Thursday, 17 January 2019

Emanative ‎– Earth (2018)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Jazzman

01.   Dawn Child (Sunrise)
02.   Heaven's Mirror
03.   Ìyáàmi
04.   Spice Route Suite
05.   Sandhyavandanam
06.   Egosystem (Solar Noon)
07.   Reflection
08.   New Day
09.   Heaven's Mirror (Reprise)
10.   Minute's To Midnight For This Planet
11.   Raga Requiem (Dusk)

Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Tamar Osborn
Bass – Suman Joshi
Bass Clarinet, Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Ben Hadwen
Drums – Malcom Catto
Electric Piano, Synth, Sampler – Geoff Woolley
Percussion – Chris Menist, Phillip Harper, Vince Vella
Percussion, Tabla – Sarathy Korwar
Piano, Organ – Jessica Lauren
Sarod, Rabab – William Rees
Synth – Benjamin Page
Trombone – Tony "Trombony" Hayden
Vocals – Emmanuel Mario
Written-By, Performer, Mixed By, Arranged By, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Balafon – Nick Woodmansey

Every so often an album comes along that is so sweeping in its cultural scope, and so far beyond the norms of critical discourse, that it almost beggars description. Such a disc is Earth, the fourth physical-release album from drummer and producer Nick Woodmansey's Emanative and the follow-up to the band's outstanding The Light Years Of The Darkness (Brownswood, 2015).  
Unlike the earlier album, whose source material comprised tunes written by Sun Ra, Joe Henderson, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry and Arthur Blythe, all the pieces on Earth are originals written by Woodmansey and the band. In this, and every other sense, the album is an extension of its predecessor. It embraces spiritual jazz, soul jazz, cosmic jazz, Indo jazz, Yoruba ritual music and Maghrebi and Middle Eastern trance musics, and gives tips of the hat to electronica and Jon Hassell's Fourth World template. That combination in itself is enough to tickle outward-facing pleasure receptors. But—and herein lies the real genius—the music is more than the sum of its diverse and toothsome parts. The album is not the touristic pot-pourri of styles and traditions it could easily have been and the tracks can be considered as chapters of a cohesive and focused suite rather than separate entities.  
With a total of 21 musicians in the collective ensemble, this is Emanative's largest line-up to date. The core octet is augmented by seven additional musicians and there are a further half-dozen guests. The Pyramids's Idris Ackamoor, who guested on the 2015 album, playing Pharoah Sanders's "Hum Allah Hum Allah Hum Allah," returns, together with the band's David Molina. Other guests include British saxophonist Nat Birchall and onetime Egypt 80 keyboard player Dele Sosimi , in whose London-based Afrobeat Orchestra Emanative's baritone saxophonist Tamar Osborn is a longstanding star. Part of the album's success derives from Woodmansey eschewing the temptation to throw the kitchen sink at the music—each track features a different subset of the musicians to hand.  
All 78 minutes of Earth are so uniformly engaging that it is impossible to pick out particular tracks as highlights. But to give you a taste... "Ìyáàmi" features Dele Sosimi as lead singer, making obeisance to the titular Mother Goddesses of the Yoruba spirit world. After a scene-setting balafon intro from Woodmansey, Sosimi's raw and intense invocations, sung in Yoruba, carry the track for another nine mesmerising minutes. Otherwordly is not the half of it. "Spice Route Suite" is more reflective but equally entrancing, with Nat Birchall casting his impeccable spiritual-jazz spell over serpentine Persian-esque accompaniment. Each and every track is a delight.  
The sleeve art on the front and rear of Earth's liner booklet chimes with the ethnic and cultural comingling suggested by the gatefold sleeve of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (CBS, 1969). Intentional or not, the reference to Davis's epic masterpiece is wholly appropriate.
Chris May / All About Jazz

Matthew Dear ‎– Asa Breed (2007)

Style: House, Techno, Downtempo, Experimental, Minimal
Format: CD
Label: Ghostly International

01.   Fleece On Brain
02.   Neighborhoods
03.   Deserter
04.   Shy
05.   Elementary Lover
06.   Don And Sherri
07.   Will Gravity Win Tonight?
08.   Pom Pom
09.   Death To Feelers
10.   Give Me More
11.   Midnight Lovers
12.   Good To Be Alive
13.   Vine To Vine

Between the animalistic funk of 2003 single "Dog Days"-- a dance track that cheerfully nuzzled its way into a SXSW/CMJ mindset-- and 2004's Backstroke LP, there was a lot of talk of Matthew Dear's shapeshifting abilities. He'd already proven, both under his own name (recording for Ghostly and its Spectral sublabel) and as False (for Richie Hawtin's Plus 8 and Minus labels) and Jabberjaw (for Perlon), that he could stretch and twist his Slinky-like tracks to traverse any hairpin of techno's staircase. Now, word was, Dear was turning towards even greater accessibility with a record that would bring a new sense of songform to his gritty, agreeable beat structures. 
But while six of Backstroke's eight tracks featured vocals (as did "Dog Days") and fell into the occasional verse/chorus structure, the record failed to deliver Dear a wider audience. His voice, even with its odd pitch, put its shoulder to the wheel in the service of pop, but the tires were worn from burning rubber behind a disco stoplight; its tracks felt like retreads-- cracked, wobbly, a little thin. I still enjoy the record, but compared to the staggeringly confident tracks Dear released as Audion in just the last year -- "Mouth to Mouth", "I Gave You Away", remixes for Claude VonStroke, Hot Chip, and Black Strobe, anthems all-- it's difficult to hear Backstroke as the work of the same individual. 
With his new album, Asa Breed, Dear finally makes good on his long-awaited metamorphosis. It's not that the record is a straightforward pop romp: It's still anchored in Dear's lumbering beats, its rhythms cobbled together from misfiring drum machines and colored with barely-in-tune keyboards and yellowing room tone. Still, Dear pulls together his widest array of elements yet, not just in terms of instrumentation-- electric and acoustic guitars, live drums, and haphazard percussion all play strong roles-- but also style: Hints of new wave, indie rock, Afropop, and even country enliven Asa Breed. Dear's mercurial approach to genre, however, feels less like dabbling than a kind of shambling dandyism, trying on mismatched styles with a sidelong wink in the mirror.

The most immediate change is that Dear's voice now sits front-and-center in every track. Actually, make that front-and-center and side-to-side: Virtually every song features two- or three-part, multitracked vocals, encompassing his natural baritone, a more idiosyncratic midrange, and finally a warbly falsetto, generally digitally smeared as a sort of pitch-correction. It's not the greatest voice in the world, but he uses it well, sliding into the notes, lingering on his vowels, and greasing the mechanistic clutter of his backing tracks. It's a suggestive and evocative voice, though exactly what's being suggested is often left ambiguous. On the downcast "Deserter" it's impossible to miss the influence of Joy Division's Ian Curtis; on the ruminative "Fleece on Brain", his backing Ooh-oohs sound like a scrap of 1960s pop that's wafted in on some errant, psychedelic gust. Sometimes, the vocals themselves mutate into something approaching pure musicality, more sensibility than sense: On "Will Gravity Win Tonight?" it might take you dozens of listens to realize that the background babble is really the mantra-like repetition, "More work to be done."
Philip Sherburne / Pitchfork