Tuesday, 24 November 2020

VA ‎– Rough Trade Shops - 25 Years (2001)

Genre: Electronic, Rock, Pop
Label: Mute

Tracklist:
1-01.   Pere Ubu - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
1-02.   Buzzcocks - Boredom
1-03.   The Congos - Fisherman
1-04.   Cabaret Voltaire - Nag Nag Nag
1-05.   The Normal - T.V.O.D.
1-06.   Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device
1-07.   Throbbing Gristle - United
1-08.   Subway Sect - Ambition
1-09.   Television Personalities - Part Time Punks
1-10.   The Raincoats - Fairytale In The Supermarket
1-11.   Crass - Reality Asylum
1-12.   Joy Division - Transmission
1-13.   The Go-Betweens - People Say
1-14.   Swell Maps - Let's Build A Car
1-15.   Young Marble Giants - Final Day
1-16.   The Fall - How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'
1-17.   The Birthday Party - Mr. Clarinet
2-08.   ...And The Native Hipsters - There Goes Concorde Again
2-02.   Scritti Politti - The Sweetest Girl
2-03.   Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding
2-04.   Foetus - Gums Bleed
2-05.   The Smiths - Hand In Glove
2-06.   Cocteau Twins - Sugar Hiccup
2-07.   Einstürzende Neubauten - Krieg In Den Städten
2-08.   Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Tupelo
2-09.   Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere
2-10.   Sonic Youth - Death Valley '69
2-11.   Tackhead - Hard Left
2-12.   Dub Syndicate, Lee Perry - Jungle
2-13.   The Sugarcubes - Birthday
3-01.   Pixies - Bone Machine
3-02.   Mudhoney - Touch Me I'm Sick
3-03.   Spacemen 3 - Revolution
3-04.   The Lemonheads - Different Drum
3-05.   Coil - Further Back And Faster
3-06.   Stereolab - The Light That Will Cease To Fail
3-07.   Huggy Bear - Her Jazz
3-08.   Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
3-09.   The Chemical Brothers - Song To The Siren
3-10.   The Chills - Pink Frost
3-11.   Lambchop - Soaky In The Pooper
3-12.   Gescom - Sciew Spoc
3-13.   Plastikman Plastique (Video Mix)
3-14.   GAK - Gak 4
4-01.   Cornershop - 6AM Jullandar Shere
4-02.   Studio Pressure - Presha III
4-03.   Boards Of Canada - Everything You Do Is A Balloon
4-04.   Echoboy - Flashlegs (Suite)
4-05.   Jeb Loy Nichols - As The Rain (Adrian Sherwood On-U Sound Remix)
4-06.   Clinic - Monkey On Your Back
4-07.   Le Tigre - Hot Topic
4-08.   I Am Kloot - To You
4-09.   Lemon Jelly - In The Bath
4-10.   Peaches - Fuck The Pain Away
4-11.   Ryan Adams - My Winding Wheel
4-12.   Tindersticks - Talk To Me (91 Version)

Credits:
Design – Angela Hayward
Liner Notes – Jon Savage

Rough Trade's story began in 1976 with a shop in Notting Hill, branching out within a couple years to become a label and a distributor. Beginning with Pere Ubu and concluding with Tindersticks, Rough Trade Shops: 25 Years chronologically distills the history of the pioneering independent outlet into four discs and 56 tracks, concentrating on old and new favorites that have graced the shop's new release racks. Just about every style associated with U.K.-based independent and underground music between 1975 and 2000 is accounted for. The first half concentrates on the punk and post-punk staples of the Buzzcocks ("Boredom"), the Birthday Party ("Mr. Clarinet"), the Cocteau Twins ("Sugar Hiccup"), and the Smiths ("Hand in Glove"), throwing in the occasional pleasant surprise like the short-lived Native Hipsters ("Look There Goes Concord Again") and diversions into reggae (Lee "Scratch" Perry, the Congos). The second half does a lot more hopping around stylistically. Spacemen 3 ("Revolution"), the Pixies ("Bone Machine"), the Chills ("Pink Frost"), and Clinic ("Monkey on Your Back") represent the guitar-based efforts, while Gescom ("Sciew Spoc"), Boards of Canada ("Everything You Do Is a Balloon"), and Plastikman ("Plastique") hit upon more electronic and experimental terrain. Since this compilation includes acts distributed and sold by the like-named shop, label, and distributor, there are major gaps with the Rough Trade bands proper -- no Galaxie 500, Scrawl, AR Kane, or This Heat. Since the label itself released nearly 300 singles, no package short of complete would avoid such a pitfall. But quite successfully, 25 Years provides a fantastic skip through Rough Trade's existence. Many great artists have Rough Trade to thank for bin space, recording costs, and retail distribution. Here's hoping for 25 more years -- and here's hoping that they're less turbulent financially.
Andy Kellman / AllMusic

Tom Waits ‎– Closing Time (1973)

Style: Smooth Jazz, Piano Blues, Ballad
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Asylum Records, Elektra

Tracklist:
A1.   Ol' '55
A2.   I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You
A3.   Virginia Avenue
A4.   Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)
A5.   Midnight Lullaby
A6.   Martha
B1.   Rosie
B2.   Lonely
B3.   Ice Cream Man
B4.   Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings Of Your Love)
B5.   Grapefruit Moon
B6.   Closing Time

Credits:
Bass – Arni Egilsson, Bill Plummerr
Cello – Jesse Ehrlich
Drums – John Seiter
Guitar – Peter Klimes, Shep Cooke
6 String Guitar – Peter Klimes, Shep Cooke
Pedal Steel Guitar – Peter Klimes
Trumpet – Delbert Bennett, Tony Terran
Vocals – John Seiter, Shep Cooke
Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Celesta, Harmonium, Harpsichord, Written-By – Tom Waits
String Quartet Arranged By, Producer – Jerry Yester

Revisiting Tom Waits' debut album Closing Time is to simultaneously journey into a thought experiment, a musical treasure hunt and a simple sensory experience. To fully embrace it one has to set aside expectations that Waits is going to growl his way through the songs, a difficult task if his later music is your benchmark. At the same time, disguised and awaiting discovery, are nuggets of the styling that have established his place in the pantheon of great American musical artists. Ultimately the experience of the album is as an autonomous collection of work that delivers on its own terms.

The album kicks off with "Ol’ 55", a tribute to post coital bliss, a song of resilience in the face of disappointment. Waits languidly counts the song in before his piano sets a mellow mood. The  use of “lickety-splickly” in the second line lets us know we should take this song only so seriously. It wraps you in a 70’s folky embrace, think Randy Newman and James Taylor birthing a love child: this could be their offspring's debut single. 

The guitar and choral vocal support veer uncomfortably close to overwhelming the performance, hinting at the more anthemic Eagles cover that brought the song and Waits wider attention. It drowns the wistful elements of the lyrics; after all our narrator was booted out of his lover’s bed at 6 a.m. and unceremoniously told to be on his way. 

Next, Waits makes a first person introduction to the late night world of bars that much of his future work will inhabit. “I Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You” is a canticle for every drunken man’s romanticizing of a face in the crowd. An addled and inebriated logic attaches itself to the  fantasy that the stranger across the room shares his loneliness. The conceit that he hopes he doesn’t fall in love and finally that she doesn’t do the same with him embeds itself in his thoughts. And then she’s gone. There was never contact, nor likely was it ever on the cards. Two songs in and Waits has straddled the gap between his tender age of twenty-three and the weary emotions of an older man clinging to the prospect of a redemptive encounter. The fact that he presents it with a romantic feint is an early indication that we are in the presence of someone with an uncanny understanding of the vulnerable underbelly of the human condition.

It is also a precursor to "Martha". Here Waits slips effortlessly into the character of "Tom Frost", who exhales an elegy on the death of youthful innocent love down a telephone line to his old love. We don’t get to hear "Martha". in fact we are not even sure she is listening. Waits has invited us to bear witness to the nostalgic musings of a disappointed, dissatisfied man. The genius of the song is that it holds its tension in a one-way encounter. “Frost’s” pain is aching, his distress camouflaged with self-reflection until the devastation of the last two lines

“And I remember quiet evenings

Trembling close to you” 

"Virginia Avenue" is a drunken stagger of a song, pushed and pulled along by Delbert Bennett's trumpet- a requiem for the lost hopes in the life of a bar hopper. It is getting closer to the sound Waits wanted for the album, a desire that was redirected elsewhere by producer Jerry Yester’s insistence on a more folk-based sound.

Waits floats between his past and future artistic self on the album. On "Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)" he reveals his penchant for parentheses in song titles. We hear the sound of country rock (a sound he would jettison from this point forward) and the heartache so often associated with that genre.

In "Midnight Lullaby" he mines old sources - 18th Century English nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and American South lullaby "Hush Pretty Baby" - to create a piano and trumpet soaked ode to tenderness. Waits is an empath as much as he is a barroom slugger. This signaling of his love of vernacular and tradition folded into new material foreshadows his later songwriting technique. 

His intent to create a jazz piano-infused album establishing his late night crooner persona is captured on "Little Trip to Heaven (On the Wings of Your Love)"  and "Grapefruit Moon”. Meanwhile  "Ice Cream Man” swings along, demonstrating Waits’ range and willingness to use sexual innuendo to communicate his message. The album may be awash with melancholy but Waits wants to be sure we know there is a twinkle in his eye. 

On "Rosie", Waits delivers a late night lament that the titular character of the song is out of reach. She evades him, whilst he pleads for a clue on how to persuade her. He is more bemused than desperate, reaching for a high note that he cannot quite hold to call her name, the perfect metaphor for the song. 

"Lonely" is perhaps the most poignant song of the collection. It is the antithesis of "Little Trip to Heaven (On the Wings of Your Love)" which sees Waits channeling Sinatra in an uncomplicated love song. "Lonely" imparts the sense that you are listening to the singer secretly: a door has been left ajar and he’s alone in a room. You stand quietly outside,he doesn’t know you are there. The lyrics, whilst not sophisticated, hold a profound sadness that seeps from the voice and piano. When the song finishes you tip-toe away. 

Waits chooses to see the album out with its title track, "Closing Time". He introduces it with “let's do one for posterity”. The “one” he lays down is an instrumental, with Tony Terran on trumpet duties. Terran weaves his way around Waits’ plaintive piano, and the cello and bowed double bass pour their lilting honey into the gaps. Yester is quoted as saying, “At the end of it, no one spoke for what felt like five minutes, either in the booth or out in the room. No one budged. Nobody wanted the moment to end."  

This album is not without flaws, be they Yester's over eager production or an occasional lyrical lapse by Waits. But, it is an outstanding debut. Waits recorded some of these songs separately and live around the same time, and versions of "Ol ’55" and "I Hope I Don't Fall in Love With You" as solo piano or acoustic guitar pieces give a flavor of what he may have delivered if left entirely to his own devices.

Bones Howe would take over Producer duties for Waits’ next handful of albums, as Waits honed his craft and his voice into the malleable and distinctive instrument he is renowned for. Steeped in jazz sensibilities, Howe was the perfect foil for the growing artist. Howe recounted their working relationship this way “Tom would say to me, ‘You hold the stick for me to jump over, and every album you hold the stick a little higher.’” With the textured and accomplished Closing Time, Waits handed over a stick already held at quite a stretch. 
Phil Hale / eject

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Carl Orff & Gunild Keetman & Margaret Murray ‎– Music For Children (Schulwerk) (2013)

Style: Educational, Folk, Nursery Rhymes
Format: CD, Vinyl, MP3
Label: Trunk Records

Tracklist:
VOLUME 1 
01.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Cuckoo, Where Are You?
02.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Pat-A-Cake
03.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Meena, Deena
04.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Name-calling
05.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Street Cries
06.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Tinker, Taylor
07.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Bobby Shaftoe
08.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Little Tommy Tucker
09.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Bye Baby Bunting
10.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Ring a Ring O' Roses
11.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Improvisation 1
12.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Improvisation 2
13.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Tommy's Fallen in the Pond
14.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Tom Tom the Piper's Son
15.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - My Little Pony Needs New Shoes
16.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - The Baker Is Baking
17.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Trees and Flowers
18.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Ensembles
19.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental for Tuned Glasses, Glockenspiel and Violoncello
20.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Ding, Dong
21.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - The Day Is Now Over
22.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Small Hand Drum
23.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Big Barrel Drum and Small Hand Drum
24.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Piece in 3/4 Time for Hand Drums, Barrel Drums and Wood Block
25.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - The Grand Old Duke Of York
26.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Oliver Cromwell
27.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - The Campbells Are Coming
28.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece i
29.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece ii
30.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece iii
31.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece iv
32.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece v
33.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece vi
34.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece vii
35.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Where Are You Going to My Pretty Maid?
36.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Alleluja
37.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Old Angus McTavish
38.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Rondo
39.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Boomfallera / Curly Locks

VOLUME 2
01.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Sleep, Baby Sleep
02.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Three Instrumental Pieces (For glockenspiels, matallphones and Violoncello)
03.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Cradle Song
04.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Ostinato Piece - In 4/4 Time
05.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Ostinato Piece - In 3/4 Time
06.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Ostinato Piece - In 4/4 Time part two
07.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Dance, Lassie Do
08.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Mary, Helen, Caroline
09.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Dance
10.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - A Farmer Went a Trotting
11.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Bear Dance
12.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Simple Simon
13.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Five Ostinato Pieces i)
14.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Five Ostinato Pieces ii)
15.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Five Ostinato Pieces iii)
16.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Five Ostinato Pieces iv)
17.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Five Ostinato Pieces v)
18.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Fabian, Sebastian
19.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Three Blind Mice
20.   Children of the Italia Conte School - O My Deir Hert
21.   Children of the Italia Conte School - O Hush Thee, My Babie
22.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Five Fools in a Barrow
23.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Percussion Exercises i) For Percussion Instruments
24.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Percussion Exercises ii) For Percussion Instruments
25.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Percussion Exercises iii) For Percussion Instruments
26.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Percussion Exercises iv) Stamping, Clapping and Knee Slapping
27.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Percussion Exercises v) For Drums
28.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Saint Matthie
29.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Thistles
30.   Children of the Italia Conte School - How to Treat a Horse
31.   Children of the Italia Conte School - A Tempest
32.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Apple Howlers Song
33.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Stones
34.   Children of the Italia Conte School - Witches Scene from Macbeth
35.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Summer Is Icumen In
36.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Instrumental Piece i
37.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Two Dances i)
38.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Two Dances ii)
39.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - King Herod
40.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece ii
41.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Girls and Boys Come Out to Play
42.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Flute Cadenza
43.   Chorus of the Children's Opera Group - Song for Good Friday
44.   Children's Instrumental Ensemble - Instrumental Piece iii

Credits:
Chorus Master – J. G. Wright, Margaret John
Composed By – Carl Orff, Gunild Keetman
Directed By – Carl Orff, Gunild Keetman, Walter Jellinek
Producer – Jonny Trunk

This is quite simply some of the most beautiful children's music ever made, with simple melodies and forgotten rhymes building gradually into more complex roundels and speech exercises. Performed by children in the late 1950s, this wonderful recording is educational, darkly nostalgic, and enchanting. History: This is the first time these important recordings have been in print since 1957. Their origins go back to the 1920s and the Günterschule in Munich, a progressive educational academy that specialized in music and exercise. Carl Orff was a teacher there, and worked on a new method of introducing children to music. Over the next few decades the "Orff Method" was developed and enhanced with the help of one of his former students Gunild Keetman. By the late 1950s the term "schulwerk" (literally "schooling" or "school work") had been adopted and with the inclusion of nursery rhymes and street cries it had spread across Europe as a popular education technique. A two LP recording was issued in Germany in 1957 to demonstrate some of the musical results -- this was followed by a pair of LPs issued in the UK, that were to include the music as well as early English nursery rhymes, songs and sayings. It is these recordings that are being issued here, along with the original and rare sleevenotes. The music is performed on what has since become known as "the Orff instruments": glockenspiels, xylophones, metallophones, drinking glasses, violoncello, bells, cymbals, drums, and the triangle. Rhythmic exercises are executed by hand-clapping, knee-slapping, feet-stamping, as well as using drums, whips, sand-rattles, and other percussion instruments. The spoken word is used for its meaning, its tone-color and rhythmic significance. Nursery rhymes familiar to most of us form a strong base to the album, but there are some here that you may have never come across before. Many of these date back to the 18th century, and Trunk also includes here the oldest song of all -- "Sumer Is Icumen In." Not only is the music absolutely captivating for adults and children alike, the CD comes with extensive 16-page sleeve notes explaining the origins of the songs and sayings. These are magical, rarely heard (and occasionally scary) recordings from the 1950s that highlight just how beautiful the simplest of all music can be. But the release also shows how incredible children's musical education once was. Performers: Chorus of the Children's Opera Group, Speech Ensemble from the Italia Conti School, and The Instrumental Ensemble.

Philip Glass From The Music Of David Bowie & Brian Eno ‎– "Low" Symphony (1993)

Style: Contemporary
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: POINT MUsic

Tracklist:
1.   Subterraneans
2.   Some Are
3.   Warszawa

Credits:
Composed By, Liner Notes – Philip Glass
Assistant Conductor – Karen Kamensek
Principal Conductor – Dennis Russell Davies
Music By (From The Music Of) – Brian Eno, David Bowie
Orchestra, Performed By– The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra
Written-By – Brian Eno , David Bowie
Produced By – Kurt Munkacsi, Michael Riesman

In which Philip Glass meets the vernacular and finds salvation. Or almost. But first, a few necessary points of clarification. The work on this disc is called the Low Symphony because the three movements it is made up of are developed from material 'borrowed' from a rock album made in 1975 by David Bowie and his then-collaborator, Brian Eno. The album was called ''Low'' and, even though there was no piece of music of that name included on it, Glass's re-working of three tracks from that name has been given that title, apparently with Bowie's blessing. 
I would unhesitatingly say that this is the most musical composition from Glass in many years. Depending on your Weltanschauung, that may mean a lot or mean nothing. In this work, the actual sound of the piece, and a firm grip on where it goes in the end, seems to be of more interest to the composer than the theory of how the notes got there in the first place. But then he is working with an original which delivers unusual material for a minimalist to work with: melody; direct emotion; a varied structure; a sense of drama. 
What is of overriding interest, however, is the use to which Glass puts these raw materials. For one, he has dispensed with the vocal renditions which were the core moments of two of the original pieces—Subterraneans and Warszawa; this music is purely orchestral. (One point worth at least noting is that Bowie is as big a magpie as Glass, having borrowed the main theme of Warszawa, completely intact, from Polish folk-music.) The other central point is that when Glass comes to develop the raw material he has inherited from Eno and Bowie, he immediately abandons the musical language of the original and dons the static rhythmic and harmonic patterns of the minimalist language he helped define. In that sense, the music shows its joins. 
The final point of main comment concerns Glass's actual arrangements. In each of the three movements, he provides the listener with an initial statement which is a close copy of the source material he is working from. However, it is never more than an approximation, and while this can be a positive thing, allowing the creative artist the aesthetic room from which to strike out into their own unique idiom, with Glass in this piece, there is an inevitable reduction in resonance from the original. I will give just a single example. The Low Symphony opens with a straightforward re-creation of the opening few minutes from Subterraneans, the last piece of music from Bowie's ''Low''. 
Yet it's not so straightforward. On the original, created entirely on synthesizers, the first theme is accompanied, and commented upon, by a distended, elliptical and entirely captivating series of descant melodic slivers (most of them emerging backwards), closer to Indian and Islamic music than anything else. Glass has not ignored these filigrees. On the contrary. But the solution to the problem of representing these within the context of an orchestra made up of conventional acoustic instruments is a rather lame major third tremolo sustained by the strings right the way through the initial exposition. The enigmatic quality of the original slips away. 
Other listeners could argue with conviction that Glass manages to create something new and musically valid from the materials he has picked. In a way, that is quite true: any artefact has finally to stand or fall on its own merits, or lack of them. And this work shows a stronger sense of traditional concerns such as form, harmonic movement and emotional impact than any other Glass I care to recall, so it certainly stakes a claim to be considered on its own. But then we come back to the name: Low Symphony. Glass wants us, the audience, to know where this music came from. He invites comparison. To which I can only answer that this is an encouraging—perhaps even courageous—work from a composer not usually given to the romance of music. But is it not ''Low''.'
kshadwick / Gramophone

Tosca ‎– Dehli9 (2003)

Style: Dub, Downtempo, Modern Classical
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: G-Stone Recordings, !K7 Records

Tracklist:
1-01.   Oscar
1-02.   Me & Yoko Ono
1-03.   Gute Laune
1-04.   Mango Di Bango
1-05.   Wonderful
1-06.   Every Day & Every Night
1-07.   Dave Dudley
1-08.   Rolf Royce
1-09.   Sperl
1-10.   La Vendeuse Des Chaussures Des Femmes Part 1
2-01.   D-Moll (Session 1)
2-02.   Einschlaf (Session 2)
2-03.   Wien In E (Session 3)
2-04.   Schwimmer (Session 4)
2-05.   1504 / 7 (Session 5)
2-06.   Slow Hell (Session 6)
2-07.   Song (Session 7)
2-08.   Romanze In Es (Session 8)
2-09.   Fluß (Session 9)
2-10.   Ping (Session 10)
2-11.   2504 / 1 (Session 11)

Credits:
Mastered By – Bo Kondren
Written-By, Producer – Richard Dorfmeister, Rupert Huber

Tosca have been at it for a while now, delivering a mellow blend of funk fused dub since their early releases of Chocolate Elvis and Fuck Dub, back when the K&D sessions were yet to be released upon the unsuspecting public. And since the genre forming excitement of K&D’s remixes, much of Tosca’s releases have been relatively down played, becoming a secret passion for those truly in love with the sounds coming from the G-stone stable.

Truth be known though, the duo consisting of Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber have been rather prolific since those early singles, releasing long players such as Opera and Suzuki, as well as a slew of remix compilations of tunes from those albums (Suzuki in Dub and Different Taste of Honey). And this year the pair have released yet another winner in the form of Delhi9, pushing their sound even further into the sparse regions of instrumental dub groove.

The sounds are definitely a little different from past releases, with most of the bass being played on a warm electronic fretless bass, and the melodies sounding fresh with piano, organ and flute tones, all still dubbed up with filtered echo’s as per their usual style. There is also a larger assortment of vocalist, with the return of Anna Clementi, plus the introduction of Tweed on the brilliant dub house tune Gute Loune, and Earl Zinger on the first single Wonderful.

Some who know me personally might say that I could not objectively write a review of Tosca’s material… but what do they know. I think the album is bloody brilliant. It’s a lovely mix of trip hop, acid jazz, dub house and bossa groove, and while all that might sound a bit much, the coherency of the instrumentation provides a flow from tune to tune that leaves the hips rocking like waves on a summer beach. And just to prove my contemporaries wrong, there is in my opinion one dud – on the Anna Clementi sung Me & Yoko Ono, Tosca find themselves being
quirky rather than kinky… I prefer kinky but that’s just me.

So all up a good buy and another quality release from the G-stone label. And you also get a second cd, which contains minimal piano arrangements written by Rupert Huber, and dubbed up by Dorfmeister, which is also a beautiful listen. Top job lads, bring on the remixes I say.

Tosca have been at it for a while now, delivering a mellow blend of funk fused dub since their early releases of Chocolate Elvis and Fuck Dub, back when the K&D sessions were yet to be released upon the unsuspecting public. And since the genre forming excitement of K&D’s remixes, much of Tosca’s releases have been relatively down played, becoming a secret passion for those truly in love with the sounds coming from the G-stone stable.

Truth be known though, the duo consisting of Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber have been rather prolific since those early singles, releasing long players such as Opera and Suzuki, as well as a slew of remix compilations of tunes from those albums (Suzuki in Dub and Different Taste of Honey). And this year the pair have released yet another winner in the form of Delhi9, pushing their sound even further into the sparse regions of instrumental dub groove.

The sounds are definitely a little different from past releases, with most of the bass being played on a warm electronic fretless bass, and the melodies sounding fresh with piano, organ and flute tones, all still dubbed up with filtered echo’s as per their usual style. There is also a larger assortment of vocalist, with the return of Anna Clementi, plus the introduction of Tweed on the brilliant dub house tune Gute Loune, and Earl Zinger on the first single Wonderful.

Some who know me personally might say that I could not objectively write a review of Tosca’s material… but what do they know. I think the album is bloody brilliant. It’s a lovely mix of trip hop, acid jazz, dub house and bossa groove, and while all that might sound a bit much, the coherency of the instrumentation provides a flow from tune to tune that leaves the hips rocking like waves on a summer beach. And just to prove my contemporaries wrong, there is in my opinion one dud – on the Anna Clementi sung Me & Yoko Ono, Tosca find themselves being
quirky rather than kinky… I prefer kinky but that’s just me.

So all up a good buy and another quality release from the G-stone label. And you also get a second cd, which contains minimal piano arrangements written by Rupert Huber, and dubbed up by Dorfmeister, which is also a beautiful listen. Top job lads, bring on the remixes I say. 
Wayne Leslie / Resident Advisor

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Idris Ackamoor ☥ The Pyramids ‎– An Angels Fell (2018)

Style: Free Jazz, Afrobeat, Jazz-Funk, Avant-garde Jazz
Format: CD,Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Strut

Tracklist:
1.   Tinoge
2.   An Angel Fell
3.   Land Of Ra
4.   Papyrus
5.   Soliloquy For Michael Brown
6.   Message To People
7.   Warrior Dance
8.   Sunset

Credits:
Drums – Johann Polzer
Congas,Percussion, Vocals – Bradie Speller
Double Bass – Skyler Stover
Electric Bass, Vocals – Skyler Stover
Guitar, Vocals – David Molina
Violin, Lead Vocals – Sandra Poindexter
Alto Saxophone, Lead Vocals – Idris Ackamoor

During a second listen to the title track on An Angel Fell, the latest release from Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, I suddenly recall the climactic scene in Blade Runner where Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty delivers his famous, William Blake-inspired speech: “Fiery the angels fell / deep thunder rolled around their shores / burning with the fires of Orc.” Batty is a renegade android, an escapee from one of Earth’s off-world colonies, who continually interrogates what it means to be human and is all the while hunted by a character whose own human-ness is in doubt.

Fallen angels, or visitors from other planets, seem to occupy a similar role on this album: they observe human follies, warn against our impulses to conflict and environmental destruction, and offer the possibility of redemption. That title track veers between tight orchestration and 50s B-movie sound effects, the Pyramids’ sextet of extraordinarily talented jazz voyagers bridging the gap between earthy rhythms and extraterrestrial soundscapes.

This is not the first time that otherworldly visitors have graced planet Earth via what has come to be known as cosmic jazz. In the movie Space Is The Place (made in 1972 - the same year that Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids formed in Ohio), jazz visionary and Afrofuturist prophet Sun Ra lands his intergalactic Ra Ship in Oakland, California (which was home to the Pyramids during the mid-70s); having visited other planets where “the vibrations are different”, he expounds his theories of expanded black consciousness to the bemused young African-Americans he meets there.

This debt to Sun Ra’s legacy - both his music and his message - is explored fully on ‘Land Of Ra’, the captivating third track here, whose lyrics describe “a band of children from the land of Ra” who “travel space from star to star”. Like many of the album’s songs, it contains triumphant, almost euphoric passages and also delves into darker sonic realms. The track blends the heavily delayed guitar effects normally found in dub with its saxophone and violin-led melody, and it works perfectly. This playful borrowing from other genres is displayed across the album: opening track ‘Tinoge’ nods towards Afrobeat, ‘Papyrus’ glides into a kind of bossa nova kitsch.

The band started 46 years ago, disbanded for decades and then reformed, but their music has lost none of its potency or political relevance. The music that Ackamoor was making in the 1970s came out of intense social and racial tension, and that commitment to addressing the world’s ills through music remains. The arrival of the LP feels timely: Ackamoor stated that “loss of innocence and separation” were two themes guiding its development, as was a belief in the healing power of music. Humanity in 2018 could certainly use some healing, and it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the return of politically engaged jazz has come at a time of renewed global conflict.

‘Soliloquy for Michael Brown’ confronts the continued brutality of racial oppression in the United States, honouring the African-American teenager whose killing by Missouri police in 2014 sparked great civil unrest. It begins with an astonishing interweaving of Ackamoor’s sax and Sandra Poindexter’s violin: the two instruments summon deep grief and militant rage, then morph into a percussive groove that is transformative in its intensity. Ackamoor’s sax playing here is wounded and abrasive, as if depicting the deep scars of the legacy of racial violence.

Social injustice isn’t the only issue tackled by the LP, whose album art (by illustrator Lewis Heriz) depicts an angel sitting atop a rock as storms engulf the landscape in front of her. The funk-laced ‘Message To My People’ warns of ecological oblivion, the ominous roar of distorted guitars in the background. The track follows in the tradition of militant jazz and funk: music as sermon, lament and battle cry.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the album feels optimistic and imbued with a belief in the potential for humanity’s transformation. An Angel Fell ends with the shimmering, dreamlike ‘Sunset’, a celebratory and transcendent piece which seems to point towards a renewed respect and appreciation of nature as being part of our salvation. Ultimately, this is what the album promises: redemption and collective healing are within our grasp, if only we look outward and inward to be reminded of our true place in the cosmos.
Adam Quarshie / The QUIETUS

Nile Rodgers ‎– B-movie Matinee (1985)

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Tracklist:
1.   Plan-9
2.   State Your Mind
3.   The Face In The Window
4.   Doll Squad
5.   Let's Go Out Tonight
6.   Groove Master
7.   Wavelength
8.   Stay Out Of The Light

Credits:
Producer – Nile Rodgers, Tommy 'Rock' Jymi
Vocoder, Guitar, Cymbal – Tommy Jymi
Synthesizer – Rob Sabino
Bass, Guitar – Jimmy Bralower
Japanese Rap – Shizuko Orishige
Vocals, Backing Vocals – Alfa Anderson
Voice – Budd Tunick, Dan Nash, Hedy
Synthesizer, Bass, Backing Vocals – Nile Rodgers
Backing Vocals – Curtis King, David Spinner, Frank Simms, George Simms

Released in 1985, B-Movie Matinee proved a stellar departure from Nile Rodgers' initial solo outing. Leaving behind the more traditional trappings of his R&B-inflected debut, he instead looked to the synthesized future, driving his organic bass and guitars into what amounted to a concept album of sorts, fueled by memories of lazy Saturday B-movie afternoons. Bright, punchy pop punctuates this set. From the quirky sci-fi of "Plan-9" and the contemporary urban groove on "State Your Mind," which is one of the album's better tracks, Rodgers fills the space with eminently danceable, if somewhat same-y, songs using synthesizer tricks to thrill. "Let's Go out Tonight," meanwhile, proved the album's hot prospect, dipping into the Top 100, giving Rodgers his only solo chart hit. Rounding things out are the ballad "Wavelength" and Rodgers' immaculate instrumentation -- most notably the guitar and bass, which bound through the funky "Groove Master" with glee. Perhaps a little too light on substance, B-Movie Matinee still manages to please. Being Nile Rodgers can't be easy, as the mere mention of his name conjures such strong sonic images from his Chic canon, and it's hard to ignore those predispositions when listening to his solo material. But that's no detriment to the fine set he's unleashed here.
Amy Hanson / AllMusic

Everything But The Girl ‎– Original Album Series (2011)

Genre: Electronic, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock, Pop
Format: Box Set / 5xCD
Label: Rhino Records 


EDEN

Tracklist:
01.   Each And Every One
02.   Bittersweet
03.   Tender Blue
04.   Another Bridge
05.   The Spice Of Life
06.   The Dustbowl
07.   Crabwalk
08.   Even So
09.   Frost And Fire
10.   Fascination
11.   IMust Confess
12.   Soft Touch

Credits:
Alto Saxophone – Pete King
Double Bass – Chucho Merchan
Drums – Charles Hayward
Guitar – Simon Booth
Percussion – Joao Bosco De Oliveira
Tenor Saxophone – Nigel Nash
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Dick Pearce
Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Tracey Thorn
Guitar, Organ, Vocals, Piano, Horns Arranged By – Ben Watt
Producer – Robin Millar


LOVE NOT MONEY

Tracklist:
01.   When All's Well
02.   Ugly Little Dreams
03.   Shoot Me Down
04.   Are You Trying To Be Funny?
05.   Sean
06.   Ballad Of The Times
07.   Anytown
08.   This Love (Not For Sale)
09.   Trouble And Strife
10.   Angel

Credits:
Alto Saxophone – Peter King
Backing Vocals – Ben, June, Tracey
Banjo – Chris Thompson
Bass – Phil Moxham
Drums, Vocals – June Miles-Kingston
Electric Guitar – Neil Scott
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Dick Pearce
Pedal Steel Guitar – BJ Cole
Tenor Saxophone– Nigel Nash
Tin Whistle – Dave Golding
Vocals – Tracey Thorn
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Organ, Vocals – Ben Watt
Producer – Robin Millar


BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT

Tracklist:
01.   Come On Home
02.   Don't Leave Me Behind
03.   A Country Mile
04.   Cross My Heart
05.   Don't Let The Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart
06.   Careless
07.   Sugar Finney
08.   Come Hell Or High Water
09.   Fighting Talk
10.   Little Hitler

Credits:
Lyrics By – Ben Watt, Tracey Thorn
Music By – Ben Watt, Tracey Thorn
Bass – Micky Harris
Conductor – Nick Ingman
Drums – Rob Peters
French Horn – Jim Handy, John Pigneguy
Piano, Organ – Cara Tivey
Saxophone – Jeff Daly, Nigel Nash, Peter King, Phil Todd, Ray Swinfield
Trombone – Alan Hutt, Andy Fawbert, Chris Pyne, Peter Thoms
Cello – Chris Green, Clive Anstee, Helen Liebmann, Paul Kegg
Trumpet – Alan Downey, Derek Watkins, Luke Tunney, Martin Dover, Stuart Brooks
Percussion – Frank Ricotti, Joao Bosco De Oliveira, Martin Ditcham, Steve Henderson
Viola – Cathy Stevens, David Emmanuel, George Robertson, Ken Essex
Backing Vocals – Bob Saker, Clare Torry, Gary Taylor, Lance Ellington, Linda Allen, Tessa Niles, Tony Burrows, Victy Silva
Violin – Basil Smart, Bill Benham, David Woodcock, Gavyn Wright, Jimmy Archer, John Wilson, Levine Andrade, Peter Oxer, Richard Studt, Roger Garland, Tim Good, Wilf Gibson
Vocals – Tracey Thorn
Producer, Guitar, Arranged By – Ben Watt


IDLEWILD

Tracklist:
01.   I Don't Want To Talk About It
02.   Love Is Here Where I live
03.   These Early Days
04.   I Always Was Your Girl
05.   Oxford Street
06.   The Night I Heard Caruso Sing
07.   Goodbye Sunday
08.   Shadow On A Harvest Moon
09.   Blue Moon Rose
10.   Tears All Over Town
11.   Lonesome For A Place I know
12.   Apron Strings

Credits:
Alto Saxophone – Peter King
Bass Guitar – Steve Pierce
Piano, Synthesizer – Damon Butcher
Producer – Ben Watt


THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE

Tracklist:
01.   Driving
02.   Get Back Together
03.   Meet Me In The Morning
04.   Me And Bobby D
05.   The Language Of Life
06.   Take Me
07.   Imagining America
08.   Letting Love Go
09.   My Baby Don't Love Me
10.   The Road

Credits:
Alto Saxophone – Marc Russo
Vocals Arranged By– Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt
Tenor Saxophone– Larry Williams
Trumpet, Flugelhorn– Jerry Hey
Vocals, Backing Vocals – Ben Watt, Tracey Thorn
Producer – Tommy Lipuma

Friday, 20 November 2020

Jorja Smith ‎– Lost & Found (2018)

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: FAMM, Because Music

Tracklist:
01.   Lost & Found
02.   Teenage Fantasy
03.   Where Did I Go?
04.   February 3rd
05.   On Your Own
06.   The One
07.   Wandering Romance
08.   Blue Lights
09.   Lifeboats (Freestyle)
10.   Goodbyes
11.   Tomorrow
12.   Don't Watch Me Cry

“Why do we fall down with innocence?” Jorja Smith wonders on the opening title track of Lost & Found. The 20-year-old English singer’s deeply personal debut is full of impressionistic questions like this, yet she never demands easy answers. Her approach to seeking self-knowledge is compassionate and patient, demonstrative of a keen intellect and rich with precocious wisdom.

“I need to grow and find myself before I let somebody love me/Because at the moment I don’t know me,” she admits on “Teenage Fantasy.” On “February 3rd,” she reflects, “I’m constantly finding myself.” But she doesn’t seem worried about the final result of that search. Smith makes the restlessness of young adulthood sound elegant.

That self-assurance is what makes her special, and what makes her music sound timeless. “I know what I’m doing,” she told Pitchfork last year, and her music reflects that independence. After emerging in 2016 with the commanding Project 11 EP and finishing fourth on the BBC’s Sound of 2017 list, she employed expert restraint in picking her next moves: two features on Drake’s More Life, a solo placement on Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, a handful of cool collabs, and a few stellar standalone singles. The further she descended into herself, in disarmingly sincere ballads and DIY music videos, the higher her star rose.

Comprising a brisk but dense 12 songs (including four previously released tracks and several others Smith has teased live), Lost & Found is the biggest test to date of Smith’s commitment to making music on her own terms. The result is a bold statement of artistic purpose. There’s nothing resembling “On My Mind,” her infectious 2017 collaboration with Preditah, nor does Smith seem to be taking cues from contemporary pop radio. She’s doing things her way.

While Project 11 often resembled Amy Winehouse’s Frank, Lost & Found forges a more original sound, incorporating adult contemporary, R&B, acoustic folk, jazz, dancehall, and even gospel (on the stunning “Tomorrow”). But it’s most indebted to 1990s trip-hop in the vein of Portishead and Massive Attack. The instrumentals on “Lost & Found,” “Teenage Fantasy,” and standout single “Where Did I Go” rely on the same kind of downtempo, backbeat-laced grooves that so perfectly suited Morcheeba frontwoman Skye Edwards’ silky voice and breathless delivery. But Smith doesn’t whisper—she belts. Lost & Found thrives on emotionally raw minimalism, with her voice as the central instrument. Pure and soulful, it stretches like a rubber band, soaring between virtuosic Winehouse warmth and vertiginous, FKA twigs-style falsetto.

It’s an appropriately mutable centerpiece for an album centered on youthful searching and questioning. “Teenage Fantasy,” written when Smith was 16 and originally released in 2017, has her singing smokily about a good-for-nothing lover, only to unleash the full power of her voice in a poignant chorus so vehement, it feels like she’s delivering it through a megaphone: “We all want a teenage fantasy/Want it when we can’t have it/When we got it we don’t seem to want it.” This is a familiar sentiment, but Smith’s intensity gives it new resonance.

The previously unreleased track “On Your Own” could be a cut from Rihanna’s ANTI, with Smith’s howling vocals moving nimbly through dancehall drums and distortion. “The One” is even better and more surprising, employing morose piano and a Brazilian samba-tinged groove (anchored, like much of the album, by live instrumentation) that simultaneously encourage hip-swaying and wondering about your exes. “I’m not trynna let you in/Even if I found the one,” she warns a suitor. These songs help to build the convincing character of a young woman who is scowling and swaggering, only as vulnerable as she wants to be.

But Smith’s wanderings extend far beyond the personal, and it’s this insight and curiosity that elevate her work. “Blue Lights,” her 2016 debut single, resurfaces here; its heartbreaking and transporting take on police brutality and racial profiling remains a remarkable feat of storytelling. This time, Smith’s questions are posed rhetorically, to illuminate injustice: “What have you done?/There’s no need to run/If you’ve done nothing wrong/Blue lights should just pass you by.” “Lifeboats (Freestyle)” is a spoken-word take on privilege, income disparity, and the failures of the welfare state. “So why are all the richies staying afloat?/See all my brothers drowning even though they’re in the boat/Mothership ain’t helpin’ anyone,” she raps with the swagger of a young Lauryn Hill, indicting her government for its treatment of marginalized citizens and mishandling of the refugee crisis.

It’s not surprising that Smith resents comparisons to other artists, but her link to Hill is clear. Another wildly talented, young, black woman looking for clarity in a world built for everyone but her, Hill used her music to transform her pain into salvation. Just three years younger now than Hill was when The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released, Smith shares her predecessor’s wounded takes on the world’s injustices and compulsion to search for deep truths.

On Miseducation’s luminous title track, Hill sings what could be Smith’s battle cry: “Deep in my heart, the answer, it was in me/And I made up my mind to define my own destiny.” On Lost & Found, Smith is defining her own destiny. In the process, she confirms that she is special and rare, an asker of impossible but necessary questions.
Jackson Howard / Pitchfork

Yusef Lateef With Art Farmer ‎– Autophysiopsychic (1977)

Style: Fusion, Jazz-Funk, Funk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: CTI Records, Epic, Legacy

Tracklist:
A1.   Robot Man
A2.   Look On Your Right Side
A3.   YL (Pronounced Eel)
B4.   Communication
B5.   Sister Mamie

Credits:
Violin – Noel Pointer
Bass – Alex Blake, Gary King
Drums – Jim Madison, Steve Gadd
Flugelhorn – Art Farmer
Guitar – Eric Gale
Percussion – Sue Evans
Piano – Clifford Carter
Backing Vocals – Babi Floyd, Frank Floyd, Milt Grayson, Norberto Jones
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Shanai, Lead Vocals – Yusef Lateef
Arranged By – David Matthews
Producer – Creed Taylor

Autophysiopsychic is probably the single album that many Yusef Lateef fans either love or hate the most. Along with guest soloist Art Farmer on flugelhorn, guitarist Eric Gale, keyboardist Cliff Carter, drummer Jim Madison and bassist Gary King (except for "Sister Mamie," which features Steve Gadd and Alex Blake respectively), "Teefski" romps through five fat slices of original funk that have far more in common with the sounds of Chocolate City than with the bop sounds of 52nd Street. Autophysiopsychic is awash in the soft soul-funk-jazz sound typical of Creed Taylor's (CTI) productions in the 1970s. And even though the backing instrumentation and rhythms are not much more than mainstream R&B and funk shot through with a few oddities, Farmer and Lateef (on tenor and soprano saxes, flute and shanai) lay down solos that bite and swing so momentously that they provide musical merit to this entire project. Each seems to continually prod the other -- Lateef more robust and biting, Farmer more fluid and soft -- up to the next level. Their turns in "Robot Man" and "Look On Your Right Side" are particularly memorable, especially Farmer's closing solo in "Right Side," which seems to blend New Orleans swing with nursery-rhyme sing-song simplicity. Not the most typical album in Lateef's wide-ranging catalog, but certainly the most fun.
Chris Slawecki / AllMusic