Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Smith & Mudd ‎– Gorthleck (2016)

Genre: Electronic, Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Claremont 56

1.   Dogwood
2.   Enos
3.   Errogie
4.   Alrick
5.   Gorthleck Part 1
6.   Mhor
7.   Mr Coats
8.   Nether
9.   Gorthleck Part 2

Mixed By – Frank Mollena
Producer – Paul 'Mudd' Murphy
Written-By – Benjamin Smith, Paul Murphy

It`s been seven years since Smith & Mudd`s last album, “Le Suivant”, the duo having been at it either solo or with band projects: Paqua (with Bing Ji Ling) and Bison (with Holger Czukay & U-SHE). The new record, “Gorthleck”, of course references these endeavours, and Claremont 56`s growing roster and catalogue. The sunshine strum of the title track matching that of Paqua`s “The Visitor”. Bison making strange bass noises in the psychedelic swamps of Almunia and Bambi Davidson on “Enos”. Heard in the up-all-night Muscle Shoals Gospel keys also present on Ben`s releases for NuNorthern Soul. 
However, the first thing that hit me upon listening to “Gorthleck” was the quality and diversity of the guitar playing. The Folk acoustics of “Alrick” recalling David Crosby`s “If Only I Could Remember My Name”, the sound of U2`s The Edge in the penumbra of “Dogwood”, the Little River Band taking its Blues-y lead. “Mr. Coats” six strings crying like gulls, like Peter Green on “Slabo Day”. Microtonals falling like rain on The Doors` “Riders” on the afore mentioned “Enos”. Assisting these guitars (provided by Ben and Dave Noble) in their storytelling - primarily a tale of watching the weather, the seasons change, at the site of recording, that of Gorthleck House, on the banks of Loch Mhor, in the Scottish Highlands - is a company of friends on percussion (Patrick Dawes), Flute, Clarinet, Baritone Sax (Tamar Osborn), Violin (Moon) and Cello (Laura Reid). 
Watching the light change. The dark here is Kosmische. “Dogwood”`s organic green imaginings of the views through Gorthleck`s tree-filled grounds aligned to the majesty of Musiccargo`s “Harmonie”. The electric pulse of “Mhor” broken by emotive near Flamenco. Moody, yet as “Cafe Del Mar” as classics by artists such as Tabula Rasa. And this is how the light appears on “Gorthleck”, in homages to Jose Padilla`s soundtracks to the movement of day into night. The soulful “Nether” taking Jose favourite, Marvin`s "After The Dance”, bumpin` on sunset.
Dr. Rob / Test Pressing

Nubiyan Twist ‎– Jungle Run (2019)

Genre: Jazz, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Strut

01.   Tell It To Me Slowly
02.   Jungle Run
03.   Basa Basa
04.   Brother
05.   Addis To London
06.   Borders
07.   Permission
08.   Ghosts
09.   They Talk
10.   Sugar Cane

Producer, Engineer – Tom Excell
Written-By – Finn Booth, Jonny Enser, K.O.G., Luke Wynter, Nick Richards, Nubiya Brandon, Oliver Cadman, Pilo Adami, Tom Excell

Twelve-piece group Nubiyan Twist came together at Leeds College of Music in 2015, a fact that is a little surprising. On new album Jungle Run, the band gives the distinct impression of having been together for at least a decade. Their sounds are tight, their production clean, and their guest artists particularly impressive, including Afrobeat's founding drummer Tony Allen and Ethiojazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke, among others. Genre-wise, they lean toward neo-soul on this latest album, a style that tends to be a free-flowing mélange of jazz, soul, hip-hop, and electronics, among other things. Here, those other things come from across the globe, with a focus on elements pulled from various parts of Africa and Latin America. 
Those are the basics of Jungle Run. The experience is a little more complex because it's hard to get a handle on exactly what this album is. That ends up being a little bit of a double-edged sword, mostly good, but occasionally puzzling. Nubiyan Twist draws from a substantial sonic palette and is not afraid to leap from track to track. Does this lead to a cohesive album? Not always. Jungle Run comes across more as a sampler of highlights, the collective trying to show as many colors as possible. 
It's hard to hold that against the group. The colors are bold, and Nubiyan Twist's chameleonic tendencies are impressive. They spend a full two tracks as an ultra-modern London jazz ensemble, all shades of brass and neon, before morphing fully into West African dance-pop stars on "Basa Basa", featuring versatile Ghanaian artist K.O.G., unmistakably Afropop-influenced guitar lines, and hypnotic syncopation.

Suddenly, the group is swinging again on "Brother", a slick number that gives way to the Mulatu Astatke feature on "Addis to London". Here, the band imitates East African scales and, after half an album of dense compositions, embraces a little open space. Instrumental except for a spoken sample of Dr. Mulatu himself at the beginning, it makes for one of the album's highlights. So does "Borders", the next track, a modern bossa nova track that could fit just as well in the MPB scene as in London, where Nubiyan Twist is now based. Percussionist Pilo Adami ably injects sweet samba beats into the composition, lightening the tone of the album for a moment. 
A heavy hit of reality comes back to Jungle Run immediately after, "Permission" dropping sharp beats and raps against racism. The lyrics are conscious and timely, even if the backing instrumentation feels a little like an afterthought -- fair enough, as the focus belongs on the text in this case. That all changes on "Ghosts", where Tony Allen's signature rhythms drive the song forward in conjunction with a jazzy melody that has a complex structure, an arc that sees it hit moments of speed and moments of release, always sounding thoughtful. 
K.O.G. returns for "They Talk", a track that bridges two sides of the African continent: the song is split perfectly between Ethiojazz and West African hip-hop. Usually, the sounds come together in a way that sounds organic, and when they do is when Nubiyan Twist hits some of its greatest highs on the album. Finally, the album glides to a finish on the strength of lead singer Nubiya Brandon's vocals with slow, sensual "Sugar Cane". 
There are a lot of sterling moments on Jungle Run, even if they sometimes fail to make sense as a unit. But while parts of the album may not always work together as a whole, the band does, and that bodes well for Nubiyan Twist's genre-bending future.
Adriane Pontecorvo / popMATTERS

Blancmange ‎– Happy Families (1982)

Style: Synth-pop
Format: CDVinyl
Label: London Records

01.   I Can't Explain
02.   Feel Me
03.   I've Seen The Word
04.   Wasted
05    Living On The Ceiling
06.   Waves
07.   Kind
08.   Sad Day
09.   Cruel
10.   God's Kitchen
Bonus Tracks: 11. Living On The Ceiling (Extended Version) 12. God's Kitchen (12" Mix) 13. Feel Me (Extended 12" Version) 14. Feel Me (7" & 12" Instrumental) 15. Business Steps 16. Feel Me (US 12" Instrumental)

Credits: Drums – James Lane Guitar – David Rhodes
Tabla – Dinesh Sitar – Deepak Synthesizer, Keyboards – Stephen Luscombe Voice, Guitar, Electronics – Neil Arthur
Backing Vocals – Joy Yates, Madeline Bell, Stevie Lange
Blancmange Are – Neil Arthur, Stephen Luscombe Producer – Mike Howlett

Barry Adamson ‎– Soul Murder (1992)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Rock, Non-Music
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute, ArsNova

01.   Preface
02.   Split
03.   The Violation Of Expectation
04.   Suspicion
05.   A Gentle Man Of Colour
06.   Trance Of Hatred
07.   Checkpoint Charlie
08.   Reverie
09.   Un Petit Miracle
10.   007, A Fantasy Bond Theme
11.   The Adamson Family
12.   Cool Green World
13.   On The Edge Of Atonement
14.   Epilogue

Guitar – Kevin Armstron
Bass Trombone – Phil Brown
Cello – Ann Lines, Audrey Riley
Vocals – Anne Berland
Choir – Caron Richards, Deloray Campbell, Patricia Knight, Peter Francis, Sarah Browng
Narrators – Arthur Nicholls, Marcia Schofield, Maria Zastrow
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Soloist – Pete Whyman
Trombone, Soloist – Steve Shaw
Trumpet – Malcolm Baxter
Trumpet, Soloist – Enrico Tomasso
Viola – Chris Pitslides, Lynn Baker
Violin – Chris Tombling, Clive Dobbins, Joe Parker, John Carney
Written-By, Arranged By, Producer, Performer – Barry Adamson