Monday, 31 August 2020

Jon Hassell ‎– Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Volume Two) (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Ndeya

1.   Fearless
2.   Moons of Titan
3.   Unknown Wish
4.   Delicado
5.   Reykjavik
6.   Cool Down Coda
7.   Lunar
8.   Timeless

Electronics – Michel Redolfi
Bass – Peter Freeman
Bass, Percussion – Sam Minaie
Guitar, Electronics – Rick Cox
Electric Guitar, Sampler – Eivind Aarset
Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Electronics – John von Seggern
African, Drums, Orchestrated By – Adam Rudolph
Electric Violin, Orchestrated By – Hugh Marsh
Violin, Sampler – Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche
Keyboards, Trumpet, Producer – Jon Hassell

By the time even the most radical musicians reach their ninth decade, few are any longer making cutting-edge work. But trumpeter, electronicist and composer Jon Hassell, a collaborator with Terry Riley and La Monte Young in the 1960s and the creator of Fourth World music in the 1970s, remains as venturesome as ever. 
Much of Seeing Through Sound: Pentimento Volume Two was recorded during the sessions for Hassell's lustrous Listening To Pictures: Pentimento Volume One (Ndeya, 2018). The new album is a development of the earlier release, with the ambiance at times roughed up and distressed. The two discs sit comfortably side by side like yin and yang. Both are on a level with earlier Hassell landmarks such as Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (Editions EG, 1980), Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two (Editions EG, 1981) and Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street (ECM, 2009). 
Unless you are an art scholar, the chances are that "pentimento" is an unfamiliar word. It means the reappearance in a painting, through the scraping off a layer of paint or through x-ray investigation, of earlier images or brush strokes that were changed or painted over by the artist. Hassell uses the term to apply to audio, visual and temporal dimensions, to describe the making of music in pictures and pictures in music, the old becoming the new and the new acquiring a patina of age. Shape-shifting, time-travel and transformatism are what Hassell has always done, but on the two Pentimento albums advances in technology have enabled greater nuance and sophistication 
Hassell says that the realisation he was engaged in pentimento had come to him while recording Listening To Pictures. "I was doing a lot of manipulation of sounds," says Hassell. "When I'm in the studio and using 24 tracks, and using the software that's available these days, there is this gigantic library of sounds. That's really where the idea of pentimento caught fire in my imagination. I thought, what else is 24-track recording except pentimento? Layers are scratched off and other layers show through—or you can have a temporal pentimento à la Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole, like when Natalie sang a virtual duet with her late father on 'Unforgettable.'" 
Welcome to the multi-dimensional universe of Jon Hassell, where a picture sounds like music and music looks like a picture. Take one step beyond and bask in the beauty.
Chris May / All About Jazz

Friday, 28 August 2020

Moodymann ‎– Taken Away (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Funk / Soul
Format: FLAC
Label: KDJ

01.   Do Wrong
02.   Taken Away
03.   Let Me In
04.   Goodbye Everybody
05.   Slow Down
06.   I'm Already Hi
07.   Just Stay A While
08.   Let Me Show You Love
09.   I Need Another ____
10.   Do Wrong (Skate Edit)

Beats – Seiji
Keyboards – Mike Patto
Drum Programming – Toni Economides
Additional Keyboards – Seiji, Amp Fiddler
Additional Vocals – Guevara
Vocals – Jamie Principle, Chico DeBarge, Diviniti, Moodymann, Sky Covington

If you’re black in the U.S., anything from shopping for prom clothes to being a firefighter to minding your own business in your own home can prompt people to call the cops on you. When people call in the police, the force might drag you half-naked into the street; they might pull out your tampon during a cavity search in the middle of that street; they might well kill you. In 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Getting killed by police [was] a leading cause of death for young black men in America.” 
This shouldn’t happen to anybody; it shouldn’t happen to one of the most gifted musicians to come out of Detroit. But because this is America, it happened to Kenny Dixon, Jr., better known as deep-house hero Moodymann, whose career spans 25-plus years and an influence that can’t be overstated. Dixon was sitting in a van outside his own building in Detroit when someone reported “suspicious behavior” and the cops rolled up with their chaos. He made it out alive. Echoes of the conflict are all over his new album. 
Taken Away dispenses immersion therapy like last year’s woozy beaut, Sinner, and stinks of George Clinton like 2014’s self-titled long-player. But there’s often an ache where the fun used to be. There’s funk, in both senses of the world. “Goodbye Everybody” summons Lowell Fulson’s “Prison Bound,” swapping the original’s bluesy stomp for a roiling swamp of what sound like detuned bells and percussion that hisses like tasers. It’s closer in spirit to Erykah Badu than, say, boompty house. The crisp breaks and comfy swing of “Let Me In” could be legit Badu, or even Mary J., but Moodymann counters the grace of the (uncredited) female voices with spite: “You’ve never been a good soul to anyone/Especially me.”

Some tracks are plush. “Let Me Show You Love” is maybe the most flat-out gorgeous thing he’s made to date, a velveteen expanse of sparkling melodies and little sequin-bright effects and blissed-out whispers. The purple chords and compressed tumble of “I Need Another ____” are horny as hell, but the “relief” that Dixon and his female companions call out for sounds as material and existential as it is sexual. “Just Stay a While” lights up the room with a fiber-optic bassline and irresistible beat; a quiet-storm interlude blows through every now and then, increasing the humidity without relieving it. If the vocals were glamorous, the song could be Luomo. Instead the sentiment is: “My back’s against the wall.” And not because nobody’s dancing. “Slow Down” does just that, buoyed by overlapping vocal vamps and a warm piano riff, and it’s just the sound of summer, complete with kids enjoying themselves. Until sirens interrupt. 
Most of Taken Away is fascinatingly ambivalent. A couple tracks lose their balance altogether. “I’m Already Hi” is a person-to-person skit backed up with some light jazz and scatting. It’s fine if what you want from one of the greatest house producers alive is a skit; if not, well, it’s over soon. Less funny are the album’s opener and closer, two versions of “Do Wrong” built on Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” but without much of either. Mixed deep in a midtempo shuffle of organ and tambourine and preacher calls, Moodymann sourly brings receipts to a no-good ex. “You’ve got me back in church,” he sneers, in a way that sounds more like he’d been punished than redeemed. Green was perhaps the most tender of soul singers; he also, among other cruelties, beat his pregnant wife with a boot when she refused to have sex with him. Moodymann chants, “You better find a way to love me/’Cause if you don’t, somebody else will,” while Green eggs him on with wait-a-minutes and yeahs. The groove might get your head bopping with a bad taste in your mouth, wondering if she’s better off without him. 
Regardless, Moodymann remains a master of repetition as a form of challenge. In his 1996 epic “I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits,” he takes a quick hit of Chic (“What am I gonna do?” from “I Want Your Love”) and copies it over and over in a feat of disco endurance; the expression shifts from ecstasy to paranoid chant to paralysis and back. He’s also an expert at tension and release. His 1999 classic “Shades of Jae” holds back the kick so long that the samples of crowd cheers seem to shimmer in desperation. Title track “Taken Away” uses both strategies—but to ruminate. Moodymann shatters the crystalline grief of Roberta Flack’s “Sunday and Sister Jones” like a brick through a window. In Flack’s telling, a reverend’s wife wails and warns God not to let her husband die, or she will too: “Lord, if you take him away,” she sings, “I don’t want to live another day.” They both pass. “Sister Jones was taken away,” Flack mourns. Moodymann picks up her phrasings and lets each one glint in the cold glint of his groove, closer in tempo and timbre to Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy” than his usual hedonism. The “taken” brings to mind the endless chain of handcuffs, stretchers, coffins; the “away” becomes prison and beyond. Sirens again disrupt focus. When the hi-hat finally opens up about halfway in, it’s less a longed-for exhalation than just a moment to breathe. If you can.
Jesse Dorris / Pitchfork

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Robert Wyatt ‎– Nothing Can Stop Us (1981)

Genre: Jazz, Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Hannibal Records, Virgin, Rough Trade

A1.   Robert Wyatt - Born Again Cretin
A2.   Robert Wyatt - At Last I Am Free
A3.   Robert Wyatt - Caimanera
A4.   Robert Wyatt - Grass
A5.   Robert Wyatt - Stalin Wasn't Stallin'
B1.   Robert Wyatt - Red Flag
B2.   Robert Wyatt - Strange Fruit
B3.   Robert Wyatt - Arauco
B4.   Disharhi - Trade Union
B5.   Peter Blackman - Stalingrad

Shenai – Kadir Durvesh
Tabla – Esmail Shek
Bass – Bill MacCormick
Double Bass – Mogotsi Mothle, Mark Bedders
Keyboards – Frank Roberts
Backing Vocals – Elvis Costello
Drums – Martin Hughes
Organ – Clive Langer
Piano – Steve Nieve
Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett

Nothing Can Stop Us is not actually a proper Robert Wyatt album, it is a collection of singles Wyatt released in the early '80s. All tracks but two are covers, and one of those non-covers consists of a poet reciting his own poem. Under the guise of releasing versions of his favorite songs, Wyatt discretely created an album that doubled as a political manifesto written in other people's words (some of those words in English and others not). Surprisingly, Nothing Can Stop Us may be one of Wyatt's most focused works. 
At this point in his career, the former Soft Machine drummer had long since abandoned the ethereal ideas of his generation and had devoted himself firmly to his own brand of old school Marxism. Caught between the twin forces of Thatcherism and Reagan's "Morning in America", it is easy to see why Wyatt became fiercer in his political views (although the fact that the titles of two of the album's 10 tracks contain positive references to Stalin is a bit disquieting). With the exception of his own "Born Again Cretin", a demented Beach Boys number satirically calling for Nelson Mandela to rot in prison, Wyatt's political beliefs come through more in attitude than in words. Wyatt sings "Caimanera", a.k.a. "Guantanamera", with such a passion that even if someone didn't know about that song's importance as a Cuban anthem, one could tell that Wyatt was singing a song both of pride and rebellion. Wyatt's collaboration with Bengali group Dishari, "Trade Union", also showcases music as the ultimate universal political expression. Dishari may not sing in English, and may play instruments I've only barely heard of, but the band's rallying cry is as explicit as Rage Against the Machine at their bluntest. 
"At Last I Am Free" is perhaps the most ingenious interpretation on the album. Wyatt takes a song from Chic, one of the bands that I would never expect Robert Wyatt to cover, and rework its down-tempo love lyrics into an anthem of ecstatic, well, freedom. It is no mistake that Wyatt sequences this radical re-working immediately following his riffs on Mandela in "Born Again Cretin". "Strange Fruit" plays it more traditional, but Wyatt needs to do little to the classic song to heighten its political message. Wyatt's thin, very English voice cannot possibly contain the terrifying lynching imagery within the song itself, but his inability to express the true horror of the song suggests the impossibility of anyone being able to fully understand the horrors of racism's worst injustices. Wyatt also brings a sinister edge to Ivor Cutler's "Grass", a surreal slice of disturbed English whimsy whose lyrics play like Nick Cave channeling Edward Lear or vice-versa. 
The explicitly political songs Wyatt chooses are, perhaps by design, heavily dated. "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" is a World War II era barbershop ode to Stalin and his Russian forces standing up against Hitler. Its sunny optimism towards Stalin's heroism may sound ironic, but Wyatt simply wants to remind the world of the '80s that America and Russia were once allies (oddly, this message, too, is dated). "Red Flag" is a traditional Worker's Song, Wyatt's tribute to the socialists of the past. The fact that these songs were dated even when they were recorded adds to their appeal. Unlike the recent songs that Wyatt infuses with political meaning, Wyatt practically strips these two songs of their political impact in order to showcase their musical merit regardless of their political viewpoints. 
As the collection ends, with Peter Blackman reading his poem "Stalingrad", praising the Russian soldiers who died in conflict with the Nazi Army, the significance of this album becomes clear. Marxist communism is long dead, and socialism is something of a quaint relic for most of the world. Stalin, it goes without saying, was a murderous tyrant who spread fear and death rather than freedom. Still, as the liner notes mention, Blackman is not just talking about the late U.S.S.R.: "he sees only a continuity of the same struggle, of people everywhere, in Vietnam, in Africa, in the face of Reagan's threatened holocaust". The places have changed, the ideals have changed, but the struggle for freedom and justice will never end. Through other people's words, Wyatt makes a powerful statement with this album: As long as this struggle continues, there will always be music. And as long as there is music, there will always be that fundamental belief: "Nothing can stop us".
Hunter Felt / popMatters

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Robert Wyatt ‎– Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard (1975)

Genre: Jazz, Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Domino, Hannibal Records, Virgin

Side Ruth
A1.   Soup Song
A2.   Sonia
A3.   Team Spirit
A4.   Song For Che
Side Richard
B1.   Muddy Mouse (A)
B2.   Solar Flares
B3.   Muddy Mouse (B)
B4.   5 Black Notes And 1 White Note
B5.   Muddy Mouse (C) / Muddy Mouth

Producer – Nick Mason, Robert Wyatt

There was no way that Wyatt's follow-up to Rock Bottom could be as personal and searching, but this album that came barely a year later instead collects some earlier material to be revamped for this release. "Soup Song," for instance, is a rewrite of "Slow Walkin' Talk," written before the forming of Soft Machine. "Team Spirit," written with Phil Manzanera and Bill MacCormick of Quiet Sun, would turn up the same year as "Frontera" on Manzanera's Diamond Head. While some of the songs tend to plod along, the dirge-like "Five Black Notes and One White Notes," a lethargic cover of Offenbach's "Baccarole," Charlie Haden's "Song for Che," and Fred Frith's piano team-up with Wyatt on "Muddy Mouth" are magical. As usual, the assembled band, including the underrated Gary Windo on sax and Mongezi Feza on trumpet, never dissapoint.
Ted Mills / AllMusic

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Robert Wyatt ‎– The End Of An Ear (1970)

Genre: Jazz, Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: CBS, Columbia, Barclay
A1.   Las Vagas Tango Part 1 (Repeat)
A2.   To Mark Everywhere
A3.   To Saintly Bridget
A4.   To Oz Alien Daevyd And Gilly
A5.   To Nick Everyone
B1.   To Caravan And Brother Jim
B2.   To The Old World (Thank You For The Use Of Your Body, Goodbye)
B3.   To Carla Marsha And Caroline (For Making Everything Beautifuller)
B4.   Las Vegas Tango - Part 1

Alto Saxophone, Saxello – Elton Dean
Bass – Neville Whitehead
Cornet – Marc Charig
Organ – David Sinclair
Percussion– Cyril Ayers
Piano – Mark Ellidge
Written-By – Gil Evans, R. Wyatt
Drums, Piano, Organ, Voice, Producer – Robert Wyatt

In August 1970, Robert Wyatt was still a member of Soft Machine, but he’d soon leave that tempestuous combo of strong personalities and pointed musical differences. The End of an Ear, recorded during time away from the band and now remastered with new liner notes, marks both an impending end and also the beginning of Wyatt as an artist coming into his own. 
This was his first solo album, a series of dedications to colleagues and loved ones, with Wyatt showing off his multi-instrumentalist chops and (wordless) vocal prowess. However, he had yet to develop the characteristics instantly familiar to solo Wyatt fans from 1974’s Rock Bottom onwards: those sidelong takes on pop music; those plaintive, droning keyboards; his emotionally and politically quizzical lyrical style. 
Although To Carla, Marsha and Caroline (For Making Everything Beautifuller) hints at a future, mournfully romantic air, generally Wyatt is still very much in the milieu of free jazz, calling on Soft Machine’s Elton Dean for “alto saxello” and Caravan's David Sinclair for organ contributions. That's especially evident on the garrulous, excitable, intricate exchanges of the nine-minute To Nick Everyone. 
However, this is no initially unpromising "new direction" to be endured, rather than enjoyed. Shorter pieces like To Mark Everywhere and To Saintly Bridget, for all their ambition, exhibit a certain breezy, British quality common to domestic jazz of the era. Despite the prominence of rock, this was still the default incidental music and soundtrack to documentaries, hence the cheerily ramshackle redolence of much of The End of an Ear. Much feels deceptively unpretentious – it's only at the end that you realise you've been free-jazzed to the furthermost shores of the genre. 
Dominant is his two-parted cover of Gil Evans' Las Vegas Tango which tops and tails the album. Here Wyatt, utilising tape effects and multiple tracks over a shuffling backbeat, chatters and emotes non-verbally, in the tradition of the Dadaist Kurt Schwitters, Joyce and the great avant-garde jazz vocal tradition stretching back to Louis Armstrong. 
Most inadvertently poignant, title-wise, is To the Old World (Thank You for the Use of Your Body, Goodbye), given that this was released a three years before the accident which would leave Wyatt wheelchair-bound. After that he considered himself to be a different artist, a different man than before.
David Stubbs / BBC

Monday, 24 August 2020

TV Victor & The World Future Society ‎– Magic Sound Of The Moon - Moondance (1989)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CDVinyl
Label: Big Sex Records, Tresor Records

1.    Rendezvous In Space
2.   Tomorrow
3.   Moon Dance - The Original
4.   They Are Coming
5.   Strange World
6.   Moon Dance II - The Dance
7.   Lunatic Creature
8.   Room To Move
9.   Lost

Written-By – Udo Heitfeld

Thirty years after its original release in West Berlin, Tresor Records is glad to present a re-mastered and re-cut edition of TV Victor’s legendary debut album Moondance. 
TV Victor, one of Tresor’s spearhead artists since the label’s very first hour, is an alias of Udo Heitfeld. In 1989, TV Victor launched his first solo project under the form of Moondance. He then went on to compose legendary ambient and trance productions including Trance Garden 1-3, Trancecology Chapter 1 , Timeless Deccelaration and The Ways Of The Bodies. 
TV Victor collaborated with other artists such as Moritz von Oswald, Thomas Fehlmann, Max Loderbauer, Paul Browse or Tobias Freund, amongst many others. 
From the liner notes: “These songs are an invitation to your consciousness. Moondance is the sound of your aware body. The moon is the place where your body realizes consciousness. Floating and dancing is the way people come together. A dierent kind of gravity, a dierent state of mind and electricity between man and woman makes it alive. Find your own moon.”
Tresor Records / SOUNDLOUD

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Tenderlonious ‎– Quarantena (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: 22a

A1.   1984 (Chapter One)
A2.   Rocco's Raga
A3.   Quarantena
A4.   Falkor's Flight
A5.   Lockdown Boogie
A6.   Covid Blues
B1.   Total Recall
B2.   Moment's Notice
B3.   Birds Of Paradise
B4.   Maskup/Gloveup
B5.   Utopia
B6.   Forty Nights

Written-By, Arranged By, Mixed By – Ed 'Tenderlonious' Cawthorne

The intriguing title of the new album by Tenderlonious (Ed Cawthorne) is Quarantena which means ‘quarantine’ in Italian, but also refers to the period of 40 days and 40 nights that a ship was isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death plague epidemic. This meaning is reinforced by the excellent and unsettling illustration by Theo Ackroyd on the album cover of a mediaeval plague doctor wearing a mask with a bird-like beak that was used at that time as protection against airborne pestilence. This image also evokes the disconcerting and somehow unworldly tone of most of the music contained within. 
Tenderlonious has taken the unsolicited opportunity provided by the COVID-19 pandemic not only to write new songs, but to record and release them as an album. In this endeavour, Tenderlonious has the advantage over most other musicians not only of being a multi-instrumentalist and composer but also of being a producer and record label owner. But what makes this album especially interesting is that it is an explicit response to the crisis we are all enduring which is the more resonant in that we don’t yet have the benefit of hindsight. 
Tenderlonious has an arsenal of studio equipment at his command including a collection of synths and drum machines that are used to great effect on many of the album’s tracks to conjure an eery sci-fi feel. This is most apparent on the opening tracks on either side of the vinyl record: 1984 (Chapter One) and Total Recall. Both are inspired by dystopian fiction and have an aptly chilling ambience, especially the former where bland industrial output statistics are recited as a kind of stupefying background mantra (as they are in George Orwell’s novel). Synths are also the prominent instruments on the title track, Quarantena, and Falkor’s Flight, which is inspired by the children’s fantasy film, The NeverEnding Story. 
The two tracks that close the first side, Lockdown Boogie and Covid Blues, are the jazziest songs on the album. Although they are both danceable, the sampled sound of gathering thunder at the end of Covid Blues dismisses any notion that the current crisis the titles explicitly reference is something to celebrate. 
Tenderlonious has cited Yusef Lateef as a major influence and this is evident in Rocco’s Raga (inspired by Tenderlonious’ recent project Tender in Lahore) where flute and marimba overlay the electronic percussive beat. Flute is also prominent in Birds of Paradise where samples of jungle birdsong accompany a down-tempo beat that could be used to wind down a DJ set. 
For those whose interest in Tenderlonious is primarily oriented towards the dancefloor, the tracks Moments Notice and MaskUP/GloveUP on the second side of the record have elements of house and funk. The album finishes on a positive note with the mostly beatless Utopia and the drum machine based Forty Nights, although any apparent optimism it may suggest is deliberately subverted by the swirling sounds of wind on a desolate plain that bookend the final track and on which the album ends. 
All the instruments on the album, whether electronic or acoustic, are played by Tenderlonious with the exception of the trumpet on Quarantena and Covid Blues which is played by Nick Walters from Tenderlonious’ band, Ruby Rushton. 
The variety of styles, influences, tempi and instrumentation on the album is reminiscent of recent album releases by musicians on or near the margins of jazz such as Djrum, Jeff Parker and Leon Vynehall who share with Tenderlonious a proficiency in a wide range of instruments and musical styles, have much to say, and are happy to use whatever tools are at their disposal to make a statement. 
And at this moment there is probably no other record in jazz that strives so well to capture the surreal dystopian feel of the last few months. If we must live in a time that feels so much like a science fiction film, we surely must also have the music to accompany it.
Graham Spry /  London Jazz News

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Nubya Garcia ‎– Source (2020)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label:  Concord Jazz

1.   Pace
2.   The Message Continues
3.   Source
4.   Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be
5.   Stand With Each Other
6.   Inner Game
7.   La Cumbia Me Está Llamando
8.   Before Us: In Demerara & Caura
9.   Boundless Beings

Double Bass – Daniel Casimir 
Drums – Sam Jones 
Piano, Electric Piano – Joe Armon-Jones
Tenor Saxophone, Arranged By – Nubya Garcia
Produced – Kwes, Nubya Garcia

Over the last five years, Nubya Garcia has become a central figure in London’s contemporary jazz community. The 28-year-old saxophonist has been integral to the development of its sound, and a crucial component and player on many of the great releases, including on 2018’s lauded ‘We Out Here’ compilation, alongside Mercury Prize-nominated drummer Moses Boyd and Ezra Collective. Its reputation as a global powerhouse is now undeniable. 
Though Garcia’s peerless work as a bandleader has often been overshadowed, on her debut solo album, ‘Source’, the singular and uncompromising sound that Garcia has made her own finally comes to life. Her preceding EPs – ‘Nubya’s 5ive’ and ‘When We Are’ – were frantic and playful, but here she adopts a considered and soothing urgency, alongside co-production from the esteemed Kwes [Kano, Solange].

Dub overtones dominate the record, but Garcia leaves equal space for Calypso rhythms, floating two-step, bluesy hard bop, improvisatory jazz and splashes of electronica. Previously, Garcia’s playing could cling to the walls, only stepping into the spotlight with blistering sax when prompted. But on ‘Source’, she boldly uses her fiery use of her instrument underpins the entire album; a cohesive glue amongst the ceiling-threatening jazz. Members of her band – including Sam Jones, Daniel Casimir and Joe Armon-Jones – shine throughout the album, but it’s clear Garcia is shooting for something grander. 
Take the title track, a sprawling 12-minute odyssey which veers from dub to R&B to Calypso back to free-form jazz, ambiguously showing off and representing Garcia’s thriving musical communities in all its guises. KOKOROKO’s Ms Maurice and Ezra Collective’s Richie Seivwright accompany on trumpet and trombone, respectively, while Garcia cedes space for additional sax support from Cassie Kinoshi, Garcia’s band-mate on all-female septet Nérija. The song, much like the album, is a reflection of Garcia wanting to bring together disparate parts of the world to create a jazz album which resonates across cultures, borders and countries. 
‘Source’ is a reflection of Nubya Garcia’s hometown; a mirror spotlighting London’s skilled musicians and a reminder of how thrilling this scene can be. The project’s urgency is baked in calming undertones, forcing listeners to be meditative and to connect, and a sense of rejuvenation, providing a call towards a larger sense of community. While nodding to jazz greats of the past, Garcia has created a sound that, for many years to come, will reverberate as her own.
Dhruva Balram / NME

Friday, 21 August 2020

Doug Carn ‎– Infant Eyes (19781)

Style: Soul-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Snow Dog Records, Black Jazz Records

1.   Welcome
2.   Little B's Porn
3.   Moonchild
4.   Infant Eyes
5.   Passion Dance
6.   Acknowledgement (A Love Supreme)
7.   Peace

Bass – Henry Franklin
Drums – Michael Carvin
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Bob Frazier
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – George Harper
Trombone, Valve Trombone – Al Hall Jr.
Vocals – Jean Carn
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Lyrics By – Doug Carn

The Vinyl: 
An original pressing with the red/orange "Compatible Stereo/Quadrophonic" label, the preferred version over the regular stereo pressings released at the same time, which are prime examples of that thin and flimsy vinyl that dominated in the 1970s. While this pressing doesn't have any sort of thickness to write home about, it does feel much more substantial than other non-quadrophonic Black Jazz LPs I've come across over the years. I scored it for $51, a hefty sum to be sure, but well worth it in the VG+/VG+ condition of a rarity like this, especially when it's a record that's been near the top of my wishlist for some time now.

And if you're lucky enough to come across one of these copies, don't be scared off by the quadrophonic designation: it sounds absolutely fabulous on a stereo system. I don't know much about the quad systems that were pushed upon audiophiles during the 1970s, other than you needed special equipment for playback and it was an early version of what we now know as "4.0 Surround Sound."  I also know that the systems did not work very well and for the most part were considered commercial and technological failures. There are some rock and roll LPs that were produced for the quadrophonic market that contained different mixes than their stereo counterparts, but whether they are superior is up for debate.

As for the Black Jazz label, it was formed in the early 1970s by Gene Russell and Dick Schory, two jazz cats from Oakland, California, who wanted to start a jazz label as a home to a more political and spiritual form of jazz music. According to Wikipedia, the label was distributed by the country & western label Ovation, also started by Schory, and Black Jazz was the first jazz label founded by an African American since Sunshine Records way back in 1921. The label released twenty albums between 1971 and 1975 by a wide variety of African American jazz musicians and singers, with the most sought after albums coming from Doug Carn, Walter Bishop, Jr. and Henry Franklin. The iconic black and white covers were identical on both sides (a design that was used for all the albums released on the label), an idea that Russell though highly enough of that he actually had the design copyrighted. 
After the label closed up shop in 1975 the music slowly faded from public view (not that it could ever have been called a mainstream label by any stretch) until the mid-1980s when the master tapes were purchased and the LPs slowly started making their way onto compact disc. Even today, though, the music can be hard to acquire, accounting for the higher prices associated with many of the vintage vinyl pressings that are out there. 
The Record: 
Infant Eyes takes the listener on one wild ride, with Doug Carn penning lyrics to some modern jazz classics, which his wife Jean then performed masterfully, with the two most well known of these coming in the form of Bobby Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem" and Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes."  There is also a very moving lyrical version of Coltrane's "Acknowledgement," that lives up to the depth of the original version. In addition to the vocal tunes (which also feature some nice soloing by the sextet), the talented group also adds in two instrumental tracks in Carn's original "Moon Dance" and a fiery cover of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," a smart move that keeps the record from being strictly a vocal endeavor that might not keep the listener's attention throughout. 
It's pretty clear where the heads of these jazz musicians was during this time, with the musical choices skewing heavily towards the avant garde and post bop stylings of the previous decade. I often see Infant Eyes cited as a soul jazz masterpiece, but I think of it more as a deeply spiritual album, an exploration of what jazz music could be in the early 1970s, when so many boundaries had been tossed away and the musicians were feeling empowered to follow their own unique visions. And make no mistake, unique is the perfect description of Infant Eyes: there wasn't an album in jazz anything like this before it was released, and except for the three albums Doug and Jean Carn made for Black Jazz in the following few years, there wouldn't be anything quite like it again. In fact, Carn has said that he shopped the album to all the major jazz labels of the day, but none had any interest in putting it out for a mass audience. Apparently he had all but given up hope before Gene Russell showed up at his door asking if he would be interested in releasing it on Black Jazz, and the rest, as they say, is musical history. 
Infant Eyes may be a jazz statement purely of it's place and time, but it has held up remarkably well over the years, and actually may be better understood in today's musical world where disparate musical styles are constantly being mixed and matched together in popular music. While this is not an album for every jazz listener, if you are willing and able to open your ears and mind to new sounds and ideas, your jazz world will be all the more richer for it.
The Jazz Record

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Silk Rhodes ‎– Silk Rhodes (2014)

Genre: Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Stones Throw Records

01.   Intro
02.   Pains
03.   Face 2 Face
04.   Laurie's Machine
05.   Realtime
06.   Barely New
07.   Horizon Line
08.   This Painted World
09.   Group 1987
10.   Hold Me Down
11.   Personal Use
12.   The System

Mixed By – MatthewDavid
Written By, Producer – Silk Rhodes

Having a gap between your front teeth is deemed sexy. Slipping a trip with Silk Rhodes insignia, well, perhaps that’s what nubile college girls might do listening to this album. 
Silk Rhodes, Silk Road. Are the band referencing the dark-web marketplace? Or is the reference to the silkiness of Sasha Desree’s vocals, and the use of Fender Rhodes piano? I’m sensing there’s a bit of risque playfulness going on.   
Silk Rhodes are not pale imitators of Steely Dan, or Sly & the Family Stone, or Al Green or Prince, although its possible their brand of R&B, soul and funk is informed by these, and many other champions of the 1970s soul/R&B scene. With reference to Steely Dan, Silk Rhodes don’t share much in common with West Coast jazz fusion, but where there is similarity is the use of spare instrumentation, crisp production values, clear enunciation, and plenty of space for the notes to air.  
This tasteful discernment is the strength of Michael Collins and singer, Sasha Desree, who since the old days (late 1990s) have, not surprisingly, taken a field recording approach to the creation of music, that is, making spontaneity more important than prefabricated or over-rehearsed music. They are, or at least they were, in a sense more indie-upstart than glossy purveyors of soul/R&B. 
The free-wheeling approach is heard to good effect on their self titled album. Clocking in at about half-an-hour, there’s no room for circuitous themes, or elaborate symphonic flourishes. Instead Silk Rhodes have adopted a minimalist take on soul music, a bit downbeat perhaps, but only in the sense of say, Massive Attack’s approach to Blue Lines, which never felt like a bummer, even if literally speaking, all signposts lead that way.  
Sasha Desree’s spiralling falsetto lays the groundwork for many of the tracks, and the phrasing allows for the musical elements on the album to take foreground, and float around in your consciousness, a sort of out of body experience to which the girl on the front-cover aspires. Classy. 
Rob Taylor / Soundblab

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Philippe Cohen Solal ‎– Paradis Artificiel(s) (2018)

Genre: Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: ¡Ya Basta!

01.   Le Club Des Hachichins
02.   Harmonie Du Soir
03.   Le Parfum
04.   Perfume Exotico
05.   Nimantran
06.   L'Invitation Au Voyage
07.   Shizuka
08.   Bon Voyage
09.   À Celle Qui Est Trop Gaie
10.   Rue Baudelaire

Sitar – Narendra Bataju
Bass – Marc Damblé
Accordion – Daniel Mille
Electric Guitar – Peter von Poehl, Philippe Cohen Solal
Composed By, Arranged By – Philippe Cohen Solal
Programmed By, Mixed By – Marc Damblé, Florent Cortesi
Backing Vocals – Yaité Ramos-Rodriguez
Vocals – Edie Blanchard, Philippe Cohen Solal, Yaité Ramos-Rodriguez, Samito, Alice Lewis, Marie Modiano

The first album of Philippe Cohen Solal since @gotan-project-official
“Once in the Middle East, there was a formidable sectarian order, led by a Sheikh who claimed the title of Old Man of the Mountain...” From the outset, the first words are in tune with an album on the edges of phantasmagorical ecstasy while the chorus is singing a hallucinatory rallying cry: “Hashish, hashish, hashish...” Philippe Cohen Solal, founder of the record label Ya Basta that in the early 1990s was at the forefront of electronic music, is at the helm and for the first time on the mic. He is known as an artist and producer in charge of many projects, including Gotan Project and The Moonshine Sessions. As master of ceremonies he presents never before experienced perfumes. The soundtrack of Le Club des Hashischins is a reference to a secret society initiated by Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau. From 1844 to 1849, the club brought together no less than Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier, Honoré Daumier, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Flaubert, Alexandre Dumas, Gérard de Nerval and Honoré de Balzac! They all frequented the Hôtel de Lauzun, a private mansion in the heart of Paris, where they met at hallucinatory parties to enjoy “dawamesk”, a hash jam served with Turkish coffee, and to experiment with artificial paradises. At 17 Quai d'Anjou, on the Île Saint-Louis, this place was just as famous for its smoke as it was for its music room. Here, everyone could lose themselves in sweet delusions, subtle delights... 
For posterity, Gautier wrote a novella entitled Le Club des Hashischins. The club itself, inaccessible since its closure, remained mythical for any intellectual. As luck would have it, Philippe Cohen Solal managed to get the key – as if in a dream – and to reopen the mansion in March 2017, during the Paris Music Festival. “At first, the idea was to present a creation directly inspired by the site, its history and the texts of Baudelaire and Gautier.” Solal would invite a host of personalities by the wainscoting and gilded decorations to accompany him into what he calls a “teenager’s fantasy”. Marie Modiano and Chassol, Maia Barouh and Olaf Hund, Elodie Bouchez and Patrick Bouchitey, the Argentinian plastic artist Tasisto and the writer Selim Nassib, and so on. The motto of this session and with broad scope: focus on experimentation. “A creative party, where music, literature and the psychotropic meets, just like in a dream!” It then became a reality, for four days, a milestone for those who had the opportunity and the joy to participate... 
The story could have ended there, but by then Philippe Cohen Solal wanted more. As soon as the doors of the Hôtel closed again, he began to extend the narrative with long studio nights partnering with Marc Damblé (aka Babylotion/La Dame Blanche) and Florent Cortesi (aka Lazy Flow) to weave a tapestry of soft waves on a silky canvas that pleasantly caresses the post-modernism of the 1990s. “I think I am a paradoxical nostalgic, for I am as drawn by the past as I am by the future, and this disc is quite simply an album of paradoxical nostalgia.” Composed somewhere between the shores of Zanzibar and the streets of Paris, this soundtrack is fully connected with a vision of the world in essence, both open and without any taboo in nature. At the same time abstract and melodic, organic and electronic, refined and raw, the music evokes / summons many styles, from shimmering music to reconfigured dub. Like a pop trip fostering sound reverie, it offers the space a healthy break in these hectic times. “I like the mix of genres and instruments, the collision of cultures and styles. In fact, I have no taboos nor boundaries. Music journeys are still the only time you don’t have to go through police checks and security gates.”

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Philippe Cohen Solal ‎– Mind Food (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Pop
Format: FLAC
Label: ¡Ya Basta! Records

1.   Living's worth loving (ft. Gabriela Arnon)
2.   Living's variation (ft. Chassol)
3.   Mind food
4.   Mind food variation (ft. Chassol)
5.   The signs (ft. Nivo Rahoerson)
6.   The signs variation (ft. Chassol)
7.   Inverno (ft. Green Gartside)

Flute - Cécile Daroux
Cello - Jean-Philippe Feiss
Piano - Christophe Chassol, Alexandre Gasparov
Electronic & guitars - Philippe Cohen Solal
Programming & keyboards - Christoph H. Muller
Produced by - Philippe Cohen Solal

Philippe Cohen Solal’s note on the production of this album:
Like wine, it’s interesting to put music through the test of time. Mind Food was composed and recorded some 20 years ago, and it is only now that we can tell if it is a good vintage. Originally I had the idea to create music for an imaginary film or a film yet to be released. During this period of my life, I was composing a lot for featured films, documentaries or commercials. I’ve always enjoyed working under the constraint of a scenario or a director, but I also know that the best films are often those where the images were assembled on music that was already scored or recorded. “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve Mc Queen & Faye Dunaway, which is the main reference for the arrangements on Mind Food, is one of these rare films, where the director Norman Jewison decided to follow the tempo of Michel Legrand’s score and not the other way around. Chassol who appears on this record also worked with me at this time, in fact it was one of his the first “jobs” neither of us could have imagined then that he would go on to produce incredible work with the likes of Frank Ocean or Solange, yet Chassol has always produced his own brilliant solo material, musical performances and visuals like Indiamore, Big Sun or just recently Ludi.
For the song “Inverno”, I had the chance to collaborate with a rare and precious singer, Green Gartside, frontman of the legendary band Scritti Politti, whose album Cupid & Psyche changed my youth in the 80s and whose sweet and fragile voice foreshadowed James Blake and the likes, 30 years earlier.
There are also two wonderful female performers, Nivo Rahoerson, jazz singer of Malagasy origin for “The Signs” and Gabriela Arnon, a New Yorker based in Paris, for the only cover on the album, the beautiful blue eyed soul and folk-jazz gem “Living’s worth loving” by Bostonian brothers David & Robin Batteaux, circa 1973. 
None of this music seeks to follow any current trends, but instead deliberately wants to slow time down so that you can catch your breath and feel which way the wind will blow, I am hoping then it will be into your curious and attentive ears.
¡Ya Basta! Records

Monday, 17 August 2020

Angel Bat Dawid ‎– The Oracle (2019)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: International Anthem Recording Company

1.   Destination (Dr. Yusef Lateef)
2.   Black Family
3.   What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Dr. Margaret Burroughs)
4.   Impepho
5.   We Are Starzz
6.   London
7.   Capetown
8.   The Oracle

Lead Vocals, Instruments, Recorded By, Mixed By – Angel Bat Dawid

Years ago, we would record the soundtrack of our lives on cassette. A blank tape became filled with not only the music that we listened to but also what surrounded that music, the breadth of our experiences. As part of a limited edition, the Chicago-based clarinetist will release her debut album, The Oracle, on cassette tape. It evokes how the album itself was conceived—Angel Bat Dawid overdubbed, mixed, and performed almost all of the voices and instruments herself, and recorded and produced the album mainly on her cell phone as she trekked across the globe. The result is a spiritual opus of one’s refusal to accept the cards that life has dealt her. 
After a brain tumor diagnosis halted her music studies at Roosevelt University, Dawid began working full-time to pay off the bills she had racked up post-surgery. This included a stint as a hip-hop producer, who teamed up with another fellow Chicagoan, rapper/producer DeLundon, to form the group Angel/DeLundon. Meanwhile, her classical training on piano and clarinet had gathered dust. In 2014, Dawid quit her job, cashed out her 401K, and lived off of that for one year as she discovered (and rediscovered) her connection to free and spiritual jazz. 
The Oracle charts Dawid’s journey with improvised music and all that inspired her during her world travels. It conjures a vast, immersive aural exploration of black experiences, from the unwavering strength of the “Black Family” to the plethora of borrowed traditions, notably call and response: “Capetown” features an exchange between South African drummer Asher Simiso Gamedze and Dawid on clarinet, passionate and untempered. On “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black,” as layered vocals, tinged with traditional gospel and operatic contralto, become intertwined, Dawid transforms the first line of a poem into a prophetic and resonant call. The song’s universal theme of racism in America grows more palpable, especially after hearing the line that follows: “What it means to be captive in this dark skin.”

As a direct response, Dawid counters with “We Are Starzz.” Written especially for her live set just last month at NYC’s Winter JazzFest, she delves into Afrofuturism as digital and acoustic sounds converge seamlessly, like Sun Ra’s magnum opus, “Space Is the Place.” Thematically, it not only denotes the first glimmer of hope for the future of blacks on the album, but it also marks perhaps Dawid’s own reawakening through avant-garde music in her adopted home of Chicago. 
Despite her journey from London to South Africa captured on The Oracle, it’s Chicago that serves as the album’s through line. Dawid summons the spirits of the movement’s progenitors, like Sun Ra, both in her playing and in her production, to guide her through unchartered territory. Much like Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount), she not only surrenders her given name (Angel Elmore), but more importantly, she abandons her dependence on a score, both in life and in music. As she captures the unbridled sound of obstacles overcome, history revered, and a future imagined, The Oracle serves as a vibrant document of black life as it stands today.
Shannon J. Effinger / Pitchfork

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Dollar Brand ‎– African Sketchbook (1973)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Free Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Enja Records

01.   Air
02.   Salaam - Peace - Hamba Kahle
03.   Slave Bell
04.   The Stride
05.   Mamma
06.   Krotoa
07.   Machopi
08.   Tokai
09.   The Dream
10.   The Aloe And The Wildrose
        a. The Aloe And The Wildrose
        b. South Easter
        c. Sadness
11.   Tariq
12.   Nkosi
13.   African Sun
14.   Salaam - Peace - Hamba Kahle

Flute, Piano, Written-By – Dollar Brand
Producer – Horst Weber

African Sketchbook is a superb example of the kind of solo concerts Abdullah Ibrahim (then known as Dollar Brand) performed early in his career. They were lengthy, non-stop affairs with pieces strung together end on end, sometimes repeated, sometimes with interpolations from Monk or Ellington, and always supremely creative and moving. He would often introduce the evenings with a composition for flute, as is the case here with the gorgeous "Air." After that, it's wave upon wave of songs. Some are rhythmically propulsive numbers with Ibrahim vamping for all he's worth with the left hand while deftly evoking aspects of South Africa with the right. The songs tend to have a basis that may strike Western listeners as gospel-related while, in fact, it's gospel that shows these same African roots. Other pieces have tinges of 20th century European classical music and some, like "Sadness," are simply and astoundingly beautiful. When the album ends with a repetition of the invocational "Salaam -- Peace -Hamba Kahle," one indeed feels as though having been on a whirlwind tour of a small portion of Africa. The recording quality leaves a little to be desired, but the wonderful music more than makes up for it. Highly recommended, especially for those who came to Ibrahim's music later in his career and who are unfamiliar with his early, arguably more substantial work.
Brian Olewnick / AllMusic

Friday, 14 August 2020

Kokoroko ‎– Kokoroko (2019)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Brownswood Recordings

1.   Adwa
2.   Ti-De
3.   Uman
4.   Abusey Junction

Alto Saxophone, Vocals – Cassie Kinoshi
Bass – Mutale Chashi
Drums – Ayo Salawu
Guitar – Oscar Jerome
Keyboards – Yohan Kebede
Percussion – Onome Ighamre Edgeworth
Trombone, Vocals – Richie Seivwright
Trumpet, Vocals – Sheila Maurice-Grey
Written-By – Kokoroko

If you ask an Afrobeat fan to name their favourite bands—excluding lineups led by Fela Kuti during his lifetime—the probability is that their top five choices will include Seun Kuti's Egypt 80 and Femi Kuti's Positive Force, both based in Lagos, along with Dele Sosimi 's Afrobeat Orchestra, based in London. Other credible outfits have emerged, but none which has so far seriously challenged that tripartite ascendancy. London trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey's Kokoroko is an outfit to watch, however, combining, as it does, a firm grip on the post-Afrika 70 tradition with some striking new directions. 
Kokoroko debuted on record as part of the Brownswood label's 2018 compilation We Out Here, a showcase for emerging young London jazz artists which was recorded under the light-touch supervision of reed player Shabaka Hutchings, feted for his own work with Sons of Kemet, Shabaka & the Ancestors and The Comet Is Coming. Kokoroko has now released its first disc (and download), a 4-track EP which clocks in just shy of 25 minutes. 
Kokoroko is a horn-led mainly-instrumental album. It is also an ensemble work, but one which includes space for uniformly compelling solos from Maurice-Grey, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, trombonist Richie Seivwright and guitarist Oscar Jerome. A deep-strata rhythm section is anchored by bass guitarist Mutale Chashi . 
Kokoroko turns out tough, classic Afrobeat grooves on the up-tempo "Adwa" and "Uman" and also reveals a sensitive touch with ballads from beyond the standard Afrobeat paradigm. Closing track "Abusey Junction" is particularly lovely and at just over seven minutes it is the longest track (it was also the closer on We Out Here). The tune was written by Jerome, who confirms his position as an important voice on the new London scene, as previously announced on his self-released EP Where Are Your Branches? in 2018. On "Adwa," Jerome turns in a gritty solo at times reminiscent of early period James Blood Ulmer, while on the ballads he evokes a glistening melodicism in the same league as that of two benchmark West African guitarists, Kante Manfila, the Guinean electric guitarist who was Salif Keita's collaborator in Les Ambassadeurs, and Koo Nimo, the Ghanaian palm-wine master. 
Kinoshi, who recently released the luminous Driftglass (Jazz re-freshed, 2019), the debut album by her SEED Ensemble, is another top-rank young talent and she blows a coruscating solo on "Adwa." Seivwright, who has played with Maurice-Grey and Kinoshi in the Nérija collective, is less widely known but welcome both in her own right and also for her instrument—the trombone is rarely heard in Afrobeat, but it fits in snugly here, both as part of the horn section and also as a solo instrument. As leader, Maurice-Grey modestly refrains from hogging the solos, but she turns in blinders on "Uman" and "Abusey Junction," the first full of fire, the second shimmeringly beautiful. 
From every angle, Kokoroko is a hugely impressive debut.
Chris May / All ABout Jazz

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Susana Santos Silva ‎– The Ocean Inside A Stone (2020)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, FLAC
Label: Carimbo Porta-Jazz

1.   Expanded Life
2.   Wanderhopes
3.   The Ocean Inside A Stone
4.   Sweet Delusion
5.   The Past Yet To Come
6.   The Drums Are Chanting, Or Is It The Trees?
7.   The Healer

Drums – Marcos Cavaleiro
Electric Bass, Voice, Castanets – Torbjörn Zetterberg
Piano, Synthesizer, Choir – Hugo Raro
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Piccolo Flute, Choir, Mixed By – João Pedro Brandão
Trumpet, Tin Whistle, Voice, Composed By, Mixed By – Susana Santos Silva

«The Ocean Inside a Stone» is the second album of Portuguese, Stockholm-based trumpeter, Susana Santos Silva, with her Portuguese quintet Impermanence. True to the title of this group, the music suggests a sense of urgency and distress of our nowadays urban lives, fully aware of the impermanence of all sentient beings, as the attached poem emphasizes: 
The Past Yet To Come is here now. Impermanent.
Feeding us of Sweet Delusions. Pregnant of ideas.
Pregnant of Wanderhopes. We are here now.
Hoping for the Expanded Life The Drums Are Singing.
Or Is It The Trees? Or is it the Ocean?
The Ocean, Says The Healer. The Ocean Inside a Stone. 
The Impermanence quintet – Santos Silva adds voice and tin whistle to her trumpet, reeds player João Pedro Brandão, pianist Hugo Raro, drummer Marcos Cavaleiro and Swedish bass player Torbjörn Zetterberg – was founded five years ago when Santo Silva was invited to perform by Porta-Jazz and the Guimarães Jazz Festival. The personnel remains the same as the one that recorded the self-titled debut album (Carimbo Porta-Jazz, 2015), but on «The Ocean Inside a Stone» Raro focuses on the synthesizer and Zetterberg switched from double bass to electric bass, so the sonic envelope gravitates into muscular and energetic, art-rock. 
Santos leads this quintet with natural charisma, embracing the contradictions and constant sonic detours of this highly articulate and resourceful jazz quintet that plays abstract and sometimes chaotic and brutal, rock-tinged music. The restless seven-parts suite flows with great passion and evocative ideas, or as Santos Silva says it: «The beautiful in a liquid state, the ritual of the ordinary, the violent but ephemeral chaos, the poetics of absurdity and human fragility, the lightness of the ethereal and the abstract, the sublimation of the present define this transcendent, utopian, intangible and unimaginable world». You can feel vision materializes in «Wanderhopes», highlighting a poetic and free-associative dialog between Santos Silva and Brandãoor in the title-piece, charged by Brandão with addictive sensual energy or in the festive, Brazilian-tinged «The Drums Are Chanting, Or Is It The Trees?» Santos Silva summarizes best the compassionate, inclusive spirit of this album with the beautiful, closing ballad «The Healer».
Eyal Hareuveni  / salt peanuts*

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Swayzak ‎– Himawari (2000)

Genre: Electronic
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Medicine Label

01.   Illegal
02.   Kensai Rising
03.   State Of Grace
04.   Leisure Centre
05.   Mysterons
06.   Doobie
07.   Caught In This Affair
08.   Japan Air
09.   Pineapple Spongecake
10.   The Frozen Loch
11.   Floyd
12.   Betek

Producer – Henrik Corpi, Kenny Paterson
Written-By – David Brown, James Taylor

Even as their meld of jazzy house and experimental dub became a hot commodity on the electronics scene, the British duo Swayzak pulled back from the form slightly on their sophomore album. Also in contrast to their deep dub-techno excursions on split-singles with Detroit's Theorem, Himawari scatters influences from electro ("State of Grace"), dub poetry ("Illegal"), house ("Caught in This Affair"), acid ("Mysterons"), and ambient techno ("Doobie"). Still, the album isn't a radical departure; most of these inspirations are cycled through Swayzak's fondness for gorgeous, electrified, echoing synth waves. And even though Himawari has a surprising focus on vocal tracks (with featured guests Benjamin Zephaniah, Kirsty Hawkshaw, and J.B. Rose), the duo's less-is-more aesthetic still comes in loud and clear -- and sounds immediately distinctive. When the pair most closely revisit the shimmering, slinky nu-house of their debut ("Japan Air," "Leisure Centre"), the results are especially inspired. It's a bit of a shame that Swayzak moved on so quickly, but they made the transition as smooth as possible.
John Bush / AllMusic