Monday, 24 September 2018

Fire! ‎– You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (2009)

Style: Psychedelic Rock, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Rune Grammofon

Tracklist:
1.   If I Took Your Hand...
2.   But Sometimes I Am
3.   Can I Hold You For A Minute?
4.   You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago

Credits:
Producer, Written-By – Fire!
Recorded By, Mixed By – Johan Berthling
Recorded By, Recorded By, Mixed By – Andreas
Drums, Percussion – Andreas Werliin
Double Bass, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Organ – Johan Berthling
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Electronics, Electric Piano – Mats Gustafsson

From the aggrieved, visceral tenor sax wailing which harries the first five minutes of this album, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was another typically idiosyncratic dive into the deep end of out-there improv by Sweden’s Mats Gustafsson. 
After all, the dust has barely settled since the release earlier this year of the power-jazz freak-outs of his other outfit, The Thing, with their album Bag It. But after those initial opening moments, it quickly becomes obvious that unlike the other Gustavsson-led trio, Fire! is an altogether more meditative proposition. 
Gustafsson (saxes, electronics and Fender Rhodes) is joined by Johan Berthling (acoustic and electric basses, guitar, and Hammond organ) and Andreas Werliin (drums and percussion), and whilst Gustafsson’s trademark honk is never far from the surface, it is tempered by settings that are subtle and gently persuasive.  
But Sometimes I Am gradually coalesces around a pulsing Hammond drone, with Werliin delivering one of those sure-footed shuffles which Can’s Jaki Liebezeit used to conjure up. The appearance of vocalist Miriam Wallentin on this track and her Damo Suzuki-like moans and mumbles only strengthens the association with the venerable German avant-rockers. 
The mood on other pieces is just as hypnotic. Can I Hold You for a Minute? positively sizzles with distorted, shimmering keyboards, whose single notes are fuzzed-up to near breaking point. The resulting heat-haze, underpinned by steady bass and rolling drums, provides a mesmeric backdrop for Gustafsson to be anything but careful with his sax. 
There’s no doubting the impressiveness of the outré fireworks which frequently burst across the album. Yet it’s the sense of control and restraint which is perhaps the most striking aspect of Fire!’s methodology. Rather than letting it all hang out, the tension created in keeping things constantly teetering on the cusp makes this a relative white-knuckle ride from start to finish, albeit with more control than The Thing's wild tangents.
Sid Smith  / BBC Reviews

Paul Quinn & The Independent Group ‎– Will I Ever Be Inside Of You (1994)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Marina Records,  Postcard Records

Tracklist:
1.   Will I Ever Be Inside Of You
2.   You Have Been Seen
3.   Lover, That's All Over
4.   Mooreefoc
5.   A Passing Thought
6.   Outré
7.   Misty Blue
8.   Stupid Thing
9.   At The End Of The Night

Credits: Engineer – Kenny Macdonald Mastered By – Duncan Cowall
Producer – Alan Horne, Blair Cowan Performer – Alan Horne, Andy Alston, Blair Cowan, Campbell Owens, James Kirk , Jane Marie O'Brien, Mick Slaven,
Paul Quinn, Skip Reid

Glaswegian ex-Orange Juice" backing vocalist Paul Quinn finally brought his own rich deep tones to the fore on his 1995 debut, Will I Ever be Inside of You, cut alongside a coterie of musicians including fellow Orange Juice-ers Alan Horne and James Kirk. 
Within the framework of the Independent Group, Quinn's so-distinctive voice, which lands somewhere between Bowie, Lloyd Cole" and Scott Walker, spins out in front of what amounts to a series of interesting, but unobtrusive, backing melodies. The opening title track is a dirgy, longing lament loaded with odd electronic bits and pieces, as well as an ethereally brief chorus. "Lover, that's you All Over" meanwhile, is a sparse, guitar twang that vividly repaints some of the alternative post punk's gloomier acoustics. And, while the rest of Will I Ever be Inside of You follows along in the same sort of vein and, while it's also true that Quinn doesn't break any new ground, there are some absolute gems in the set, as "Misty Blue" unravels like some long lost ballad spun through cobwebs, and the closing "At the End of the Night", with its subtly buried rhythm, plays out a somewhat beery, and completely fitting nightcap. 
Often startling, Quinn loads Will I Ever be Inside of You with unexpected dips and twists, keeping the mood fairly somber, but ensuring that anyone taking the chance can't settle in and kick back too easily. Sweet and just slightly sinister, this set can't be ignored -- it's gorgeous fodder for the older doom and gloom set. 
Amy Hanson / AllMusic

Paul Quinn And The Independent Group ‎– The Phantoms & The Archetypes (1992)

Style: Pop, Pop Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Lavel:

Tracklist:
01.   The Phantoms & The Archetypes
02.   Born On The Wrong Side Of Town
03.   What Can You Do To Me Now?
04.   Should've Known By Now
05.   Punk Rock Hotel
06.   Superstar
07.   Call My Name
08.   The Damage Is Done
09.   Darling I Can't Fight
10.   Hangin' On

Credits:
Bass – Campbell Owens
Drums – Tony Soave
Guitar – James Kirk, Robert Hodgens
Keyboards – Blair Cowan
Producer – Edwyn Collins

Monday, 17 September 2018

VA ‎– Spiritual Jazz Vol.8 Japan: Parts I & II (2018)

Style: Modal, Contemporary Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Soul-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Solid Records, Jazzman

Tracklist:
1-1.   Mitsuaki Kanno - Kumo No Ito
1-2.   Tadao Hayashi - My Favorite Things
1-3.   Minoru Muraoka - Positive & Negative
1-4.   Takeo Moriyama - East Plants
1-5.   Koichi Matsukaze - Under Construction
1-6.   Sadao Watanabe & Charlie Mariano - Ragam Sinthubairavi
1-7.   Shungo Sawada - Footprint
1-8.   New Direction For The Arts - Sun In The East
2-1.   Four Units - Scarborough Fair
2-2.   Tohru Aizawa - Sacrament
2-3.   Keitaro Miho - Kikazaru
2-4.   Tee & Company - Spanish Flower
2-5.   Takeo Moriyama - Watarase
2-6.   Kiyoshi Sugimoto - Babylonia Wind
2-7.   Toshiko Akiyoshi - Kisarazu Zinku
2-8.   Yoshio Ikeda - Whispering Weeds

You wait years for a decent Japanese jazz compilation to arrive and several turn up at once. Stacked with enough lengthy modal jams to warrant two double-LP releases, this latest paean to the long-verdant eastern scene arrives hot on the heels of BBE’s recent superlative overview. 
Compiled by collector and DJ Yusuke Ogawa, it’s less rarity-heavy than its BBE sibling and several tracks will already be well-known to Western jazz fans. Minaro Muraoka’s DJ Shadow-approved Positive And Negative is one such crossover; its melding of Japanese shakuhachi flutes with groovy guitars and break-heavy drums a clever cross-pollination of east and west. 
Recognised names such as Sadao Watanabe (who, in partnership with Charlie Mariano, contributes the shimmering indo-jazz jaunt Ragam Sinthubairavi), alongside a number of Western standards such as Tadao Hayashi’s perky, harp-heavy, Coltrane-indebted My Favourite Things, give the compilation a broad appeal. Japanese jazz often seems to thrive over extended lengths and the sublime modal workouts of Mitsuaki Kanno’s Kumo No Ito, Tee & Company’s Spanish Flower and Kiyoshi Sugimoto’s Babylonia Wind use their elongated track times to successfully flesh out ideas and mine some brilliantly hypnotic grooves.
Paul Bowles / Record Collector

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Sly & Robbie Meet Nils Petter Molvær Feat Eivind Aarset And Vladislav Delay ‎– Nordub (2018)

Style: Fusion, Dub
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Okeh

Tracklist:
01.   If I Gave You My Love
02.   How Long
03.   White Scarf In The Mist
04.   Strange Bright Crowd
05.   Norwegian Sword Fish
06.   Was In The Blues
07.   European Express
08.   Dream Drifter
09.   Rock-Stone Noah Bingie
10.   Politically KKKorrrekkkttt
11.   Neil Five (Bonus Track)

Credits:
Bass – Robbie Shakespeare
Drums – Sly Dunbar
Electronics, Percussion – Vladislav Delay
Guitar, Electronics – Eivind Aarset
Sampler, Programmed By, Organ, Strings – Jan Bang
Trumpet – Nils Petter Molvær

Some albums are "good", "great" even, but you don’t return to them that often. Other albums, like Nordub, a new release featuring drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, get right under your skin.  
There’s a moment in the middle of White Scarf which is sheer Nordic bliss, washes of glassy sound, multiplexed muted trumpet (from Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær) with noises that might have come from deep in the dark recesses of a haunted machine – a battered laptop or an ancient analogue mixing desk.  
The Dub genre has prompted some interesting collaborations. We’ve heard the explorations of Bill Laswell (incorporating Sly and Robbie) plus the benign, seductive appropriation of the Gotan Project. King Tubby, one of Dub Reggae’s most innovative artists, was known to have been a big jazz collector, who sought to achieve the freedom of his favourite improvisers in this freewheeling approach to record-making, using the mixing desk as an instrument – see ‘Ghosts in the machine’ (Guardian, 2004).  
Sly and Robbie have been Reggae royalty and first-call sessioneers for donkey’s years – working with everyone from Grace Jones and Ian Dury to Shaggy and Serge Gainsbourg. They are prolific producers and artists, too, and their influence on popular music is hard to overstate.  
The Nordub project brings their backline skills to the front in a new way, in a glorious meeting of empathetic talents. There’s a gentle firmness to the drums and bass that complements Eivind Aarset’s icy guitar soundscapes. Defiant analogue effects (the "ping" of overdriven spring reverb; tape delay that spins on the cusp of feedback) rub up happily against the cleaner digital sounds and echoes we expect from European blue-screen nu-jazz.  
Shakespeare sings on How Long (an original, not the Paul Carrack hit) and Was In The Blues. The two vocal numbers add pleasing warmth to the otherwise instrumental and electric album.  
Nils Petter Molvær leads assuredly without dominating – the rapport between his trumpet and Aarset’s guitar is as thrilling as it was on Khmer and Solid Ether nearly two decades ago. The wonderfully named Finnish co-producer Vladislav Delay (live dub, percussion) fills in the sonic spaces between soloists and celebrated rhythm section. Yet if you let the album wash around your sound system for a while, you realise that this is a kind of music where "Everyone solos and nobody solos", to quote Weather Report’s famous dictum. 
Standout tracks include If I Gave You My Love and European Express but there are no duds. The album is sensitively produced by Jan Bang, and well sequenced, but it sounds just as good on shuffle play. Nordub is that rare thing, an uncompromising crossover album – a contemporary work that already sounds like one for the ages. 
John L Walters / London Jazz News

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Harry Partch ‎– The Harry Partch Collection Volume 4: The Bewitched (1997)

Style: Contemporary, Experimental 
Format: CD
Label: Composers Recordings Inc. (CRI)

01.   The Lost Musicians Mix Magic
02.   Three Undergrads Become Transfigured In A Hong Kong Music Hall
03.   Exercises In Harmony And Counterpoint Are Tried In A Court Of Ancient Ritual
04.   The Romancing Of A Pathological Liar Comes To An Inspired End
05.   A Soul Tormented By Contemporary Music Finds A Humanizing Alchemy
06.   Visions Fill The Eyes Of A Defeated Basketball Team In The Shower Room
07.   Euphoria Descends A Sausalito Stairway
08.   Two Detectives On The Tail Of A Tricky Culprit Turn In Their Badges
09.   A Court In Its Own Contempt Rises To A Motherly Apotheosis
10.   A Lost Political Soul Finds Himself Among The Voteless Women Of Paradise
11.   The Cognoscenti Are Plunged Into A Demonic Descent While At Cocktails

Credits:
Bass Clarinet – Joseph Firrantello
Cello – Peter Farrell
Chorus – The Chorus Of Lost Musicians
Clarinet – Warren Birkett
Composed By, Supervised By, Liner Notes – Harry Partch
Conductor – John Garvey
Ensemble – The University Of Illinois Musical Ensemble
Koto – Carol Zuckerberg
Marimba – Warren Smith
Marimba – Danlee Mitchell
Marimba, Voice, Leader [Chorus] – William Olson
Organ – Herbert Bielawa
Other – Brian Conley
Percussion, Marimba – Thomas Gauger
Percussion – George Andrix
Percussion – Michael Donzella
Piccolo Flute – Charles Delaney
Vocals (The Witch) – Freda Schell
Zither (Harmonic Canon) – Barbara Grammar, Georgi Mayer
Zither (Kithara Left Side) – Jan Bach
Zither (Kithara Right Side) – Sanford Berry
Zither (Surrogate Kithara), Gong – Jack McKenzie

The earliest surviving recording of Harry Partch's "Dance Satire" The Bewitched was made in 1957 from a production of the work given at University of Illinois and originally issued on his own Gate 5 Records. This is one of Partch's longest continuous works of music and perhaps the most successful realization of his ideas about ritual theater, which he hoped in vain to make obsolete the "music drama" of Richard Wagner, to be produced and recorded during Partch's own lifetime. Indeed, The Bewitched has an almost Wagnerian scale, but is wildly different in just about every other way. To what extent can be gauged simply by mentally visualizing one of Partch's characteristic scene settings: "Visions Fill the Eyes of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room." The music, played by an orchestra of 18 Partch instruments, is some of the most elaborate and complex that he ever conceived. However, Partch goes to greater extent to incorporate alien styles and ideas in The Bewitched perhaps more so than in any other work this side of The Dreamer That Remains. 
The Bewitched serves as the fourth and final volume in CRI's Harry Partch Collection. This is not performed by the Gate 5 Ensemble so often credited on Partch's Gate 5 Records, which sometimes consisted of just himself, overdubbed, playing all the instruments. For The Bewitched Partch trained two dozen musicians, dancers, and actors from the University of Illinois to realize his vision. There was never a tighter and more disciplined group of Partch musicians than these, and the album is justifiably a classic. Since CRI's demise in 2002, its Harry Partch Collection, including The Bewitched, has been taken over and greatly improved by New World Records.
Dave Lewis / AllMusic

Sean Khan, Hermeto Pascoal ‎– Palmares Fantasy (2018)

Style: Latin Jazz, Soul-Jazzy
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Far Out Recordings

Tracklist:
1.   Moment of Collapse
2.   Waltz For Hermeto
3.   Palmares Fantasy
4.   Said
5.   Montreux
6.   The Conversation
7.   Tudo Que Você Podia Ser (All That You Could Be)
8.   The Blonde
9.   Your Way Not My Way

Credits:
Mixed By – Daniel Maunick

Palmares Fantasy is the fifth album to be released by British saxophonist Sean Khan under his own name or as the leader of SK Radicals. Like its predecessors, it is a blinder, in touch with the jazz tradition while absorbing influences from beyond it and wearing its political heart on its sleeve. The music is characteristic of Khan's wide-angled aesthetic. To make it, he travelled to Rio de Janeiro to collaborate with fellow outsider, multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, and other luminaries of the Brazilian music scene, and took the album's title from a settlement established by escaped slaves in northeastern Brazil some 400 years ago. Khan's liner note for the title track observes that while most of Palmares's population was made up of ex-slaves, many deserter conquistadors also joined the settlement, making it a rainbow-hued community of rebels. The album is a utopian jazz message for a world in crisis, spiritual jazz informed by samba's revolutionary tradition.  
Despite his talent, Khan remains strictly niche. Partly, this is of his own making. Partly, he is regarded as too subversive by Britain's jazz establishment. Khan is a largely self-taught musician. He was unable to afford his teenage dream of studying at Boston's Berklee School of Music, and was rejected by London's Guildhall School of Music for being "too raw." He became disillusioned with the exclusivity and institutionalisation of the jazz world, but his love for the music remained and he taught himself alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute.  
Pascoal, who Miles Davis once called "the most impressive musician in the world," is another self-taught maverick. The two autodidacts make a dream team here and the rapport between them is brilliantly showcased on the unaccompanied, free-rhythm duet, "The Conversation." Other guests include, from Brazil, Azymuth drummer Ivan Conti, bassist Paulo Russo, nu-bossa vocalist Sabrina Malheiros and Cinematic Orchestra frontswoman Heidi Vogel and, from Britain, guitarist Jim Mullen.  
Palmares Fantasy is an instrumentally focused album, but vocals are an important element of several tracks, notably the opener, "Moment Of Collapse." Khan's meditation on the instability of modern Western civilisation, the piece is gorgeously sung by Vogel over a richly arranged string-section and Alice Coltrane-like harp. Seven of the nine tracks are Khan originals. The other two tunes are Pascoal's lovely "Montreux" and an uplifting soul-jazz take on Milton Nascimento's MPB classic "Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser," sung by Malheiros.  
Palmares Fantasy is the sound of summer—with an edge.
Chris May / All About Jazz

The Durutti Column ‎– Obey The Time (1990) (1998 Reissue)

Style: Avantgarde, Experimental
Format: CD
Label: Factory Once, London Records

01.   Vino Della Casa Bianco
02.   Hotel Of The Lake 1990
03.   Fridays
04.   Home
05.   Art And Freight
06.   Spanish Reggae
07.   Neon
08.   The Warmest Rain
09.   Contra-Indications
10.   Vino Della Casa Rosso
        The Together Mix
11.   The Together Mix
12.   Fridays (Up-Person Mix)
        Trade 2 Singles Club
13.   Kiss Of Def

Credits:
Programmed By, Engineer – Paul Miller
Written-By – Vini Reilly

For all that the previous album was called Vini Reilly, Obey the Time was in fact Durutti's most specifically Reilly-only release yet. Even percussion stalwart Mitchell only appeared on one track this time around, the fine, subtly uplifting punch of "Art and Freight," partially due to where Reilly's head was at this time around. Inspired by the late-'80s acid house revolution in England, with his native Manchester firmly at ground zero, Reilly aimed to combine that with his usual guitar approach to see what would happen. Where in nearly any other hands this would have been a pathetic crossover disaster waiting to happen, the end results are gratifyingly like what his compatriots in New Order did the previous year with Technique, synthesizing up-to-date styles to create something distinctly different. Even a title like "Spanish Reggae," which sounds like something out of world music hell, turns out to be both accurate and not a nightmare, with light flamenco snippets and other electric guitar work from Reilly fed through heavy dub echo over a slow, just menacing enough modern dancehall rhythm. While most of the percussion patterns Reilly creates aren't specifically acid in sound, reflecting more hard-slamming electro and synth-funk from earlier years, there's enough of the cusp-of-the-'90s about everything to show he wasn't dating himself. Keyboard stabs, as on "Fridays," clearly show techno's favoring of stuttering, choppy melodies, while Reilly's own knack for what suits a song best means sometimes it's more gentle acoustica and other times full-on electric shimmer and drive. "Hotel of the Lake, 1990" demonstrates his skills well, with a steady beat and clean, funky guitar and bass work accompanied by whooshing, minimal synth loops and, reappearing throughout the song, a classically Durutti five-note guitar melody with deep echo. Other numbers like the gently dramatic "The Warmest Rain" make Obey the Time another fine Durutti release. The 1998 reissue includes a 1990 dance mix by Together and, in an interesting discographical switcheroo, a moody jungle remix of "My Last Kiss" from 1998's Time Was...Gigantic album called, in a knowing nod to New Order's "The Perfect Kiss," "Kiss of Def."
Ned Raggett / AllMusic

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Anika ‎– Anika (2010)

Style:Dub, Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Stones Throw Records, Invada Records

Tracklist:
1.   Terry
2.   Yang Yang
3.   End Of The World
4.   Masters Of War
5.   Officer Officer
6.   Sadness Hides The Sun
7.   No One's There
8.   I Go To Sleep
9.   Masters Of War (Dub)

Credits:
Bass – Billy Fuller
Drums – Geoff Barrow
Guitar – Matt Williams
Synthesizer – Matt Williams
Vocals – Billy Fuller, Geoff Barrow, Matt Williams
Lead Vocals – Anika
Producer – Beak>
Recorded By – Stuart Matthews

It isn’t often that an album’s press release can be said to hit the nail on the head, but the description here of Anika’s self-titled release as ‘uneasy easy listening’ is spot on. 
Anika is the protégé of a certain Geoff Barrow, realised through the medium of his recent experimental project BEAK>. She found herself unexpectedly involved with the trio through a meeting in her day job guise as a music promoter, the four realising they had a lot in common where musical likes and dislikes were concerned. The rest, they say, is history, with the resultant record completed in just 12 days of spontaneity. 
It is immediately a disconcerting listen, though is strangely easy to relegate from the foreground to the background musically, if not lyrically. The lyrics that bring it right through to the front are observations such as those made in Masters Of War, where Anika proclaims, “I see through your eyes and I see through your brain, like I see through the water that runs down my drain”. With a frisson like that, more careful listening is required, less paranoia get the better of the listener. Even worse is Sadness Hides The Sun, which observes how ‘once there was laughter and now there is fear’, its deadpan voice strangely effective and complemented by a macabre, House of Horror organ. 
Influences abound but are similarly hard to pinpoint. A bit of Joy Division here, possibly some Siouxsie and the Banshees there, or even a waft of The Specials, drifting in on the back of some occasionally loose dubby rhythms that never quite assert themselves. The structure of the songs themselves is free, too, from the brief insights of Yang Yang and End Of The World to the sprawling Masters Of War. Attempts to impose riffs on the music are frequent but often doomed to failure, the disembodied voice clasping the attention above its restless accompaniment. 
Moments of discomfort are frequent, meaning that attempts to make the music more ambient are stopped in their tracks, that comfortable sofa suddenly developing a nail or two when you sit down on it. 
Anika, then, has made an intriguing record, but not one that should be listened to by nervy people in isolation. Full of lyrical and musical contradictions, such as the exhortation to ‘join the revolution’ in Yang Yang, it isn’t exactly rabble rousing – but has a strange allure nonetheless.
Ben Hogwood / musicOMH

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Fridge ‎– Happiness (2001)

Style: Abstract, Downtempo, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Temporary Residence Limited, Domino, Text Records

Tracklist:
1.   Melodica And Trombone
2.   Drum Machines And Glockenspiels
3.   Cut Up Piano And Xylophone
4.   Tone Guitar And Drum Noise
5.   Five Four Child Voice
6.   Sample And Clicks
7.   Drums Bass Sonics And Edit
8.   Harmonics
9.   Long Singing

Credits:
Performer – Adem Ilhan, Kieran Hebden, Sam Jeffers
Written-By, Producer – Fridge

And I thought my quest had reached its end. After years of searching through used record bins, bothering knowledgeable friends for recommendations, and picking up parasites from local thrift shops, I had found Happiness. It wasn't exactly in the form I'd expected. I always assumed that when I finally found Happiness, it would be a glowing, golden piece of vinyl with a radius of exactly pi, with chubby cherubs floating around it, singing their sweet songs of joy. Instead, I found Happiness in the form of a CD, packed in a seemingly normal plastic jewel case, with a pretty flower on the cover. 
Thinking that I'd finally reached the final goal of all my years of record shopping, I immediately sold all my records and CDs to the local store, using the remaining money to buy honey and ambrosia to eat while listening to my newfound Happiness. I was so excited, I could barely even bring myself to actually listen to the CD. What mysteries lay within the sanctified aluminum grooves of the magical disc? The sounds of ancient spirits rejoicing at being freed from their earthly selves? A single sound containing an amalgamation of every possible waveform in the universe? Quantum theory proposes that everything in the universe is just a synthesis of waves of probability? Perhaps Happiness would even be the sound of these very waves! 
Finally, standing naked in the middle of my room with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of grapes in the other, I decided to unravel the mystery of Happiness. To my dismay, I discovered that there isn't all that much mystery to be unraveled. On their fourth album, Fridge, an instrumental band out of Putney, England fronted by Kieran Hebden (who also records pastoral IDM as Four Tet) and featuring bassist Adem Ilhan and drummer Sam Jeffers, have recorded a mellow, organic, and very well constructed instrumental album. Part vibraphone-laden, Chicago-style post-rock, part electronic minimalism, and part pure melodic exploration, Happiness occasionally manages to slip into an immensely blissful groove.

"Melodica and Trombone" sets the tone for the largely amorphous sound explorations that make up the nine tracks of Happiness. With an organ providing a solid backing for the song, trombones and melodicas weave interlacing melodies. Unsteady hand percussion only serves to make the song's structure more ambiguous, but this ambiguity adds an element of unpredictability to the track-- an element sorely lacking in some other places on the record. 
Take, for instance, "Drum Machines and Glockenspiels," a 13-minute whopper of a track with a steady drum machine beat and precious few changes in dynamics. Occasionally, some very interesting melodic interplay is achieved between the layers of synthesized beeps, chiming glockenspiels, and subtly plucked guitars that provide the primary melodic focus of the track. As the song progresses, more and more instruments enter the fray-- some more hand percussion, a snare drum, a flute-like instrument, and a more abrasive programmed beat. By the twelve-minute mark, the song has made about two minutes of progress. The melodies themselves just aren't strong enough to support this kind of sustained inaction. 
Thankfully, Happiness soon redeems itself, drifting away from structured songs and towards some beautiful explorations of sound and melody. "Cut Up Piano and Xylophone," one of the album's most blissfully structureless tracks, is also one of its strongest. Rather than simply piling on endless instruments, the song arranges minced samples of the titular instruments into a shifting, quivering soundscape of descending scales that recalls Tortoise's "Ten-Day Interval" or Ghost's "Daggma." The relatively short "Tone Guitar and Drum Noise" further explores the less structured side of Fridge, consisting almost entirely of a simple guitar figure, treble drones, and rhythmic noise. At the song's end comes one of the most stunningly gorgeous moments on Happiness: the pure, crisp ring of gently colliding bells. 
Generally speaking, Happiness is at its best when it focuses on sound rather than song. Fridge seem to work much better with implicit structures than with explicit ones, and when the songs on this record become too formal and arranged, they sink quickly into sonic complacency. Thankfully, there are enough moments of beauty on this record to make up for an occasional lack of forward momentum. By all means, Fridge have constructed a lovely record. But there's a lot more to true Happiness than just being pretty.
Matt LeMay / Pitchfork

Four Tet ‎– Pause (2001)

Style: Downtempo, Experimental, Folktronica
Dormat: CD, Vinyl
Label: Domino

Tracklist:
01.   Glue Of The World
02.   Twenty Three
03.   Harmony One
04.   Parks
05.   Leila Came Round And We Watched A Video
06.   Untangle
07.   Everything Is Alright
08.   No More Mosquitoes
09.   Tangle
10.   You Could Ruin My Day
11.   Hilarious Movie Of The 90s

Credits:
Written-By, Producer – Kieran Hebden

Four Tet’s second album is a voyage of warm, ambient loveliness. It is its author Kieran Hebden’s best work to date and confirms the prolific young soundmeister as a major talent.

Still in his mid-20s, southwest London-bred Hebden is already a veteran of three albums with his other group, Fridge, and countless singles under various monikers – as well as a guitarist in Badly Drawn Boy’s touring troupe. His debut album as Four Tet was entitled ‘Dialogue’ and demonstrated that music is a fluent language for Hebden that encompasses electronica, jazz and rock.

‘Pause’, however, uses a new syntax. It has a folky feel but still feels futuristic and otherworldly. It starts with the sound of a keyboard tapping, but ‘Glue Of The World’ soon transports us to ‘Pause”s natural terrain: a pastoral plain of scrambled acoustic guitars, zithers, rattling percussion, spectral electronics and perfectly chopped rhythm. And on ‘Harmony One’ he delivers no more than rustling, but it’s the most harmonious of rustling.

‘Pause’ would, [I]NME [/I]can only imagine, be perfect to perform martial arts to. It has that inner poise, depth and controlled power, as well as soundtracking an – ahem – gentle spirituality. Like Boards Of Canada, it is modern music for summer in the great outdoors, away from the urban sprawl. While doing Karate. At home, on your sofa, in the city
Ted Kessler / New Musical Express

Monday, 10 September 2018

Transglobal Underground ‎– Dream Of 100 Nations (1992)

Style: Tribal, Techno, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Nation Records

Tracklist:
01.   Temple Head
02.   Shimmer
03.   Slowfinger
04.   I, Voyager
05.   La Voix Du Sang
06.   El Hedudd
07.   This Is The Army Of Forgotten Souls
08.   Sirius B
09.   Earth Tribe
10.   Zombie'ites
11.   Tutto Grande Discordia
12.   Hymn To Us

Credits:
R. Harris - Composer
Alex Kasiek - Composer
Hamilton Lee - Composer
Timothy Whelan - Composer
Natacha Atlas - Vocals
Goldfinger Man-tharoo - Tabla, Drums

In the aftermath of Transglobal Underground's pioneering blend of electronic dance music and worldbeat, seemingly hundreds of imitators have bled this fusion dry. This doesn't take away from the brilliance of their debut, Dream of 100 Nations, a sometimes dizzying and often exciting melding of hot-footed dance beats, trippy dub, block-rocking hip-hop, and, most importantly, an intelligent and nuanced integration of this Western pop with various Asian and African musical forms. The exotic instrumentation is incorporated carefully into the beats; as often as not, the tablas, ouds, and other unique instruments are used strictly as rhythm, mixed into tracks like the head-spinning "Shimmer" no more obtrusively than a set of electronic drums or a clavinet. The focus throughout is on Natacha Atlas' muscular vocals; Atlas has one of the most powerful voices in '90s dance rock, making Dream of 100 Nations a compelling listen even without the worldbeat influences.
Stewart Mason / AllMusic

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Os Tubarões ‎– Porton D'Nós Ilha (1994)

Style: Folk, World
Format: CD
Label: Sonovox, Lusafrica

Tracklist:
01.   Djan Djan
02.   Cena D'Ciumes
03.   Serenata
04.   Criola
05.   Mula Mansa
06.   Mãe Querida
07.   Ca Fila
08.   Tunuca
09.   Porton D'Nós Ilha
10.   Missão D'Serviço
11.   Mi Ma Mi

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lobo


Os Tubarões ‎– Tema Para Dois (1983)

Style: Folk, World
Format: Vinyl
Label: Os Tubarões

Tracklist:
A1.   Ta Cundum Cundum
A2.   Note Tropical
A3.   Separaçon
A4.   Tema Para Dois
B1.   Somada
B2.   Cansera Sem Midida
B3.   Mister Di Cretcheu
B4.   Bardolega

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lobo

Os Tubarões ‎– Tabanca (1980)

Style: Folk, World
Format: CDVinyl
Label: Os Tubarões, Sons D'África

Tracklist:
A1.   Tabanca
A2.   Mar Piscina Di Nhas Lágrimas
A3.   Rasposta
A4.   Nha Terra Aonte E Aoje
A5.   Guintche Bô Ca É
B1.   Distino Di Criola
B2.   Largan Largan
B3.   Manú
B4.   Tabanca D'Tchada Grande
B5.   Neto

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lobo

Os Tubarões ‎– Djosinho Cabral (1979)

Style: Folk, World
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Os Tubarões

Tracklist:
01.   Djosinho Cabral
02.   Nho Santiago
03.   Holanda Ê D'Holandês
04.   Biografia Dum Criolo
05.   Oitenta Melodioso
06.   Zebra
07.   Xema
08.   Tanha
09.   Nôs Raça
10.   Avizinha De Rapina
11.   Ask Xanana

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lob

Os Tubarões ‎– Tchon Di Morgado (1976)

Styel: Folk, World
Format: Vinyl
Label: Os Tubarões

Tracklist:
A1.   Cascabudjo
A2.   Pensamento
A3.   Nhu
A4.   Cinco Di Julho
A5.   Patrice Lumumba
B1.   Forti Trabadja P' Alguém
B2.   Tchon Di Morgado
B3.   Avenida Marginal
B4.   Sombras Di Distino
B5.   Disispero

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lob


Os Tubarões ‎– Pépé Lopi (1976)

Styel: Folk, World
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Os Tubarões

Tracklist:
A1.   Labanta Braco
A2.   Vent D'sueste
A3.   Lutchinha
A4.   Cabral Ca Mori
A5.   Alto Cutelo
B1.   Pépé Lopi
B2.   Panhal Na Toc
B3.   Stranger Ê Um Ilusao
B4.   Saragaca
B5.   Strela Negra

Credits:
Bass – Mário Bettencourt
Drums – Zé Rui Brazão
Organ, Piano – José Arlindo D. Couto
Viola, Saxophone, Clarinet  – Jaime A. Do Rosário
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Ildo Lobo

Muzsikás / Sebestyén Márta / Alexander Balanescu ‎– Bartók Album (1998)

Style: Folk, Népzene
Format: CD, Cass.
Label: Hannibal Records

Tracklist
01.   Dunántúli Friss Csárdások (Transdanubian Fast Csárdás)
        Themes From Violin Duo No. 32
02.   Jocul Barbatesc
03.   Bartók Béla: 32. Duó "Máramarosi Tánc"
04.   Máramarosi Táncok (Máramaros Dances)
05.   Porondos Víz Martján (On The Riverbank)
06.   Kanásztáncok Két Hegedűn (Swineherds' Dance)
07.   Dunántúli Ugrósok (Transdanubian "Ugrós")
08.   Pásztornóták Hosszúfurulyán (Shepard's Flute Song)
        Themes From Violin Duo No. 28
09.   Forgácskúti Legényes (Forgácskúti Lad's Dance)
10.   Pejparipám Rézpatkója (My Horse's Shoes)
11.   Bartók Béla: 28. Duó "Bánkódás"
12.   Bonchidai Lassú Magyar (Slow Lad's Dance From Bonchida)
13.   Magyarbecei Öreges Csárdások (Magyarbece Csárdás)
14.   Pe Loc
15.   Botos Tánc (Bota Dance)
        Themes From Violin Duo No. 44
16.   Torontáli Táncok (Torontáli Dances)
17.   Ardeleana
18.   Bartók Béla: 44. Hegeduduó Erdélyi Tánc
19.   Füzesi Ritka Magyar (Lad's Dance From Füzes)
20.   A Temető Kapu (Churchyard Gate)
21.   Mérai Lassú Csárdás És Szapora (Dances Of Kalotaszeg)
22.   Elindultam A Hazámból (I Left My Homeland)

Credits:
Bass – Hamar Dániel
Sounds (Natural) – Ország Mihály, Vida Antal
Viola – Éri Péter
Violin – Alexander Balanescu, Porteleki László, Sipos Mihály, Éri Péter
Voice – Márta Sebestyén

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Grupo De Cantares De Manhouce ‎– Vozes Da Terra (1990)

Style: Folk, World Music
Format: Vinyl
Label: EMI-Valentim De Carvalho, Música Lda.

Tracklist:
A1.   Senhor Lexandre
A2.   Espadelada
A3.   Ó Menina Aurora
A4.   Vai-te Embora António
A5.   Rabela De Vilarinho
A6.   Reis De Manhouce
B1.   Patocina Nogueira
B2.   Ó Robeira, Ó Ribeira
B3.   Ó Laranja, Olá Laranja
B4.   Eu Venho De Lá De Riba
B5.   Senhora Da Saúde
B6.   Vira Flor

Credits:
Producer – Mário Martins

Qualquer um de nós pode, em qualquer dia da semana, entrar numa boa discoteca (uma que ainda não se tenha convertido à situação exclusiva de intermediário entre os armazenistas ingleses e os estabelecimentos nocturnos hoje conhecidos pelo mesmo nome) e apoderar-se das obras completas de Carlos Paredes e José Afonso, da Amália dos anos 50 e 60, de um ou outro disco de Carlos do Carmo, de uma boa compilação de fado (uma que combinasse as correntes «vadia» e «aristocrata», incluindo Marceneiro, Carlos Ramos, João Braga e João Ferreira Rosa, entre outros, seria, em dúvida, a mais indicada), dos primeiros álbuns de Vitorino e Janita Salomé, de uma ou outra banda sonora contemplando as incursões de José Mário Branco pela música transmontana, dos dois primeiros LP do Grupo de Cantares de Manhouce, do essencial disco único dos Ó Que Som Tem, da estreia dos Almanaque, de passagens esporádicas da discografia da Brigada Victor Jara e da obra do GAC. Quem o fizer, levará para casa o melhor lote (parcialmente) disponível no mercado dessa variante de música portuguesa, no interior da qual conceitos como «qualidade» e «autenticidade» se dão desesperadamente as mãos até nos fazerem sentir num apelo surdo à nossa cumplicidade que há um património entregue a unia luta renhida contra o fantasma da extinção. Que em toda a produção posterior ao reinado da denominada MPP apenas tenhamos sentido o frémito dessa corrente telúrica no subsolo das obras de nomes como António Variações, Ocaso Épico, Heróis do Mar (primeiro álbum), António Emiliano e, pontualmente, Sétima Legião, confirma-nos que alguma razão assiste àquele quase imperceptível impulso de sobrevivência vindo do interior ou das margens daquela realidade (consoante o gesto parte de um «genuíno» ou de um «voyeur» da cidade). E depois, é claro, há o paradigma cujo desaparecimento do mercado converteu em utopia: a colecção completa de recolhas de música tradicional de Michel Giacometti. A música genuína em trânsito do produtor para o consumidor sem a razão nem o comércio de permeio. Demasiado tem-po estacionada em arquivos estatais e particulares, na reentrada em circulação desse património inestimável poderiam (diferente de «deveriam», note-se) repousar as esperanças da redescoberta de uma essência (e, em última análise, da identidade) nacional de que vos falei há algumas semanas e a consequente revitalização dos centros nervosos da música portuguesa, cuja caminhada para o futuro terá de passar mais por aí que por Manchester ou Nova Iorque (digo-o sem qualquer acesso de patriotismo e sem  pretender xenofobicamente fechar outras portas nos dias da aldeia global). É verdade que quem gosta mesmo de música deseja discos óptimos independentemente da sua origem no espaço e no tempo; mas, se existe uma forma de música (no seio da qual se albergam inúmeros subtipos) que levou oito séculos a fazer-se a si própria, por que razão ela se há-de extinguir agora que falta tão pouco para a transposição da mítica fasquia do ano 2000? Conceda-se toda a atenção a discos como Terreiro Das Bruxas dos Vai De Roda (do qual João Lisboa já aqui se ocupou) e Vozes Da Terra do Grupo de Cantares de Manhouce. E, sobretudo, não os poupemos a críticas (se for caso disso) porque trocar a subvalorização pela sobrevalorização deixar-nos-á no mesmo ponto do mapa. Vozes Da Terra, por exemplo, é um disco no qual coexistem elementos do mais puro fascínio e factores relacionados com a direcção musical que tomam a sua abordagem pouco convidativa. Se Cantares Da Beira e Aboio — os dois primeiros álbuns — revelaram dureza e pureza quanto baste para repor, ainda que temporariamente, na ordem do dia realidades semiocultas como aquelas a que atrás faço alusão, e se Cânticos Populares Religiosos definiu um certo tipo de ambientes inequívoco que, por exemplo, levou Miguel Esteves Cardoso a escrever na ocasião uni texto interessantíssimo sobre a noite portuguesa (não a que começa no Kremlim e termina no Alcântara-Mar, mas a que nos entra pela janela do comboio quando viajamos de madrugada), Vozes Da Terra perde-se um pouco na tentativa de conciliação entre duas componentes que, embora ancoradas na mesma origem popular, resultam aos nossos ouvidos como forças antagónicas. Assim, enquanto as vozes (femininas e masculinas, mas sobretudo aquelas) actuam por meio da sua extrema beleza e de um vigor indomesticado directamente sobre os nossos centros emocionais, a concepção dos arranjos parece nortear-se por um sentido civilizador que empurra a secção instrumental para uma toada morna de tuna académica em cuja superficialidade esbarra o «apelo da terra» que, no quadro actual da música portuguesa, não nos importaríamos nem um pouco de sentir. Por tudo o que atrás escrevi, terá o seu quê de contraproducente dizer que os melhores momentos do quarto álbum do Grupo de Cantares de Manhouce são aqueles em que O Mistério Das Vozes Búlgaras e Pogues à portuguesa são as imagens que de imediato nos ocorrem. Mas, bem vistas as coisas, talvez seja essa a maneira mais eficaz de definir os caminhos que o disco poderia ter seguido. (LP EMI/Valentim de Carvalho 1990) 
Ricardo Saló / Expresso