sounds and musical structures, and the world he sees around us.

“There is a gothic masonry at work here, with a very old force abetted by very cunning structures,” Iggy observes about Catherine’s music. “My contribution is to report, through words, the current threat, and the longing for happiness and peace.”

Catherine wrote the lyrics for “Mud I,” while, as an answer, “Mud II” captures Iggy’s lyrical vision of a world increasingly mired in mud, his weary, totemic voice close to exhaustion as it struggles to find some salvation.

The EP closes with the disquieting menace of the song named “Iggy.” It’s the only one without the voice of the singer to whom Catherine dedicates the piece.

From unlikely beginnings, The Dictator blazes, two musicians inspiring each other. Graindorge’s admiration for Iggy – who was recently awarded this year’s prestigious Polaris Prize – has grown as they’ve worked together.

“He represents freedom,” she says. “There is something wild and fearless about him that is very inspiring.”

That respect is completely mutual. Graindorge’s music evokes “chalices, bodices, and old stones. It’s European romance and it creeps up on me like a fog; like winter in Venice, like a midnight wind,” Pop says, She’s an artist “as one with her continent and its canon.”

Never underestimate the power of radio. 

Source: Bandcamp

Lou Reed - Words & Music, May 1965

Words & Music, May 1965

by Lou Reed

Released 16 September 2022

Canal Street Communications


Just as much as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed changed how rock songs were written when he emerged as an artist in the mid-'60s. Reed brought a bold emotional maturity to his lyrics that was absent from rock songwriting when the Velvet Underground first surfaced in 1966, and he tackled subject matter verboten in pop music at the time. However, while Dylan seemed to emerge fully formed after the hiccup of his first album with 1963's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (the first LP where his original tunes dominated the set list), it took a little longer for Reed to find his voice as a tunesmith. He had recently started working with John Cale when he made a rough tape in May 1965 to document songs he'd been working on, which he mailed to himself as a "poor man's copyright" and then set aside. After Reed's death, archivists discovered the tape in his offices, and found it included the earliest known recordings of several VU classics, along with tunes previously lost to the ages. Words & Music, May 1965 allows fans to hear this music for the first time, and it's historically priceless stuff.

Reed is backed just by his acoustic guitar, and this music suggests the influence of the folk-leaning singer/songwriters of the time in a way his work with the Velvets would not. These songs were works in progress, and hearing "Heroin" and "Pale Blue Eyes" while he was still toying with the lyrics is fascinating. If "Too Late," "Walk Alone," and "Men of Good Fortune" (the latter not the song that would appear on 1973's Berlin) weren't great Lou Reed songs, they're certainly good ones, and they add a wealth of detail to this portrait of a songwriter honing his craft. It's also a warts-and-all demo recorded on an amateur tape recorder in someone's apartment, presented here with all the flubs, false starts, and bursts of laughter left in. This isn't the work of a musician striving to preserve his work in its best light, but a lo-fi tape meant to document his rough drafts while they were still fresh in his mind. Devoted fans will note that this bears a certain resemblance to the acoustic demos that appear on disc one of the Velvet Underground box set Peel Slowly and See, except this is a noticeably rougher, sloppier performance. Most importantly, this shows that while Reed was close to the goal line in terms of his songs, musically he hadn't formulated the bracing electric sound that was so important to the Velvet Underground (or if he had, he wasn't trying to capture it that evening). This is a major find and a fascinating document for serious fans, but from a strictly musical standpoint, the average listener will only find this enjoyable for so long. If you're a historically minded Lou Reed completist, Words & Music, May 1965 is a must. Others are advised to approach with caution and keep their expectations in check.

Source: AllMusic

Arthur Verocai - Timeless


by Arthur Verocai

Released 15 March 2022



"Folk-jazz composer/arranger Arthur Verocai was born in Rio de Janeiro. He has created challenging arrangements and compositions for Brazilian artists Jorge Ben, Ivan Lins, Leny Andrade and Gal Costa.

In 1972 Verocai recorded a self-titled solo LP. It is a stunningly innovative effort. It puts Verocai into a rarified field with the heavy string oriented music of Charles Stepney, David Axelrod and Frank Zappa.

Released in a period marked by the Brazilian military government, the album fared poorly. Following its re-issue in 2003 the album has become a highly influential oft sampled classic (see Ludacris, MF Doom and Little Brother).

The performance of this seminal 1972 record in its entirety brought the capacity Luckmann crowd to a stand still. According to Verocai, 'he had never played the record, alive or dead!' His delight at the opportunity to play this music 37 years later can be seen on the DVD. The music has been mixed by Verocai himself in Rio. History turned on its head and musical justice served." 

Source: Forced Exposure

Miles Davis - That's What Happened 1992-1985: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7

That's What Happened 1992-1985: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7

by Miles Davis

Released 16 September 2022

Columbia Records


The seventh volume in Miles Davis' award-winning Bootleg Series is comprised of unreleased material from the sessions for his final Columbia studio albums -- Star People, Decoy, and You're Under Arrest -- that appeared annually from 1983 to 1985. They reveal the profound influence that era's pop music and MTV had on the trumpeter. The three-disc box assembles 19 alternates and outtakes, alongside the live What It Is: Montreal 7/7/83, issued for Record Store Day. The booklet includes interviews with the musicians and producer.

Eight of disc one's ten tracks are drawn from 1983's Star People sessions, the last Davis recording, produced by Teo Macero. It opens with his bleating synth intro to the 13-minute "Santana." A rumbling Marcus Miller bassline is framed by Al Foster's drums, Mino Cinelu's urgent percussion, and the funky, dissonant electric guitars of Mike Stern and John Scofield. The interplay between Davis' muted horn and keyboards introduces Bill Evans' fluid soprano sax halfway through. The choppy, repetitive horn vamps amid the jagged group interplay recall Ornette Coleman & Prime Time in places. The other highlight on disc one is the three-part "Celestial Blues." It's lithe and funky, bathed in steamy grooves. Davis -- with and without mute -- freely engages the guitarists as the rhythm section lays a deep cut. Evans' tenor solo in part one is saturated in the influence of Ben Webster. It closes with two unremarkable alternates of Decoy's "Freaky Deaky."

Disc's two's highlights include two wonderful alternates of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" (from 1985's You're Under Arrest). The first is uptempo and funky; the latter is three minutes longer with a slow, dubby, reggae processional. A jagged, muscular read of "Theme from Jack Johnson (Right Off)/Intro" offers a killer break from Scofield and punchy, athletic bass from Darryl Jones. In addition to an emotionally poignant version of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," the disc includes a warm, lyrical, moving read of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It" that never made the album. The disc closes with a smoking version of "Katia" featuring an incendiary performance by guitarist John McLaughlin. Both discs are peppered with Davis' studio banter. The live disc is riveting. The band -- Davis, Scofield, Jones, Evans, Foster, and Cinelu -- open with a ramped-up, driving, 13-minute "Speak (That's What Happened)" that sometimes recalls, the unruly voodoo funk on Agharta, albeit in more polished form. Here, "Star People" is loose and airy, offering great solos by guitarist, trumpeter, and saxophonist. "What It Is" offers fiery, interlocking funk as Scofield, Foster, and Jones go head to head. Closer "Code 3" is an excellent showcase for Evans and Cinelu.

There is no question that The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: That's What Happened 1982-1985 will cause controversy among jazz fans. But it isn't for them. It's for Miles Davis fans and presents an unvarnished taste of him -- from the cutting room floor no less -- attempting to reinvent himself one last time.

Source: AllMusic

Julian Lage - View With A room

View With A Room

by Julian Lage

Released 16 September 2022

Blue Note


American guitarist Julian Lage cultivates a unique sound that combines roots and progression. He has been calling attention both through his own albums and sideperson credits (Charles Lloyd, Gary Burton, John Zorn, and Nels Cline). The awaited sophomore album on the Blue Note imprint,  View With a Room, is the follow-up to last year’s Squint, featuring his working trio with bassist Jorge Roeder and The Bad Plus drummer, Dave King. But for this outing, the gifted guitarist Bill Frisell was invited to play a few tracks, perfectly serving the musical sensibilities of Lage compositions. The two guitarists are in absolute control of the fretboard, and never resort to pyrotechnics to impress. Instead, they deliver beautifully texturized music with an immense and effortless harmonic scope. 

“Tributary”, the opening piece, and “Echo”, which was written and arranged by Lage and Roeder, are highlights, exemplifying this capacity to create rich textures and employ stunning melodies without overplaying. Bookended by tasteful electronics and an Americana-tinged atmosphere, the former flows with silky chord progressions and passages with delicate detail, spectacular staccatos, lustrous octaves, and smartly controlled articulations. The latter tune, starting with a prominent bass figure, brings together charming tones and a certain cinematic mystery. Excellent note choices elevate the poignancy, just like in “Let Every Room Sing”, a chorale-like song impregnated with warm classical innuendos. Complementary guitar layers with occasional harmonics rest on top of the spare, if loose, commentary provided by Roeder and King.

Lage and his partners leap into the closer, “Fairbanks”, as well as the sprightly “Chavez”, whose B section recalls Sting’s former group The Police, with a pop/rock frame of mind. In reality, this album is made of borderless music, and if “Temple Step” is a blues with a reggae touch (Frisell plays baritone guitar here), then “Auditorium” promotes an alliance between country-pop and the crunchy, contemporary snare-driven rhythmic tapestry at the base. On its part, the waltz “Word For Word”, delivered in trio, has that irresistible bounce of Jim Hall and Bill Evans, as well as a polyrhythmic feel edged by triplets on the drummer’s side.

This recording, displaying the magnitude of the composer’s gifts, exudes virtuosity and sincerity all around - from composition to sonic maturation to execution.

Source: JazzTrail

Sam Prekop, John McEntire - Sons Of

Sons Of

by Sam Prekop, John McEntire

Released 22 July 2022

Thrill Jockey Records


Sam Prekop and John McEntire have been doing their thing for such a long time, and at such a high level, that to regard Sons Of—an album of longform, improvisation-heavy electronic pieces which splits the broad difference between classic Detroit techno and deep kosmische—as any sort of surprise is a shock in and of itself. And yet, aside from a piece of tour ephemera, this wonderfully warm and rhythmically provocative album is somehow the pair’s first record as a duo. Together and apart, Prekop and McEntire share a storied history within the Chicago indie scene: they’ve helped spawn two of its best-known ‘90s bands, The Sea & Cake (which features both) and Tortoise (in which McEntire drums) and participated in the general development of its more avant-garde sonic wing while helping foster its connections to Black Chicago’s long-standing Creative Music community. So while the choice to make an all-machine album after three decades of mixing experimentalism and pop; freeform and precision; acoustics and electronics, hardly seems revelatory on the surface, the results most certainly are. 

Sons Of pays indirect sonic homage to its parentage, but it is most glorious when it’s organically distilling these veteran musicians’s prior works. What happens here has precedents in the duo’s memory banks (Tortoise’s “Djed,” an epic 20-minute artifact from 1996, is melodically echoed in the Sons Of opener, “A Ghost at Noon”) as well as in recent additions (Prekop’s “Saturday Sunday,” a lovely, unwinding modular-synth piece for Longform Editions, whose quilt of patches can be heard throughout the album). Yet at four tracks that span over 50 minutes, the album’s focused, distinctive layers of drum-machine giddiness, sunburst melodicism, and mixing-board acrobatics are unlike anything either one has ever devoted this much time or space to.

Whether it was inspired by Kraftwerk or Bitchin Bajas or a middle-aged desire to touch the canon of abstract dance music, it’s a pleasure to get lost in these pulses. They take all sorts of shapes: Some cascade as programmed keyboard textures, buoyed by keyboard melodies; others spring out of the kick drum, whose metronomic noise lays the groundwork even as the drum programming splinters it into a dubbed-out, polyrhythmic fantasia. (The dimestore presumption is that these bear McEntire’s fingerprints, but the album’s minimalist recording credits obscure the division of labor.) Among equals, the 23-minute “A Yellow Robe” rises to the fore: a sunrise dancefloor reverie, with its grand sweeping synth chords, and joyfully bouncing sequencer, all serving a steadily rotating, forever driving beat, taking its time getting to place but all-in on in its destination. Take that ride.

Source: Bandcamp

Ondara - Spanish Villager No. 3

Spanish Villager No. 3

by Ondara

Released 16 September 2022



It’s like walking into a kitchen when something’s cooking. Delicious smells envelop us, but a few minutes later we stop noticing the aromas until someone new walks in and says, “Wow, that smells great.” We are so immersed in our own realities that we can’t pick up on what’s right in front of us — until someone like Ondara comes along and compels us to look at the world with fresh eyes.  And as the 11 new songs on Spanish Villager No. 3, Ondara’s ambitious third album, so eloquently point out, the view isn’t always pretty, and the problems we’ve created and don’t even notice anymore are not an easy fix.

Ondara in a newsprint suit with red cape as his Spanish Villager character
Ondara as the Spanish Villager (photo by Nate Ryan)

Like so many immigrants before him, J.S. Ondara came to America with stars in his eyes. Fueled by idealism ignited by the Bob Dylan albums he devoured as a teenager in his native Kenya, Ondara dreamed of a better life and moved to Minneapolis in 2013. His early disillusionment with the distance between the promise and the reality of American life was brilliantly evoked in his first two albums, Tales of America (ND review) and Folk N’ Roll, Vol 1: Tales of Isolation, which chronicled his struggle with living far from home during the pandemic.

With his new album, Ondara takes a slight step back from the intensity of his individual perspective and channels his observations through the character of The Spanish Villager, an alien who perceives and grapples with modern life with the kind of fresh insight that Ondara himself can no longer muster. His most ambitious project yet, Spanish Villager No. 3 is a ’70s-style concept album that traces his character’s odyssey through 11 cities — from Paris, Tokyo, and Mexico City to Berlin and back — where he encounters the broken dreams and wasted potentials of modern life.

To say that the songs on Spanish Villager No. 3 are a revelation is to understate their power. Invoking discarded television sets, ’70s records that no one ever plays because everything’s online, cancel culture, witches, and fingers pointed in blame, songs like “Prophet of Doom” and “An Alien in Minneapolis” highlight the failures of modern life with more accuracy than we are perhaps comfortable with. As an evocation of the times we live in, Spanish Villager No. 3 exists alongside What’s Going On, Sandinista, and The Times They Are a-Changin’ as being among the most passionate topical records ever recorded.

Ranging from a whisper to roar, soaring through lyrics that few would have the courage to sing, Ondara’s voice is a beautiful and powerfully evocative instrument.

The only criticism that could be leveled against an otherwise nearly flawless collection of songs is that the music accompanying the singer’s voice and lyrics sometimes sounds generic and inconsequential. Ondara’s producer, Mike Viola, opted for a powerful late ’80s/early ’90s, very drums-forward sound that evokes Phil Collins, David Gray, and Joshua Tree-era U2, and it’s not always a comfortable fit with what Ondara’s singing about.

This small grumble aside and taken as a whole, Spanish Villager No. 3 is a hugely ambitious work that represents a significant leap forward for Ondara as a singer and songwriter. Drifting between hope and despair, the songs are contemporary canaries in the coalmine. They should be listened to.

Source: No Depression

Oscar Jerome - The Spoon

The Spoon

by Oscar Jerome

Released 23 September 2022



Created during a time of unified isolation, mid-pandemic, in Berlin, The Spoon offers a unique insight into the entanglements of the mind but in an exploration of finding the beauty within all its madness. Turning poetry into music, he shines light on the anxieties, depression, and injustices taking place right on our doorstep.

Sonically, the crisp contemporary jazz sound Jerome has curated alongside a team of esteemed musicians, combines the perfect blend of woodwind and percussion instrumentals with poetic, spoken word vocals. With striking flavours of Gil Scott-Heron and Jeff Beck, it is far from one dimensional. Although each song is individually strong in its own right, listening to it as a whole, cohesive project makes for a bold, immersive listening experience.

The Spoon takes the form of Jerome’s most creatively intricate project to date, through the introduction of characters, Jerry, and Ice Guycicle. With help from these personas, we are taken on a journey observing and reflecting on the cyclical nature to life and our emotions. Within this narrative-driven state Jerome has created, we gain consciousness of the world and people moving around us. This creative endeavour is experienced at its best through the visuals to standout tracks "Berlin 1" and "Sweet Isolation". We witness the character development of these two distinctly different individuals and the alternate ways they view the world, due to the way society has shaped them.

The concept of ‘reflection’ is an overarching motif throughout the entirety of the record. The title track, The Spoon, heavily plays into this idea with the lyricism of “I see your reflection in the spoon / it looks different.” In this scenario the term reflection has a duality to it. Whilst Oscar is observing the reflection of himself and others in his life on the spoon, not recognising who he sees, he is in turn forced to reflect on that image. This introspective notion considers that people are always change and inevitably will be perceived differently overtime. Further, the warped mirroring of a spoon symbolises this idea of things not always being as they seem, as we are neither one thing nor the other.

Ultimately, The Spoon is an instrumental gift from a remarkable talent, which offers a multidimensional study of contemporary jazz music today.

Source: The Line Of Best Fit

Katalyst - Jazz Is Dead 013 JID013

Katalyst - Jazz Is Dead 013 JID013

by Katalyst, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Released 15 July 2022

Jazz Is Dead


Compared to the other outré jazz elders on Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead label, Katalyst is a still a relatively fresh proposition: Inglewood, California-born in 2014. Each of the nine “Kats” is known for writing their own material, then stitching it together with the other members’ contributions to create an oblong soulful quilt, building on and feeding off the overall communal energy. It is this collective mentality that knits Katalyst to Jazz Is Dead’s brand. For the Kats’ approach is based on the local incubator tradition that came before them, namely the 1960s of Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and Union of God’s Musicians Ascension Association. And if anything thrills Younge and Muhammad’s JID, it’s connecting the past—Los Angeles’ multiracial jazz past, in particular—to the present.

Drawing from its roots in free jazz, postbop, twinkly R&B, holy-rolling gospel, and hip-hop, with Younge and Muhammad providing atmospheric magic at the production helm, Katalyst shuffles peacefully and pastorally on tracks such as “The Avenues”—steered with a War-like cacophony courtesy of David Otis’ snake-charming tenor sax and Ahmad DuBose’s percussion—and “Daybreak.” The cool calm and warm surrender of “Summer Solstice” and “Corridors” is purposely broken by the weirdly willowy keyboards and herky-jerky rhythms of “Juneteenth,” a gently frantic yet stately song meant to recall all levels of Black struggle, hurt, joy, and sainthood. By the time JID013 closes with the Steely Dan-ish “Dogon Cypher” and the moody and aptly titled “Reflections,” the listener has an understanding of what it means to be part of the Katalyst brotherhood: one knotted by time together, melody, rhythm, and the causality of Californian collective consciousness.

Source: JazzTimes

Henry Franklin Jazz Is Dead JID014

Henry Franklin - Jazz Is Dead 014 JID014

by Henry Franklin, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Released 15 September 2022

Jazz Is Dead


A guiding force behind the venerated Black Jazz catalog, bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin has left an indelible mark as a sideman and leader, having appeared on many of the label’s most recognizable releases, as well as having recorded with Hugh Masekela, Stevie Wonder, Freddie Hubbard, Hampton Hawes, and many other luminaries. His swooping, languid style gave the bass a new emotive range, and has become a point of reference for the several generations that have followed. Now, Franklin joins Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad for the latest release in Jazz Is Dead Series 2, a masterful showcase of Franklin’s range and lasting impact, and a continuation of the maestro’s impeccable legacy.
Album opener “Karibu”, a phrase used to welcome visitors in Swahili, rolls into being with equal parts mystery and gusto. The individual elements coming together and being stirred by Franklin crescendo into fiery saxophone and trumpet solos setting the tone for the rest of the album. The misty cymbals and relaxed walk of “The Griot” lull you into a false sense of calm before breaking into kinetic double time. The track carries on the tradition of greats of Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, and others. “People’s Revolution” may prove to deceive even the most discerning ear; its shambolic atmosphere guided by Franklin’s climbing bass lines could fit in on any coveted Black Jazz or Strata East masterpiece. “Memories Lost” feels like a lucid dream, stranding you somewhere between loneliness and recollection, revisiting thought-to-be-lost friends and feelings. On the other side of the spectrum is “Feedback”, a plugged-in slice of psychedelic Jazz, similar to Chick Corea’s Return to Forever band, with a kaleidoscopic electric guitar solo at the centerpiece of the chaos. Like a fresh cafecito found on any one of Miami’s walk-up markets, “Cafe Negro” is an accessible yet surprising jolt, reminiscent of Mingus’ own forays into Latin Jazz. Similar to the great Yusef Lateef’s own recordings in Nigeria, “African Sun” incorporates distinctly West African rhythms alongside Jazz modalities, a meeting of two cultures ripped apart but in continuous conversation with each other. Album closer “A Song For Sigrid” sends us off on a tranquil river of sound, cascading towards the future, with inert melancholy contrasted by crashing cymbals and wailing saxophone, all guided by Franklin’s bass. As the final note lifts, and the album ends, you come away with a better understanding of Franklin’s ongoing role as not only a preservationist, but as a worldbuilder, embedding new recordings with keys to the past.
JID014 is a triumph of an album that celebrates everything the label champions: community, culture, and the power of the past to build a better future. Here, Younge, Muhammad, and Franklin have created a stunning tribute to some of the most enduring and influential musical traditions from around the world and have reminded listeners of their transformative power. 

Source: Bandcamp

Crow Billiken - If I don't have red I use blue

If I don't have red I use blue

by Crow Billiken

Released 23 September 2022

Ruby Yacht


Freeman r.a.p. ferreira aka scallops hotel, crow billiken, the esoteric elotero, Black Orpheus, hi-yello the sly rebel, brother of the wind, lord skipio, the corduroy coon prince, cosmo dark d/b/a the be'er is a bluesman, poet, and con artist from no where. utopic thinking for hire. whimsy resurrector. Him Who Has The Filthy Fits.  

We don’t deserve the artist known to some as R.A.P. Ferreira, or previously Milo. Returning as Crow Billiken, he abandons hip hop for the blues on a new six-song EP, “If I Don’t Have Red I Use Blue.” Rather than dabbling in the sound, he goes full speed ahead, giving you an authentic, purposefully lo-fi feeling recording on this project. The fuzz and bent sounding guitar plays well with Ferreira telling stories and delivering some heartfelt music along the way. This release feels like it should have been unearthed from someone’s decades-old vinyl collection in the deep south, and that’s a testament to the production of Cosmic Zoo Studios in Los Angeles, as well as a host of contributing musicians. R.A.P. Ferreira has a hip hop record on the way in November, but bask in the blues with the EP below:

Source: Breaking & Entering

Raffy Bushman - E Minor String Quintet + Rhythm

E Minor String Quintet + Rhythm

by Raffy Bushman

Released 29 July 2022

New Soil & Bridge The Gap


The composer bridges several different worlds, taking classical music into a hip-hop sphere. Incorporating club tropes into his process, the cellist’s output bridges different styles, while offering something uniquely unified.

Out now on New Soil x Bridge The Gap, his single ‘Olympus’ leads into a fuller EP, blending the open-ended improvisation of jazz with classical elements, alongside a deep and profound awareness of hip-hop culture.
Indeed, touchstones would include Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s ‘Suite For Ma Ma Dukes’, his stellar interpolation of Dilla’s work into an analogue framework, while we’re also hearing aspects of Cinematic Orchestra’s catalogue.

New single ‘Olympus’ is out now, a swirling morass of sounds held together by that slumped beat. There are certainly echoes of J Dilla’s rhythmic daring at play, while melodically Raffy Bushman seems able to conjure entire worlds with just a few notes.

A hugely intriguing piece of music

Source: Clash Music

Miguel Atwood Ferguson - Timeless: Suite for Ma Dukes

Timeless: Suite for Ma Dukes

by Miguel Atwood Ferguson

Released 22 February 2022



Timeless: The Composer/Arranger Series is the name of a concert series that was created in homage to the composer/arrangers who have influenced hip-hop in the most literal and profound ways. Timeless was conceived in Los Angeles by production house Mochilla during February and March 2009 and included the performances of over 150 musicians in front of ecstatic sold out crowds. These three historic events were recorded and filmed in exacting detail with Mochilla’s unmistakable style.

Timeless because a heart-beat is always more important than a clock tick.

Composer/arrangers work with pencil and paper; there, among the tiny slashes and dots, sound exists in its most rudimentary form. Rhythm, harmony and melody begin this process as graphite strokes, that in the hands of virtuosos, become sweeping tornadoes of emotion. Today’s beatmakers also produce music on a grand scale: the graphite strokes have been replaced with artifacts, minutiae gleaned from the history of recorded sound, automated and then supplemented by hand strokes, head nods, thumps, glitches and artistry.

In short beat making couldn’t exist without its long handed older sister.

Timeless brings these two seemingly unlike worlds together by honoring the legacies of three of the greatest composer-arrangers ever.

Mulatu, Dilla and Verocai may not have been household names but their contribution to contemporary music is unrivaled.

See the most recent Louis Vuitton show scored by Tyler the Creator with strings and arrangements by Arthur Verocai or the several pages of Dilla Time by Dan Charnas dedicated to Suite for Ma Dukes.

Source: Bandcamp

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