Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Associates ‎– Sulk (1982)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop, Art Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: BMG, Beggars Banquet, V2

01.   Arrogance Gave Him Up 
02.   No 
03.   Bap De La Bap 
04.   Gloomy Sunday
05.   Nude Spoons 
06.   It's Better This Way 
07.   Party Fears Two 
08.   Club Country 
09.   Skipping 
10.   Nothinginsomethingparticular 
11.   Love Hangover
12.   18 Carat Love Affair 
13.   Ulcragyceptimol 
14.   And Then I Read A Book 
15.   Australia 
16.   Grecian 2000
17.   The Room We Sat In Before

Bass – Michael Dempsey
Drums – John Murphy
Performer (Instruments) – Alan Rankine
Vocals – Billy MacKenzie
Composed By, Lyrics By – Billy MacKenzie
Producer – Mike Hedges

Previous album reappraisals I have written have tended to be attempts to draw attention to bands lesser known, more under-appreciated albums, but I’m going to go against my own grain and focus on their masterwork , 1982’s “Sulk”.

Sometimes bands most successful or famous albums are that for a reason and that can, on my opinion, most certainly be said of “Sulk”, which whilst sharing many elements with their other albums of the early 80’s period still remains largely like nothing that came before it – and there has been little like it since. Whilst “Sulk” features an undoubtedly talented group of musicians playing on it, the whole beating heart of it still lies with the multi-instrumental talents of Alan Rankine and the stunning multi-range voice of Billy Mackenzie, adorning the sleeve in a lush, rich setting which reflects the tone of the whole record, which is though consistent in this style seems to have a slight divide between a first half imbued with 80’s pop sensibilities, all be it in a truly unique manner, before taking a darker and distinctly more dramatic nearer the end.

Opening with “Better This Way,” an exemplary opener with an incredible swirling bassline and typically vocals which pull the listener right in instantly, this then gives way to one of the most uniquely wonderful singles of the 80’s, “Party Fears Two.” Comprised of oblique lyrics that initially seem like free verse but that pull into something more structured that reinforce the idea set by TS Eliot that perhaps free verse does not really exist, the full range of Mackenzie’s vocal skill turns it into something strangely touching. The classic first Top of the Pops performance of this single, with Mackenzie looking at himself in the monitors and smiling, shattering televisions mystique, has sealed its reputation as an 80’s classic. More pop gems follow; the boldly sweeping “Club Country” and the heartbreakingly sublime , “18 Carat Love Affair,” the latter a beautiful take on forbidden love which, with lines like “I told you not to meet me here/I can’t be seen/with you whispering in my ear/ I don’t mind holding hands but not in front of company” seems at face value to be about hiding infidelity but could just as easily be about trying to cover up a same-sex relationship. Given Mackenzie’s own, rarely talked about bisexuality this simply makes it all the more emotive.

The aforementioned darker, more dramatic turn that “Sulk” takes is best represented by my personal favourite track, “No,” a huge Gothic number which its almost impossible not to be impressed by; Rankine’s dramatic piano work complementing Mackenzie’s most epic vocals, it sounds as though it should be played within the depths of a huge castle hall or on the unswept checkerboard floor of a decaying Hollywood mansion; the lyrics rife with images of anxiety such as hair-pulling (at the roots, before planting the them in someones garden to wait for the shoots to grow -all a psychoanalysts dream) and biting nails to the quick with worry.

If there’s anything that signifies the change in tone between the first and second halves of the album though, its the two cover versions that grace it. One is a gleefully camp version of Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover,” which retains the glitzy disco feel of the original. The other is a powerfully revealing version of a song with one of the most talked about histories in music, Gloomy Sunday. Written in 1932 by Rezsco Seress, it was blamed for 18 suicides in Hungary. It was first recorded in the UK with English lyrics by Hal Kemp, with many other versions following (Billie Holliday’s 1942 version being the most famous and beautiful), and its reputation for being responsible for many suicides grew so much it was banned by the BBC in all forms for 66 years. The ban was in still in place when The Associates recorded their version on “Sulk” (it would be lifted twenty years later), so its certainly a bold choice of song. Its mournful lyrics are undeniably ones that would draw in the saddest of listeners (something more likely to be responsible for the songs history than any superstition, I believe), and its hard to imagine anyone of completely stable mind being able to fully communicate its suicidal tone. The Associates version has an extra sheen and aural layer to previous versions, but its power is intense and haunting. Mackenzie tragically took his own life in 1997, not only feeding the songs history but adding extra poignancy. “Sulk” – his final album with Rankine and thus as The Associates as we know them – would perhaps be his ultimate legacy, an album as multi-layered, stylish and at times eccentric as he was. In the grey gloom of the bleak 80’s landscape, “Sulk” was a ray of light which stands the test of time today.
Amy Britton / Louder Than War

Monday, 10 May 2021

Nicola Conte, Gianluca Petrella ‎– People Need People (2021)

Style: Bossa Nova, Soul-Jazz, Deep House, Jazzdance
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Schema

01.   People Need People
02.   Hold On To Your Dreams
03.   Nigeria
04.   Imani River
05.   The Higher Love
06.   Tribes
07.   Inner Light
08.   African Spirits
09.   New World Shuffle
10.   Good Juju
11.   Mother Of The Earth

Producer – Gianluca Petrella, Nicola Conte

For over twenty years, the Italian producer, composer and guitarist Nicola Conte has pursued a resolutely independent path in jazz and jazz-related music. The Schema label, with whom he has almost exclusively partnered since his breakthrough album, 2000's acid-jazz masterpiece Jet Sounds, is based in the fashion-centric northern city of Milan. But Conte nearly always records at Sorisso Studio in his hometown, Bari, a seaport on the heel of Italy's boot on the country's southern Adriatic coast. This off-the-beaten-track location reflects, and doubtless bolsters, Conte's independent spirit.

Most of the highwater marks in Conte's discography have featured the trombonist Gianluca Petrella, another Bari resident, who is the co-leader on People Need People. The pair have been involved in such landmark recordings as Conte's Jet Sounds, New Standards (Schema, 2001, an EP co-billed with Petrella), Jet Sounds Revisited (Schema, 2002), Other Directions (Schema/Blue Note, 2004) and most recently Let Your Light Shine On (MPS, 2018), on which Petrella played a role approaching co-leadership. But People Need People is the duo's first full-length 360-degree collaborative project.

The album is positioned to attract the more inquisitive end of today's electronic-dance-music audience. Along with modal jazz, soul and spiritual Afro-jazz, longtime staples in the Conte-Petrella mix, the jointly composed and produced disc draws on hip hop and digital beats. There is less improvisation than on Other Directions or Let Your Light Shine On, but the music retains an underlying jazz sensibility and the with-vocals tracks address contemporary societal issues in a thoughtful manner. The album merits approaching with an open mind.

Several of the key players here are also featured on Let Your Light Shine On: reed player Magnus Lindgren, keyboardists Seby Burgio and Nduduzo Makhathini, drummers Tommaso Cappellato and Teppo Mäkynen, percussionist Abdissa Assefa, and singers Carolina Bubbico and Bridgette Amofah. Other contributors of note include trumpeter Marco Rubegni, saxophonist Pasquale Calò and spoken-word vocalist Rashaan Ahmad.

P.S. Among the instrumental tracks is "Nigeria," a gritty Afrobeat-inspired platform for Petrella's trombone, which once again raises the perennially perplexing question: why is the trombone almost entirely absent from modern West African styles including Afrobeat, yet so widespread in that diaspora's Brazilian samba? Answers in the Comments box below please.
Chris May / All About Jazz

Saturday, 8 May 2021

STR4TA ‎– Aspects (2021)

Style: Jazz-Funk, Fusion, Soul-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Brownswood Recordings, Beat Records

01.   Aspects
02.   Rhythm In Your Mind
03.   Dance Desire
04.   We Like It
05.   Steppers Crusade
06.   After The Rain
07.   Give In To What Is Real
08.   Kinshasa FC
09.   Vision 9
        Bonus Track
10.   Aspects (Demus Dub)

Bass – Francis Hylton
Keyboards, Drums – Matt Cooper
Mixed By, Producer – Richard Bull
Producer – Bluey, Gilles Peterson, Matt Cooper, Paul Booth
Recorded By, Mixed By – Mo Hausler

Producer Gilles Peterson originally made his name in the 1980s as a resident DJ in Camden at the Electric Ballroom and Dingwalls playing the contemporary dance music of the time, variously known as Jazz Funk, Brit Funk and, in a later 1990s revival, as Acid Jazz. The significance of this music isn’t just that it was the predominant British dance music of the time, but that it used the rhythms and musical inventions then coming from electric Jazz.

More importantly, however, the music was a London-based hub of creativity that let British dance culture develop its own distinct path and, crucially, was colour-blind at a time when the ethnicity of a British musician was still considered worthy of attention. This was the kind of music played by the likes of British bands such as Level 42, Imagination and Incognito.

Peterson has collaborated with the leader of Incognito, Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick to form STR4TA. This is an intentionally nostalgic band that endeavours to recreate the rhythms of the early 1980s, along with a consciously raw, relatively unpolished production sound. So, on Aspects, their debut album, we find slap bass, propulsive guitar, spare and punchy drums, falsetto harmony vocals, and floaty electric piano. This is dance-floor oriented music that is tight, taut and immediately danceable, but rather than being dependent on electronic instruments relies instead on musicianship and sympathetic production.

Peterson has a history of putting together imaginative collaborations that focus attention on easily overlooked musical genres from both the Americas and beyond, most famously on the album Nuyorican Soul. It is perhaps inevitable that he would eventually revisit the music that he did so much to champion and shape in his earliest days on the London scene. This is illustrated by the self-consciously fanzine-style album cover which features a montage of a decidedly youthful Gilles Peterson and a similarly young Maunick.

The album opens with the title track, Aspects, which could have been sourced from the back of a 1980s record crate. It is a checklist of the elements that drew people onto the Dingwalls dance floor, propelled by an infectious bass-line and a catchy chorus. This is followed by Rhythm In Your Mind, which sounds even more like a song from the time. There is a jazzier piano sound on the instrumental Dance Desire which allows Maunick space to show off what he can do with an electric guitar. Peterson displays his DJ credentials by following the serviceable We Like It with Steppers Crusade, a groove-based tune that steadily builds up to euphoric heights.

After the Rain opens the second side of the LP with a relatively thoughtful invocation of a good night out, leading into the similarly reflective Give In To What Is Real whose groove and bass line will appeal to fans of Level 42. The title of Kinshasa FC might be intended to evoke the comparable DIY ethos of contemporary Congolese music, but otherwise this instrumental tune only hints at the African rhythms beginning to influence British jazz and dance music of the time. The final track, Vision 9, might bring back pleasant memories of Jazz Fusion of the late 1970s and early 1980s, before it descended into its current state of soporific smoothness.

This is a record designed to please those with memories of London summers in the early 1980s when Robbie Vincent was featured on BBC Radio London, when night clubs were mostly small, intimate affairs and when pirate radio was often the only place you could hear the type of music featured on the album. However, for those of a different generation or with different memories, this is the perfect introduction to a musical genre which is nevertheless very much of its time. This is as much a credit to the musicians gathered together on the album, such as Francis Hylton, Matt Cooper, Richard Bull, Peter Hinds and Randy Hope-Taylor, as it with the partnership of Peterson and Maunick in realising what must have been a project they’d always dreamed of doing together.
Graham Spry / London Jazz News

Friday, 7 May 2021

Kit Sebastian ‎– Mantra Moderne (2019)

Genre: Jazz, Rock, Funk / Soul, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Mr Bongo

1.   Senden Baska
2.   Mantra Moderne
3.   Tyranny 20
4.   Pangea
5.   Kuytu
6.   Yanimda Kal
7.   Yürüdüm, Büyüdüm, Cürüdüm
8.   With A Sense Of Grace
9.   Durma

A&R – Graham Luckhurst
Lyrics By – Kit Martin, Merve Erdem
Mastered By – Kelly Hibbert
Music By – Kit Martin 

“Mantra Moderne” is the debut album of London-based Anglo-Turkish duo, Kit Sebastian. A collaboration of Kit Martin, who plays the instruments and vocalist Merve Erdem. It is being described as fusing ‘Anatolian Psychedelia, Brazilian Tropicalia, 60’s European pop and American jazz’. Interesting!

The opening track is “Senden Başka”. Twangy guitar introduces the vocals restrained to a Gainsbourgian mumble doubled with guitar with unintrusive bass and organ support. The superb “Mantra Moderne” opens with a burst of distorted, reverberated saxophones introducing the motif, before launching into a swaggering descending melody line followed by smooth organ and chinking guitar. On “Tyranny 20”, spidery reverberated guitar crawls over the driving beat on an ambience of authentic sounding 60s guitar fuzz tones and organ. “Pangea”’s laid back samba-like percussion is the platform for the repetitive and slightly tedious melody line. However, there’s an effective instrumental passage and solo towards the end. “Kuytu” is lead by the chiming keyboard backed by fuzzy guitar which gives way to a swingy rhythm with a sparse vocal line. It’s the high point of the record and has a more confident structure than some of the other tracks here. “Yanimda Kal” successfully mixes the samba rhythm with Asian instrumentation without leaning too much into exotica. “Yürüdüm, Büyüdüm, Çürüdüm” is light and airy, apart from a proggy burst midway through, with guitar coiling around the repetitive breathy lyric. “With A Sense Of Grace” has a chiming keyboard motif and plays on the duet vocal lines reminiscent of Bardot and Gainsbourg collaborations. “Durma” closes the set with an urgent bass line which introduces jabbing horns, stroboscopic wah-wah guitar, serpentine melody lines and Erdem’s spoken word vocals.

It is clear that there has been a lot of care in creating the complex and opulent sonic textures of this music. That care has been worthwhile as it sounds beautiful and lush. You can also appreciate the ambition to merge differing styles and it is good listening. Often the sound references the 1960s without quite becoming pastiche. The album could be a soundtrack from a lost French new wave movie. Expect to hear snippets from this album on T.V. shows and trailers over the next few months or so! Some of the care towards the sound has come at a slight cost as a few of the tracks here feel a bit like fillers. Maybe it is because they are lacking that visual element which is probably intended for them. Overall though, it is an enjoyable album. An accomplished and exciting debut and promises much more to follow.
Kevin Ward / UKVIBE

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Brwnowave ‎– BEATS OF NO NATION VOL. 1 (2020)

Style: Chillwave, Downtempo, Lo-fi
Format: FLAC
Label: Not On Label

01.   UP_TO_DAY 
02.   little lullaby 
03.   anjo da guarda
05.   14_04_ 
06.    UP_TO_DAY_2 (blue is the perfect mood) 
07.    金田正太郎 (Kaneda) 
09.   excelente momento(too late) 
10.   R E A L N E S S 
11.   saudades 
12.   falling stars 
13.   borboletas 
14.   sayyes 
16.   ありがとうございましたthank you

Composto e Produzido por - Bruno de Oliveira


uma bicicleta pichada no asfalto se ergue sob a bandeira de nenhuma nação ● nenhuma nação bate no peito ● mas é a batida no peito que leva o passo adiante ● e um passo adiante não é mais o mesmo lu- gar – sabemos – nos foi dito num beat ● é um lugar à frente ● ou uma nova direção ● assim uma bati- da a mais e temos um novo tempo ● a bicicleta que leva o sonho a imaginação o desejo ● nada pode confinar o sonho a imaginação o desejo ● mas da imaginação do sonho do desejo durante o confina- mento nasceu o beat ● mas o beat não é mais a imaginação ● é desejo corpóreo ● torso sonoro do so- nho ● ainda não visível ● mas passível de toque aos ouvidos ● de chutes no tórax ● no animal o som pertence ao corpo ● o tambor no peito ● o ritmo dos passos ● a batida do som das palavras ● afinal o corpo sabe: nada no universo – absolutamente nada – está imóvel ● e todo movimento – um beat ● to- da oscilação – um ritmo ● “todo átomo, feliz ou triste, dança em torno do sol” – nos disse o poeta o músico o místico ● o som – como o sol – arrasta ao seu redor tudo que está a seu alcance ● o ritmo move o corpo e molda os átomos ● as vibrações se estendem – colidem ● recriam o movimento ● a batida ● gira no mover dos mundos ● no compasso dos astros ● movimentando átomos pelos átimos

mas tudo não passa de ouvidos mortais reverberando ● só a batida dos vivos que em breve silencia- rão ● mas ainda são capazes de ouvir & dançar ● ouvir & mover o mundo dentro e fora de si ● pelo breve compasso de um coração ● pelo tempo de uma batida ● pelo intervalo de um beat ● antes do si- lêncio do contratempo ● entregue-se ● a casa é sua: chama-se corpo ● a viagem não é segura – nunca é

como uma bicicleta nas ruas ● mas há vibração & movimento ● assombro & surpresa ● as cores do sangue com seu sentimento ● sua inteligência ● nosso anfitrião ergueu a nau de sua bicicleta pela paisa- gem sonora ● sob a bandeira de nenhuma nação bate o tambor no peito ● permita-se ser levado ● se renda ● largue o controle ● aproveite

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Sarah Tandy ‎– Infection In The Sentence (2019)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Jazz Re:freshed

1.   Bradbury Street
2.   Nursery Rhym
3.   Under The Skin
4.   Timelord
5.   Light/Weight
6.   Snake In The Grass

Bass – Mutale Chashi
Drums – Femi Koleoso
Piano, Keyboards – Sarah Tandy
Saxophone – Binker Golding
Trumpet – Sheila Maurice-Grey
Mastered By – Dan Baldwin 
Mixed By – David Wehinm

Sarah Tandy, pianist and band leader, is a rising star of London’s vibrant jazz scene. We are lead into her debut recording via ‘Bradbury Street’, which begins with a simple motif played in unison by Sheila Maurice-Grey on trumpet and Binker Golding on sax, the riff is accompanied by Mutale Chashi’s pulsing bass sound, pretty soon they are joined by Tandy herself who initially offers us a sliver of a Thelonious Monk type sound before the piece accelerates into a more contemporary direction. Maurice-Grey’s trumpet momentarily giving us a slightly Middle Eastern flavour before Golding returns with his muscular sax. Drummer, Femi Koleoso, is also pretty busy powering the wonderfully rich and elastic sound of Chashi’s bass while simultaneously snapping around the sax and trumpet. At one or two points Tandy’s piano gets somewhat lost in the mix but is soon retrieved with her energetic lightness of touch. The piece self soothes towards the end with the reprise of the gently repeated riff that we heard at the outset. Talking of adjectives to describe Tandy’s playing Julian Joseph came up with the phrase, “fleet fingered”, when she recently played a session on his BBC radio show J to Z, this description is hard to disagree with.

The second track, ‘Nursery Rhyme’, sees a change of pace, sounding much more lyrical with those fleet fingers traveling across the keyboard in a Nordic kind of jazz mood. Tandy describes wanting to build a tune around a simple theme that a child may sing but adding elements of the darkness that can sometimes be found in a nursery rhyme.

On ‘Under the Skin’, Tandy’s piano feels like it is weaving its way above and below the drums, the delicate interplay between the two musicians here is breathtaking, I want more of this stuff! Tandy said the group developed gradually allowing space for steadily evolving musical relationships and it really does show on this track in particular.

This is an album of two distinct approaches with Tandy plugging in her Yamaha for the second half of the recording. ‘Timelord’ is built around a nifty electronic motif but no, it doesn’t sound anything like the Dr Who theme tune. But perhaps this is Tandy’s homage to Jodie Whittaker for bravely going where only males have gone before in her role as the Doctor. Anyway the theme is tentatively explored with some sensitive sax and pleasing Zawinul like sounds.

‘Timelord’ and the penultimate tune, ‘Light/Weight’, make a great pairing. Here we are offered another mellow electronic introduction reminiscent of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, but played over a more acoustic sounding piano riff – she’s made this work pretty well, which is no mean feat.

The final track is probably the least polished on offer and feels more like a work in progress. ‘Snake in the Grass’ sees an uptempo return of the trumpet and sax over a reggae/ska style theme which hints at dub in places, the keyboard squelches around searching for its feet before giving way to the rather fine Freddie Hubbard like tones of Sheila Maurice-Grey. Overall though a great debut recording, I want to go back for more and definitely catch a live date.

Finally a word about the intriguing title of this record, it helps if you know that Tandy is a Cambridge graduate of literature as well as a classically trained musician when trying to figure this one out. The title may be a reference to feminist literary theory on female perception of the male litery canon but translated to a female artists’ approach to becoming a jazz musician. The sleeve art reflects this with mirror images of Tandy bound together and at the same time muted by the banner of the album’s title. The back to back images of Tandy presumably acknowledging her jazz precursors and at the same time looking forward to her future as a jazz musician.
James Read / UKVIBE

Friday, 30 April 2021

Błoto – Kwasy i zasady (2021)

Style: Fusion Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Nu-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Astigmatic Records

01.   Chryja
02.   Prostactwo
03.   Hipokryzja 
04.   Farmazon 
05.   Mitomania
06.   Ignorancja
07.   Autentyzm 
08.   Prostota 
09.   Pokora 
10.   Prawda 
11.   Umiar 

Cancer G - drums
Wuja HZG - bass guitar
Latarnik - piano, Moog Voyager, Korg MS-20, Nord Stage 2
OlafSaxx - Roland Aira System-1, AKAI EWI 5000, saxophones: tenor, sopran, baritone; percussion

What do jazz improvisation, Polish Radio, dingy rap from Memphis, cassette tapes, trap, drill elements and hip-hop loops have in common? These are the ingredients that the Błoto quartet used in their lab to cook an explosive mixture for their third LP entitled “Kwasy i zasady” (eng,“Acids and bases”).

Nobody thought that a band who appeared suddenly and unexpectedly on the jazz scene would develop so rapidly and in such an unforeseen direction. A year ago, critics and music journalists treated Błoto only as a one-off spin off of a larger band, EABS, when the debut album “Erozje” (eng,”Erosion”) was released. The band used their momentum and decided to release the second album “Inflorescence, all in 2020. Both albums resonated strongly enough to be at the top of many annual charts, and receive nominations for the most important music awards in Poland.

The reality around us continued to inspire the band to create. The Błoto quartet only needed a small spark to make another burst of creativity. The igniter turned out to be Polish Radio, which came up with the initiative to invite the band to a new project. This was the starting point for the creation of "Kwasy i zasady", Błoto’s third album within twelve months.

Wuja HZG, Cancer G, OlafSaxx and Latarnik already had the opportunity to use high-end equipment in well-equipped recording studios, so this time the musicians decided to go in the opposite direction - lo-fi. The recordings were made with a minimum number of microphones, and the whole thing was recorded on a cassette with a Tascam 122 MKII stereo tape recorder, giving a dirty and warm character to Błoto’s sound, which can be clearly heard from the first minutes of the disc.

The team has always operated in the sphere of metaphors close to nature. It is similar this time, but Błoto has gone deeper into "chemical compounds" called acids and bases. Ultimately, the album's theme cleverly avoids the direct meaning of these words, playing with the convention. A set of improvised beats refers to interpersonal relationships, which nowadays often have an extreme, corrosive and explosive nature, so we need a framework that will allow us to counteract them.

The album "Kwasy i zasady" will be released on Astigmatic Records under the patronage of the Second Polish Radio Program on April 30, 2021. The album will be available on vinyl, CD and on all streaming platforms. 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

David Walters, Vincent Segal, Ballaké Sissoko, Roger Raspail ‎– Nocturne (2021)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country 
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Heavenly Sweetness

01.   Papa Kossa
02.   Carioca
03.   Freedom
04.   Manyè (Unplugged Version)
05.   Sam Cook Di
06.   San En Yé
07.   Baby Go
08.   Interlude
09.   Mama (Unplugged Version)
10.   Vancé
11.   Nocturne

David Walters - Voice, Guitar
Vincent Segal - Cello
Ballaké Sissoko - Kora
Roger Raspail - Percussions
All tracks written and composed by David Walters

“Never forget our past, our history” so goes the refrain at the end of “Mama” one of the songs from David Walters’s bold and affecting release from earlier this year on the Parisian label, Heavenly Sweetness, “Soleil Kréyol.”

On “Soleil Kreyol” David Walters achieved the apparent impossible - evoking such disparate worlds as New York’s ‘70s club culture and his own familial Afro-Caribbean roots, singing much of the album in Martinican Creole, against a shimmering, percussive soundtrack.

“Mama” returns on his latest, "Nocturne" in a stripped down version alongside a trio of master musicians: the renowned Malian kora musician Ballaké Sissoko, whose previous credits include Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté; Sissoko's previous musical collaborator, French cellist/bassist Vincent Segal who also appeared on Walters's “Soleil Kreyol” and veteran percussionist, Roger Raspail, originally from Guadeloupe, who through his four decades has performed genres as diverse Congolese funk, gnawa music from the Sahel and jazz.*

What’s striking about Walters’s "Nocturne" is that despite the players' diversity and the album's array of musical influences - album standout “Freedom” fluidly moves between Walters’s delicate falsetto to a rapped verse in a setting buffered by a pensive cello, interlocking percussion and kora - it remains fully cohesive throughout.

Opener “Papa Kossa" is an album highlight. Immediately ushering us into the album’s distinctive mood, which is in part innovative folk - think Mano Negra, albeit with a Martinican Creole base, rather than Spanish - and something uniquely its own: whispered melodies, in French, English and Martinican Creole, set against a bed of encircling rhythms and harmonies.

The Marseille-based composer/guitarist/vocalist David Walters has long created music that transcends fixed borders. Whether as a DJ/producer remixing the Buenos Aires/ Paris Gotan Project; as a founding member of Zimpala - an electro hip-hop collective - or during his travels to Africa, where he studied alongside Ali Farka Touré, Walters’s approach has always been refreshingly eclectic, albeit stamped with the imprint of his West Indies origins. Walters is Paris born, his mother is from Martinique, his father comes from Saint Kitts and Nevis.*

Dating back to his first releases - some of which appeared on Gotan Project's ¡Ya Basta! record label - David Walters has affirmed and reinvented his Afro-Caribbean musical ancestry, transforming this rich heritage into the foundations of his distinctive musical voice - reinterpreting, for example to “Mesi Bon Dyé” by the seminal Haitian composer Frantz Casseus for the label in the early 2000s.* While more than a decade later, Walters visited New Orleans for the "Nola is Calling" project that united musicians from the US, Benin and France.*

In a cultural moment where the era's best music is characterised by multicultural, polyglot origins and focus on Black identity and culture, “Nocturne” provides a welcome French - or Martinican Creole - perspective. Because of the music's innovative, fully immersive nature “Nocturne” will appeal to a wide range of listeners curious to engage with music that while deeply personal resonates widely.

“Nocturne” is a profoundly moving and intimate listen: a new kind of folk music, with a French/Afro-Caribbean accent, that is modern and ancient at the same time. 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

JAB ‎– Currents (2021)

Style: Broken Beat, Deep House, Jazzdance
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Joon Dada Records

A1.   Preface
A2.   5, 6, 7, 8
B1.   Currents
B2.   Game, Set (Checkmate)

All tracks written & produced by JAB
Will Fry, Oli Savill - Additional Percussion 
Nathan Allen, Marijus Aleksa - Drums
Sean Allen, Yves Fernandez, Alex Bonfanti - Bass
Femi Temowo - Guitar 
Gavin Powell - Additional Organ 
Lewis Wright, Tymon Janusiewicz - Additional Vibraphone
Tobie Tripp - Additional String Arrangement
JAB - Percussion, Vibraphone, Drums, Organ, String arrangment 

Amika Strings:
Laura Senior - Violin
Simmy Singh - Violin
Lucy Nolan - Viola
Peggy Nolan - Cello + additional string arrangement 

JAB is a project from Junior Alli-Balogun, a London-based multi-percussionist who creates forward-thinking dance music using traditional instruments. His first EP, Directions, earned major support from the likes of Floating Points, Gilles Peterson and Theo Parrish, which brings us to Currents, the third release on Balogun’s Joon Dada Records. These songs were written and recorded across multiple cities on either side of the Atlantic, with contributions from many different session musicians.

The light percussion of "Preface" eases into a nice groove before coming to an abrupt pause around two-thirds of the way in. What follows is one of the more impressive breakdowns in recent live dance music: a change up on the bass and strings helped by some sampled chopping. "5,6,7,8 (Dance Is Life)" ups the tempo significantly and lets the vibraphone shine, while the finale "Game, Set, (Checkmate)" has more of a broken beat vibe. Then there's  "Currents," which is pure emotion. Organ chords lead into a cello and violin arrangement, ending with the sounds of spring: birds chirping and running water over rocks. 

Currents is easily one of the most fulfilling EPs released so far this year. The music is fully realized, crafted with care and musicianship reminiscent of the music production process of the past. Many different souls were involved in the creation of Currents and, once again, collaboration wins over what many solo artists are producing today. Balogun cites Roy Ayers as a major influence upon his style, a most fitting comparison for the vibe his music gives off.

Tajh Morris / Resident Advisor 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

VA ‎– We Are Reasonable People (1998)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Warp Records, Source

01.   AFX / Squarepusher - Freeman, Hardy & Willis Acid
02.   Boards Of Canada - Orange Romeda
03.   Broadcast - Hammer Without A Master
04.   Plaid - Ilasas
05.   Autechre - Stop Look Listen
06.   Nightmares On Wax - Fishtail Parker
07.   Jimi Tenor - Wear My Bikini
08.   Plone - Plaything
09.   Red Snapper - 4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)
10.   Mira Calix - Umchunga Locks
11.   Two Lone Swordsmen - Circulation
12.   Mark Bell - A Salute To Those People Who Say Fuck You

Artwork – www.thedesignersrepublic.com
Mastered By – F.A.

We Are Reasonable People is a select handful of the European upper crust furnishing electronic rarities to the label that made them famous. Warp Records has the cream of the crop to choose from, even if some of that cream has clotted from oversight. All of these selections are previously unreleased, and considering the wide variety of styles on the disc, there truly is "something for everyone." "Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid" is such a memorable high point, it's a wonder this track wasn't saved for the finale. Two of the most accomplished trendsetters, Tom Jenkinson and Richard D. James, combine their abilities for the first time as Squarepusher and AFX, respectively. Pools of mercurial ambience float above rocky landscapes of blistering rhythm tracks, sputtering toward an acid refrain and such spatial disorientation that it pulls the chair right out from under you. An act this tough to follow is rightfully handed to Boards of Canada, whose "Orange Rhomeda" is a magical pinwheel of found digital beats and naïve bytes, an early taste of a duo who would be Warp's next big thing. From here the terrain gets uneven. Although high points are aplenty, listeners might be checking the clock once or twice along the way. Broadcast's "Hammer Without a Master" drones along in burnt electro-waltz/rock waves, and Plaid contributes a sound sculpture that pulses with cascading icicles of synth and a syncopated, chugging drumbox. The indifference intensifies as glitch music superstars Autechre strain to deliver even a shred of the human element for "Stop Look Listen," typing out trigonometric beats and a stray melody. Next, an upbeat Nightmares on Wax grooves conservatively with "Fishtail Parker," a mid-budget tapestry of keyboard funk. From here, the ball passes nicely to Jimi Tenor, who digs into his zoot suit jacket pocket for a slick set of licks on "Wear My Bikini," a jazzy arrangement of downtown-cruising horn/synth riffs and head-bobbing beats. Another abrupt shift in mood comes from Plone's "Plaything" -- disturbingly innocent. It's like easy listening for stuffed animals, featuring bubblegum keyboard leads and a swishing, carefree beatbox. Following this, Red Snapper (black belt of the live groove) unearths the moody "4 Dead Monks (Original Demo)." The upright bass snarls and paces back and forth in a cage, the snares slither and pop, and a lone trumpet adds a fog of crime noir. Two Lone Swordsmen deliver "Circulation," which gurgles menacingly along the floorboards like restless plasma with a curfew. Weatherall and Tenniswood keep a half-dozen elements under close surveillance, letting them breathe slightly before locking them up again. Rounding out the CD, Mira Calix and Mark Bell both deliver pounding, up-tempo industrial showcases; the latter closes out the disc with extra crunch and a keyboard lead that shifts mathematically to the left with each repetition. The energy almost compensates for its structural simplicity. With such a plush assembly of music at its fingertips, Warp pats itself on the back with this release. Rightfully so, for not only staying afloat in the ever-expanding sea of electronic music, but for riding the crest of it.
Glenn Swan / AllMusic